Tennis News

From around the world

Thiem: 'Roger Was Toying With Me'

  • Posted: Mar 08, 2023

Thiem: ‘Roger Was Toying With Me’

Austrian looks to channel slump-busting 2019 Indian Wells title run to turn around his 2023 season

Four years ago, Dominic Thiem arrived at the BNP Paribas Open having endured a disastrous start to season. He left as a champion, defeating Roger Federer to capture his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells.

Another title run this fortnight might seem ambitious for the current world No. 102, but the former US Open champion certainly comes in hoping for a strong run in the desert to again snap him out of a funk.

“I came there playing wise in a really bad situation,” Thiem said on Wednesday. “[I was] not playing well and I was not expecting anything and then slowly somehow, I started to play better and better, winning matches. I got a little bit lucky. Gael Monfils had to retire in the quarters and then I happened to win the tournament. If people knew how I would have felt and played before Indian Wells they would be very surprised that I ended up winning.”

The Official App Of Tennis | Download ATP WTA Live App

Thiem arrived in Indian Wells in 2019 struggling for form and fitness. The 29-year-old held a 3-4 record on the season, having suffered first-round exits in Doha and Rio de Janeiro and a second-round defeat at the Australian Open.

However, he quickly found his best level, not dropping a set in his first three matches before he received a walkover from Gael Monfils to reach the semi-finals.

“After Rio I decided to go early to Indian Wells, to prepare myself physically and with my tennis,” Thiem said. “It was a good decision because from being not fit at all and playing really bad in two weeks I was giving myself a great chance to play great tennis and fight all the match, because I was physically fit.”

With confidence restored, Thiem defeated Milos Raonic in a three-set battle to advance to his third Masters 1000 final, where he faced Federer.

“For me it was an unbelievable week and I was going into the final relaxed against Roger, who was the favourite and playing well back then,” said Thiem, who lost ATP Masters 1000 finals in Madrid in 2017 and 2018. “I wasn’t putting any pressure [on me] because before when I played the first Madrid final I was putting pressure on myself because I wanted to win this first [ATP Masters] 1000. It was different in Indian Wells. I was just enjoying those two weeks, enjoying my tennis and that is probably a reason why I ended up winning.”

You May Also Like:

Thiem Topples Federer For Maiden Masters Title

A thrilling final saw Federer clinch the first set, before Thiem rallied to earn a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory. It was a moment in his career he reflects fondly on.

“The first set there was exactly why Roger is so popular and why people love to watch Roger so much. He was toying with me,” Thiem said. “He was playing at his best level. He was doing whatever he wanted and when he is at this level, it is impossible to play him. I was just hoping he would have one weak game in the second set and he had it and I broke and then the match was kind of opening. I am also happy I witnessed this first set, it was an unbelievable experience to play against someone playing such good tennis.”

Thiem will play Adrian Mannarino in the first round on Thursday, aiming to earn just his second tour-level win of the season.

Source link

Murray: 'Physically The Best I Have Felt For A Long Time'

  • Posted: Mar 08, 2023

Murray: ‘Physically The Best I Have Felt For A Long Time’

The Scot opens against Argentine Etcheverry

Andy Murray has shown his renowned fighting spirit throughout the early stages of this season. The 35-year-old has already won three matches after being one point away from defeat. Now he’s poised to display another big effort at the 2023 BNP Paribas Open.

Despite competing with a metal hip, Murray has continued his career at a high level including in Doha this past month, when the Scot reached the final (l. Medvedev) after saving five match points to defeat Jiri Lehecka in the final four. Now he’s looking to show his best tennis at the season’s first ATP Masters 1000 event in Indian Wells.

“I want to have deep runs in these events,” Murray said. “That hasn’t happened in a couple years. I do feel like I’m playing well enough to do that now. I feel like physically this is the best I’ve felt for a long time so if I do have to play three or four matches in a few days, I believe that I’m able to do that and still play at a high level.

The Official App Of Tennis | Download ATP WTA Live App

“Even 18 months or two years ago, when that was happening, I didn’t feel like I was recovering as well. [My] body [might’ve] been a bit sore and a bit tired, but I’ve worked really hard to get back to this point and I trust that I’m ready to have a good run at some stage.”

