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Murray Wimbledon Lesson, 'Big 4' Racquet Draw Top New Fan Experience Prizes

  • Posted: Jul 06, 2020

Murray Wimbledon Lesson, ‘Big 4’ Racquet Draw Top New Fan Experience Prizes

Auctions include a lesson with Andy Murray at Wimbledon

Members of the ATP Coach Programme, in collaboration with the ATP, have announced a second round of fan experiences featuring top ATP players, in continued support of coaches affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initiative gives fans the opportunity to bid for ultimate tennis experiences with top ATP players and coaches through auctions and prize draws. Running 6-27 July 2020, the second round of experiences features a private coaching session with Andy Murray at Wimbledon, including two tickets to the men’s singles final and lunch at the members’ enclosure.

Private sessions are also available with ATP Players Grigor Dimitrov, Feliciano Lopez and Stan Wawrinka onsite at 2021 ATP Tour and Grand Slam events, as well as ATP coaches Severin Luthi, Carlos Moya, Toni Nadal, Magnus Norman and Dani Vallverdu. A frame featuring signed rackets from each of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal will also be available via prize draw.

Learn More About Dream Experiences

“There are some fantastic new experiences up for grabs that I hope fans will be excited by,” said Andy Murray, former World No.1. “I am personally very happy to be involved. So many areas of our sport have been affected throughout the Tour suspension, including coaches. It’s important we help each other where we can. I think everybody involved has done a great job in creating something unique for fans that also supports a worthy cause.”

Launched last month, the first round of bidding raised over USD $90,000 including a USD $19,000 winning bid for a US Open VIP Package and coaching session with Ivan Lendl. Funds raised will be allocated by the ATP Coaches Committee to support the members of the ATP Coach Programme, whose ability to work has been impacted by the ongoing pandemic. In addition, a part of proceeds will be donated to a global COVID-19 relief fund.

“It has been really exciting to see the response the initiative has received so far. It’s fair to say it has exceeded all our expectations and will go a long way to help coaches,” said Dani Vallverdu, ATP Coach. “I want to thank everyone for their generous contributions and look forward to fans enjoying the incredible experiences lined up in the second round.”

“I would like to commend all coaches, players and tournaments who are coming together to bring these experiences to life,” said Andrea Gaudenzi, ATP Chairman. “As a fan, to spend time on court with some of the biggest names in tennis and see tournaments in such a unique way will be inspiring.”

For more information on available experiences and merchandise or to donate to the initiative please click here.

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ATP Announces Adjustments To FedEx ATP Rankings Due To COVID-19

  • Posted: Jul 06, 2020

ATP Announces Adjustments To FedEx ATP Rankings Due To COVID-19

Rankings will now cover a period of 22 months (March 2019 – December 2020). 


The ATP has today announced how the revised FedEx ATP Rankings will be calculated once the Tour resumes. The Rankings, which reflect a player’s standing among the world’s best players and are used for tournament entry and seedings, are the lifeblood of professional tennis.

In anticipation of a return to competition in August, the Rankings, which traditionally operate on a “Best 18” results basis over 52 weeks, will now cover a period of 22 months (March 2019 – December 2020). The Rankings have been frozen since 16 March 2020, just days after the ATP Tour was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic..

The revised Rankings system aims to deliver the following key objectives:

• Provide flexibility & fairness to players across all levels in parallel with the condensed number of points available as part of the revised provisional 2020 calendar.
• Provide stability for players who cannot or prefer not to compete in 2020 due to health & safety.
• Provide a system that can adapt to further changes in the calendar if necessary.
• Reward players who perform well following the resumption of the Tour in 2020.
• Retain the principle of defending tournament points week by week in 2021, maintaining player mobility in the rankings.

BEST OF 2019 & 2020 RESULTS:
Among the key elements of the revised 22-month Ranking system are the following:

• A player’s ranking will be comprised of his “Best 18” results between March 2019 and December 2020.
• A player cannot count the same Tour-level tournament twice in his “Best 18” breakdown. For example, a player who played the Mutua Madrid Open in 2019 and plays Madrid again in 2020, will count the better of those two results.
• Tour-level tournament points added in 2020 that count in a player’s Ranking Breakdown will remain on a player’s ranking for 52 weeks, or until the event in question is played again in 2021, whichever comes first.

