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Mike Bryan Awaits Baby Jake In COVID-19 Era

  • Posted: Apr 08, 2020

Mike Bryan Awaits Baby Jake In COVID-19 Era

Whether it’s foraging for diapers and wipes or isolating their first child from family and friends, Mike and Nadia Bryan confront the same challenges all expectant parents face in these challenging times

This time of the year is normally peak season for Bob and me, with two of our favourite tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami. But with the arrival of my first baby less than a month away and the ATP Tour suspended due to the coronavirus, my focus is firmly on my life partner rather than my doubles partner.

I’m hunkered down with my wife Nadia in our home in Camarillo, California counting down the days to the birth of our first son in less than three weeks. Staying healthy and scrounging for some of life’s necessities has replaced chasing titles on the Tour.

Although no-one wanted this fight with COVID-19 and its life-changing consequences, it’s proven to be an opportunity for me to slow down, be with Nadia and just savour these moments in the final days of her pregnancy. I have seen how much joy it has brought to Bob’s life and how his priorities have shifted.

But it’s been far from a conventional countdown to the birth as baby basics like wipes and diapers have been stripped from store shelves.

Nadia had a baby shower planned with 20 people and, obviously, that wasn’t a good idea, so we cancelled it. It is unfortunate she didn’t have that experience, but people out there are dealing with a lot worse. I know friends who are losing their jobs. They are living paycheque to paycheque. They don’t have a lot of savings, so this is devastating for them. They are all in our thoughts.

Just like for everyone, the times present challenges. The simple necessities are tough to find. I’ve gone down to Whole Foods and Sprouts bright and early in the morning and there is always a line wrapped around the building and you can’t stand next to people; you are about 10 feet away from them. You go in there and there are no eggs, there is no milk. I haven’t seen bacon.

Tennis At Home | How ATP Players Make The Most Of Stay At Home

Back at home, however, the nursery is dialled in. We have got a boy coming, so the room is painted blue. We have got little aeroplanes painted on the wall, a map. We’ve got the crib, toys and it is looking good. We are ready for this little guy. Baby Jake. We have got the name picked out and we are pumped for this little guy. He is kicking.

While expectant dads at some hospitals are being excluded from delivery wards, I’m thankful to know that I will be with Nadia when baby Jake comes bouncing into the world because we’ll be using a birthing centre and midwife just a few miles from home.

Nadia wants to do all natural, like the holistic birth. She might go in the bathtub and have the baby. She doesn’t want any meds, no epidural like 99 per cent of people do in the States. She’s Slovakian and her whole family does it the natural way. Whenever it is time, we are just going to open the door, head to the birth centre and go to work.

One thing on our minds is that we won’t be able to share this joyous occasion with family and friends as we would like to. We are being super cautious because of the virus. We are on lockdown for the safety of the baby and Nadia’s health. My parents live down the street and Bob is around, although we’re not seeing a lot of him or the kids. We are just super careful, because you never know what complications can arise if she gets sick. When Jake comes, I definitely think we will just keep the baby in the house for the time being until they find a cure, this curve flattens or whatever. It is a bubble shield over the house right now.

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Preparing for Jake’s birth has also helped to take my mind off the disappointment of our farewell season being interrupted by the tour suspension. The event we were really looking forward to playing was Indian Wells, where all the players were down there and raring to go. It is so beautiful and that’s our home tournament. We have so many people from California who come down and support us and we look forward to that first-round match on Stadium Court 1.

Missing Miami has also hurt. We were super stoked to go defend our title and that feels like Bob’s home tournament because he is a South Florida guy. It is unfortunate that we didn’t get to say our goodbyes to the fans in Indian Wells and Miami and now Europe is a wash-out with the cancellation of tournaments through Wimbledon. We just hope we can play the US Open one last time and some of the US hard-court tournaments.

