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Cabal/Farah Reflect On Rome: 'The Tournament That Opened Our Eyes'

  • Posted: May 15, 2020

Cabal/Farah Reflect On Rome: ‘The Tournament That Opened Our Eyes’

Colombians discuss memorable moments at the Foro Italico  

Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah arrived at the 2018 Internazionali BNL d’Italia with a score they had been waiting to settle for a long time. They had 10 ATP Tour titles under their belt, but hadn’t won an ATP Masters 1000 tournament. Both players believed they were capable of winning bigger events.

“We had important moments at those events, but we came up short of winning,” Cabal told

Four months before playing in Rome, they fell in the Australian Open final (l. to Marach/Pavic). But if recent results were anything to go by, ending their big tournament drought in Rome seemed unlikely. They reached the quarter-finals in 2015, but lost their opening match in 2014 and 2016, and didn’t play in 2017. It was difficult to predict that the Colombian Power, as the duo is known, would be victorious that week in the Foro Italico, at least for those who were unaware of their love for competing there.

“We love Rome,” Farah explained. “We like going out and exploring the streets, slipping down an unknown alley, discovering hidden and unknown restaurants. We like walking and eating great food. We also play very well there. It suits us because we come into it in form at that point of the clay swing and Sebas and I are good on clay.”

“Rome is special for us,” Cabal added. “Even though we lost in the first round in the early years, we always played well there. Everything was in place for that to be the case. We love Italy. It’s one of our favourite countries. Rome has a unique atmosphere and the venue is special, the courts are spectacular and they are always full. That makes it even more special.”

Cabal Farah

Their feelings for the city helped them win their first big title together in 2018 Rome, when they took out top seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo in the quarter-finals and then defeated Pablo Carreno Busta and Joao Sousa in the final. Cabal broke into the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Doubles Rankings and Farah moved into the Top 15.

But the most important thing that came with the triumph was not their rankings rise. Farah reflected on that week as “the tournament that opened their eyes” and helped them understand their limitless potential.

“Rome is where everything exploded,” Cabal said. “Winning there was like getting the monkey off our back because we’d been coming up short in those types of tournaments. We had already won ATP 250 and ATP 500 titles. We thought that we were ready to win any tournament. But it wasn’t easy. And when we freed ourselves from that burden, we thought, ‘Now we need a Grand Slam.’”

To achieve their new goal, they needed a little more than a year. But they initially faced a variety of setbacks and posted a 10-6 record in the first quarter of 2019. Cabal also picked up a back injury at 2019 Monte Carlo and they only managed to win the title in Barcelona the following week because they started on Wednesday and he had enough time to recover.

At their next event in Madrid, Farah suffered a neck injury that did not improve before their opening match. They wouldn’t regain their confidence until returning to Rome to defend their title, when they produced a stunning performance that included an epic quarter-final win over Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan. Cabal played what he still refers to as one of the best points of his life during the clash.

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Cabal/Farah Presented Year-End ATP Tour No. 1 Doubles Trophy

“That was the most difficult match we played in Rome,” Farah said. “We saved match points, and we were down 2/7 in the Match Tie-break.“

The Colombians won again in Rome after producing a stunning display in the final against Raven Klassen and Michael Venus. It was their ninth consecutive victory at the tournament.

“We played unbelievably… We were unstoppable,” Farah recalled.

It is not only because of those two titles that Rome has become unforgettable for the Colombians. They have also had some surreal moments while playing there.

“In 2018, my racquet broke into two pieces when returning against Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares. A cat ran onto the court against Kubot and Melo, and Sebas hit me with the ball in our first round against Jurgen Melzer and Robin Haase,” Farah said. ”Last year, I brought my dog Taco, a miniature Australian sheep dog who was four or five months old, on court to celebrate.”

The pair have not slowed down since then. They earned their first two Grand Slam titles last year at Wimbledon and the US Open en route to clinching the year-end No. 1 spot for the first time.

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Murray & Kyrgios To Go On Instagram Live Saturday

  • Posted: May 15, 2020

Murray & Kyrgios To Go On Instagram Live Saturday

The Scot and Aussie have played six matches in their ATP Head2Head series

Andy Murray and Nick Kyrgios are going on Instagram live Saturday at 3 p.m. BST. From their fun matches to off-court bantering, this is one conversation you won’t want to miss.

“When he’s mentally engaged in the matches he’s brilliant for tennis because he has an exciting game, a big personality and he’s different,” Murray told last year of Kyrgios. “People enjoy watching that. I enjoy watching that. His match with Rafa at Wimbledon [in 2019] was one of the best matches of the tournament. That’s really good for tennis.

“As someone who knows him well, I like him. I just want to see him do that all of the time.”

