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The Wimbledon Press Moment You Have To See

  • Posted: Jun 30, 2018

The Wimbledon Press Moment You Have To See

Former World No. 1 cracks up the press room before main draw play begins

Andy Murray uses his talents to entertain tennis fans throughout the world. But on Saturday, he pleasured a new audience: the press. 

The former World No. 1, who will begin his Wimbledon campaign against Benoit Paire, was in the middle of analysing the Frenchman’s game when cheers were heard in the interview room, interrupting the Scot’s response. 

“I can’t believe I’m missing this match,” Murray said. “It’s like 4-2 or something.”

Murray did his press conference during the second half of a Round of 16 World Cup match between France and Argentina. A reporter corrected Murray, saying France was leading 3-2. And the 31-year-old responded with a perfect joke: “Should we just go?”

Don’t worry, Murray stayed to fulfill the rest of his press obligations. But soon after, it was off to watch the rest of the football match. And Murray did not turn out to be Nostradamus. The final score? France 4, Argentina 3.

You May Also Like: From Doubt To Excitement: Murray Returns To Wimbledon

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Superstitions? Zverev Has None

  • Posted: Jun 30, 2018

Superstitions? Zverev Has None

German owns 6-3 record at Wimbledon

In a sport famous for its superstitions, from Bjorn Borg’s no-shave policy at Wimbledon to Kei Nishikori’s refusal to call home during the 2014 US Open, one player, with hopes of achieving further success in the next decade of the sport, admits something rather surprising; he does not have any. That man is World No. 3 Alexander Zverev.

The 21-year-old, who reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Roland Garros this year, spoke about his thought process as he prepares for his fourth appearance at SW19.

“I’m not superstitious at all,” admitted Zverev. “I don’t have anything I have to do before I play. For me, if I have a great preparation, if I have great practices, I know I’ll do well. This is more important for me than any superstition anybody could have.”

A year ago, Zverev lost a tight five-set battle against 2016 runner-up Milos Raonic on the legendary grass. Now, one year on, the three-time ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titlist will be confident of going further in the draw, armed with superstitions or not. The tournament’s No. 4 seed, who will meet Australia’s James Duckworth in the first round, is 0-1 on grass this season after losing to eventual champion Borna Coric at the Gerry Weber Open last week.

“I look forward to it. I think it’s Wimbledon. I think everybody looks forward to it,” said Zverev. “[I got] a little bit injured in Paris. Everybody knows that. I didn’t practise a lot before the tournament in Halle, so… I played it without having any practice. But now I feel really good. The practices I had here and the practices that I had after my loss in Halle were great. I feel ready to go.”

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With two finals to his name on grass (Halle 2016-2017), Zverev knows his way around the surface. But the 21-year-old doesn’t put too much emphasis on the court, instead choosing to focus on his game.

“I mean, it’s a different surface. I always said that for me the surface is not a big role. For me, it’s how I play, more about how my game is at the moment,” said Zverev. “I can adjust pretty well to surfaces. Obviously you have got to do a few things differently than on clay.

“You have got to maybe slice a little bit more, you have got to come in a little bit more, you have got to try to play lower. But that adjustment is made within a few days. After that, it’s more about finding your shots, finding your game.”

Did You Know?
Alexander Zverev owns a 20-10 FedEx ATP Win/Loss Record on grass. The German has also improved his performance by one round with each appearance he has made at Wimbledon.

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From Doubt To Excitement: Murray Returns To Wimbledon

  • Posted: Jun 30, 2018

From Doubt To Excitement: Murray Returns To Wimbledon

Former World No. 1 to face Frenchman Paire in first round

For 11 months, Andy Murray was forced out of competition due to a hip injury. The former World No. 1’s ATP Ranking slipped as low as No. 157 — his lowest standing in nearly 13 years — and the Scot admitted to having ‘zero expectations’ when he returned at The Queen’s Club two weeks ago. The future was uncertain.

But the two-time Wimbledon champion put forth two solid efforts at the Fever-Tree Championships and the Nature Valley International, and the right-hander says he is prepared to play at The Championships.

“I’m pumped,” Murray said. “Four or five weeks ago, I didn’t know whether I’d be capable of competing at a level I’d be happy with. I think the past couple of weeks have been beneficial… I don’t think I played amazing in the matches, but I think I’ve done well, considering the opponents, the level of the guys that I’ve played against.”

In his first match back at The Queen’s Club, the Scot pushed in-form Aussie Nick Kyrgios to a final-set tie-break before succumbing. And at Devonshire Park in Eastbourne, the 31-year-old beat former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka before losing to British No. 1 Kyle Edmund.

