Your favourite players are all back at home, but they're finding plenty of ways to stay active. From Stan Wawrinka's clones to Fabio Fognini's backyard point, find out how the biggest names in tennis are keeping busy.
Fognini found a creative net to take on his wife and former US Open champion Flavia Pennetta.
Wawrinka never has a moment alone at home.
Which Stan are you going to be on this Saturday night ? ðŸ™„ðŸ¤¦ðŸ�»â™‚ï¸�ðŸ�ŠðŸ�»â™‚ï¸�ðŸ�¾ðŸ“°ðŸ›€ðŸ�»ðŸ”«ðŸŽ¯ðŸ§›ðŸ�¼â™‚ï¸�ðŸš¨âš¡ï¸�#FakeItTillYouMakeIt #QuarantineFridayNight #Bored #And #Crazy #PickYourStan #StanTheMan #StaySafe #stayhome pic.twitter.com/3BMIPSoGjK— Stanislas Wawrinka (@stanwawrinka) April 4, 2020
Jannik Sinner made a generous donation for COVID-19 relief efforts.
Stefanos Tsitsipas found a unique way to get fans involved on his social media.
Diego Schwartzman is enjoying plenty of bonding time with his dog.
James Duckworth got his sister to contribute vocals in this epic video.
Casper Ruud served up impressions of several ATP Tour legends.
Roberto Bautista Agut has no days off when it comes to working on fitness.
Leonardo Mayer is getting creative for weight training.
Santiago Gonzalez's boundless energy appears to be wearing his family down.
[TENNIS AT HOME]
Denis Shapovalov sent his fans an encouraging message on Tuesday to help them maintain positivity during the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, promoting the importance of unity.
“Just wanted to reach out to the fans. I know it’s a tough time. A lot of people [are] stuck inside their homes. I hope everyone is social distancing, staying inside,” Shapovalov said. “I know it’s tough for everyone, but let’s get through it together.”
[TENNIS AT HOME]
The 20-year-old Canadian spent time to thank those on the front lines battling against virus.
“I just want to thank all the first responders, all the people: firefighters, policemen, people working at the hospitals, doctors, everyone just putting their lives at risk every day trying to take care of this and manage it as much as possible,” Shapovalov said. “It is heroes like this who truly inspire me and I’m sure a lot more people. Thank you to them.”
Shapovalov admitted he hasn’t been posting much on social media, with his most recent post coming on 29 March. But the lefty promised fans they will hear from him sooner rather than later.
“Honestly I’ve been locked down, just doing my own thing, working on some stuff for myself,” Shapovalov said. “I promise to be posting some more content shortly.”
Fans got a special Instagram Live surprise on Tuesday, as 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov and former WTA World No. 1 Venus Williams joined forces for a special workout session.
Dimitrov and Williams did a variety of exercises, from skipping rope to footwork drills. Before they got started, Williams put on her reporter hat and asked the Bulgarian some questions about how he’s holding up.
“Life on the west coast is pretty good,” said Dimitrov, who is in California. “Making the most that we can out of the situation. Enjoying the early mornings and a little bit of workouts as well.”
[TENNIS AT HOME]
Dimitrov admitted that he misses playing tennis while staying at home.
“[I miss it] a lot. I know it’s not easy. It’s been quite a few days that you’ve been away from the court. You just want to step on [to a court] and try some things that you have worked on. But at the end of the day you’ve got to make the most out of it and try to focus on all the positivity,” Dimitrov said. “We’re all in this together and I think it’s just going to make us stronger and look at things a little bit different. I think it puts everything in perspective from now on.”
The World No. 19 has been keeping busy to try to keep himself in shape for when the ATP Tour is able to get rolling again.
“I’ve been doing a lot of runs lately, to be honest, every time we go out. Doing a lot of shoulder prevention exercises. Working on little specific drills that I like to keep my feet activated. Just small details that we often neglect, especially when we’re competing throughout all the weeks,” Dimitrov said. “Now is the time that you can really emphasise on those things. We have a few exercises to show the fans. I’m sure we’re going to do something nice.”
Right before their workout began, Williams put Dimitrov on the spot.
“When are we playing mixed doubles?” she asked.
“Oh great, thanks,” he replied, cracking a laugh. “We should definitely do that. I’d be happy and excited to do this for sure. I’ve played I think a couple of times and for some reason I have a hard time hitting against the girl.”
Williams made a face that caught Dimitrov’s attention.
“We’re not going to play if you’re not going to play full out,” Venus said as they both laughed.
Milos Raonic has long paid close attention to his nutrition, first bringing a nutritionist onto his team in 2013. The former World No. 3 says the personnel has changed, but he has always had guidance in that department since, and it has proven a key part of his career.
ATPTour.com caught up with the Canadian to discuss nutrition, the food that has become a major part of his diet, the dessert he wishes he could eat and more.
[TENNIS AT HOME]
What made you add a nutritionist to your team in 2013? Some players pay careful attention to that, others not as closely, so was there any specific reason?
Every single step [of my career] I’ve always asked myself, ‘What can I do better?’ I reached that point in 2013 when just before the season, that’s where I thought I could make the most impact. I asked the people I was working with, my team, they felt that’s something I could give attention to and I could reap benefits from.
How much has your diet and what you’ve avoided changed between where you started and now?
It’s probably changed every two to three years because every time I change it, I use that to solve certain issues. When I started it was, ‘How can I clean stuff up? How can I be more efficient?’ Then over the past few years when I’ve had a lot of injuries, it’s been, 'What have I been lacking or what might I be missing or what do I need to do better to stay healthy?'
I think each time it’s been conformed to a specific issue that I’m trying to solve or I’m trying to fix or improve. I think that’s where it’s sort of stepped from the approach we take to the solution we are looking for.
Do you have a list of ‘no-no’s’ where you go into a restaurant and you know you can’t touch it?
Skipping desserts. I don’t eat red meat that often. Maybe once or twice every two weeks, and now a big part of it has been regimenting the times I eat. That is how quickly I’m eating after a match, and those kind of things. That’s what has changed a lot over the past period of time. It’s a lot more structured and so forth.
