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Taylor Townsend says she gets mistaken for other black players

  • Posted: Jun 07, 2020

American Taylor Townsend says she regularly gets mistaken for other female black players.

The 24-year-old spoke about her experiences in a Tennis United video as she discussed the anti-racism protests following the death of George Floyd.

“Everybody sees a black person and they assume that it’s Venus or Serena (Williams) or Sloane (Stephens),” said world number 73 Townsend.

“I’ve been literally all of them down the list except for myself.”

She added: “I’ve had people argue with me to tell me that I’m Coco Gauff. I’m not Coco Gauff but all of us look the same, all of us are built the same.”

There have been widespread protests across the United States since Floyd, an unarmed black man, died last month after being pinned down by a white police officer.

Sixteen year-old Gauff, one of the rising stars in tennis, gave an emotional speech at a Black Lives Matter protest, saying she “demands change now”.

Fellow American Frances Tiafoe, the men’s world number 81, posted an Instagram video also featuring Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka and Gauff.

In the video, Tiafoe and girlfriend Ayan Broomfield put their racquets down and raise their hands to “spread awareness about the unjust deaths of many African-Americans”.

Townsend said: “Even from the aspect of, you walk through and nobody stops you, and I’m walking through and somebody has to check my bag, check my credential, check my coach’s bag, check my coach’s credential.

“It’s extra security, extra precautions that need to be taken to make sure that I belong.

“This is our reality. It happens all the time – week in, week out, every tournament that I play in the States, overseas, it doesn’t matter.

“It’s not going to change. Hopefully, this (Black Lives Matter protests) just creates a safe space and an awareness for people to want to talk about it.

“Not to be uncomfortable, not to cringe. To be able to be open-minded, understand and really kind of open your eyes, take yourself out of it and try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.”

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Challenger Vault: Tsonga's Wild Weekend In London

  • Posted: Jun 07, 2020

Challenger Vault: Tsonga’s Wild Weekend In London

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga takes us back to 2007, when he lifted the trophy in Surbiton and qualified for Queen’s Club in the same weekend.

It’s the time of year that brings a smile to the faces of players and fans. The first week of June marks the arrival of summer in London, as warm weather and sunny skies signal the start of grass-court season on the professional circuit.

The smell of freshly-trimmed lawns waft through the air at the Surbiton Racket & Fitness Club, with the annual grass season opener held at the 139-year-old ATP Challenger Tour facility. This week would have marked the tournament’s 17th edition, which has attracted some of the ATP’s future stars over the years. Eventual Wimbledon champions Lleyton Hewitt and Roger Federer both kicked off their professional grass-court careers at this very club, in 1998 and 1999, respectively. In 2018, Alex de Minaur cracked the Top 100 with his first grass-court final appearance. And last year, a total of seven Top 100 players descended on the London suburb.

Of all the storylines to emerge from the Surbiton Trophy, none were as fascinating as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s wild weekend in 2007. The future World No. 5 enjoyed a breakthrough grass campaign. His tour of London would see him lift the trophy in Surbiton, stun Hewitt en route to the third round at the Fever-Tree Championships at Queen’s Club and sprint to the Round of 16 at Wimbledon.

The most impressive part of that stretch was an unprecedented weekend, which saw Tsonga take the title in Surbiton and qualify for his first ATP Tour grass-court event at Queen’s. With only 11 miles (17.7 km) separating the two tournaments, the Frenchman was able to achieve the feat by traveling back and forth on Saturday and Sunday. He would compete in – and win – his semi-final and final matches in Surbiton, as well as three qualifying rounds at Queen’s. That’s five matches in just two days!


On Saturday, the 22-year-old’s dizzying journey saw him defeat Chris Guccione in the Surbiton semis in the morning, and then drive an hour to Queen’s Club, where he kicked off his qualifying campaign with a win over Joshua Goodall. The next day, he won his second round of qualifying at Queen’s, took the car to Surbiton for the final of the Challenger, where he defeated Ivo Karlovic 6-3, 7-6(4), and incredibly traveled back to central London once again to punch his ticket to the main draw with a 64-minute win over George Bastl. It was one of the more impressive – and improbable – tales of resilience and determination.

