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Khachanov's Baby Training, Paes' Frying Pan Challenge: Tennis At Home Roundup

  • Posted: Apr 09, 2020

Khachanov’s Baby Training, Paes’ Frying Pan Challenge: Tennis At Home Roundup looks at what your favourite players have been up to

Your favourite players are all back at home, but they’re finding plenty of ways to stay active. From Karen Khachanov getting creative in his training methods to Leander Paes finding a unique substitute for a racquet, find out how the biggest names in tennis are keeping busy.

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Khachanov found an adorable substitute for dumbbells.

Paes raised the stakes in the volley challenge craze by using a frying pan and not looking at the wall.

Andy Murray and his wife, Kim Sears, put their own twist on the volley challenge and asked fans to reach triple digits.

Rafael Nadal donated a shirt he wore in last year’s Roland Garros final to raise funds for #CruzRojaResponde.

Pablo Andujar unexpectedly had a ballboy in the form of his son during a training session.

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Marin Cilic is still training with purpose.

Grigor Dimitrov proved that minimal equipment can still result in a great workout.

Santiago Gonzalez stepped up his game on TikTok.

Nick Kyrgios made a public offer for help to anyone who needs it.


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Murray, Pouille To Compete At Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro

  • Posted: Apr 09, 2020

Murray, Pouille To Compete At Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro

Kerber, Suarez Navarro announced for WTA edition

Three days after officially announcing the creation of the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro, the tournament’s organisers have confirmed the participation of the first two players in the ATP draw: Andy Murray and Lucas Pouille.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has prevented the 2020 Mutua Madrid Open from taking place from 1 to 10 May and forced the ATP and WTA to postpone all activity on their tours until 13 July, tournament organisers have announced the creation of the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro, an innovative tournament that will be a virtual replica of the tennis competition, with the world’s biggest tennis stars competing from their own homes. The news means that the biggest ATP and WTA stars will clash in the Manolo Santana Stadium, recreated in exquisite detail in the Tennis World Tour video game, while swapping their racquets for a game controller.

Former World No. 1 and three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has won 46 tour-level titles in his career, including two trophies from the Mutua Madrid Open (2008, 2015). Lucas Pouille, a 5-time ATP Tour titlist, will also compete in the pioneering online competition. The Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro will take place from 27 to 30 April in a show of solidarity to raise money and help the tennis players most in need during this time, all those that have no income to help them through these months of inactivity and those affected by COVID-19.

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“This is going to be a very exciting challenge,” said Pouille. “I’ve already started training because I want to win this tournament against my tennis peers as I know they play a lot. Thank you to the Mutua Madrid Open for this great initiative.”

Both tournaments (ATP and WTA) will include a purse of €150,000, from which the winners will be able to decide on how much they donate to the tennis players currently suffering economically, and an additional €50,000 that will all go towards reducing the social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The format for the ATP and WTA Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro competitions will be as follows: 16 singles players will be divided into four groups. The champion of each group will progress to the quarter-finals, which will also include the runner-up of each group. From there, the tournaments will be played as knock-out events. In addition, in parallel with the official competition, there will be a series of benefit matches that will see some of the biggest content creators in the gaming world take on the professional tennis players to raise funds to help those affected by COVID-19.

Stream over 7,000 full match replays from the ATP Tour

All fans will be able to follow the tournament online, on television and on the Mutua Madrid Open’s social media, with a spectacular production that will include commentary on all the matches, analysis and highlights programmes and interviews with the winners after each match.

The organisers of the Mutua Madrid Open will soon reveal the remaining participants, as well as other news of the competition.

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Murray Issues '100 Volley Challenge'

  • Posted: Apr 09, 2020

Murray Issues ‘100 Volley Challenge’

Former World No. 1 shares task with his 3.5 million Twitter followers

It seems Roger Federer has started a new trend.

Just two days after the Swiss challenged celebrities and fans around the world to showcase their best volleys against a wall, former World No. 1 Andy Murray has created his own volley challenge with one major alteration. You will need a partner, not a wall.

In a video post on Twitter, Murray encouraged fellow players and fans to take the 100 volley challenge. From his garden, the 32-year-old then completed a sequence of 100 volleys with his wife, Kim.

Murray is hoping the challenge will reach fellow volley challenge creator Federer and his wife, Mirka, who reached a career-high No. 76 on the WTA Tour in 2001.

“I can’t be the only one that wants to see Rog and Mirka hitting a few balls together,” said Murray.