Now, Murray is back at the tournament that helped mold him into a national icon. He has advanced to at least the quarter-finals at the tournament in each of the past 10 years. But the lead-up to this event? Not the same.

“Wimbledon for me is obviously special for a lot of reasons. I always want to be here competing. It feels a little bit odd coming into the tournament this year,” Murray said. “Normally like at this stage I feel really nervous, lots of pressure, and I expect a lot of myself around this time of year. I’ve always loved that and enjoyed that in a way. It has been difficult, but enjoyed it, whereas this year it feels very, very different.”

Murray is competing in just his third tournament since last year’s Wimbledon, for starters. And with that comes a gradual increase in both health and form. It’s not easy to face world-class competition after nearly a year away from the sport. 

“There’re certain things that are still tricky and things I’m still trying to work through. These things are significantly better than what they were a few months ago. That’s for sure. But again, it just takes time,” Murray said. “You sometimes in practice might feel really good, and then you get on the match court and you’re pushing yourself a few percent harder… you learn a lot from competing.”

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Murray will hope to both learn and win in the first round, facing a tough test against Benoit Paire, who had two match points against top seed Roger Federer at the Gerry Weber Open last week. Murray has won both of their FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, including a triumph over the Frenchman in the Round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2017, but knows that it won’t be easy against the World No. 48.

“Last year he obviously had a decent run here, had a couple of match points against Roger in Halle a couple of weeks ago. I think with his game, as well, the ability that he has, his athleticism, I don’t see a reason for why he shouldn’t play pretty well on the surface,” Murray said. “He’s a tricky guy to play against because of his style. He does hit a lot of dropshots, he serve-volleys. He’s unorthodox with his shot selection.”

And Murray is looking forward to the challenge. The 11 months he had to sit out were some of his most difficult. But while his form remains on the mend, one thing is as strong as ever: Murray’s love of the sport.

“If I had to stop tomorrow, yeah, I’d be pretty gutted with that because I still love playing, I love the sport. I enjoy watching it. I enjoy the traveling. There’s nothing about it that I’d be looking forward to giving up,” Murray said. “I want to keep playing as long as I can, providing I’m physically capable of doing that.”

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Eastbourne 2018: Mischa Zverev beats Lukas Lacko to claim first ATP title

  • Posted: Jun 30, 2018
Wimbledon 2018 on the BBC
Venue: All England Club, Wimbledon Dates: 2-15 July
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, Connected TVs and the BBC Sport website and app; Live Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra commentary; Text commentary online.

Mischa Zverev won his first ATP Tour title with a straight-set victory over Lukas Lacko at Eastbourne.

The German, ranked 67th in the world, beat Slovakia’s Lacko 6-4 6-4 at the Nature Valley International.

Zverev, 30, hit an ace on his first match point to wrap up the title in 97 minutes.

His victory meant he and world number three Alexander are the first brothers to win a singles event in the same season since 1989.

Zverev is set to face France’s Pierre-Hugues Herbert when Wimbledon begins on Monday, while Lacko will play Benjamin Bonzi.

  • Live scores, schedule and results
  • Wozniacki claims second Eastbourne title
  • Wimbledon 2018 – BBC TV, radio & online coverage

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Eastbourne 2018: Caroline Wozniacki beats Aryna Sabalenka in final

  • Posted: Jun 30, 2018
Wimbledon 2018 on the BBC
Venue: All England Club, Wimbledon Dates: 2-15 July
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, Connected TVs and the BBC Sport website and app; Live Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra commentary; Text commentary online.

World number two Caroline Wozniacki beat Aryna Sabalenka to claim her second Eastbourne title.

The Danish top seed outlasted her Belarusian opponent, ranked 45th in the world, 7-5 7-6 (7-5) at the Nature Valley International.

Sabalenka served for both sets and led 4-1 in the tie-break, but Wozniacki, 27, dominated the crucial moments.

It is her second title of the year, after her Australian Open success, and comes just two days before Wimbledon.

Wozniacki has never progressed past the fourth round at SW19.

She beat 2016 Wimbledon finalist Angelique Kerber and Nottingham Open champion Ashleigh Barty en route to the final in Eastbourne.

“It’s a long time ago that I was a winner of this tournament so it’s amazing I can still play 10 years later,” she said.

  • Live scores, schedule and results
  • Do you like your towel scrunched or folded? Behind the scenes at Wimbledon
  • Wimbledon on the BBC- TV, radio & online coverage

Sabalenka’s powerful hitting put Wozniacki under pressure from the beginning, with the Dane saving four break points in an eight-minute opening game.