This year will be Murray’s 15th trip to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, where his best result is a runner-up finish in 2009 (l. Nadal). The World No. 55 may have slightly different expectations at this stage of his career, but he’s still soaking in every opportunity he gets.

“I’ve always enjoyed coming back here,” Murray said. “At this stage of my career, you want to make the most of every chance you get to play in these sorts of events. You never know when it will be the last time. Definitely try to take it all in.”

Murray will meet Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the opening round on Thursday. The Argentine reached his first tour-level final at last week’s 250 event in Santiago (l. Jarry). The winner of Murray and Etcheverry will face 15th seed Pablo Carreno Busta in the second round.

Despite Murray’s potential round of 32 clash against Daniel Evans or Jack Draper, the Glasgow native isn’t going to get caught looking ahead to a first-time meeting against his countrymen.

“There’s a lot of Brits in my section of the draw but I’d have to win two tough matches to get there,” Murray said. “Let’s see what happens.”

Source link

'Perfect Timing': Monfils Reflects On Fatherhood Ahead Of Indian Wells Comeback

  • Posted: Mar 08, 2023

‘Perfect Timing’: Monfils Reflects On Fatherhood Ahead Of Indian Wells Comeback

Frenchman to play Thompson on Wednesday evening

Seven months ago Gael Monfils retired during his third-round match in Montreal against Jack Draper because of a foot injury. The Frenchman “thought it was all good”. However, he had suffered a plantar fascia rupture, and has not competed since.

The 36-year-old has been all smiles in the California desert, where he is ready to make his comeback Wednesday evening at the BNP Paribas Open against Australian Jordan Thompson.

“I feel great,” Monfils told “It’s been a couple months now I’m away. At the same time, I have a couple weeks without my little princess. It’s the first time, it’s the first feeling like that. It’s a mixed feeling, but in a positive way.”

Monfils’ “little princess” is his daughter, Skaï, who was born in October. This is Monfils’ first tournament since he and his wife, WTA star Elina Svitolina, welcomed their daughter to the world.

“I was with her since day one and now to get back on the road, it’s a different experience for me. I’ve been great. I’ve been blessed,” Monfils said. “So far she’s healthy and myself too, [I have] gotten back in shape and healthy. I have only positive vibes coming here.”

<a href=''>Gael Monfils</a>Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
While Monfils did not want to be injured, the time off worked out well in terms of when he was hurt. It allowed him to experience the most special moment of his life.

“Perfect timing. I say always I try to see the positive in the negative and that was almost the best timing. I could be with my wife at the end of her pregnancy and support her, because it’s never easy the last days and everything,” Monfils said. “And then of course at the beginning as a parent, taking care of the little one as a team. It was great timing for me and also very important. At the end, that’s what matters. That’s life, that’s real life. To be a team there for our baby was great for me.”

It is safe to say Skaï quickly changed the Monfils family’s world. The Frenchman enjoys every moment with her.

“The happiness, it’s crazy. The happiness, the love,” Monfils said. “I can be a little bit tired or unhappy with what I’m doing because I want to be perfect. But as soon as I see my daughter, everything vanishes. It’s a great feeling.”

Monfils has also been working hard to prepare for his return to action. Over the past two months he has improved his fitness and slowly increased the amount of time he has spent on court. He started at once or twice per week before increasing to a full week of tennis along with his physical training. Monfils’ coach did not feel he was ready for the recent European indoor swing, so he fully prepared for an Indian Wells comeback.

“It’s been a long time. I won’t lie, I missed being on the Tour playing, competing, challenging myself. Now I just have the feeling [of love with the fans]. Actually Indian Wells is great because you have fans very close on the practice court. You can feel the energy,” Monfils said. “That definitely was [exciting] for me the few days I came here. I felt great and I felt lucky and blessed that I could actually get back in shape to experience that again.”

Follow The Cast Of ATP Tour | Break Point

The former Top 10 star has also hit at home with his wife, who is also working her way back.

