Tag Archives: Rafael Nadal

Australian Open: Djokovic, Murray Triumph As Weather Plays Havoc.

Novak Djokovic enjoyed a rousing reception on a winning return to the Australian Open on Tuesday and Andy Murray rolled back the years to stun Matteo Berrettini in a classic.

On a day of bans on Russian flags and weather-induced disruption, two of the sport’s biggest names belatedly brought the focus back on tennis in Melbourne.

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A heavy title favourite, the 35-year-old Djokovic was back after his deportation last year because of his stance on Covid vaccines.

If the Serb was worried about how he might be received by the Melbourne Park crowd, he needn’t have been — the nine-time Australian Open champion walked out to loud cheers.

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Against the backdrop of chants of “Nole”, Djokovic sent Spain’s 75th-ranked Roberto Carballes Baena packing at Rod Laver Arena, 6-3, 6-4, 6-0, to surge into round two.


“Thank you for giving me such a welcoming reception that I could only dream of,” said Djokovic, who is chasing a record-equalling 22nd major title.

“I feel really happy that I’m back here in Australia and on the court where I have had the biggest success in my career.”

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Prior to that, the day had belonged to another 35-year-old in Murray — and Melbourne’s famously fickle weather.

The Briton saved match point to defeat Italy’s 13th seed Berrettini 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7 (7/9), 7-6 (10/6) in 4hrs 49mins at Rod Laver Arena, where the roof was closed because of the extreme heat.

“I will be feeling this this evening and tomorrow,” said the former world number one, who plays with a metal hip after career-saving surgery.

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“But right now unbelievably happy and proud of myself.”

Also in the men’s draw, Norwegian second seed Casper Ruud battled through to the second round with a 6-3, 7-6 (8/6), 6-7 (5/7), 6-3 defeat of Tomas Machac.

The match finished after 1:00 am.

“It’s been a long day,” said Ruud, after kicking off a campaign that could see him become world number one.


Earlier, Russia’s fifth seed Andrey Rublev ended the tournament of 2020 finalist Dominic Thiem 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in 36 degrees Celsius (96.8 Fahrenheit) temperatures.

As the mercury rose, the heat forced play to be halted on outside courts. The roofs were closed on the three main stadiums: Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and John Cain Arena.

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Play resumed on the outside courts about three hours later, only to be disrupted again in the evening when a storm hit, dumping torrential rain that eventually saw some matches suspended for the day.

Eighth-seeded Taylor Fritz, 12th seed Alexander Zverev and ninth seed Holger Rune all rolled into the next round.

Jabeur labours
The women’s draw threw up no real shocks.

Tunisia’s second seed Ons Jabeur, runner-up at Wimbledon and the US Open last year, was far from her fluent best but eventually defeated Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek.

The shaky Jabeur won the first set on a tiebreak, lost the second 6-4, then finally found her rhythm to clinch the decider 6-1.

“I just tried to follow what my coach told me to do,” she said of her turnaround in the third set.

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“I wasn’t really doing that and he’s going to kill me after the match,” she joked.

Caroline Garcia and Aryna Sabalenka — fourth and fifth seeds respectively — had it easier as they swept into the second round.

France’s Garcia took just 65 minutes to overwhelm Canadian qualifier Katherine Sebov 6-3, 6-0 and cement her status as a contender for the first Grand Slam of the year.

Sabalenka beat the Czech Republic’s Tereza Martincova 6-1, 6-4.

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The 26th seed Elise Mertens was another winner. The Belgian outlasted Spain’s former Melbourne finalist Garbine Muguruza, who was cramping before losing 3-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-1.

Russian flag ban
Earlier Tuesday, Tennis Australia banned Russian and Belarusian flags after a complaint from the Ukrainian ambassador to Australia.

The red, white and blue stripes of Russia were seen Monday during at least two matches, with Ukrainian fans reportedly calling security and police to the stands.

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“The ban is effective immediately,” said Tennis Australia.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian and Belarusian players have normally competed under a neutral flag as independents, as is the case at the Australian Open.




Rafael Nadal Beaten Again As Swiatek, Tsitsipas Cruise At United Cup


World number two Rafael Nadal slumped to defeat for a second straight time at the United Cup Monday in a setback to his Australian Open preparations, but Stefanos Tsitsipas and Iga Swiatek were both on song.

