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Berrettini's Wake-up Call: 'They Were Better Physically'

  • Posted: Apr 27, 2020

Berrettini’s Wake-up Call: ‘They Were Better Physically’

Italian speaks exclusively to ATPTour.com

So much for the quaran-fifteen. Matteo Berrettini is among the disciplined few who have been able to lose weight while on lockdown.

The 24-year-old made history last year by becoming the first Italian to win a singles match at the Nitto ATP Finals. But despite a breakout season that saw him finish at a career-high standing of No. 8 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, his attention quickly turned to improving his on-court stamina.

The powerful baseliner felt worn out at the end of a grueling season that saw him play 24 tour-level events and go deep in many of them. Although racking up match wins is a problem that any player would like to have, Berrettini decided to make off-court training a priority during last year’s pre-season in Monte-Carlo. He’s continued that trend while currently staying at his training base in Florida with his girlfriend, WTA player Ajla Tomljanovic.

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

“We were all tired playing at the end of the year, but all the guys [in London] had more energy. They were better than me physically,” Berrettini said to ATPTour.com “When the tournament finished, I told my team that I wanted to improve this for the next year. I wanted to arrive in better condition if I qualified again. I’m still in touch all the time with my fitness trainer, who is with his family now in Italy, and also my coach.”

Berrettini started putting more emphasis on lateral movement drills, while continuing to work on his endurance and strength. He also has time now to experiment with new methods of training and recently tried yoga for the first time.

The results of his hard work have already paid off. Recent photos that Berrettini posted on Instagram showed a noticeably slimmer physique.

 

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Two different ways to handle quarantine 😅😂 . . #pigra #kruzer

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“If it looks like that, then that’s great,” Berrettini said, smiling. “I care about my weight, but it’s not my top priority at this moment. I don’t have to play matches, so I don’t have to be that strict with the diet. But it’s also very hot here and I’m working hard, so I’m sweating a lot. I weighed myself before and after practice the other day and had lost four kilograms.”

Most importantly, Berrettini is back at full strength after dealing with a lingering abdominal injury sustained during last year’s pre-season. The injury forced him to withdraw from the ATP Cup and he re-aggravated it before the start of the Australian Open. But while the Italian has spent more time in the gym than on the court over the past five months, it’s not an unfamiliar situation to him.

“My knee injury [in 2016] gave me seven months to work on my body, so I felt much better when I came back. This situation is much tougher though,” Berrettini said. “My mindset was to use this time to get better, but also come back as soon as possible. Now I’m ready, but understandably, the Tour is not.”

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Berrettini also has some extra encouragement by having Tomljanovic join him in the gym. He’s used to having his team push him through grueling workouts and has found the support from the Aussie to be beneficial.

“We work out together and it’s really helpful that she’s there. She pushes me to run more and do more,” Berrettini said. “I used to work out with my brother and it helped me a lot, so I’m really happy when I can train with someone.”

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Murray During Virtual Madrid: 'Where's My Player Going?!'

  • Posted: Apr 27, 2020

Murray During Virtual Madrid: ‘Where’s My Player Going?!’

Learn how Murray injected commentary into his virtual match

Andy Murray is off to a quick start in the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro, in more ways than one.

The former World No. 1 won his first match of Group 1 action, defeating Benoit Paire 3-1. Perhaps the highlight wasn’t the victory, but Murray’s in-match commentary.

“Where is my player going? Where are you going?!”

“Ahh, get there! Get there!”

“My hands are sweating.”

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

Murray simultaneously played the Frenchman and commentated on the action. There was no shortage of grunting, despite the players competing virtually.

During one point, Paire rushed the net and put away a backhand winner, which threw Murray for a loop.

“I’ve never seen you play that shot before, ever,” Murray said. “Normally you hit a drop shot there!”

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Paire has a formidable two-handed backhand in real life, and Murray was keen to play the game as if both men were physically on the court.

“Why am I playing to your backhand?” Murray asked, criticising his own decision-making.

Paire held his first service game to take a 1-0 lead, but Murray found his rhythm from there, pumping himself up throughout, sprinkling in comments of “come on”, “that’s the one” and “tricky serve” throughout.

“Come on I need the break here. Come on,” Murray said after earning a break point at 1-1, before crushing a forehand passing shot down the line for a winner. “Come on!”