“She’s right there. She’s obviously very motivated to come back. It was actually crazy because she just gave birth and obviously she was super happy, but she really wants to get back very quickly in good shape,” Monfils said. “She wanted to feel that she can play again. She was worried because she hadn’t played for a long time. She picked up the racquet quite good. It was great.

“Now she’s practising, she’s loving it. She’s starting to move a little bit more because at the beginning she couldn’t move so much. But now it’s better and I think she has some goals, so I think she will soon say what she wants to do and when she wants to come back.”

Monfils has goals of his own, one of which is to improve his Pepperstone ATP Ranking enough to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics. He also wants to find his top level to make Skaï proud.

It has been adjustment for Monfils to be away from home, with plenty of FaceTimes helping make up for his distance from family. But the Frenchman hopes his next FaceTime with Skaï will be a special one following his first victory as a father.

“It’s funny because it was the first time [away]. It’s been five days exactly. Now she started to recognise me a little bit,” Monfils said, cracking a laugh. “It’s quite special, so I hope I will have a win under my belt and have the first FaceTime with her.”

Source link

ATP, WTA Stars Unite For Mixed Doubles Exhibition At Indian Wells

  • Posted: Mar 08, 2023

ATP, WTA Stars Unite For Mixed Doubles Exhibition At Indian Wells

Fritz and Sabalenka win Eisenhower Cup

Two months after the inaugural United Cup, the mixed-gender team event won by the United States in January, the ATP Tour and Hologic WTA Tour again joined forces on the court Tuesday night in Indian Wells. On the eve of main-draw play at the BNP Paribas Open, stars from both circuits thrilled the desert crowd in the third annual Eisenhower Cup, a mixed doubles exhibition that doubles as a fundraiser for local charities.

The one-night tournament was won by Taylor Fritz and Aryna Sabalenka, who defeated the Polish pairing of Hubert Hurkacz and Iga Swiatek 10-8 in the final. Fritz, who hit an ace with a trick serve in the semi-finals, fired a service winner on championship point.

“It’s awesome just to have the chance to come out here and play in front of the crowd before [the tournament] even gets going,” said Fritz, the defending Indian Wells men’s singles champ. “The crowd here tonight is amazing. It’s one of the many reasons I love coming here. It’s one of my favourite events, it being such a home tournament for me.”

Follow The Cast Of ATP Tour | Break Point

Fritz, who helped lead Team USA to United Cup glory in January, also won the Delray Beach singles title in February and broke into the Top 5 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time last week. He will open his Indian Wells title defence against Ben Shelton or Fabio Fognini.

“We said before the night started that we really wanted to come out and win,” added the Netflix Break Point star. “We played really well against a lot of really good teams.”

Sabalenka, the reigning Australian Open singles champion, is no stranger to doubles success. The former doubles World No. 1 is a two-time Grand Slam winner in the discipline with partner Elise Mertens, having lifted the trophies at the 2019 US Open and 2021 Aussie Open. The pair also won the 2019 Indian Wells crown.

“I feel good,” said Sabalenka, who will face Alize Cornet or Evgeniya Rodina in her opening singles match. “I’m really happy to be here and really looking forward to the first match.”

<a href=''>Taylor Fritz</a>, Aryna Sabalenka
Photo credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Also competing in Tuesday night’s exhibition event were: Paula Badosa and Cameron Norrie, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Leylah Fernandez, Ons Jabeur and Casper Ruud, Tommy Paul and Jessica Pegula, Maria Sakkari and Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Belinda Bencic and Stan Wawrinka.

In addition, Fritz and Paul are set to team up in the Indian Wells men’s doubles event, with Auger-Aliassime (with Denis Shapovalov), Ruud (with Dominic Thiem) and Wawrinka (with Frances Tiafoe) also competing.

You May Also Like:

Felix/Shapo Face Rune/Shelton In Loaded Indian Wells Doubles Draw

The women’s doubles draw has not yet been released.

Source link

Fritz, Sakkari Welcome New Fans Drawn By Break Point

  • Posted: Mar 08, 2023

Fritz, Sakkari Welcome New Fans Drawn By Break Point

Top 10 stars say Netflix docu-series, renewed for a second season, has won over new fans

Taylor Fritz and Maria Sakkari, trailed by a black-clad Netflix camera crew, were greeted by warm applause when they ascended to the outdoor stage on the grounds of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Tuesday. The stars of Break Point Episode 3 arrived just hours after Netflix announced there would be a second season.