I’ve struggled with a lot of different types of injuries, different issues with my back, a couple muscle tears over the past few years. It was about how can we fuel you and how can we give you the right kind of food that you need to keep your tissues and your body healthy and also functioning properly. [It's about] functioning efficiently to try to find a way to minimise those problems coming up.
Is there a food that you thought was gross or just didn’t eat that now you’re eating because of those things?
When I started on Tour I wasn’t a big fan of fish, probably back in 2010 or 2011. That’s something that I probably eat more than anything of. It’s something I go to quite often to have the source of protein throughout my day, pretty much almost daily. That’s one that’s changed quite a bit.
There are different kinds of veggies and things that I’ve added, but I’d say fish was the one, because it is such a big part of what I consume nowadays. It’s probably the most significant change.
You mentioned how something you’ve adapted is how quickly after a match you eat, so what is that process like for you?
I think you try to get something in you right away within the first 45 minutes to an hour after a match. Before, sometimes I would stretch after a match, do my cooldown, do press and all those things. Now I’ll do my cooldown because that’s a priority right after, but then I’ll eat before I do press and all the other things that fall after it. It’s just been a shift in priorities in that sense.
When I do press doesn’t really change anybody’s life, but it will make a difference for me the next day or the accumulation of match after match, and it’ll start to make a difference in how soon I’m consuming something to start replenishing my body after the load of playing a match.
I know there are no desserts, but is there one you wish you could have?
I have it every once in a while, but much more rarely: tiramisu. It’s by far my favourite dessert.
Editor's Note: ATPTour.com is resurfacing features to bring fans closer to their favourite players during the current suspension in tournament play. This story was originally published on 15 April 2018.
Pablo Andujar became the lowest-ranked ATP World Tour champion in 20 years on Sunday, beating first-time finalist Kyle Edmund 6-2, 6-2 to win the Grand Prix Hassan II for a record third time.
The Spaniard, who also won the event in 2011 and 2012 in Casablanca, overcame the Australian Open semi-finalist in 82 minutes to become the most successful player in the history of the tournament, which began in 1990.
"I played very well during the whole match," said Andujar. "Trying to make him move as much as I could. He attacks a lot and is a very strong player. I was very solid today and I'm very happy about that."
The World No. 355 is the lowest-ranked tour-level titlist since Lleyton Hewitt, who lifted his maiden title in Adelaide at World No. 550 in 1998. Andujar has now won three of his four ATP World Tour titles in Morocco with his other victory coming in Gstaad four years ago.
The 32-year-old raced out to a 5-1 lead, breaking Edmund in each of his opening three service games to establish control of the match, before taking a one-set advantage in the eighth game after saving two break points. Edmund had been broken just three times this week heading into the championship match.
The Spaniard continued to find success against the 23-year-old’s serve in the second set, winning 67 per cent of points while returning off the Edmund first serve. Andujar was once again clinical, breaking on all three break-point opportunities created before once again navigating his way through a tough eighth service game to clinch the title in Marrakech.
Ranked as low as World No. 1,824 on 12 February after three elbow surgeries had threatened his career, Andujar now finds himself on a ten-match winning streak after becoming the first man since Ryan Harrison in 2017 to win ATP Challenger Tour and ATP World Tour titles in consecutive weeks.
"I always believed that I could come back, otherwise I wouldn't have tried," reflected Andujar.
World No. 26 Edmund was bidding to win his first ATP World Tour title in his maiden championship match at tour-level. With victory, he would also have become just the seventh player from Great Britain, in the history of the ATP Rankings, to reach the Top 20.
"For me it was a good tournament... it was great experience for me," said Edmund. "It's been a good year so far, it's not the result I wanted, but nevertheless a good week for me."
Andujar will receive 250 ATP Ranking points and €85,000 in prize money for clinching the crown. Edmund earns 150 ATP Rankings points and €44,770.
Did You Know?
Pablo Andujar is the third player to win ATP Challenger Tour and ATP World Tour titles in consecutive weeks in the past five years. In 2014, David Goffin won in Tampere, Finland and Kitzbuhel, and last year Ryan Harrison won in Dallas and Memphis.
Good morning, class. Volleying At Home 101 is in session with Professor Federer.
Roger Federer took to social media on Tuesday to challenge his fans to a volley challenge. The 38-year-old Swiss has been exploring new ways to embrace #tennisathome, and he found a fun method at the wall where he’d previously put on a trick-shot show on ice.
Federer stood just inches from the wall and hit rapid fire forehand volleys. The 103-time tour-level champion was already hitting volleys when the video began, and he was still doing so when the video ended. The shots were too quick to count, but he hit about 200 consecutive volleys in one minute without moving his feet.
[TENNIS AT HOME]
Fans will take notice that Federer was sporting a Panama hat, not the bandana people are used to seeing from him over the past two decades. “Choose your hat wisely,” Federer wrote.
The challenge was not only for fans, but for celebrities, too. Federer tagged the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Alexander Zverev, Coco Gauff, Cristiano Ronaldo, Tom Brady, Bill Gates and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in his post.
Love the confidence not to drop the ðŸŽ¾ on the ðŸ�¶ https://t.co/8FdnxfQGXx— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) April 7, 2020
That was the right choice of hat,— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) April 7, 2020
Love the effort, sorry to your dad! ðŸ˜¬ ðŸ¥´ðŸ‘� https://t.co/COAFAVXhQJ
Good job— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) April 7, 2020
Great cap ðŸ˜‰ https://t.co/27Yi5KxLV4
Winter time in the summer— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) April 7, 2020
Careful for the ðŸ“º https://t.co/whoc0Ugcb3
Nice work,— Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) April 7, 2020
I Like the broken racket in the back! ðŸ‘� https://t.co/TIHhxaa3bP
#NextGenATP Italian sensation Jannik Sinner is doing his part in the battle against coronavirus. The 18-year-old announced on his social media that in conjunction with his management company, StarWing Sports, and coach, Riccardo Piatti, he is donating €12,500 to Cesvi, a humanitarian organisation, to aid with medical emergencies in Bergamo.
“The unity in Italy throughout this crisis has been incredible. Among many thousands of Italians that have helped through this crisis, I want to applaud the 250 volunteers who came together in Bergamo recently to build a Field Hospital in just eight days,” Sinner wrote. “This unity is what will get us through this period. I want to do my part, as much as I can, to contribute in pulling us out of this."