The temporary changes to the Rankings system have been made in consultation with the four Grand Slam tournaments and the ITF. Should the 2021 season be impacted by Covid-19, further adjustments to Rankings will be considered.

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FedEx ATP Rankings COVID-19 Adjustments FAQ

The revised FedEx ATP Rankings will determine the singles qualifiers to the 2020 Nitto ATP Finals. As per normal, points earned at the season finale (as an additional 19th event) in 2019 will not count towards a player’s qualification for the 2020 event, ensuring a level playing field for 2020 qualification.

In doubles, the 2020 FedEx ATP Doubles Team Rankings will continue to be used to determine the eight teams that make it to London.

A full FAQ on the revised FedEx ATP Rankings, including details related to the ATP Challenger Tour, is available here.

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FedEx ATP Rankings COVID-19 Adjustments FAQ

  • Posted: Jul 06, 2020

FedEx ATP Rankings COVID-19 Adjustments FAQ

ATP announces Rankings changes in response to revised calendar, COVID-19 pandemic

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, changes to the FedEx ATP Rankings have been made to preserve the principles of merit, fairness and mobility in an attempt to apply a similar approach to the normal ATP Rankings. The Rankings will be updated on the Monday after the first week of competition once the Tour resumes. This will be the first time the Rankings are released since 16 March, when they were frozen due to the suspension of the ATP Tour. Below is a list of questions and answers relating to the Rankings changes.

(Note: The term Tour-level events used in the FAQ includes Grand Slams and ATP Tour tournaments.)

Why make these changes now?
Due to the uncertainty of the calendar through 2020 as a result of COVID-19, points from the 16 March 2020 frozen Rankings will not drop in 2020 unless they are replaced by a better result. Additionally, this will provide stability to players who may not feel comfortable travelling and competing due to the pandemic.

How will players be affected by the Rankings changes?
For the remainder of 2020, no player will have fewer points than he currently has in his frozen ranking. But players can improve their points total by playing after the Tour’s resumption and achieving results that are strong enough to be included in their countable results (“Best 18”).   

When will the FedEx ATP Rankings be run for the first time since being frozen on 16 March?
The Rankings will be updated on the Monday after the first week of competition once the Tour resumes.

Which Ranking will be used for seeding when the Tour resumes?
The 16 March Rankings will be used for seeding for the first two (2) weeks of competition. Thereafter, players will be seeded based on the latest FedEx ATP Rankings. Based on a return to competition as the provisional calendar states, the US Open will use the first published Rankings (24 August).

How will 2020 events played after the Tour resumption count toward a player’s ranking?
Players can use the best result from 2019 or 2020 from the same Tour-level event (if played after the Tour resumption).  If a player’s 2019 result is better than his 2020 result, his 2020 result will not be included in his ranking breakdown.

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How will 2020 ATP Challenger Tour /ITF World Tennis Tour events played after the Tour resumption count toward a player’s ranking?
Any points obtained at ATP Challenger Tour/ITF World Tennis Tour events upon Tour resumption will be considered among a player’s ‘Best of Other Countable’ results. A result obtained in 2020 that is not better than his lowest ‘Best of Other Countable’ results will be included in the Non-Countable results on his ranking breakdown.

If a player has the same result from both the 2019 and 2020 Tour-level event, which year will be counted in his Ranking?
If a player earns the same result in both 2019 and 2020 at the same Tour-level event, he will keep his 2019 result and not count the 2020 result. An improved result in 2020 will be considered among his ‘Best of Other Countable’ results and will only improve a player’s points total if the 2020 result is better than his lowest ‘Best of Other Countable’ result.

What happens if a player earns the same or fewer points in 2020 than 2019 at the same Tour-level event?
The 2020 result will not count. The player will keep his 2019 result (which stays as a mandatory result if the event was a mandatory 2019 tournament). This ensures rankings integrity as a player cannot improve his ranking by losing early in the same round as 2019.

Can a player count 2019 points and 2020 points from the same Tour-level event in his ranking breakdown?
No, a player may only count each Tour-level event once.

