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Gilles Simon On Competing Against The Big Four: ‘It Was A Nightmare’

  • Posted: Jun 23, 2020

Gilles Simon On Competing Against The Big Four: ‘It Was A Nightmare’

Former World No. 6 pens a blog about having to compete against the Big Four

I’m 35 years old, and I have won 14 ATP Tour titles and reached World No. 6. For a long time, the biggest problem my generation faced was that the top four players — Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray — were too good.

For someone like me who was in the middle of these guys’ careers, it was a nightmare.

It was a chance to play with the best players and to compete against them. Every win I earned against them was a huge performance in itself, having a chance to test yourself against guys who are some of the best players ever. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic might be the three best players of all-time at one point. I’m lucky that I’ve been part of it.

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But the problem is when you’re a tennis player, you want to win. You want to win big tournaments. However, with Rafa competing, for example, it’s complicated to win Roland Garros.

We had Juan Martin del Potro, who has won one Grand Slam. I’m pretty sure in another generation and without injuries, Del Potro could have won four, five or six Slams. With them around, he earned one and only captured one ATP Masters 1000. What’s amazing is he needed to save three championship points in the 2019 Indian Wells final to do it. Do you realise how good that guy is?

Simon’s ATP Head2Head Record vs. The Big Four

 Roger Federer  2-7
 Rafael Nadal  1-8
 Novak Djokovic  1-11
 Andy Murray  2-16

I feel like we need young players to play great tennis. Tennis was suffering for too long, as the new generations have not been good enough to beat the Big Four. It’s not saying anything bad about guys like Milos Raonic or Kei Nishikori or anyone from their generation, because those guys are super good. It just shows how good Roger, Rafa, Novak and Andy were.

Even being 20 years older than some of the new players, they still beat them because they are just martians. It’s crazy to be that good for that long every single tournament, every single week.

At first, I was kind of happy that the new players were not able to beat them, because I’ve had that feeling my whole career. Of course we want to win a Grand Slam. Maybe it sounds like an excuse, but with these guys it was impossible.

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However, because the Big Four are getting older, they have to play a bit less, so there is a bit more of an opening. It’s great to see new players starting to come through.

Now I’m happy if the young guys can finally beat them. We need that for the sport. I think this new generation of players, many of whom are under 23 years old, they play super good. They will lead the sport in the future and I’m really happy to see that.

I think especially this most recent generation of players is really attractive. There are players with many different styles, and different personalities, too. You take guys like Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime, then you have the young American guys who are a very good generation of players. Stefanos Tsitsipas can have an amazing game, Sascha Zverev too.

I feel it’s a great generation in terms of personality. Guys like Felix, Karen Khachanov, Daniil Medvedev. They are not just good players, but they are super nice guys and very good people. That’s going to help them. They are bringing a lot of variety to the court.

We need that because Novak, Rafa and Roger were leading the sport forever. At some point, they’re going to stop.

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Why Nadal Is The Game's Best Pressure Player

  • Posted: Jun 23, 2020

Why Nadal Is The Game’s Best Pressure Player

Spaniard finished top of 2019 Under Pressure LEADERBOARD

It’s quite difficult for coaches to simulate pressure on the practice court for their players.

The following drill goes a long way to achieving just that, zeroing in on the “crunch time” moments that matter most to the end result.

  • Start your service game down break point at 30/40
  • Similarly, begin your return game at 30/40 where you have the opportunity to break on the very first point
  • Play a tie-break at six games all if you get there
  • Make the match a one-set shootout, mirroring the pressure of a third set

What should you call this drill? How about “Rafa’s Under Pressure Drill”, as Rafael Nadal was the leading player in 2019 on the Infosys Under Pressure LEADERBOARD with a 253.1 rating. The index features the following four metrics, which are all included in the drill above:

  1. Break Points Converted
  2. Break Points Saved
  3. Tie-Breaks Won
  4. Deciding Sets Won

What’s interesting is that Nadal didn’t finish first in any of the four categories in 2019. However, once accumulated into one index, his overall performance in pressure situations rose to the top.

2019 Under Pressure LEADERBOARD

Rank Player Rating
1 Rafael Nadal 253.1
2 Roger Federer 244.8
3 Dominic Thiem 242.8
4 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 238.7
5 Guido Pella 236.3
6 Novak Djokovic 234.5
7 Nick Kyrgios 233.9
8 Cristian Garin 233.6
9 Felix Auger-Aliassime 232.1
10 Fabio Fognini 226.8

Nadal finished second in the index in 2018 to Kei Nishikori and was 10th best in 2017 when Federer finished first. The only other year he led the Under Pressure list was in 2010 with a 252.0 rating.

Break Points Converted
Nadal went 53-7 at ATP Tour and Grand Slam events in 2019 and won 45.0 per cent (250/556) of break point opportunities. The three tournaments where he impressively converted more break points than he lost were:

Event Win %
Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters 57.6% (19/33)
BNP Paribas Open 56.0% (14/25)
Roland Garros 53.0% (44/83)

Break Points Saved
Nadal impressively saved 68.4 per cent (158/231) of break points last season at ATP Tour and Grand Slam events, with the following three events being the most impressive.

