With the first major of the year just a week away, Rafael Nadal, Gael Monfils, Team Canada, Ash Barty, Simona Halep and Amanda Anisimova scored some confidence-building wins -- plus a lot more action on and off the court BELOW.
All tennis eyes are on Novak Djokovic's appeal to have his visa reinstated. Thus far, the court seems sympathetic to his argument. "What more could this man have done?" the judge asked. Live updates HERE.
Now the ball is in the court of Australia’s immigration minister, Alex Hawke, who must decide whether to personally intervene and cancel Djokovic’s visa himself.
Rafael Nadal defeated Franco-American dreamboat Maxime Cressy 7-6(6), 6-3 in the final in Melbourne on Sunday. With the win, the Spaniard is suddenly in a nice position to possibly win the Australian Open -- the only major he's won just once -- and take over as leader on the all-time majors list at 21. A victory would also give a second career Grand Slam, evening things up with Novak Djokovic. If I were a Nadal fan I would prefer a Melbourne title that includes a win over Nole, but at this point I'm sure Rafa will take it any way he can get it.
In doubles, No. 1 seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski beat Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi 6-4, 6-4 to win their first tournament as a pair
Top seed Gael Monfils captured his 11th ATP Tour title Sunday, overcoming Karen Khachanov 6-4, 6-4 in the Adelaide International 1 final to begin his season in perfect fashion. As impressive as the 35-year-old Frenchman is, somehow it feels like it says more about the 25-year-old Russian, who hasn't won a title since the 2018 Paris Masters, his one and only big title.
In doubles, India's Rohan Bopanna and Ramkumar Ramanathan upset top seeds Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo 7-6 (6), 6-1 t to win the Adelaide International crown on Sunday
Felix Auger-Aliassime clinched the ATP Cup title for Canada on Sunday evening with a 7-6(3), 6-3 victory against Roberto Bautista Agut to give his country a 2-0 win against Spain following Denis Shapovalov's 6-4, 6-3 win against Pablo Carreno Busta,
I'm not a huge fan of the event -- which comes weeks after the similar Davis Cup and brought about the demise of the more-fun Hopman Cup (with its mixed doubles). But I was happy for the young Canadians, including hunky Brayden Schnur.
Ash Barty is looking like the one to beat at the Aussie Open, winning the singles and doubles of the warmup event in Adelaide. After beating Elena Rybakina 6-3, 6-2 in the singles final on Sunday afternoon, Barty teamed up with Storm Sanders for a 6-1, 6-4 win over Darija Jurak Schreiber and Andreja Klepac in the doubles final.
It was nice to see Amanda Anisimova looking good again, capturing the trophy in Melbourne with a see-saw victory over Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 7-5, 1-6, 6-4. It was the second WTA title for the young American, who is reportedly working with Darren Cahill, aka Simona Halep's former coach.
And speaking of the Romanian veteran: The two-time major champ stormed to her first title in 16 months when she downed Russian Veronika Kudermetova to clinch the Melbourne Summer Set crown Sunday, 6-2, 6-3. Fittingly, the match was played in Rod Laver Arena, a perfect way to prep for the Australian Open starting on Jan. 17.
Elsewhere around the net ...
Jenson Brooksby tests positive for Covid, pulls out of Aussie Open
A big thank you to the ATP Hot Players IG account for bringing Aziz Dougaz of Tunisia to my attention
Zlatan Dzumhur makes a splash
Maxime Cressy may have come up short versus Nadal, but he still has the hottest coach on tour
Follow rugged Romain Sichez HERE.
Daniel Masur in action
Daniel Masur and Maximilian Marterer: How do you say spit roast in German?
Ukrainian Illya Marchenko on fire
Marcelo Arevalo show how relaxing Australia can be if you're vaccinated
Cressey had such a great week that he finally posted something on Instagram!
Ernesto Escobedo wins his fourth Challenger title and first since 2019, defeating French-Mauritian Enzo Couacaud 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 down under in Bendigo. The win moves him back top 150. BTW: The American is working with Javier Nalbandian, David!
Ernesto's IG is worth a follow HERE
... as is Enzo's HERE.
In doubles, Germany's Daniel Masur and Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium defeated singles runner-up Enzo Couacaud and Blaz Rola of Slovenia in the ATP Challenger in Bendigo, Australia
I have a crush on Germany's Christian Wedel
At least Karen looks like this
Your weekly fix of Albano Olivetti
Czech cutie Tomas Machac won the Challenger in Traralgon, Australia, beating American Bjorn Fratangelo 7-6(2), 6-3
In an all-Argentine final played in Argentina, Santiago Rodríguez Taverna defeated Facundo Díaz Acosta 6-4, 6-2 in the Challenger de Tigre
American Noah Rubin -- looking like a million bucks -- reached the round of 16. But according to his IG Stories, he tested positive for Covid and got stuck in the country a few days before they came to the conclusion it was a false + ...
Jamie Murray flaunted what's got during the ATP Cup
Liam Broady with a view
Cam Norrie in action
British boys didn't look like this when I was a kid
First Lloyd Glasspool was sniffing around Matty Reidy,
... and now Jordan Thompson
If he's not stripping, Robert Farah's auditioning for Mask4Masc
After hours with Grigor Dimitrov
Christian Harrison always gets tongues wagging
Ryan Harrison says it's harder than it looks ...
Ryan shoots (and scores) for the most mundane status update of the week
How do I join Tom Hill's coffee klatsch?
Marton Fucsovics's got a hot car
... and a hotter body
I guess it's safe to say Vasek Pospisil isn't in Australia because he's fallen under Novax's spell
Paula Badosa's way-better half
Cristian Garin's body looked great and his game looked awful during an ATP Cup match I saw
Hot couple alert: Clinton Thomson and Thomas Fabbiano
Franco Agamenone shows off his Argentine BBQ skills
David Vega Hernandez and friend
Sunset people: Jan-Michael Gambill and friends
Bernard Tomic flaunts his flexibility
No, Tommy. You're doing it exactly right ...
Not a fan of Tommy Paul's influencer housewife-wannabe girlfriend, but did appreciate his tweet about her
Mikael Torpegaard is living proof that even if you're hot, long hair can destroy your looks
Thanasi Kokkinakis was on a roll in Adelaide, qualifying and then reaching the semis before losing to the eventual champion
Didn't catch his name, but Team Canada had some big support in its box during the ATP Cup
I may be more excited about this than anyone, but Andreas Mies and Kevin Krawietz -- who won the 2019 and 2020 French Open title -- are re-teaming this week in Sydney for the first time since Mies returned to the tour from knee surgery!
And last but certainly not least: J.J. Wolf seems to have trimmed his hair, but not his ass