Thiem, Zverev, Nishikori are among players who gave back on Tuesday
Before main draw action began at the Miami Open presented by Itau, some of the most recognisable ATP Tour players lent their time to Miami Open Unites.
The day of service was dedicated to giving back to the South Florida community. Events were held at the Hard Rock Stadium and locations throughout the greater Miami area.
Five-time doubles champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan visited Baptist Health Children’s Hospital and Cancer Center to spend time with kids at the facility.
“The kids were very nice and upbeat. They’ve been dealt unfortunate hands and the way they’re dealing with it is inspiring,” said Bob, “It’s great to give back and if we can brighten their day a little bit, it’s worth it for us.”
Alexander Zverev, defending champion John Isner and Roberto Bautista Agut visited the Greater Humane Society of Miami. The players groomed the animals in order to increase their chances for adoption. The strategy worked as Zverev ended up adopting one of the puppies!
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Kei Nishikori, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Marin Cilic, Nick Kyrgios and Nicolas Jarry led a community tennis clinic and Q&A at the Hard Rock Stadium for UNICEF’s Kid Power program. Members of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s boys’ and girls’ and tennis teams participated in the event, which also included discussions on overcoming adversity and being a positive force in the community.
BNP Paribas Open champion Dominic Thiem, Miomir Kecmanovic and Guido Pella helped repair a home by painting and landscaping. Their efforts supported the work of Rebuilding Together, an organisation that repairs and rebuilds homes for Miami-Dade County’s senior citizens, veterans and disabled individuals.
Lastly, Grigor Dimitrov, David Ferrer and Borna Coric served lunch to residents living at the shelter of the Miami Rescue Mission. The organisation provides food, shelter and programming to needy South Florida residents.
Second seed leaves Greater Humane Society of Miami with new four-legged friend
Alexander Zverev went all in during a visit to the Humane Society of Greater Miami on Tuesday.
A scheduled half-hour promotional visit to the dog and cat adoption facility turned into a significantly longer commitment when the Miami Open second seed left with a two-month-old terrier mix, Pop.
“Sascha came into the room, Pop walked over to him and they had a major, major cuddle session. It was love at first site,” said Jossie Aguirre, Humane Society of Greater Miami Director of Marketing and Special Events.
“He’s still in my arm [and is ] very calm,” Zverev said during his visit with fellow 2018 Miami Open finalist John Isner. “He seems quite happy and I’m very happy to take him home.”
So… there’s a new member of the Zverev family thanks to @humanemiami. 😍
After getting the necessary clearances, Zverev plans to bring Pop to his home in Monte-Carlo, where his other dog, Lovik, resides.
Pop was among a litter of 11 brought to the facility. He is the eighth member of the family to be adopted and Ms. Aguirre believes Zverev’s support will help to see the remaining three puppies find a loving home.
“Every time we get a celebrity adopting a pet, it leads to increased traffic to our social accounts and we’ve seen several more people starting to follow our accounts today,” Ms. Aguirre said.
The Humane Society of Greater Miami is a limited admit, adoption guarantee facility dedicated to placing every dog and cat in their care into a loving home, and to promoting responsible pet ownership and spay/neuter programs.
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Djokovic, Federer, Nadal: Five Of Miami’s All-Time Best Hot Shots
The all-time greats have done some special things at Miami’s ATP Masters 1000
Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have combined for 92 ATP Masters 1000 titles, and the trio has probably hit that many epic hot shots during those prestigious tournaments as well.
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Above, we feature five of the all-time best hot shots from the season’s second Masters 1000 tournament, the Miami Open presented by Itau. The countdown includes shots from Roger, Novak and Rafa, and it also has some jaw-dropping performances from Grigor Dimitrov and the human highlight reel Nick Kyrgios.
Which one is your favourite? Let us know in the comments section below.
2019 Miami Open Presented By Itau: Facts & Figures
Essential information about the #ATPMasters1000 tournament in Miami
The Miami Open presented by Itau is the second stop of the March Masters, and makes its debut this year at the Hard Rock Stadium, home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is trying to break his tie with Andre Agassi for the most titles at this ATP Masters 1000 tournament by claiming his seventh. Three-time titlist Roger Federer and defending champion John Isner also feature in the field. Dominic Thiem, who defeated Federer in the BNP Paribas Open final, will look to complete the Sunshine Double with the Indian Wells-Miami sweep.
