Rafael Nadal's French Open haul is the only record in sport that will never be broken, according to Richard Krajicek.

And the former Wimbledon champion believes Nadal could yet add a 15th Roland Garros title in what is set to be his final year on the circuit.

Indeed, Krajicek believes Nadal's great rival Novak Djokovic would even be hoping to see the Spaniard succeed again in Paris.

While Djokovic's 24 singles grand slam triumphs edge out Nadal's 22, his performances at the clay-court major are unmatched.

Nadal has 14 French Open titles, losing only three times in 115 matches at the event.

Although he did not compete last year, as Djokovic earned his third Roland Garros championship, a winning return in 2024 would provide a fitting conclusion to a legendary career.

"It would be great for Nadal to go for the clay and win one more French Open," Krajicek told Stats Perform.

"I think every record in sports or in tennis can and will probably be broken. I'm pretty sure the only one that will never be broken is the 14 French Open titles from Rafael Nadal. I don't see how somebody can win 14 titles."

Of the possibility of one last win for Nadal, Krajicek added: "It would be just incredible.

"I think everybody in tennis, probably including his competition, Djokovic or [Carlos] Alcaraz, would love for Rafa to win one more French Open."

That is a realistic aim, according to Krajicek, although he does not see Nadal competing for the top prize at either Wimbledon or the US Open.

"For me, [the French Open] is the only one. If he wins any grand slam, it's that one," the 1996 All England Club winner said. "I don't think he'll ever win Wimbledon again, also not the US Open.

"I don't know how good his body is, but the feeling and how much he played or how little he played... I think, for me, only the French Open. Roland Garros is the only one he can win."

Asked for his reflections on Nadal's legacy, Krajicek replied: "I think his legacy will be of a great champion, number two in grand slams, so one of the greatest ever, unbelievable.

"A great person, humble person, and probably the biggest fighter we've ever seen in any sports arena, in any sport. Just an incredibly mentally strong athlete."

Emma Raducanu insists working on her game rather than winning matches is the priority this year.

The former US Open champion has won three of the seven matches she has played in 2024 following her return from triple surgery last spring on both wrists and one ankle.

Raducanu will play Spanish qualifier Rebeka Masarova on Thursday in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, where she has been given a wild card.

The 21-year-old, who reached the fourth round in the Californian desert last year, has been training at home in London for the last couple of weeks, and she told the BBC: “I want to work on becoming a better tennis player.

“I think for me I’m not too concerned about this year’s tournaments. A lot of people out there would say that I need matches, but I think that for me I want to work on my game and development.

“Taking time to do that is very necessary and not just following the crowd, or playing a lot of matches, or dropping down (below the WTA Tour) to do that. I want to work on developing skills.”

Raducanu also said that she is likely to play in next month’s Billie Jean King Cup tie against France if selected by Great Britain captain Anne Keothavong.

Novak Djokovic still remains the favourite to win any tournament he enters and is capable of winning six more grand slams before the end of next year.

That is according to former Wimbledon winner Richard Krajicek, who told Stats Perform he considers Djokovic the sport's all-time greatest.

Djokovic won three majors last year and reached the final of a fourth, but he was knocked out of the 2024 Australian Open at the semi-final stage.

Jannik Sinner defeated the 10-time Melbourne champion in four sets before beating Daniil Medvedev in the final, seeming to usher in a new era for tennis.

However, Krajicek insists Djokovic is far from done as he continues to pick and choose which tournaments he enters. 

"Five or six years ago, I was wondering how long he's going to maintain his level, but he's still doing it," Krajicek told Stats Perform.

"He played very few tournaments last year and still managed to be number one. 

"I doubt that he's going to stay number one for long if he only plays 11 or 12 events because then you basically have to win every event.

"But for me, he's still going to win one to three grand slams a year, for the next two years at least."

Wimbledon was the only major at which Djokovic fell short last year as his streak of four straight titles at SW19 came to an end against Carlos Alcaraz.

