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Nadal, Federer Give Graduates Secrets To Success

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2020

Nadal, Federer Give Graduates Secrets To Success

Legendary rivals help Rafa Nadal International School students celebrate graduation

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer sprung a special surprise on 34 Rafa Nadal International School students at their graduation Tuesday. The superstars imparted life lessons the kids won’t soon forget, with Federer revealing how he feels the legendary rivals have stood apart from the rest of the ATP Tour.

“Never forget to have fun. I think that’s the most important and that’s what has separated maybe Rafa and myself, that we never lost our passion for what we are doing every single day,” Federer told the students. “There are going to be rainy days, it’s going to be tough [some] days, but there is always a silver lining. There is always going to be the sun that’s going to come back around. Just make sure you keep on working really hard.”

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal
Photo Credit: Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar
Nadal complimented the students’ efforts during these tough times, and urged them to pursue their dreams.

“We’re very proud of you at the Academy. I would like to thank all the parents for the trust they have placed in us, particularly in the times we are going through. We have tried to meet expectations, we have tried to do things as well as possible given everything that is occurring,” Nadal said. “We have been through very difficult and complicated times. I hope it has been a period of learning for all of you. Life, most of the time, is not easy. Hopefully this period of time has helped you to gain strength and experience for the challenges you may face in the future.

“We can learn from all of this that we need to be surrounded by good people, those who give us positive things so that life is more positive. It is vital to make the right decisions at key times in our lives.”

ATP Heritage: Milestones. Records. Legends.

Federer, who connected to the ceremony by video, wished the students well no matter where their lives lead, on or off the court.

“I’m sure you had a great learning experience at the Academy in school. But also away [from the classroom], I hope you learned from Rafa. He is a champion in so many ways. He is very humble,” Federer said. “Always remember to be kind. Remember to be kind to others. You are only as strong as your team and I hope you go on and have a successful and a wonderful career in whatever you are doing, and when you look back at these days in the Academy, [you remember them] as some of the best days of your life.”

The Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar, where the Grade 12 students train on court, set up its facilities to allow social distancing at the graduation ceremony. The event included a minute of silence in the memory of COVID-19 victims.

Former WTA World No. 1 Maria Sharapova also sent the students a video message before the end of the ceremony, when Nadal helped award the students their diplomas.

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Cilic, Croatian Tennis Stars Swap Tennis For Football To Help Kids

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2020

Cilic, Croatian Tennis Stars Swap Tennis For Football To Help Kids

Other participants included Coric, Dodig, Mektic and Pavic

Last June, the Marin Cilic Foundation organised Game Set Croatia to raise funds to build a multi-functional sports playground for children from Tordinci Elementary School, which had neither an indoor gymnasium nor an outdoor playground.

On Saturday, several Croatian tennis stars returned to the school to join 120 of its schoolchildren for a football match on the playground constructed with those funds. Cilic, Borna Coric, Ivan Dodig, Nikola Mektic, Mate Pavic, Franko Skugor, Ana Konjuh and Donna Vekic were among the players in attendance.

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“I had a great time with the kids and I think my fellow tennis players feel the same,” Cilic said. “It was fun to swap out tennis for some football.” 

Mate Pavic, Borna Coric
Mate Pavic and Borna Coric enjoy playing football with schoolchildren at Tordinci Elementary School. Photo Credit: Zlatko Mesic.
This playground was the first funded by the Marin Cilic Foundation. The Croatian and his foundation’s team plan to continue to work on similar projects. The Marin Cilic Foundation’s core beliefs are that every child has access to sport and play facilities.

“I hope this new playground will provide healthy, fun and wonderful memories for the kids from this area,” Cilic said. “Hopefully many of them will discover their love for sport here.”

Since its founding, the Marin Cilic Foundation has impacted more than 1,000 children through its projects. It has awarded 37 scholarships to talented young athletes and classical musicians, provided funding for the renovation of four school laboratories in Croatia, and helped organise a free annual tennis camp for children in the area of Vukovar.

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Flashback: Before Federer Beat Sampras, Hewitt Defeated Federer

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2020

Flashback: Before Federer Beat Sampras, Hewitt Defeated Federer

Find out how both men enjoyed big breakthroughs later in 2001

The 2001 ‘s-Hertogenbosch semi-final between Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt was a glimpse of the future. 

Hewitt was already entrenched in the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings and fresh off a triumph at Queen’s Club. Nineteen-year-old Federer, six months younger than the 20-year-old Aussie, won his first ATP Tour title earlier that year in Milan. That day was the pair’s fifth of 27 ATP Head2Head meetings, and it would be the most lopsided in Hewitt’s favour. The Australian only needed 75 minutes to dispatch Federer 6-4, 6-2.

“I’ve come to know the grass-court surface very well,” Hewitt said that week.

ATP Heritage: Milestones. Records. Legends.

