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Don't Call Andrey 'Jannik'! The Russians Take Over Tennis United

  • Posted: Jul 17, 2020

Don’t Call Andrey ‘Jannik’! The Russians Take Over Tennis United

Former World No. 1s Kafelnikov and Safin also join the show

Russians have taken the ATP Tour by storm over the past few years and three of the Top 15 players in the FedEx ATP Rankings — No. 5 Daniil Medvedev, No. 14 Andrey Rublev and No. 15 Karen Khachanov — are from the country. All three joined Russian WTA stars Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Daria Kasatkina on this week’s episode of Tennis United.

Perhaps the nicest part for the trio is that they are close friends. They’re certainly not afraid to joke around with one another.

“Andrey gets really, really angry if you call him Jannik because he looks like Jannik Sinner a little bit,” Medvedev said. “During this Australian Open he comes into the locker room and I said, ‘Hi Jannik, how are you?’ He got angry, he [went] away for 10 minutes, came back 10 minutes later, and goes, ‘You are Davydenko then!'”

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Medvedev is 24, Khachanov is 23 and Rublev is 22, so they have known each other since they were juniors.

“[I had] so many matches with these two guys,” Khachanov said, before recalling a funny memory. “I remember still when Daniil was rolling on the court, crying and throwing the racquets to the forest! That was terrible behaviour, but I think it’s a pity that we don’t have videos.”

All three men have had signature moments at the US Open. In 2017, Rublev became the youngest tournament quarter-finalist since Andy Roddick in 2001. Two years ago, Khachanov battled Rafael Nadal in a gruelling four-setter, falling just short after four hours and 23 minutes. Perhaps the biggest of those moments came last year, when Medvedev went on a memorable run to the final in which he lost a five-set classic against Nadal.

“The US Open last year was special in many ways, and I think I will remember it for all my life,” Medvedev said.

“It was cool because it was a like a story. It was like a script, it was evolving,” Tennis United co-host Vasek Pospisil said. “Every day there was a new twist and turn and a happy ending. It could have been a movie.”

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Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin, the two Russian men who have reached World No. 1, also joined the show. Kafelnikov had an idea for why the current Russian trio is enjoying success.

“When I became a Top 10 player, Marat was six years younger than me and he wanted to catch up to me, so we had healthy competition between each other and one was driven by another,” Kafelnikov said. “We’ve got three guys who are in the Top 20 and they all three are competing with each other. That’s the reason why tennis in Russia is very successful at the moment.”

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Magnus Norman Reveals How Båstad Makes Players Feel At Home

  • Posted: Jul 17, 2020

Magnus Norman Reveals How Båstad Makes Players Feel At Home

The former World No. 2 provides insight into one of his home events

Who wouldn’t want to play a tournament that makes you feel like you’re on a vacation?

Former World No. 2 Magnus Norman, who won the Nordea Open in Båstad twice, believes that the atmosphere of the event is what helped it win ATP 250 Tournament of the Year for 11 consecutive years from 2002-12.

“I think it’s a combination of the great vibes [and the fact that] players are staying very close to the venue, so there are no transportation issues. You bring your racquets and one minute later you’re on centre court from your room,” Norman told “Everything is located very close to the tennis and then if you want to go to the restaurant, you’re [already] almost in the restaurant. Everything happens in the same place, the beach is right there. Everyone in Båstad does a good job. All the players feel very welcome and at home.”

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Seven Swedes have won the clay-court event, which was first held in 1948, in the Open Era: Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander, Henrik Sundstrom, Joakim Nystrom, Magnus Gustafsson, Norman and Robin Soderling. That rich history for home favourites makes the tournament even more special for Swedes competing.

“We came as juniors playing in Båstad for so many years growing up. I think I was nine years old when I first came to Båstad and I came and watched the big tournament. It’s always been very special for the Swedish players to play in Båstad,” Norman said. “Obviously when you come back as a pro, playing in your home country… it feels almost like you’re playing a tournament, but at the same time you’re almost on vacation.”

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Norman won his first of 12 ATP Tour titles at 1997 Båstad. Just weeks before, he’d made his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Roland Garros and defeated Goran Ivanisevic at Wimbledon.

“At 21 years of age, there were a lot of expectations on my shoulders,” Norman said. “A lot of people in Sweden wanted to see me play, so obviously I was super happy to be able to handle that pressure, playing very well at home and winning my first title in front of my parents and friends from my hometown. It was very special.”

Norman competed in Båstad nine times, tallying a 21-7 record. He played the event often because of its slot shortly after Wimbledon and because he enjoyed competing at home. In 2000, he captured his second Båstad title. He was the No. 2 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings at the time.

“It’s always nice to win at home. It’s a nice memory when you go there sometimes… when you see your name on the board as one of the Swedish winners,” Norman said. “As a tennis player you want to play well all the weeks and I always wanted to play well in Sweden… I always wanted to play at home even if I was No. 2 in the world, so I hope people in Sweden will remember that.”

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Newport's Most Prolific Champion: John Isner

  • Posted: Jul 17, 2020

Newport’s Most Prolific Champion: John Isner

Isner has won a record four titles in Newport

The Hall of Fame Open has long been one of John Isner’s most successful events. Nobody has won the tournament more, as the American has triumphed on the historic Newport grass four times. The ATP 250 has been a family affair for Isner, too.