How will points at the Tour level be replaced/dropped from the Tour resumption until end of 2020?
After the Tour resumption through the end of 2020, a player will replace Tour-level points from the same event only if his 2020 result is better than his 2019 result. If a player competes at an event in 2020 that he did not contest in 2019, points earned at that event must exceed the points of his lowest countable result to displace that lowest countable result from his ‘Best of Other Countable’ total.  

In 2021, points will drop based on their standard scheduled drop date when the Tour-level event is played.

How will qualifications be handled for the Nitto ATP Finals?
Historically, the FedEx ATP Rankings have served as the official determinant for singles qualifications into ATP’s season-ending event, and this will continue to be the case. Due to the Tour suspension, the FedEx ATP Race To London this year will not accurately reflect which players are likely to qualify. For that reason, ATP will not promote the Race this year. The Race to Milan will also not be promoted since it will follow a similar approach to the Nitto ATP Finals qualification.

The FedEx ATP Rankings run on 9 November will be used for Nitto ATP Finals singles qualification. The FedEx ATP Doubles Team Rankings, reflecting only results earned by teams in 2020 prior to 9 November, will be used for Nitto ATP Finals doubles qualification.

Will points from the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals be extended into 2021?
No. Points earned at the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals will drop 9 November, 2020 after the Rolex Paris Masters. As per existing ATP Tour rules, 2019 Nitto ATP Finals points will not count for qualification into the Nitto ATP Finals in 2020.

Why is the Nitto ATP Finals drop date not extended 52 weeks?
The Nitto ATP Finals is an extra event in a player’s Rankings breakdown and not part of the “Best 18” results. Points from the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals will drop as per its normal process on 9 November after the 2020 Rolex Paris Masters. This ensures that players who did not qualify for last year’s season finale have the same opportunity to qualify this year as do the players who competed in London in 2019.

Will drop dates be extended for events that took place prior to the Tour’s suspension? 
Provided that the calendar resumes as normal in 2021, drop dates for events played early in 2020 (6 January-9 March) will not change. Except for the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals, all other drop dates for events that were not played in 2020 will be extended for another 52 weeks.

How long will Tour events played after the Tour resumes stay on the Rankings?
2020 Tour events after resumption will stay on the Rankings for 52 weeks OR until the event is played again in 2021, whichever comes first. Any events played in 2021 will stay on for 52 weeks as standard.

How long will ATP Challenger/ITF World Tennis Tour events after Tour resumption stay on the Rankings?
ATP Challenger Tour/ITF World Tennis Tour events played after the Tour resumes will stay on the Rankings for 52 weeks.

Why are ATP Challenger Tour/ITF World Tennis Tour events being added differently than Tour-level events?
ATP Challenger Tour and ITF World Tennis Tour events are scheduled on a one-year basis and do not have consistent spots in the calendar. Therefore, all results from these events will be added to a player’s Rankings breakdown. However, results will only improve a player’s “Best 18” points total if better than a player’s lowest ‘Best of Other Countable’ result.

Will events played in 2020 after the suspension be considered mandatory?

Will mandatory events that were originally scheduled to drop during the Tour’s suspension be considered mandatory for rankings purposes?
All events that were considered mandatory on the 16 March Ranking will remain mandatory if they are not replaced by a player’s 2020 result.

How will zero-point ranking penalties given in 2019 be handled?
Only if a player plays the same event in 2020 will a player’s 2019 zero-point ranking penalty be removed.

What happens if a player plays the 2020 edition of a Tour-level event and did not play that same event in 2019?
The 2020 result will be considered part of the player’s ‘Best of Other Countable’ results on the player’s Rankings breakdown.

Why is the US Open doubles points breakdown the same as an ATP Masters 1000 points breakdown?
The Masters 1000 doubles points breakdown will be used at the 2020 US Open doubles based on a reduced 32-draw size (the same as a Masters 1000).   

How will entries for ATP Cup work?
The FedEx ATP Rankings run on 14 September 2020 will be used for the first entry deadline and the Rankings run on 16 November 2020 will be used for the second entry deadline.

