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Resurfaced: Richard Krajicek… Remembering 1996 Wimbledon

  • Posted: Jul 06, 2020

Resurfaced: Richard Krajicek… Remembering 1996 Wimbledon

Twenty years ago, there were no holes in Richard Krajicek’s game as he lifted the 1996 Wimbledon trophy, a victory that liberated the giant Dutchman from his childhood and clearly defined the person he was and who he wanted to be.

Editor’s Note: But for the COVID-19 pandemic, Wimbledon would now be underway. During the next two weeks ATPTour.com will look back on memorable matches and happenings at the grass-court Grand Slam. This story was originally published on 7 July 2016.

At the only grass-court tournament in continental Europe, the lawns are wet
and the tennis balls are low bouncing. A one-time happy hunting ground, Richard
Krajicek is far from positive. His spirits, and those of his coach, Rohan Goetzke,
have worsened progressively. Narrow wins over Jacco Eltingh and Hendrik Jan
Davids precede a 6-4, 7-5 loss to Paul Haarhuis. Goetzke is fuming.

“He put in a shocker,” recalls Goetzke, his Australian coach of nearly
six years. “He was hitting the ball okay, but he wasn’t confident.”

“I wasn’t motivated to play,” admits Krajicek. “During my career,
I battled myself as well as my opponent. There were times in practice when my
coach would be shaking his head. My attitude was bad, not even that – I wasn’t
trying, but I was getting too upset. I was too much of a perfectionist.”

Goetzke tells Krajicek, “There’s nothing wrong with your game. You serve
and return well. You’re a whinger!

“If you go on holiday, I’m gone. Wimbledon is the biggest tournament of
the year. You’re going to look back on your career and wonder where it went.
Do something!”

A holiday beckons.

“We had planned to go to Austria, for a sporting vacation,” remembers
his wife, Daphne Deckers, 20 years on. “Richard was always improving with
Rohan, although life as a professional tennis player is hugely stressful for
all parties.”

Krajicek takes time out. But he soon calls Goetzke, ready to work. They head
to London. “You can win this,” Goetzke tells Krajicek. “You can
go a long way. You need to enjoy the process, the ride.”

“We decided to train on hard courts, as I always struggled with rhythm,”
remembers Krajicek. “My game wasn’t too much rhythm, but the points were
so short that after a couple of days on the grass, I felt I was playing worse
and worse. Maybe I was serving and volleying good, but I had no timing. I was
reading this article that when Andre Agassi won Wimbledon in 1992, he spent
hardly any time on grass. It was all hard courts. He just wanted timing. I hit
a few times on hard court, only 20 minutes a day, then I kept having a good
feeling.”

Aged 24, Krajicek has already overcome two knee surgeries and he’s also been
out of action for five months without going under the knife. “My knee was
always a problem,” explains Krajicek. “It was part of my body. I was
told I was quite strong, but because I was always serve and volleying, and I
was tall I had more chance for injury. That was the downside, but the upside
was that I was able to play the way I did.”

With two first-round losses at The Championships – to decent grass-court players:
Darren Cahill in 1994 and to Bryan Shelton in 1995, Krajicek’s main goal is
to survive round one. Despite being No. 14 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, he
isn’t among the list of 16 seeds. But No. 2-ranked Thomas Muster is angered
by his seeding of seventh and withdraws due to a left thigh muscle injury that
he picked up at The Queen’s Club. The announcement comes through on 20 June,
following the Austrian’s 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 loss to Brett Steven at the Gerry Weber
Open in Halle. Krajicek moves into Muster’s slot. It’s three days before The
Championships begins.

Krajicek comes up against Steven on the ‘graveyard.’ Court No. 2.

“He wasn’t focused,” remembers Stanley Franker, who, at the time
was the Dutch Davis Cup captain. “He was trying so hard to lose the match.
I remember leaving the court, because it was so frustrating.”

“The third round was bad weather, windy and cold,” says Krajicek.
“I got back in my negativity, in my old ways for the first two sets. I
won the first set 7-6(5), then I lost 6-7(5).”

At 1-4 down in the third set, Krajicek is on the edge.

“Then I turned a switch in my head,” says Krajicek. “‘Okay,
let’s stop complaining and play,’ I told myself. It was probably my most important
match for the way I thought.”

“I returned to see him re-born,” says Franker, who stays to see Krajicek win 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2.