Murray was so busy bantering with Paire that he received a time violation warning on match point, but it mattered little, as the Brit quickly finished off the Frenchman.

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Tsitsipas Giving Back Through Charity Auction

  • Posted: Apr 27, 2020

Tsitsipas Giving Back Through Charity Auction

Greek has donated autographed memorabilia to raise money

Stefanos Tsitsipas, the reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion, has found a new way to give back during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Greek has launched ‘Beyond 100 Support’, an auction for which any money raised will go towards the Player Relief Programme, which will provide much-needed assistance to the players who are particularly affected during this time of the coronavirus crisis.

“As the youngest player in the Top 10, I feel responsible to help the future of tennis. I understand how critical it is for the sustainability of both ATP and WTA players ranked beyond the Top 100 and how difficult it is to make a living from professional tennis, especially with no tennis events going on for an undefined period of time,” Tsitsipas said. “Through the creation of ‘Beyond 100 Support’, I hope to start a movement that my fellow players will follow suit.”

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

Tsitsipas has donated several items to the auction, including autographed racquets, match kits and the opportunity to feature as a guest in one of the Greek’s YouTube vlogs. The ATP has donated Nitto ATP Finals, Next Gen ATP Finals and ATP Cup experiences.

View ‘Beyond 100 Support’ Auction

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Félicitations! Herbert & Fiancée Expecting First Child

  • Posted: Apr 27, 2020

Félicitations! Herbert & Fiancée Expecting First Child

Frenchman shared the happy news on Sunday

Pierre-Hugues Herbert had plenty of reason to celebrate last weekend. Not only did he ring in the birthday of his fiancée, Julia Lang, but he announced that the couple are expecting their first child.

 

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My birthday girl ♥️ and our special guest 🤰🏼

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Herbert revealed the news on Sunday in an Instagram post. Fellow players on Tour quickly jumped in the comments section to congratulate them, including Felix Auger-Aliassime, John Isner, Jan-Lennard Struff and Andreas Seppi. Herbert announced his engagement to Lang after clinching last year’s Nitto ATP Finals doubles title with Nicolas Mahut (d. Klaasen/Venus).

The Frenchmen continued their successful on-court partnership this year by taking title in Rotterdam (d. Kontinen/Struff). Herbert also posted a 7-5 record this season in singles, including tour-level quarter-finals in Doha and Montpellier.

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

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Resurfaced: Snow Day! Players Battle Rare Elements In Munich

  • Posted: Apr 27, 2020

Resurfaced: Snow Day! Players Battle Rare Elements In Munich

Snow shower strikes the BMW Open by FWU AG

Editor’s Note: ATPTour.com is resurfacing features to bring fans closer to their favourite players during the current suspension in tournament play. This story was originally published on 24 April 2016.

Rain in Bucharest, snow in Munich… Players encountered both ends of the weather spectrum on the ATP Tour on Sunday.

While the singles and doubles finals at the BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy were postponed due to persistent downpours, competitors at the BMW Open by FWU AG fought through the snowflakes ahead of the outdoor clay-court tournament.

Qualifying at the ATP World Tour 250 event was briefly halted due to a snow shower that hit Munich, and main draw players practising at the venue were also given a unique opportunity by Mother Nature.

“I have never seen anything like this before,” said John Peers, who is seeded third in the doubles draw with Henri Kontinen. “It’s the first time at an outdoor tour-level event that I have seen snow and matches had to be suspended. Being Australian it was definitely something different. We actually got lucky as it didn’t snow during practice, but literally right before and right after it did. It was so cold and our hands were frozen. Apparently we could get some more over the next day or two. Time to rug up I think.”

Less than two weeks ago, Neal Skupski was battling the heat and humidity at the ATP Challenger Tour stop in Sarasota, Florida. On Sunday, he and brother Ken were bundled up, hitting through the hail and snow in preparation for their first-round clash against home hopes Dustin Brown and Florian Mayer.

“It was actually my second time hitting in the snow,” Skupski added. “Many years ago I remember clearing the court back home (in England) with Ken to try it out for a bit of fun, but it’s not the same as practising for an ATP World Tour event. It was good to practise in it today because we may have to get used to it for this week’s tournament, looking at the weather forecast!” 