Sinner is currently in Monte-Carlo, but he has been monitoring the situation in Italy closely.
“I urge you to help in any way you can to contribute in getting our great country out of this,” Sinner wrote. “I am proud to be Italian and proud of our unity. We will come out of this stronger. Stay safe â�¤ï¸�”
The Italian previously announced he would donate €10 for every photo shared on social media of a pizza pie that resembled him or any Italian figure.
“Hopefully, the Coronavirus will go away as soon as possible,” Sinner wrote in a blog for ATPTour.com. “I know every country is doing their best to lockdown.”
From posting workout videos to taking part in the toilet paper challenge, Hubert Hurkacz has been active on social media to share what he's been doing at home.
The rising 23-year-old held an impromptu Twitter Q&A this past weekend and spent an hour answering questions from fans. Hurkacz revealed his closest friends on Tour, favourite song of the moment and which player he'd like to trade places with for a day.
ATPTour.com highlights some of the Pole’s best answers from the Q&A.
Stay active, exercise a lot, read some good books, and watch movies ðŸ˜€— Hubert Hurkacz (@HubertHurkacz) April 4, 2020
Couple of times, but I didn't have a chance to hit with her— Hubert Hurkacz (@HubertHurkacz) April 4, 2020
Recently I liked the song "Walking on the dream" by Empire of the sun— Hubert Hurkacz (@HubertHurkacz) April 4, 2020
Flying would be cool ðŸ˜Ž— Hubert Hurkacz (@HubertHurkacz) April 4, 2020
I like grass ðŸ�€— Hubert Hurkacz (@HubertHurkacz) April 4, 2020
RogerðŸ¤£— Hubert Hurkacz (@HubertHurkacz) April 4, 2020
[TENNIS AT HOME]
Benoit, Marcelo, John, Å�ukaszðŸ˜Š— Hubert Hurkacz (@HubertHurkacz) April 4, 2020
I like Indian Wells a lot!ðŸ˜€— Hubert Hurkacz (@HubertHurkacz) April 4, 2020
The Dawn Wall!ðŸ˜‰— Hubert Hurkacz (@HubertHurkacz) April 4, 2020
Pasta with vegatables— Hubert Hurkacz (@HubertHurkacz) April 4, 2020
I built with my sister LEGO porsche 911 gt3 rs that had 2704 pieces— Hubert Hurkacz (@HubertHurkacz) April 4, 2020
Beaches— Hubert Hurkacz (@HubertHurkacz) April 4, 2020
The Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship is a historic event, dating back to 1910 in Omaha, Nebraska. It is the only North American clay-court tournament on the ATP Tour.
From memorable moments to charitable giving, ATPTour.com looks at five things to know about the ATP 250, which has been held in Houston since 2001.
Isner Struck His 10,000th Ace In Houston
John Isner hit his 10,000th ace in the quarter-finals of the 2018 Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship, blasting a 138 mile-per-hour missile down the T past good friend Steve Johnson to start the fourth game of the deciding set (1-2).
"Ten thousand aces is an incredible achievement," said Isner after losing the match, despite hitting 28 aces. "It is bittersweet to hit it in a loss tonight, but that’s just how it goes sometimes."
The ace made Isner the fourth player in history to join the 10,000-ace club, and he is now second on the all-time list with 12,266 aces. After the history-making ace, there was a slight delay as the ball was passed to chair umpire Simon Cannavan for safekeeping. Isner eventually signed the ball and labelled it ‘10K’, and it was sent to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island to be put on display.
Unforgettable Players’ Party & More Fun
A staple of the The Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship is its players’ party. Every year, players, tournament staff and supporters gather at a thrilling party in which the dress code is all-white. Some players even pack a special outfit for the trip, and others go shopping once in Houston to make sure they fulfill the requirements.
It is a good opportunity for everyone to unwind before the action begins, with players mingling with those who will be out watching the matches throughout the week. The dancing and musical performances are always a hit.
“We are rocking everything head to toe white. It’s what makes this tournament so fun, events like this,” said John Isner in 2016. “People are so engaged and it promotes our tournament so well. All these people are going to be out watching us all week, so it’s great to see.”
That’s not all the players have enjoyed at the event, though. Sam Querrey, who played Houston each year from 2007-19 — has become a stalwart in the annual fashion show, Steve Johnson threw out the first pitch at a Houston Astros game last year, and Frances Tiafoe went to a Houston Rockets game last year and was thrilled to take a picture with an oversized head of superstar James Harden, who is known for his massive beard.
Bryan Brothers’ Have Enjoyed Plenty Of Success
From 1969 through 2008, only two teams lifted the Houston doubles title in consecutive years: Kevin Curren/Steve Denton (1980-81) and Ken Flach/Robert Seguso (1984-85). No duo had triumphed in three consecutive years.
But Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan accomplished the feat from 2009-2011, and they have won a tournament record six titles. The Bryan Brothers or the team they have lost to has won the Houston title in each of their past 12 appearances (2006-07, 2009-11, 2013-19).
"There's no better place to do it than in Houston, where we've enjoyed so much success and had unbelievable fan support. Thanks to the River Oaks Country Club and its members for another fantastic tournament."
The Bryan Brothers, known not just for their tennis, but their musical talents, perform an annual concert poolside after play on Thursday at the tournament, thrilling fans on and off the court.
Seven Champions Reached World No. 1
In the Open Era, seven champions of this event have reached the top of the FedEx ATP Rankings. That list of titlists includes Jimmy Connors, who holds the record for most titles at the event during the Open Era with four.
The other World No. 1s to triumph are Andre Agassi (1988, 2003), Jim Courier (1998), Lleyton Hewitt (2009), Ivan Lendl (1985), Andy Roddick (2001-02, 2005) and Mats Wilander (1987). Michael Chang (1997), Tommy Haas (2004), Magnus Norman (1999) and Manuel Orantes (1973, 1975, 1977) are all former World No. 2s who lifted the trophy at the only American clay-court event held at tour-level.
Sportsmanship First: The Langston Trophy
The Langston Trophy, named in honour of Ernest Langston, who was the general chairman of the River Oaks tennis tournament for eight years, is annually awarded to a player or players who exemplify great sportsmanship.
