Under The Lights, Rafa Shines Bright Against Mmoh

Rafael Nadal extended his bid for a record 21st Grand Slam title on Thursday, when he defeated Michael Mmoh 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 at the Australian Open.

The second seed struck 40 winners and won 15 of 16 net points under the roof on Rod Laver Arena to claim victory in one hour and 47 minutes. Nadal is through to the Australian Open third round for the 15th time in 16 tournament appearances.

“I always try to be better [than the previous match]. Sometimes [I am] better, sometimes not,” said Nadal, in an on-court interview. “I think tonight has been a positive evening for me, winning in straight sets. [It is] great news, for everything.”

The 20-time Grand Slam champion has dropped a combined 15 games in his opening two matches, showing no signs of the back stiffness that forced him to miss playing duties at the ATP Cup and enter … Read the rest

Day 4 Preview: Can Medvedev, Rublev Stay On Course?

Daniil Medvedev had just put the finishing touches on Russia’s dominant run to the 2021 ATP Cup title, having defeated Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, 6-4, 6-2. With his teammates roaring courtside, the 24-year-old Muscovite took a bow and swept his hand across his body in a near-Boroquian gesture.

Then came the Volga-wide grin.

As he so often does to his opponents, Medvedev had left us guessing. Where in the world did that come from? It turns out he borrowed it from former Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez, the onetime Bundesliga scoring machine who occasionally applied some flair to his post-goal celebrations.

Medvedev later enlightened us: “He was my favourite player at the time. I really liked it, so I tried to copy it. I don’t think I did well, but it was funny.”

Teammate Andrey Rublev was the first to embrace Medvedev, the other half of a dynamic duo that combined … Read the rest

Kokkinakis: ‘So Much Work, So Much Pain’

The tears said it all.

He tried his best to suppress them, but Thanasi Kokkinakis could only do so much to contain the emotion; all that it meant for him to be through to the second round of the Australian Open. Now 24, he hadn’t won a main-draw match at his home Slam since 2015, the year he first cracked the Top 100 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, as part of a promising crop of countrymen — Kokkinakis, Nick Kyrgios, Bernard Tomic, James Duckworth, etc. — that was collectively positioning itself to take the baton from Hall-of-Famer-to-be Lleyton Hewitt.

Hewitt was already familiar with his fellow South Australian’s firepower by then, encouraged by his obvious talent. The green-and-gold Davis Cup roster was suddenly looking stacked.

But those tears shed after the wild card’s 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 win over Soonwoo Kwon of Korea on Tuesday were manifestation of the heartbreak, all … Read the rest

Kyrgios On The GOAT Debate: 'Federer Is The Greatest Of All Time'

The GOAT — Greatest Of All Time — debate sends fans and analysts alike spinning in circles. Is it Roger Federer? How about Rafael Nadal? Could Novak Djokovic eventually take that title?

Nick Kyrgios joined the conversation Monday evening following his first-round win at the Australian Open. The 25-year-old’s choice is clear.

“In my opinion, I believe Roger is the greatest of all time. With his skill set, the way he plays the game, I think it’s pure. I actually think talent-wise Nadal and Djokovic aren’t even close to Roger,” Kyrgios said. “Talent-wise, just purely based on talent the way Federer plays, his hands, his serving, his volleys, untouchable.

“Roger’s chopped me a couple of times.  Roger makes you feel like you’re really bad at tennis sometimes.  He walks around, he flicks his head, and I’m, like, ‘I don’t even know what I’m doing out here.‘ Roger is the greatest, … Read the rest

Nakashima Completes #NextGenATP American Double In Quimper

The #NextGenATP revolution has descended on Quimper, France.

One week ago, it was 20-year-old Sebastian Korda lifting his second ATP Challenger Tour trophy, and on Sunday fellow American Brandon Nakashima grabbed the spotlight himself. The 19-year-old also captured his second Challenger crown, streaking to victory at the Open Quimper Bretagne Occidentale 2.

Nakashima needed one hour and 18 minutes to dispatch Spain’s Bernabe Zapata Miralles, dominating the final 6-3, 6-4. The California native turned in an efficient performance on the indoor hard courts of the Parc des Expositions, saving five of six break points faced to complete the #NextGenATP American double in Quimper.

Nakashima becomes the youngest American to win multiple ATP Challenger Tour titles since Frances Tiafoe in 2016. Tiafoe was 18 when he lifted his second trophy on the hard courts of Stockton five years ago.