There was also more misery for former world number two Alexander Zverev, who, like Nadal, suffered a second loss to start his season, this time at the hands of Taylor Fritz.

Spanish 22-time Grand Slam winner Nadal surprisingly crashed in his season-opening match on Saturday to 14th-ranked Cameron Norrie.

And he again succumbed after winning the first set, going down 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 to Australia’s 24th-ranked Alex De Minaur in Sydney, including losing six games in a row in the second set. “Honestly, I couldn’t be happier that I managed to get my first win over Rafa on this court, it’s no secret this is my favourite court in the world,” said De Minaur. “Rafa is a hell of a competitor and what he has been able to do for this sport is truly astounding so I’m just honoured.

“It’s a dream come true.”

It went with serve to 2-2 in the first set, but Nadal played some loose shots and a double fault handed De Minaur a break point, then he sent a forehand long to go 2-3 behind.

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But the Australian couldn’t sustain the pressure and Nadal broke straight back.

After a slow start, the Spaniard found his groove and in a devastating burst won the next three games to take the set.

De Minaur appeared deflated and was broken again on his first serve of the second set, but he flicked a switch to reel off six games in a row to leave Nadal stunned.

– See ball, hit ball –
They exchanged breaks in the third set before a string of unforced errors from Nadal allowed De Minaur to break again for 6-5 and serve out for the win.

“My attitude while serving for the match was ‘See ball, hit ball’ – it worked out,” the Australian said.

The mixed-team tournament features 18 countries playing in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

The winners of the two groups in each city advance to a city final on Wednesday, with whoever comes through that making the final four.

Neither Spain nor Australia can progress from Group D in Sydney, with Norrie’s Britain already the confirmed winner.

They will play the United States in the city final after Fritz and Madison Keys put their country through against Germany. – Rusty – World number nine Fritz beat Zverev 6-1, 6-4 in just 64 minutes.

It followed the German’s loss to 81st-ranked Czech Jiri Lehecka on Saturday in his first competitive match since tearing three right ankle ligaments during his French Open semi-final against Nadal in June.

“It was tough to judge my level because I feel he’s coming back from injury, he’s a bit rusty, he was giving me a lot of free points,” said Fritz, who had a breakthrough year in 2022 with titles at Indian Wells, Tokyo and Eastbourne.

“But I’m really happy with it.” Keys swept past Jule Niemeier 6-2, 6-3.

World number one Swiatek gave Poland a 1-0 lead against Switzerland in a winner-takes-all tie that will decide Group B in Brisbane, beating Belinda Bencic 6-3, 7-6 (7/3). “I’m a perfectionist, but I’m super happy with my performance today,” said Swiatek.

“On this fast surface it was really, really hard so I’m really happy that I could close it.” Marc-Andrea Huesler clawed a point back for the Swiss 6-3, 6-2 over Daniel Michalski.

Italy need a win against eliminated Norway in Group E to advance at Brazil’s expense with Martina Trevisan delivering them an early lead by dispatching Malene Helgo 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.

Lorenzo Musetti followed on, defeating Viktor Durasovic 7-6 (9/7), 6-3.

In Perth, Belgium need to defeat Greece at least 4-1 to qualify from Group A and Alison Van Uytvanck held off an inspired Despina Papamichail 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 to give them a 1-0 lead.

But world number four Tsitsipas continued his good early form with a 6-3, 6-2 win over David Goffin to level the tie.

France trail Croatia 2-0 thanks to Croat wins from Donna Vekic – 6-4, 6-3 over Alize Cornet – and Borna Coric’s 7-6 (7/1), 7-6 (7/2) defeat of Arthur Rinderknech.




Djokovic, Rafael Nadal To Kickstart Bid For 2023 Supremacy In Australia


Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal kickstart their 2023 campaigns this week in Adelaide and Sydney respectively, with the superstar veterans and great rivals eyeing up yet more Australian Open glory.

With the pair sharing 43 Grand Slam titles between them — Djokovic has 21 and Nadal 22 — the scene is set for an epic showdown at Melbourne Park in January. (Watch Video Here)

Nadal is the defending Australian Open champion and Djokovic is a nine-time winner.

Djokovic returns Down Under for the first time since being sensationally detained and then deported ahead of the 2022 Australian Open because of his refusal to get vaccinated for Covid-19.