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Resurfaced: Richard Krajicek… Remembering 1996 Wimbledon

  • Posted: Jul 06, 2020

Resurfaced: Richard Krajicek… Remembering 1996 Wimbledon

Twenty years ago, there were no holes in Richard Krajicek’s game as he lifted the 1996 Wimbledon trophy, a victory that liberated the giant Dutchman from his childhood and clearly defined the person he was and who he wanted to be.

Editor’s Note: But for the COVID-19 pandemic, Wimbledon would now be underway. During the next two weeks will look back on memorable matches and happenings at the grass-court Grand Slam. This story was originally published on 7 July 2016.

At the only grass-court tournament in continental Europe, the lawns are wet
and the tennis balls are low bouncing. A one-time happy hunting ground, Richard
Krajicek is far from positive. His spirits, and those of his coach, Rohan Goetzke,
have worsened progressively. Narrow wins over Jacco Eltingh and Hendrik Jan
Davids precede a 6-4, 7-5 loss to Paul Haarhuis. Goetzke is fuming.

“He put in a shocker,” recalls Goetzke, his Australian coach of nearly
six years. “He was hitting the ball okay, but he wasn’t confident.”

“I wasn’t motivated to play,” admits Krajicek. “During my career,
I battled myself as well as my opponent. There were times in practice when my
coach would be shaking his head. My attitude was bad, not even that – I wasn’t
trying, but I was getting too upset. I was too much of a perfectionist.”

Goetzke tells Krajicek, “There’s nothing wrong with your game. You serve
and return well. You’re a whinger!

“If you go on holiday, I’m gone. Wimbledon is the biggest tournament of
the year. You’re going to look back on your career and wonder where it went.
Do something!”

A holiday beckons.

“We had planned to go to Austria, for a sporting vacation,” remembers
his wife, Daphne Deckers, 20 years on. “Richard was always improving with
Rohan, although life as a professional tennis player is hugely stressful for
all parties.”

Krajicek takes time out. But he soon calls Goetzke, ready to work. They head
to London. “You can win this,” Goetzke tells Krajicek. “You can
go a long way. You need to enjoy the process, the ride.”

“We decided to train on hard courts, as I always struggled with rhythm,”
remembers Krajicek. “My game wasn’t too much rhythm, but the points were
so short that after a couple of days on the grass, I felt I was playing worse
and worse. Maybe I was serving and volleying good, but I had no timing. I was
reading this article that when Andre Agassi won Wimbledon in 1992, he spent
hardly any time on grass. It was all hard courts. He just wanted timing. I hit
a few times on hard court, only 20 minutes a day, then I kept having a good

Aged 24, Krajicek has already overcome two knee surgeries and he’s also been
out of action for five months without going under the knife. “My knee was
always a problem,” explains Krajicek. “It was part of my body. I was
told I was quite strong, but because I was always serve and volleying, and I
was tall I had more chance for injury. That was the downside, but the upside
was that I was able to play the way I did.”

With two first-round losses at The Championships – to decent grass-court players:
Darren Cahill in 1994 and to Bryan Shelton in 1995, Krajicek’s main goal is
to survive round one. Despite being No. 14 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, he
isn’t among the list of 16 seeds. But No. 2-ranked Thomas Muster is angered
by his seeding of seventh and withdraws due to a left thigh muscle injury that
he picked up at The Queen’s Club. The announcement comes through on 20 June,
following the Austrian’s 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 loss to Brett Steven at the Gerry Weber
Open in Halle. Krajicek moves into Muster’s slot. It’s three days before The
Championships begins.

Krajicek comes up against Steven on the ‘graveyard.’ Court No. 2.

“He wasn’t focused,” remembers Stanley Franker, who, at the time
was the Dutch Davis Cup captain. “He was trying so hard to lose the match.
I remember leaving the court, because it was so frustrating.”

“The third round was bad weather, windy and cold,” says Krajicek.
“I got back in my negativity, in my old ways for the first two sets. I
won the first set 7-6(5), then I lost 6-7(5).”

At 1-4 down in the third set, Krajicek is on the edge.

“Then I turned a switch in my head,” says Krajicek. “‘Okay,
let’s stop complaining and play,’ I told myself. It was probably my most important
match for the way I thought.”

