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New Fan Essay Contest Open: Inspirational Matches

  • Posted: May 26, 2020

New Fan Essay Contest Open: Inspirational Matches

Write about the match that moved you most

Hey Young Writers,

We have loved reading your creative stories during the first two Fan Essay Contests… and we’re now accepting submissions for our third contest.

The topic: What is the best ATP Tour match you have seen (either in person or on TV)? Describe why the match was so compelling and why it had a big impact on you.

You have until Friday 12 June at 12 noon ET to submit your essay of no more than 500 words to [email protected]. The best three entries will be featured on

Fans must be 18 and under to enter. Winning entries will be determined by the editorial team.

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Read the winners from the first essay contest. Winners from the second essay contest will be published later this week.

Entrants are limited to one entry per essay topic, but may submit entries for each new question in the competition. There will be a new topic every three weeks. Essays must be written in English and submitted to [email protected]. Please do not send essays as attachments. Paste the text into the body of an email.

Click here for full terms and conditions.

Check out more great activities in the Emirates ATP Kids Hub.

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Frances Tiafoe: 'Tennis Chose Me'

  • Posted: May 26, 2020

Frances Tiafoe: ‘Tennis Chose Me’

Learn more about the American’s upbringing and how it shaped him

Frances Tiafoe’s father, Frances Sr., was once a maintenance worker at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in Maryland. He even helped build the facility. When Tiafoe was a kid, he’d tap the ball against the club wall with his twin brother, Franklin, never imagining that one day he would be competing on the biggest stages in the world.

“I didn’t choose this sport by any means,” Tiafoe told ATP Uncovered presented by Peugeot. “I love to say it: it chose me.”

In a way, it was meant to be. Tiafoe remembers fondly how excited he used to be to simply get to hold a racquet and hit the ball. He’d also watch players who took classes at the facility.

“We’d go to school and then after we couldn’t wait to get to the tennis courts,” Tiafoe said. “It was fun. We spent a lot of time together, a lot of good memories, a lot of good brotherhood.”

From a young age, Tiafoe dreamt big. He wanted to be great, and the American was relentless in his pursuit of that goal.

“I kind of just made the decision I’m going to play every day and I’m just going to keep getting better, keep getting better. I’m going to chase a goal that sounds unrealistic now, but I’m going to turn it into a reality pretty soon,” Tiafoe said. “That’s what I did. I stayed the course, I had a vision. You can’t achieve anything if you don’t dream it.

“Anything you want to achieve, just be obsessed. I was obsessed with playing tennis. I was obsessed with watching it, just being around the sport, learning, soaking up everything I can… anything you want to be great at, you’ve got to be obsessed with [it].”

Tiafoe always wanted to put his family in a better situation. His mother, Alphina, worked two jobs as a nurse to help the family make ends meet. Tiafoe’s parents dreamt of their children earning college scholarships through tennis, but Tiafoe wanted more for them.

“They sacrificed so much. They grinded,” Tiafoe said. “I’m truly thankful that they both put the time in and just tried to make ends meet for us.”

At only 22, Tiafoe has already earned nearly $3.5 million in prize money alone. That didn’t come without putting everything aside to fully focus on his tennis.

“It’s got to be a priority. You’ve got to be able to sacrifice certain things. You can argue I sacrificed doing normal things, just being a kid. But I was having the time of my life, so I was really just enjoying it and that’s all I wanted to do,” Tiafoe said. “I was different than a lot of other kids.”

Tiafoe is a big fan of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, who passed away this January in a tragic helicopter accident. He hopes to follow in their footsteps in inspiring the next generation.

“I want to be known as a guy who was caring for the fans, a guy who wants to really build an unbelievable legacy,” Tiafoe said. “My goal is to help more black people play tennis ultimately, and just to be a good role model.”

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Five Things To Know About Grigor Dimitrov

  • Posted: May 26, 2020

Five Things To Know About Grigor Dimitrov

Learn about the Bulgarian’s career highlights, bold fashion choices and more

Grigor Dimitrov is the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion and reached a career-high No. 3 in the FedEx ATP Rankings in November 2017. looks at five things you should know about the 29-year-old.