Goetzke recalls, “Afterwards, I asked, ‘You okay?’

“He said, ‘You don’t need to say anything, I’m good’. It was like going
back to his younger days…”

Krajicek first met Goetzke aged 16. On a four-week European tour in 1989,
they hit it off and Krajicek’s game continually developed in his training alongside
the likes of Paul Dogger and Eltingh.

“It wasn’t immediately apparent that he would make it, like some juniors”
says Goetzke. “Richard was competitive and wanted to win, but he got frustrated
easily. He learned to be a pro.”

“At the age of 10, he didn’t have big shots,” admits Franker. “But
he had a great game. He was a little lazy, but he worked on his attitude and
he responded well. He later shot up and was totally uncoordinated. But his body
developed. Rohan and Richard were a fantastic match.”

“He wanted to win and fight, and he could hang in there,” says Goetzke.
“But it cost a lot of energy and time. I recall coming down on him once
in practice, when he was playing with younger players, prior to going to the
1991 Stuttgart Indoors. I told him to ‘go back and apologise, otherwise we’re
done.’ It was a rollercoaster.”

Krajicek says, “Rohan always knew when to be tough with me and when to
take it easy, Strategically, he helped me improve as a player and into a happier
person.”

“I got tough on some players and I didn’t care who it was,” says
Franker, who helped to establish the standard for every Dutch player in the
1980s and 1990s. “If they saw my face, they knew they hard to work. You
had to be 100 per cent professional, otherwise you wouldn’t play for Holland.
You had to walk the walk and set an example.”

Peter Wessels is a product of the Dutch system. As one of the world’s
top juniors he is enlisted by Goetzke to practise with Krajicek, from his second-round
victory over Derrick Rostagno. “Peter was someone Richard knew,” says
Goetzke. “Someone he felt comfortable with, so it enabled him to relax
and it gave both of them a lift.

“At the start, we’d nearly gone back to a double-handed backhand, that’s
how bad it had been. Richard’s backhand had been a weakness, his lesser stroke.
But he served great, was good at the net and had good movement. In stopping
his bid to try to perfect his backhand, we worked on his strengths. It was then
tough to find a hole in his game.”

Krajicek and Wessels sessions are not too long, an hour or so a day. “I
remember him being pretty relaxed yet very focused and determined,” remembers
Wessels, who is now based in the United Arab Emirates. “In the past, they’d
practised serve accuracy by aiming on muesli bars placed in the service box.
These were muesli bars we both hated, but if one of us hit the bar the other
one was forced to eat it. I remember hitting the bar, but he never ate it…”

“To me, personally, he looked different on court compared to some other
tournaments where I’ve seen him play. In the training sessions, he was
a bit more positive than usual. Sometimes he could get down on himself or even
a bit cranky when things didn’t go his way, but I didn’t see that at all
during the tournament.

“It motivated me that he did so well. I had in my mind that it would be
a great story if two Dutchmen could win Wimbledon in the same year.”

It’s three years since Krajicek first played on Centre Court, when he
lost to defending champion Andre Agassi 7-5, 7-6(7), 7-6(8) in the 1993 fourth
round. For the past two days, it has been raining in London. Krajicek stayed
on top of Michael Stich, one of the sport’s most naturally talented players,
in a tough fourth-round victory by maintaining a really aggressive brand of
tennis. Today, Wednesday, 3 July, Krajicek is confident that he can overcome
Pete Sampras, the three-time champion, in a contest on the sport’s grandest
stage. The pair has met four times, but not since the Paris Indoors at the end
of 1994.

“I always played good against Pete,” admits Krajicek, who saves five
break points in a 12-minute third game. “I knew he was a great front runner.”
With rain interrupting the match at 2-2 in the first set, Sir Cliff Richard,
a member of the All England Club, is coaxed by chief executive Christopher Gorringe
to sing during a break in play of three hours and 40 minutes. A request for
one song, ‘Summer Holiday’, becomes an impromptu concert and his backing group,
the ‘Shadows’, feature Pam Shriver, Conchita Martinez, Gigi Fernandez, Virginia
Wade, and finally, to a big cheer, Martina Navratilova. The rain delay lasts
three hours and 40 minutes. Krajicek bides him time, “relaxing, only doing
things to help you feel good.

