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Roland Garros Memories: Nadal's Dominance, Career Slams & Teenage Breakthroughs

  • Posted: May 24, 2020

Roland Garros Memories: Nadal’s Dominance, Career Slams & Teenage Breakthroughs

ATPTour.com looks back on memorable moments from Roland Garros

Roland Garros would typically make its mark at this time of year as the only Grand Slam to begin main draw action on Sunday. Although the tournament was moved this year to September because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still plenty of unforgettable memories to reflect on.

From Rafael Nadal’s first Grand Slam title to Andre Agassi, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic completing their respective career Grand Slams, ATPTour.com looks back on some of the greatest moments of this event.

1968: A New Beginning
The 1968 Roland Garros tournament marked the first Grand Slam tournament of the Open Era and the first major championship that allowed professionals to compete against amateurs. The final featured an all-Aussie clash between top seed Rod Laver and second seed Ken Rosewall, who hadn’t competed in a Grand Slam since 1962 and 1956, respectively. Rosewall held off a mid-match comeback from Laver to prevail 6-3, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 and lift his second title in Paris after a 15-year wait.

Laver would get revenge on his countryman the following year, scoring a convincing straight-sets win in the final en route to achieving the calendar-year Grand Slam.

Ken Rosewall

1974: Borg’s Breakthrough
Bjorn Borg made his Grand Slam debut at 1973 Roland Garros and turned heads by reaching the fourth round. The mellow Swede returned the following year and captured his first Grand Slam title, showing off supreme fitness by winning a pair of five-set matches to reach the final and rallying from two sets down to outlast Manuel Orantes 2-6, 6-7, 6-0, 6-1, 6-1. At 18 years, three months, he became the youngest male champion in tournament history at that time.

Borg would rack up five more Roland Garros titles (1975, 1978-81) and holds a 49-2 record at this event. He also achieved the legendary feat of winning three Roland Garros-Wimbledon title doubles (1978-1980) and remains one of only two male players in the Open Era (Rafael Nadal; 2008, 2010) to accomplish this.

Bjorn Borg

1989: Chang’s Historic Run
More than 30 years later, sports fans still talk about Michael Chang’s legendary match in Paris. Trailing by two sets and a break in his fourth-round clash against top seed Ivan Lendl, the 17-year-old American fought through intense cramps to level the match. Unable to use his legs while serving, he shocked the crowd and his opponent in the fifth set with a desperate underarm serve that proved successful. At match point, Chang moved up to within inches of the service line and rattled Lendl enough to produce a double fault.

Seven days later, Chang beat Stefan Edberg in a five-set thriller to become the youngest-ever male Grand Slam champion. Although it would remain his only major trophy, he enjoyed a long and fruitful career that saw him earn 34 tour-level titles and peak at No. 2 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.

Michael Chang

1997: Kuerten’s Fairyale
Gustavo Kuerten arrived at Roland Garros having played an ATP Challenger Tour event the week before. The unknown 20-year-old Brazilian, then No. 67 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, completed an improbable run by earning his first tour-level title at a Grand Slam. Kuerten took out former champion Thomas Muster and defending champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov en route to the final, then cruised past two-time winner Sergi Bruguera in the championship match.

It was the start of a love affair in Paris for the man affectionately known as “Guga”. Kuerten lifted the trophy twice more (2000-2001) and finished 2000 as year-end No. 1, cementing his status as one of the greatest South American players of all time.

Gustavo Kuerten

1999: Agassi Completes Career Grand Slam
Although Andre Agassi was a two-time finalist at this event (1990-1991), he had endured several early exits in Paris since then. There was little indication that the World No. 12 was a title contender in 1999 based on his play in the early rounds, but he worked his way into form and defeated defending champion Carlos Moya in the fourth round on his way to the final.

Agassi brought the crowd to their feet and himself to tears by rallying from two sets down to defeat Andrei Medvedev in the championship match. He became only the fifth male player at that time, and the second in the Open Era, to win all four Grand Slams. The American went on to win the US Open that year and finish the season as year-end No. 1 for the only time in his career.