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Over the past 12 months, the Georgian has transformed his career
Nikoloz Basilashvili is a perfectionist, and also an artist. He looks to strike the cleanest ball, put together a combination of shots that is devastating, and play the perfect game. But tennis is about the optimum, following a plan and getting the job done as efficiently as possible. “I am not a big fan of wanting to be perfect,” says Jan de Witt, his highly experienced German coach. “I know I have the reputation of wanting to be super precise, but you can’t be. You have to go for the simple solution and not over-complicate a match. He really likes to do things perfectly, and wants to make it look easy, so he struggles to win.”
So the 27-year-old Georgian, who turned pro in 2008, and once tried to kill every ball over consistency point-in, point-out, faces a daily fight against his natural instinct. “I’m understanding how tennis really works,” says the softly spoken Basilashvili, who never steps onto court to strike a ball without a bandana — or, to improvise, a tennis grip — firmly tied around his head. “It’s not just about hitting tennis balls or fitness, it’s working on the mental side of the game as well. It’s very important in this sport to know how to handle the nerves in important moments. I am still getting that experience.
“Until 22 or 23, I was wild. I was not professional in my approach. I knew I wanted to play well, but I wasn’t capable of playing at this level. I had no game plan to get here. I knew I was missing something. I was around [World No.] 50-100 for a long time, for two to three years. I needed somebody to trust 100 per cent.”
For years, the son of a former Georgian national ballet dancer, Nodar, drifted and never quite left his comfort zone: a product of financial constraints; of not always having the right people — or fully trusting those — around him; and of having to come up with ideas to improve his own game. Stephen Koon, who coached Basilashvili as a 16-year-old in Granite Bay, Sacramento, and once more when he was financially able to employ a travelling coach in 2005-06, recalls his initial impression, “I loved his raw power, how he just crushed the ball. He had an extremely high physical tolerance — he didn’t mind the hard work at all — and straight away I knew this guy didn’t fear anything or anyone when it came to tennis.”
The talent was never questioned. But Basilashvili, who was first handed a tennis racquet as a five-year-old, shortly before another Tbilisi son, Irakli Labadze, finished runner-up to Roger Federer in the 1998 junior Wimbledon final, recalls, “There were moments when my father and I would sleep in our car for a couple of weeks. It’s been an interesting journey. I was training in bad conditions and I couldn’t even find a sponsor, so I got Russian citizenship. There was a time when we slept in a car for a month on the junior tour and we also slept in tents at tournaments. When I was 20, 21, I almost started tennis again really from scratch, as mentally I was down. All these kinds of things really make you realise that the bad times weren’t for nothing. It’s made me stronger and hungry to play tennis at a high level.”
The decisions, taken out of necessity with the full sport of his father, helped the talented junior extend his vision far beyond Georgia, a country of football, weight-lifting fanatics. For Basilashvili, who values loyalty and honesty the most, it was a period of great frustration. “I was only thinking about having enough money to get to tournaments,” adds Basilashvili. “I was thinking about booking tennis courts, getting tennis balls and a practice partner. It was purely survival. It was only when I qualified for Wimbledon in 2015, and won two matches in the main draw, that heralded a big change in my mind. I was playing good tennis, but I couldn’t get beyond the Top 50. I knew I needed a mentor to help me with that. I knew Jan’s tactics and how he coached. I liked him and that’s why I contacted him.”
His meteoric rise over the past 13 months from No. 89 to a career-high No. 18 in the ATP Rankings this month, has centred on Basilashvili’s hard-working alliance with Gilles Simon’s former coach De Witt, who has been opening his charges eyes to what was possible since June 2018. Following a successful one-week trial, Basilashvili showcased his hard-working ethic, but lost eight of his 12 matches under De Witt’s guidance. “What convinced me was how he reacted in training and I realised this guy was really serious to do what it takes to take his game to the next level,” says De Witt.
The results soon came, including two ATP 500-level trophies in 2018 at the Hamburg Open (d. Leonardo Mayer), where he qualified, and the China Open in Beijing (d. Juan Martin del Potro), which represented the third Top 10 victory of his career. “I’d been in finals before, I’d played in Kitzbuhel [in July 2016] and Memphis [in February 2017],” says Basilashvili. “But to win a title is different, especially a [ATP] 500. It gives you a lot of confidence, which is one of the most important things in tennis — knowing when you step on the court you can win this match.
“With a plan, being more professional and trusting my coach completely, I got direction. I needed to win an ATP Tour title as validation of my work — that I was moving in the right direction — and when I did in Hamburg and Beijing, it relaxed me and left me really motivated.”