Skupski 

Canada’s Vasek Pospisil, seeded seventh in singles, experienced a taste of home weather with the April snow. He took to Twitter to comment on the rare conditions.

“We heard that it might snow today and I have to admit I was a bit excited because I rarely get to see snow anymore,” said Pospisil. “I started the day with a run outside and it was snowing a bit, which was good enough for me. It seemed to clear up but then it started snowing again when I began practising a few hours later. It was coming down pretty hard at one point. It was the first time I have played in snow as a professional and I have to admit that, although I had played in snow as a youngster growing up in Canada, I didn’t think it would ever happen again. It actually made me feel right at home this week. Canadians don’t shy away from cold weather.”

Main draw action in Munich gets underway on Monday, with snow in the forecast for much of the week.

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Resurfaced: Surf's Up For Sousa & Edmund In Estoril

  • Posted: Apr 27, 2020

Resurfaced: Surf’s Up For Sousa & Edmund In Estoril

Players enjoy lesson with professional surfer

Editor’s Note: ATPTour.com is resurfacing features to bring fans closer to their favourite players during the current suspension in tournament play. This story was originally published on 29 April 2018.

Players competing at the Millennium Estoril Open this week will be sliding on the red clay, battling for a coveted ATP World Tour title. But before the main draw begins, some competitors were sliding around something else — a surfboard.

Portugal’s own Joao Sousa and British No. 1 Kyle Edmund took time out to learn how to catch some waves with a special instructor — world-class surfer Frederico ‘Kikas’ Morais, ranked No. 14 in the World Surf League.

“It’s not easy to get the time to do this kind of thing normally. It’s a great activity and to be with Frederico, it’s nice,” said Sousa. “He’s one of the greatest in the world. It’s a bit windy, which makes it difficult. But hopefully we’ll have some fun. It’s gonna be tough, but we’ll give our best.”

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The players certainly enjoyed the experience at Carcavelos Beach, even if they might not be joining a professional surfing circuit any time soon.

“He gave us some tips to make it a little bit easier,” Sousa said. “But I’m not sure our physical condition is perfect for this kind of sport.”

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Edmund, who advanced to the Australian Open semi-finals before reaching the championship match in Marrakech, enjoyed his time on the water as well, saying that Morais had the pair practising getting up on the surfboard and settling into their stance.

“I’ve never surfed before, only done stuff like jet skis in the water before. So it’s my first time, but I’ve got no excuses because I’ve got a pretty good instructor,” Edmund said. “I’m pretty good with adventure sports. I like motorbiking, and loved the jet skiing. It’s a bit cold, that’s my only excuse! But I’m excited to give it a go and to try something out of my comfort zone.”

Edmund

To start the day, the pair also played mini tennis at the brand new Nova School of Business and Economics. But after some pre-tournament fun, Edmund is excited to head back to the tennis court, where he looks to maintain the momentum he gained in Marrakech.

“It’s one of my aims, to get my first title. So it was great to reach a first final,” Edmund said of his run in Morocco. “I obviously wanted to go one step further, but the experience will serve me well. The next time I’m in a final, I’ll hopefully be able to use that loss to my benefit.”

It’s an especially important week for Sousa, who is playing in his home country of Portugal.

“It’s always a special week for me, playing at my home and in front of my people,” said Sousa, who made the semi-finals of Marrakech. “It’s been a good season so far and hopefully I can play a good level and play good matches.”

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The King of 'ClayStation'? Nadal among stars going for virtual Madrid title

  • Posted: Apr 27, 2020

When Rafael Nadal claimed during an Instagram chat with Andy Murray that he had only begun preparing that day for the upcoming virtual Madrid Open, both men broke into laughter.

“Feliciano Lopez told me you have been practising for three or four hours a day,” joked Murray.

Given their competitive spirit, it is easy to imagine both have spent more than a few lockdown hours glued to a PlayStation since last Monday’s chat.

With tennis suspended until at least mid-July because of the coronavirus pandemic, Nadal and Murray are among 32 of the world’s leading ATP and WTA players replacing the buzz of competitive action with an online fix.

This week they are swapping their racquets for PlayStation 4 controllers, to play on the Tennis World Tour video game for the Madrid Open Virtual Pro titles.

