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Maze Activity Drops In Emirates ATP Kids Hub

  • Posted: May 28, 2020

Maze Activity Drops In Emirates ATP Kids Hub

Trace your favourite players’ path to the Roland Garros trophy

Hey Kids!

We hope you’ve been enjoying all the activities in the Emirates ATP Kids Hub during this period of lockdown.

We’ve got something new for you this week: three mazes in which you need to trace a path to the Roland Garros trophy. Download all three below…

Download Game Sheets (PDF)

Download Answer Sheet (PDF)

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New Fan Essay Contest Open: Inspirational Matches

Don’t forget to check all all the great activities in the Emirates ATP Kids Hub

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Fognini's Day In Nature: Social Media Roundup

  • Posted: May 28, 2020

Fognini’s Day In Nature: Social Media Roundup

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

Your favourite players are finding plenty of ways to keep busy this week. From Fabio Fognini’s big day out, to Daniil Medvedev gearing up for summer, find out how the world’s best players have been spending their days.

Fognini enjoyed a day in the woods near his home in Italy.

 

View this post on Instagram
 

Into the woods 🌳🍃 #afternoon #inspiration

A post shared by Fabio Fognini (@fabiofogna) on

Medvedev showed off his new summer haircut.

 

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#newlook 👦🏻

A post shared by Medvedev Daniil (@medwed33) on

Rafael Nadal hit the practice court for the first time in two months.

Stefanos Tsitsipas took time to thank frontline healthcare workers.

John Isner made it clear that he’d give anything to be competing right now.

Yuichi Sugita rejoiced at being able to resume his training.

Mackenzie McDonald took on the Splash Challenge.

 

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Good to be back on the court 💪🏼 #splashchallenge 🎾 with @chanellezie

A post shared by Mackie Mackenzie MackDonald (@mackiemacster) on

Robert Farah had his hands full with feeding four dogs.

 

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En la cuarentena uno aprende muchas cosas! Que tal mis dones de entrenador de perro? 😂 Las Samarias Vs @tacoandroma 🐾 Disfruto demasiado este momento! Que perrito es tu preferido?

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Jamie Murray sharpened his golf skills.

 

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⛳️ 🏌️‍♂️ 2.5hrs round the west course today @wentworth_club – how golf should be! #golf #wentworth #foreright #fairway #green

A post shared by Jamie Murray (@jamie__murray) on

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Temper Tone: Why Netflix Needed McEnroe

  • Posted: May 28, 2020

Temper Tone: Why Netflix Needed McEnroe

In plot twist, former ATP World No. 1 plays the inner voice of a troubled 15-year-old girl

John McEnroe announced his arrival to tennis fans in 1977 as a brash 18-year-old whose temperamental outbursts made him the face of teen angst. Nearly 45 years later, he’s reprising that role for a new Netflix series.

The former No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings has a recurring voice-over role in Never Have I Ever and makes a cameo appearance in the season finale. The show is created by Mindy Kaling, best known for her role as Kelly Kapoor in the American version of The Office. McEnroe is the narrator for the inner voice and life of 15-year-old girl Devi Vishwakumar, played by Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, who struggles with the recent death of her father.

”I don’t know why it works,” McEnroe said to The New York Times. “At first, people are like, ‘What?’ I’m not the normal voice-over sound.”

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Although it might seem odd to have McEnroe narrating a teenage girl’s obsession with an attractive male swimmer, as he does in one episode, the tennis legend was specifically sought for the role. Kaling cited Vishwakumar’s temperamental moments throughout the series, such as shattering her bedroom window with a textbook, as areas that he would be suited to analyse.

“When we decided that the character of Devi would have a temper, the McEnroe thing just kept coming back,” Kaling told USA Today. “Someone who’s high-achieving but is undermined by their own temper. He has really high standards for himself and everyone around him. We kept talking about him and were like, ‘Wait, should he be doing the narration?’ Devi’s dad loved tennis and it timed out that he would have grown up watching McEnroe.” 

But the age gap between McEnroe and 18-year-old Ramakrishnan was evident in other ways. The actress admitted having to Google who McEnroe was before they began filming.

The entire first season of Never Have I Ever is currently available to stream on Netflix.

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Dirk Nowitzki Eyes Federer's Backhand, Among Others

  • Posted: May 28, 2020

Dirk Nowitzki Eyes Federer’s Backhand, Among Others

Learn more about the NBA legend’s love for tennis

Dirk Nowitzki is widely considered one of the best NBA players of his era. The German was a 14-time All Star, the 2007 Most Valuable Player, and plenty more. Not many know that growing up, he loved playing tennis.