“Once I won that third game and we got to 4-4 and 5-5, I was surprised
how well he played. I was surprised how well he started. There was so much energy.
He felt really good on the court. It was a different Pete Sampras to any time
I played him. Because I’d stayed with him, saving all of those break point chances,
I felt that his energy level come down a bit. He knew I would be intimidated
a bit by Centre Court. If Pete had broken me in the third game, I think it would
have been totally different. I had a bit of luck, but from 4-4 we were equals.”

The second chapter lasts one hour and 37 minutes. The third passage, a further
51 minutes. With a two-sets-to-love lead and at 1-1 in the third set, just as
Krajicek strikes his 23rd ace, and, in spite of blue skies overhead, the players
are forced into the locker room. Krajicek and Sampras don’t return until the
next day. “The reason why we couldn’t play was because one of the ground
staff slipped under the covers, leaving the court exposed,” remembers Krajicek.
With physio Jan Naaktgeboren set to work on Krajicek’s increasingly sore shoulder,
the hotel and room service beckoned. “Play was cancelled pretty much straight
away.

“So many times you see top players compete and they are struggling in
the beginning of a tournament, then an opponent makes a mistake or something
happens, then their fortunes change. In my brain, I hoped this wasn’t something
that would save Pete. Maybe, if we’d returned, the match might have changed.
Because I was in the flow and he was struggling. In the end, he had a night
to re-group with his coach and I had a night of thinking what might happen.”

Goetzke recalls, “Pete did not like to play Richard. You always felt in
the match with Pete, and it was a tall order to come back from two sets down.
Richard regrouped and carried the momentum into the following day.”

Go To Part II: Continue Reading…

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The Netcord That Saved Stich's Wimbledon Dream

  • Posted: Jul 06, 2020

The Netcord That Saved Stich’s Wimbledon Dream

The German speaks exclusively to ATPTour.com about his memorable five-setter against Volkov

Nobody will ever take away Michael Stich’s 1991 Wimbledon crown. But Alexander Volkov nearly brought the German’s dream run to a halt in the fourth round.

“That was basically the deciding match for me to win Wimbledon,” Stich told ATPTour.com.

The sixth seed had an interesting first week at the All England Club, as he wasn’t able to finish his first-round win against Dan Goldie until Thursday due to rain. After beating Diego Nargiso and Omar Camporese in four sets each, the German knew Volkov could potentially be a tricky opponent.

“He was a tough player to play. He could have played terribly, but if he was on and he was feeling the ball good, he was tough to play on grass because he took the ball very early. He was not a great server and not a great volleyer,” Stich said. “He wasn’t great at any stroke in particular, but he had a very good all-court game if he was on. He played very unconventionally… if you didn’t play your best and he was playing well, it was that little fraction of one ball here, one point there that could have made the difference.”

ATP Heritage: Milestones. Records. Legends.

That was exactly the case in their Wimbledon battle on the original No. 2 court, known as the “Graveyard of Champions”. Volkov was up a break early in the fifth set, and Stich did not feel he was playing well.

“I had a break point against me to go down a double break,” Stich said. “I missed the first serve. I had a second serve and just thought, ‘What the hell?’ I just went for that second serve, I won that point and I won that game.”

Even so, Volkov took a 5-3 lead and served for the match. He was just centimetres from earning match point on his own racquet.

“I hit a forehand passing shot that hit the top of the tape and just went over his racquet. He was at the net, and it landed on the sideline,” Stich said. “Then I got the break and, I’m not sure since it’s almost 30 years ago now, but I think I didn’t lose a point afterwards. I won my service game, I broke him to love and then I served out to love again and won 7-5 in the fifth.”

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Stich won the match 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 7-5 to reach the quarter-finals. But if his passing shot hit the net a fraction lower or ricocheted just a bit wider, he very easily could have lost the match.

“As I was not happy with my performance, you get to that stage where you think, ‘Just go for it, what the heck.’ You’re not playing your best tennis anyway, you might just lose, so you [know you] might need that bit of luck to turn the tables,” Stich said. “You still always believe you can change the course of the match, even if you’re not happy with your own performance. But maybe it needs something like that netcord to make that happen.

“As everything happens in fractions of a second, especially on grass where you don’t have much time, you don’t have so much time to think about it… Things have to come together, you have to be very focussed and as always, you always need that piece of luck in sports to be successful in the end.”

Stich immediately focussed on avenging a Roland Garros semi-final defeat against Jim Courier in the last eight, but it didn’t hurt mentally that he’d escaped a tough battle against Volkov.