There will be 16 men, 16 women, two knockout singles tournaments – all played in a digital representation of the Spanish capital’s Manolo Santana Stadium.

  • Day one’s order of play at the Virtual Madrid Open

It is the first time a virtual tennis tournament has been contested solely by professional tour players. The event will be streamed on the Madrid Open’s Facebook page and the platform’s new gaming app.

“This idea is based on two things: firstly, to give something to the fans while they are at home and let them watch their favourite players. And secondly, to help players who are struggling right now,” Lopez, the ATP tour veteran who became the Madrid Open tournament director last year, told BBC Sport.

Both tournaments have separate prize pots of 150,000 euros (£131,210). Each champion will decide how to distribute the money into the relief funds set up to support lower-ranked players whose incomes have dried up during the pandemic.

“Players individually can give their support and then there are initiatives like ours, where we are asking the players to give all the prize money to the fund,” added Lopez.

“There will be a lot of money in the funds to help the players struggling right now.”

Who else is playing? Not Nick Kyrgios…

Behind star attractions Nadal and Murray, there are a host of other big names. Fellow Grand Slam champions Caroline Wozniacki and Bianca Andreescu compete in the women’s event, as does British number one Johanna Konta, while Australian Open runner-up Dominic Thiem and ATP World Tour champion Stefanos Tsitsipas are among the men.

The players will compete as their own Tennis World Tour characters, although some of the 32 entrants – including Murray – are not on the game. That is largely as a result of developers Nacon being unable to negotiate some image rights, which are done on an individual basis.

Murray’s character, therefore, has been added in the game’s player creation mode by the organisers, meaning the physical and technical attributes of the Scot might not be as closely representative as others.

Kiki Bertens, who should have been defending the WTA title in Madrid next week, is another whose character has been created for the tournament.

“It is more the skills from me than the skills of the character,” said the Dutch world number seven.

Bertens underlined her status as one of the best clay-courters on the women’s tour by winning last year’s Madrid Open – one of the leading WTA events outside of the Grand Slams and an important signpost towards the French Open – without dropping a set.

Instead of returning to the Caja Magica, she will be defending the title in her living room at home in Breda in the Netherlands.

“Winning last year was the biggest title of my career so I have such great memories from Madrid. I wanted to defend my title,” the 28-year-old told BBC Sport.

“Now I’m not sure if I will be able to, because I’d rather play a tennis match in Madrid than a computer game! But I’m practising hard and we will see how it goes.”

Lopez has been impressed with the buy-in from the leading players, although not everyone has been bowled over by the idea.

Nick Kyrgios, never shy of conveying what he thinks, reckons they should be playing Call of Duty, Fortnite or Fifa instead of Tennis World Tour so “people actually watch”.

Will it be competitive?

The demanding Lopez says this is “not only for fun”, any players thinking it is all a laugh might be shown up.

“We are trying to make the virtual tournament as professional as we can. We want this to be a competition,” he said.

The Spaniard arranged for PS4 consoles and copies of Tennis World Tour to be sent out to the players, allowing them to prepare for an event he wants them to take as seriously as the real thing.

“Even though it is virtual we want the players to compete like they usually would,” said the 38-year-old, who admits he is not a gamer himself.

“The message we want to send to the fans is that the players are competing online because they can’t compete on-site.”

Nadal and Murray arranged during their Instagram chat to have a match later that night, while Elina Svitolina and Eugenie Bouchard are among those to have posted clips of them practising.

Bertens has already played ‘friendly’ matches against Belinda Bencic, Carla Suarez Navarro and Fiona Ferro.

“On court I scream a lot and show my emotions, but I think my competitive spirit will come out even more when I’m playing the game,” she laughed.

“It is hard not to let my emotions go. Once already the controller was almost flying across the room.”

Cameras with in-built microphones will follow their every move, meaning animated histrionics and trash-talking are not being discouraged.

Fans will see the players in the corners of their screen, allowing them to watch their interaction as well as the match.

“Entertaining the fans is very important so the interaction is something we really wanted to have,” Lopez said.

Will the technology work?

Last year’s Madrid Open was Lopez’s first as the tournament director and he hopes the virtual event will run as smoothly as that did.

While the long hours in the role haven’t changed, he has a new concern: dodgy internet connections.

Digital expert Webedia, a global entertainment company with expertise in esports, is responsible for the technical side.