Krajicek, who won the tournament in 1996, believes the 36-year-old remains the man to beat in this year's competition.

"For sure, at Wimbledon," Krajicek said when asked if Djokovic is the favourite. "The French Open and the US Open has more competition. 

"It's difficult as there are more strong, fit players like Medvedev, Sinner and Alcaraz. 

"That will be very difficult to win the US Open, but for me, he is still the favourite to win Wimbledon."

Djokovic won his 24th grand slam singles title when triumphing at the US Open last September with victory over Medvedev in the final.

The world number one is two in front of Rafael Nadal for the most majors won by a male in the Open Era, while the retired Roger Federer finished on 20.

On that basis, Djokovic is the greatest of all time in the view of Krajicek, who also cites his longevity.

"For me, he's the best player that ever played the game," the Dutchman said. "He has won every grand slam at least three times. 

"He's won 24 grand slams, and he's also won four grand slams in a row previously. Those are just incredible stats. 

"He's been number one for over 400 weeks, and I think Federer is the next one with about 310 weeks. 

"So, for me, Federer and Nadal are unbelievable players, but Djokovic is just a little level higher."

Simona Halep is free to resume her career after the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced her doping ban from four years to nine months.

The former Wimbledon champion tested positive for the blood-boosting drug Roxadustat at the US Open in 2022 and was handed the long ban last September.

Halep appealed to CAS and, following a hearing last month, the court has dramatically reduced the Romanian’s suspension.

A CAS statement read: “The CAS panel has unanimously determined that the four-year period of ineligibility imposed by the ITF (International Tennis Federation) independent tribunal is to be reduced to a period of ineligibility of nine months starting on October 7, 2022, which period expired on July 6, 2023.”

The International Tennis Integrity Agency, which oversees tennis’ anti-doping programme, had also appealed seeking an even longer ban, but this is a major victory for Halep, who was staring at the end of her career if the original sanction stood.

The independent tribunal had not accepted Halep’s explanation that a contaminated supplement was the source of the Roxadustat in her system, while a charge of irregularities in her athlete biological passport was also upheld.

But the CAS panel took a different view, with a statement reading: “Having carefully considered all the evidence put before it, the CAS panel determined that Ms Halep had established, on the balance of probabilities, that the Roxadustat entered her body through the consumption of a contaminated supplement which she had used in the days shortly before August 29, 2022 and that the Roxadustat, as detected in her sample, came from that contaminated product.

“As a result, the CAS panel determined that Ms Halep had also established, on the balance of probabilities, that her anti-doping rule violations were not intentional.

“Although the CAS panel found that Ms Halep did bear some level of fault or negligence for her violations, as she did not exercise sufficient care when using the Keto MCT supplement, it concluded that she bore no significant fault or negligence.”

CAS dismissed the biological passport finding, saying: “Contrary to the reasoning of the first instance tribunal, the CAS panel determined that it was appropriate in the circumstances to consider the results of a private blood sample given by Ms Halep on September 9, 2022 in the context of a surgery which occurred shortly thereafter.

“Those results, and Ms Halep’s public statements that she did not intend to compete for the remainder of the 2022 calendar year, impacted the plausibility of the doping scenarios relied upon by the ITF independent tribunal.

“Having regard to the evidence as a whole, the CAS panel was not comfortably satisfied that an anti-doping rule violation had occurred. It therefore dismissed that charge.”

The ITIA has also been ordered to pay Halep around £18,000 as a contribution to her legal fees and expenses.

Halep was the highest-profile tennis player since Maria Sharapova to fail a drugs test, having won the French Open in 2018 and Wimbledon the following year as well as being ranked world number one.

The 32-year-old, who strongly criticised the original process, will now look to rebuild her career.

Katie Boulter has set her sights on pushing further up the rankings after winning the biggest title of her career.