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

Former World No. 1 Murray, who has always shown Kyrgios support, leads their ATP Head2Head series 5-1.

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Against Monfils, Bring More Boomerangs Than Arrows

  • Posted: May 15, 2020

Against Monfils, Bring More Boomerangs Than Arrows

Frenchman a clear leader in putting first serves back into play

Arrows versus boomerangs.

We tend to think of the serve as like shooting an arrow. A weapon and a target. A one-way trip. It’s much better to strategically visualise the serve as a boomerang and be prepared for the ball returning back to you where it started its journey: back on your racquet.

An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of first and second-serve returns made from 2018-2020 at ATP Tour events on Hawk Eye courts identifies Gael Monfils as the clear leader in putting first serves back in play and Daniil Medvedev topping the list returning second serves back into the court. The data set includes players that have competed in a minimum of 30 matches on Hawk Eye courts from 2018-2020.

1st Serve Returns Made

Monfils was the only player that was able to put more than three out of four first serves back in the court, making 75.37 per cent from 56 matches. Monfils typically bends over at 90 degrees from his waist as the server bounces the ball ready to deliver his powerful blow. Getting his eye level down to where contact will typically be made in a few seconds time may be a hidden key to his success. The Frenchman then uses a short, abbreviated swing to make contact, essentially rebounding, or “boomeranging” the server’s power right back at him.

The leading 10 players in the data set that put the most first serves back in the court were: 

1. Gael Monfils = 75.37%
2. Rafael Nadal = 72.83%
3. Daniil Medvedev = 72.29%
4. Roger Federer = 72.12%
5. Alexander Zverev = 70.33%
6. Taylor Fritz = 70.32%
7. Fernando Verdasco = 69.99%
8. Stan Wawrinka = 69.91%
9. David Goffin = 69.53%
10. Benoit Paire = 68.89%

Overall, all players in the data set combined to average putting 67.4 per cent of first serves back in play. A good way to visualise the behavior of the first serve is that one of three is an arrow (does not return), while two out of three are a boomerang, coming back into the court for the server to hit another shot.

2nd Serve Returns Made

Daniil Medvedev was third on the list with first serves made and elevates to the top spot with second serves made at 88.98 per cent from 65 matches. The 24-year-old Russian typically likes to stay deep in the court to return both first and second serves, which lets the ball slow down to a more manageable pace and provides more time to get prepared for the return.

The leading 10 players in the data set that put the most second serves back in the court were:

1. Daniil Medvedev = 88.98%
2. Roberto Bautista Agut = 88.82%
3. Filip Krajinovic = 87.41%
4. Rafael Nadal = 87.12%
5. Novak Djokovic = 87.10%
6. Alexander Zverev = 86.92%
7. Gael Monfils = 86.84%
8. Milos Raonic = 86.29%
9. Fernando Verdasco = 85.83%
10. Alex de Minaur = 85.78%

Overall, all players in the data set combined to average putting 83.6 per cent of second serves back in play. Rounding those numbers to eight boomerangs and two arrows clearly shows that the serve is not a shot that exists primarily in isolation, and should be practised as one strategic unit with the first shot after the serve, commonly known as the Serve +1.

Practice courts should be filled with two-shot combination drills, hitting a serve and then a Serve +1 shot. After all, that’s what best mirrors the reality of the match court.

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Djokovic: Slams, No. 1 Records 'My Clear Goals'

  • Posted: May 15, 2020

Djokovic: Slams, No. 1 Records ‘My Clear Goals’

Serbian featured on ‘In Depth with Graham Bensinger’

After 17 years on Tour, Novak Djokovic believes that his most memorable accomplishments are still to come.

The World No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings sat down for a feature profile on ‘In Depth with Graham Bensinger’ that was released this week. Djokovic discussed his 2020 form, including a flawless 18-0 record, and candidly admitted his on-court objectives that could change the conversation about his place in tennis history.

“I think that I still have things to do here in this sport. I believe that I can win the most Slams and break the record for [most weeks] at No. 1. Those are definitely my clear goals,” Djokovic said. “But at the same time, they’re not the only thing that motivates me… What fuels me every day is something more related to my growth personally.”

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With 17 Grand Slam titles, Djokovic is third on the all-time list and within striking distance of Rafael Nadal (19) and Roger Federer (20). He’s also third on the all-time list for most weeks at No. 1 (282), trailing Pete Sampras (286) and Federer (310). [Editor’s note: The FedEx ATP Rankings are currently frozen due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Djokovic is not adding weeks onto his tally.]

Djokovic’s motivation is a stark contrast from where he found himself at the beginning of 2018. His wife, Jelena, revealed that the Serbian was mentally worn down from a two-year battle with a right elbow injury, which required surgery that February. After rushing back to action following the procedure and suffering opening-round exits in Indian Wells and Miami, he called his family together and said that he was hanging up his racquets.