Usually their events see a host of YouTubers and influencers competing, and have included a Fifa tournament held at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

Alberto Fernandez, Webedia’s head of esports, says the Madrid Open Virtual Pro represents one of the firm’s biggest challenges.

“We are in a new situation for everyone. We usually do events like these in a studio with everything connected and tested; we have back-ups in case something happens,” he told BBC Sport.

“Because of the situation we have to produce everything from home. Everyone involved in this project is in his or her house. That’s the most difficult thing.”

Smooth streaming of the players is key. Out-of-sync images and distorted sound are guaranteed to see exasperated viewers switch off.

Tests have been done on each player’s wifi speeds to ensure the live streaming, done through a popular gaming app called Discord, will work.

Fernandez says the gameplay will be streamed through a different server operated by publisher Nacon, meaning if a player’s camera connection goes down then fans will still see images of the PlayStation action.

“The technology is incredible and all we need is good wifi. We have done the tests and we’re confident it is not going to be a concern,” Lopez added.

Who will be the King and Queen of ‘Clay-Station’?

According to the pre-tournament chat in their WhatsApp group, there is not much gaming experience among the WTA players.

Presuming that is true and nobody is hiding considerable talent, it leaves an open field which mirrors the reality of unpredictable women’s tournaments on the tour.

“We all start from zero and it is a fair competition,” said Bertens, who had never played Tennis World Tour, or had a PlayStation, before last week’s delivery.

On the men’s side, Lopez is tipping his old doubles partner Murray for gaming glory.

Murray appears to have plenty of online pedigree, judging by an admission he used to spend “way too much” time on computer games earlier in his career. During their Instagram chat last Monday, Murray and Nadal reminisced about the late nights they used to spend playing Pro Evolution Soccer.

“Andy is one of the most competitive players in the game and I’m sure he will be one of the candidates to win this virtual event,” said Lopez. “He likes playing video games and he will have been practising.”

Gael Monfils was another of Lopez’s hot tips – before the French world number nine withdrew on the eve of the tournament.

Monfils, a known gamer who regularly showcases his skills on Twitch, said he could not play because of “conflicting rights between streaming platforms”. French compatriot Benoit Paire, who Monfils regularly spars with on Fifa 20, comes in as a virtual version of a lucky loser.

If, as Lopez predicted, Murray and Monfils were the men to beat, then the latter’s withdrawal might be good news for Nadal. The ‘King of Clay’ was set to face Murray and Monfils in a star-studded group.

Perhaps his chances of dominating a virtual tournament on his favoured surface – and being crowned the King of ‘Clay-station’ on Thursday – have received a considerable boost.

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Khachanov's Beard, Bopanna's Drill: Tennis At Home Roundup

  • Posted: Apr 27, 2020

Khachanov’s Beard, Bopanna’s Drill: Tennis At Home Roundup

ATPTour.com looks at what your favourite players have been up to

Your favourite players are all at home, but they’re finding plenty of ways to pass the time. From Karen Khachanov’s clever use of Photoshop, to Rohan Bopanna’s intense forehand drill, ATPTour.com looks at how the world’s best players are keeping busy.

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Karen Khachanov may need to visit a barber shop when he comes out of lockdown.

Rohan Bopanna doesn’t need much to keep working on his game.

 

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Find your way through these tough times 💪🏾.. Shoot your questions my way to let me know how you’ll are doing? Wall practice 😉 @rogerfederer #isolatedbutnotdisconnected #isolation #rbta #indiatennis #indiantennisdailyofficial #functionaltennis #atp #stayhome #tennis #sports #tennisplayer @thesportsschool #tennisathome🎾🏠

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Alexander Zverev demonstrated that he won’t be joining the PGA Tour in the near future.

Meanwhile, Grigor Dimitrov showed that he’s a two-sport wonder.

 

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Same place different sport #stayhome

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Guillermo Duran’s impressive trick shots have been growing in difficulty over the past few weeks.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas is just like the rest of us in the morning.

Matteo Berrettini relived winning his second ATP Tour title last year in Budapest.

 

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One year ago today. – Torneremo! – #2

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Horacio Zeballos has been busy entertaining his young son.

Guillermo Coria added an impressive twist to Roger Federer’s volley challenge.

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