Andre Agassi

2005: Nadal’s Maiden Slam Title
A stress fracture in his left ankle prevented Rafael Nadal from making his Roland Garros debut the previous year, but he more than made up for it in 2005. The Spaniard arrived on a 17-match win streak, including Masters 1000 titles in Monte-Carlo and Rome, and celebrated his 19th birthday with a semi-final victory against top seed Roger Federer. Nadal defeated Mariano Puerta in the final, becoming the first teenager since Pete Sampras (1990 US Open) to win a major championship and joining Mats Wilander as the only male players to prevail In Paris on their first attempt.

Nadal’s maiden triumph would only be the start of his staggering dominance at this event. He’s lifted the trophy in Court Philippe Chatrier on 12 occasions (2005-2008, 2010-2014, 2017-2019) and compiled a 93-2 record.

Rafael Nadal

2009: Federer Completes Career Grand Slam
Like everyone else on Tour, Federer was unable to figure out how to master Nadal at Roland Garros. The Swiss lost to him four years in a row, including the 2006-2008 finals. But when Nadal suffered a shocking fourth-round defeat in 2009 to Robin Soderling, the Swiss seized his opportunity.

Federer fought back from two sets down in his quarter-final victory over Tommy Haas and rallied from two-sets-to-one down in his semi-final against Juan Martin del Potro. He saved his best for last by convincingly beating Soderling and became the third man in the Open Era to earn a Career Grand Slam. The milestone moment also tied him with Pete Sampras for the most Grand Slam singles titles (14) and he’d break the record one month later by triumphing at Wimbledon.

Roger Federer

2016: Djokovic Completes Slam Collection
Novak Djokovic had eight clay-court Masters 1000 titles to his name and more success against Nadal on the surface than any player on Tour, but it hadn’t translated to a title in Paris. He finished runner-up three times (2012, 2014-2015), with 2015 being one of his most disappointing moments after stunning Nadal in the quarter-finals before losing to underdog Stan Wawrinka in the championship.

When Nadal withdrew prior to his third-round match with a wrist injury, Djokovic shined in the role of tournament favourite. The Serbian cruised into the final and defeated Andy Murray in four sets to complete his Career Grand Slam. He also became the first man since Laver (1969) to hold all four majors at once and the only man in history to achieve the feat on three different surfaces.

Novak Djokovic

2017: Nadal’s ‘La Decima’
Having already established himself as the greatest clay-court player of all time, nine-time champion Nadal was playing for history. He looked to become the only player in the Open Era to win 10 titles at a Grand Slam, having already reached double digits that year in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona.

Nadal produced his most dominant run at this event by dropping just 35 games across seven matches. He stormed past Wawrinka in the final to achieve the historic feat known as “La Decima”, earning his first major trophy in three years and jumping to second on the all-time list for most Grand Slam titles with 15.

Rafael Nadal

2019: Nadal Rewrites History Books Again
Critics began to wonder if Nadal’s clay-court supremacy had finally ended after the Spaniard lost in his first three events on the dirt that year, but he silenced them once again. The top seed and two-time defending champion defeated Dominic Thiem in a rematch of the 2018 final for his 12th trophy in Paris. 

By winning the title, Nadal became the only player in history to win 12 singles titles at an individual Grand Slam. He followed up with his fourth US Open crown and finished the season as year-end No. 1 for the fifth time.

Rafael Nadal & Rod Laver

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French Open quiz: How well do you know Roland Garros?

  • Posted: May 24, 2020

Sharp terracotta clay courts, luscious backdrops of the Eiffel Tower, rows of pristine Parisians… the French Open is unmistakeable.