“I grew up playing a double-handed backhand, and then once I stopped playing when I was about 14, 15, I kind of went away and put all my eggs into the basketball basket and took 10, 11 years off and never really played,” Nowitzki said. “Once I got to my mid-20s, in the summer I started playing again and then my double-handed backhand was completely gone! I didn’t even know how to hold it anymore. Then I actually switched to a one-hander.”

That is the shot the basketball star enjoys watching most in today’s game, and there are a few players in particular whose one-hander he is in awe of.

“Roger to me is of course one of the best. Stan Wawrinka has a laser of a one-hander, and he’s super-fun to watch with his power game. Dominic Thiem is coming up and his one-hander is beautiful and powerful,” Nowitzki said. “That’s just to name a few. There are so many great one-handers in the game.”

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Has Nowitzki been able to replicate their one-handers when he gets on the court?

“I slice a lot and if I do get it, I do a little spin,” Nowitzki said. “I’ve tried both in my career. My backhand is definitely my weak spot.”

If Nowitzki had to pick one all-time one-handed backhand to add to his arsenal, it would come from his good friend, fellow German Tommy Haas, who is less than three months older than Nowitzki.

“I love a beautiful one-handed backhand. My boy Tommy Haas has one of the prettiest one-handed backhands ever on Tour, so I’d probably use his,” Nowitzki said. “My game is more forehand and serve, so backhand definitely needs some help.”

Growing up, Nowitzki had star Germans to look up to in Boris Becker and Steffi Graf. “Everybody tried to be like them,” he said. Nowitzki played attacking tennis in his junior tournaments, keeping points short.

“When you’re tall, the movement is not quite there as much for me,” Nowitzki said. “I tried to keep the points short with an aggressive serve and aggressive forehand.”

Dirk Nowitzki Charity event
Photo Credit: Dallas Mavericks
The German has held four annual Dirk Nowitzki Pro Celebrity Tennis Classics to raise funds for the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation. At those events, current or former pros like Haas, Andy Roddick, John Isner and Mark Knowles play with celebrities, like Nowitzki and his former Dallas Mavericks teammates. But that’s not a one-off tennis moment for Nowitzki each year.

“I’m still a tennis fan more than anything. I watch it all the time. Sometimes I’ll sit there in the evening and the kids are in bed and I’ll just flip to the Tennis Channel and watch random tournaments somewhere indoors in a little town and it’s a Challenger,” Nowitzki said. “I love watching tennis, I watch it all the time and it’s fascinating some of the shots they hit out of positions that are really hopeless. It’s just an amazing game and something new always happens. It’s such an athletic game now and the shotmaking is incredible.”

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Andy Murray & Novak Djokovic: Childhood Friends Battling On The Big Stage

  • Posted: May 28, 2020

Andy Murray & Novak Djokovic: Childhood Friends Battling On The Big Stage

Dive inside Djokovic and Murray’s rivalry

Almost every junior tennis player has a rival growing up. But it’s not often those kids grow up to be so good that they battle for the No. 1 FedEx ATP Ranking.

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, who were born one week apart in May 1987, first played one another aged 11. But not only have they remained great friends more than two decades later, they have developed a captivating rivalry.

“We have known each other since very, very early days,” Djokovic said at the 2016 Rolex Paris Masters, where Murray clinched World No. 1 for the first time. “To see how he has raised his level in the past 12 months is quite extraordinary.”

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When Djokovic and Murray clash, there has almost always been a lot at stake. Nineteen of their 36 ATP Head2Head meetings (Djokovic leads 25-11) have come in a final, and 33 of their 36 meetings have come at a Grand Slam, ATP Masters 1000, the Nitto ATP Finals or the Olympics. They have met in all four Grand Slam finals.

The childhood friends first played for a tour-level trophy at the 2008 Western & Southern Open, when they were both 21. Djokovic was already a four-time Masters 1000 champion, and he’d won that year’s Australian Open. The Serbian earned plenty of momentum in the semi-finals with a straight-sets victory against Rafael Nadal. But Murray, a first-time Masters 1000 finalist who was ranked No. 9, would not be denied, defeating Djokovic 7-6(4), 7-6(5).

“I played some rocket tennis, the way my coach says,” Djokovic said. “Today I was trying to do the same, but I got rocket back.”

Djokovic has won 14 more matches than Murray in their rivalry, but in title matches, the Serbian leads 11-8.