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Andy Murray signs up for virtual Madrid Open

  • Posted: Apr 09, 2020

Andy Murray will swap his racquet for a controller after he signed up to compete in a virtual version of the Madrid Open at the end of the month.

Sixteen men and 16 women will take part in a four-day online tournament from the comfort and safety of their own homes after the real event was postponed because of coronavirus.

Prize money of 150,000 euros (£131,700) will be directed to good causes – with the winners able to donate part of it to players currently struggling financially.

Those taking part will compete on the Tennis World Tour video game which does not have Murray, 32, as a playable character.

He could choose to play as fellow Briton Kyle Edmund, or maybe step out of his era and play as Andre Agassi or even John McEnroe.

The virtual tournament will take place between 27 and 30 April. All professional tennis has been cancelled until at least 13 July.

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Nadal Donates ‘Precious Object’ For Charity Auction

  • Posted: Apr 09, 2020

Nadal Donates ‘Precious Object’ For Charity Auction

Auction ends at 20:45 CEST on Saturday

Want to own your own piece of tennis history?

Rafael Nadal has made that dream a reality for one lucky fan after donating one of his 2019 Roland Garros final match shirts to the ‘La Mejor Asistencia’ (The Best Assistance) auction, organised by Liga ACB, Spain’s top professional basketball division.

“For this auction, I wanted to donate the shirt with which I won Roland Garros in 2019. Obviously, I do not know if it is the one I ended the match with, but one with which I played on the day of the final,” said Nadal.

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

“It is a shirt that has great meaning for me. I hope you value it and the auction raises as much money as possible for all these people who are suffering so much and need all our support.”

The highest bid for the 12-time Roland Garros champion’s shirt currently stands at more than €4,500. All funds raised will go to the Red Cross campaign Nuestra Mejor Victoria (Our Best Victory), run by Nadal and basketball star Pau Gasol to support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Flashback: The Emotional Houston Moment Johnson Will Never Forget

  • Posted: Apr 09, 2020

Flashback: The Emotional Houston Moment Johnson Will Never Forget

Relive when the American lifted the Houston trophy for the second straight year

Two years ago, American Steve Johnson made history at the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship, defeating Tennys Sandgren to become only the second player since Jose-Luis Clerc in 1980-81 to retain the Houston title. The only other man to do so was Andy Roddick — who later reached World No. 1 — in 2001-02.

“My hands were on my knees as I stood bent over behind the baseline… I was choking back tears,” Johnson recalled in a My Point first-person essay. “I looked to the sky and pumped my fist as I walked to the net to embrace my opponent… a first-time finalist, who I knew wanted to win his first trophy badly. When I put my head down on his chest, Tennys said something I will never forget: ‘I know our Dads are watching in the crowd.’”

Johnson wasn’t the first player to retain an ATP Tour trophy, not even in Houston, but his victory had plenty of emotional strings attached.

The American won his first title on home soil in 2017, when he triumphed in Houston. Twenty-five days later his father, Steve Johnson Sr., passed away in his sleep. Returning to Houston and winning the title again led to plenty of emotions.

“I was doing my best to hold it together. But when Tennys, who lost his father a number of years ago, said that, I let it all out,” Johnson said. “I had just fulfilled a dream we shared — earning a trophy in the United States. But that was the last match he ever saw me play. Suddenly, Dad was gone.”

Johnson Sr. was there in-person when his son won his first ATP Tour title at 2016 Nottingham, but he wasn’t in Houston in April 2017. However, they spoke on the phone after that match.

“He was just so excited. He’s somebody that I’d still like to call today,” Johnson said after retaining his crown. “He’d tell me he was proud of me and be ready for [my] wedding next weekend.”

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It hasn’t all been easy for Johnson since his father’s passing. The World No. 63 has been open about the anxiety that has come with being a professional tennis player while trying to grieve the loss of his father. But in that championship match against Sandgren at the River Oaks Country Club, he found something special.

“Through the toughest moments, I’ve found a sense of unity. In Houston, I know it couldn’t have been easy for Tennys to lose his first final in front of his fantastic Mom, brothers, and others close to him. But he knew how I was feeling,” Johnson wrote. “I’m forever thankful that he was there for me that day.”

Johnson has won two of his four ATP Tour titles in Houston, where he owns an 11-5 record. The home favourite has won 50 per cent of his tour-level clay-court matches, but that would drop down to 42.9 per cent without his Houston success.

Besides Roddick and Johnson, only two other Americans have won multiple titles at the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship: Jimmy Connors and Andre Agassi, both of whom have climbed to No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.

