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Jim Courier: 'You Have To Be Extreme To Be Exceptional'

  • Posted: Jun 25, 2020

Jim Courier: ‘You Have To Be Extreme To Be Exceptional’

The powerful baseliner used supreme fitness to reach the top spot

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

First Week at No. 1: 10 February 1992
Total weeks at No. 1: 58
Year-end No. 1: 1992

Grand Slam Highlights
Courier lifted four Grand Slam titles and reached the final of all four majors by age 22. He defeated former roommate Andre Agassi in an epic five-set battle to capture his maiden major at 1991 Roland Garros and successfully defended his crown the following year with a straight-sets rout of Petr Korda. The American also won back-to-back titles at the Australian Open (1992-1993) by defeating Stefan Edberg in four-set thrillers.

The Florida native naturally thrived on home soil and was always a crowd favourite at the US Open. He reached the final in 1991, but lost to a red-hot Edberg in a match that the Swede still believes is the greatest performance of his career. And while Courier wasn’t shy to say that grass was his least preferred surface, he still reached the 1993 Wimbledon final and pushed Pete Sampras in a four-set defeat.

Nitto ATP Finals Highlights
Courier made four appearances at the season-ending championships, finishing runner-up in his first two outings to Frankfurt (1991-1992). It took inspired showings from Sampras (1991) and Becker (1992) to halt his title bids. He held a career 7-9 record in the eight-man tournament and would go on to qualify twice more (1993, 1995).

ATP Masters 1000 Highlights
The American won all five ATP Masters 1000 finals that he contested. Courier became the first man to complete the “Sunshine Double” in 1991 by prevailing at the BNP Paribas Open and Miami Open presented by Itau. He outlasted Guy Forget in a fifth-set tie-break in their Indian Wells final, then returned shortly after to take the doubles title with Javier Frana. Two weeks later, he showed his endurance by rallying to defeat fellow American David Wheaton in the Miami final.

Another Indian Wells triumph followed in 1993 as he blitzed Wayne Ferriera in the championship match. Courier also scored consecutive titles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in 1992 (d. C. Costa) and 1993 (d. Ivanisevic).

Overall Match Win-Loss Record: 506-237
Overall Titles/Finals Record: 23-13

Although his ATP Head2Head rivalry with Sampras was one-sided on paper (4-16), Courier made his victories count. Three of them came in Grand Slams and the Nitto ATP Finals.

But it’s their quarter-final clash at the 1995 Australian Open that remains one of the most memorable matches in history. Prior to taking the court, Sampras’ coach and friend, Tim Gullikson, had been diagnosed with brain cancer. Despite the heavy news, Sampras matched Courier in a classic baseline slugfest and fought back from two sets down to force a decider. The emotional toll briefly became too much for Sampras in the fifth set as he openly wept on court, but he recovered to complete an astounding comeback.

Sampras would repeat his efforts by rallying from two sets down to defeat Courier in the 1996 Roland Garros quarter-finals, but Courier picked up his final win against his longtime rival the following year in Rome.

Courier also shared entertaining rivalries with other top American players including Michael Chang (12-12) and Andre Agassi (7-5). His ATP Head2Head series with Chang was one of the most prolific of the ’90s, with all but one of their matches taking place that decade. Although Chang surprisingly held the edge indoors (6-2), Courier had the upper hand in their clay (2-0) and outdoor hard court (8-6) battles.

Courier’s baseball-swing backhand and flame-thrower forehand may have lacked aesthetic beauty, but the American made up for it with bludgeoning power. His aggressive baseline game and supreme fitness wore down opponents on all surfaces, enabling him to spend 58 weeks as World No. 1 and become one of seven men in the Open Era to reach the final of all four Grand Slams. Courier was fittingly inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005.

Sampras On Courier
“There are no free points. He doesn’t miss much. He doesn’t have any mental letdowns. He’s a fighter and that’s the way he plays.”

Courier On Courier

“You have to be extreme to be exceptional. I couldn’t revel in being No. 1. I had to get to zero. When my fitness was at its peak, I was intimidating. I made guys cave in. They’d be dejected in the locker room after matches and I’d go out for a run, as if it wasn’t enough. I’d rub it in their faces. I meant to do that.”

Broadcaster/Journalist Graeme Agars
Jim Courier won 23 tournaments, including four Grand Slams, slugging his way to victory with a powerful off-forehand and a baseline game that was relentless. He was the ultimate competitor, willing to run his opponents into the ground and happy to stay on court for as long as it took to secure victory.