In 2018, the trophy was awarded to seven players: Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan, John Isner, Steve Johnson, Sam Querrey, Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe. The Americans made personal donations toward resurfacing the two tennis courts at Sunnyside Park, which were affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Other players who have received the Langston Trophy are Boris Becker, Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver and Pete Sampras. The 2019 recipient was doubles champion Santiago Gonzalez.
Hello everyone from sunny California! I hope you are all staying safe and doing your part to stop the spread of coronavirus.
I decided to stay on the west coast of the U.S. once it was announced that Indian Wells was cancelled. The days have pretty much been the same, but to be honest, I’m in really good spirits now. It’s been a bit of an adjustment, but I think it’s good to let loose, let your beard grow or whatever you want to do.
Tennis players are creatures of habit, so I still make sure to structure my day. Go to bed on time, wake up early, be productive in the morning. There’s a reason why some of the greatest minds of our time wake up early. I think structure is needed for your mental thoughts. Also washing our hands as much as possible. I’m a crazy fanatic when it comes to laundry and have been doing that twice a day.
I’m lucky because I have a small gym on the property where I’m staying and can access it every day. I have a little basketball court to run around on or can go for walks. Maintaining my physicality on a daily basis is key. You can always find a way to exercise, even at home. It’s not easy, but reveals a lot about your own character and lets you learn more about yourself.
[TENNIS AT HOME]
Eating well is just as important now, but I’m letting myself be a little bit loose and sometimes have things that I wouldn’t necessarily eat while competing. I’ve been really good at making chocolate chip cookies lately!
I’ve been in contact with friends and family a lot during this time. With the sacrifices we make as athletes, it’s sometimes hard to be the best friend that you’d like to be for loved ones. Now is the chance to reconnect and really just listen.
The time off has been great in some ways because it’s given me perspective about what I want to do in the future, after tennis, and some things I want to do off the court. We now have a pause where you can let yourself be, put your guard down and let your mind wander. I have notepads lying around everywhere in case a thought or idea comes into my head and I want to explore it later with my agents or family.
I’m starting a course at Harvard Business School in a few weeks. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I loved being in school, but haven’t had the chance to experience it to the extent that I would have wanted to. Now I have the time to do something new and different.
I recently donated some ventilators to the hospital in my hometown of Haskovo to help those affected by the coronavirus. I’ve always been very aware of what’s happening in Bulgaria. I’ve been playing for Bulgaria all my life. I really appreciate the people and all the support throughout the years. This is not only a way of giving something back to my country, but deeply moves me and makes me feel alive.
In the future, hopefully I can have the right opportunities, right partners and the right structure to do the things I’ve always wanted to do, whether it’s in the medical field or education or something like that. I just know there are bigger things and I’d really like to not only be heavily involved, but give a part of myself for it.
For now, staying mentally strong is the most important thing. Hopefully we only have a little bit more of this to go. I hope everyone can get out of this safely. I’m sure that we’re all going to resume what we love doing soon, but health is the most important thing right now.
As told to McCarton Ackerman
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has prevented the 2020 Mutua Madrid Open from taking place from 1 to 10 May and forced the ATP and WTA to postpone all activity on their tours until 13 July, the organisers of the only ATP Masters 1000 and WTA Premier Mandatory event in Europe have announced the creation of the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro, an innovative tournament that will be a virtual replica of the tennis competition, with the worldâ€™s biggest tennis stars squaring off from their own homes. The news means that the biggest ATP and WTA stars will clash in the Manolo Santana Stadium, recreated in exquisite detail in the Tennis World Tour video game, while swapping their racquets for a game controller.
â€œSince we announced that the Mutua Madrid Open would not take place on the dates planned, we have been working on ideas for bringing tennis to the fansâ€�, said Feliciano LÃ³pez, the tournament director. â€œThe birth of the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro highlights the tournamentâ€™s technological, youthful and innovative side, which has been one of its hallmarks since it began in 2009 and it is fitting for the current circumstances. We have organised a tournament for the professional players that is as true to the conventional Mutua Madrid Open as possible, without them having to leave their homes. And its goal is not just to entertain; we want to do our bit during this period, which is so difficult for everyone.â€�
â€œThe Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro will be a first-of-its-kind for the ATP Tour, providing an exciting and new way for players and fans to connect and engage with our sportâ€�, said Andrea Gaudenzi, ATP Chairman. â€œThis is a win-win for all â€“ the Mutua Madrid Open, the players, and the fans. We are particularly pleased that funds raised from this initiative will contribute towards supporting the wider playing group, which is critical during these challenging times.â€�
â€œThe Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro is a unique and creative way of engaging the WTA athletes and their fans during this unprecedented time,â€� stated Steve Simon, WTA Chairman and CEO. â€œThe WTA would like to thank and recognize the event for putting this initiative together. We look forward to the virtual game, which can serve as a fun source of entertainment while at the same helping to bridge a gap until live tennis returns, while also providing opportunities to help those players in need during this challenging time.â€�
The Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro will take place over four days, from 27 to 30 April, in a show of solidarity to raise money and help the tennis players most in need during this time, all those that have no income to help them through these months of inactivity, and those affected by COVID-19.
To do so, the tournament will include a purse of 150,000 euros in both draws (ATP and WTA), from which the winners will be able to decide on how much they donate to the tennis players currently suffering economically, and an additional 50,000 euros that will all go towards reducing the social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The format for the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro will be as follows: 16 singles players in each of two draws (ATP and WTA) initially divided into four groups. The champion of each group will progress to the quarter-finals, which will also include the runner-up of each group. From there (quarter-finals, semi-finals and final) the tournament will be played as a knock-out. In addition, in parallel with the official competition, there will be a series of benefit matches that will see some of the biggest content creators in the gaming world take on the professional tennis players to raise funds to help those affected by Covid-19, thanks to the participation of Webedia, the leading group in digital entertainment.