This year’s tournament, originally scheduled to run from 24 May to 7 June, has been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wish you were in Paris watching tennis? We hear you. Let us transport you there (sort of) and test your knowledge of Roland Garros…

  • Live scores, schedule and results
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Fritz Mixes Business & Pleasure With Esports

  • Posted: May 24, 2020

Fritz Mixes Business & Pleasure With Esports

American makes investment in gaming world

Most 22-year-olds haven’t even started thinking about investing, but Taylor Fritz made a groundbreaking move by becoming the first professional tennis player to invest in the rapidly growing esports industry.

The American, an avid gamer himself, concluded his career-best 2019 season by partnering with ReTKGlobal. The company owns several professional Esports teams and Fritz has tested his skills against some of the world’s best.

“I always thought that the esports market was going to be big. I thought that it was a good time [to invest] and an opportunity presented itself, so I went for it,” Fritz told ATPTour.com. “I’ve watched a lot of the London Royal Ravens in the Call of Duty League and seen some of their pro players play in other games. I’ve gotten to play with some of those guys in public matches, so that’s been a lot of fun.

”There are some similarities to being a professional gamer and a professional tennis player because if you want to be good at anything, it takes a lot of time and hard work.”

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Fritz has turned to gaming as a relaxing outlet when he’s on the road at ATP Tour events. Fortnite, Valeron, Call of Duty and FIFA are among his favourites to play. His controllers come along with his racquets for every flight and he’s found other players on Tour to battle against from the comfort of his hotel room.

“I like anything where I can be competitive playing against somebody. I bring my gaming laptop and controllers when I’m on the road and then also put a screen in my suitcase,” Fritz said. “The computer runs everything but sometimes the hotel wi-fi isn’t good enough, so then I just can’t play that week.

“Nick Kyrgios is probably one of the better gamers on Tour. He’s incredibly good at Call of Duty and FIFA. Jack Sock is really good at Fortnite as well.”

Fritz has been putting his gaming skills to use during the current suspension of play on Tour by taking part in several celebrity charity tournaments. He won a pair State Farm Play Apart Together events that featured Valorant and FIFA, respectively, and teamed with Addison Rae to prevail in the Stay at Home Slam, a live virtual tennis tournament on Nintendo Switch’s Mario Tennis Aces. The pair defeated Kei Nishikori and Steve Aoki in the final.

Each State Farm event yielded $25,000 for his charity of choice and the Stay At Home Slam brought in $1 million since he and Rae competed for the same organisation. Fritz has been playing for No Kid Hungry, a nonprofit that works to end child hunger in America. It’s a cause that’s close to his heart as he remains at home in California with his wife and three-year-old son, Jordan.

“I’m very empathetic towards kids since I have a child, so I can’t imagine my son being in a position where he doesn’t know if he can eat,” Fritz said. “That’s what No Kid Hungry is fighting to stop, so I’m making sure that I’m giving my time and donating to an organisation that’s doing everything they can to help kids. I’m all for it.”

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Tsitsipas Pranks Osaka On Instagram Live: 'I'm So Good At Lying!'

  • Posted: May 24, 2020

Tsitsipas Pranks Osaka On Instagram Live: ‘I’m So Good At Lying!’

Top stars entertain their social media followers on Saturday

Is Naomi Osaka gearing up for a second career interviewing ATP Tour players? After grilling Frances Tiafoe on Thursday and Gael Monfils on Friday, the WTA star returned on Saturday to Instagram Live and completed the hat trick in an entertaining conversation with Stefanos Tsitsipas.

It didn’t all go according to plan, though. The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion caught Osaka off guard with an unexpected prank when she asked him about his hair care routine.

“I put Greek olive oil in my hair, then I add some wasabi in and some vinegar as well. It blends really well… Then I leave it in for about 25 or 30 minutes [and] go take a shower,” Tsitsipas explained. “I definitely put mayonnaise in, that’s for sure. It’s like a one time per week thing.”

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Osaka was initially skeptical of his explanation, but soon sat mesmerised as he revealed all of the details. But when she asked him whether or not the mixture smelled, the Greek broke out into a wide grin.

