Djokovic Beats Murray at MSG as Big 4 Prep for More Major Titles

Murray-NoleNEW YORK — In a showdown of two of the tennis world’s Big Four, Novak Djokovic beat Andy Murray, 6-3, 7-6 (2), Monday night at Madison Square Garden.

It was fun and light-hearted  exhibition on World Tennis Day before both get back to the business at hand in 2014: playing the spring hardcourt circuit and then trying to win Grand Slam championships.

Between them, the Big Four of Djokovic, Murray, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have won 34 of the last 36 Majors, but none of them owns a Grand Slam title in 2014. To read more of this story, click here

Wawrinka, Back Injury Halt Nadal’s Assault on History

Stan Wawrinka and a sudden back injury in the finals of the Australian Open put a stunning and sudden halt to Rafael Nadal’s assault on the history books.

Nadal’s path to a 14th Major championship — which would have tied him with Pete Sampras for second on the all-time list behind Roger Federer– will have to wait until Roland Garros after No. 8-seeded Wawrinka stunned No. 1 Nadal, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, in the Melbourne final.

“There’s a big chance I get drunk tonight,” Wawrinka told reporters.

For Wawrinka, Federer’s Swiss countryman, his first Major championship came in his first appearance in a Grand Slam final and after he had lost his previous 12 matches — and all 26 sets — to Nadal. To read more of this story, click here

With Win Over Federer, Nadal Solidifying Position as the GOAT

With his latest win over arch-rival Roger Federer in the Australian Open semifinals, Rafael Nadal took another step toward solidifying his position as the GOAT.

The Greatest of All Time.

With his 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-3 victory, Nadal improved to 23-10 against Federer and if he beats Federer’s Swiss countryman, Stan Wawrinka, in Sunday’s final, he will tie Pete Sampras for second all-time with 14 career Majors. Federer is the all-time leader with 17 Majors,

Nadal is 12-0 against Wawrinka and has won 26 straight sets.

Sampras is in Melbourne and watched Federer and Nadal play live for the first time. He will present the trophy to Sunday’s winner.

“First of all, remain a very tough opponent in front,” Nadal, who overcame a large blister on his left hand, told Jim Courier on court. “Wawrinka is playing just amazing, winning a fantastic match against Novak [Djokovic], yesterday against [Tomas] Berdych so he should come to this final with big confidence now. I never thought about having 13 Grand Slams already so I never thought about having 14 but the only thing I can swear is I gonna try my best.” To read more of this story, click here

Agassi Says Nadal Could be the GOAT

Andre Agassi says Rafael Nadal could be the GOAT.

The Greatest of All Time.

“I do think without Rafa winning one more major, you could make the argument that he’s the best of all time,” Agassi said Thursday in response to a question from SNY.tv on a conference call to promote the PowerShares senior tour.

(Read this earlier column for more on the question of whether Nadal, Federer or Rod Laver is the Greatest of All Time.)

After winning the U.S. Open, the 27-year-old Nadal has now 13 Grand Slam singles titles. His one-time arch-rival Roger Federer is the all-time men’s leader with 17 and Pete Sampras ranks second with 14. To read more of this story, click here

Rafa & Serena on Brink of History in 2014

NEW YORK — With their wins at the U.S. Open, Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal are on the brink of history and could pass significant all-time records in 2014.

Serena now has 17 career Grand Slam singles titles and could tie Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova for fourth all-time with 18 Majors by winning the Australian Open in January. Next up would be Helen Wills Moody, whose 19 Majors are good for third place behind Margaret Court (24) and Steffi Graf (22).

Nadal, meantime, won his 13th Major on Monday with his four-set win over Novak Djokovic and could tie Pete Sampras at 14 for second all-time by winning the Australian. To read more of this story, click here

Nadal Captures 13th Major, 2nd U.S. Open Crown With Win Over Djokovic

The 37th and latest installment of the Rafael Nadal-Novak Djokovic rivalry was fraught with historic implications for the world’s No. 1 and No. 2-ranked tennis players.

Entering Monday’s U.S. Open final, each man had won one Grand Slam event this year and the latest battle would give one player a second major and the distinction of being perceived as the No. 1 player in the world.

In the end, Nadal continued his recent hardcourt dominance, capping a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory in three hours and 21 minutes by jumping up in celebration and then falling on his back on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court after Djokovic sent a forehand into the net on match point.

The crowd of 22,000 that roared in approval included Jessica Alba, David Beckham, Justin Timberlake, Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, Martha Stewart and Rod Laver, one of the greatest players in tennis history.

“First thing, very, very emotional,” said Nadal, who picked up a total of $3.6 million in prize money. “Probably only my team knows how much means the match of today for me. Playing against Novak always is a very special feeling. Probably nobody brings my game to the limit like Novak does, so congratulations, Novak, you are an amazing player.”

Click here for the full story on Metro.

Photo: NY Times

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Can Rafa Nadal Be the Greatest of All Time?

 

NEW YORK — The way Mats Wilander figures it, trying to determine who owns the title “Greatest of All Time” in tennis is kind of like trying to determine who the greatest rock ‘n’ roll guitarist of all time is.

Is it Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page? Keith Richards or The Edge?

“I think that the only way you can compare is are the musicians better today than when the Beatles came up or Keith Richards’ guitar playing,” Wilander told SNY.tv at the Open.

“There are obviously better guitar players than Keith Richards, they’re better technically, but they’re not playing with more feel.” To read more of this story, click here

Serena Battles for 5th U.S. Open Title, 17th Major

 NEW YORK – Up a set and two breaks on Victoria Azarenka in the U.S. Open women’s final, it seemed to all the world that Serena Williams was on cruise control.

But a gutsy Azarenka rallied and staged a remarkable comeback to win the second set in a tiebreak, only to eventually fall to Serena and her indomitable will, 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-1, in 2 hours, 45 minutes Sunday evening in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

When Azarenka sailed a backhand return long on Serena’s second match point, top-seeded Williams jumped up and down in celebration, having won her 17th career Grand Slam singles championship, fifth U.S. Open and second straight in Flushing Meadows over Azarenka.

It was Serena’s second Major this year following the French Open.

“Vika’s such a great opponent, such a great fighter and that’s why she was able to win multiple Grand Slams,” Serena said on court as she flashed a huge smile. “It was never over until match point.”

Click here for the full story on Metro.

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Wawrinka Says Federer ‘Will Find a Way to Come Back’

NEW YORK — Stan Wawrinka says his countryman Roger Federer will be back.

Federer and Wawrinka won a gold medal in doubles for Switzerland at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but up until this last week at the U.S. Open, Wawrinka has lived in Federer’s long shadow on the singles court.

For the first time in 35 Majors, Wawrinka went deeper than Federer did. Federer was excused from the tournament by Tommy Robredo in straight sets in the fourth round, thereby preventing the dream quarterfinal against Rafael Nadal that tennis fans everywhere were anticipating. To read more of this story, click here

Nadal, Djokovic Set for Dream U.S. Open Final

NEW YORK — This U.S. Open has been deprived of several marquee matchups that seemed enticing when the draw came out.

We never got to see the first-ever New York encounter between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals.

That other quarterfinal showdown between 2009 champ Juan Martin Del Potro and 2011 champ Novak Djokovic? That never materialized, either.

Neither did what would have been a huge semifinal between Djokovic and defending champ Andy Murray in a rematch of the 2012 U.S. Open final and the 2013 Wimbledon final — both won by Murray. To read more of this story, click here