“Definitely in your subconsciousness it creates something like, ‘You should have been out, but you’re still here so just relax!’” Stich said. “When I was relaxed and I felt good about myself, then the timing was right, the timing was good, and things seemed to be easier for me.”

Stich beat Courier in straight sets, defeated Stefan Edberg in four despite not earning a break point, and then triumphed against countryman Boris Becker to claim his lone Grand Slam trophy. Defeating three of the top four players in the FedEx ATP Rankings from the quarter-finals on was an impressive feat for the German. But it was surviving against Volkov that allowed him the chance to do so.

“If you take the whole match, he probably should have won,” Stich said. “But then again, luck comes into play, and it just was not to be for him.”

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Changing Of The Guard: Federer Dethrones Childhood Idol Sampras

  • Posted: Jul 06, 2020

Changing Of The Guard: Federer Dethrones Childhood Idol Sampras

Teenage Swiss scores memorable first win on Centre Court in 2001

It always appeared to be a question of when, and not if, Roger Federer would dominate headlines with his results. But not even the Swiss could have anticipated that he would announce his arrival by defeating childhood idol Pete Sampras.

Their fourth-round clash at 2001 Wimbledon is now viewed as a passing of the torch. The 19-year-old Federer played the best match of his career to stun the seven-time Wimbledon champion 7-6(7), 5-7, 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-5, marking his first victory on Centre Court. Federer took the boys’ singles title at Wimbledon three years earlier, but hadn’t won a professional singles match at the tournament prior to the start of the fortnight.

“This match will give me as much confidence as I can get,” Federer said. “This is the biggest win of my life.”

The match was a logical result in some ways. Federer had produced a stronger start to the 2001 season than Sampras, winning his maiden ATP Tour title in Milan and scoring three wins over players inside the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings. Meanwhile, the American struggled to a 15-10 record and hadn’t won a tour-level crown since prevailing nearly 12 months earlier at the All England Club, but his track record at this event still made him a heavy favourite for the title.

When Sampras charged back to take the fourth set against Federer and held two break points at 4-4 in the final set, the Swiss teenager showed mental toughness he’d previously lacked in Grand Slams. Federer erased both chances with a volley winner and forehand winner before holding serve. It was Sampras who blinked first in the next game by hitting two unforced errors to trail 15/40.

When Federer cracked a down-the-line forehand return winner to end the match, the crowd leapt to their feet as Federer dropped to his knees. After shaking hands with Sampras, the look of disbelief on his face was accompanied by tears rolling down his cheeks.

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“A lot of friends had told me, ‘I think you can beat him this year,’” Federer said. “I’d played a great year – better than him. I knew I had a chance. But it was not 100 per cent. I mean, he’s the man on grass.”

Sampras sat in stunned silence after suffering his earliest defeat at Wimbledon in 10 years. But while he gave Federer full credit for the victory, he refused to view the match as anything more significant than a single loss.

“It was his moment. It’s grass-court tennis. One minute you feel like you have it, the next minute you’re walking off the court,” Sampras said. “Federer played a great game. But there’s no reason to panic and think I can’t come back here and win.”

It took Federer more time to consistently show the level of tennis he displayed that day. He fell in the quarter-finals to Tim Henman and wouldn’t reach that stage of a Grand Slam for another two years before capturing his first major championship at 2003 Wimbledon.

Meanwhile, Sampras’ most shocking Wimbledon loss came the following year as he exited in the second round to Swiss lucky loser George Bastl. The American regrouped to win the US Open three months later in the final event of his career.

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Ashe's Wimbledon Win Over Connors, 45 Years On

  • Posted: Jul 05, 2020

Ashe’s Wimbledon Win Over Connors, 45 Years On

On Saturday, 5 July 1975, Arthur Ashe recorded his greatest triumph on a tennis court. With exclusive insight from Ashe’s closest friends, James Buddell of ATPWorldTour.com recounts how the American lifted the Wimbledon trophy — one of the most significant wins in the sport’s history.

Editor’s Note: But for the COVID-19 pandemic, Wimbledon would now be underway. During the next two weeks ATPTour.com will look back on memorable matches and happenings at the grass-court Grand Slam. This story was originally published on 5 July 2015.

