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Roddick Reveals ‘My Starbucks Match’

  • Posted: Jul 16, 2020

Roddick Reveals ‘My Starbucks Match’

American reflects in Facebook Live with International Tennis Hall of Fame

With 32 tour-level singles titles including the 2003 US Open, enabling him to finish that season as year-end No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, Andy Roddick was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2017. But for all of his accomplishments, the American acknowledged his most memorable match is a loss.

In a Facebook Live on Wednesday with the Hall of Fame, Roddick discussed a wide range of topics including his classic 2009 Wimbledon final with Roger Federer. He still gets asked about his five-set defeat more than a decade later and felt that the match, which gave Federer his 15th Grand Slam title and broke the all-time record held by Pete Sampras for most major singles championships, transcended tennis.

“The Royal Box, in terms of the calibre of former players who were there to witness that for Roger… I said that I felt like the guy who was trying to shoot Bambi that day,” Roddick joked. “You walk out and see Sampras is there, and you know he’s there because he and Roger both have 14 Grand Slam titles. You certainly feel the weight of the moment.

“If you’re lucky as a tennis player, you have that moment where you go into any Starbucks and people want to know more about it. That’s my Starbucks match. [Winning] the US Open is not [and] finishing No. 1 [in the FedEx ATP Rankings] is not.”

Roddick ended his pro career at the 2012 US Open on his 30th birthday. It seems like an early age to retire as the Big Three have all won Grand Slams well into their 30s. However, Roddick cited Federer and Nadal’s smart scheduling, which could have extended his career, as a trait he lacked.

“If I got hurt and they said you’re out for six weeks, I’d always try to get back after three or four weeks,” Roddick said. “If you look at the precedent that Roger and Rafa have set, where they’re only going to play when they’re ready and completely healthy, trying to peak at certain times… They put on their blinders and decide what’s best for them.

“I think I was probably a little bit too insecure in my own ability to sit on the sidelines and try to time it well. I think I would have been able to play a bit longer if I paced myself with training and been a bit smarter about scheduling.”

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But one skill he possessed, which many of his peers lacked, is a booming serve that won him plenty of free points. Roddick’s serve wasn’t a weapon for much of his junior career and it only morphed into the classic motion fans became familiar with due to blind luck. 

“I was practising in high school with Mardy Fish and he was drumming me. I was getting kind of heated, so I did this little half-motion and the serve went in. Then the next one went in pretty hard and that was it,” Roddick said. “It wasn’t intentional or like we were trying to get super creative or innovative. I was upset and it was a bit of a tantrum.”

His service motion played a key role in racking up the 612 tour-level wins that helped spark his Hall of Fame induction. Although he was disappointed that this year’s ceremony honouring 2001 Wimbledon Goran Ivanisevic and WTA star Conchita Martinez was moved to next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he’s excited for them to experience the same joy that he did during his induction weekend.

“When you retire, everyone in your tennis orbit goes into their next thing, whether it’s family or some of them coming back to the Tour,” Roddick said. “Having an excuse to get everyone back together, having beers and playing ping-pong the night before with everyone who helped you along the way, is probably one of my favourite memories.”

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Federer Snapped Nadal's 81-Match Clay Streak, But Rafa Got His Revenge…

  • Posted: Jul 16, 2020

Federer Snapped Nadal’s 81-Match Clay Streak, But Rafa Got His Revenge…

Relive the 2007 and 2008 Hamburg finals between Federer and Nadal

Rafael Nadal won his first five clay-court battles against Roger Federer, with four of them coming in a championship match. That didn’t discourage the Swiss, though, and he’d get his revenge in a big way in the 2007 Hamburg final.

Nadal entered that championship match against Federer carrying an 81-match clay-court winning streak, the longest single-surface run in the Open Era. The Spaniard hadn’t lost on clay since April 2005 in Valencia against Igor Andreev.

“Winning 81 matches is an amazing streak,” Federer said after the final.

The Swiss had lost in straight sets the previous week in Rome against World No. 53 Filippo Volandri. But he found his best tennis to bring Nadal’s legendary run to an end, winning 2-6, 6-2, 6-0 to capture his record fourth Hamburg title.

“It’s great to play here again and win again,” Federer said. “I’ve fallen in love with this tournament.”

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In the semi-finals, Nadal had survived a scare against former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt 7-5 in the third set. The lefty appeared to put that behind him, looking sharp early against Federer. He was always a step ahead in the rallies, attacking relentlessly when given the opportunity and holding steady on defence until Federer beat himself with errors.