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He starts his bid for an incredible 10th Australian Open title at the Adelaide International from Sunday, following a troubled and truncated year in which he missed two majors because of his vaccine status. (Watch Video Here)

Djokovic was initially barred from entering Australia before 2025, but a new government in Canberra reversed the ruling and he is now gunning for more silverware at his most successful Grand Slam venue.

“Over the years I’ve been really fortunate to start very strong in Australia and I love playing there,” said the world number five in Dubai last week, after ending 2022 with a record-equalling sixth ATP Tour Finals crown.

“After obviously what happened earlier this year, hopefully I can have a decent reception there and hopefully that can help (Watch Video Here) me play some good tennis.”

He will face a top-notch field in Adelaide, including Felix Auger-Aliassime, Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, ranked six, seven and eight respectively.

In Djokovic’s absence this year, Spanish great Nadal swept past Medvedev to win the Australian Open in an epic five-setter — then backed it up with a 14th French Open.

– ‘A lot of hours on court’ –
Nadal will begin his preparations in Sydney at the United Cup, a new mixed-teams event, where a blockbuster showdown with (Watch Video Here) Australian showman Nick Kyrgios will test his credentials.

Eighteen countries will compete in the event across 11 days from Thursday, with Brisbane, Perth and Sydney hosting group games in a round-robin format.

Ties comprise two men’s and two women’s singles matches and one mixed doubles.

The finals series will be played in Sydney. (Watch Video Here)

World number three Casper Ruud and Germany’s Alexander Zverev, who is returning from a serious ankle injury, will participate.

Top-ranked Carlos Alcaraz will warm up at the Kooyong Classic exhibition in Melbourne from January 10-12 as he battles back from the abdominal injury that shortened his pre-season training block.

The 19-year-old Spaniard, a major threat to Djokovic and Nadal, missed the season-ending ATP Finals and Davis Cup Finals with a muscle tear, but is confident he will be ready. (Watch Video Here)

“I would say the key is to practise a lot, spend a lot of hours on court,” he said this month.

“I will be ready and 100 percent heading into Australia.”

Italy’s Jannik Sinner and world number nine Taylor Fritz, among others, will also use Kooyong to fine-tune.

Women’s world number one Iga Swiatek will acclimatise in Perth with her Polish teammates at the United Cup on the back of winning the French Open and US Open in 2022. (Watch Video Here)

The three-time Grand Slam champion is targeting a first Australian Open title after losing in the semis this year to Danielle Collins, who then crashed to Ashleigh Barty in the final.

Swiatek inherited the top ranking following the shock retirement of Barty in March, and has been dominant ever since.

American world number three Jessica Pegula and resurgent French world number four Caroline Garcia, fresh from beating Aryna Sabalenka to win the WTA Finals, also feature at the United Cup. (Watch Video Here)

Four of the other top 10 women begin the year in Adelaide, with second-ranked Ons Jabeur, world number five Sabalenka, world number eight Daria Kasatkina and world number nine Veronika Kudermetova all entered.




Madrid Open: Carlos Alcaraz jumps to sixth on table with 3 points.


Spanish teen sensation Carlos Alcaraz rose three places to sixth in the men’s ATP rankings following his victory in the Madrid Open on Sunday.

The 19-year-old’s 6-3, 6-1 trouncing of Germany’s Alexander Zverev in Madrid was his fourth title of the year and rubber-stamped his chances of lifting his first Grand Slam in the upcoming French Open.

He had beaten his compatriot Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic on the way to the final.

The only worry for Alcaraz is a sore ankle which will see him miss this week’s Rome tournament in order to be fit for the French Open which gets underway on May 22.




Djokovic retains his number one ranking — number two Daniil Medvedev is due to return to action at next week’s Geneva Open after recovering from a hernia operation — while Australian Open champion Nadal remains at four.

Two players in the top 10 are on the slide as Italy’s Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini, who has yet to play on clay this season as he recovers from an operation on his right hand, drops two spots to eighth and Norwegian Casper Ruud slips to 10th from seventh.

