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On This Day In 2019: Sinner Steps Into The Spotlight

  • Posted: Apr 24, 2020

On This Day In 2019: Sinner Steps Into The Spotlight

Flash back to Sinner’s first ATP Tour win

One year ago this week, Jannik Sinner stepped into the spotlight.

Sinner was the No. 314 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings when he competed in the 2019 Hungarian Open. The teen lost in the final round of qualifying, which normally would have ended his tournament. But Budapest would serve as the launching pad of what was a rapid ascent for the Italian in 2019.

Sinner got into the main draw as a lucky loser, and he earned his first ATP Tour victory against Mate Valkusz, defeating the Hungarian 6-2, 0-6, 6-4. The 17-year-old crushed three consecutive forehands on match point to clinch his maiden moment, calmly walking to net, celebrating his triumph with a simple fist pump.

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

Sinner let slip a 3-0 lead in the decider, potentially showing nerves as he sought his first tour-level win. But the lucky loser showed calm and poise, which have proven key attributes since that moment.

The Monaco resident lost in the second round of the main draw in Budapest, as 2019 Rio de Janeiro champion Laslo Djere eliminated the phenom 6-3, 6-1. But Sinner announced himself in Hungary, and he hasn’t looked back since.

Sinner had already become the youngest Italian to win an ATP Challenger Tour title (Bergamo), and he maintained the momentum from his strong performance in Hungary. The Italian made the final of the Challenger event in Ostrava, and then won his first ATP Masters 1000 match by defeating veteran Steve Johnson at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. He lost in the second round against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“I think it was very good to [learn] how the Top 10 players are mentally,” Sinner said. “I think they’re pretty strong, especially with the serve. They’re serving very good. But I think I have now a good idea how I have to play in three years.”

Sinner showed plenty of progress just months later. Last October in Antwerp, Sinner defeated then-World No. 13 Gael Monfils en route to the semi-finals, making him the youngest ATP Tour semi-finalist since 17-year-old Borna Coric at 2014 Basel.

Continuing to improve, Sinner stormed to the Next Gen ATP Finals title, including a straight-sets victory against Alex de Minaur in the championship match.

“I think I’m surprised, because it’s been an unbelievable week. All the players are unbelievable players. If not, they [would] not [be] here,” Sinner said after beating De Minaur. “I was the No. 8 seed. I tried to have my chances, and of course today I’m very happy about my game.”

One year before his Budapest breakthrough, Sinner was World No. 1,479. As recently as 5 February 2018, he didn’t own a FedEx ATP Ranking.

But the Italian finished 2019 as the youngest player in the Top 300, aged 18, ranked a career-high World No. 78. That made him the youngest player in the year-end Top 80 since 17-year-old Rafael Nadal finished 2003 at World No. 47.

“I just try to play week after week better. That’s my goal. And then obviously if I play better, the [FedEx ATP] Ranking will be better, for sure,” Sinner said after winning his first Grand Slam main draw match at this year’s Australian Open. “I’m not thinking so much about the Ranking. We are just trying to make match after match good, trying to play better, and then we will see. I don’t want to rush this.”

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Stay At Home Gala Planned To Benefit Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund

  • Posted: Apr 24, 2020

Stay At Home Gala Planned To Benefit Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund

Participants to include Isner, Bryan Brothers

On Friday, 8 May, the inaugural Stay at Home Gala – Houston will be held to support the Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund, with Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan, John Isner, Steve Johnson, Sam Querrey and Brad Gilbert among the stars set to participate.

The Stay at Home Gala – Houston is being organised by the tournament staff of the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship, an ATP Tour tennis tournament that is normally held in April at River Oaks Country Club.

The gala evening, while being socially distant, promises to deliver a big night out while staying in. Participants are encouraged to put on formal tops while wearing comfortable bottoms, and serve up a meal on their finest dinnerware while enjoying a fun and entertaining program via video conference.

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

The entertainment portion of the evening will include sports stars as well as a variety of musical acts. The two-hour event is scheduled to begin at 6 pm.