Those ubiquitous workers are all over the grounds at ‘Tennis Paradise’, capturing behind-the-scenes moments for episodes that will be seen next year.

“We’re really excited,” Paul Martin, executive producer of Box to Box Films, told the crowd earlier. “Excited to get to play in this space for another year. Hopefully, it continues for 10 more seasons.”

In this season’s Indian Wells episode — titled “California Dreaming” shot at the BNP Paribas Open a year ago — we learned that Sakkari may well be the most caffeinated player on the Hologic WTA Tour (six espressos in a single day!) and, according to Ajla Tomljanovic, super-intense on court but a “teddy bear” off it.

Sakkari, who advanced to the final here before falling to Iga Swiatek, said the series seems to be reaching the casual tennis fan.

“I don’t think we’re like movie stars right now,” Sakkari said, drawing laughter. “It’s just our personalities being exposed — in a good way. I’ve had people coming up to me and saying I watched you on Break Point, but not playing tennis, which I think was very good for the show. I was happy because that whole thing really helps tennis.”

The Official App Of Tennis | Download ATP WTA Live App

Fritz, whose dramatic drive to the title in his local tournament — he beat Rafael Nadal in the final on a seriously compromised ankle — was the episode’s dominant thread, agreed.

“It’s good to see that because those are people who aren’t tennis fans,” Fritz said. “In the U.S. especially, that’s what we need. So whenever there’s someone saying, `Oh, I saw you on Break Point,’ I see that as someone maybe potentially who might watch tennis as a fan. What it’s been doing for the sport is great. Hopefully that continues.”

The first five episodes of the series were released in advance of the Australian Open, and episodes 6-10, covering the second half of the 2022 season, will drop in June. The early returns were encouraging. Break Point reached the Top 10 in 28 countries, engaging an audience of more than 15 million, with Australia and the United Kingdom at the top of the list.

While it didn’t reach the Top 10 in the United States, given its large population, it generated the largest number of new fans. The featured players experienced a significant bounce in their social media numbers.

“Tennis, being on tour, there’s a really great story to be told,” said Fritz, whose No. 5 Pepperstone ATP Ranking is the highest for an American man since Andy Roddick in 2009. “Because what we do is pretty crazy and a lot of people don’t really know the behind-the-scenes, the traveling, the competing and everything that goes on. I’m glad the reception’s been great.”

Martin, who oversees the series with co-producer James Gay-Rees, revealed how the series came into being. Describing himself as a fan but not necessarily an aficionado, Martin had spent a year talking with Andre Agassi about making a film.

“Just the picture that Andre painted in the tennis bubble, the extremes of highs and lows was just kind of mesmerising, really exciting,” Martin said. “When that project fell away, we always felt there was a way to dive into tennis the way that Andre had talked about we would love the opportunity.”

Break Point

You May Also Like:

Netflix Confirms Second Set For Break Point

It came when the Drive to Survive series captured a huge worldwide audience, particularly in America. When Netflix asked Box to Box what other sports might lend themselves to “reality” television, tennis was one of the first answers.

The tale of the injured Fritz’s title run, playing against the wishes of his father and coach, was the kind of narrative that Martin hopes for.

“People have a version of tennis where they see two players walk out on court and they think that they’re 100 per cent fit, at the top of their game,” he said. “They don’t see the physical pain. They might have had an argument with their boyfriend or girlfriend before they walked out on court.

“They don’t see how much baggage these players sometimes take out to the court. That was one of the most extreme examples of it.”

Sakkari drew a nice hand when she told the crowd that Indian Wells is her favorite tournament of the year — and not just because she reached the final a year ago. The public response to her star turn on Netflix has humbled her.

“I never thought that coming from a very small country I would get to the ranking level where I was last year,” she said. “Seeing myself on TV is nothing that I’m used to. It was kind of weird in a way, but also nice to see the different players in the episode.

“It’s the reward for the work I’ve done all these years.”