1) His Best Season Came In 2017
Half of Dimitrov’s eight ATP Tour trophies were lifted in 2017. The Bulgarian opened the year with 14 victories from 15 matches, claiming titles in Brisbane and Sofia either side of a semi-final run at the Australian Open.

Later in the year, Dimitrov captured his maiden ATP Masters 1000 trophy at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. The 26-year-old did not drop a set en route to the title, earning wins against Feliciano Lopez, Juan Martin del Potro, Yuichi Sugita, John Isner and Nick Kyrgios.

Making his debut at the Nitto ATP Finals, Dimitrov claimed the biggest title of his career to end the season with a 49-19 record. Dimitrov topped Group Pete Sampras with a 3-0 record, before back-to-back victories against Jack Sock and David Goffin.

2) After Injury Struggles, He Returned To Form At The 2019 US Open
After struggling with a right shoulder injury earlier in the year, Dimitrov entered last year’s US Open at No. 78 in the FedEx ATP Rankings — his lowest position since 4 June 2012 — with a 12-15 record.

But Dimitrov rediscovered his best level in New York to reach his first US Open quarter-final, beating Andreas Seppi, Kamil Majchrzak and Alex de Minaur for the loss of one set. At that stage, Dimitrov produced one of the greatest victories of his career to advance to his third Grand Slam semi-final.

Despite entering his quarter-final against Roger Federer with a 0-7 ATP Head2Head record, the Bulgarian came from a set down on two occasions to outlast the five-time champion 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 under the lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“I kept on believing in the process, kept on working, kept on trying to improve, whatever else I had to improve on my end. I really controlled the things that I could,” said Dimitrov.

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3) He Doesn’t Want To Be Vanilla
Dimitrov is no stranger to bold fashion choices but, during this year’s Australian Open, he caused a stir on social media with a striking dark purple and yellow Nike tracksuit.

“I love being different when it comes to things like that and so many other things. I think the outfit is fun. I don’t want to be vanilla,” said Dimitrov.

His coach, former World No. 1 Andre Agassi, fully welcomed the bold statement.

“Andre was very happy with it. He was impressed. He was like, ‘Wow, I know where that comes from,’” said Dimitrov.

Grigor Dimitrov is happy to be different with his fashion choices.

4) He Performed Double Duty At The 2020 ATP Cup
At the inaugural ATP Cup, many teams were led by coaches and former ATP stars. However, that can’t be said for Team Bulgaria. Competing as the nation’s No. 1 singles player, Dimitrov also took on the role of Team Captain.

From the innovative Team Zones, Dimitrov provided his teammates with advice and also relied on the support of Christian Groh when needed. Bulgaria’s No. 2 singles player Dimitar Kuzmanov provided an insight into the unique set-up during the competition.

“Obviously it’s really tough for [Grigor] to manage all the things by himself, because he also has to warm up, to get focussed before his match,” said Kuzmanov. “And as it happened the first day, as it happened today, he had to leave after the first set. But I already knew that, because we were discussing it. Every time I’m either a set up or set down, he has to go to get focussed, to get prepared for the match. But Chris is always there.”

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5) He Is Providing COVID-19 Support To His Hometown
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dimitrov has been providing support to his hometown of Haskovo in Bulgaria. The former World No. 3 recently donated ventilators to the local hospital and has since been looking for new ways to help those affected by the virus.

“I come from a really small town and never forgot where I came from. I just want to help, simple as that,” said Dimitrov. “I’ve been playing for Bulgaria all my life. I still have a Bulgarian passport. I really appreciate the people and all the support throughout the years. It’s not only a way of giving something back to the country, but deeply moves me and makes me feel alive.”

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World Team Tennis: Mixed gender league to begin in July

  • Posted: May 26, 2020

The World Team Tennis (WTT) season, set to feature Grand Slam champions Sloane Stephens and Sofia Kenin, will begin on 5 July.

About 500 fans will be able attend the matches, held at a 2,500-capacity court in Greenbrier, in the United States.