“I returned to see him re-born,” says Franker, who stays to see Krajicek win 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2.

Goetzke recalls, “Afterwards, I asked, ‘You okay?’

“He said, ‘You don’t need to say anything, I’m good’. It was like going
back to his younger days…”

Krajicek first met Goetzke aged 16. On a four-week European tour in 1989,
they hit it off and Krajicek’s game continually developed in his training alongside
the likes of Paul Dogger and Eltingh.

“It wasn’t immediately apparent that he would make it, like some juniors”
says Goetzke. “Richard was competitive and wanted to win, but he got frustrated
easily. He learned to be a pro.”

“At the age of 10, he didn’t have big shots,” admits Franker. “But
he had a great game. He was a little lazy, but he worked on his attitude and
he responded well. He later shot up and was totally uncoordinated. But his body
developed. Rohan and Richard were a fantastic match.”

“He wanted to win and fight, and he could hang in there,” says Goetzke.
“But it cost a lot of energy and time. I recall coming down on him once
in practice, when he was playing with younger players, prior to going to the
1991 Stuttgart Indoors. I told him to ‘go back and apologise, otherwise we’re
done.’ It was a rollercoaster.”

Krajicek says, “Rohan always knew when to be tough with me and when to
take it easy, Strategically, he helped me improve as a player and into a happier

“I got tough on some players and I didn’t care who it was,” says
Franker, who helped to establish the standard for every Dutch player in the
1980s and 1990s. “If they saw my face, they knew they hard to work. You
had to be 100 per cent professional, otherwise you wouldn’t play for Holland.
You had to walk the walk and set an example.”

Peter Wessels is a product of the Dutch system. As one of the world’s
top juniors he is enlisted by Goetzke to practise with Krajicek, from his second-round
victory over Derrick Rostagno. “Peter was someone Richard knew,” says
Goetzke. “Someone he felt comfortable with, so it enabled him to relax
and it gave both of them a lift.

“At the start, we’d nearly gone back to a double-handed backhand, that’s
how bad it had been. Richard’s backhand had been a weakness, his lesser stroke.
But he served great, was good at the net and had good movement. In stopping
his bid to try to perfect his backhand, we worked on his strengths. It was then
tough to find a hole in his game.”

Krajicek and Wessels sessions are not too long, an hour or so a day. “I
remember him being pretty relaxed yet very focused and determined,” remembers
Wessels, who is now based in the United Arab Emirates. “In the past, they’d
practised serve accuracy by aiming on muesli bars placed in the service box.
These were muesli bars we both hated, but if one of us hit the bar the other
one was forced to eat it. I remember hitting the bar, but he never ate it…”

“To me, personally, he looked different on court compared to some other
tournaments where I’ve seen him play. In the training sessions, he was
a bit more positive than usual. Sometimes he could get down on himself or even
a bit cranky when things didn’t go his way, but I didn’t see that at all
during the tournament.

“It motivated me that he did so well. I had in my mind that it would be
a great story if two Dutchmen could win Wimbledon in the same year.”

It’s three years since Krajicek first played on Centre Court, when he
lost to defending champion Andre Agassi 7-5, 7-6(7), 7-6(8) in the 1993 fourth
round. For the past two days, it has been raining in London. Krajicek stayed
on top of Michael Stich, one of the sport’s most naturally talented players,
in a tough fourth-round victory by maintaining a really aggressive brand of
tennis. Today, Wednesday, 3 July, Krajicek is confident that he can overcome
Pete Sampras, the three-time champion, in a contest on the sport’s grandest
stage. The pair has met four times, but not since the Paris Indoors at the end
of 1994.

“I always played good against Pete,” admits Krajicek, who saves five
break points in a 12-minute third game. “I knew he was a great front runner.”
With rain interrupting the match at 2-2 in the first set, Sir Cliff Richard,
a member of the All England Club, is coaxed by chief executive Christopher Gorringe
to sing during a break in play of three hours and 40 minutes. A request for
one song, ‘Summer Holiday’, becomes an impromptu concert and his backing group,
the ‘Shadows’, feature Pam Shriver, Conchita Martinez, Gigi Fernandez, Virginia
Wade, and finally, to a big cheer, Martina Navratilova. The rain delay lasts
three hours and 40 minutes. Krajicek bides him time, “relaxing, only doing
things to help you feel good.