On the walls of Le Negresco hangs a portrait of Louis XIV, by Hyacinthe Rigaud; there’s a chandelier designed by Gustav Eiffel; glass work by Baccarrat, one of two commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II, in the Grand Salon that features a glass ceiling. Here, in the palatial art-encrusted surrounds of one of Europe’s finest hotels, owned by Jean-Baptiste Mesnage, on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, Arthur Ashe checks in to a hotel, exclusive to the rich, famous, and their pets. He’s just shared a 311-mile drive from Bologna, via Genoa and Ventimiglia, with Fred McNair and Dickie Dell, during a week off from the busy WCT (World Championship Tennis) circuit.

It’s February 1975 and Ashe, days earlier, has just lost to Bjorn Borg 7-6, 4-6, 7-6 in the final of the WCT Bologna tournament. Their stay, in rooms overlooking the Mediterranean, is temporary. The next stop beckons: Barcelona. That night Ashe, McNair and Dell arrange to head to the Nice Lawn Tennis Club in the morning, for a hit. Afterwards, showered, changed and packed up, they head to the Nice train station, where they pick up an International Herald Tribune newspaper to read up on politics and sport. “We spotted one report,” recalls McNair. “It said that actor Richard Burton, who would re-marry Elizabeth Taylor later in the year, had been seen with Suzy Hunt, the model, newly married to Formula One racing driver James Hunt, on the French Riviera.”   

Returning to Le Negresco, they pass through the marble-floored 50-metre entrance hall, en route to the lifts wide enough to carry beds, for their suitcases ready for check out. Ashe, McNair and Dell pass by a glamourous couple, who have entered. Taking up the story, 40 years on, McNair recalls, “The lady was wearing a red fox fur coat, with a white poodle dog under her right arm. The man was walking with another white poodle.” Seconds pass.

‘Mr Ashe…’

“We all turned around, and took an appropriate pause. It was Burton and Hunt…

“After introductions, Burton asks, ‘What brings you here?’

‘We’re heading on to an event in Spain,’ explains Ashe. 

‘Have you played that impish young American?’

‘You mean, [Jimmy] Connors? Yes, yes, recently. It wasn’t a very good result.’”

On 25 November 1974, Connors had retained the South African Open title with a 7-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory over Ashe in Johannesburg’s Ellis Park stadium. It was his 17th crown of an extraordinary season. He’d lost just two of 11 sets to Ashe in their three matches to date.

“‘I tell you what,’ says Burton. ‘Next time you play, you will beat him. If you do, I’ll wager you £100.

‘It will be the best £100 that I have lost.’”

Burton’s words stick.

Over the course of the next three months, Ashe re-dedicates himself to practice. Getting super fit, he picks up five WCT titles, beating 18-year-old Borg on three occasions, including at the Dallas WCT Finals, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-0.

With one of his goals for 1975 out the way, Ashe sets his sights on another.

Ashe checks into room 234 at the Westbury Hotel, in the first week of June, more than two weeks before the start of The Championships at Wimbledon. McNair, who has travelled with Ashe for the past five months, is staying directly below in room 134, a walk up a staircase from the understated hotel lobby. A 50-room enterprise, the five-star American hotel in Bond Street is used by clients of Donald Dell, Frank Craighill, Lee Fentress and Ray Benton, a sports management firm, later called ProServ. It’s not the official player hotel, but an occasional meeting point for the two-year-old Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).

Twelve months ago, on the night of Sunday, 23 June 1974, Ashe had been elected president of the ATP, after Cliff Drysdale stepped down. But, at a time of enormous political struggle, it was also the day that World TeamTennis, together with the reigning Australian Open champions Jimmy Connors and Evonne Goolagong, announced their decision to sue the French and Italian championships for $10 million for banning WTT players. They were also suing Jack Kramer, the executive director of the ATP; Dell, its General Counsel, and the Grand Prix circuit sponsor, Commercial Union Assurance Company, for conspiring with the national associations to bar WTT players from tournaments. Thirty one of the now 145-strong ATP are involved in WTT. Effectively, every player is being sued. Connors was not an ATP member. It’s quite the baptism by fire for Ashe, who would soon be responsible for writing the code of conduct.