“The overwhelming feedback is players want to play and are comfortable doing so in a safe environment,” said WTT chief executive Carlos Silva.

British doubles specialist Neal Skupski is signed up to play too.

Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and American pair Sam Querrey and Tennys Sandgren have been announced as well, along with legendary doubles pairing Bob and Mike Bryan.

Prize money for the 66-match team tournament – in which five-set matches are made up of individual sets of men’s and women’s singles, plus men’s, women’s and mixed doubles – has risen to $5m (£4.05m).

Last year’s tournament was won by the Springfield Lasers, who beat New York Empire in the final.

Elsewhere, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova is playing in an all-Czech tournament in Prague, taking place behind closed doors.

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Challenger At Home: Jurij Rodionov

  • Posted: May 26, 2020

Challenger At Home: Jurij Rodionov

Today’s ATP Challenger Tour stars discuss how they have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, providing an exclusive glimpse into life at home.

Jurij Rodionov talks about life at home with his parents, finally getting back on court, what he’s been doing to pass the time and why the beard is here to stay…

No player enjoyed a more successful month of February than Rodionov. The #NextGenATP star scored an impressive 15 wins from 17 matches on the ATP Challenger Tour, lifting trophies on both the indoor hard courts of Dallas and outdoor hard courts of Morelos. The Austrian’s big breakthrough had finally arrived.

After claiming his first piece of Challenger silverware in 2018, Rodionov struggled to carry the momentum last year. But he flipped the script in the early stages of his 2020 campaign, teaming with new coach Javier Frana to climb to his current career-high of No. 166 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. In fact, Rodionov was sitting in fifth position in the ATP Race To Milan when the tour was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was very frustrating for me to stop,” said Rodionov. “But everyone has to accept the decision and to accept the circumstances. We have to live with it. I wasn’t affected more than anyone else, but obviously it couldn’t have come at a worse time. I’ve had a good rest for the past few months knowing that I was playing really good tennis recently. I can start playing again knowing that I stopped at a very high level.”

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Rodionov, who celebrated his 21st birthday a week ago, has been at home in Austria with his parents for the past few months. He admits that he is employing the same philosophy that produced his successful stretch between the lines, to navigate his time at home. Being patient, focusing on what you can control and maintaining a positive attitude are essential both on and off the court.

During his time at home, Rodionov has been diligent in keeping a healthy diet and staying in shape. Going for runs in the nearby forest and maintaining a daily stretching regimen has been an important routine for the 21-year-old. Now, with some restrictions lifted in Austria, he has resumed on-court training and playing exhibition matches with his countrymen, including Dominic Thiem, Dennis Novak and Sebastian Ofner.

“When you’re playing tournaments 30 weeks a year, spending more time with your parents is a refreshing thing. But it’s the opposite of what you’re used to, so it can be challenging. I’ve been enjoying it though. Things are improving here and there are already opportunities to play locally. We have an exhibition in Vienna this week and it’s good to be in a professional environment again. That’s a really good thing.”

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Adria Tour: Novak Djokovic adds Marin Cilic and Borna Coric to event

  • Posted: May 26, 2020

Novak Djokovic has announced Croatia’s Marin Cilic and Borna Coric as the latest players to join an eight-man tournament to tour the Balkans.

Austria’s Dominic Thiem, Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov and Germany’s Alexander Zverev – all current or former top-three players – will also take part.

The first leg will take place in Djokovic’s hometown of Belgrade on 13 and 14 June.

“I’ll do everything in my power to be a good host,” said the world number one.

The tournament could be behind closed doors with Serbia’s coronavirus containment measures still banning large-scale gatherings.

After the Belgrade event, the tournament will move to the Croatian coastal resort of Zadar with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro pencilled in to host the final two legs.

Each event will feature two pools of four players with the winner of each progressing to a final.

Djokovic has only just returned to Serbia, having spent two months in Spain after visiting his brother Marko in Marbella when lockdown measures came into effect.

“Unlike many other players, I was able to train almost every day because we resided in a house with a tennis court,” said Djokovic, who began the 2020 season with a run of 18 straight victories that included capturing a record eighth Australian Open title.