Page 113 of the ATP Rulebook indicates that, when feasible to drive between the two locations, the player can compete in qualifying of the subsequent tournament. The ATP supervisor holds full discretion and it’s the player’s responsibility to be on time for all matches. A marathon match or even a traffic jam can see the plan go up in smoke. Due to the logistics required, the magnitude of Tsonga’s two-day journey would be extremely rare nowadays.

The Frenchman did not stop there, winning two matches in the Queen’s Club main draw, including a straight-set upset of defending champion and former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt just three days later. And, later that month, he did not drop a set en route to the Round of 16 at Wimbledon. His reward: a Top 100 debut in the FedEx ATP Rankings.

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Tsonga: Challengers Helped Me Find The Reasons I Was Playing Tennis

Tsonga’s connection with the ATP Challenger Tour is a special one and it extends far beyond his magical weekend in 2007. Last year, the Frenchman faced a long and arduous recovery after undergoing left knee surgery. Having fallen outside the Top 250 of the FedEx ATP Rankings, he would be forced to rediscover his motivation and passion for the game at the Challenger level.

A perennial Top 20 player for his entire career, Tsonga found himself in uncharted territory, competing in his first Challenger tournament since that unforgettable week in Surbiton more than a decade earlier. Despite only needing to play in three events on the circuit in 2019, Tsonga admits it was nonetheless a humbling experience. And one that reminded him of why he first picked up a racquet.

“Playing in Challenger tournaments helped me find the reasons why I was playing tennis again. The conditions are always more difficult. There’s always a battle. You meet with players who are dreaming of being great champions. And even the crowd that is attending is a different crowd.”

Tsonga credited his victory at the Cassis Open Provence for his subsequent triumph at the ATP 250 event in Metz, which propelled him back inside the Top 50. In fact, he would become the biggest mover to the year-end Top 50, soaring 230 spots in total.

“It’s always pleasant to play such tournaments, because then we realize that what we do is exceptional,” Tsonga added. “We get closer to the public when we play Challengers and we listen to what people say and it makes you feel good. It helps you have a different view of your career, of tennis at large and to find pleasure again in playing tennis.”

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Flashback: Federer Completes Career Grand Slam In Paris

  • Posted: Jun 07, 2020

Flashback: Federer Completes Career Grand Slam In Paris

Swiss also tied Sampras’ record total of 14 Grand Slam titles

After three consecutive runner-up finishes to Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros, Roger Federer once again stood just one victory away from a place in the history books in 2009.

Following Nadal’s fourth-round exit, the 13-time Grand Slam champion contested what felt like ‘three or four finals’ under increased pressure from fans and the media in Paris. En route to the championship match, Federer produced a stunning comeback from two sets and a break point down against Tommy Haas in the fourth round and also recovered from two sets to one down during his semi-final clash against Juan Martin del Potro.

Bidding to become only the sixth man to complete the Career Grand Slam, Federer stood across the net from the first player to overcome Nadal on the Parisian terre battue: Robin Soderling. The Swede had stunned fans on Court Philippe-Chatrier with his victory against the four-time defending champion, but the 24-year-old built on his breakthrough performance with wins against Nikolay Davydenko and Fernando Gonzalez to reach his maiden Grand Slam final.

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Soderling struggled to discover his best form in the early stages, as Federer charged through the first set after 23 minutes. Steady drizzle and an appearance from an intruder knocked Federer’s rhythm in the second set, as Soderling began to reduce his unforced error count and find success on his serve.

A tie-break was needed to separate the pair and, it was there that Federer stretched his advantage. With three aces and multiple winners, Federer cruised into a 6/1 lead. The second seed landed a fourth ace to claim the second set in emphatic fashion, as the French crowd roared in unison.

The Mutua Madrid Open champion rode the momentum into the third set, breaking Soderling in the opening game. Federer maintained that advantage to serve for the title at 5-4 and, after saving a break point, the Swiss claimed his maiden Roland Garros crown 6-1, 7-6(1), 6-4 with a powerful serve into Soderling’s forehand.

Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Andre Agassi and now, Federer: In his 11th appearance at the clay-court Grand Slam championship, the Basel native had finally joined the exclusive club of Career Grand Slam winners.

“I just think it’s an unbelievable achievement. I’m very proud of my career, obviously. I achieved more than I ever thought I would,” said Federer. “My dream as a boy was to win Wimbledon one day. I won that five times. To get [the Roland Garros title] at the end, as the last remaining Grand Slam, it’s an incredible feeling. The waiting and the age definitely has a big impact on how important and how nice this victory actually is. It’s been a long time coming and I’m happy I got it today. I’m very proud.”

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As the sixth man to complete the Career Grand Slam, Federer was formally welcomed into the club just minutes after his victory. The fifth man to achieve the feat, Agassi, presented Federer with the Coupe des Mousquetaires during the trophy ceremony.

The victory also represented another major milestone in Federer’s career. By lifting his maiden Roland Garros title, the 6’1” right-hander tied Pete Sampras’ then-all-time record haul of 14 Grand Slam singles titles. Federer reached the mark in his 40th Grand Slam appearance, while Sampras captured his 14th major title at his 52nd and final Grand Slam event: the 2002 US Open.

Federer’s tie with Sampras on 14 Grand Slam titles lasted just 28 days. At Wimbledon, the Swiss defeated Andy Roddick in a classic five-set final to claim his 15th major crown and take outright ownership of the top position on the Grand Slam titles leader board.

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Flashback: Djokovic Creates History In Paris

  • Posted: Jun 07, 2020

Flashback: Djokovic Creates History In Paris

Serbian joined Budge, Laver in exclusive club

On 5 June 2016, Novak Djokovic stood one victory away from a place in tennis history.

Competing in his fourth Roland Garros final, the World No. 1 was attempting to become only the third man to hold all four major singles titles at the same time. It was a position he had also been in four years earlier, when he lost the 2012 championship match to great rival Rafael Nadal.

On this occasion, Djokovic would not face the nine-time champion for the trophy. His opponent was Andy Murray, who was appearing in his first championship match on the Parisian terre battue.

The reigning Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open champion entered the contest with a 23-10 ATP Head2Head record against Murray, which included a 4-2 advantage in Grand Slam finals. Djokovic had beaten Murray to lift his third straight Grand Slam trophy at the Australian Open in January, but the two men had split final meetings in Madrid and Rome in the previous month.

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After dropping the first set, Djokovic motored towards victory, conceding a combined three games in the second  and third sets before closing out the match 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.

More than 46 years after Rod Laver completed his second Calendar Grand Slam in 1969 (also 1962), Djokovic had joined the Australian and Don Budge (1938) as the third man to hold all four Grand Slam trophies at the same time. The Belgrade-born star also became the eighth man to complete the Career Grand Slam.

“It’s a thrilling moment,” said Djokovic. “One of the most beautiful I have had in my career… It’s incredibly flattering to know that Rod Laver is the last one that managed to do that. There are not many words that can describe it. It’s one of the ultimate challenges that you have as a tennis player. I’m very proud and very thrilled.”

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Djokovic’s victory in Paris brought him level with fellow 12-time Grand Slam winner Roy Emerson in fourth place on the Grand Slam titles leader board. The 29-year-old also became the first man since Jim Courier in 1992 to win the Australian Open and Roland Garros in the same year.

Competing in his 10th Grand Slam final, Murray was bidding to join 1935 champion Fred Perry as only the second British man to claim the Roland Garros singles title. Five weeks later, the World No. 2 lifted his third Grand Slam title in front of home fans at Wimbledon.

“This is Novak’s day,” said Murray. “Winning all four Grand Slams at once is a great achievement. This is something that is so rare in tennis. What he’s achieved the last 12 months is phenomenal. I’m proud to be part of it today.”