By the age of just 22 he had reached the finals of all four Slams – still a record – and between 1991 and 1993 he had reached six Slam finals, winning back to back in Melbourne at the Australian Open in 1992 and 1993 and securing consecutive wins in Paris at the French Open in 1991 and 1992.

He surprised many people by plunging into the somewhat murky Yarra River in Melbourne after his first Australian Open win, prompting one British tennis writer to wonder if he would follow up by going “insane” (in Seine) if he won the French Open again later that year. He didn’t take the plunge, although his victory speeches in fluent French impressed more than just the Parisians.

He also attracted attention by somewhat bizarrely reading a book during the change of ends during one indoor tournament match but perhaps his literary interests contributed to his well-founded reputation as an insightful TV commentator and interviewer in his post competitive career.

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Bid On VIP Annacone Lesson To Support Coaches In Need

  • Posted: Jun 24, 2020

Bid On VIP Annacone Lesson To Support Coaches In Need

Annacone and other coaches offering experiences to support colleagues

Paul Annacone, who climbed as high as No. 12 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, has worked with a wide variety of players during his coaching career, from former World No. 1s Pete Sampras and Roger Federer to British legend Tim Henman, rising American Taylor Fritz and WTA star Sloane Stephens. With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting members of the ATP Coach Programme whose ability to work has been impacted by the virus, Annacone is giving back.

The American is one of 10 legendary coaches offering an exclusive fan experience in a special auction, which will benefit coaches in need and a global COVID-19 relief fund. Stan Wawrinka’s coach, Daniel Vallverdu, approached Annacone with the idea. Other coaches involved include former World No. 1s Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl and Carlos Moya.

Learn More About VIP Tennis Experiences

“Dani just told me what he was trying to do, which was great, and really a very worthwhile cause,” Annacone said. “We’re just trying to help out a lot of the coaches who haven’t had any work, who are just kind of setting out [on their career]. I said, ‘Sure, that’s great.’”

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The experience Annacone is offering will be at the 2021 BNP Paribas Open. The winning bidder and a guest will enjoy a two-hour lesson with Annacone. They will also get two premium tickets for both the men’s and women’s singles finals, as well as exclusive access to VIP hospitality at the tournament.

Annacone is more than happy to contribute to help his colleagues.

“We’re all in kind of our own brotherhood and sisterhood, being people who guide young players toward their career goals. We’re all in the same boat together,” Annacone said. “I think it’s important to try to appreciate your own situation and help the others who aren’t in a situation as good as you when you can, because we’re all trying to do the same thing. These are my peers and a lot of them I know very well. They’re a terrific group of people, so it’ll be good to be able to help, at least a little bit.”

Learn More About Annacone’s Auction

The highest bid for Annacone’s package so far is $5,000. The deadline is 29 June, and he hopes to raise as much money as possible to support those in need.

“I think people forget it’s an individual sport, but those individuals need coaches. There are a lot of individual coaches who are out there who are independent contractors that have been really struggling. A lot of them are family men and women who are trying to take care of their families and they haven’t been able to do it,” Annacone said. “It’s really important to be able to help our family members out; our family being our tennis community family, and this is one way where we can participate.”

Did You Know?
Fans can also enter one of several prize draws to support this cause. Prizes up for grabs include tickets to the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals and autographed racquets from Stan Wawrinka, Alexander Zverev and Grigor Dimitrov. Learn More

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When Murray Met Wawrinka In Eastbourne

  • Posted: Jun 24, 2020

When Murray Met Wawrinka In Eastbourne

Look back at when the Grand Slam champions played in the first round at the Nature Valley International

It’s not often that Grand Slam champions meet in the first round of a tournament. But that’s what happened at the 2018 Nature Valley International, where former World No. 1 Andy Murray faced three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka.

Murray was competing in the second tournament of his comeback from hip surgery, which forced him to miss 11 months. Wawrinka, then World No. 225, was battling back from a left knee injury that caused him to miss the second half of 2017.

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“I looked at someone like a [Juan Martin] Del Potro, who has come back from multiple injuries and some of the draws you get are really difficult,” Murray said. “You have to just try to accept it, try and deal with it as best as you can and hopefully start winning some of those matches soon.”


Murray emerged victorious, defeating the Swiss 6-1, 6-3 in 78 minutes for his first victory since 2017 Wimbledon.

“Very happy to get the win,” Murray said. “Obviously when you’ve not played for the best part of a year, closing out the match against someone like Stan, who I’ve had lots of great matches with — tough, tough guy to play against — was tough. But delighted to get the win.”