“Did you actually believe me? I’m making things up,” Tsitsipas said, laughing. “I’m so good at lying! All my life I thought I was so bad at it, but now I suddenly got good at it.”

The World No. 6 in the FedEx ATP Rankings gave straight answers to her other questions, though. Osaka had originally planned for the interview to consist of seven questions, but Tsitsipas happily obliged as more came to her throughout their discussion.

Both players also took to reflect on their lives in lockdown. Tsitsipas admitted that he found it difficult to not be able to work out regularly for several weeks while he remained at home.

“I felt awful. I felt like I was getting fat and didn’t feel healthy, so I tried to get back to it as soon as possible,” Tsitsipas said. “It’s nice getting a good workout where you can sweat it out and be active. It just feels good. And then you can consume all of the calories after, all this ice cream that I like!”

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Tsitsipas also discussed what drives through him through the tough practise sessions he’s currently taking on in France. He said that “deliver a feeling” has become his mantra as he looks to create more memorable moments when play resumes on Tour.

“What inspires me is to deliver a feeling to people who watch me, who get to see my artistry in any way. I want to show people a better side of life,” Tsitsipas said. “I’m not sure if I’ve contributed much to that, but it’s something that I [aspire] to. I want to leave a legacy behind. I think everyone does.”

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Five Things To Know About Jannik Sinner

  • Posted: May 24, 2020

Five Things To Know About Jannik Sinner

Learn about the Italian’s skiing background, COVID-19 relief efforts and more

Jannik Sinner is the reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion and the youngest Top 100 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings.

ATPTour.com looks at five things you should know about the 18-year-old.

1) He Stunned The Field At The 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals
Heading into the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, Italian players owned a 0-6 record at the innovative 21-and-under event. But Jannik Sinner, competing as the Italian wild card, stormed through the draw to take the trophy.

Sinner topped Group B with a 2-1 record, beating Frances Tiafoe and Mikael Ymer to advance to the semi-finals. From there, the 6’2” right-hander powered past Miomir Kecmanovic in four sets and top seed Alex de Minaur in straight sets to take the title in front of a passionate home crowd at the Allianz Cloud.

“I’m surprised because it’s been an unbelievable week,” said Sinner in Milan. “All the players are unbelievable players. If not, they are not here. I was the [lowest-ranked] one. I was the [eighth] seed. So I tried to have my chances and, of course, today I’m very happy about my game.”

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2) He Is A Former Junior Skiing Champion
Five years ago, Sinner’s focus was on skiing rather than tennis. The Italian, who did not touch a racquet for a year at the age of seven, was playing just two days per week before moving to Riccardo Piatti’s academy in Bordighera as a 13-year-old.

“When I went on court just two times in a week, I really enjoyed it. I just tried to enjoy and it was fun. It was just fun,” said Sinner. “But now it’s a little bit more than fun. Now it’s fun, but you want to go a little bit further and I think that makes this very important.”

Claudio Pistolesi, the 1985 junior World No. 1, recently shared his opinion with ATPTour.com on Sinner’s unconventional route to the ATP Tour and the benefits his skiing background has on his game.

“Like Lorenzo Sonego, who played football until the age of 14, he has broken all the rules that you follow from an academy perspective, having done another sport to a good level,” said Pistolesi. “He brings some lateral skills to tennis from skiing in his movement around the tennis court, and he steps into the ball automatically.”

3) He Owns The Heaviest Backhand On The ATP Tour
In a recent Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of players who competed in a minimum of 10 ATP matches on Hawk-Eye courts from 2018-2020, Sinner’s backhand was identified as a peak performer in both categories measured.

In terms of spin, no player on the ATP Tour hits their backhand with more spin than Sinner’s 1858 rpm. The 18-year-old also owns the fifth-fasted backhand, with an average speed of 69.1 mph.

Sinner Next Gen ATP Finals 2019

4) He’s Raising Funds For COVID-19 Relief
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sinner has found multiple ways to support Italian efforts in the fight against the virus.