Rankings (players representing Russia and Belarus are banned from competing under the name or flag of Russia or Belarus until further notice):

  1. Novak Djokovic (SRB) 8,260 pts
  2. Daniil Medvedev 7,990
  3. Alexander Zverev (GER) 7,020
  4. Rafael Nadal (ESP) 6,435
  5. Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 5,750
  6. Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) 4,773 (+3)
  7. Andrey Rublev 4,115 (+1)
  8. Matteo Berrettini (ITA) 3,895 (-2)
  9. Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 3,760 (+1)
  10. Casper Ruud (NOR) 3,760 (-3)
  11. Cameron Norrie (GBR) 3,380
  12. Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 3,130 (+2)
  13. Jannik Sinner (ITA) 3,060 (-1)
  14. Taylor Fritz (USA) 2,965 (-1)
  15. Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 2,760
  16. Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 2,671
  17. Reilly Opelka (USA) 2,440
  18. Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 2,135
  19. Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 1,993
  20. Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 1,830



Rafael Nadal speak plan for sports centre in Madrid, inaugurate foundation centre.


Rafael Nadal has only just taken his first steps back on clay after announcing his return to action at the Mutua Madrid Open, but he’s been pounding the pavement in the Spanish capital all week long.

The world No. 4 recently inaugurated a new Rafa Nadal Foundation center for disadvantaged children in Madrid, the third of its kind following centers in Mallorca and Valencia. According to Nadal, the Madrid project was announced in response to the social crisis that arose out of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Today has been a very intense day, but fantastic at the same time,” he wrote on social media. “I’m happy to announce the new Rafa Nadal Foundation Center in Madrid in the San Fermin neighborhood, where we will serve minors in vulnerable situations through sporting and educational activities and psychosocial support.”




San Fermin is not only home to Nadal’s new foundation center, it’s also home to the Caja Magica which hosts the Madrid Open every year.

That’s not the only Nadal project that’s been unveiled, as the busy Spaniard also announced plans for the UAX Rafa Nadal Sports University earlier that same day.

“It is especially exciting for me to be joining forces with Alfonso X el Sabio University,” he said. “Training and education help and facilitate the future for the youth, which is why the foundation of the UAX Rafa Nadal Sports University will work with the youth to give them the tools necessary through education, health and sport.”

The private university will provide in-person and online degrees in various specialties within the sports world, with current four- and five-year educational tracks including physiotherapy, human nutrition and diet, and sports science. Applications are open, and classes are scheduled to begin in September.




On this day, 20 years ago, Rafael Nadal played and won his first ATP match.


Earlier this week, Rafael Nadal’s record Top 10 streak officially reached 17 years, and today we celebrate the Spaniard again, as it’s been exactly 20 years since he played—and won—his first ATP match, beating Paraguay’s Ramon Delgado in the first round of his home tournament in Mallorca on April 29th, 2002.

Delgado was a quality opponent—he was ranked No. 81 at the time and had gone as high as No. 52 a few years earlier. He had also been to the second week of a major before, at Roland Garros in 1998—beating No. 1 Pete Sampras along the way.

Going into the ATP event in Mallorca in 2002, he was looking to build momentum.

“I had just lost some first rounds and when the draw came out I thought it would be a good opportunity to gain confidence,” Delgado told news outlet Teller Report in 2020. “If I get solid, a 15-year-old is not going to hold me—but soon enough, from the beginning, the consistency of his shots caught my attention.”

Nadal had only played three matches before that, one at the Futures level and two at the Challenger level, but he broke through in his ATP debut, breaking serve five times to defeat the 25-year-old Paraguayan, 6-4, 6-4, in an hour and 23 minutes.

“I really wanted to go out there and play well,” Nadal said afterwards.

“I knew it was going to be difficult, but I held my game. I thought I played well, keeping the ball deep and maintaining the power.”


At 15 years and 10 months, Nadal was—at the time—the ninth man in the Open Era to win an ATP match before turning 16. Since then a 10th name has been added to that group in American Ryan Harrison, who achieved the feat at Houston in 2008.

Nadal lost in the second round of Mallorca that year to a No. 70-ranked Olivier Rochus, 6-2, 6-2, and would spend the next 11 months exclusively playing Challengers and Futures again—winning 60 of the 70 matches he played. He returned to ATP-level competition ranked No. 109 in Monte Carlo in April of 2003, then made his way into the Top 50 by August, and the rest is history.