Federer has gone on to win 19 grass-court tour-level titles, including eight Wimbledon trophies. But that day in The Netherlands, Hewitt broke the Swiss’ serve five times, and Federer was only able to win 57 per cent of his first-serve points.

“I’m learning to play better and better on [the grass] all the time,” Hewitt said.

Federer has played 214 tour-level grass-court matches, and that first-serve winning percentage is his second-lowest. The Swiss only won 45 per cent of his first-serve points in a straight-sets loss against Byron Black at 1999 Queen’s Club, Federer’s first ATP Tour event on grass.

Hewitt vs. Federer Stats – 2001 ‘s-Hertogenbosch

 Stat  Lleyton Hewitt  Roger Federer
 First-Serve Points Won  70%   57%
 Second-Serve Points Won  47%  35%
 Break Points Converted  5/8  2/6

Hewitt went on to lift the ‘s-Hertogenbosch trophy, defeating Guillermo Canas in the final. Although Nicolas Escude upset the Aussie in the fourth round at Wimbledon, Hewitt enjoyed the best season of his career. 

The 20-year-old won his first Grand Slam title at the 2001 US Open, triumphed at the Tennis Masters Cup, and reached World No. 1 for the first time. Hewitt won 80 matches that season, and he claimed the Wimbledon title the next year.

Federer was not put off by his loss in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. He earned the biggest win of his early career one week later at Wimbledon, where he upset Pete Sampras in the fourth round to snap the American’s 31-match winning streak at The Championships.

“This is my biggest win in my life,” Federer said. 

Although Hewitt’s victory against Federer in ‘s-Hertogenbosch wasn’t the most gripping of their rivalry, it was an early look at two future legends.

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Fognini On Fatherhood: 'It Is The Best Dream'

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2020

Fognini On Fatherhood: ‘It Is The Best Dream’

Off-court happiness has gone hand in hand with on-court success for the Italian

Fabio Fognini underwent arthroscopic surgery on both his ankles less than two weeks ago. But for the Italian, this is still one of the best moments of his life. In the past three years Fognini and his wife, former WTA professional Flavia Pennetta, have welcomed their first two children.

“It’s really nice. It’s the most beautiful thing that could happen in my life at the moment,” Fognini told ATP Uncovered presented by Peugeot. “It is the best dream probably for people when they get married.”

Their son, Federico, was born in May 2017, and their daughter, Farah, was born last December. It’s difficult to be away from home when he is competing on the ATP Tour, but Fognini has loved every minute of fatherhood.

“I think I’m unlucky and lucky, because of course when I’m home I enjoy [being with my family] as best I can. But when I’m away, I’m lucky, because Flavia told me that the first one started to be unstoppable, running everywhere,” Fognini said, cracking a laugh. “[He] started talking, he started to be jealous with the second one. It’s a tough [situation].

“I’m lucky because my wife was playing tennis, so she understands every situation that can happen during the tournament when you travel. We are happy. We are really happy.”

The Italian’s off-court happiness has gone hand in hand with on-court success. Last season was the best of Fognini’s career. At the 2019 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, he became the first Italian ATP Masters 1000 champion. 

“I dreamed for it for sure,” Fognini said. “Since when I was 14, I’ve lived really [close to] Monte Carlo. It’s just 40 minutes away. I will keep this moment [in my memory] for sure.”

ATP Heritage: Milestones. Records. Legends.

In June 2019, then 32, Fognini became the oldest player to crack the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time since 1973. He also became just the third Italian to break into the Top 10 (Matteo Berrettini joined him later in the season).

“I’m in the best period of my career. I won many matches and I try to keep pushing myself every week as much as I can,” Fognini said. “I stay competitive with the best guys on Tour, so until I don’t have energy to practise and to wake up with a different goal, I’m going to push myself.”

For now, Fognini, who has already revealed on social media signs of progress since his ankle surgeries, is focussing his time on family, much to Pennetta’s delight.

“For the moment, we cannot do anything. We just practise at home, play with the baby, clean the house,” Pennetta said of what they’ve been doing during the pandemic, before cracking a smile. “He’s really good. He helps me a lot. I’m really happy about that.”

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Nadal, Gasol Raise More Than €14m In Fight Against COVID-19

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2020

Nadal, Gasol Raise More Than €14m In Fight Against COVID-19

Spanish stars launched #NuestraMejorVictoria campaign in March

Mission accomplished. On 27 March, Rafael Nadal and Pau Gasol joined forces to launch the #NuestraMejorVictoria (Our Best Victory) campaign, which they hoped would encourage Spanish sport to donate money to the fight against COVID-19. In an initiative that formed part of the #CruzRojaResponde (Red Cross Responds) project, the goal was to raise €11m and help citizens who were in need during the pandemic.