â€œWeâ€™re delighted to be working together with the Mutua Madrid Open on an innovative and pioneering project in the world of tennis, the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Proâ€�, said Antony Dumas, CEO of Webedia. â€œWe can take that which cannot happen on the real courts to the virtual courts. At Webedia we are working hard to translate the expertise we have in the digital world to the world of conventional sport and we are sure that the tournament will be a success.â€�
â€œWeâ€™re very happy to participate in this Mutua Madrid Open initiative with our game Tennis World Tourâ€�, said Carlos Rosales, the general director of Nacon Gaming EspaÃ±a. â€œIn this period of confinement and virtuality, the world of tennis is sending out a very powerful message of strength and optimism, values that we share at Nacon. Real sport and its virtual simulation are coming together during this enforced break. Thanks to the Mutua Madrid Open for giving us the opportunity to participate in this innovative international project that will open an as-yet-unexplored road for many other tournaments.â€�
All fans will be able to follow the tournament online, on television and on the Mutua Madrid Openâ€™s social media, with a spectacular production that will include commentary on all the matches, analysis and highlights programmes and interviews with the winners after each match.
The Mutua Madrid Open organisation will soon announce the list of participants, as well as other news on the competition.
“The World No. 1 leading the way behind the man who very might well become the World No. 1 one day.”
That was the commentary as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal walked on court for their third-round match in Miami 16 years ago. There was a sense of anticipation. Federer was the top seed and No. 1 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings and his opponent, Nadal, was World No. 34 at the tender age of 17.
“He has already proven himself at his age, to be ranked as good as he is. I think he's already actually proven that he's a great player,” Federer said before the match. “He doesn't right now need to beat all these top players just to show them that in three years' time he can be No. 1 in the world and win Grand Slams. I think all he needs is time.”
The pair actually played one another in doubles at the previous event, Indian Wells, with Nadal and Tommy Robredo defeating Federer and Yves Allegro in three sets. But the Swiss was still the favourite, even if he knew he’d face a stiff challenge.
“I think he's put a lot of hard work into his game,” Federer said. “I think he's enjoying his tennis. That's exactly what he should do. We'll see how strong he will be in two years. But the start to his career so far has been incredible.”
Nadal had already played big matches, including a third-round clash against Lleyton Hewitt in the third round of that year's Australian Open. Federer didn’t sense any nerves from the Spaniard.
“In the beginning maybe a little bit, when you walk on court. I think he's kind of a little bit shy on court. He looks at me as an incredible, great player,” Federer said. “I just felt more of a respect level than nerves.”
Nadal showed he was unafraid of taking the match to the more experienced Federer. The lefty used his heavy forehand to keep the top seed from attacking, putting more pressure on Federer to play more aggressively from less advantageous positions, which led to errors in key moments.
Nadal jumped at every opportunity to hammer his forehand cross-court at Federer’s backhand at Crandon Park. The 17-year-old did not face a break point, winning 75 per cent of his service points in a 6-3, 6-3 triumph against Federer, sealing his upset after just 70 minutes.
“I’m very happy because I played one of the best matches in my life. Obviously, he didn't play his best tennis and that's the reason why I could win,” Nadal said. “If he had played his best tennis, I would have had no chance. But that's what happens in tennis. If a player like me plays at a very, very good level and a top player like Roger doesn't play his best tennis, I can win.”
Nadal felt he had to take Federer out of his game, and he did just that, allowing the Swiss to win just 62 per cent of his first-serve points, while the Spaniard won 79 per cent of points on his own first delivery.
“I played almost perfect tennis today, because I was playing inside the court, dominating the exchanges and pressing him so he couldn't play his game,” Nadal said. “I served extremely well today, probably I never served like this in my life. That was really the key.”
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Federer was complimentary of Nadal before they stepped on the court, and so there wasn’t a moment during the match when he was taken aback by his opponent.
“I’m not surprised. I've heard a lot about him and saw some matches of him,” Federer said. “I think this is not a big surprise for everybody.”
It took just one match for Federer to recognise a pattern in their ATP Head2Head series that would prove defining for years to come.
“He doesn't hit the ball flat and hard. It's more with a lot of spin, which makes the ball bounce, bounce high, and that's a struggle I had today. I tried to get out of it, but kind of couldn’t,” Federer said. “I thought in the beginning I maybe wasn't going for my shots enough, where in the end I thought I was hitting the ball better. But I felt the match maybe kind of went his way, and he hit some really incredible shots.”
Federer and Nadal have since played 40 times at tour-level, with the Spaniard leading their series 24-16. From their five-set final in Miami the following year to the 2008 Wimbledon championship match and plenty more epics, they have gone on to craft a legendary rivalry that nobody will soon forget.
Editor's Note: ATPTour.com is resurfacing features to bring fans closer to their favourite players during the current suspension in tournament play. This story was originally published on 30 September 2019.
When in Tokyo, Novak goes sumo.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is in Japan to compete at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships for the first time. And the top seed took full advantage of the country’s culture on Monday by visiting Ryogoku Edo-Noren, a facility with restaurants that features a dohyo, a sumo wrestling ring.
Djokovic not only got an opportunity to watch retired professional sumo wrestlers during their ‘keiko’ — or morning practice — but he also stepped up on the dohyo to learn some of the moves himself.
“It’s a great experience. I’ve never had this experience before. It’s one of the most popular sports in Japan,” Djokovic said. “Speaking with my father yesterday on the phone I was telling him that I’m going to have an opportunity to meet sumo wrestlers. He and I were remembering many years ago at home [when] we used to watch Akebono [TarÅ�, who reached Yokozuna status], who was someone that we supported a lot.”
Djokovic was in awe of the sumo wrestlers, even playfully seeing if he can make one of them budge. Spoiler alert: it didn't work. They also taught the World No. 1 seiko and suri-ashi among other sumo moves.
“I felt that I am out of shape [for sumo] a little bit. I think with a few more kilos, I’ll be ready to compete,” Djokovic joked. “Probably three times as much as I have right now would be the right measurement for me to compete.”
The 75-time tour-level titlist paid great respect to the professionals, taking in their technique and power on the dohyo. But that wasn’t all that impressed Djokovic.
“It’s quite impressive to see also how flexible they are. I believe at the beginning they were demonstrating their flexibility,” Djokovic said. “I didn’t think that they were that flexible considering it’s a heavyweight sport, but I see that they are paying a lot of attention to the mobility of their joints and the flexibility, which is of course what allows them to move around as agile as possible at their weight.”
