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Ram To Give Coaching The Old College Try

  • Posted: Jul 08, 2020

Ram To Give Coaching The Old College Try

Australian Open doubles champion to balance coaching with doubles career

Many college tennis players dream of using their time as a student-athlete to propel themselves to ATP Tour success. The men’s team at the University of California, Berkeley, will have the chance to learn from a player who has done just that.

Rajeev Ram, No. 9 in the FedEx ATP Doubles Rankings, signed on as a volunteer assistant coach for their upcoming season. The current Australian Open doubles champion (w/Salisbury) is coming full circle after holding an identical role at the University of Illinois when he first turned pro. He played there for one semester in 2003, leading his squad to an NCAA team championship and winning the men’s doubles title with Brian Wilson.

Former ATP Tour players Wayne Ferreira and Robby Ginepri held similar positions while on Tour at the University of California, Berkeley, and Georgia Tech, respectively, but Ram is the first active Grand Slam champion to enter into the role. However, he made it clear that he has no plans to end his playing career and any coaching duties will revolve around his Tour schedule.

“With the NCAA rules, it’s very difficult to practise with the team unless you’re a member of it in some way,” Ram told “College coaching is something I’ve thought about after I’m done playing. I thought I could learn a bit about how it all works and [head coach] Peter Wright is a phenomenal person to learn from. I think I could be good at it and it’ll be a fun experience to figure out. It could help me in a lot of ways as much as it may help them.”

Although Ram’s time as a student-athlete was brief, he’s always viewed education as a priority. The 36-year-old graduated in 2018 from Indiana University East, a partner of the ATP that provides several options for players to complete their degrees online. Ram was the first player to enroll at the university through the partnership, earning a General Studies degree with a concentration in humanities and behavioral science.

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“One of the requirements to be a head college coach is to have that degree, so that was a big motivation in case this ends up being something that I want to pursue,” Ram said. “I was able to finish my degree while I was still playing and enjoyed being able to focus on something else.”

The doubles expert is currently practising in Northern California, marking the first time in 13 years that he isn’t at Wimbledon due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But with action scheduled to resume at the Citi Open on 14 August, he’s remained in touch with partner Joe Salisbury (also a former college tennis player, at the University of Memphis) as they look to continue their momentum from the start of the season.

Having avoided significant injuries during his career, the current suspension of play is the longest that Ram has gone without competing since turning pro. He said the time away has given him renewed perspective about life on Tour and made him look forward to returning to cities that have become familiar stops for more than a decade.

“We always complain about how much we have to travel, so maybe those types of things won’t be as annoying. With everything going on not only with the pandemic, but all the other stuff that’s happened, especially in America, I’m hoping everyone can be more considerate and nicer to one another,” Ram said. “There are people at these tournaments every week who try their absolute best to make us have a good experience, so hopefully we can all be more appreciative of things like that.”

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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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ATP Issues Revised Calendar For Tour Resumption

Return Calendar

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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