We had always said that the US Open would be our last event but we have just got to wait and see. If we can’t play another match for the rest of the year, if we can’t play the US Open, then there is a possibility of playing on in 2021.

We are fighting Father Time, who is a tough opponent, although the bodies are fresh despite being nearly 42 because we are not putting a lot of strain on them right now. It’s all happened so quickly and I haven’t seen a lot of Bob, but we’ll have a discussion, for sure.

Right now, there are more important things to focus on as everyone in the country and the world has a role to play in beating this virus. Stay safe, everyone, and look after your family.

– As told to Paul Macpherson

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ATP ACES For Charity: Houston

  • Posted: Apr 08, 2020

ATP ACES For Charity: Houston

Learn how Houston gives back to its community

The Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship arrived in Houston in 2001 — moving to its current location at River Oaks Country Club in 2008 — and the clay-court event has proven a philanthropic presence in the community ever since.

The ATP 250 this year received a $15,000 ATP ACES For Charity grant to provide funds to help continue the initiative of resurfacing an NJTL site and offer programs so that the kids and families in the community can have a safer, more enjoyable place to play tennis. But the Houston tournament has long been supportive of its city.

The event’s partnership with the Houston Tennis Association’s NJTL began a few years ago with volunteer support at some of the signature events of the summer—the NJTL Regional Rally, NJTL Reading Rally and the NJTL Kids’ Day— and in 2017, HTA NJTL became an official charity of the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship.

In 2018, the clay-court tournament coordinated a special effort to benefit the NJTL. When Hurricane Harvey hit the city of Houston in August 2017, there was much devastation. Many of the ATP pros who played the tournament contacted Tournament Director Bronwyn Greer to see how they might help.

When the event rolled around in April 2018, seven top American players made personal donations toward resurfacing the two tennis courts at Sunnyside Park: Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan, John Isner, Steve Johnson, Sam Querrey, Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe. Isner, Querrey, the Bryan Brothers, Frances Tiafoe and Steve Johnson made a visit to Sunnyside Park, where they met and hit tennis balls with the NJTL kids.

“It’s bigger than tennis,” Tiafoe said. “Terrible things happen everywhere, and it’s always good to give back, and that’s what sports are about, togetherness. It brings people together.”

The visit was especially meaningful to the 20-year-old American, who grew up playing in public parks and visited similar grassroots programs in Maryland.

“It reminds me of where I started, very humble beginnings,” Tiafoe said. “I do my best every day to try to become someone to be able to give back. Because I was given so much, I was very fortunate, very lucky.”

Tennis At Home | How ATP Players Make The Most Of Stay At Home

Last year, Taylor Fritz and Reilly Opelka visited local courts that were being refurbished for use by the HTA NJTL. They were excited to see how enthusiastic the kids and their coaches were.

“These kids were great. They were actually really engaged. You can tell they are here on a consistent basis, because you don’t get to be that good without putting in time and effort,” Opelka said. “With a nicer surface and everything, I’m sure [the courts] will get tons of great use.”

The event runs a ticket turnback program to support the Trauma and Emergency Center at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. Fans are encouraged to return tickets for any session they cannot attend so they may be re-sold, with the entire purchase price being donated to the hospital. The program has raised more than $265,000 for charity.

The tournament has supported a plethora of charitable programs over the years, but one thing to note is that the event has become the presenting sponsor of its Kids’ Day, which brings together 750-1,000 students who meet attendance requirements during the summer. The event is a highlight with the kids receiving bus transportation, t-shirts and snacks to participate in a day full of music, art, tennis lessons and special guests — including ATP Tour players — on that day.

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My Point: Isner Inspired By Mom's Courage

  • Posted: Apr 08, 2020

My Point: Isner Inspired By Mom’s Courage

In the first of a new series of first-person essays on, top American John Isner opens up about the toughest moments of his life: When his mother, Karen, was diagnosed with colon cancer.