The pair plays a similar style: Djokovic and Murray are both excellent on defence, capable of playing aggressively, and they are two of the best returners in the sport.

“When you play against the best players in the world you go in knowing that you have to play great tennis to win,” Murray said. “Sometimes you do and you don’t win. They’re that good.”

The biggest moment of their decades-long rivalry came at the 2016 Nitto ATP Finals. The week before, Murray had taken World No. 1 for the first time. But both men worked their way to the final, and the winner was guaranteed the coveted year-end No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.

“Seems like a movie story scenario,” Djokovic said before the championship match. “It’s a script.”

Murray, who saved a match point in his semi-final against Milos Raonic, played clean tennis to defeat Djokovic 6-3, 6-4 to take the title and World No. 1. It was his 23rd consecutive win, capping a fairytale run to end 2016 atop tennis’ mountain.

“It was obviously a big, big match against someone who I’ve played so many big matches against in my career. That would be my main rival really throughout my career,” Murray said of Djokovic. “We played in all of the Slam finals, Olympics, obviously here now, and a match to finish the year No. 1. We played in loads of Masters Series finals, as well, and are one week apart in age. It was obviously a big match, a very important win for me. It was just a huge match to finish the year, to try and obviously finish No. 1.” 

Even though Djokovic and Murray have played for each of the Grand Slam titles, World No. 1, and plenty more, they’ve always maintained the utmost respect for one another. According to Murray, off the court, they don’t discuss tennis.

“When me and Novak speak with each other, we don’t talk about tennis, rankings, the matches we play against each other,” Murray said. in 2016 “Maybe when we finish playing, that might change. But we talk about each other’s families, children and stuff. We chatted at length this year quite a lot because obviously I became a father the first time. We spoke about the difficulty in keeping the sort of balance in your life with the family and the travelling and the work and everything.”

That was at the same time as they battled for World No. 1, showing that rivals could be great friends, too.

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A (Very) Late Night To Remember: Fognini vs. Monfils

  • Posted: May 28, 2020

A (Very) Late Night To Remember: Fognini vs. Monfils

Relive the pair’s second-round match from 2010 Roland Garros

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

Classic matches are remembered for various reasons, from the players involved to the stakes. Fabio Fognini and Gael Monfils’ match in the second round of 2010 Roland Garros, however, will be remembered for darkness.

Monfils, who was only 23 at the time, had already made two quarter-finals at the clay-court Grand Slam. Fognini, however, entered the tournament without a main draw win at Roland Garros. The Frenchman was a two-time ATP Tour titlist, and the Italian hadn’t made a tour-level final.

So when 13th seed Monfils sprinted to a two-set lead against World No. 92 Fognini, it was not a surprise. The rest of the match, however, was.

Fognini had lost eight of nine matches entering the event. Facing a home favourite who’d enjoyed success at the tournament in the previous two years was tough enough. Coming back from down two sets would be even more difficult.

But Fognini showed an early sign of his love for the big moments on Court Philippe Chatrier, hanging in there with the athletic Frenchman. As day turned to night on the event’s biggest court, the match’s momentum switched from Monfils’ racquet to Fognini’s.

The Italian showed some of the shotmaking prowess that today has him at No. 11 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. It was clear Monfils was not physically at his best as the match went deep into the decider. The Frenchman is capable of crushing his first serve, but as dusk fell over the Parisian crowd, he was simply rolling the ball in — perhaps even slower than he normally would hit a second serve — and daring Fognini to take the match from him.

Gael Monfils, Fabio Fognini

That was when things got wonky. At 4-4 in the fifth set, there were discussions about suspending play due to darkness, as it was increasingly difficult to see. Only the stadium’s scoreboard and a television studio lit the court.

But the players continued for two more games. Fognini held for 5-4, and then a hobbling Monfils served to stay in the match. At 15/40, Fognini let slip his first match point by missing a backhand into the net. On the next point, he had a great look to attack a slow second serve, but he just put the ball back in play, and eventually missed a forehand squash shot into the net. Two points later, Fognini had a third chance to seal his victory, but he missed a forehand return long. The darkness only got more noticeable on television, which made the setting look brighter than it actually was.

With the partisan crowd that remained in the stands fully behind Monfils, the Frenchman somehow survived to fight another day, holding for 5-5 as cheers erupted from the crowd. Fognini had a golden opportunity to close out a higher-ranked opponent, but just before 10 p.m. local time, they walked off the court.

Fognini somehow gathered himself the next day, to close out a memorable 2-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 9-7 win.

“Look at the score,” Fognini said, according to Reuters. “It’s an incredible match.”