“He just gathered all of us and said, ‘You know, guys, I’m done… I don’t know if I’m stopping for six months, a year or forever,” Jelena recalled. “Then we went on a holiday… I love tennis and kept taking the kids with me to play. He showed up [to the court] on the third or fourth day and saw how much fun were were having… After that, he started coming with us to play every day.

“On the last day, he took the shoes and properly dressed himself and said, ‘I’m going to call Marian [Vajda] and ask him to be my coach again.’ He needs to drop completely down [and] lose everything so he can start to build another tower. And it’s an amazing tower.”

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The World No. 1 turns 33 on 22 May, but isn’t in a rush to accomplish his two main goals. He believes that time is on his side and that playing until age 40 isn’t out of the question.

“I don’t believe in limits. I definitely want to go for a long time… But I’m aware that the amount of tournaments I’m playing is going to decrease very soon,” Djokovic said. “I will not be able to play at this intensity, with this many tournaments and this much traveling, for a long time. I might be playing at 40, but then there will probably be a focus on the biggest tournaments and the tournaments that mean the most to me.”

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National Championships set to return after 18 years

  • Posted: May 15, 2020

The National Championships will return to the British tennis calendar this year for the first time since 2002.

The LTA says it plans to stage an event for the leading men, women, juniors and wheelchair players “at some point this year”.

The championships were scrapped because of dwindling interest.

Plans are at a very early stage, but the tournament is expected to be staged at an indoor venue this autumn.

With the resumption of the ATP and WTA Tours still some way away, there is the potential for strong fields in all the events.

  • ATP and WTA Tours on further hold

Former world number one Andy Murray could face top-50 players in Dan Evans and Kyle Edmund, while Johanna Konta may have competition from Heather Watson and Katie Boulter.

The LTA would like to make the event a permanent fixture once again, but it will be extremely challenging to attract the top players once a full international calendar resumes.

The current Fed Cup captain Anne Keothavong and Alex Bogdanovic were the most recent winners of the National Championships in 2002.

With Tim Henman opting out later in his career, BBC TV ended its coverage in 1999.

Other domestic events could take place before the tournament.

Jamie Murray is keen to stage a men’s event around the time Wimbledon is usually held, and Britain’s top female players have been approached to take part in the British Closed Women’s Championships this summer.

Neither event could go ahead without LTA approval, which would depend on the government guidelines which emerge for the return of elite competition.

“The LTA is committed to ensuring that whatever events are staged, they take tennis to the widest possible audience and they focus on addressing the needs of our performance players,” read a statement from the governing body.

“We will also ensure they are sustainable for the growth of tennis in the long term and finally, in line with our responsibilities as the governing body of our sport, they are compliant with all the protocols necessary for the current situation.”

Meanwhile, Andy Murray was one of the first players on court when the National Tennis Centre re-opened its doors on Friday morning.

Anyone entering the site in Roehampton must first consult the doctor and have their temperature taken.

There can only be two players to a court, accompanied by one member of their respective teams.

Murray was pictured with brother Jamie and his coach Jamie Delgado as he celebrated his 33rd birthday with a return to training.

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Murray & Rashford Surprise Nurse On Tennis United

  • Posted: May 15, 2020

Murray & Rashford Surprise Nurse On Tennis United

The sixth episode of Tennis United premieres Friday

British superstars Andy Murray, the former World No. 1, and Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United centre forward, spring a special surprise on a healthcare worker in the sixth episode of Tennis United, which will premiere on the ATP Tour’s Facebook page Friday.

John Isner checks in with a very special fan, 12-year-old Chris from California, who recently wrote a song about how much he misses the ATP Tour. Isner is Chris’ favourite player, and the pair also met at last year’s BNP Paribas Open and US Open.

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Also on this episode, Leander Paes and Martina Hingis test their knowledge of each other’s career, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Shelby Rogers face Coco Vandeweghe and Jennifer Brady in a game of charades and more.

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Tennis extends coronavirus suspension: ATP and WTA Tours on further hold

  • Posted: May 15, 2020

Professional tennis on the ATP and WTA tours has been suspended further because of the coronavirus pandemic.

All ATP tournaments in July have been suspended, including the Hamburg Open – a third-tier 500 level event.

WTA events in Bastad, Bucharest, Lausanne and Jurmala have been called off, with similar events in Palermo and Karlsruhe set to follow.

The US Open, which takes place in New York at the end of August, remains pencilled in for that date.

No professional tournaments have been played since the start of March, with the French Open and Wimbledon among the events called off.

“Just like tennis fans, players and tournament hosts all over the world, we share in the disappointment the tour continues to be affected in this way,” said ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi.