During the first week of their stay in 1975, Ashe, McNair and Sherwood Stewart travel by train to Beckenham, for their first tournament matches on grass in England. At night, they return together in order to dine at the Playboy Club in Mayfair, a 15-minute walk from their hotel and “seemingly the only restaurant open in London after 9:30 p.m.” admits McNair. Ashe goes on to capture the Kent Championships title, beating Roscoe Tanner 7-5, 6-4 in the final. Some of the WCT members head to Nottingham, a two-and-a-hour drive north of London, the following week. Despite losing to Tony Roche 6-3, 6-4 in the quarter-finals, Ashe’s confidence remains high on his return to the Westbury Hotel.

But his mood will quickly change.

Two days before the start of Connors’ title defence at 1975 Wimbledon, the back pages of London’s Saturday editions headline: CONNORS SUES ASHE.  

Connors’ manager, Bill Riordan, has filed two lawsuits in Indianapolis, claiming damages of $5 million for libellous comments against them in letters written by Ashe, and an article by Bob Briner, the ATP secretary. The crux is that Ashe has criticised Connors as “seemingly unpatriotic” for playing lucrative ‘challenge’ matches, rather than joining the U.S. Davis Cup team. Briner had called Riordan, a “nihilist”. The news breaks as Connors begins a practice at The Queen’s Club.  Richard Evans, the European Director of the ATP, is quoted by AP, saying, “Personally, I’m getting very tired of these shabby tactics of throwing out law suits just before Wimbledon.”

Incredibly, Ashe and Connors will meet in 14 days’ time, for the sport’s greatest prize.

Connors is considered invincible in the locker room. In 1974, he has compiled a 99-4 record and won three major championships. “Using his Wilson T2000 like a rapier, he had cut the 39-year-old Ken Rosewall to pieces in the Wimbledon final and had then beaten him even more severely in the US Open final, which was being played on grass for the last time,” remembers John Barrett, the former player and broadcaster. “Connors seemed to be invincible on fast grass.”

The top seed has not dropped a set en route to the 1975 Wimbledon final. “He had simply annihilated Roscoe Tanner in the semi-finals,” recalls Sports Illustrated’s Frank Deford, of the 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 victory.

By contrast, sixth seed Ashe – using a Head Arthur Ashe Comp 2 racquet – has come through a four-set quarter-final against Borg, who picked up a groin injury, and a 5-7, 6-4, 7-5, 8-9, 6-4 last four epic over left-hander Tony Roche, when tie-breaks were played at eight games all. On Saturday, he’ll contest his seventh major championship final – his first since the 1972 US Open, when he lost to Ilie Nastase in five sets.

Connors is an 11/2 favourite at the London bookmakers’ going into his second Wimbledon final; an overwhelming favourite. Ashe is expected to be swallowed up. “On the eve of the final, I remember discussing Arthur’s prospects with Donald Dell as we stood on the steps of the competitors’ restaurant,” recalls Barrett. “We agreed that he could not expect to outhit Jimmy, who thrived on pace.”

Few know that Connors is nursing an injury, the result of slipping and hyper-extending a knee during his first-round win over John Lloyd. It has required secret daily visits to a Chelsea Football Club physiotherapist. Doctors are suggesting he rest. No chance!

Go To Part II: Continue Reading…

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Five Things To Know About Corentin Moutet

  • Posted: Jul 05, 2020

Five Things To Know About Corentin Moutet

Learn about the 21-year-old’s career highlights, musical talents and more

Corentin Moutet is the No. 75 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings and the youngest Frenchman in the Top 100.

ATPTour.com looks at five things you should know about the #NextGenATP Frenchman.

1) He Entered The ATP Challenger Tour History Books In 2019
Last season, Moutet became the first teenager in 12 years to lift ATP Challenger Tour trophies in three consecutive seasons. Following in the footsteps of Evgeny Korolev, who achieved the feat from 2005 to 2007, the Paris native added the Chennai trophy to his 2017 Brest title and 2018 Istanbul crown.

Four months after his title run in India, Moutet claimed his fourth Challenger trophy in front of a boisterous home crowd in Lyon. With his run to the title, the Frenchman cracked the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time.

Moutet

2) He Finished 2019 In Style
At last year’s Rolex Paris Masters, Moutet impressed the home crowd in his final match of the year against Novak Djokovic. The 5’9” left-hander earned two set points in the first set and landed a tweener lob against the Serbian, ultimately losing 6-7(2), 4-6.

“[Moutet] is talented, very quick,” said Djokovic. “[He] returns a lot of balls back that usually other guys wouldn’t get. He gets it, and he was pumped. I respect his fighting spirit.”