But Federer cleaned up his game in the next two sets and Nadal found few answers for the Swiss’ aggressive play.

“If I had to lose to anyone, Roger is the man,” Nadal said.

The final set marked the third time Nadal lost a tour-level set on clay 0-6. It has not happened in the 13 years since.

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Nadal didn’t get down on himself, defeating Federer in that year’s Roland Garros final. When he returned to Hamburg the following year, he had a chance to avenge his defeat in the final.

The lefty was tired after a three-hour, three-minute marathon against Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals and Federer started their Hamburg rematch quickly with two breaks in his first three return games for a 5-1 lead. Nadal never stopped fighting though, winning six consecutive games to sneak out the first set and eventually claim his first Hamburg title 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-3 across two hours and 52 minutes.

<a href=Rafael Nadal” />

“[It] was an important win for me,” Nadal said. “I was focused all the time. Roger had some important mistakes in the first set that helped me a lot. I started the match playing bad. It was tough for me. After yesterday [against Djokovic] it was tough in the beginning.

“But it’s not only the body. Mentally it is tough, too, because it was a lot of tensions yesterday, a lot of pressure. Today it was tough when I was coming on court. But later everything changed. For sure it’s important to beat the [World] No. 1.”

Federer was on a 41-match winning streak in Germany, which included a perfect 9-0 in finals.

“All in all it was alright. It wasn’t my best performance,” Federer said. “If you get broken so many times, there is always something you are a little bit unhappy about.”

Nadal carried that momentum against Federer by beating the Swiss again at Roland Garros and then defeating him for his first Wimbledon title in what is considered by many the greatest match in history.

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Surgery To Success: Murray’s Memorable 2019 Season

  • Posted: Jul 16, 2020

Surgery To Success: Murray’s Memorable 2019 Season

Brit claimed trophies in singles and doubles in 2019

Just five months after making his return from a career-saving second right hip surgery, Andy Murray finished his final ATP Tour event of 2019 in tears of joy at the European Open in Antwerp.

After making a series of doubles appearances to prepare for his singles comeback, the Brit arrived in the Belgian port city at No. 243 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. Fresh from a positive run of results during the Asian swing, Murray dropped just one set to reach his first singles semi-final of the year at the ATP 250.

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From there, the Dunblane native showcased his signature grit. Murray rallied from a set down in back-to-back matches against Ugo Humbert and Stan Wawrinka to capture his 46th tour-level singles crown. The victory completed a rollercoaster year for Murray, who nine months earlier had suggested the 2019 Australian Open might be the final tournament of his career in an emotional press conference.

“It means a lot. The past few years have been extremely difficult. Both me and Stan have had a lot of injury problems in the past couple of years. Amazing to be back playing against him in a final like that. I think it was a great match,” said Murray. “I didn’t expect to be in this position at all, so I’m very happy.”

<a href=Andy Murray holds the Antwerp 2019 trophy” />

Murray’s road to Antwerp success began in doubles at his most successful singles event: the Fever-Tree Championships in London. Competing in front of a partisan home crowd, the five-time singles champion at The Queen’s Club joined forces with Feliciano Lopez to gain match practice and a greater understanding of how his hip would react to the pressures of competing on the ATP Tour. The Brit immediately found success alongside the Spaniard, beating top seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in his comeback match.

“I expected to enjoy the match because I told myself I was going to regardless of what happened,” said Murray. “To feel as well as I did there — not perfect in terms of everything like my movement, but pain-free…I enjoyed it. I feel like I’m going to continue to progress.”

Throughout the week, Murray and Lopez continued to produce their best tennis to advance through the draw. The British-Spanish duo beat defending champions Henri Kontinen and John Peers in the semi-finals, before a victory against Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury in the final.

“I felt relaxed at the beginning of the week, but felt more nervous as it went on. I think my competitive instincts started kicking in,” said Murray.

<a href=Feliciano Lopez and Andy Murray hold the Queen’s Club 2019 doubles trophy” />

After a series of doubles appearances, Murray returned to the singles court during the North American hard-court season. The 32-year-old’s competitive instincts were clear to see, but he struggled to find his best level with losses in his opening matches in Cincinnati and Winston-Salem. Ahead of the upcoming Asian swing, Murray made the decision to compete at the Rafa Nadal Open By Sotheby’s, an ATP Challenger Tour event, to work on his game and gain confidence.

Following two victories in Mallorca, Murray began to rediscover his form during a three-week run in China. The three-time Grand Slam champion claimed four wins from seven matches, including a straight-sets victory against US Open semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini in Beijing.