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Better By The Dozen: Relive Rafa's Reign In Paris

  • Posted: Jun 07, 2020

Better By The Dozen: Relive Rafa’s Reign In Paris looks back at the Spaniard’s 12 triumphs in Paris

Winning a Grand Slam is an incredible feat, but winning 12 at one event is otherworldly.

Rafael Nadal has lifted the Coupes des Mousquetaires at Roland Garros on 12 occasions, triumphing at the clay-court major more frequently than any other player in history. looks back at his dozen triumphs in Paris, from his maiden crown as a teenager in 2005 to his latest as a 33-year-old man in 2019.

Despite having never played at Roland Garros before, Nadal arrived as the hot favourite after picking up ATP Masters 1000 titles in Monte-Carlo and Rome, in addition to triumphing on home soil in Barcelona. After defeating Roger Federer in a four-set semi-final on his 19th birthday, he picked up the first Grand Slam title of his career by beating Mariano Puerta 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-1, 7-5.

“Everything happened very quickly,” Nadal reflected years later. “I went from being No. 50 in the [FedEx ATP Rankings] to fighting to win Roland Garros. I think in my head I assimilated that well, calmly. I think I had been adequately educated to be prepared in case something like that happened. I accepted everything as if it were normal and I think that that was one of the keys to being able to continue with the same intensity of work, passion and motivation.”

Rafael Nadal beat Mariano Puerta in four sets to capture his maiden Roland Garros title in 2005.

Nadal’s route to defending his title was not without difficulty. In the third round, he needed four hours and 53 minutes to survive home favourite Paul-Henri Mathieu 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, a match which remains the longest he’s ever played at this event. But the Spaniard triumphed in Paris once again by defeating Federer 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(4).

He also set a new record that year. By beating Robin Soderling in the first round, Nadal won 54 straight matches on clay and surpassed Guillermo Vilas’ record for most consecutive victories on the surface.

“He always seemed to me a spectacular tennis player. He is able to deal with competitiveness with maturity,” said three-time Roland Garros champion Gustavo Kuerten to in 2012. “That’s how Nadal won the tournament.”


For his Roland Garros hat trick, Nadal once again outlasted Federer in the final and prevailed 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. At age 21, he became the youngest player to earn three titles in Paris. The Spaniard didn’t drop a set en route to the final, scoring notable wins over Juan Martin del Potro, Lleyton Hewitt, Carlos Moya and Novak Djokovic along the way.

“In 2007, I started to feel that Nadal was a better player than Federer on clay,” said Moya, now Nadal’s current coach, to in 2012. “That was the first year I felt that Rafa was controlling the match, controlling the point, and the way he was losing that set against Federer was because he was not playing at his best. When he was playing at his best, he was finding his way to beat Federer.”

Nadal equalled Bjorn Borg’s four consecutive titles (1978-1981) at Roland Garros with a flawless display of tennis. He didn’t drop a set during the fortnight, easing past Djokovic 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(3) in the semi-finals before routing Federer 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 in the championship match.

“The most amazing thing obviously is the guy comes in, three-time champion, and that was probably from start to finish his most dominant performance,” said Brad Gilbert to in 2012. “It just kind of had that feeling they’re just watching it from afar, that nobody had a shot the way he was playing at the moment.”


Having suffered his first defeat to at Roland Garros the previous year at the hands of Soderling, Nadal gained revenge by winning back the trophy with a dominant 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win against him in the final. Once again, the Spaniard won the Coupes des Mousquetaires without dropping a set during the tournament.

“I think that win, that final against Soderling, sort of got his career back on track,” said three-time Roland Garros champion Mats Wilander to in 2012. “It was the match that made him believe that he’s not done and it transformed his game.”

By winning his sixth title in Paris, Nadal tied Borg’s record for most singles titles at this event. His path was less straightforward than in previous years, though. He was down two-sets-to-one in his opening round against John Isner before fighting back to win in five sets, then outlasted an inspired Federer in the final to score a 7-5, 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-1 victory.