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With a big forehand, solid backhand and the ability to hit through players in all areas of the courts, Basilashvili always had the technique and physically strength to hurt the biggest players. But his perfectionist and critical nature, heightened by not having a coach for so many years; and his wish to make the game look easy, was also a hindrance to his development. “If I could talk to my 21-year-old self, I would not change my game style, but more my mental approach,” says Basilashvili. “I’m not looking for results, but to give 100 per cent on and off the court. I want to maximise what I have, so when I do retire I know I left no stone unturned.”
De Witt, a coach with a reputation of being “super precise”, who has a database with the tactical and technical details of 400 players, is fully focused on the future with Basilashvili, who recently turned 27. “We had a clear picture about where we wanted to go,” admits De Witt. “It surprised me how fast he progressed. I have never had a player that has learned as quickly as him. He has a very special talent about learning when it comes to biomechanics and movement. It’s very unusual and it’s something I didn’t know when I first started working with him. He was learning complex things quickly. He has the discipline to work hard, and if you push him he will do so.”
Koon remembers the “fearlessness, when Nik saw his name next to the seeds in the draw or when he loved to play the big players” and while Basilashvili is now gaining mental consistency in preparation for every match, frailties persist. “The difference in levels are not very big,” says Basilashvili. “But the difference is I have to be ready for every match, not to be off slightly in a match. That’s what we’re working on, to be able to play against lower ranked players with the same intensity as against the top players.”
“I know he will not be satisfied until he makes the Top 10, and I absolutely would not be surprised at all when he does it,” admits Koon, who assisted his former charge again in December 2017 at the Impact Tennis Academy, in a pre-season camp with Hyeon Chung, Yen-Hsun Lu, Yoshihito Nishioka and Yuki Bhambri in Thailand.
“To be World No. 20 was not a goal for him or me,” says De Witt. “The goal of being No. 10 is not a goal, it will come if we do the things we do. Nothing has been short-term. We have a goal to win a Grand Slam title. This does not come in the short term. I am surprised, and I am happy he is learning quickly, but it’s important that we have to do all of the steps. There are no short cuts [and] it’s challenging the whole time. There is not one easy day, there will always be problems. It’s about maximising the potential of this player. The potential, for Nik, if we put everything together, is to go for a Grand Slam title.”
After years of deciding what’s best to make his way up the ATP Rankings, Basilashvili is now efficiently going about his job on the court, with the full support of his family — Neka, his wife of five years, and beloved three-year-old son, Lukas — and De Witt. Memories of his struggle may endure, but the tennis education of Georgia’s lone world-class player continues.
The World No. 1 is a six-time champion at this event
Novak Djokovic first competed at the Miami Open presented by Itaú as an 18-year-old in 2006. Thirteen years later, the 31-year-old is trying to break his tie with former World No. 1 Andre Agassi for the most titles at the tournament by claiming his seventh.
Djokovic will be the top seed at the event’s new venue: Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. The World No. 1 will try to claim his second title of the year after emerging victorious at the Australian Open in January.
Fast Facts – Djokovic won his first of 32 ATP Masters 1000 titles in Miami in 2007. – Djokovic’s first FedEx ATP Head2Head victory against Nadal came en route to that Miami triumph in 2007, defeating the Spaniard 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 37 minutes. – In 2007, at just 19, Djokovic became the youngest champion in Miami’s tournament history. No younger player has triumphed at a Masters 1000 event since. – Djokovic has captured four of his six Miami titles without dropping a set (2007, 2012, 2014, 2016). A combined 12 of his victories in those four events came against opponents inside the Top 20 of the ATP Rankings. – Djokovic has lifted more trophies (6) in Miami than he as at any other Masters 1000 event. He has triumphed five times in Indian Wells and four times each in Rome, Canada, Shanghai and Paris.
Five Djokovic Stats From Miami First Match: 2006, Djokovic def. Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-1, 6-3 First Title: 2007, Djokovic def. Guillermo Canas 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 Record: 42-6 Top 10 record : 11-2 6-0 Sets Won: 10
Most Recent Appearance: 2018 Djokovic arrived in Indian Wells after a stunning loss against Japan’s Taro Daniel in the second round in Indian Wells, struggling in his recovery from a right elbow procedure. The Serbian then lost to Benoit Paire in his opening match in Miami in straight sets. It was the first time Djokovic had lost three consecutive matches since 2007.