Looking back on it, it was weird that I hadn’t heard from Mom in a few days. We usually talked every day, sometimes more, even if I was busy with tennis and classes at the University of Georgia.

It was February 2004, and I was in the second semester of my freshman year. We were beginning our spring tennis season, my game was in a good place, and we had just finished another weekend of matches. Life was good.

But when I woke up at around 8 a.m. in my McWhorter Hall dorm room to two missed calls, I thought something was definitely up. Maybe something had happened to one of my grandparents? Maybe, but surely nothing to Mom, not to the woman who had survived raising my two older brothers and me. Besides, she was in good health – she played tennis, lifted weights, ran – and she was only 50.

I was alone when I called her back.

I’m going to tell you something but I don’t want you to worry. It’s going to be OK,” she said.

But there’s a reason why I haven’t spoken to you the last few days.

I have cancer.”


Cancer, at that point in my life – I was 18, two months away from my 19th birthday – had been something I had read about in the news or something, unfortunately, that had happened to relatives or parents of friends. It wasn’t something that I had personally experienced.

But by the time I talked with my mom, cancer had already affected my family. She hadn’t called because she had been rushed into emergency surgery. Mom had been so ill – deathly sick, really – that she had gone to the hospital for what she had thought was appendicitis. She woke up to learn that she had “stage four” – very developed – colon cancer. A tumour had formed, and they had to remove it, immediately.

She didn’t tell me during the weekend because she wanted me to focus on my matches. We talked for a few minutes. She told me about her upcoming chemotherapy and her brutal path ahead.

I hung up, and I bawled. I sat there on my dorm room bed, with my Carolina Panthers poster on the cement wall, and cried and cried and cried. My mind was blank.

Less than six weeks earlier, I had been at home, celebrating Christmas with my family. Everyone was healthy, everything was perfect. Now I thought I was going to lose my mom.


I had actually wanted to get away from my parents. When I was deciding which college to attend, I picked Georgia because, No. 1, it was the right place for me and the tennis program was – and remains – incredible, but also because the university was perfectly located.

I wanted to leave North Carolina, where I had grown up, but I didn’t want to leave the South. The University of Georgia, about four hours away from my parents’ home in Greensboro, North Carolina, was the best of everything: easy enough to drive home to if I needed to but far enough away that my parents couldn’t come visit every weekend. Funny, isn’t it?

Because as I drove home on 106 North and then I-85 North, speeding past forests coming to life and two-stoplight towns in the South, I wanted to be nowhere else but home, in Greensboro, with my family.

We had shared so many ridiculous times at home. I remember my two older brothers – Nathan and Jordan – and I would eat so much food that my parents eventually bought a second refrigerator and put it in the laundry room. But we were eating that food so rapidly as well that my mom put a combination lock on the extra fridge.

My brothers and I, however, were smart kids. One time, one of us slyly peered over Mom’s shoulder as she entered the combination, and we again had reins to both refrigerators, until she noticed the attrition and changed the lock.

John Isner has gained perspective from his mother’s battle with colon cancer. (Credit: Aaron Sprecher/US Clay)
We ate so much, a cheeseburger counted as a snack. But we were good eaters, too: Every year my mom would plant a huge vegetable garden in the backyard, and we’d devour carrots and tomatoes.

We got into our share of trouble as well. One time, when I was maybe 7 or 8, my oldest brother Nathan took a “U” bicycle lock, shoved my head through it and locked me to his brass bed post. He left me there for a few hours until my mom came home and found me.

She was also the person waiting for me after Nathan would make me walk the three miles from the tennis courts to our house after I’d beaten him. He’d get so mad, he’d just take off – and this was before cell phones, so I couldn’t call or text someone for a ride.

But I knew this trip home would be a lot different. My usual road-trip music – CDs of The Allman Brothers Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Doobie Brothers – wouldn’t cut it; I spent most of the next four hours on the phone, talking with family.