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Resurfaced: What's A Typical Day Like At Roland Garros?

  • Posted: May 26, 2020

Resurfaced: What’s A Typical Day Like At Roland Garros? follows Ramos-Vinolas just days before his opening round match in Paris

Editor’s Note: But for the COVID-19 pandemic, Roland Garros would now be underway. During the next two weeks will look back on memorable matches and happenings at the clay-court Grand Slam, which tournament organisers are now hoping to stage in September. This story was originally published on 28 May 2018.

I get asked all the time what day-to-day life is like as a player, what I do to prepare for events and what I eat. So now I’m going to answer all those questions that my friends, my fans and journalists have about a regular day on the ATP Tour. For some background, I’m getting ready to make my eighth consecutive main draw appearance at Roland Garros. My opening round match is just a few days away. (No. 31 seed Ramos-Vinolas faces Mikhail Kukushkin on Monday).

6:30 am: My day begins. I get up and prepare a breakfast with gluten-free products. I’m not a Coeliac (a person with an autoimmune condition that affects the small intestine and must avoid gluten), I just feel better not ingesting gluten, milk or eggs. We’re sticking to a simple menu this morning: lots of fruit, turkey on bread, and a little rice for the carbs I’ll need ahead of a long day.

Albert Ramos Viñolas

8:30 am:I leave the apartment I’m staying at and get to the Roland Garros grounds via the tournament’s official players’ transport vehicle and begin my daily warmup routine.

Albert Ramos Viñolas

9 am: By this time I’m exercising at the facility’s gym and completing my joint stretches so that I’ll be loose when I step on the court for the first of two practice workouts I’ve scheduled for the day.

Ramos Viñolas y Paire

9:30 am: I’m on Court 5. My practice partner today is Benoit Paire. After a somewhat short but intense practice session, we take a selfie together! It’s just a fun way for us to look back and remember the moment.

Albert Ramos Viñolas

12 pm: I take a shower and get ready for a Q&A session with the media. By 1:30, it’ll be time for lunch. Today I’ll have gluten-free pasta with chicken as fuel ahead of my second workout of the day.

Albert Ramos Viñolas

4 pm: I’m back out on the practice court. This time I’m booked to train with Fernando Verdasco for an hour. Afterward, I take some pictures with my coaches, Jose Maria Diaz and Juan Ros, and also some with Fernando and his coach Guillermo Alcaide and his physiotherapist/physical trainer Javier Bustos Hernan.

Albert Ramos Viñolas

6 pm: I’ve done all the work I’ve had to do at the club, so now it’s time to head back to where I’m staying. Before I get there, though, I have to make a stop at the supermarket. This year, my team decided not to stay at the players’ hotel; we rented an apartment so that means we have to cook and prepare the meals ourselves.

Albert Ramos Viñolas

8 pm: It’s dinner time! We’ve made salad, along with baked chicken and rice for the last meal of the day.

Albert Ramos Viñolas

8:45 pm: My physiotherapist stops by the apartment to provide general treatment and get me ready for tomorrow. Today was a long day and I can use the rest. I’ll be in bed and call it a night by 11.

Albert Ramos Viñolas

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How A First-Round Roland Garros Turnaround Helped Murray To History

  • Posted: May 26, 2020

How A First-Round Roland Garros Turnaround Helped Murray To History

Relive Murray’s five-set win against Stepanek at 2016 Roland Garros

Editor’s Note: But for the COVID-19 pandemic, Roland Garros would now be underway. During the next two weeks will look back on memorable matches and happenings at the clay-court Grand Slam, which tournament organisers are now hoping to stage in September.

Andy Murray entered 2016 Roland Garros in tremendous form, fresh off his second clay-court ATP Masters 1000 title at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. The second-seeded Brit, who didn’t drop a set in Rome, appeared primed for a deep run at the season’s second Grand Slam.

That was until Murray found himself quickly two sets down against Czech veteran Radek Stepanek.

It took a rapid turnaround, an extra day of play, and a little bit of luck, but Murray clawed his way past the 37-year-old 3-6, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3, 7-5 after three hours and 41 minutes.