Last year, Isner had a new guest by his side in Newport: his daughter, Hunter Grace, who was born in September 2018. Throughout the week, the first thing he did after the match was go see his daughter.
It made for a special moment when Isner defeated Alexander Bublik 7-6(2), 6-3 for the title. Joining him on court for the trophy ceremony were Hunter Grace and Isner’s wife, Madison McKinley Isner.

“That was cool. That was actually something I wasn’t even thinking about at all during the course of the match. Thankfully I wasn’t getting ahead of myself, but then when it came time to do the ceremony, I looked at where my wife was sitting. She wasn’t there,” Isner said. “She had gone and got Hunter Grace and brought her over to the side of the court. She was smart enough to go get her and knew that would be a good moment to capture. So that was the highlight of the week, no doubt.”

The big-serving righty first triumphed in Newport in 2011, sprinting to the title without dropping a set. He defeated Olivier Rochus 6-3, 7-6(6) for the trophy. But perhaps what sticks out about the event is that Isner was forced to miss his brother Nathan’s wedding to finish the job.

“It definitely turned out to be a great decision,” Isner said at the time.

The top seed planned to rush to the wedding if he lost by the semi-finals. He was disappointed to miss the special moment, but thrilled to win his second ATP Tour title.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a better week serving,” Isner said. “I’m fortunate to have that weapon and I was in a groove for five matches. It carried me to the championship here.”

Isner, who also emerged victorious in Newport in 2012, served even better at the tournament in 2017. He became the second player to win an ATP Tour title without facing a break point since records started being kept in 1991. Tommy Haas accomplished the feat at 2007 Memphis, and Alex de Minaur did it last year in Atlanta. Isner beat Matthew Ebden 6-3, 7-6(4) in that year’s championship match.

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“It’s hard to win a tournament. It’s no small feat to come out here and be the last man standing,” Isner said. “I’m very happy about that.”

Isner, who has only won the Atlanta title more often (five times), has long been comfortable in Rhode Island, where he holds a 23-5 record. He enjoys the intimate setting and the local scene, which includes restaurants on the water.

“My very first ATP Tour event was here in 2007 and I didn’t enjoy the courts that much back then because I didn’t know how to play on them,” Isner said. “To say that I’ve won this event four times isn’t something I thought would be possible.”

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ATP Coaches' Boost: Cahill Lesson Supports Colleagues

  • Posted: Jul 17, 2020

ATP Coaches’ Boost: Cahill Lesson Supports Colleagues

Tony Downer looks forward to spending time with the Aussie coach

Tony Downer, a retired venture capitalist who lives in Connecticut, has been playing tennis his whole life. He played with his father, and now he enjoys hitting with his children. But he hasn’t checked one thing off his “bucket list”: a trip to the Australian Open.

Downer is set for a dream experience next January after winning a fundraising auction benefitting coaches affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. He will enjoy a two-hour lesson with Aussie coach Darren Cahill at Melbourne Park during the 2021 Australian Open.

“By any and all measures Darren Cahill appears to be an extraordinarily stand-up, bright, committed, accomplished guy and you say, ‘Okay, this might be the right moment, the right way to go take in the Australian Open,’” Downer said. “The financial support or earning power of everyone involved, including the coaches, has been cut off completely. You can understand why those individuals who play such a critical role in the health and wellbeing of the professional sport could be in need of support and you put all that together and we threw a number at the auction and lo and behold it prevailed.”

Bid On The Current Auctions & Prize Draws

Downer has gained an appreciation for the job coaches do, which made him more than happy to support the cause with his bid. All of the auction’s proceeds are allocated by the ATP Coaches Committee to support the members of the ATP Coach Programme in need. Part of the proceeds will be donated to a global COVID-19 relief fund.

“I have enormous respect for the coaches,” Downer said. “Their economics are such that if the player isn’t competing and the player isn’t earning, they’re left without earnings.”

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Downer is not unfamiliar with the tennis world. For 31 years, he worked in venture capital and growth equity, making investments in technology companies. But since 2016, he has been the oldest ball person at the US Open. Downer also is a ball person at the New York Open.

“You’re immersed in the tennis community, you get the view behind the curtains. You get to interact with the people involved in the community and get an enhanced appreciation of what the life is like,” Downer said. “You get a very close-up view of what the players are experiencing both on and off the court… That is more fun than you could imagine.”

Downer hopes to spend a portion of his time with Cahill on court, and another portion chatting over a cup of coffee. He has long been impressed by how Cahill has helped many different players achieve success. The Aussie has mentored players including Andre Agassi, Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Murray, Fernando Verdasco, Ana Ivanovic, Daniela Hantuchova and currently Simona Halep.

“It really is extraordinary that he’s been able to work effectively with such a broad range of players. That’s not an inevitable or natural result that one would project,” Downer said. “Somebody who is effective hypothetically with an Andre Agassi is not necessarily going to be able to work and get inside the head of Simona Halep.”

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Downer will also receive two premium tickets for the men’s and women’s singles finals at the 2021 Australian Open, a behind-the-scenes tour, access to premium hospitality and plenty more. This was only one of several dream experiences up for grabs in the first round of auctions, highlighted by a lesson with Ivan Lendl at the 2021 US Open, which went for $19,000.

The first round of auctions and prize draws raised more than $90,000 for coaches affected by the pandemic. The current round, which is highlighted by a chance to hit with Andy Murray at 2021 Wimbledon, remains open until 27 July.

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