Now, Djokovic will turn his attention to the tennis court as he prepared for this ATP 500 tournament. Later Monday, the Serbian will partner countryman Filip Krajinovic in the doubles against Croat Mate Pavic and Brazilian Bruno Soares. In the singles draw, the World No. 1’s first opponent is #NextGenATP Australian Alexei Popyrin.
“I’m not going to have that kind of encounter with my opponents on the court,” Djokovic said. “We are going to be separated with a net and racquets, but it is a one-on-one sport, so there is something there."
Taylor Fritz has steadily raised his level and his FedEx ATP Ranking. From reaching an ATP Tour final as a teenager to competing in the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, Fritz has proven he has plenty of game.
ATPTour.com looks at five things you should know about the 22-year-old:
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1) Fritz has made history
At 2016 Memphis, an 18-year-old Fritz became the youngest ATP Tour finalist since Japan's Kei Nishikori (18 years, 50 days) at 2008 Delray Beach. Fritz finished 2016 as the youngest player inside the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings, earning recognition as the ATP Star of Tomorrow presented by Emirates.
In 2019, he made his breakthrough, winning his maiden tour-level title in Eastbourne, where he defeated Sam Querrey in the final.
"It's just an amazing feeling. I can't even describe it," Fritz told ATPTour.com at the time. "After waiting what feels like so long to win a title after almost winning when I was 18, over three years ago, it is just great to finally win."
He is currently the No. 2 American, trailing only John Isner. Fritz is at a career-high World No. 24, which he first achieved on 2 March following a run to his first ATP 500 final in Acapulco. The 22-year-old beat Isner in the semi-finals at that event, ultimately succumbing to Rafael Nadal in the championship match.
2) He has high ambitions
Fritz broke into the world’s Top 25 when he was still 21. But the American is hungry to continue his climb.
“I just feel like I’m nowhere near where I want to be or where I should be,” Fritz said during the off-season. “I want to keep wanting to get better, wanting to beat more people, wanting to be higher-ranked.”
Fritz has always been a hard worker, but he is relentless in finding new ways to improve. He recently began cleaning up his diet — like eating egg whites with avocado for breakfast — among other things.
“Maybe before, the little stuff didn’t make that much of a difference. But I feel like now, for me to keep moving forward, I need to really commit in pretty much every single way, so I’m just trying to do everything I can,” Fritz said. “I think my mindset every morning is just to train as hard as I possibly can so when I get done that day, I could believe that I outworked everyone else.”
3) Fritz is a dad
In July 2016, Fritz married Raquel Pedraza, who played at all four junior Grand Slams as a player. Their first son, Jordan, was born on 20 January 2017.
Jordan does not travel to every event, but he was at last year’s Newport Beach Challenger when Fritz lifted the trophy, setting up the American for a big run in 2019.
ðŸ�†Newport BeachðŸ�† Cutest trophy pic in history with my little manðŸ˜� pic.twitter.com/b6K9n7YbS3— Taylor Fritz (@Taylor_Fritz97) January 28, 2019
4) Tennis runs in his blood
Fritz's father, Guy Fritz, a former pro, was Taylor's first coach. But Fritz's mother, Kathy May Fritz, also helped build her son's game. She was a Top 10 player and won seven WTA Tour titles.
“I'd say she's a cool mom,” Fritz said.
When Fritz was 12, he competed in a prestigious mother-son event with his mom at a local club.
“One of the biggest mother-son tournaments in the country just happened to be in San Diego where I live. So, it was easy, we would just play it,” said Fritz. “My mom was a former Top 10 player and she still played a lot, so she was, for sure, the best mom in the competition.
“I was only 12 years old, so her and I were probably at a very similar level. She might have been better than me at the time. We were playing against a lot of college guys and older guys, so it was tough for me, but we got to the quarter-finals.”
5) He has a big interest in esports
With prize money, FedEx ATP Rankings points and career goals in mind, the stakes on the tennis court can be very high. That's why Fritz likes to relax off the court by doing something completely different – playing video games, especially FIFA.
Not only has Fritz gotten to compete with gaming star Ninja, but last off-season he invested in ReKTGlobal, an esports business.
From Andy Roddick's triumph in 2010 to Roger Federer's in 2019, it's been a memorable decade at the Miami Open presented by Itau. Sit back and enjoy championship match highlights from the past 10 years at this ATP Masters 1000 tournament:
Over the past decade, Novak Djokovic led the way with five Miami trophies in a six-year span (2011-12, '14-16), defeating Rafael Nadal (twice), Andy Murray (twice) and Kei Nishikori in the title matches. He called the 2011 final, where he prevailed against Nadal over three hours and 21 minutes, "one of the best finals I ever played in in my life".
Murray also came out on top in a memorable final, saving championship point to deny Spaniard David Ferrer in 2013. Meanwhile, Federer and Nadal continued their rivalry as they clashed for the 2017 title — exactly 12 years removed from their first-ever meeting in a final. Federer, at the age of 37, celebrated another triumph in 2019 at the tournament's first edition at Hard Rock Stadium.[TTV FEDAL]
In between Federer's titles, 32-year-old American John Isner became the oldest first-time ATP Masters 1000 champion when he fought past Alexander Zverev. "To win like that in front of a crowd like that, with that atmosphere, you can't replicate moments like that," said Isner. "It was absolutely amazing."
|2010||Andy Roddick||Tomas Berdych||7-5, 6-4|
|2011||Novak Djokovic||Rafael Nadal||4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4)|
|2012||Novak Djokovic||Andy Murray||6-1, 7-6(4)|
|2013||Andy Murray||David Ferrer||2-6, 6-4, 7-6(1)|
|2014||Novak Djokovic||Rafael Nadal||6-3, 6-3|
|2015||Novak Djokovic||Andy Murray||7-6(3), 4-6, 6-0|
|2016||Novak Djokovic||Kei Nishikori||6-3, 6-3|
|2017||Roger Federer||Rafael Nadal||6-3, 6-4|
|2018||John Isner||Alexander Zverev||6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4|
|2019||Roger Federer||John Isner||6-1, 6-4|
Due to the global outbreak of COVID-19, the 2020 Miami Open presented by Itau did not proceed as scheduled.
