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‘Following Rafael Nadal’s announcement…’, says ATP legend

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Since the beginning of the Open Era in 1968, 12 players have won at least 60 ATP titles. Rod Laver, Jimmy Connors, Ilie Nastase and Bjorn Borg were the first players to accomplish that feat, followed by other modern tennis greats and with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic as the latest additions to that exclusive roster.

Winning 60 ATP titles is a master class achievement, but it gets even more impressive when we talk about so many trophies on one surface! Roger Federer was the first player to achieve that in the Open Era, securing the most common hard surface record.

Novak Djokovic joined him on the exclusive roster when he won the crown at Cincinnati in August last year, with all eyes on Rafael Nadal, who entered the restarted season with 59 ATP crowns on clay. Unable to pursue the elusive title this spring due to the coronavirus, Rafa had two chances to clinch the 60th ATP title on clay in September and October, entering Roma and Roland Garros as the defending champion.

In the Italian capital, the Spaniard lost in the quarterfinals to Diego Schwartzman, having one last chance in Paris in the pursuit of at least an ATP crown on clay for the 17th consecutive season! With no room for mistakes, Nadal delivered his best tennis at his beloved Roland Garros, winning the title 13 of 16 trips to Paris and joining Roger Federer in 20 Majors.

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Thus, Nadal became the first player with 60 ATP trophies on the slowest surface, adding another huge milestone to his astonishing success in Paris.

Woodbridge speaks about Nadal
Rafael Nadal will return to action at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi in December, as the Spaniard gears up for the 2022 Australian Open.

Nadal recently expressed his desire to compete in Melbourne, fitness permitting, as he looks to take sole possession of the Grand Slam record. “One thing (that) stood out to me is that Novak has been laid the challenge from Rafael Nadal,” Todd Woodbridge told 2GB’s Wide World of Sports.

“Now, the challenge within that is, ‘does he win the tournament and take 21 (major wins) and get back in front?’ Does Novak want to let him do that? I’m sure he won’t want (Nadal) to be in that position, so at some point Novak is going to have to make that call (as to whether he gets vaccinated).”

According to Woodbridge, Djokovic must decide quickly whether he wants to participate in the season’s opening Slam or not. “Novak – he continues to keep us guessing. But, in the end, it’s only building pressure on him to make a decision one way or the other. And – who knows? – maybe he already has,” he said.

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Taro Daniel SWEARS in hilarious on-court interview after beating Andy Murray at Aus Open

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Taro Daniel had the Australian Open crowd inside the John Cain Arena in stitches during his on-court interview after beating Andy Murray for his honest assessment of the shock win. Murray rolled back the years on Monday when he defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili in a five-set thriller.

In 2019, Murray looked as though he was bowing out of the sport in a tearful press conference.

But three years later, he bounced back with a strong win against the No 21 seed.

An easier test was expected against Japan’s Daniel, who had never gone past the second round of a major in his career.

The 28-year-old had built up some momentum after coming through the qualifiers without dropping a set and defeated Chile’s Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera in the first round.

Murray was expected to provide a tougher test for Daniel, but the three-time major champion was far from his best.

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While Murray was guilty of making a host of unforced errors, Daniel’s workrate and movement across the baseline was causing his opponent all sorts of problems.

Murray’s head dropped after going 2-0 down as he failed to take advantage of a few great opportunities.

And the former world No 1 even uncharacteristically smashed his racket to the floor before Daniel served for the match.

The Japanese tennis star was elated after winning the match with a serve-and-volley with the crowd jumping out their seats.

“It’s amazing,” Daniel said.

“Winning a match like this hear with a lot of people, especially after Covid playing without crowds and suddenly I’m able to play this big match. It’s unbelievable.

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Emma Raducanu urged to ‘turn off’ voices like Piers Morgan after torrent of criticism

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EMMA RADUCANU must “turn off” outside voices of criticism from the likes of Piers Morgan, Express.co.uk was told.

Raducanu has defeated her first opponent, the American Sloane Stephens, for a spot in the Australian Open second round. In what was her senior debut in Melbourne, the US Open champion won 6-0, 2-6 and 6-1 against Stephens, a former winner in New York. The Briton played sharply as she wrapped up the first set in 17 minutes before minor errors crept into her game.

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Stephens took advantage of this to level but Raudcanu soon reasserted control to win.

The 19-year-old will now face Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic in the second round today.

Raducanu has had something of a meteoric rise, having spent the beginning of 2021 studying hard for her A-level exams.

Now, however, she is British No 1, and looks set for a stellar career should she replicate her historic win in the US last year.

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Rafael Nadal blasted Novak Djokovic tantrum: ‘Not the best’

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RAFAEL NADAL took aim at Novak Djokovic over a furious on-court meltdown last year.

Rafael Nadal’s bid for a record 21st Grand Slam title continues today. Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are all currently tied on 20 Grand Slams. In his 18-and-a-half year career, this is the first Grand Slam where the Spaniard has not had fellow immortals Federer or Djokovic to contend with. The stars appear to be aligning for Nadal, with the significance of the elusive 21st title scarcely overstated.

His quest for Australian Open glory sees him face Russia’s 28th seed Karen Khachanov in the third round today.

Federer looks unlikely to add to his collection — he turns 41 in August and has just had a third major knee operation.

Djokovic’s future, meanwhile, remains uncertain. Following his bitter legal fight with the Australian government, both the French and US Open appear to be leaning towards a strict policy that prevents unvaccinated players from competing.

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The Serbian is reported to be in talks with lawyers to sue the Australian government for £3.2million for “ill treatment”.

Though Nadal refused to bask in Djokovic’s deportation from Australia, he has criticised his Serbian counterpart in recent months.

During last summer’s rescheduled Tokyo Olympics, Djokovic had numerous meltdowns in his bronze medal match defeat to Nadal’s fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta.

He lost his cool twice in the deciding set, throwing his racket into the empty stands and then smashing another into the net post shortly afterwards.

Though Nadal did not compete in Tokyo, he admitted he would have expected better from the world number one.

Speaking to the media ahead of the Citi Open in Washington in August, he said: “Luckily there were no people in the stands and nothing else happened, but hey, they are things that happen from time to time.

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