The British number one defeated five top-40 players to win the San Diego Open, bringing her a first WTA 500 trophy and elevating her ranking to 27.

With Cameron Norrie slipping to 28, it means Boulter is the highest-ranked British singles player of either gender heading into the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, which begins on Wednesday.

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Katie Boulter (@katiecboulter)

 

The same week a year ago, Boulter was ranked outside the world’s top 150, and she does not have many points to defend until the grass-court tournament in Nottingham in June, where last year she picked up her first WTA title.

“I feel like I’ve started the year very well and I’ve given myself the best opportunity to set myself up for the rest of the year,” said 27-year-old Boulter.

“I’ve got a free swing, I don’t really have too much pressure. I’m just here enjoying myself and working as hard as I possibly can with a great team. You never know what could happen so I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.”

The weekend was made even more special for Boulter by the success of boyfriend Alex De Minaur, who successfully defended his title in Acapulco on Saturday before catching an early morning flight to cheer on the British star.

They join the likes of former couples Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert and Lleyton Hewitt and Kim Clijsters in winning titles on the same weekend, and Boulter said: “I think that is very cool.

“I had no idea other people had done it. To share something with my other half is going to be something that we won’t forget.”

While the two titles both earned their recipients 500 ranking points, De Minaur took home around £325,000 and Boulter just £112,000, highlighting the continuing disparity between the ATP and WTA Tour away from the biggest joint events.

Boulter has mixed feelings, saying: “I’m obviously very happy with my first WTA 500 title, not too many players can say that they’ve won a 500 so I feel very special.

“Regarding the prize money, I feel like there’s a lot of equality in our sport in the biggest events. I really hope that the WTA can continue to help bridge the gap between the other events.”

There is parity in Indian Wells, where the tours come together at a big event for the first time since the Australian Open.

Boulter’s elevation to the top 30 comes too late to earn her a seeding and she will be back in action on Wednesday against dangerous Italian Camila Giorgi.

If she can maintain or improve her ranking through to the French Open and Wimbledon, she will earn herself a seeding, meaning she would not face a player in the top 32 until at least the third round.

“It’s definitely an aim of mine,” said Boulter. “I want to make sure that I can get as close to a seeding as possible. At the moment I’m in but it takes time to build more ranking points and to get myself to that place.

“Every single place in the ranking counts and I’ve just got to do my best because obviously it makes a difference as to who you play in the tournaments.”

Boulter is joined in the Indian Wells draw by Emma Raducanu, who has been given a wild card and will take on a qualifier in the first round.

Raducanu enjoyed one of her best weeks in the Californian desert last year, defying the wrist problems that subsequently forced her to go under the knife to reach the fourth round.

Norrie has a bye in the men’s event as the 28th seed while Andy Murray plays a qualifier, Jack Draper meets Christopher O’Connell and Dan Evans plays Roman Safiullin.

Rafael Nadal returns to the tour for the first time since suffering a muscle injury in Brisbane in January and will take on fellow veteran Milos Raonic, while Novak Djokovic makes his first appearance in Indian Wells for five years following the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions.

Katie Boulter has stormed into the top 30 of the WTA rankings for the first time after she claimed San Diego Open success.

British number one Boulter recovered from a set down to beat Marta Kostyuk 5-7 6-2 6-2 to clinch a maiden WTA 500 title.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the rise of the new world number 27 and what is next.

Always destined for stardom?

Boulter has been a prominent name in British tennis circles since her teenage years and followed in the footsteps of her mother Susan by picking up a racket to represent her nation at junior level. A breakthrough Wimbledon in 2018 – where she tested Naomi Osaka – appeared the catalyst for the tall right-hander to kick on in her development after she reached 82 in the world, but a serious back injury a year later curtailed her progress.

Road to recovery

The spinal stress fracture in Boulter’s back forced her to miss the majority of 2019 and when she was finally fit again, the coronavirus pandemic sent the world into lockdown. After the tennis season did resume, minor injuries halted the momentum of Boulter, who won a low-level ITF event in Grenoble at the start of 2022 before a leg issue saw her sit out the clay-court season.