3) He Makes Rap Music
In his time off the court, you may find Moutet writing lyrics for his latest rap song. The Parisian recently created a YouTube channel to showcase his music following a positive reaction from fellow players and coaches.

“The days can be long on site at tournaments, so I wanted to do something else,” said Moutet. “I’m usually writing, singing or rapping most of the time now. I try to write every day about my feelings or anything else that comes to mind.”

 

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Premier freestyle Inspiré par @melaniediamsofficiel Hésitez pas à partager si vous kiffez 🙏🏻 #rapfrancais#rap#freestyle#1minute2rap

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4) He Started 2020 In Peak Form
In his first event of 2020, Moutet made a breakthrough in Doha. The Next Gen ATP Finals contender won six straight matches from qualifying to advance to his maiden ATP Tour final.

In the main draw, Moutet overcame Tennys Sandgren, former World No. 3 Milos Raonic, 2017 semi-finalist Fernando Verdasco and three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka to book a championship clash against Andrey Rublev. Despite losing to the Russian in the final, the Frenchman climbed 11 spots to a career-high World No. 70 after the tournament.

“Unfortunately, I couldn’t win tonight because the opponent was too good. But I will remember this all my life,” said Moutet.

ATP Heritage: Milestones. Records. Legends.

5) Moutet Aims To Inspire
Alongside ambitions of rising in the FedEx ATP Rankings and lifting ATP Tour titles, Moutet is also keen to use his platform to inspire tennis fans through his hard-working attitude. The Doha runner-up, who received his first tennis racquet aged two, prides himself on playing until the last point in every match.

“I want to try to inspire many people around the world when they are watching tennis, just to make them like this sport,” Moutet said. “I want to be remembered as a fighter, as a player who never gives up and gives everything on the court.”

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Philippoussis On Agassi Stunner: 'Serving Big Wasn't Good Enough'

  • Posted: Jul 05, 2020

Philippoussis On Agassi Stunner: ‘Serving Big Wasn’t Good Enough’

Philippoussis provides exclusive insight into his win against Agassi at 2003 Wimbledon

Wimbledon was always Mark Philippoussis’ dream tournament. He fondly remembers staying up late to watch the final as a kid, especially when Boris Becker won the title in 1985 and Pat Cash triumphed in 1987.

That made it even more special when the Aussie reached the quarter-finals at The Championships each year from 1998-2000. Philippoussis’ big serve-and-volley game meshed perfectly with the London grass. But as his career wore on, Philippoussis’ left knee wreaked havoc on his career, leading to multiple surgeries. In 2002, the 1998 US Open finalist dropped as low as No. 148 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.

But one match at 2003 Wimbledon helped remind the world what ‘The Scud’ was capable of. The Aussie reached his fifth Round of 16 at the All England Club, setting a clash against World No. 1 and second seed Andre Agassi. The American, one of the best returners in history, had long proven a foil for Philippoussis’ powerful game.

“With him, there’s no such thing as holding serve comfortably. No matter how big I was serving, if he had a chance to hit the ball, I was going to find it at my toes most of the time,” Philippoussis told ATPTour.com. “Not only did I have to serve as good as I can, but I knew I had to serve aces. It wasn’t good enough just to serve big.”

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Aces proved vital for the Aussie that day at SW19. The World No. 48 hit a career-best 46 of them to battle past his rival 6-3, 2-6, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4, earning one of the biggest wins of his career. The American had defeated Philippoussis in their past six ATP Head2Head meetings, including twice earlier that year, but the underdog’s confidence wasn’t shaken.

“It’s quite comfortable for me to say that when I walked on the court, I never felt like it was about my opponent. I knew it was about me with the tennis I played. I just knew that I had to focus on me,” Philippoussis said. “Especially when you’re playing someone like Andre, it’s even more important to focus on you, because you can’t focus on what your opponent does or what he’s going to do. It’s just losing energy thinking about that.”

That’s why the Aussie didn’t panic when Agassi won a third-set tie-break to take a two-sets-to-one lead. Philippoussis knew if he played his best, the match was still on his racquet.

“It’s just [about] staying in there [and] applying pressure,” Philippoussis said. “I kept playing my game and just hoped that over the match that as pressure built and [I] stayed on him, I’d end up with a little piece of that door opening up and I can kind of get through.”

ATP Heritage: Milestones. Records. Legends.