Tickets for the gala begin at $25 and can be purchased here. Less a small processing fee, proceeds will benefit the Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund.

When purchasing the ticket, participants can choose to select an “add on” package to also purchase a to-go order dinner from one of the event’s restaurant partners: The Annie Cafe & Bar, Collina’s Italian Cafe, Frank’s Americana Revival Restaurant & Bar, and Goode Co.

“Giving back to the community while also having a fantastic time are two hallmarks for us when we host world class tennis in Houston,” said Tournament Director Bronwyn Greer. “We really missed having the opportunity to hold our tournament as usual, but these are certainly unusual times, and that means there are many in our community who are hurting in extraordinary ways. We are thrilled to be able to put on this event to benefit those who are in need locally.”

The gala event will benefit the Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund, a collaborative effort of United Way of Greater Houston and Greater Houston Community Foundation. The Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund will help the most vulnerable of our neighbours meet their basic needs and will help impactful nonprofits in our area serve our community through the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic aftermath.

Learn More About The Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund

Learn More About The Event

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Murray to face Nadal in virtual Madrid Open

  • Posted: Apr 24, 2020

Andy Murray will play Rafael Nadal next week – from his own home, in a virtual version of the Madrid Open.

Gael Monfils and Denis Shapovalov are also in his group, while fellow Briton Johanna Konta will pit hers gaming skills against Victoria Azarenka.

Thirty-two players will be involved in the charity event, with the winners deciding how much they wish to donate to players struggling financially.

The event runs from Monday to Thursday next week, with play from 14:00 BST.

Prize money of 150,000 euros (about £132,000) will be directed to good causes – with the winners able to donate part of it to players struggling because of the sporting shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Madrid Open was scheduled to take place from 1-10 May but was cancelled because of the pandemic. All professional tennis has been cancelled until at least 13 July.

  • Andy Murray signs up for virtual Madrid Open

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Virtual Blockbuster! Nadal & Murray In Same Group In Virtual Madrid Event

  • Posted: Apr 24, 2020

Virtual Blockbuster! Nadal & Murray In Same Group In Virtual Madrid Event

Learn who landed in which of the four groups for the virtual event

The draw for the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro has been made, and although the action will be played in a video game, there is a round-robin blockbuster that jumps off the page.

Five-time Madrid champion Rafael Nadal is joined by another former World No. 1, Andy Murray, in Group 1. They will square off in the virtual version of the tournament, with Gael Monfils — who is an avid gamer — and Denis Shapovalov also in the same group.

Nadal joked in a recent Instagram live with Murray that “they don’t want me to do well in Madrid this year” and that he only recently played the game for the first time. When Murray said he selected Nadal as his character to compete on clay against Roger Federer, the Spaniard asked if he “hit against [Roger’s] backhand all the time” for the match.

“After a set, you were unbelievably tired,” Murray said, laughing. “The energy bar on the side of the screen was almost empty. I’ve never seen you get tired after one set!”

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

Group 2 is led by close friends Dominic Thiem, a Madrid finalist in 2017 and 2018, and Diego Schwartzman. John Isner and David Ferrer will add their own spice to this intriguing group.

Stefanos Tsitsipas reached last year’s Madrid final on the court, and he’ll look to go one step further virtually. The Greek leads Group 3, battling for a spot in the quarter-finals with Fabio Fognini, Frances Tiafoe and Kei Nishikori.

Group 4 includes 2018 Madrid champion Alexander Zverev David Goffin, Karen Khachanov and Lucas Pouille. They will all be bidding to progress in a Manolo Santana Stadium that has been recreated in exquisite detail in the video game Tennis World Tour (Nacon Gaming), and hoping to win the spoils with their PS4 controllers. 

Lars Graff, the ATP Vice President, Officiating, conducted the draw from his home.

This tournament will be played from 27-30 April, with the round-robin qualifying groups taking place on 27 and 28 April. The top two players in each group will advance to a knockout quarter-final draw.

“We’ve had a great response from all the players. From the first moment when the initiative was conceived, they were prepared to help. It’s the first virtual tournament. It’ll be a fantastic tournament, the bar is high, the players are ready and it’s certainly going to be spectacular,” said Feliciano López, the tournament director of the Mutua Madrid Open.