We return serve the most to Position C, but win the least. We return serve the least to Position A, but win the most.
When Dominic Thiem upset Novak Djokovic 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(5) at the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals, Thiem peppered Position C with 26 returns, winning 58 per cent (15). This better-than-average performance returning to this specific location was a key component of his stunning victory.
Thiem reached the final in London, losing 6-7(6), 6-2, 7-6(4) to Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Greek returned seven times out wide in the Deuce court to Position A, winning five (71%). It was the only location to which he had a winning percentage.
Where to target your return of serve is a dilemma that returners at all levels of the game wrestle with as they battle risk and reward of returning to forehands or backhands, and middle or wide. An Infosys ATP Beyond The Numbers analysis of four specific return locations - A. B, C, D - identifies hot spots in the following three areas:
•Which location attracts the most returns;
•Where the returner wins the most points;
•Where the server commits the most Serve +1 errors.
The analysis is a snapshot of 1003 returns in play from 10 recent ATP matches (see chart at bottom of story). The data set included only right-handed players for continuity.
1. Most Returns Go To Position C
More than one-third of all returns were directed back down the middle of the court to the server’s backhand wing to Position C. Forty per cent (397/1003) were hit to Position C, with the main goal of avoiding the server’s more powerful forehand wing, while also not getting too close to the doubles sideline in Position D. Overall, 67 per cent (672/1003) were hit to the Ad court, trying to make the server hit a backhand shot as their Serve +1 groundstroke.
Percentage Of Returns Hit To:
•Position C = 40% (397)
•Position D = 27% (275)
•Position B = 24% (237)
•Position A = 9% (94)
This strategy weighed heavily in Thiem’s three-set victory over Djokovic at the Nitto ATP Finals in the round-robin stage. Overall, 46.4 per cent (71/153) of returns for the match went to Position C, which was the most from any match in the data set. Thiem won an impressive 57.7 per cent (15/26) of return points he hit to Position C, while Djokovic only won 28.9 per cent (13/45). Djokovic’s hot spot was returning to Position D, where he won 80 per cent (20/25).
2.Returner Wins More In Position A
Position A has very specific roles in a rally. It’s not a place to rally to; that honor goes to Position C. But it is a place to finish. Overall, most forehand and backhand winners are directed to Position A. It’s a location to go for the “knock-out” punch after rallying to Positions C and D earlier in the rally.
Percentage Of Return Points Won When Return Hit To:
•Position A = 62% (58/94)
•Position D = 48% (132/275)
•Position B = 47% (112/237)
•Position C = 43% (171/397)
When Jan-Lennard Struff upset Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6(2), 7-5 in Dubai earlier this year, he won 86 per cent (6/7) when he made a return to Position A.
3. Most Serve +1 Errors Are In Position B
The first thing to recognise is that the backswing on forehands is significantly bigger than the backswing on backhands. It takes more time to complete and get organised. Most Serve +1 errors occur in Position B, because the forehand backswing can be pressured by time. Both Positions A and B have a significantly higher percentage of Serve +1 errors than Positions C and D.
Most Serve +1 Errors
•Position B = 15.2% (36/237)
•Position A = 14.9% (14/94)
•Position C = 11.6% (46/397)
•Position D = 10.2% (28/275)
The most Serve +1 errors in B in the data set was seven between Kyle Edmund and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Acapulco earlier this year, with Edmund committing five and Auger-Aliassime committing two.
Want to play it safe? Return to Position C. Want to force a Serve +1 error? Return to Position B. Feeling aggressive? Aim at Position A. Want to mix in a surprise to keep the server off balance? You still have Position D for that as well.
10 Matches In The Data Set (1003 Returns)
Struff d. Bautista Agut 7-6(2), 7-5
Tsitsipas d. Struff 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
Edmund d. Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 6-4
Monfils d. Auger-Aliassime 6-2, 6-4
Tsitsipas d. Thiem 7(6), 6-2, 7-6(4)
Thiem d. Djokovic 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(5)
Federer d. Djokovic 6-4, 6-3
Djokovic d. Dimitrov 7-6(5), 6-4
Dimitrov d. Garin 6-2, 7-5
Medvedev d. Zverev 6-4, 6-1
Former World No. 4 Nicolas Kiefer has found a unique way to help during the coronavirus pandemic, as the company that produces his clothing label pivots to producing masks.
Kiefer has been working with Holger Gartz, a textile producer and refiner, whose company is based in Kassel, Germany. That company produces Kiefer’s own clothing label, NK #kiwifash — based on Kiefer’s nickname — which typically makes casual and tennis clothing.
But when the coronavirus began spreading, Gartz approached Kiefer and said they had to find a way to help. Gartz had the idea of producing reusable masks, an idea Kiefer fully put his support behind. Those masks are now being sold, online only, mainly in Germany, but also throughout Europe.
“I was immediately enthusiastic and told him that we can also distribute these masks through my channels to reach more people,” Kiefer told ATPTour.com. “That’s running pretty good and it’s nice to see what support we’re getting from the people, and they’re happy we’re producing them in Germany.”
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Kiefer says that there are too few masks on the market, which is why they are pushing to make these available. The reusable masks are made by hand, are washable, and can be personalised with a name.
“I couldn’t imagine something like this would happen. It’s pretty sad that the virus came and is doing so, but on the other hand it’s great to support and help the people,” Kiefer said. “Holger’s company could produce 300 to 500 masks a day. He’s looking for more and more people who could sew. It’s pretty important and pretty serious.”
Kiefer first met Gartz at a golf tournament "many, many years ago". The six-time ATP Tour champion and 2004 Olympic doubles silver medallist told Gartz about his dream to have his own fashion line and label, and they went from there, launching NK #kiwifash in October 2018.
Kiefer’s golf collection was supposed to come out last week, but he is more than happy to put that on hold to help to promote the distribution of masks. Municipalities and social services are being prioritised, but Europeans can purchase the mask through Kiefer’s online shop.
Kiefer says one thing this shift in direction is allowing for is more work for Germans, as the more people there are to sew, the quicker masks can be made.