“It feels great,” said Nakashima. “It’s definitely been a long two weeks, … Read the rest

Relentless Rublev Moves Russia One Win From ATP Cup Title

Andrey Rublev was relentless on Sunday at Melbourne Park, powering past Fabio Fognini 6-1, 6-2 to give Russia a 1-0 lead against Italy in the ATP Cup final.

Daniil Medvedev can clinch the prestigious title for his country in the No. 1 singles match when he plays Matteo Berrettini. Neither player has lost a match at this year’s ATP Cup.

“It’s going to be a tough match. Matteo has an amazing serve, an amazing forehand,” Rublev said in his on-court interview. “I think it’s going to be a really, really interesting match. It’s going to be a huge fight. We’ll see what’s going to happen.”

Rublev is the highest-ranked No. 2 singles player in this competition, and the World No. 8 has shown he is more than deserving of that standing. The Russian won his four singles matches with the loss of just one set to put his country in … Read the rest

Mahut/Roger-Vasselin Claim 2-1 Victory For France

Nicolas Mahut led his nation to its first Group C victory on Friday, as he claimed wins in singles and doubles against Austria at the ATP Cup.

Following his 7-6(2), 6-2 win against Dennis Novak in No. 2 singles, Mahut returned to the court with Edouard Roger-Vasselin to earn a 6-3, 6-3 win against Philipp Oswald and Tristan-Samuel Weissborn. Mahut and Roger-Vasselin’s straight-sets win clinched second place for France in Group C. France lost its opening tie of the team event 2-1 to group winners Italy on Wednesday.


Mahut and Roger-Vasselin found consistent success behind their returns to place their opponents under pressure on Rod Laver Arena. The Frenchmen won 58 per cent of their first-serve return points (18/31) and converted six of their seven break points to earn the win in 73 minutes.

In the first match of the tie, Mahut struck 12 aces and saved … Read the rest

Carreno Busta Clinches Spain's ATP Cup Semi-final Spot

Pablo Carreno Busta guaranteed Spain’s spot in the ATP Cup semi-finals on Friday with a 6-3, 6-4 win against Greece’s Michail Pervolarakis.

World No. 2 Rafael Nadal, who led Spain to last year’s championship match against Serbia, has not yet competed in this edition due to a stiff lower back. But Spain has battled on with two of the Top 20 players in the FedEx ATP Rankings: World No. 16 Carreno Busta and World No. 13 Roberto Bautista Agut, who will face 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas in this tie’s No. 1 singles match.

“I knew that we needed this point. With this victory, we are into the semi-finals, so it was very important to us,” Carreno Busta said in his on-court interview. “I tried to be focussed on myself, to try to play my [best] game].”

Carreno Busta has stepped up well for his country, winning both … Read the rest

Nick Kyrgios Reflects On Kobe Bryant Tattoo, Staying Calm

Just more than a year ago, Nick Kyrgios walked onto Rod Laver Arena for his fourth-round Australian Open match against Rafael Nadal wearing a Kobe Bryant jersey, with tears in his eyes just before the clash began. The Aussie was paying tribute to the NBA legend, who had just passed away in a tragic helicopter crash.

On Wednesday, after his second-round win at the Murray River Open against Harry Bourchier, Kyrgios spoke about how he continues to pay tribute to the Los Angeles Lakers icon. A couple months after last year’s Australian Open, Kyrgios got a large tattoo on his right arm to commemorate Bryant’s legacy.

“When I look down obviously it brings me back memories of how he would have competed, how he would have been remembered,” Kyrgios said. “I definitely feel as if when I’m on court, I feel like I’ve been around the Tour for a while … Read the rest

No Rafa? No Problem. Spain Claims Australia ATP Cup Win

Roberto Bautista Agut adjusted well to his role as Spain’s temporary No. 1 singles player on Tuesday, as he clinched Spain’s first victory at the 2021 ATP Cup with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 comeback victory against Alex de Minaur.

The World No. 13 was originally scheduled to face John Millman in the No. 2 singles match, but was promoted to the No. 1 singles position when Rafael Nadal announced he would miss the tie due to a stiff lower back. Following Pablo Carreno Busta’s 6-2, 6-4 win against Millman, Bautista Agut created 17 break points and broke De Minaur on five occasions to move Spain to 1-0 in Group B after two hours and 21 minutes.

“Everybody knows that to have Rafa on the team is a pleasure. It’s a privilege to be in the team with him. We can learn a lot of things staying around him. He has … Read the rest