Murray lost in the second round against countryman Kyle Edmund.

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Isner Defeats Mahut In Tennis' Longest Match, 10 Years On

  • Posted: Jun 24, 2020

Isner Defeats Mahut In Tennis’ Longest Match, 10 Years On

Exactly 10 years after the legendary match came to a conclusion, relive the Isner-Mahut epic

Editor’s Note: Ten years ago, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut completed the longest match in history in the first round at Wimbledon. As the players remember their battle on social media, resurfaces its match report from the match’s final day on 24 June 2010.

It lasted over three days, broke a host of tennis record and finally ended with 25-year-old American John Isner hitting a backhand – his 246th winner – down the line to pass Nicolas Mahut of France.

Picking up at 59-59 in the fifth set on its third day, the first-round match on Court 18 at The Championships, which has captivated a global audience, continued on serve with no break point opportunities until 6’10” Isner fell on his back having kept his nerve to complete the longest tennis match on record for a 6-4, 3-6, 6-7(7), 7-6(3), 70-68 victory in 11 hours and five minutes.

Both men firmly have their feet in tennis history.


View this post on Instagram

Exactly 10 years ago, @nicomahut and I got locked in a match that seemingly lasted 10 years. It’s something that I get asked countless times about even to this day, and truthfully don’t enjoy rehashing what we both went through. What started as your standard first round match at a grand slam morphed into a spectacle that even stole headlines from the concurrent World Cup. While technically imperfect in a lot of ways, Nico and I showed the value of never ever giving up while competing during the course of the 3 day event. Prior to the match, I couldn’t tell you one thing about Nico other than I knew he was really good at serve and volleying. Afterwards, I learned that on top of his incredible competitive spirit, Nico is one of the most genuine and kind people I’ve ever come across. I mean that with the utmost sincerity. You won’t find a better guy. The most important take away from this match for me is the inseparable friendship we have formed. We will always be spoken about in the same breath going forward which I find to be very cool. It’s a shame we can’t be at SW19 this year to commemorate our match, but maybe one day we can lock horns on the same side of net in doubles…perhaps say at @wimbledon. What do you say @nicomahut? PS special shoutout to our referee, Mohammed, who never took a bathroom break for 11 hours and 5 minutes.

A post shared by John Isner (@johnrisner) on

In an Instagram post commemorating the 10-year-anniversary of the match, Isner wrote: “It’s something that I get asked countless times about even to this day, and truthfully don’t enjoy rehashing what we both went through. What started as your standard first-round match at a Grand Slam morphed into a spectacle that even stole headlines from the concurrent World Cup.

“Afterwards, I learned that on top of his incredible competitive spirit, Nico is one of the most genuine and kind people I’ve ever come across.”

There were three service breaks in 183 games, totalling 980 points. There were 168 consecutive service games held between both players until Isner broke in the 183rd and final game of the match. The previous break of serve had been in the second game of the second set when Isner was broken at 0-1.

The fifth set alone lasted eight hours and 11 minutes – longer than any the previous longest-match in tennis history, when Fabrice Santoro beat his French compatriot Arnaud Clement over six hours and 33 minutes in a first-round match at 2004 Roland Garros.

Isner hit 113 aces to 103 for Mahut, there were 490 winners overall – including 244 for Mahut, who picks up a cheque for £11,250. On Wednesday, Isner had missed four match points in the fifth set – one at 10-9, two at 33-32 and one at 59-58.

ATP Heritage: Milestones. Records. Legends.

Upon the completion of the historic match, the All England Club presented the two players and Mohamed Lahyani, a Swedish umpire, with awards on the court to mark their achievement.

In an on-court interview, No. 23 seed Isner said, of his vanquished opponent: “The guy’s an absolute warrior. It stinks someone had to lose. To share this with him was an absolute honour. Maybe we’ll meet again somewhere down the road and it won’t be 70-68.”

Mahut was gracious in defeat, admitting “at this moment I’m just really thankful. It was amazing today.

“John deserved to win. He served unbelievable, he’s a champion. It was really an honour to play the greatest match ever at the greatest place for tennis. It was very long but I think we both enjoyed it.”

Ironically, Isner and Mahut drew one another in the first round in 2011, too. Isner won 7-6(4), 6-2, 7-6(6).

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Wimbledon Rewind: The Longest Match

  • Posted: Jun 24, 2020

On this day in 2010, we witnessed the end of the longest tennis match in history. This epic first round men’s singles match lasted an incredible 11 hours and five minutes, taking three days to complete.

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