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Five Things To Know About Karen Khachanov

  • Posted: Apr 09, 2020

Five Things To Know About Karen Khachanov

Learn about the Russian’s hobbies, which Hollywood actor he looks like, and how he’s pushed his career from a young age

Karen Khachanov, one of the most amiable personalities on the ATP Tour, is currently No. 15 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and the winner of four titles. looks at five things you should know about the 23-year-old.

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2018 Was The Best Season Of His Career
The Russian won three ATP Tour titles during the 2018 season, when he moved from No. 45 in the FedEx ATP Rankings to a year-end No. 11 on the back of 46 match wins.

Khachanov captured two ATP 250-level titles at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille (d. Pouille) and the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow (d. Mannarino) to break into the Top 20 for the first time on 22 October 2018.

Full of confidence, Khachanov went on to lift his first ATP Masters 1000 trophy with victories over Top 10 members John Isner, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic, ending the Serbia’s 22-match winning streak in the Rolex Paris Masters final. He was the first Russian since 2009 to win an Masters 1000 title (Nikolay Davydenko in Shanghai) and the Moscow title (Mikhail Youzhny).


Big Prediction As A Teenager
Former World No. 1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, a childhood idol, told in October 2013 that then World No. 808 Khachanov would break into the Top 20 of the FedEx ATP Rankings by 2015.

While the prediction didn’t come true, at that time, Jan-Lennard Struff, who played Khachanov just six months after the 17-year-old had left school in October 2013, recalls, “I had a feeling [in 2013] he was already a pretty decent player. He was striking the ball very hard and going for his shots. He beat a lot of good guys.”

As recently as August 2018, shortly prior to his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final in Toronto, Khachanov was still World No. 38. He beat two Top 15 players before losing to eventual champion Rafael Nadal. “I would say that was the first step to show myself that I am capable of playing in the further stages of the bigger events,” Khachanov told “I lost to Rafa here, [but] I also had chances. It was a good match.”

Khachanov remembers, “There were expectations and I felt that after I made the 2013 Moscow quarter-finals it was going to be easy to beat a lot of the guys on the ATP Tour, but it was not. I wasn’t ready to do it more consistently. That’s why it took me longer to find my game and play better. You just have to pass through these stages and trust that you will find it. Somebody gets there longer, somebody has it slower.”

Nearly six years on from Kafelnikov’s Top 20 prediction, 23-year-old Khachanov cracked the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time on 10 June 2019.

Khachanov Hemsworth

Khachanov, A Hollywood Actor?
ATP Tour Uncovered presented by Peugeot posed the question last year: Which actor would you want to portray you in a movie about your life?

Khachanov thought he looked particularly similar to Liam Hemsworth, who was in The Hunger Games series. The similarity was even covered by Buzzfeed and People.

What do you think?

Karen The Intellectual
It’s no surprise Khachanov has the mental fortitude to succeed on the ATP Tour. In his free time, he enjoys testing his mind by playing chess and reading classic Roman novels. He’s also completed his long-distance studies for a degree in physical education at the University of Moscow in 2018.

“Education is always important and after I finished high school, I tried to be in the university as much as I can. Now, I study online. And I like to play chess. It’s one of my favourite hobbies. I also like to read classic Roman novels.”

A Global Traveller, Pushing His Career
Khachanov first left Moscow when he was 15 years old to go and train in Croatia with Goran Ivanisevic’s former coach, Vedran Martic. Khachanov moved to Barcelona aged 18, where he worked under the guidance of Galo Blanco, the former coach of Milos Raonic, and picked up Spanish over a four-year period.

Khachanov won his first ATP Tour title in October 2016 under Blanco, beating Alberto Ramos-Vinolas 6-7(4), 7-6(3), 6-3 in the Chengdu Open final, but the pair split a little over one year later when he was inside the Top 50. Only five months ago, Frederik Rosengren came on board, joining Martic as coach to Khachanov, who helped Russia to the semi-finals of the inaugural ATP Cup in January.

The 23-year-old now resides in Dubai with his wife Veronika and son, David, who was born on 14 September 2019.

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Magic Of Morocco: Arazi & El Aynaoui Recall 'Dream Weeks' In Casablanca

  • Posted: Apr 09, 2020

Magic Of Morocco: Arazi & El Aynaoui Recall ‘Dream Weeks’ In Casablanca

Morrocan stars remember their title runs

It is a dream of every player to win a title on home soil, and it was in the late 1990s that Morocco had three world-class players: Younes El Aynaoui, Karim Alami and Hicham Arazi, who all experienced unforgettable weeks to reach the Grand Prix Hassan II final.