The experience Murray gained in China — where his only losses came against Dominic Thiem, Fabio Fognini and Alex de Minaur — prepared him for his title run in Antwerp. At the ATP 250, the Brit’s perseverance was finally rewarded. Two-and-a-half years after lifting the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships trophy as World No. 1, Murray was back in the winners’ circle.

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Thomas Muster: Tragedy To Top Spot

  • Posted: Jul 16, 2020

Thomas Muster: Tragedy To Top Spot

The hard-working Austrian is one of the greatest clay-court players of all time

In the latest profile on the 26 players to rise to No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, looks back on the career of Thomas Muster. View Full List.

First week at No. 1: 12 February 1996
Total weeks at No. 1: 6

At World No. 1
Best known for his impressive balance off both wings and attritional game style, Muster overtook Andre Agassi to reach World No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time on 12 February 1996. The Austrian’s rise was largely built on a phenomenal clay-court record in 1995, when he captured the Roland Garros trophy and a further 10 titles on the dirt. The left-hander also defeated Pete Sampras en route to the ATP Masters 1000 Essen title, an indoor carpet event. “My No. 1 in 1996 was based on my 12 tournament wins in 1995… I don’t know how many people can say that, measurably, they have been No. 1 at something, the best in the world. I loved that moment,” said Muster. He held his World No. 1 ranking for just one week, before Pete Sampras climbed above him. After three weeks at No. 2, Muster began his second stint as the top-ranked player in the game following his fourth straight title run in Mexico City. The Austrian maintained his position at the top of the sport for five weeks and lifted his second consecutive Estoril trophy during that period.

Grand Slam Highlights
Five years on from a semi-final loss to eventual champion Andres Gomez in the 1990 Roland Garros semi-finals, Muster entered the clay-court Grand Slam championship with a 28-0 unbeaten record on clay. After dropping just one set en route to the quarter-finals, the Austrian was forced to recover from two-sets-to-one down against a 19-year-old Albert Costa to make his return to the last four in Paris. Following a straight-sets loss to Muster in the semi-finals, Yevgeny Kafelnikov stated that he felt ‘like a small moth against a big elephant’. In his only Grand Slam final, Muster lifted the Coupe des Mousquetaires with a dominant 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 triumph against 1989 champion Michael Chang. “To have a Slam in your pocket is very special. You can imagine that rock that falls off your shoulders when you actually win that match point… I enjoyed that moment. I was very emotional,” said Muster. He advanced to semi-finals at the Australian Open in 1989 and 1997, losing on both occasions to the eventual tournament winner. The Leibnitz native also made three quarter-final appearances in four years at the US Open, reaching the last eight in New York in 1993, 1994 and 1996.

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Nitto ATP Finals Highlights
Muster made four appearances at the Nitto ATP Finals between 1990 and 1997. On his tournament debut in Frankfurt, the 23-year-old defeated Gomez in three sets to finish his group with a 1-2 record. After losing each of his three matches in deciding sets in 1995, Muster came closest to moving out of the group stages in 1996. The Austrian overcame World No. 2 Chang in straight sets but, once again, finished with a 1-2 record after a three-set loss to Richard Krajicek. Muster made his last appearance at the elite eight-man event as an alternate in 1997.

Tour Highlights
After turning professional in 1985, Muster claimed five titles and established himself as a Top 20 player by the end of the 1988 ATP Tour season. In the following year, the 5’11” Austrian reached his first championship match of the season at the Miami Open presented by Itau, coming from two sets down to beat Yannick Noah. With a Top 10 ranking assured in the following week, Muster’s career was on the rise. But, in the hours after his semi-final victory in Miami, Muster was hit by a drunk driver while searching the inside of his car. The impact left the Austrian with severed tendons in his left knee and Muster flew back to Vienna for surgery. The 21-year-old was famously pictured hitting tennis balls in a special chair, with his left leg in a cast before making his comeback more than five months later at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. Muster soon returned to winning ways and was named ATP Comeback Player of the Year in 1990. “I was very lucky to survive that,” said Muster. “It could have been much worse… It was a terrible situation, but it was also a way for me to get grounded again, to focus more on what I wanted to do.”