“Once I won that third game and we got to 4-4 and 5-5, I was surprised
how well he played. I was surprised how well he started. There was so much energy.
He felt really good on the court. It was a different Pete Sampras to any time
I played him. Because I’d stayed with him, saving all of those break point chances,
I felt that his energy level come down a bit. He knew I would be intimidated
a bit by Centre Court. If Pete had broken me in the third game, I think it would
have been totally different. I had a bit of luck, but from 4-4 we were equals.”

The second chapter lasts one hour and 37 minutes. The third passage, a further
51 minutes. With a two-sets-to-love lead and at 1-1 in the third set, just as
Krajicek strikes his 23rd ace, and, in spite of blue skies overhead, the players
are forced into the locker room. Krajicek and Sampras don’t return until the
next day. “The reason why we couldn’t play was because one of the ground
staff slipped under the covers, leaving the court exposed,” remembers Krajicek.
With physio Jan Naaktgeboren set to work on Krajicek’s increasingly sore shoulder,
the hotel and room service beckoned. “Play was cancelled pretty much straight

“So many times you see top players compete and they are struggling in
the beginning of a tournament, then an opponent makes a mistake or something
happens, then their fortunes change. In my brain, I hoped this wasn’t something
that would save Pete. Maybe, if we’d returned, the match might have changed.
Because I was in the flow and he was struggling. In the end, he had a night
to re-group with his coach and I had a night of thinking what might happen.”

Goetzke recalls, “Pete did not like to play Richard. You always felt in
the match with Pete, and it was a tall order to come back from two sets down.
Richard regrouped and carried the momentum into the following day.”

Go To Part II: Continue Reading…

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The Netcord That Saved Stich's Wimbledon Dream

  • Posted: Jul 06, 2020

The Netcord That Saved Stich’s Wimbledon Dream

The German speaks exclusively to about his memorable five-setter against Volkov

Nobody will ever take away Michael Stich’s 1991 Wimbledon crown. But Alexander Volkov nearly brought the German’s dream run to a halt in the fourth round.

“That was basically the deciding match for me to win Wimbledon,” Stich told

The sixth seed had an interesting first week at the All England Club, as he wasn’t able to finish his first-round win against Dan Goldie until Thursday due to rain. After beating Diego Nargiso and Omar Camporese in four sets each, the German knew Volkov could potentially be a tricky opponent.

“He was a tough player to play. He could have played terribly, but if he was on and he was feeling the ball good, he was tough to play on grass because he took the ball very early. He was not a great server and not a great volleyer,” Stich said. “He wasn’t great at any stroke in particular, but he had a very good all-court game if he was on. He played very unconventionally… if you didn’t play your best and he was playing well, it was that little fraction of one ball here, one point there that could have made the difference.”

ATP Heritage: Milestones. Records. Legends.

That was exactly the case in their Wimbledon battle on the original No. 2 court, known as the “Graveyard of Champions”. Volkov was up a break early in the fifth set, and Stich did not feel he was playing well.

“I had a break point against me to go down a double break,” Stich said. “I missed the first serve. I had a second serve and just thought, ‘What the hell?’ I just went for that second serve, I won that point and I won that game.”

Even so, Volkov took a 5-3 lead and served for the match. He was just centimetres from earning match point on his own racquet.

“I hit a forehand passing shot that hit the top of the tape and just went over his racquet. He was at the net, and it landed on the sideline,” Stich said. “Then I got the break and, I’m not sure since it’s almost 30 years ago now, but I think I didn’t lose a point afterwards. I won my service game, I broke him to love and then I served out to love again and won 7-5 in the fifth.”

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Stich won the match 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 to reach the quarter-finals. But if his passing shot hit the net a fraction lower or ricocheted just a bit wider, he very easily could have lost the match.