Event Win %
Laver Cup 89% (8/9)
Internazionali BNL d’Italia 87% (13/15)
Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell 77% (17/22)

Tie-Breaks Won
Nadal is placed 12th best overall in his career with tie-breaks won at 60.8 per cent (243/400). He was at an almost identical mark in 2019, winning 60.9 per cent of tie-breaks, which placed him in 15th position on the ATP Tour last season.

Deciding Sets Won
Nadal has won 68.9 per cent of deciding sets in his career, which is the third-best success rate on the ATP Tour. That elevated to 75.0 per cent in 2019, which was also third-best last season.

As coaches worldwide know all too well, any chance to simulate the pressure of a match in practice is welcome. These four specific areas all coming together into one pressure-packed practice drill provide a unique insight into how Nadal thrives in the crucible moments of matches that have defined his career.

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Djokovic, 3 Other Players Test Positive For COVID-19

  • Posted: Jun 23, 2020

Djokovic, 3 Other Players Test Positive For COVID-19

Coric, Dimitrov and Troicki also test positive

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is among four players who have tested positive for COVID-19 following their participation in the Adria Tour, an exhibition series.

Djokovic confirmed today that he and his wife Jelena had tested positive for the virus. Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki, who also played in the series, which has made stops in Belgrade, Serbia, and Zadar, Croatia, have also tested positive.  

Djokovic said in a statement: “We organised the tournament at the moment when the virus has weakened, believing that the conditions for hosting the tour had been met… I am extremely sorry for each individual case of infection. I hope that it will not complicate anyone’s health situation and that everyone will be fine.”

Djokovic said that he would self-isolate for the next 14 days and that he would have another test in five days.

The ATP wishes a complete and quick recovery for the ATP players and members of their staff who tested positive for COVID-19 following involvement in the Adria Tour exhibition tournament. The ATP continues to urge strict adherence to responsible social distancing and health and safety guidelines to contain the spread of the virus.

In planning for the resumption of the ATP Tour season from 14 August, ATP and other stakeholders have made exhaustive plans to mitigate risks through a variety of precautions and protocols to be implemented at ATP events. We continue to plan and adjust these precautions and protocols according to latest medical information and prioritise safety in assessing every decision.

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Andy Roddick's 180-Degree Turnaround In Eastbourne

  • Posted: Jun 23, 2020

Andy Roddick’s 180-Degree Turnaround In Eastbourne

The former World No. 1 earned a title for the 12th consecutive season when he triumphed at 2012 Eastbourne

Andy Roddick arrived at the 2012 Nature Valley International on a career-high six-match losing streak, with four of those defeats coming in straight sets. Trying to regain his match rhythm, the 29-year-old decided to play the ATP 250 event in Eastbourne.

That proved wise, as the American won his first ATP Tour title in 16 months.

“It’s great. I went from a six‑match losing streak to all of a sudden winning a tournament,” Roddick said. “It’s a 180‑degree turnaround.”

Roddick snapped his losing streak against countryman Sam Querrey, who retired during the first set of their match. The former World No. 1 then defeated Jeremy Chardy, Fabio Fognini and Steve Darcis to reach the final, where he played defending champion Andreas Seppi.

“I broke him in the first game and I said, ‘Wow, incredible, I broke Roddick straight away on grass,’” Seppi told “I was like, ‘It’s going to be a huge final [for me]’… After that break in the first game I got broken immediately and after that it was just difficult.”

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Roddick defeated Seppi 6-3, 6-2 to lift his 31st tour-level trophy. That marked the 12th consecutive season in which the American won a title. Roddick is one of only nine players to capture at least one crown in 12 straight years. The only other American to accomplish the feat was Jimmy Connors, who captured at least one trophy in 13 consecutive seasons from 1972-1984.

Most Consecutive Seasons With At Least One Title

 Player  # Of Consecutive Seasons
 Rafael Nadal (2004-20)  17
 Novak Djokovic (2006-20)  15
 Roger Federer (2001-15)  15
 Ivan Lendl (1980-93)  14
 Jimmy Connors (1972-84)  13
 Andy Murray (2006-17)  12
 Andy Roddick (2001-12)  12
 Boris Becker (1985-96)  12
 Stefan Edberg (1984-95)  12

The championship also marked Roddick’s 600th tour-level match win.

“When you do something [only so many] people have done in the history of the game, it’s two things: It makes you call into the fact that you are probably older than you want to be at this point, and secondly, it’s a lot of wins,” Roddick said. “It’s a lot of matches. It’s a humbling thing.”

Despite arriving on a losing skid, Roddick found some vintage form, earning 16 service breaks in less than 10 sets.

“I felt like I returned really well this week. It turns quickly,” Roddick said. “I always say that to people ‑ I’m not sure how much they believe me ‑ but you’re never playing as badly as you think, and you’re probably never playing as good as you think, too.”

Roddick won his final ATP Tour title one month later in Atlanta. At the 2012 US Open, he announced his retirement. Roddick finished his career with a 612-213 record and 32 tour-level trophies.

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