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Blooper Sends Murray Into Hysterics: 'That's A Proper Helicopter!'

  • Posted: Jul 07, 2020

Blooper Sends Murray Into Hysterics: ‘That’s A Proper Helicopter!’

Former World No. 1 Murray evaluates amateur tennis videos

Andy Murray is used to having all eyes on him as he competes on the ATP Tour. But the former World No. 1 recently swapped roles for SPORTbible, analysing amateur tennis videos. It’s safe to say he didn’t expect a racquet to be flung over a fence.

“I like that, taking the return nice and early. A bit of doubles here,” Murray said of one video, before abruptly bursting into laughter. One of the players missed a sitting volley on top of the net, and proceeded to chuck his racquet. “Okay, that is a proper helicopter out of the court there and I think well-deserved.”

One of the videos showed a young player competing on a small court, working her way to net to finish the point.

“I loved playing short tennis when I was younger. Nice volleys, good footwork. It’s pretty rare you see young kids playing up at the net,” Murray said. “That’s a nice volley to finish with. Love a bit of short tennis and nice to see the youngster up at the net there.”

There were two lefties featured, both players hitting trick shots. ATP Champions Tour star Mansour Bahrami is not a lefty, but the videos reminded Murray of him.

“If you’ve not watched any videos of him, I mean, he’s brilliant,” Murray said. “[He’s] so entertaining. Really, really good.”

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Nadal & Del Potro's Wimbledon Battle: 'Rafa Is Rafa'

  • Posted: Jul 07, 2020

Nadal & Del Potro’s Wimbledon Battle: ‘Rafa Is Rafa’

Nadal needed almost five hours to battle past Del Potro in the 2018 quarter-finals

Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro are known for their courage on court. Both men would need it in what turned into a heavyweight showdown in the 2018 Wimbledon semi-finals.

The always-motivated Nadal was hungry for a breakthrough at the All England Club that year, having failed to reach the quarter-finals since 2011. The Spaniard had only earned a 7-5 record in his five most recent appearances at SW19.

But Nadal carried plenty of momentum into the grass-court major. He was the second seed behind Roger Federer, but Nadal was the No. 1 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings. The lefty was also fresh off his 11th Roland Garros title.

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Del Potro was finally back in top form after three left wrist surgeries in 2014 and 2015 kept him out of the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings until September 2016. The Argentine hadn’t made it past the third round at The Championships since 2013, but he only lost one set en route to the 2018 quarter-finals.

Nadal only dropped seven games against Del Potro in that year’s Roland Garros semi-finals, but the ‘Tower of Tandil’ pushed him to the brink at Wimbledon. Nadal needed four hours and 48 minutes to battle past Del Potro 7-5, 6-7(7), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

“I think I played really good tennis today, but Rafa is Rafa,” Del Potro said. “Sometimes you play your best tennis and it’s not enough to beat him.”

Nadal, Del Potro

It appeared Nadal was poised to take a two-set lead when he led 6/3 in the second-set tie-break, but that’s where the match turned.

Nadal double faulted at 6/5 to allow Del Potro back into the tie-break. The Argentine took full advantage at 8/7, his first set point, striking a cross-court forehand that hit the net cord and bounced too low for Nadal.

“Of course I was worried when I lost the second set,” Nadal said. “Winning 6/3 in the tie-break, it’s true that he played two great points with his serve, but then I made a very important mistake. That double fault was a big mistake. That’s how it is. Then the match changed. He played well. I believe I increased little bit the level in the fourth and the fifth. But the fifth, he was playing huge. It was so difficult to stop him.”

Both players often found themselves on the grass in an all-time great match, which transfixed spectators on-site as England’s footballers played Croatia in Moscow in the World Cup semi-finals. Nadal twisted and slid about from behind the baseline, once chasing a ball and ending up in the crowd, while Del Potro produce multiple diving volleys in the Centre Court classic.