Second Wimbledon breakthrough

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Katie Boulter (@katiecboulter)

 

Boulter recovered in time to achieve a grand-slam best result with a run to the Wimbledon third round after victory over former world number one Karolina Pliskova. The next big challenge was to improve the robustness of her body after she built a strong team around her, which included coach Biljana Veselinovic and she kicked off 2023 with a number of fine displays in ITF tournaments. She beat compatriot Jodie Burrage to seal Canberra success before she made another two finals in Japan in May.

Maiden WTA title

The 2023 grass-court season started with Boulter making the last four at the Surbiton Trophy before she beat a string of compatriots to seal Nottingham Open success for her first victory at WTA 250 level. It was followed by third-round showings at both Wimbledon and the US Open to cap off an excellent year. The 27-year-old’s new-found confidence was on display for Great Britain at the United Cup in December where she got the better of top-five player Jessica Pegula before going all the way in San Diego.

Can she surprise at Indian Wells?

There will be little time for Boulter to celebrate the biggest victory of her career or the Mexican Open success of boyfriend Alex De Minaur, with both set to play in the women’s and men’s editions of the WTA 1000 tournament BNP Paribas Open, which starts this week. British number one Boulter enters after beating five top-50 opponents in San Diego to take her season record to 11 wins in 14 matches. A key feature of her form has been the Briton’s composure in crunch moments after she recovered from a number of first-set double-faults to beat Kostyuk and she will fancy her chances of causing a splash in Indian Wells with her booming forehand a match for anyone right now.

British number one Katie Boulter thanked boyfriend Alex de Minaur for racing over to California to watch her win a first WTA 500 tournament after his own success at the Mexican Open.

The 27-year-old came from behind to claim the San Diego Open title with a 5-7 6-2 6-2 win over Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk and earn a second career title.

Boulter’s victory was watched by De Minaur, who defended his Mexican Open title in Acapulco on Saturday before scheduling an early-morning flight to support her on Sunday.

“I want to say a small special thank you to my boyfriend,” Boulter said post-match.

“He finished last night at midnight and I really want to embarrass him. He got a 4.15 taxi this morning and six o’clock flight to be here today, so I do appreciate it.”

After an even start to the match, Kostyuk began to get the better of Boulter and surged into a 5-2 lead.

Boulter fought back to level at 5-5 but the sixth-seeded Ukrainian regained the momentum to wrap up the first set 7-5.

Boulter then found her groove in the second, dominating on her first serve to clinch the set 6-2 and force a deciding third set.

The Briton continued her ascendancy into the third, claiming the first break point of the set en route to opening up a 3-1 advantage.

Boulter broke again in the seventh game and hit her first two aces of the match in the next to close out the victory in two hours and 13 minutes.

The San Diego win is her second WTA title, adding to a maiden championship on grass in Nottingham last summer and Boulter reflected on a “special” week in California.

“This week has been very, very special for so many different reasons,” she said post-match.

“This one is pretty amazing, I’ve worked very hard for it, I played some incredible tennis all week.

“Today was a complete battle, with myself as well because I was a little bit nervous. But I managed to get over the line and that I’m very proud of.

“A lot of it was about me staying as tough as I possibly could mentally and I managed to keep my cool and actually kind of went within myself and calmed myself down a lot.

“I think that really helped me and then I started to relax and play through shots a little bit more.”

Boulter has had a flying start to the 2024 season and the victory over Kostyuk sees her break into the top 30 for the first time, now ranked 27th.

British number one Katie Boulter has claimed her first WTA 500 tournament victory with a 5-7 6-2 6-2 win over Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk in the final of the San Diego Open.

The 27-year-old from Leicester was watched by boyfriend Alex De Minaur, who scheduled an early-morning flight after retaining his title in Acapulco.