“Nadal ensures his opponents have to deal with a variety of spins, and his margin for error in these long rallies is incomprehensible,” explained 1999 Roland Garros champion Andre Agassi to in 2012. “He hits close to the lines to move his opponent around the court. He strikes his forehand so he puts it above his opponent’s shoulder and Nadal is consistently great in defence.

“That is why Nadal is so tricky to beat in five sets, especially at Roland Garros. He is like a boxer who constantly jabs. It totally wears an opponent down.”

In a final that ended on Monday due to rain, Nadal beat Djokovic 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 and broke Borg’s record with his seventh Roland Garros title. He raised his level with each match, cruising past good friend Juan Monaco in the fourth round before easing past fellow countrymen Nicolas Almagro and David Ferrer in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, respectively.

“For me, it’s really an honour,” the Mallorcan said after his victory. “Borg is one of the greatest of history, so for me, the comparison with the great Bjorn is fantastic.”

In 2013, Nadal became the first player to win the same Grand Slam eight times. He was forced to rally from a set down in his first two rounds against Daniel Brands and Martin Klizan, then dug deep against Djokovic in the semi-finals to prevail 9-7 in the fifth set. Nadal saved his best for last to blitz Ferrer 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 in the final.

“The feeling on court was great. The match[es] against David are always difficult,” Nadal said. “I think the score is much easier than what the match was today. I think for moments I played great. I think a few moments in the match, I played at very, very high level.

“Eight times here is a lot. I never thought about that. But I will keep practising with the same passion and intensity to bring my tennis to the highest level possible.”


Nadal was pushed early on in his quarter-final against Ferrer before finding a new gear and cruising to 4-6, 6-4, 6-0, 6-1 win. He then equalled Pete Sampras’ mark of 14 Grand Slam titles when he sealed his ninth Roland Garros crown, putting him in a tie for second place on the all-time list, by once again defeating Djokovic 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 in a thrilling final

“Federer has 17 and I have [won] 14 Grand Slams,” said Nadal. “[Breaking the record], it’s not a source of motivation for me. I’ll follow my own path. Then when my career is over, we’ll count. I don’t really care that much about the records. I’ll still play with a lot of intensity. I’ll still be motivated.

“To me, winning is the result, the equivalent of lots of effort. Therefore, I feel more serene and personally I’m very satisfied.”

Nadal was unable to lift the Coupes des Mousquetaires in his previous two attempts, withdrawing before the third round in 2016 due to a wrist injury and falling to Djokovic in the 2015 quarter-finals. But it only made his 2017 triumph that much sweeter. He stormed to the title without dropping a set and dominated Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 in the championship match to earn his 10th Roland Garros crown, a feat referred to as “La Decima”.

“It’s been magical, all the things that have happened in this tournament for me. I’m so very happy for everything,” Nadal said. “Today was a very important day for me. There have been some tough moments [and] injuries, so it’s great to have big success like this again.”

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Nadal’s streak of 37 consecutive sets won ended in the quarter-finals against Diego Schwartzman, but he held off the Argentine to advance 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. In the final, Nadal defeated Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 to defend his crown and hold the Coupes des Mousquetaires for an 11th time.

“Coming back and to have the chance to win in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Rome, and now especially here, it’s very emotional for me,” Nadal said. “It was a very special moment and well received, that minute or two minutes of the crowd supporting me. That feeling in that moment was difficult to describe it. Very emotional for me.


Nadal and Federer had not met at Roland Garros since 2011, but they reunited on Court Philippe Chatrier in 2019 as the Spaniard scored a convincing 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory in the semi-finals. Nadal and Thiem faced off again in the final and the Spaniard triumphed once again with a breathtaking 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 performance. Nadal’s 12th title in Paris made him the first player in history to win 12 titles from an individual Grand Slam tournament, surpassing Margaret Court’s 11 titles at the Australian Open.

“What I have to do today is not think about if it’s incredible, because it’s a real thing for me. Even if it’s something I never dreamed about five, six, eight years ago, it’s happening today. And my goal is just try to keep going,” Nadal said. “It’s not about having excess ambition, but it’s about just trying to keep enjoying the things that I am doing.”


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