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Carlos Moya: A Spanish Pioneer

  • Posted: Jul 30, 2020

Carlos Moya: A Spanish Pioneer

Spaniard was first man from his country to become World No. 1

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

First week at No. 1: 15 March 1999
Total weeks at No. 1: 2

At World No. 1
Moya’s importance is not to be measured by the time he spent at the pinnacle of the FedEx ATP Rankings, but by his pioneering significance to Spanish tennis. His reign at the top was a turning point for his country. On 15 March 1999, he became the first Spaniard to reach World No. 1 after other players such as Manuel Orantes, Sergi Bruguera and Alex Corretja had come close to doing so.

The Mallorcan took the No. 1 spot by reaching the final at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Indian Wells. His 6-3, 1-6, 6-1 semi-final victory against Gustavo Kuerten guaranteed that he would dethrone Pete Sampras. The achievement made him the 15th player to in the Open Era to become World No. 1. His stay was brief: two weeks.

Grand Slam Highlights
Moya had only won two matches at Roland Garros when he arrived for his third appearance on the clay of Paris in 1998. Despite that, his name had started to stand out on the ATP Tour and his victory a few months earlier at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Monte Carlo made him one of the favourites to win the Coupe des Mousquetaires. The Spaniard beat Sebastien Grosjean, Jose Imaz-Ruiz, Andrew Ilie and Jens Knippschild en route to the quarter-finals, where he took out World No. 3 Marcelo Rios.

He defeated Felix Mantilla in the semi-finals and sunk Corretja in the final to win the first Grand Slam of his career. Moya, who joined Andres Gimeno, Santana and Bruguera as Roland Garros champions, would reach the quarter-finals three more times (2003, 2004, 2007).

Before his triumph in Paris, he played his first Australian Open in 1997. He was largely unknown to tennis fans at that time, but announced his arrival with a first-round victory against defending champion Boris Becker. He went on to reach the final before falling to top seed Pete Sampras.

He reached the US Open semi-finals in 1998 and narrowly fell to Mark Philippoussis. The grass at Wimbledon proved to be more difficult and he only reached the second week on one occasion (2004).

Nitto ATP Finals Highlights
The Spaniard played in the Nitto ATP Finals five times in three different cities: Hannover, Shanghai and Houston. He came within a few games of taking the title in 1998, but let slip a two-sets lead against Corretja and his fellow Spaniard prevailed 3-6, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 7-5. He also advanced out of round-robin play to reach the semi-finals in 1997 and 2002. Although he didn’t advance out of the group stage in 2003 or 2004, he won at least one round-robin match in each year.

ATP Masters 1000 Highlights
Moya made his Masters 1000 debut at 1996 Monte Carlo and it served as the site of several other important career milestones. He reached his first semi-final at this level in 1997 and returned the following year to clinch his maiden Masters 1000 crown. He defeated a pair of Top 10 players in Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Corretja en route to the final before dominating Cedric Pioline 6-3, 6-0, 7-5.

In 2002, he became the first Spaniard in the Open era to prevail in Cincinnati. Moya raced to the title without dropping a set and produced one of his best hard-court performances in the championship match against World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt. In 2004, he celebrated his third Masters 1000 title in Rome after a convincing 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 win in the final against David Nalbandian.

The Mallorcan also played in three other Masters 1000 finals: 1999 Indian Wells (l. to Philippoussis) 2002 Monte-Carlo (l. to Ferrero) and 2003 Miami (l. to Agassi).

Biggest Rivalries
Corretja is the player that Moya most frequently crossed paths with at important junctures of their careers. Moya leads their ATP Head2Head series 7-5, winning all three of their Grand Slam clashes including the 1998 Roland Garros final. However, Corretja also won big matches in their rivalry such as the championship match of the 1998 Nitto ATP Finals.

Moya shared an intense rivalry with another fellow Spaniard in Ferrero, who beat him in all three finals they played (2001 Barcelona, 2002 Monte Carlo and Hong Kong). However, Moya racked up four victories in their last five matches to finish with a 6-8 record in their ATP Head2Head series.

He frequently battled Hewitt (5-8) and split the pair of finals they contested. Moya’s record against Sampras is also among the more interesting of his career. Although his only win in four attempts against Sampras came at the 1997 Nitto ATP Finals, his biggest achievement against the American was dethroning him as World No. 1.

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Moya represents a turning point in Spanish tennis not only due to his on-court achievements, but also through his solid baseline game that served as a model for many of his peers. He broke ground for Spanish tennis as the first male player from reach his country to become World No. 1 in 1999, paving the way for other Spaniards to do the same including Juan Carlos Ferrero and Rafael Nadal.

Overall Match Win-Loss Record: 575-319
Overall Titles/Finals Record: 20-24

Memorable Moment
In January 1997, Carlos Moya was still relatively new to the ATP Tour and only had two tour-level titles to his name. Arriving at the Australian Open with confidence after finishing runner-up the week before in Sydney, he rallied in his first-round match against sixth seed and defending champion Boris Becker to prevail 5-7, 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 after three hours and 30 minutes.