After an even start between the two, the sixth seeded Ukrainian began to get the better of Boulter, stringing multiple games together and rapidly closing in on the opening set.

Boulter fought back to even the set at 5-5, but Kostyuk regained the momentum to wrap up the first set 7-5.

Boulter then found her groove in the second, dominating on her first serve to clinch the set 6-2 and force a deciding third set.

The Briton continued her ascendancy into the third, claiming the first break point of the set en route to opening up a 3-1 advantage.

Boulter broke again in the seventh game and stormed home from there to close out the victory in two hours and 13 minutes.

Both women picked up their first WTA Tour titles last year in breakout 2023 seasons.

Boulter claimed her maiden championship on grass in Nottingham last summer, while Kostyuk found victory in Austin.

Boulter has had a flying start to the 2024 season and the victory over Kostyuk guarantees she will break into the top 30 for the first time.

Katie Boulter vowed to keep having fun on the court after beating Emma Navarro to reach her biggest career final at the San Diego Open.

The British number one, who claimed her maiden WTA Tour title on grass in Nottingham last summer, will bid for the trophy at a WTA 500 tournament for the first time thanks to a 6-3 6-1 win.

Boulter has had a flying start to the 2024 season and victory over her third top-30 opponent of the week guarantees she will rise at least 14 places in the rankings to a new career-high of 35.

She will break the top 30 if she can defeat Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk in the final on Sunday night – where she will be watched by boyfriend Alex De Minaur, who scheduled an early-morning flight after retaining his title in Acapulco.

Boulter said: “Today was one of those matches that everything just clicked. I came onto the court and started the first few games and I could feel the power that she had and the way she works and manoeuvres the ball.

“I had to come up with something better and play more aggressive and go for it and I think that was my chance to just trust myself and trust the work I’ve put in and it paid off.

“It’s my biggest career final so far. I’m just going to keep having fun. I’ve got such good vibes going with the team right now so nothing changes there, I’m just going to enjoy myself.”

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Katie Boulter (@katiecboulter)

The 27-year-old from Leicester dominated on her serve against third seed Navarro, winning more than 87 per cent of first serve points and allowing the American just two break points, both of which she saved.

 

Rain stopped play early in the second set but the delay did nothing to halt Boulter’s momentum as she wrapped up victory in only 48 minutes of play.

“It was obviously very tricky with the rain delay in the middle of the match,” said Boulter, who was ranked well outside the top 100 a year ago.

“I felt like I had the momentum behind me, I was putting a lot of pressure on myself in the rain delay to stay focused and stay warm and continue that momentum and I think I came out and played some really good stuff to start with and kept that rolling and I think that was super important today.”

Kostyuk is also having one of the best weeks of her career and she stunned American top seed Jessica Pegula, winning 7-6 (4) 6-1.

It was the 21-year-old’s first win over a top-five player after she came back from 5-1 down in the first set.

Alex de Minaur has defended his Mexican Open title after defeating Norwegian Casper Ruud in straight sets in Acapulco.

The match took just under two hours as the pair battled in long rallies, with the difference being the Australian’s ability to capitalise on break points, nailing three of four while Ruud converted just one of four.

The 25-year-old took an early lead in the first set at 3-1 and served out the rest of the set, while in the second the pair broke each other before de Minaur had the decisive break in the seventh game.

De Minaur won the same competition last year, beating American Tommy Paul, and further solidified his ranking in the top ten.

He has won 10 straight games in Acapulco and is the first player since David Ferrer in 2012 to win back-to-back titles at the tournament.

He defeated Jack Draper in the semi-final after the Englishman retired ill in the third set.

Katie Boulter will play in her first WTA-500 final after she beat American Emma Navarro in straight sets at the San Diego Open.

It took just over an hour for Boulter who won the first set 6-3 and dominated the second 6-1 against the third seed.

The 27-year-old from Leicester dominated on her serve, winning more than 87 per cent of first serve points and allowed just two break points opportunities against her serve, saving both.