“We continue to assess all of our options in an effort to resume the tour as soon as it is safe to do so, including the feasibility of rescheduling events later in the season.”

Wimbledon, which was due to start on 29 June, was cancelled for the first time since World War Two.

French Open organisers announced their intention to play the clay-court Grand Slam, which should have started on 24 May, in late September and early October instead.

In theory, it would take place after the North American hard-court season, which culminates with the US Open at Flushing Meadows.

The hard-court events in the United States and Canada remain in place for now. The latest suspension is likely to run up to the WTA event in San Jose and the ATP event in Washington on 3 August, with a further decision set to be made next month.

These tournaments are followed by the Rogers Cup – which is split across Montreal and Toronto – and the Cincinnati Open, events which are both categorised among the biggest outside of Grand Slams.

‘The future is potentially brighter’ – analysis

Russell Fuller, BBC tennis correspondent

With European governments still focusing all their efforts on Covid-19, and with bans on large public gatherings in place in so many cities, these tournaments have been on borrowed time for a while.

But the future is potentially a little brighter.

Both the US Open, and the rearranged French Open at the end of September, are talking more positively about going ahead behind closed doors. The USTA also continues to explore possible venues outside New York for the tournament for later in the year.

And the tours are continuing to draw up provisional plans for an autumn return, in which the best case scenario may allow for some paying fans – albeit in much reduced numbers.

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Federer To NYC Nurse: 'You Are The Hero'

  • Posted: May 15, 2020

Federer To NYC Nurse: ‘You Are The Hero’

Swiss star surprises NYC nurse practitioner who is on the frontlines battling against the coronavirus

Ask tennis fans to name a hero and Roger Federer will be at the top of the list. But the Swiss star recently took time to thank heroes from a more important field: frontline healthcare workers risking their lives to help others during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Christianne Calderon is a nurse practitioner at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, where she has been on the frontlines battling against the coronavirus. ESPN recently gathered some of the world’s best athletes, who gave their thanks to Calderon, including Federer.

“Oh my God!” Calderon said when she saw Federer appear on a screen. “I’m shaking.”

Federer is in Switzerland, but he wanted to make sure Calderon and other healthcare workers like her know that they have fans throughout the world.

“People think we are superheroes, we the athletes,” Federer said. “But we think the same about somebody like you Christianne, you are the hero because you actually do save lives, you actually do make that difference.”

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Auger-Aliassime Donates Signed Racquet To Support Quebec Food Banks

  • Posted: May 15, 2020

Auger-Aliassime Donates Signed Racquet To Support Quebec Food Banks

Learn more about the auction and the cause it’s supporting

Felix Auger-Aliassime is doing his part to support Quebecois people struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The #NextGenATP Canadian announced Friday that he is donating a signed racquet from the 2018 season to support the Solidarity Challenges, which aims to provide 1.6 million meals to Quebec food banks.

“If together we make an effort we will be able to get through these difficult times,” Auger-Aliassime said in a video supporting the auction. “Thanks to everyone for taking part in this challenge and I hope that we will be able to collect as much as we can.”

Click Here To View The Auction

The 19-year-old has shown an affinity for philanthropy, announcing in February, before the pandemic, that he would donate $5 for every point he wins this season to EduChange, partnering with CARE to support the protection and education of children in Togo.

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Resurfaced: Zverev Makes Apology Of A Lifetime For Young Fan In Rome

  • Posted: May 15, 2020

Resurfaced: Zverev Makes Apology Of A Lifetime For Young Fan In Rome

Former singles champion gives young fan headband during doubles match

Editor’s Note: is resurfacing features to bring fans closer to their favourite players during the current suspension in tournament play. This story was originally published on 13 May 2019.

Alexander Zverev might have lost a doubles match Monday with brother Mischa Zverev at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, but he left the court with a lifetime fan.

The 2017 singles champion put away an overhead at 3-3 in the first set against Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus, bouncing the ball over the fence and into the crowd. At the next changeover, Zverev greeted the young fan whom the ball hit, checking on her and tying one of his headband’s around her forehead, leaving the youngster with a big smile on her face.

“I obviously hit her with an overhead, which was not on purpose,” Zverev said. “I saw she was a little bit sad, crying. Yeah, I thought that was the right thing to do, to give her a little present, cheer her up. I hope it made her day.”

It’s not the first time Zverev has made a young lifetime fan outside of his play, either. In Miami two years ago, he gave one of his headbands to a ‘Mini Sascha’ in the crowd. Last year, Zverev met with the boy again, giving him a new headband and even inviting him out to the practice court for a hit.

Watch Rome Live Online

Zverev begins his singles campaign in Rome against Italian wild card Matteo Berrettini.

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