Mom had six months of chemotherapy waiting for her. On Monday through Wednesday, she’d sit for hours with a tube connected to her as the medicine seeped into her veins. Every other week, she’d go back.

But she never went alone. Someone – either myself, my dad, my aunt or uncle, or my brothers – would go with her, holding her hand or just trying to talk to her about anything else.

She’d feel OK for the first day or two after a session, but then she’d feel awful for days. Nauseated. Vomiting. She didn’t want to leave her bed. I’d call and ask how she was doing, “Oh, I’m fine,” she’d say. But then, later, I’d talk with my dad, who would tell me the truth.

Watch Isner’s My Story

My first trip back, right after I heard the news, I stayed for about a week, but then I returned to Georgia. I hated leaving my family, but, to be honest, it was easy to go back and keep playing tennis.

That was the one thing my mom wanted me to do – to keep playing – and because of that, I felt like, in some small way, I was able to do something for her.

She was right there with me, too: Mom came to every home tennis match that spring. She’d go to chemotherapy in the beginning of the week, drive down with my dad on Friday and, in between sleeping all weekend, she’d watch tennis.

I went home every couple of weeks during that spring season. Usually I headed back on a Monday, after a weekend of matches, and I’d come back to Athens on Wednesday. My coach, Manny Diaz, and my professors were so understanding. The tennis team secretary, who knew about my mom’s health, even baked me a cake on my birthday, 26 April.


The six months of chemotherapy had removed the cancer. Mom was in the clear, so we thought.

But she still came in for checkups so they could test her blood, and every time we learned she was OK, until October 2007, when doctors noticed something abnormal in her blood. The cancer had returned.

This time, however, we took her to the University of North Carolina Lineberger in Chapel Hill, and they started treating it even more aggressively. Doctors there attacked it with 28 radiation treatments and constant chemotherapy. For about six weeks, Mom carried around a chemotherapy bag so that the drugs could constantly be infused in her.

It worked. The tumour shrunk, and they surgically removed it. The rounds of checkups began again, but this time, they happened less frequently and less frequently until, finally, my mom didn’t have to go back at all.

Isner, center, remains close with his entire family, including his mother, to his left, and his brother Nathan, to his right.
She and my dad could come watch me play whenever they wanted, and they have. They’ve seen me in Indian Wells, Miami, New York, Cincinnati, Winston-Salem and Atlanta. Anywhere they can drive, they usually go.

During my 12-year ATP World Tour career, I’ve been lucky enough to play a lot of intense matches. But I’ve never experienced anything like the pain my mom had to endure.

What I felt when it was 68-68 against Nicolas Mahut at 2010 Wimbledon? Doesn’t compare. The exhaustion I had during the first set of the Miami Open final against Alexander Zverev, before I won my first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title? Not even close.

My mom is also why we’ve raised more than $200,000 for UNC Lineberger during charity exhibitions. This year we’re raffling off a chance to come to Wimbledon, with proceeds benefiting the hospital, where the doctors saved my mom’s life and save lives every day.

When I think about whining about the heat or about what time I’m scheduled to play, one thought about the courage Mom has shown over the years places everything in perspective.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I play a game for a living, and, whether she’s at home or in the stands, I have the support of my mom.

– as told to Jonathon Braden

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Inside Sampras & Agassi's Legendary Rivalry

  • Posted: Apr 08, 2020

Inside Sampras & Agassi’s Legendary Rivalry

ATP Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot looks back on the all-American rivalry that lit up the 1990s

It was a rivalry based on the serve of Pete Sampras and the return of Andre Agassi. In a 30-match series that spanned 13 years, the sport’s two most marketable stars of the 1990s pitted contrasting styles, and personalities, that led to high-quality match-ups and plenty of mutual respect.

Early in his career, Agassi played first-strike tennis, looking to end points as quickly as possible, but learned to dictate play from the baseline, with accurate groundstrokes — almost identical in strength — and wore down his opponents with his superior conditioning and depth of shot.