Rain stopped play early in the second set, but the delay did nothing to stop Boulter’s momentum as she produced an almost perfect set to secure victory.

Boulter will climb to her career-high WTA ranking after the win as she looks to win her first WTA-500 title in what will be the biggest game of her career so far.

Jack Draper retired in the third set of his semi-final against Australian Alex de Minaur at the Mexican Open in Acapulco.

Draper left the court 4-0 down in the final set because of an undisclosed illness after he staged a strong comeback from a set down to the defending champion.

The Australian started strongly, taking the first 6-3 and capitalising on four of six break points – the first set Draper had dropped in the tournament.

But the British number three staged a valiant comeback, winning the second set 6-2 with some strong returns.

His illness became an issue towards the end of the second set with the 22-year-old receiving treatment from the physiotherapist and tournament doctor.

Things only got worse in the third set as the Australian won four consecutive games before Draper retired from the match.

De Minaur said after the match that he wishes Draper a “speedy recovery”.

“He’s a hell of a player, a hell of a talent and I hope it’s nothing too serious,” he said.

Katie Boulter is through to a first WTA 500 semi-final after beating Croatia’s Donna Vekic in straight sets at the San Diego Open.

The British number one followed up her win over second seed Beatriz Haddad Maia in the last 16 by knocking out the 2022 runner-up 6-4 6-3.

From trailing 3-1 in the first set, Boulter won nine of the next 10 games in another confident display.

She will climb to a career-high ranking, on the brink of the top 40, following her latest victory.

Vecic, seeded seventh, broke first in the opening set but then allowed Boulter to hit straight back after an error-strewn service game.

Boulter then saved three break points to hold and grabbed a crucial second break for 5-4 before serving out the set.

Two stunning Boulter backhands brought the 27-year-old from Leicester another break at the start of the second, and a subsequent break to love put her in complete control.

Boulter let Vecic claw one break back as she served for the set, but she converted her first match point with a clubbing forehand after the longest rally of the match, wrapping up the victory in an hour and 36 minutes.

“It was an absolute battle in tricky conditions, it was not easy to get any rhythm as we are both big hitters,” Boulter said in her on-court interview.

“I got over the line in the first set and played some good stuff in the second.”

World number five Andrey Rublev was sensationally defaulted after being accused of swearing at a line judge in the deciding set of his semi-final at the Dubai Open.

The combustible Russian was trailing 6-5 in the third against Alexander Bublik when he appeared to say something to the line judge.

ATP supervisor Roland Herfel came down to the court accompanied by a Russian speaker, who claimed Rublev had sworn in his native language.

Rublev protested, insisting he was speaking in English, while Bublik also backed his opponent.

“I didn’t say ‘f******’. I swear to God. This is huge. I swear to God,” said Rublev.

The offence would usually merit a warning in the first instance, but the 26-year-old was defaulted by umpire Miriam Bley amid jeers from the crowd in Dubai.

It was a controversial end to a tight match, with Kazakhstan’s Bublik progressing to the final 6-7 (4) 7-6 (5) 6-5.

Jack Draper cruised into the semi-finals of the Mexican Open in Acapulco as he beat Miomir Kecmanovic 6-2 6-2.

The British number three is ranked three places higher than his opponent at world number 50, but the gulf between them on court proved much greater.

Draper broke Kecmanovic in the third game of the opening set and repeated the feat for a 4-1 lead, serving out to take the opening set in 31 minutes.

The start of the opening set proved a tighter tussle, the first four games going with serve as Draper survived a break point to level at 2-2.

Draper took control from that moment, capitalising on his fourth break point to win the fifth set and adding a double break to move 5-2 ahead.

He served out to love in the final game, booking his place in the last four in 80 minutes.

Draper beat both Kecmanovic and American Tommy Paul, who he defeated in his opening match in Acapulco, en route to the final in Adelaide in January.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.