Tennis

Nadal on winning 1,000 ATP Tour matches: I’m very old but super happy

Rafael Nadal became the fourth man to win 1,000 ATP Tour matches yesterday morning (Singapore time), after overcoming an early fright to beat his good friend Feliciano Lopez at the Paris Masters.

Nadal, who won a record-extending 13th French Open title at Roland Garros last month, followed Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer and Ivan Lendl in reaching the 1,000 mark.

The Spaniard, 34, had to fight back against fellow Spanish veteran Lopez, 39, but did enough to win 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4.

Nadal was given a special presentation to celebrate his achievement, after the win in a near-empty Bercy Arena. The event was played without fans after France entered its second coronavirus lockdown.

"One negative thing about 1,000 wins is you are very old because to win 1,000 matches you need to have a very long career, but I am super happy," said the 20-time Grand Slam champion. "It means I've done a lot of things right.

"I'm proud of a lot of things, but I faced some challenges in my career in terms of injuries ... It's a big achievement to be playing at the age of 34."

RECORD

Taking the trophy in Paris this week would see Nadal equal Novak Djokovic's record of 36 Masters titles.

It would set him up nicely for the Nov 15-22 ATP Tour Finals in London, where he could be joined by Diego Schwartzman.

The Argentinian moved within one win of reaching his first ATP Finals, thanks to a 6-1, 6-1 thrashing of Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in an hour.

Schwartzman will face either third seed Daniil Medvedev or Australia's Alex de Minaur in today's quarter-finals.

A win in that match would be enough to seal a place in the season finale for the 28-year-old, who dedicated an earlier win to his namesake and idol Diego Maradona.

The football legend had underwent a brain operation to remove a blood clot. - AFP

Tennis