After all the effort it took to push the match to a second day, it was a big disappointment for Monfils, who was the second-ranked Frenchman in the field. But he was honest about who the better player was.

“He beat me fair and square.”

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Ivan Lendl: The Monk In The Iron Mask

  • Posted: May 28, 2020

Ivan Lendl: The Monk In The Iron Mask

With a steely resolve and singular focus, the Czech/American took fitness and professionalism to a new level

In the sixth profile of a series on the 26 players to rise to No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, ATPTour.com looks back on the career of Ivan Lendl. View Full List

First week at No. 1: 28 February 1983
Total weeks at No. 1: 270
Year-End No. 1s: 1985-87, 1989

As World No. 1
Ivan Lendl first became No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings on 28 February 1983, the year he won seven titles, for a total of 11 weeks until 15 May that year. At a time when the Czech turned-American jockeyed Jimmy Connors and, predominantly, John McEnroe for the top spot, Lendl was No. 1 on eight occasions, including for 157 straight weeks between 9 September 1985 and 11 September 1988. It was three weeks shy of Connors’ 160-week unbroken streak during the mid 1970s. Lendl once said, “I was between two and three in the world for two, three years. That’s not exactly where I wanted to be.” He finished the 1985-87 and 1989 seasons as the year-end No. 1 and was the world’s best player for 270 weeks in total.

Grand Slam Highlights
Lendl made his Grand Slam championship debut at 1978 Roland Garros, but picked up the tag of ‘nearly man’ after four runner-up finishes (1981 Roland Garros, 1982 US Open, 1983 Australian Open and US Open) before his major breakthrough. On Parisian clay, Lendl trailed McEnroe by two-sets-to-love and 2-4 in the 1984 Roland Garros final, only to win 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5. He lost to McEnroe in the US Open final a few months later but new-found confidence heralded the start of a dominant period, which included two further clay titles at Roland Garros in 1986 and 1987. Lendl contested eight straight US Open finals, equalling the record of Bill Tilden (1918-1925), winning in three successive years (1985-87) and famously hired the same workers to lay the exact US Open surface at his Connecticut house. Lendl won back-to-back Australian Opens in 1989 and 1990 and twice finished runner-up at Wimbledon in 1986 and 1987. Later in his career, while still near the top of the rankings, Lendl stepped up his bid to win what proved to be an elusive title at the All England Club. He skipped 1990 Roland Garros to win grass titles at Beckenham and then at The Queen’s Club, but could not replicate his form at Wimbledon, where he reached the semi-finals for the seventh time in eight years. His determination to win at SW19 was in stark contrast to his earlier outlook. He once said, “I am not playing Wimbledon because I am allergic to grass.” Overall, he won eight major crowns in 19 Grand Slam finals and reached a semi-final or better on 47 occasions.

Nitto ATP Finals Highlights
Lendl reached nine consecutive finals at the Masters [now named Nitto ATP Finals], from 1980 to 1988, when the season finale was held in New York. He won on five occasions in 1981 (d. Gerulaitis), 1982 (d. McEnroe), 1985 and 1986 (d. Becker), and 1987 (d. Wilander), while his fifth-set tie-break loss to Boris Becker in the 1988 final remains one of the sport’s greatest matches. In 12 straight appearances through to 1991, Lendl never once failed to advance to the semi-finals, and he finished with a 39-10 match record.

Tour Highlights
Turning pro in 1978, the year he won the Roland Garros and Wimbledon junior titles, Lendl soon began to amass singles titles: seven in 1980; 10 in 1981; 15 in 1982, including a 44-match winning streak, and seven trophies in 1983, before his big breakthrough. Lendl won more than 90 per cent of his tour-level matches in 1982, 1985-87 and 1989, when he won 10 trophies. His record of 94 singles titles is third on the ATP list, behind only Jimmy Connors (109) and Roger Federer (103). He also helped then Czechoslovakia to the 1980 Davis Cup title. He finished in the year-end Top 10 every season from 1980 to 1992 and recorded 164 victories against Top 10 stars, from Arthur Ashe at 1979 Roland Garros to Becker at the 1993 Tokyo indoors. Lendl called it quits shortly after the 1994 US Open, after chronic back pain hindered the final years of his career. He was 34.