Sampras developed a classic, all-court attacking game, centred on a serve hit with great disguise. His second serve, struck almost as powerfully as his first delivery, is regarded as the best in the sport’s history. His jump smash and hitting an on-the-run forehand also became signature shots.

“It’s a great match up, both of us Americans, different styles of play and games,” says Sampras. “It’s a contrast and it has the ingredients of a rivalry. It’s different when I play him; there is a lot of respect for each other. We’ve competed since we were eight years old, playing junior tennis. I need to step up whenever I play him.”

Agassi says, “I felt if I played my best tennis, I can beat anyone. If I played my best tennis against Pete, it still doesn’t mean I will win. He’s taken away a lot of titles from me and caused me a lot of sleepless nights. I’m grateful now to have had him in my career.”

Dig Deeper Into Agassi & Sampras’ Rivalry

By 1995, when they met on five occasions at high-profile tournaments, their mutual clothing sponsor had a field day, with the ‘Guerrilla Tennis’ television commercial raising their profile further. Their matches had become the sport’s hottest ticket and must-see television.

But Agassi’s sharp decline, including a wrist injury, that saw him drop to No. 141 in the FedEx ATP Rankings on 10 November 1997, contrasted to Sampras’ sustained dominance and six consecutive year-end No. 1 finishes between 1993 and 1998.

Agassi recovered to finish 1999 in top spot, and the pair engaged in a further 11 matches, culminating in Sampras winning a then-record 14th major crown at the 2002 US Open. While it proved to be Sampras’ last match, Agassi forged on, once again rising to No. 1 at the age of 33 and the Las Vegan continued to compete until September 2006.

At the close, Sampras led 20-14 in their ATPHead2Head series, having won 10 of their 15 matches at Grand Slam championships or the Nitto ATP Finals. They brought out the best in each other, but it was Sampras’ 11-9 edge over Agassi in hard-court meetings that elevated the sport to new heights and the era of superstar tennis.

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Five Things To Know About Marrakech

  • Posted: Apr 08, 2020

Five Things To Know About Marrakech

First staged in Casablanca from 1990, the ATP 250 tournament moved to Marrakech in 2016

The Grand Prix Hassan II, which began at the inception of the ATP Tour in 1990, is the only ATP held in Africa. looks at five things to know about the ATP 250-level tournament, which has been held in Marrakech since 2016.

Royal Links
The Grand Prix Hassan II is named after the former King of Morocco, Hassan II (1929-1999), and the tournament has been supported by the royal palace for 30 years, since the ATP Tour’s inception. King Mohammed VI of Morocco entirely funds the event today.

The spring clay-court opener was first held in Casablanca, from 1990 to 2015, at the 6,000-square-metre Complex Al Amal, which was built in just three months and was the home of the Royal Moroccan Tennis Federation.

When the city didn’t wish to upgrade the stadium, the event moved to the Royal Tennis Club de Marrakech, located in the chic Hivernage neighbourhood.

The players’ lounge looks like an oriental living room and traditional Moroccan mint tea is served. Lunch is taken by the swimming pool and players can enjoy the city by visiting the Jamaa el Fna square and the Palmeraie.

More than 500 children each year take part in Kids’ Day, with Alexander Zverev, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Jaume Munar and Jiri Vesely hitting on court in 2019.

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The First Champion
Having held an ATP Challenger Tour event since 1984, the Grand Prix Hassan II became a part of the first ATP Tour calendar in 1990, with future World No. 1 Thomas Muster winning the first title. Only 12 months on from a freak road accident in Miami, which left the Austrian with severed knee ligaments, Muster beat Argentina’s Guillermo Perez-Roldan 6-1, 6-7, 6-2 in the final.