Franco Davin (ARG) [15 years & 1 month at 1985 Buenos Aires]
Tommy Ho (USA) [15 years & 2 months at 1988 Rye Brook]
Jimmy Arias (USA) [15 years & 6 months at 1980 Palm Harbor]
Michael Chang (USA) [15 years & 6 months at 1987 US Open]
Andre Agassi (USA) [15 years & 9 months at 1986 La Quinta]
Bjorn Borg (SWE) [15 years & 10 months at 1972 Madrid]
Mats Wilander (SWE) [15 years & 10 months at 1980 Bastad]
Richard Gasquet (FRA) [15 years & 10 months at 2002 Monte Carlo]
Rafael Nadal (ESP) [15 years & 10 months at 2002 Mallorca]
Ryan Harrison (USA) [15 years & 11 months at 2008 Houston]




Carlos Alcaraz earn his first ATP top ten since young Nadal in 2005.


Carlos Alcaraz moved up to No. 9 in the ATP rankings on Monday, a little more than a month before he turns 19, making him the youngest man to break into the top 10 since Rafael Nadal did it exactly 17 years ago.

Alcaraz rose two spots after

winning the Barcelona Open on Sunday. He beat Pablo Carreño Busta 6-3, 6-2 in the final.

At 18 years, 11 months and 20 days old, Alcaraz is the ninth-youngest man to reach the top 10 since the computer rankings began in 1973. His fellow Spaniard Nadal was about a month younger when he climbed into the top 10 on April 25, 2005, after a title on Barcelona’s clay.

The youngest man to crack that elite level on the ATP Tour was Aaron Krickstein, who was 11 days past his 17th birthday when he made his debut in the top 10 in August 1984.

Alcaraz is tied with Nadal for the most ATP titles in 2022 with three; his 23 match wins are second behind only Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has 24 victories this season.

Novak Djokovic remained at No. 1 after

finishing as the runner-up to Andrey Rublev in the Serbia Open, with Daniil Medvedev still at No. 2, Alexander Zverev at No. 3 and Nadal at No. 4.

Nadal, owner of a men’s-record 21 Grand Slam singles championships, has been in the top 10 every week since he first got there.

The only changes in the WTA top 10 involved Paula Badosa’s rise to a career-high No. 2, behind

No. 1 Iga Swiatek. Badosa moved up one spot, switching places with 2021 French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, who dropped to No. 3.




Rafael Nadal made his top ten debut, this day, 17-years back and still in the Elite.


It’s already been a record-breaking year for Rafael Nadal—he won his 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, breaking a three-way tie with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic to set the new men’s record for most Grand Slam titles in tennis history.

And today, he reaches another historic milestone: Nadal has now been ranked in the Top 10 of the ATP rankings non-stop for 17 years.

He first broke into the Top 10 as an 18-year-old on April 25th, 2005, rising from No. 11 to No. 7 after winning the first of his now-12 career titles in Barcelona. And despite all of his injuries over the years—he’s missed two Australian Opens, three Wimbledons and four US Opens since then—he’s never left the Top 10, not even for a week.

Today, a 35-year-old Nadal is ranked No. 4.

He’s held the record for longest Top 10 streak in ATP rankings history since November 2020, when he surpassed Jimmy Connors’ previous record of just over 15 years.

866 weeks: Rafael Nadal (2005-present)
789 weeks: Jimmy Connors (1973-1988)
741 weeks: Roger Federer (2002-2016)
619 weeks: Ivan Lendl (1980-1992)
565 weeks: Pete Sampras (1990-2001)

Nadal’s weeks in the above chart do not include the 22 weeks the ATP rankings were frozen between March and August in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given everything he’s already accomplished in 2022, Nadal’s Top 10 streak is showing no signs of coming to an end anytime soon, either.

He got off to a blistering 20-0 start to the year, winning his first three tournaments at the Melbourne Summer Set (ATP 250), the Australian Open (Grand Slam) and Acapulco (ATP 500) and then reaching the final of Indian Wells (Masters 1000) before finally suffering his first loss of the year at the hands of American Taylor Fritz.

He’s accumulated a tour-leading 3,350 ranking points so far in 2022, which would have already been enough to see him finish in the year-end Top 10 in each of the last seven years (he would’ve been year-end No. 11 with that much in 2014).

And he hasn’t even begun playing on his best surface yet—he’s expected to return from a rib injury lay-off in Madrid next week.

Not that he hasn’t been almost unbeatable on hard courts this year, too.

But back to the stat at hand, Nadal’s 17 straight years in the Top 10—to put just how long that is in perspective, it’s worth noting that when his streak began, Emma Raducanu was two years old, Carlos Alcaraz and Coco Gauff were one year old, YouTube was just two months old and Twitter didn’t even exist.