But his high-quality tennis did not end there. He went on to defeat Mantilla in the quarter-finals and took out World No. 2 Michael Chang in the semi-finals. Only a spirited performance in the final from Pete Sampras was able to stop him from winning his first Grand Slam crown in Melbourne.

Moya had made a promise to his team if he reached the final, which he delivered on at the trophy ceremony. The Mallorcan ended his speech to the fans in Rod Laver Arena with these words: “Thank you and I hope to see you next year. ‘Hasta luego, Lucas’”. His closing line was a reference to a famous expression popularised by a well-known comedian in Spain at the time (Chiquito de la Calzada). He used the same phrase when announcing his retirement in 2010.

Nadal On Moya
“Moya was a pioneer in this sport. He deserves everybody’s recognition. He has done very significant things in the world of tennis. He was No. 1 in the world, a difficult thing to achieve, won the biggest tournaments… He has contributed greatly to Spanish sport.”

Moya On Moya
“I’ve had a much better career than I would have imagined. Although you have people with you, in the end, you’re alone on the court and in defeat. It’s a very solitary sport but the positive part far outweighs the negative.”

Moya On Becoming World No. 1
“I always believed that winning a Grand Slam was the best thing that could happen to you. But this [being No. 1] surpassed that. There were a lot of players that wanted to dethrone Sampras. There was pressure. And for me, it was the only chance.”

Broadcaster/Journalist Graeme Agars On Moya
Despite preferring clay, Moya became an all-court player during his career, winning ATP Tour events in 11 different countries on three different continents. His gentle demeanour and his dashing good looks also made him a fan favourite wherever he played.

In May 1999, the athletic Spaniard was included by People in their 50 “Most Beautiful People” issue. And it wasn’t just his good looks that earned him praise.

After winning the title in 2005 Chennai, Moya donated his entire winner’s cheque to help those who had suffered from a recent tsunami. That action was one of the reasons he was later awarded the 2005 Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year award.

Back and foot injuries cut his career short and forced him to retire in 2010, but he’s since been equally successful as a coach and has worked with Rafael Nadal since December 2016.

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Safin Broke How Many Racquets?!

  • Posted: Jul 30, 2020

Safin Broke How Many Racquets?!

Kafelnikov and Safin discuss their careers and the current Russian stars on Tennis United

Marat Safin was one of the most talented players of his generation. On his best day, the Russian was able to hit through anyone standing across the net.

But the former World No. 1 was also known to get upset with himself from time to time and was no stranger to breaking his racquet. On a recent episode of Tennis United, Safin, who laughed about it, revealed that he knew exactly how many racquets he broke.

“I got a snowboard from Head and they wrote it there: 1,055,” Safin said, leaving host Vasek Pospisil and his countryman Yevgeny Kafelnikov in laughter. “They counted each one of them!”

Safin wasn’t the only one, though. He remembers heading into the Barcelona crowd to watch Kafelnikov, another former World No. 1, play a doubles match with Daniel Vacek, with whom the Russian won three Grand Slam titles.

“Vacek serves a double fault. Yevgeny is getting pissed slowly,” Safin recalled. “Vacek makes a second double fault and Yevgeny breaks his racquet!”

While both men laugh recalling those moments, they will be remembered for their results and raising the level of Russian tennis.

“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 [now] and all three are competing with each other. That’s the reason why tennis in Russia is very successful at the moment.”

Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov are all inside the Top 15 of the FedEx ATP Rankings. The Russians have all played the Next Gen ATP Finals and they are now proving they can compete against the best players in the world.

“It’s a healthy competition because they are still friends. They go out for dinner together,” Safin said. “They are very nice guys, which is good. They are ready to learn, which is also good.”

Kafelnikov and Safin’s Favourite Memories
Kafelnikov: “Winning the Slams and reaching No. 1 in the world was the pinnacle of my career. They all mean a lot for me.”

Safin: “One is obviously the US Open. The second one is beating Federer in the semi-finals of the Australian Open and then winning Australia. The first one was unexpected and the second one was the workable one. I had a few attempts and it didn’t work for me… Finally, I managed it.”

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When Harrison's Atlanta Tweener Made ESPN's Top 10 Plays

  • Posted: Jul 30, 2020

When Harrison’s Atlanta Tweener Made ESPN’s Top 10 Plays

American’s hot shot came in at No. 2 on the list

Editor’s Note: is resurfacing features to bring fans closer to their favourite players during the current suspension in tournament play. This story was originally published on 28 July 2018.

First and foremost, Ryan Harrison was happy to advance to the semi-finals of the Truist Atlanta Open after defeating reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung on Friday evening. But he got more good news later in the evening, when a tweener he hit at 3-1 in the second set was named the No. 2 play of the day on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

“I mean tweener points are so much fun. You hit a shot like that, especially when it is unexpected. In that specific situation, I was kind of chasing the ball down and I just happened to be there,” Harrison said. “It helped me actually get a lot of momentum into that next game where I got the double break in the second set. Not only did I win the point, I also responded and broke again. Sometimes whenever you get an uplift like that from the crowd, it can help you psychologically and it can shake your opponent psychologically. I think I used it as good momentum.”