Midweek rain delayed the schedule by one day and forced matches to be switched from the Complex Federal to old courts nearby owned by Mohamed Mjid (1916-2014), the President of the Royal Moroccan Tennis Federation (1964-2009). When the rain finally stopped, layers of sodden clay were removed from the court and the surface was then set on fire to speed up the drying process. It enabled the final to be played on the Complexe Al Amal stadium court, watched by Prince Moulay Rachid and a capacity crowd of 3,500 fans.

Andujar & Spaniards Reign Supreme
A Spaniard has lifted the Grand Prix Hassan II trophy in six of the past 11 years, including three triumphs for Pablo Andujar (2011-12, 2018). Former World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero (2009), Tommy Robredo (2013) and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (2014) also had singles title success.

Two years ago, Andujar arrived at the clay-court tournament at No. 355 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and used a protected ranking to enter the 2018 main draw. With a 6-2, 6-2 win over Kyle Edmund, he went on to become the lowest-ranked singles champion on the ATP Tour since then-No. 550 Lleyton Hewitt won at Adelaide in January 1998. He finished runner-up to Benoit Paire in 2019.

Tomas Carbonell (1996), Alberto Martin (1999), Fernando Vicente (2000) and Santiago Ventura (2004) are also former champions from Spain.

Homegrown Titlists
The Grand Prix Hassan II has witnessed two Moroccans lift the singles trophy. Firstly, current Tournament Director Hicham Arazi, with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Franco Squillari, in 1997, and Younes El Aynaoui, who overcame Guillermo Canas 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the 2002 final.

El Aynaoui also advanced to finals in 1993 (l. to defending champion Guillermo Perez Roldan) and 2003 (l. to Julien Boutter). Karim Alami also finished as runner-up in 1994 (l. to Renzo Furlan) and partnered Arazi to the 1997 doubles final (l. to Cunha-Silva/Marques).

Community At Its Heart
The Grand Prix Hassan II is renowned for inviting orphans each year to sample the ATP 250-level tournament, which opens the spring clay-court swing.

In 2013, when the tournament was held in Casablanca, home of an ITF performance centre, a number of the country’s best junior tennis players also met and hit with 2010 champion Stan Wawrinka and 2013 runner-up Kevin Anderson.

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Knock, Knock, It's Nick: Kyrgios Could Be At Your Door

  • Posted: Apr 08, 2020

Knock, Knock, It’s Nick: Kyrgios Could Be At Your Door

Learn about how Kyrgios is helping his community

If you hear a knock at your door in Canberra, Australia, don’t ignore it. It might be Nick Kyrgios.

The Australian, who is a consistent participant in charitable activities throughout the year on the ATP Tour, plans to do whatever he can to support those in need during the coronavirus pandemic. Two days ago, he posted on Instagram that fans who are struggling should feel free to reach out to him for help through direct message.

Tennis At Home | How ATP Players Make The Most Of Stay At Home

“If ANYONE is not working/not getting an income and runs out of food, or times are just tough… please don’t go to sleep with an empty stomach,” Kyrgios wrote. “Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to send me a private message. I will be more than happy to share whatever I have. Even just for a box of noodles, a loaf of bread or milk. I will drop it off at your doorstep, no questions asked!”

Kyrgios more recently wrote in an Instagram story that he will soon be following through on his promise.

“Hey guys, tomorrow I will be doing as many deliveries as I can throughout the day to the nearest people I have been in contact with. If I haven’t read your message yet, trust me I will do my absolute best to get to yours,” Kyrgios wrote. “And to my international friends around the world, I wish I could do more, but right now things are tough, stay strong, brighter days are coming.”

The 24-year-old took the initiative in supporting those suffering from the widespread bushfires in Australia earlier this year, pledging AUD $200 per ace hit during the Aussie summer. That led to numerous players making pledges of their own.

Kyrgios was one of the players who participated in Rally For Relief, a fundraising event held before the Australian Open, helping raise almost AUD $5 million for the Victorian Bushfire Appeal.

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