This pioneering charity initiative will donate a total of €50,000 to the Madrid Food Bank to help reduce the social impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, the tournament will include a total purse of €300,000 in the two competitions (€150,000 ATP and €150,000 WTA), from which the winners will be able to decide how much they donate to their peers on Tour who are currently suffering economically. 

“There are some really high-quality matches, as we normally see during the real tournament”, stated Gerard Tsobanian, CEO and president of the Mutua Madrid Open. “There is a very competitive group in the men’s draw… I can’t wait to see who is going to progress from Group 1 and I’m looking forward to the tournament starting on Monday.”

Group 1: Rafael Nadal, Gael Monfils, Denis Shapovalov, Andy Murray

Group 2: Dominic Thiem, Diego Schwartzman, John Isner, David Ferrer

Group 3: Stefanos Tsitsipas, Fabio Fognini, Kei Nishikori, Frances Tiafoe

Group 4: Alexander Zverev, David Goffin, Karen Khachanov, Lucas Pouille

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Lopez & Azarenka To Join Tennis United For Episode Three

  • Posted: Apr 24, 2020

Lopez & Azarenka To Join Tennis United For Episode Three

Reigning Nitto ATP Finals champ Tsitsipas also to make an appearance

Don’t miss out on the third episode of Tennis United, hosted by Grand Slam champions Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Vasek Pospisil, which will stream live on the ATP Tour’s Facebook page at 7pm BST on Friday.

Joining the hosts for this episode are Feliciano Lopez, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Victoria Azarenka and Johanna Konta. Former World No. 12 Lopez, who is also the Mutua Madrid Open Tournament Director, and Azarenka are quizzed on their careers, while reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Tsitsipas and Konta answer fan questions.

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

Hubert Hurkacz, a 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals competitor, and Daria Gavrilova also make appearances.

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Fognini's Tribute, Thiem's Adventure: Tennis At Home

  • Posted: Apr 24, 2020

Fognini’s Tribute, Thiem’s Adventure: Tennis At Home looks at what your favourite players are up to

Your favourite players are all at home, but they’re finding plenty of ways to pass the time. From Fabio Fognini’s heartwarming ode to his mother, to Dominic Thiem’s day with his brother, find out how the biggest names in tennis are keeping busy.

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Fognini paid tribute to his mother in an Instagram post that went viral.


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A te che mi hai preso in braccio per pochi anni… ma il mio CUORE e’ PER SEMPRE tra le tue mani. Auguri Mammina ❤️😘 @siaudi

A post shared by Fabio Fognini (@fabiofogna) on

Thiem enjoyed a beautiful day outside with his brother, Moritz.


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A day in the mountains with @moritzthiem 🏔

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Mikhail Kukushkin’s attempt at Roger Federer’s volley challenge proved that expectation doesn’t always meet reality.


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All tennis players in 2021🙈😂😂😂Все теннисисты после карантина🙈😂 #tennisathome @atptour @rogerfederer #expectationvsreality

A post shared by Mikhail Kukushkin (@kukushkin_mikhail) on

Alexander Zverev continued to find new ways to work his fitness.

Jamie Murray offered his followers a fun workout to do from the comfort of home.

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

Denis Shapovalov shared a flashback to playing a game of “Butts Up” in his junior days.


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Throwback to the junior days when @sorianojs used to kick my a$$ 😂 #SlowestServeOnThePlanet

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Neal Skupski offered his own throwback moment and reminisced on winning the doubles title last year in Budapest with his brother, Ken Skupski.


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A successful week in Budapest 🇭🇺 this time last year #tbt #tour #throwback #atp #tennis

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Tennys Sandgren released a cover song with fellow player Mikael Torpegaard.


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My bro @torpegramm and I covered ghost ritual. Quarantine got us throwing ourselves into things outside the game for a little bit @thebandghost

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Noah Rubin successfully pulled off the #overthehouse challenge.


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Fast and inefficient 👟👟👟 #noahonthestreet

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