“It’s an extremely important match for me. It could turn out to be one of the biggest wins of my career, which, it also may not, but to get through that match, it was really, really important for me,” Murray said. “It easily could have gone the other way. When it is pretty much one set to stay in the tournament, you have to have as much energy, intensity as you can.”

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Playing under heavy conditions, Stepanek showed no fear against the World No. 2, stepping into the court and controlling play at every opportunity. Murray knew he had to reverse that trend, and quickly, if he was to avoid a big upset in Paris. But even after levelling the match at two sets apiece, darkness sent the match to a second day.

“I was actually starting to play quite well, and then I had to come out the next day again and do it against a very tough opponent who has a very unorthodox game. Makes it very tricky,” Murray said. “It was not easy at all.”

Stepanek had lost all his momentum, but he got to sleep on it and attempt to reset. He did everything in his power to avoid distractions with the knowledge he only was one set from springing a stunner.

“I got last night so many messages that I gave up my phone to my conditioning coach,” Stepanek said. “I said, ‘I don’t want to see it after the match is over, because nothing is over yet.’”


The Czech served first in the decider, was refreshed, and he put a scare into the second seed. With Murray serving at 4-5, Stepanek twice was within two points of victory. But Murray hung onto his serve, broke Stepanek in the next game, and closed out his win.

“I had a great shot at 30-All: backhand down the line. I felt like I hit pretty well. I hit the top of the net. Then I had a chance at deuce playing a drop shot,” Stepanek said. “The whole match I played it down the line [and for the] first time I tried to play it crosscourt, and these are the small things which made the difference in the end.”

For Murray’s part, it was his ninth comeback from two sets down. He was elated to avoid losing in the first round of a Grand Slam for the first time since the 2008 Australian Open.

“It was obviously an extremely difficult match, very tricky, challenging. Today was pretty stressful,” Murray said. “It’s never easy playing a match over two days, especially when it ended up being just a one-set shootout really in the end, with him always ahead and starting serving… I was always having to play from behind, so it was very tough.”

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In the next round, Murray also was pushed to five sets against home favourite Matthias Bourgue, which he said, “wasn’t as tense as my match against Radek”. It was the next two rounds in which Murray found his rhythm, defeating two of the biggest servers in history — 27th seed Ivo Karlovic and 15th seed John Isner — without losing a set.

His newfound confidence showed against home favourite Richard Gasquet in the quarter-finals. After a tense first two sets, Murray only lost two games in the next two to clinch a four-set victory, setting a blockbuster showdown against defending champion Stan Wawrinka. The Swiss had won three consecutive matches in their ATP Head2Head series, but Murray played what he called, “one of the better matches that I have played on clay throughout my career” to oust Wawrinka in four, making his first final in Paris

“To reach the final of the French the first time, that’s a big moment for me. It’s not an easy thing to do,” Murray said. “I never really expected to be able to do that.
To play the way that I did today after a tough start to the tournament, I was just really, really happy with that.”

Top seed Novak Djokovic rallied from a set down in the championship match to beat Murray 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 for the title. But it was still a tremendous run for Murray. After a close call against Stepanek in the first round, he became the first British man to reach the Roland Garros final since Bunny Austin in 1937.

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Roland Garros Flashback: Santoro Wins Longest Match In History

  • Posted: May 26, 2020

Roland Garros Flashback: Santoro Wins Longest Match In History

All-French battle with Clement spans two days

Editor’s Note: But for the COVID-19 pandemic, Roland Garros would now be underway. During the next two weeks will look back on memorable matches and happenings at the clay-court Grand Slam, which tournament organisers are now hoping to stage in September.

Before John Isner and Nicolas Mahut dominated world headlines with their legendary 2010 Wimbledon encounter, Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement rewrote the record books at 2004 Roland Garros by playing the then-longest recorded match in history.

After six hours and 33 minutes, the 31-year-old Santoro won their all-French first-round battle 6-4, 6-3, 6-7(5), 3-6, 16-14. Their clash, which spanned two days, broke the existing match length record in Paris by a staggering 62 minutes.