Nadal ultimately advanced to his sixth Wimbledon semi-final, taking an 11-5 ATP Head2Head series lead against Del Potro. In the next round, Novak Djokovic outlasted Nadal 10-8 in a fifth set.

Del Potro’s loss against the legendary lefty was a tough one, but it showed the Argentine was flying as high as ever. The ‘Tower of Tandil’ climbed to a career-high World No. 3 the following month. At the US Open, Del Potro took a two-set lead against Nadal in the semi-finals before the Spaniard retired due to knee tendinitis. That set the Argentine into his second Grand Slam final, nine years on from triumphing at the 2009 US Open.

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Nadal Commits To Madrid

  • Posted: Jul 07, 2020

Nadal Commits To Madrid

Nadal is a five-time Madrid champion

Rafael Nadal on Tuesday committed to playing this September’s Mutua Madrid Open.

Tournament Director Feliciano Lopez made the announcement on Twitter, saying, “I talked to my friend @RafaelNadal and he has confirmed his participation in Madrid next September! We wait for you as always with open arms in the Magic Box!”

Nadal left no doubt, responding to Lopez’s tweet: “So it is Feli. See you in September in Madrid.”

The Spaniard holds the record for most titles at the tournament, triumphing in Madrid five times. Nadal is also the ATP Masters 1000 event’s youngest champion, lifting the trophy in 2005 when he was 19.

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The Mutua Madrid Open was not held as originally scheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is currently set to begin on 13 September at the Caja Magica.

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Flashback: Federer Saves 3 M.P. To Deny Cilic At Wimbledon

  • Posted: Jul 07, 2020

Flashback: Federer Saves 3 M.P. To Deny Cilic At Wimbledon

Swiss completes 10th comeback from two sets down

Bidding to lift a record-breaking eighth Wimbledon title after runner-up finishes in 2014 and 2015 to Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer cruised through to a quarter-final meeting against Marin Cilic at the All England Club in 2016.

Meeting Cilic for the first time since suffering a straight-sets loss to the Croat in the 2014 US Open semi-finals, Federer entered the pair’s seventh ATP Head2Head clash in peak form after straight-sets victories against Guido Pella, Marcus Willis, Daniel Evans and Steve Johnson.

After a semi-final run at the Fever-Tree Championships, Cilic also made his way onto Centre Court with confidence. The 2014 US Open champion had dropped just one set to reach his third straight quarter-final at SW19. In his two most recent campaigns at the All England Club, Cilic’s title hopes were ended by eventual champion Djokovic on both occasions.

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In the opening two sets, Cilic dictated proceedings on Centre Court. The World No. 13 won 87 per cent of first-serve points, landed 12 aces and saved all three break points he faced to establish a two-set advantage. In the third set, the 6’6” right-hander earned three consecutive break points at 3-3, 0/40, but could not find a way through the Swiss.

Boosted by that escape, Federer charged back into the match. The 17-time Grand Slam champion claimed three straight games to force a fourth set, where he survived three match points. On two of those points, Cilic was unable to find the court on second-serve returns.

“If we would go back to play again, I would try to be more aggressive on the chances when I had them in the fourth. Maybe there was a slight hesitation [during] some of them,” said Cilic.

After edging a gripping fourth-set tie-break, the seven-time champion completed a 6-7(4), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(9), 6-3 victory after three hours and 17 minutes. It was the 10th time in Federer’s career that he had won a match from two sets down.

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“Today was epic,” said Federer. “[I am] probably going to look back at this as being a great, great match that I played in my career, on Centre Court here at Wimbledon… I’m very, very happy.”

In another thrilling five-set clash, Federer’s title bid was ended in the semi-finals by Milos Raonic. The Swiss, who underwent arthroscopic left knee surgery earlier in the year, ended his 2016 season following the tournament.

One year later, Federer and Cilic met in the championship match at Wimbledon. On that occasion, Federer clinched the trophy with a 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 win to become the first player to win eight Gentlemen’s Singles titles at the All England Club.