Alongside his management company, StarWing Sports, and Piatti, Sinner donated €12,500 to Cesvi, a humanitarian organisation. The donation will be used to help with medical emergencies in Bergamo.

“The unity in Italy throughout this crisis has been incredible. Among many thousands of Italians that have helped through this crisis, I want to applaud the 250 volunteers who came together in Bergamo recently to build a Field Hospital in just eight days,” wrote Sinner on Twitter. “This unity is what will get us through this period. I want to do my part, as much as I can, to contribute in pulling us out of this.”

Sinner also created the #SinnerPizzaChallenge, where he will donate €10 alongside his management company for every photo he receives of a pizza that resembles himself or any past or present Italian figure. The money raised from the challenge will be used to fund vital medical supplies in Italy during the pandemic.

5) He Supports AC Milan
Sinner is a supporter of Italian football club, AC Milan. Ahead of his title run at last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals, the Italian was able to attend one of the club’s matches at their home ground: the San Siro stadium.

“My best friend is a Milan fan, so we watched a little bit of football and now I am a Milan fan,” said Sinner.

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Dimitrov's Celebration: Social Media Roundup

  • Posted: May 24, 2020

Dimitrov’s Celebration: Social Media Roundup

ATPTour.com looks at what your favourite players are up to

Your favourite players have been finding plenty of ways to keep busy over the past week. From Grigor Dimitrov’s custom birthday cake to Novak Djokovic’s own birthday celebration as he turned 33, find out how the world’s best players have been spending their days.

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Dimitrov showed off his Bulgarian pride with a lavish birthday cake to celebrate turning 29.

 

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Thank you for all the birthday wishes! I have missed home a lot these past few months and I want to thank @exquisitedesserts for giving me a this special cake to remind me of a place I care so much about 🙏🏽 ❤️ 🇧🇬

A post shared by Grigor Dimitrov (@grigordimitrov) on

Djokovic received socially distant congratulations to mark his birthday.

Karen Khachanov also joined the birthday train with a basketball cake as he turned 24.

 

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24🎂

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Gael Monfils held an Instagram Live session with Naomi Osaka.

Taylor Fritz owned up to the embarrassing prank that Frances Tiafoe once played on him in Rome.

Marin Cilic perfected his clay-court slide.

 

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🏃‍♂️🌪️🔛💥💪

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Diego Schwartzman made time to work on his fitness at home.

 

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Les dejo todos los ejercicios que hice, esperemos que no se aburran porque fueron muchos 😂🙌✅🎾🔥

A post shared by Diego Schwartzman (@dieschwartzman) on

Corentin Moutet released a new original rap song.

 

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𝑀𝑒̂𝑚𝑒 𝑠𝑖 𝑗’𝑠𝑢𝑖𝑠 𝑝𝑎𝑠 𝑙𝑎̀ 𝑠𝑜𝑢𝑣𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝐽’𝑒𝑠𝑝𝑒̀𝑟𝑒 𝑞𝑢𝑒 𝑡𝑢 𝑚’𝑎𝑖𝑚𝑒𝑠 𝑞𝑢𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑚𝑒̂𝑚𝑒 𝑈𝑛 𝑓𝑟𝑒̀𝑟𝑒 𝑐̧𝑎 𝑑𝑜𝑖𝑡 𝑒̂𝑡𝑟𝑒 𝑙𝑎̀ 𝐸𝑡 𝑚𝑜𝑖 𝑗’𝑠𝑢𝑖𝑠 𝑙𝑜𝑖𝑛 𝑐̧𝑎 𝑚𝑒 𝑓𝑎𝑖𝑡 𝑑’𝑙𝑎 𝑝𝑒𝑖𝑛𝑒 PETIT FRERE 🎧 Lien dans la bio 🎶 📸 : @cocodubreuilphoto

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Vasek Pospisil played his part in COVID-19 relief efforts by helping donate 10,000 masks in Vancouver.

Andre Agassi proudly showed off the athletic prowess of his son, Jaden.

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