“It was a beautiful match,” Santoro said. “It was a great match on a great court in Paris and probably the best crowd ever for us. But aside from the record, I’m happy to know that at the age I’ve reached, I can still play tennis for six hours.”

Fabrice Santoro

Having saved a match point on Monday before darkness halted play at 5-5 in the fifth set, Santoro erased another one when play resumed on Tuesday. With neither player possessing a powerful shot to end points quickly, their rallies were grueling games of chess that featured plenty of spins and angles.

Santoro had difficulty breathing in the final game and found himself down 0/40 when serving for the match at 15-14. But after clawing back to Deuce, he fired an ace and a backhand passing shot winner before collapsing to the ground in delight. As the crowd rose in unison to give both men a standing ovation, Santoro buried his face in a towel and wept.

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“This morning, I strung just two rackets,” Santoro said. “I prepared one litre of drinks before the match. I said, ‘Okay, maybe you will play 10 or 15 minutes, maybe half an hour.’ And we played two hours.”

The Frenchman returned the next day and scored another five-set win against Irakli Labadze before running out of steam in the third round against fellow Frenchman Olivier Mutis. His epic battle with Clement is currently the fifth-longest recorded match in history.

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Kohlschreiber Enjoying Forest Walks & Tractor Work, But Not Done With Tennis

  • Posted: May 26, 2020

Kohlschreiber Enjoying Forest Walks & Tractor Work, But Not Done With Tennis

ATP Uncovered presented by Peugeot caught up with the German veteran

Philipp Kohlschreiber has kept busy at home in Germany during the ATP Tour’s suspension of play due to COVID-19.

Whether riding a tractor, going for a walk with his dog in the forest, or riding one of his wife’s horses, the German has certainly gotten to do things he rarely has had time for during his career.

“In my youth I spent a lot of time on a farm because we lived in the countryside and my friends had farms. I used to ride with someone who drove the tractor digging up potatoes,” Kohlschreiber told ATP Uncovered presented by Peugeot. “This reminds me a bit of my youth and now I’m able to roll the ground in the fields. It’s fun at first, and then it starts to get boring.

“Being at home during such a compulsory break is interesting. Maybe I’ll enjoy it an incredible amount. I can try out new things that I would simply never do otherwise, which is fun.”

Philipp Kohlschreiber

Kohlschreiber has cleaned up after the horses, fed them, and more. Although it’s unclear when, Kohlschreiber knows this won’t be a permanent change. He’s eager to get back on court.

At 36, Kohlschreiber knows he’s closer to the end of his career than the beginning. Currently World No. 74, the eight-time ATP Tour titlist hasn’t been inside the Top 50 in nearly a year. But he’s not ready to hang up his racquet yet.

“Maybe I’ll just wake up one day and say, ‘Okay, today is the right day to stop,’” Kohlschreiber said. “I don’t want to announce it in advance that a certain tournament will be my last. That’s just not me. I would actually like it to happen spontaneously.”

The German says there will be no farewell tour, and he will ultimately make his decision based on a gut feeling. But COVID-19 won’t make that call for him.

“I will appreciate my last year or two on Tour much more [because of it],” Kohlschreiber said.

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He has proven he still has great tennis left in him. The former World No. 16 beat World No. 1 Novak Djokovic at last year’s BNP Paribas Open.

“Maybe it would also be nice to say, ‘Okay, I’m fighting back into the Top 20’, and then call it a day, say, ‘Thanks, that’s it,’ and I’ve once again proven that I could still do it,” Kohlschreiber said. “After all, at some point, there will be life after tennis.”

That future might involve the sport Kohlschreiber has played professionally since 2001.

“All of my know-how is in tennis. Maybe helping young players would be interesting. I can already feel this when I’m practising with sparring partners and future pro players in Munich,” Kohlschreiber said. “I’m already noticing things which I would like to tell and share with them: things that I think they could still improve on, or maybe do differently. I didn’t have that feeling 10 years ago. I didn’t care back then. Maybe looking back at myself I was more selfish. But already now, just being a bit older, I feel I have developed an eye for it, and that appeals to me.”

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