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Resurfaced: Richard Krajicek… Remembering 1996 Wimbledon (Part 2)

  • Posted: Jul 07, 2020

Richard Krajicek… Remembering 1996 Wimbledon (Part 2)

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.

Go Back To Part I

Richard Krajicek returned the next day for a 22-minute installment to complete a 7-5,
7-6(3), 6-4 victory to end Pete Sampras’ 25-match winning streak at The Championships.

“I played unbelievable,” says Krajicek. “This is the only tournament
I’ve ever played, where every rain delay I played the same or even better than
the last one. I remember I played Michael Stich at Hamburg in 1992, but we went
off five times. Whoever was losing at each rain delay came back and reversed
the score. The momentum switched with the rain. It’s quite normal, something
happens during the rain delay.

“In 1996, at Wimbledon, nothing fazed me.”

“After I beat Pete, I still wasn’t thinking too much about winning the title. But once I saw that Goran
[Ivanisevic] lost, I thought, ‘Hey, this can maybe happen.’ Goran was a tough
opponent for me.”

“In the past, he did look too far ahead in the draw,” admits Rohan Goetzke.
“But this time, he adjusted his training and the tactics dependent on the

“Richard was very superstitious and we largely stayed at the hotel resting and relaxing,” said Deckers. “On the morning of match day, he had ordered pancake from room service and ate them while watching cartoons on the BBC,” says Deckers. “He focused solely on each point, game and set. He was very
analytical. He never over celebrated a point, feeling that you leave your celebration
for the end of the match.”

The pressure level has gone up a notch.

“It was a no-win situation, the whole pressure changed,” said Goetzke.
“I felt whoever he played, he would win it. This was it. He was fired up
and ready to get the job done.”

Says Krajicek, 20 years on, “I think from the moment I beat Stich, I had
the feeling that I wouldn’t be happy with any result. I beat Stich and I put
my hands up. I beat Sampras, normally I should be ecstatic but I just raised
my arms. Nothing more.

“I kept in my brain that I’d been in semi-finals before. A nice result,
but I don’t want a nice result. I want to go for it all. It can happen, a letdown.
I remember the 1993 Roland Garros semi-finals, when I played Jim Courier, a
great player, but there I was really happy with a semi-final, which I didn’t
expect to reach. I wasn’t happy, I wanted more.

“I was the underdog when I played Stich and Pete, then I became the favourite
– particularly when MaliVai Washington beat Todd Martin,” said Krajicek,
who returned from his semi-final victory over Jason Stoltenberg on the old Court
No. 1, to watch the fifth set in his hotel room. “It suddenly totally turned

By improving his backhand return, rather than block returns Krajicek had become
able to strike passing shots. The other parts of his game were in place. By returning
better, he secured more breaks and it took less pressure off his serve, which
included 127 aces during The Championships’ fortnight.

Daphne Deckers had met Krajicek at a dinner party hosted by a Dutch skier two years

“Richard told me he was the World No. 8,” remembers Deckers. “I
had no idea. I was modelling and had just written my first book.

“He said, ‘Models don’t write books!’ [Deckers has now written 22 books.]

At the Conrad Hilton, a 20-minute drive from The Championships, Krajicek and
Deckers are scouring the hotel’s VHS collection in search of Braveheart, Mel
Gibson’s 1995 historical execution of the 13th century Scottish warrior, William
Wallace, who led the Scots in battle against the English during the reign of
King Edward I.

It resonated for Krajicek, the son of Czech immigrants and a fractured childhood,
driven by his father’s pursuit of making a champion.

“I had room service that night and because I’d watched Braveheart a few
months before, and really liked it, it was inspirational. I watched it in the
hotel, on a video that I rented downstairs. It wasn’t on demand.”

Superstition and routine dominated the Wimbledon fortnight. Krajicek had eaten pancakes for breakfast each day, barring the day off between the semi-final and final. “We realised it could be the
biggest moment of our lives,” says Deckers.

“On the morning of the final we watched one particular scene from Braveheart again,” says Krajicek.
“I watched the speech before the Scots battled the English in Stirling…

‘Sons of Scotland, I am William Wallace.’