The two traded breaks but Sabalenka, 20, used her forehand to fine effect, finding the break before consolidating it with a winner into the corner.

Sabalenka served for the set at 5-4 but double-faulted, and Wozniacki reeled off three games to take the first set in 58 minutes.

In an engrossing second set, Sabalenka broke through with a stunning forehand down the line but, once again, the Belarusian faded as she tried to serve out the set.

It looked like a straightforward task for Wozniacki to close out the match, but Sabalenka’s offensive hitting forced a tie-break.

The first four points of the tie-break went Sabalenka’s way but Wozniacki, one of the best defensive players on the tour, countered to take the title in just under two hours.

Sabalenka, who was ranked 135th in the world last year, was making her first appearance at Eastbourne.

She begins her Wimbledon campaign against Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu, while second seed Wozniacki will face American Varvara Lepchenko.


Former British number one Sam Smith on BBC Two

How can you not be impressed with Sabalenka? I have a feeling she hit 40-plus winners against the best defender of the tour.

Wozniacki just goes on. She doesn’t give it away. In those critical situations, she makes her first serve, and that makes life difficult for the returner.

This is why she’s winning Slams now – as soon as she has the opportunity to attack, she does.

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Do you like your towel folded or scrunched? Behind the scenes at Wimbledon

  • Posted: Jun 30, 2018
Wimbledon 2018 on the BBC
Venue: All England Club, Wimbledon Dates: 2-15 July
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, Connected TVs and the BBC Sport website and app; Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra.

With all the skill and athleticism of the players and the drama of the on-court action, it’s easy to think no further than the tennis itself at Wimbledon – but there are whole teams of people working busily to make it all happen.

Who are the men and women who feed the players, carry their towels and make sure they have tennis balls?

We went behind the scenes at the All England Club to meet some of those who help ensure the grass-court Grand Slam tournament runs smoothly.

Discover where to find secret strawberries, the strangest meal a player has ordered, and how to stay calm when a ball travelling at 120mph smacks into your thigh.

The gardener and the secret strawberries

Ever parked your bottom next to some lovely-looking plants while you enjoy a little glass of something? Well, at the All England Club you might just get asked – very politely, of course – to move.

“People sitting on the plants in the planters is our biggest [issue],” head gardener Martyn Falconer says. “They perch themselves on the edge and squash a few bits, so we’ve always got plenty of spares just to replace them. I have kindly asked them not to sit on that plant.”

There are plenty of spares among the 19,000 plants that are brought in for the Championships and tended to by a workforce of seven full-time gardeners, with another 10 drafted in from April to September.

Spare a thought for those gardeners when you stop to take a selfie outside the ivy-clad Centre Court – they have to climb 64 feet to keep the ultimate in high-maintenance greenery under control as it grows six to eight inches a week.

Asked whether he ever cursed the person who planted it in the first place, Falconer is diplomatic: “That’s been on that building since the day it was built in 1922.

“We live with it, it’s one of the thing people like to see. We deal with it.”

His brief is to keep the grounds looking like an English country garden – which sounds straightforward but there are always little hiccups like when the local nursery you always use stops growing the “right” shade of Wimbledon purple petunias for your hanging baskets.

It was OK, there was another shade – Falconer reckons only he can tell the difference.

He says he’s never noticed admiring members of the public sneaking a cutting, or digging up a plant to take home – he was even amazed that no-one pinched a strawberry from the living wall last year.

“I was coming in in the morning bringing a cup and picking a couple because they were ripe, so I was getting a good breakfast,” he joked.

The chef and the honey

There’s no set menu at Wimbledon. If a player wants pasta with honey, then that is exactly what they get.

That is the strangest request executive chef Gary Parsons says he has had – and he is not allowed to reveal who ordered it.

But most players are more conventional, with most of them opting for the pick-and-mix-style pasta option where they tell one of the chefs what they would like and it is cooked in front of them.

“The most popular is definitely pasta, tomato sauce, lots of protein – salmon, chicken and chorizo – and parmesan,” says Parsons, who reckons he typically works 15- or 16-hour days during the first week of the Championships.

“It’s pasta pre-match and then normally rice, sushi, stir fry [after a match]. We have sushi chefs on site, it’s freshly made on site for the players… and for me!”

All the produce comes from the UK and there are two player restaurants at Wimbledon, serving up 900 player meals a day in the first week.

And do the players ever have pudding?

“Strawberries,” says Parsons.