But Djokovic was not down for long, winning two ATP Masters 1000 titles last year (Cincinnati & Shanghai) and two Grand Slams (Wimbledon & US Open) en route to finishing as the No. 1 player in the year-end ATP Rankings.
Seed at the 2019 Miami Open presented by Itaú: No. 1
Did You Know? Djokovic competed alongside former World No. 1 Andy Murray in doubles in Miami in 2011. Sergiy Stakhovsky and Mikhail Youzhny defeated the Serbian-Scot team in the first round in a Match Tie-break.
Roger Federer arrives at the Miami Open presented by Itaú with plenty of momentum, fresh off his 100th tour-level title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and a trip to the BNP Paribas Open final.
The 37-year-old Swiss will be competing in Miami for the 18th time, and he will be pursuing his fourth title at the tournament.
Fast Facts – Federer and Rafael Nadal’s first two FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings came in Miami, with Nadal emerging victorious from their first match in 2004. The Spaniard needed just 70 minutes to advance in straight sets.
– Federer has lost the first two sets in a best-of-five set tour-level final eight times. The only match he came back to win was the 2005 Miami final against Nadal.
– The Swiss star’s first Masters 1000 final came in Miami in 2002. Former World No. 1 Andre Agassi, who owns a record-tying six Miami titles (also Novak Djokovic), defeated Federer in four sets.
– Federer has not competed in doubles in Miami since 2003. But that year, he partnered Belarusian Max Mirnyi to the title, dropping just one set en route to lifting the trophy.
– Miami is one of four Masters 1000 events that Federer has triumphed at three times or more. He has also done so in Indian Wells, Hamburg and Cincinnati.
Five Federer Stats From Miami First Match: 1999, Kenneth Carlsen def. Federer 7-5, 7-6(4)
First Title: 2005, Federer def. Rafael Nadal 2-6, 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-1
Top 10 record : 9-5
6-0 Sets Won: 1
Most Recent Appearance: 2018 Federer is the most recent player to complete the ‘Sunshine Double’ — winning Indian Wells and Miami in the same year — in 2017. But after the Swiss failed to convert three championship points in the Indian Wells last year,
Federer lost his Miami opener against World No. 175 Thanasi Kokkinakis. It was the first time the Swiss had dropped consecutive matches since 2014.
Seed at the 2019 Miami Open presented by Itau: No. 4
Did You Know? Federer has won three matches in final-set tie-breaks in Miami, with two of them coming in back-to-back battles in the 2017 quarter-finals (def. Berdych) and semi-finals (def. Kyrgios).
‘The Silver Fox’ was one of Italy’s most influential administrator
Cino Marchese, a marketing pioneer, tournament director, talent scout and manager, passed away in Rome on Sunday aged 81.
Marchese, who was head of Italian operations for the International Management Group (IMG), the global sports and management company, was involved in top-level skiing, tennis, football and basketball for more than 25 years. He assisted the careers of Adriano Panatta, Bjorn Borg, Martina Navratilova, Monica Seles, Jennifer Capriati and Goran Ivanisevic (tennis); footballers Roberto Baggio and Paolo Rossi; in addition to Olympic and world champion skiers Deborah Compagnoni and Alberto Tomba.
Nicknamed ‘The Silver Fox’, Marchese, a tall, genial, grey-haired former basketball player, brought men’s professional tennis to Palermo in 1979 (an ATP 250 clay-court tournament that ran until 2005) and he was also a long-time promoter of the Milan event.
He also worked as the public relations director of Italian clothing manufacturer, LaFont, which launched in 1976, and he helped to sign tennis players, including Cliff Drysdale, John Alexander, Phil Dent, Kim Warwick, Tim Gullikson and Tom Gullikson.
Marchese, who studied economics and commerce in Genoa and foreign languages at Bocconi, started working as a goldsmith in the family business, but became Mark McCormack’s IMG sports manager in Italy at the age of 35.
In 1980, he dealt with the management of Italian commercial television rights on behalf of TWI, a company of the IMG Group, and also organised the 1985 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in Bormio.
Marchese is fondly remembered as a ‘mayor’ of the VIP village, which he helped to revitalise at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. In 1982, he sold three of the five hospitality tents for $5,000 each and hosted up to 3,000 people, when the ATP Masters 1000 tournament’s total revenue was $500,000.
He is survived by his wife, Gabriella.
Cino Marchese, sports agent and manager, born 2 November 1937, died 17 March 2019