‘William Wallace is seven-feet tall,’ says a young solider.

‘Yes, I’ve heard. Kills men by the hundreds, and if he were here he’d consume
the English with fireballs from his eyes and bolts of lightning from his arse.
I AM William Wallace. And I see a whole army of my countrymen here in defiance
of tyranny. You have come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What would
you do without freedom? Will you fight?’

‘Fight?’ says an older soldier. ‘Against that? No, we will run; and we will

‘Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you’ll live — at least a while. And dying
in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days
from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and
tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!’

‘Alba gu bra! [Scotland forever!]’

“Then I was ready to go,” recalls Krajicek, who headed out to the
All England Club at 10:30 a.m.

Krajicek meets Wessels, who has lost to Ivan Ljubicic in the junior semi-finals,
for a one-hour hit. Wessels has a flight home, immediately afterwards. He won’t
get home to Amsterdam until the third set of the final.

“I was quite relaxed, as much as I could be,” recalls Krajicek. “It
was my first Grand Slam final and I knew the opportunity to play in the Wimbledon final against someone outside the Top
10, as Mal was, might not happen again. I think it was the first match we played.

“After lunch, Rohan said in general, especially because it was on grass,
‘Play your game, be aggressive and come in. But watch out if you come in on
his backhand, because he likes to hit a crosscourt pass or into the body. Enjoy
it, it will be a great experience. Go and beat him.'”

Deckers vividly recalls, “Following a quarter-final loss [to Yevgeny Kafelnikov] at Roland Garros the month before, I woke to tell Richard that ‘I’d dreamed
you will win Wimbledon.’ He didn’t believe me. It has never happened to me before.”

It’s 2:03 p.m.

As Referee Alan Mills ushers Krajicek and Washington to the net to pose for
photographs, Melissa Johnson, a 23-year-old design graduate from Manchester
Polytechnic, working as waitress at a pizza stall within the grounds, jumps
over the two-foot high wall in a mini pinny and streaks across Centre Court,
as the Duke and Duchess of Kent watch on from the Royal Box.

She spends the rest of the final in police custody.

“The streaker broke the tension,” says Krajicek. “There was
still a bit of tension afterwards, but it dissipated.” For Deckers, she
was a bundle of nerves. “I was really, really nervous. He had experienced
so much pain throughout his career – knees, elbow and shoulder. “

“My rhythm on my serve was good, but I found it difficult to return Mal’s
serve,” said Krajicek. “I wasn’t thrown off, because I knew it was
going to happen, but I had played a few serve and volley players, which gave
me a target. But now, against Mal, it was different. He was staying back. I
was returning a bit less, especially in the second set, where I was lucky to
get the break. But I was serving very well until 4-1, double break in the third
set. I suddenly realised I could win Wimbledon and got pretty nervous. I straight away dropped my serve for the first time in the match, but after that game I calmed down and finished the match with a good service game to break.”

It’s 6:06 p.m.

Game. Set. Match. Championship, Krajicek. 6-3, 6-4, 6-3. After two rain delays,
he drops to his knees just as his childhood hero, Bjorn Borg, did in each of
his five successive victories between 1976 and 1980. After 94 protracted minutes,
he holds the trophy like a baby. The lid falls off.

“He was always very ambitious,” says Deckers, finally able to celebrate.
“Despite the pain and a difficult childhood, it was his Dad’s dream for
him to become a tennis player. Victory liberated him from his childhood and
helped him rebuild his relationship with his Dad. Victory changed everything.
He broke out of his shell, he was free of pressure and helped him to set him
sights on winning another Grand Slam. It ended the negativity of his childhood.”

In the locker room, there are hugs and tears. Goetzke told him, “No one can
take this away from you. You’ve proved you can do it!” Franker asks, “‘Where
is the racquet you hit the last ball with?’ Krajicek signs the grip and it’s
later auctioned for charity in Suriname.” Krajicek gets a tux from
the old Court No. 2. “Daphne is always ensuring I am dressed smartly,”
he teases. “But she didn’t notice my bow tie was lopsided! It’s a funny
memory of the Wimbledon Ball.”