Harrison will hope to bring some of that magic and momentum into his semi-final on Saturday, as he faces Cameron Norrie for a spot in the championship match. 

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Nick Kyrgios' Atlanta Slam Dunk

  • Posted: Jul 30, 2020

Nick Kyrgios’ Atlanta Slam Dunk

Look back at the Aussie’s exciting 2016 Atlanta basketball experiences

Nick Kyrgios is one of the biggest basketball fans you’ll find. From shooting hoops to wearing basketball jerseys at practice and watching the NBA on television, the Aussie loves the sport.

That made his trip to the 2016 Truist Atlanta Open, where he lifted the trophy, extra fun.

Before the tournament began, Kyrgios, Taylor Fritz, Reilly Opelka and Christopher Eubanks visited McCamish Pavilion at nearby Georgia Tech University to test their basketball skills.

The four young ATP Tour stars wide-eyed past jerseys of former Georgia Tech stars who became successful NBA players, including Chris Bosh and Jarrett Jack. They practised among the NCAA Tournament banners of former Yellow Jacket teams. The four tennis players also played a little hoops themselves, sweating through their shirts after competing for more than 90 minutes.

“It was a lot of fun coming here and just seeing what it was like to get on a court like this,” said Kyrgios. “Hopefully we can continue to play… It was unbelievable.”

Who was the best player on the court?

“Fritz started off pretty cold but he played well,” said Kyrgios, a Boston Celtics fan who wore a “Basketball Never Stops” T-shirt for the occasion.

The hot hand rotated throughout play. During some stretches, Eubanks couldn’t miss. “This guy’s feeling it out there. He’s shooting like Bradley Beal!” said Kyrgios, comparing Eubanks to the Washington Wizards star.

Two days later, Kyrgios visited the NBA TV studio for a segment on the network’s flagship program “GameTime” with hosts Vince Cellini and former NBA player Steve Smith. The trio talked about the Truist Atlanta Open, which Kyrgios called, “a massive tournament for me”.

Kyrgios was in awe throughout the trip, taking his time to look at the glossy logos throughout the studio.

“This is unbelievable right now. This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen,” he said.

Kyrgios, who snapped a photo of the Boston Celtics logo, became a fan of that team as a kid because he played an NBA video game and thought the Celtics logo – a leprechaun balancing a basketball – looked cool.

“I’m enjoying my time in Atlanta,” Kyrgios told the NBA TV crew. “There’s obviously plenty of basketball hoops around where I’m getting some shots up.”

In basketball terms, Kyrgios’ result on the tennis court that week was a slam dunk. The Aussie beat home favourite John Isner 7-6(3), 7-6(4) for the title.

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ATP Fan Experience Initiative Raises More Than US$225,000

  • Posted: Jul 30, 2020

ATP Fan Experience Initiative Raises More Than US$225,000

The auction saw players, coaches and tournaments combine to create some unique fan experiences

The ATP Coach & Player Fan Experience initiative has drawn to a close, raising more than US$225,000 in support of members of the ATP Coach programme affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The auction, which ran across a six-week period, saw players, coaches and tournaments combine to create some unique fan experiences. The second round of auctions and prize draws, which ended on Monday 27 July, was highlighted by a US$51,850 winning bid for a once-in-a-lifetime experience with Andy Murray at Wimbledon. The winner will spend one hour on court with the former World No. 1 at the All England Club during the 2021 Wimbledon Championships, receive two tickets to the men’s singles final and enjoy a private lunch in the members’ enclosure.

One winner bid US$27,000 to spend two hours on court with three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka and his coaching team, Magnus Norman and Dani Vallverdu. Other fans bid US$10,500 to hit with 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov and US$7,500 to join Feliciano Lopez for a training session at the Mutua Madrid Open.

One of 539 entrants will be the lucky winner of a special prize draw — a framed collection of signed racquets from Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray — which added more than US$8,000 to the overall pool. Other auctions featuring former World No. 1 Carlos Moya and star coaches Severin Luthi and Toni Nadal brought the overall total to US$226,000 including more than US$90,000 from the first round of bidding, which concluded on 29 June.

“It has been uplifting to see everybody pulling together to help out the coaches, who play such a big role in tennis. Everybody that I reached out to for help said yes,” said Vallverdu, ATP Coach. “This shows the impact coaches and players can make and I hope it’s a platform for many more collaborations in the future. When we all work together, we can really achieve some big things for the sport.”

“It’s heartening that during such an unprecedented global situation, the tennis community has come together and found creative ways to help each other,” said Andrea Gaudenzi, ATP Chairman. “Importantly, this innovative initiative has also succeeded in delivering something unique to our fans, and our thanks go to everyone who contributed.”

A part of the proceeds raised will also be donated to support the UNICEF Coronavirus Children’s Crisis Appeal. This support initiative follows the creation of a Player Relief Fund earlier this year by the governing bodies of world tennis, which came together to raise in excess of US $6 million aimed at supporting more than 800 players who are particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To donate to the UNICEF Coronavirus Children’s Crisis Appeal:

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