“As I was not happy with my performance, you get to that stage where you think, ‘Just go for it, what the heck.’ You’re not playing your best tennis anyway, you might just lose, so you [know you] might need that bit of luck to turn the tables,” Stich said. “You still always believe you can change the course of the match, even if you’re not happy with your own performance. But maybe it needs something like that netcord to make that happen.

“As everything happens in fractions of a second, especially on grass where you don’t have much time, you don’t have so much time to think about it… Things have to come together, you have to be very focussed and as always, you always need that piece of luck in sports to be successful in the end.”

Stich immediately focussed on avenging a Roland Garros semi-final defeat against Jim Courier in the last eight, but it didn’t hurt mentally that he’d escaped a tough battle against Volkov.

“Definitely in your subconsciousness it creates something like, ‘You should have been out, but you’re still here so just relax!’” Stich said. “When I was relaxed and I felt good about myself, then the timing was right, the timing was good, and things seemed to be easier for me.”

Stich beat Courier in straight sets, defeated Stefan Edberg in four despite not earning a break point, and then triumphed against countryman Boris Becker to claim his lone Grand Slam trophy. Defeating three of the top four players in the FedEx ATP Rankings from the quarter-finals on was an impressive feat for the German. But it was surviving against Volkov that allowed him the chance to do so.

“If you take the whole match, he probably should have won,” Stich said. “But then again, luck comes into play, and it just was not to be for him.”

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Changing Of The Guard: Federer Dethrones Childhood Idol Sampras

  • Posted: Jul 06, 2020

Changing Of The Guard: Federer Dethrones Childhood Idol Sampras

Teenage Swiss scores memorable first win on Centre Court in 2001

It always appeared to be a question of when, and not if, Roger Federer would dominate headlines with his results. But not even the Swiss could have anticipated that he would announce his arrival by defeating childhood idol Pete Sampras.

Their fourth-round clash at 2001 Wimbledon is now viewed as a passing of the torch. The 19-year-old Federer played the best match of his career to stun the seven-time Wimbledon champion 7-6(7), 5-7, 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-5, marking his first victory on Centre Court. Federer took the boys’ singles title at Wimbledon three years earlier, but hadn’t won a professional singles match at the tournament prior to the start of the fortnight.

“This match will give me as much confidence as I can get,” Federer said. “This is the biggest win of my life.”

The match was a logical result in some ways. Federer had produced a stronger start to the 2001 season than Sampras, winning his maiden ATP Tour title in Milan and scoring three wins over players inside the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings. Meanwhile, the American struggled to a 15-10 record and hadn’t won a tour-level crown since prevailing nearly 12 months earlier at the All England Club, but his track record at this event still made him a heavy favourite for the title.

When Sampras charged back to take the fourth set against Federer and held two break points at 4-4 in the final set, the Swiss teenager showed mental toughness he’d previously lacked in Grand Slams. Federer erased both chances with a volley winner and forehand winner before holding serve. It was Sampras who blinked first in the next game by hitting two unforced errors to trail 15/40.

When Federer cracked a down-the-line forehand return winner to end the match, the crowd leapt to their feet as Federer dropped to his knees. After shaking hands with Sampras, the look of disbelief on his face was accompanied by tears rolling down his cheeks.

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Natural Born Winner: Federer A Cut Above On Grass

“A lot of friends had told me, ‘I think you can beat him this year,’” Federer said. “I’d played a great year – better than him. I knew I had a chance. But it was not 100 per cent. I mean, he’s the man on grass.”

Sampras sat in stunned silence after suffering his earliest defeat at Wimbledon in 10 years. But while he gave Federer full credit for the victory, he refused to view the match as anything more significant than a single loss.

“It was his moment. It’s grass-court tennis. One minute you feel like you have it, the next minute you’re walking off the court,” Sampras said. “Federer played a great game. But there’s no reason to panic and think I can’t come back here and win.”

It took Federer more time to consistently show the level of tennis he displayed that day. He fell in the quarter-finals to Tim Henman and wouldn’t reach that stage of a Grand Slam for another two years before capturing his first major championship at 2003 Wimbledon.

Meanwhile, Sampras’ most shocking Wimbledon loss came the following year as he exited in the second round to Swiss lucky loser George Bastl. The American regrouped to win the US Open three months later in the final event of his career.

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