While El Aynaoui (1993) and Alami (1994) had come close to victory in Casablanca, when the ATP 250 tournament was held there (1990-2015), it was current Tournament Director Arazi who first lifted the silverware in 1997, in front of the King of Morocco, Hassan II.

With chants of “Hicham, Hicham” echoing around the Complexe Al Amal stadium, World No. 56 Arazi beat Argentina’s Franco Squillari 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 for one of the biggest moments of his career.

“It was crazy, a magical week,” Arazi told “There were so many people outside waiting to come in, there wasn’t any space in the stadium. When I won match point with a forehand winner, I kissed up to the sky. I was 23, at the beginning of my career, but I was relieved. The most difficult part is to win it. You want to play your best tennis and there is a lot of pressure.

“My confidence started to grow the previous year, when I won three ATP Challenger Tour tournaments. A friend gave me a record of the whole 1997 final just a few days ago, and when I see my face, I was happy, but it was a strange feeling. I enjoy it now, as the Tournament Director [of the Grand Prix Hassan II] for the past five years, because I realise what it meant, more than when I was a player.

“I was not living in Morocco, but I was living in France. I was away 30-35 weeks of the year on Tour, but when I won it was crazy. Everyone recognised me, I enjoyed that night and partied with my friends. It was a strange feeling. I was known, but not considered good enough to win the tournament. It was a big change and from that moment the support of Moroccans hasn’t stopped. Even today, in support of Karim, Younes and myself. They remember.”

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It would take 1993 runner-up El Aynaoui a further nine years of trying, before he was able to capture the Grand Prix Hassan II trophy. His 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over defending champion Guillermo Canas in the 2002 final came during an Indian summer for the 31-year-old. In a two-year period, between 2001 and 2002, El Aynaoui won four ATP Tour titles from eight finals.

“I enjoyed playing in Casablanca, but one of my fondest memories came when I was 400 or 500 in the world and I was granted a wild card,” El Aynaoui told “I beat Thomas Muster on an outside court in the [1992] second round. When you have a stop at home, there is nothing better. It was always a special week and very important.

“In the 1993 final against Guillermo Perez-Roldan [lost 6-4, 6-3], I was very nervous and it’s something that always stayed with me. I can say it now, but I did struggle in big matches, like finals. But I made a big push late in my career. It took time to organise and have the correct staff: a physical coach, physio and my whole family were travelling with me. It was a reward for many years of effort, not giving up, and I achieved what I’d been fighting for since the age of 16 or 17.”

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“The 2002 final against Willy [Canas] was enormous as there were perhaps 7,000-8,000 people in the stadium. It was three tough sets and a lot of help and energy from the crowd, but it is perhaps the best moment of my career.”

El Aynaoui would rise to a career-high No. 14 in the FedEx ATP Rankings on 11 March 2003, shortly prior to a third Casablanca final (l. to Julien Boutter) appearance in April that year.

Today, El Aynaoui supports young talent, while Arazi has become a highly experienced Tournament Director in Marrakech, where the event has been held since 2016.

“Being a Tournament Director is great,” says Arazi, who would rise to a career-high No. 22 on 5 November 2011. “When you play, you don’t see the work that the Tournament Director and his staff undertake. Tennis is an individual sport, it’s difficult to get to this level and you need to have a very selfish mentality. A tennis player must enjoy the time, because it goes so fast. They should practice as hard as they could. They are lucky to have the experience of travelling around the world.

“When I retired, I started to think how lucky I’d been. Casablanca in 1997 was a magical week.”

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Fans & Players Flock To Federer's Volley Challenge

  • Posted: Apr 09, 2020

Fans & Players Flock To Federer’s Volley Challenge

Football star Toni Kroos also joins the fun 

When Roger Federer issues a challenge, it’s hard not to accept it. Current and former ATP Tour players joined Olympic athletes and eager fans in sporting their best hat to take on his volley challenge.

Federer embraced the #tennisathome campaign with a social media video on Tuesday that showed him hitting rapid fire forehand volleys against a wall while wearing a Panama hat. He asked his followers to reply back with a video of themselves doing the drill so that he could provide tips and encouraged everyone to “choose your hat wisely.”

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It only took 24 hours before former World No. 4 Nicolas Kiefer, Fred Gil and WTA player Sofia Kenin posted videos showing off an array of colourful hats. Real Madrid football star Toni Kroos, Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn and World Cup alpine ski racer Mikaela Shiffrin also made Instagram posts in a bid to get feedback from the 103-time tour-level champion.

Federer, always a man of his word, shared several of the videos on his Twitter account and offered encouragement.

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