Last Saturday, during an Instagram Live chat, Nadal and Gasol confirmed that the money raised exceeded €14m, far surpassing the goal they had set at the beginning of the initiative.

“Between us all, we have managed to do something important and beautiful,” said Nadal. “Not only the money raised, which exceeded €14m, but also the solidarity and teamwork shown during difficult times. What you and I did between us was light the flame and contribute our grain of sand. Thank you to all those who wanted to be part of this beautiful and important initiative”.

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As well as the whole of Spanish sport, the #NuestraMejorVictoria campaign enjoyed the support of other athletes — such as World No. 1 Novak Djokovic — who wanted to help during these complicated times.

“We value things when we can’t have them,” said Nadal. “From this crisis, what we should learn is not to get so annoyed or frustrated about things that are really relatively unimportant. Personally, I found it hard, we’ve been on pause for two and a half months. I was with my sister, my wife… For people who are still working at home on their computers I think it has been a little less difficult, because they killed at lot of time doing what they’re used to. In my case, it is different, moving from one place to another non-stop, travelling, and suddenly it was such a complete shutdown that I needed time to take it in.”

“I’m going through a process of recovery and rehabilitation, I didn’t have that hunger to play and compete,” said Gasol. “I was used to moving a lot, it gave me good times and bad.”

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Finally, Nadal and Gasol enjoyed a moment of fun when they remembered how they met, many years ago now, before going on to forge a great friendship.

“It was at a Nike event in Barcelona where we were judges,” said Gasol. “They were doing tricks and juggling, you were just starting out, a 16 or 17-year-old young gun. I remember that you were a very young boy. You were very quiet, very shy.”

”At the time, I was a nobody and you were the star that appeared on television. I was the little one,” said Nadal.

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Watch Nick Kyrgios' Stuttgart Tweeners, Screamer Past Federer

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2020

Watch Nick Kyrgios’ Stuttgart Tweeners, Screamer Past Federer

The Aussie has put on a show in his two MercedesCup appearances

Nick Kyrgios has only competed at Stuttgart’s MercedesCup twice, but he has certainly put on a show for the German fans.

The Aussie has hit several jaw-dropping tweeners at the ATP 250, stunning Matteo Berrettini, Maximilian Marterer and Feliciano Lopez.

But Kyrgios’ most memorable Stuttgart moment came in 2018, when he reached the semi-finals. He hit an incredible forehand passing shot against Roger Federer in their final-set tie-break, but the Swiss star rallied for a 6-7(2), 6-2, 7-6(5) victory. It was a critical match for Federer, who clinched a return to No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings by beating Kyrgios.

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Challenger At Home: Marcos Giron

  • Posted: Jun 09, 2020

Challenger At Home: Marcos Giron

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.

Marcos Giron talks about life with his girlfriend in San Diego, how an assault bike is keeping him in shape, the movie he can’t stop watching and why he’s itching to get back on tour. The 26-year-old American also answers questions from fans and is grilled with a quarantine edition of Rapid Fire…

Marcos Giron can taste it. No, we’re not talking about the grilled shrimp burrito from the Taco Stand in his native Los Angeles. Sitting at a career-high No. 102 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, Giron remains on the precipice of fulfilling one of his career ambitions. It’s right there for the 26-year-old. When the balls start flying once again, there is no doubt that Giron will be ready.

“Last year was a huge breakout year for me, starting outside the Top 300 and being able to go to No. 102,” said Giron. “I’m on the cusp of breaking through and playing more ATP Tour events. When the tour comes back, I’m going to be hungry to go. I’m in the prime of my career, I’ll be prepared and I’m positioned well.”

After entering the 2019 season outside the Top 300 of the FedEx ATP Rankings, the Southern California native found his best tennis in the 12 months to follow. His campaign was bookended by a pair of ATP Challenger Tour titles in Orlando and Houston and included a deep run at the BNP Paribas Open, where he scored his first Top 30 win over Alex de Minaur.

It was in the Houston Challenger final that Giron scored the comeback of the year, saving six match points to stun Ivo Karlovic, rallying from 1/6 down in the deciding tie-break. The victory would secure his spot in a fourth straight Grand Slam main draw at the 2020 Australian Open.

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Giron has been staying with his girlfriend in San Diego since March. Taking in the pristine weather and enjoying time with loved ones has taken priority over the past few months. The former UCLA standout admits that this experience has given him a new appreciation for the moments with those closest to him.

“I think it’s a good time to go back to the ones you love and spend time with them. As tennis players, you’re not always able to do that. To be able to appreciate what we have is important. With tennis, you’re always on the road and sleeping in a different bed.

“My goal is to be as prepared as possible for tennis to resume. It’s been involving a lot more running and using the assault bike, so I can improve my endurance and speed… I just miss the battle on tour. The highs are high and the lows can be low. Being able to have a hard-fought match and coming out on top is what I miss most.”

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