Learn more about Break Point

Source link

Felix/Shapo Face Rune/Shelton In Loaded Indian Wells Doubles Draw

  • Posted: Mar 08, 2023

Felix/Shapo Face Rune/Shelton In Loaded Indian Wells Doubles Draw

Ruud/Thiem face fourth seeds Mektic/Pavic; Tiafoe/Wawrinka meet RBA/PCB

Fireworks were already expected in the BNP Paribas Open doubles tournament, with many new-look, star-powered teams joining the ATP Tour’s standard-bearers in a loaded 32-team field. Tuesday’s draw added to the buzz, setting several marquee matchups at the year’s first ATP Masters 1000 in Indian Wells.

View Doubles Draw

Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov, who partnered to help Team Canada win the 2022 ATP Cup, join forces again in the desert and face an immediate blockbuster matchup with #NextGenATP stars Holger Rune and Ben Shelton. Rune and Shelton are teaming for the first time after they squared off on the singles court last week in Acapulco, with Rune winning in three sets.

“I think he’s a super fun guy,” Rune said of Shelton following their meeting, calling the American’s serve one of the toughest he’s faced. “I like the way he plays tennis. I think it will be fun. It’s going to be nice to be the one at the net after his big serve.”

The Official App Of Tennis | Download ATP WTA Live App

The pair is in the bottom half of the draw in the same quarter as second seeds and returning semi-finalists Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, who open against Grigor Dimitrov and Hubert Hurkacz. Dimitrov and Hurkacz previously teamed up last year in Rome and competed in singles earlier this season in Rotterdam, where Dimitrov won in two tie-breaks.

Also in the bottom half, defending champions John Isner and Jack Sock meet third seeds and reigning Roland Garros champs Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer. The winner there will face either Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev or Kevin Krawietz and Fabrice Martin in the second round. Another pair of Grand Slam title holders — Australian Open champs Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler — share that quarter, with the Aussies set to meet Austin Krajicek and Mackenzie McDonald in the first round. 

In the top half, the first-time pairing of Casper Ruud and Dominic Thiem meets fourth seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic in the first round. In addition to Ruud/Thiem, other singles stars teaming up in the top half include Frances Tiafoe and Stan Wawrinka; Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta; Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul; Marcos Giron and J.J. Wolf; and Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Sonego.

Top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski drew Marcelo Melo and Alexander Zverev in the first round, with the winner to play Tiafoe/Wawrinka or Bautista Agut/Carreno Busta. Zverev reached the Indian Wells doubles semis last season alongside Andrey Golubev.

Also in the top half are returning finalists Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, who open against Nathaniel Lammons and Jackson Withrow.

Source link

Tsitsipas: 'I Want To Have A Bigger Empire Than Tennis'

  • Posted: Mar 08, 2023

Tsitsipas: ‘I Want To Have A Bigger Empire Than Tennis’

The Break Point star enjoys producing music

In 2018, Stefanos Tsitsipas announced himself to the world when he captured the Next Gen ATP Finals title. Since then, the Greek has constantly made his mark on Tour, winning the Nitto ATP Finals crown in 2019 and capturing two ATP Masters 1000 trophies.

Driven to reach the top, the 24-year-old Netflix Break Point star is determined to keep evolving on and off court.

“I don’t want to waste a single day of my life being stagnant or staying still and not elevating myself through experiences,” Tsitsipas said. “I have a fear of missing out and I don’t want people to know me only for my tennis. Life is about adventures, life is about creating beautiful memories.”

Having established himself as a consistent member of the Top 10, Tsitsipas now wants to make an impact away from tennis. In recent years, the Greek has produced music and made video diaries, documenting his travel exploits.

“I want to have a broader, bigger empire than just tennis,” Tsitsipas said. “I’ve explored the filmmaking part of what I am capable of and what stories I want to tell. Music allowed me to express something else.”

Follow The Cast Of ATP Tour | Break Point

The 24-year-old enjoys exploring a range of interests and hopes his creations can inspire others.

“I would like to give people the ability to dream and not be afraid,” he said. “And the only way you can get to this place is by seeking discomfort and letting yourself free.”

Source link