Overall ATP Singles Match Win-Loss Record 1,068-242
Overall ATP Singles Titles/Finals Record: 94-52

Biggest Rivalries
Lendl, seven years younger, met Connors on 35 occasions (Lendl 22-13), including victories in their first eight matches. In the 1982 US Open final, one of seven meetings at Grand Slam championships, there were the first signs of niggle as Connors dared Lendl to drive a ball past him. Lendl also played McEnroe 36 times between 1980 and 1992, leading the American 7-2 in their major championship clashes. McEnroe once said, disparagingly, “Nobody gives a damn about Lendl and that’s the bottom line. I could have no personality and be more popular than him”. Pat Cash once said, “McEnroe didn’t like Lendl at all, not one bit. They were both fiery and wanted to be the best they could be, and to win. I thought it made tennis entertaining.” Their rivalry was evenly split at 15-15, until Lendl won the last six matches between 1989 and 1992.

Lendl and McEnroe

Legacy
Built around a solid forehand, hit with heavy topspin, the steely, fiercely competitive and no-nonsense Czech developed an aggressive style of power tennis seen in today’s modern game. Lendl was one of the fittest players on Tour, who prepared meticulously and looked for an edge. “My serve and my forehand I pretty much always had, but my backhand was a ‘made’ backhand,” said Lendl. “I worked on it for years.” He was one of the first players to customise the weight, balance and string tension in his racquets. As one of the world’s top indoor and hard-court players, his records of consecutive finals at both the Masters [now named the Nitto ATP Finals] and the US Open may never be broken. In playing retirement since 1994, he developed his golf game and in 2011 heightened his credentials by coaching Andy Murray to three Grand Slam titles, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medals, the 2016 Nitto ATP Finals and No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. Murray’s triumph at 2013 Wimbledon ended a 77-year wait for a British Gentleman’s Singles champion at SW19. Lendl also briefly coached Alexander Zverev.

Memorable Moment
Arguably, the definitive moment of Lendl’s career, making him a major force throughout the 1980s, was his second Roland Garros final appearance on 10 June 1984. It also happened to be McEnroe’s worst moment on a tennis court. “It’s still tough for me now to do the commentary at the French,” said McEnroe in 2002. “I’ll often have one or two days when I literally feel sick to my stomach, just at being there.” Sensing it was his one opportunity to win on Parisian clay, McEnroe led Lendl 6-3, 6-2, 1-1, but became increasingly agitated by the noise from a courtside cameraman’s headphones. In a seesaw third set, McEnroe walked over to the cameraman and shouted something into his headset and later regrouped to lead 4-2. However, Lendl had rediscovered his game, starting to strike his backhand with significant topspin and lobbing when McEnroe attacked the net. McEnroe distanced himself from the net, allowing Lendl to strike crosscourt winners and he recovered to win 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5 in four hours and eight minutes. The monkey was off Lendl’s back, after four runner-up finishes at major championships.

McEnroe on Lendl
“I realise I have to toughen up more in terms of physical conditioning, but I’m not going to live like a monk like Lendl. He’s an extremist. He’s sacrificed himself totally and in his case he got results. But I don’t think that has to be the general rule.”

Lendl on Lendl
“I only play well when I’m prepared. If I don’t practise the way I should, then I won’t play the way that I know I can… People may say I developed an iron will, but what really happened is that I made myself much fitter. I think an iron will is always supported by fitness.”

ATP Heritage: Milestones. Records. Legends.

Journalist/Broadcaster Graeme Agars On Lendl
There was a simple reason that Ivan Lendl won an amazing 1068 of his 1310 matches. Every time he went on court, he gave 100 per cent effort. If you beat Lendl, it was a significant achievement. Lendl was known for his work ethic, his uber competitiveness and his hard-hitting game.
One of his early Adidas composite rackets has found a home in the ATP office in Ponte Vedra Beach in Florida. Picking it up is more a weightlifting exercise than anything else; the head is lined with more lead than a boat anchor. The implement was more a club than a racquet and not many players could have used it as effectively as did the super strong Czech-born eight-time major champion. Not surprisingly, it allowed Lendl to be one of the pioneers of the power game in men’s tennis, which ultimately transformed the way the game was played, much to the frustration of touch players like John McEnroe.

Lendl was particularly comfortable on a hard court, especially at the the US Open’s Louis Armstrong stadium in New York. Lendl won there three times, but just as impressively made the final eight times in a row from 1982. He was no slouch on clay either, but the one win that eluded him despite mammoth efforts was a win on the hallowed grass courts at Wimbledon. He made two finals, but Boris Becker and Pat Cash denied him a Career Grand Slam. One other Lendl characteristic – he always played with a pocket full of sawdust to keep his racquet handle dry. That was in the days before players rushed to towel off between points.

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