Philippoussis, who broke in his first return game of the fourth set, believes that was the turning point. The Aussie saved two break points at 2-3 in the fifth set, then earned the decisive break in the next game.

Philippoussis crushed five aces in the following game to help stave off Agassi’s final two break points, eventually triumphing after three hours and 13 minutes.

“We both were doing well to sort of give ourselves the chances,” Agassi said. “He ended up being the one to take them in the end.”

Philippoussis nearly suffered a stunning defeat in the quarter-finals, overcoming a two-set deficit against fellow big-server Alexander Popp, the World No. 198.

“Thank goodness I actually had a rain delay and was able to go back in and just get myself together,” Philippoussis said. “I came out flat. After a match like Andre, beating a champion like that, I came out flat and almost paid the price. I wasn’t ready. At the top level, anyone could beat anyone.”

After defeating Sebastien Grosjean to reach his second Grand Slam final, only one man could end Philippoussis’ dream run: 21-year-old Roger Federer, who had yet to win a major.

“Walking into that match, I felt like I was the favourite. We were playing on grass. I don’t care who the person is or what he’s ranked. A couple months earlier I’d actually beaten him in Hamburg where he was defending champion on clay,” Philippoussis said. “I felt confident. I was living my dream.”

Federer defeated Philippoussis 7-6(5), 6-2, 7-6(3) to lift his first of a record eight Wimbledon trophies. Philippoussis was left disappointed, despite a magical run highlighted by his victory against Agassi.

“I’m not going to lie, it hurt,” Philippoussis said. “I got to the final. No one remembers the runners-up. Of course you don’t want to go all that way and lose. It was my second Grand Slam final loss and it hurt, especially this one. This one really, really hurt. I came back from some surgeries, they said my tennis career was over. I worked very hard. It was a beautiful two weeks, but I fell short.”

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Melzer Reveals 'The One Memory I Will Never Forget'

  • Posted: Jul 05, 2020

Melzer Reveals ‘The One Memory I Will Never Forget’

Relive Melzer and Petzschner’s 2010 Wimbledon win

Ten years ago, Jurgen Melzer and Philipp Petzschner lost against Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, respectively, in the Wimbledon singles draw. The good friends did not go home empty-handed, though.

They left the All England Club with the doubles title despite neither man previously reaching a Grand Slam final.

“Sometimes it feels like yesterday, sometimes it feels like 10 years ago, but it is one memory I will never forget,” Melzer told ATPTour.com. “I remember championship point. Philipp made a down-the-line passing shot and we just hugged each other all over the grass. Winning it with such a good friend makes it even more special. That’s why I will always cherish that moment we had, especially at the All England Club.”

Melzer lost in the fourth round of the singles draw against Federer, and Petzschner let slip a two-sets-to-one lead against Nadal in the third round. But they regrouped for a memorable doubles run. They had only played six tournaments together before that Wimbledon, all earlier in 2010. The unseeded Austrian-German duo did not lose a set in their first three matches.

“I think what helped us a lot that year, we only played one doubles match in the first week,” Melzer said. “That was very good for us and we could focus on doubles and didn’t lose too much energy.”

ATP Heritage: Milestones. Records. Legends.

The team’s toughest test came in the semi-finals against seventh seeds Wesley Moodie and Dick Norman. Melzer and Petzschner led by a set and a break, but in a flash they were into a fifth set.

“Thank God we broke early in the fifth and we held serve. I will never forget, Philipp was one of those guys who never got tight. He was a clutch player when it mattered, and at 5-4 serving in the fifth, 15/30, he said, ‘Okay, I’m a little tight. I’m going to go for a little more on the serve,’” Melzer recalled. “I think he served ace, ace, service winner. He was serving more than 225 kilometres per hour all three serves. I was pretty happy with him being tight and serving that way.”

Melzer and Petzschner eliminated Moodie and Norman 7-6(3), 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3. The final was less complicated. They beat 16th seeds Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau 6-1, 7-5, 7-5 for the trophy. Both men still have a ball from that championship, and Petzschner has their nameplates from the All England Club.

“It was incredible, especially with a close friend, whom you share a lot of memories with the whole year. Putting yourself into the position of winning a Grand Slam at Wimbledon, our favourite tournament, I think we played well,” Melzer said. “We deserved to win after those two weeks, because we had just been the best team. I will never forget it and will always cherish it.”

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