The linesman and the CV

What have dentists, doctors, plumbers and lawyers got to do with Wimbledon matches?

They are the day jobs of those smartly dressed men and women staring intently down the white lines, watching the ball and making crucial calls.

“Near enough everybody has a second job that pays the bills,” explains line judge David Bayliss, who will be working at his 20th Wimbledon this year and also works in computer security.

“The only salary we get for the whole year is for Wimbledon, from the All England Club. The rest of the year we work for the LTA as volunteers and at local club tournaments.”

Bayliss has made the line calls at three Wimbledon finals – including in 2003 when Roger Federer beat Mark Philippoussis to win the first of his eight titles – and says he has had too many great moments to pick a favourite.

Some memories are not so great though, like the time he was on the line for a match between Britain’s Greg Rusedski and American Andy Roddick on Centre Court.

“I was on left base sitting down, the ball came down and I called ‘in’ and somebody opposite in the crowd shouted ‘out’ and Greg did a little soft return,” the 59-year-old said.

“And he pointed at me and said did I call that out and I said ‘no, it was somebody in the crowd’ and it affected Greg’s match. He wasn’t happy with that and he went and lost the match.

“So the crowd shouting when they shouldn’t does affect what goes on on court and it really is a shame for them. They are professionals out there doing their job, it shouldn’t happen but it does.”

While the players have Hawk-Eye challenges of the decisions these days, and millions of people watching at home can also watch video replays, the line judges have that one blink-and-you-miss-it moment to make their call.

Do they ever have any lapses in concentration?

“Of course it happens, we are human like everybody else,” Bayliss says.

“[But] just like the players go into the zone when they are focusing on playing the match, we are in the zone on court.”

While there is not much money in being a line judge, there are other benefits.

“To put it on your CV that you’ve been a line judge at Wimbledon… when I’ve been for job interviews, people sort of talk about computer security for a few minutes and then want to know about Wimbledon,” Bayliss says.

The ball boys and girls and the sweaty towels

Staying calm when hit by a ball coming at more than 120mph, handling sweaty towels and catering to players’ on-court quirks are all part of the job of the 250 ball boys and girls.

Ball girl 233 – or Amy as she is known to her family and friends – felt the full pelt of a male player’s serve last year on the top of her leg.

“It hurt, the crowd notices and so that’s also a little bit intimidating when everyone is watching you and is like ‘oooh’,” the 15 year-old said.

“You have to try and keep composure where you can. I did get a small bruise.”

A rigorous six-month programme with two and a half hours of training a week ends with practice sessions on the courts at the All England Club with club players playing matches complete with umpires and different on-court scenarios, like “new balls please” and the trainer being called on.

The ball boys and girls are selected from 32 local schools – only around one in three applicants is successful – and they work in teams with each person always working in a specific position on the court with the taller ones behind the baselines and the shorter ones near the net.

Before they go on court, they mug up on whether the players like towels handed to them folded or scrunched up, how they like their water bottles lined up or which corner they like their balls to come from.

Their friends are jealous of the uniform and their two weeks off school, while their parents try to spot them on the TV, but surely no-one envies them the towel duties?

“It’s just part of the job, you don’t have to hold it for too long,” said Harry, 14, who is a ball boy for the second year. “It’s probably not the nicest, you just try to get rid of it as quickly as possible and put it on the chair.”

Balls for players… and for dogs

With matches played on 18 courts and each match needing new balls every nine games, how do you ensure that there are always enough balls?

Ball distribution manager Brian Mardling, a former umpire, orders 57,600 and expects to use around 54,000 during qualifying, practice week and during the Championships.

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He keeps them in two store rooms at a temperature of 20C and uses CCTV to monitor the scores on court to work out how many extra balls may be needed. He says he lost count of the number of tins he carried up to the epic between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut in 2010, which went to 70-68 in the fifth set,

He can tell exactly how many games a ball has played just by looking at it – which is useful when a shot is hit out of the court and the ball is pocketed by a fan as a souvenir and the umpire needs a replacement of the same age.

“The umpire needs to make sure there are six balls on court at all times. So I make up a spare tin and in it we put balls 3, 5 and 7 – a ball that’s been used three games, five games, seven games,” he says.

His “worst nightmare” is multiple rain delays because when matches resume they require warm-up balls all at the same time.

Used balls are sold on to fans and in soggy years sometimes there is a different type of sale.

“If weather is not so good and the balls cannot be in fairly pristine condition, we get a lot of old balls back from practice so occasionally we do have a doggy ball sale – if they are not up to championship standard,” Mardling said.

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