The prospect of going through The Hague in an open carriage was politely declined,
following Krajicek’s return to the Netherlands two months later, after the US

“I said, ‘No, I don’t want to do that’, says Krajicek. “But I did
say I wanted some interaction with kids to play tennis. I did a clinic in an
inner-city neighbourhood in The Hague and spoke with the kids and parents about
his little opportunities they had. It inspired me to set up the Richard Krajicek
Foundation six months later.

“We built and now work in 112 playgrounds, used for tennis, basketball and football, and give scholarships to kids to become
sports teachers,” says Deckers, who married Krajicek on 7 July 1999, exactly three years after the Wimbledon triumph. “I’ve
never watched a professional match prior to meeting Richard, but now we’re a
total tennis playing family.” Today, their son, Alec, is at the start of
his professional tennis journey, and their daughter, Emma, is heading to university. Both graduated on 7 July.

Krajicek chased his dream and proved through hard work that goals could be
realised. Winning Wimbledon was the making of him. As a keen and fierce competitor,
Krajicek was also smart. With great economy of movement, he never bulked up
but used his lean, rangy frame to maximise his talent. He became the standard-bearer
for every Dutch player, and while injuries continued to mount during the rest of his career, he has inspired
thousands in his Foundation’s work and, since 2004, as the tournament director of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.

Krajicek’s golden Wimbledon trophy now sits in his living room.

Unpolished after 20 years, but not unloved.

Go Back To Part I

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Annacone Reveals Differences Between Federer & Sampras' Grass Games

  • Posted: Jul 07, 2020

Annacone Reveals Differences Between Federer & Sampras’ Grass Games

Annacone has coached Federer, Sampras, Henman and Fritz among others

Paul Annacone has coached the two men who have won more Wimbledon titles than anyone else: Roger Federer (8) and Pete Sampras (7). According to the former World No. 12, there are differences between what makes them great on grass.

“Pete’s is obviously his serve. To me, he’s probably the best clutch server or serve-game holder that I’ve ever seen,” Annacone told “I think that Roger is a little bit different because his serve is unbelievable, but the rest of his grass-court game in terms of his ability to take the ball early and just rush you so well, that is very different from most people. I think that’s probably the difference. Roger rushes you from the back of the court by good court position and first-strike tennis. Pete overwhelms you with his serve.”

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While their games aren’t identical, Annacone believes Federer and Sampras share grass-court characteristics that helped them succeed.

“They were the two best grass-court players of their own eras and the grass courts played very differently in those times,” Annacone said. “Ultimately, they were incredibly confident and clear in big moments under pressure. In grass-court tennis, when you have such little time to adjust, both players were really good at thinking on their feet, and they ultimately trusted their games in the big moments.”

<a href=Pete Sampras, Paul Annacone” />

During the 1990s when Sampras dominated at Wimbledon, there was far more serve and volleying on grass. However, Annacone says grass-court tennis today revolves around the serve and first strike or return and first strike.

“You better be good from the get-go and be able to really set your tone about what your game plan and style is very early,” Annacone said. “Both of those guys were amazing at that.”

In recent years, players have been able to successfully adapt their games to grass. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who is not best known for his serve or first-strike tennis, has won five of the past 10 Wimbledon titles.

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“You can play your own style on all the different surfaces and you couldn’t do that years ago with the same kind of success,” Annacone said. “Back in the day when Pete was doing it, it was more bang-bang tennis, and so I think things change and the evolution happens, but the best players learn to adapt.”

Would Federer dominate on grass during Sampras’ era and vice versa? According to Annacone, it’s not so much about the era, but the player.

“I don’t really like to compare eras, because I just think the great players are going to figure it out,” Annacone said. “The tennis has changed. I just think that great players figure it out, they know what to do, and they would’ve adapted to different circumstances if they were in that era.”

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