Between May 1990 and July 1995, Muster won 24 consecutive tour-level finals on clay. During his best season on the ATP Tour in 1995, Muster claimed 65 victories from 67 clay-court matches, including 40 straight wins. The 40-match winning streak was the longest winning run on the surface since Bjorn Borg’s run of 46 straight victories between 1977-1979, leading to Muster being nicknamed ‘The King of Clay’. Muster captured 12 trophies during his 1995 campaign, an ATP Tour record he has shared with Roger Federer since 2004. Fittingly, the Austrian captured his 44th and final tour-level trophy in Miami in 1997, eight years after his career-threatening accident. Eleven years after his retirement at Roland Garros in 1999, Muster followed a number of ATP Challenger Tour appearances with a return to the ATP Tour at the 2010 Erste Bank Open in Vienna. “Many people will say, ‘What does the old fool want?,’” said Muster. The 43-year-old lost his opening match to Andreas Haider-Maurer, before committing to play at further ATP Tour events in Kitzbühel and Vienna in 2011. Muster lost in the opening round at both events to Philipp Kohlschreiber and Dominic Thiem, respectively.

Biggest Rivalries
Muster contested many rivalries during his career on the ATP Tour. Between 1990 and 1997, the Austrian met Sergi Bruguera on 15 occasions. Muster claimed 12 victories from 15 ATP Head2Head contests against the Spaniard and won each of their four meetings in finals. The left-hander also enjoyed a combined 20 matches against Sampras and Agassi. Muster managed just two victories from 11 ATPHead2Head contests against Sampras, but fared better against Agassi with four wins from nine ATPHead2Head encounters.

As the only Austrian to reach No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, Muster is Austria’s most successful player to date. In between the eras of Bjorn Borg and Rafael Nadal, the 1995 Roland Garros champion was labelled as his generation’s ‘King of Clay’, winning 40 of his 44 tour-level trophies on the dirt. He is considered one of the greatest clay-court players of all time. Muster was notoriously difficult to beat in finals, winning 81.5 per cent of his championship matches (44-10). It remains the greatest winning percentage of any player to have contested 15 or more tour-level finals. With 45 wins, Muster also holds the record for most Davis Cup victories by an Austrian player. In 1990, he guided his nation to the semi-finals, Austria’s best result in the tournament’s history. In 2020, at the inaugural ATP Cup in Australia, Muster also represented his country as Team Captain.

Overall Match Win-Loss Record: 625-273
Overall Titles/Finals Record: 44-10

Memorable Moment
After struggling with fatigue, dehydration and a lack of sugar in his blood in his 1995 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters semi-final victory against Andrea Gaudenzi, the current ATP Chairman, Muster returned to the court just 24 hours later to face Boris Becker in the final. Becker led by two sets and held two match points at 6/4 in a fourth-set tie-break. But with help from a double fault on the first opportunity, Muster won four straight points before cruising to a 4-6, 5-7, 6-1, 7-6(6), 6-0 victory after three hours and 16 minutes. “I don’t know how I won the match,” said Muster. “After what happened yesterday, I didn’t think I could be able to play today. I would like to thank the medical service that got me ready to play.”

Sampras on Muster
“You just have to listen to him out there. He sounds like a bulldog who’s chewing on your leg and will not stop chewing, no matter what.”

Muster on Muster
“I have so many things to tell. I hope I can one day have grandchildren and they will ask me… I would love to tell them those stories. I think they are fantastic and they have been part of my life, but you can learn so much out of these situations. I really enjoyed what I did. I will never regret anything I did and that decision to become a tennis professional was the best decision I have ever made. There is a wish, there is a dream and sometimes there is success. You have just got to believe in it.”

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Broadcaster/Journalist Graeme Agars
The enduring image of Thomas Muster will always be the image of him sitting in a specially made chair, his left leg in a cast, hitting balls on a practice court. The hard-hitting Austrian found himself in his predicament after being injured in a freak accident in April 1989, just hours after winning his semi-final in Key Biscayne, Florida.

Muster was hit by a drunk driver and immediately returned to Vienna for emergency surgery. Any hopes of a quick return were dashed when doctors found severed ligaments in his left knee, but the courageous Austrian defied the odds anyway and remarkably returned to competition after only five months on the sidelines.

Muster was a fierce competitor and reached his pinnacle in 1995 with victory at Roland Garros. After that he was named the ‘King of Clay’, as his amazing 65-2 record on clay in 1995 attests. That year he went on to win a record 12 titles for the season, a mark only equalled, but not surpassed by Roger Federer. His supreme fitness and heavy topspin game saw him a win a remarkable 44 of his 55 tour-level singles finals.

Not surprisingly, Muster was twice named the Austrian Sportsman of the Year and also earned the ATP Comeback Player of the Year award in 1990. Off the court, his interests were many and varied. He had a licence to fly helicopters, was an excellent drummer, dabbled in art and photography and had business forays in wine and fashion.

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