“Because of this virus, [people in Germany] are only allowed to work part-time. The companies don’t make so much profit anymore, so they can’t afford it, and the people can’t have full-time [jobs],” Kiefer said. “They had to cut people, but in this situation he gets people from part-time work to full-time jobs. This is outstanding, I think.”
In ordinary circumstances, Kiefer is a coach at SCC Berlin, one of the biggest clubs in Germany, where he works with the junior program and plays on the men’s over-40 team, which won the German championships last year. He was supposed to be in Thailand now in his role as brand ambassador for the Robinson Club. Kiefer was scheduled to be in Turkey in a few weeks, but all the clubs have closed.
“I am particularly sorry for the children,” Kiefer said. “They are hungry [to play] and have a lot of fun and enjoy their time on court.”
Kiefer is trying to stay in shape at home using freeletics, as he was working towards participating in the “Big Six” marathons in Tokyo, Boston, London, New York and Chicago. He has already completed the Berlin marathon.
“What is really important is to stay disciplined. Especially in this time, sometimes you get lazy and it goes day by day. You need to have the discipline to wake up in the morning and have a program for the day, otherwise it’s going to go the wrong way,” Kiefer said. “Doing nothing and eating, not moving, so what is very important right now is to do any kind of sport exercises. You have to move your body.”
Kiefer is looking forward to a time when people can go outside, but for now his message is to focus on remaining healthy and listening to the government.
“They should try to stay home. If they go out, use a mask, stay healthy and try to be positive and look forward. We have to accept the situation how it is right now. It’s a big challenge, but also a big chance for the whole world. It’s a big challenge for the economy,” Kiefer said. “We have to slow down. This grounding can be good, if there can be anything good in the current situation. It’s good to reflect on everything a little bit and that we are healthy. We have to see the positive things right now.”
Your favourite players are all back at home, but they're finding plenty of ways to keep busy. From Novak Djokovic stepping up for Rafael's Nadal fundraising campaign for COVID-19 relief efforts, to Stefanos Tsitsipas brushing up on his cooking skills, find out how the biggest names in tennis are spending their days.
Djokovic is the latest player to join Nadal's #NeustraMejorVictoria campaign with six-time NBA All-Star Pau Gasol. The initiaive, which forms part of the #CruzRojaResponde (Red Cross Responds) project, aims to raise €11 million and help citizens in need during this health emergency
A huge thanks to @djokernole for the contribution to the #nuestramejorvictoria campaign helping those in need in the fight against Corona Virus.— Rafa Nadal (@RafaelNadal) April 3, 2020
Class act ðŸ™ŒðŸ�»ðŸ‘�ðŸ�» Hvala Nole! pic.twitter.com/ypnRPHIZAd
Tsitsipas has been working on a perfect skill for staying at home.
Master Stef ðŸ§‘ðŸ�¼ðŸ�³ pic.twitter.com/h3BQlIOvw3— Stefanos Tsitsipas (@StefTsitsipas) April 2, 2020
Karen Khachanov has been experiencing weather extremes in Moscow.
Spring in Moscow â˜€ï¸�â�„ï¸� pic.twitter.com/h2wfv9GSdv— Karen Khachanov (@karenkhachanov) March 30, 2020
Stan Wawrinka sent a message of encouragement to his fans
Tennys Sandgren appears to be influenced by the Netflix series Tiger King.
Maybe it’s time to try and fill the unfillable void with a tiger— Tennys Sandgren (@TennysSandgren) March 29, 2020
Vasek Pospisil is the latest player to join the fun on TikTok.
Officially succumbed to the social pressures of isolation and joined TikTok. Give me a follow. Videos coming soon ðŸ˜‚ username: “vasek.pospisil”— Vasek Pospisil (@VasekPospisil) April 1, 2020
Robert Farah has been spending plenty of time with his dogs.
Durante este tiempo de cuarentena juego, disfruto y aprendo de Taco y Roma. Es una excelente manera de ocupar mi mente! Tomen este tiempo para enseñarles trucos y jugar con sus mascotas. Taco se está volviendo un crack con el frisbee! #EquipoColsanitas #QuedateEnCasa pic.twitter.com/8alUADhvxV— Robert farah (@RobertFarah_) April 3, 2020
Edouard Roger-Vasselin is finding ways to keep up his volleying skills.
Brayden Schnur took time to thank medical professionals and other essential workers for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.
A new breed of patriotism. Thank you to all the doctors, nurses and everyone helping us get through these tough times. A salute to all our frontline workers. ðŸ™�ðŸ�½ðŸŒŽâ�¤ï¸� #truepatriotism #StayHomeSaveLives— Brayden Schnur (@BraydenSchnur) April 3, 2020
[TENNIS AT HOME]
Rafael Nadal is finding creative ways for a competitive outlet while staying at home. The Spaniard and his sister, Maria Bel, shared their backyard tennis skills in a social media post on Saturday and proved that just about anything can work as a net.
The rallies featured several volley exchanges and even a tweener from the World No. 2 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. They were both in a generous mood and still kept one of the points going after he used his hand to block a backhand from Maria Bel.
[TENNIS AT HOME]
Nadal has been spending plenty of time working on the #NuestraMejorVictoria campaign he launched last month with six-time NBA All-Star Pau Gasol. The initiative, which forms part of the #CruzRojaResponde (Red Cross Responds) project, aims to raise €11 million and help citizens in need during the COVID-19 health crisis.
Novak Djokovic, Roberto Bautista Agut, Feliciano Lopez and David Ferrer are among the ATP Tour players to donate to the campaign. WTA players Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro have also contributed.
Growing up, Casper Ruud said ‘no’ to temptation and ‘yes’ to national history.
The 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier earlier this year won the Argentina Open in Buenos Aires to become the first Norwegian to earn an ATP Tour title. He also ascended to No. 34 in the FedEx ATP Rankings in February, the highest standing of anyone in his country’s history. But Ruud’s journey has not come without sacrifices.
“When you turn 15, 16, your friends maybe start to party a little bit and you’re maybe tempted to try to go once or twice, but I never did it. I never touched alcohol. Those are choices normal people may think are a bit tough or hard to say no to going out or being with friends,” Ruud told ATP Uncovered presented by Peugeot. “Every weekend in Norway, it’s usual to go to your cabin or summer house or whatever the season is, but every weekend me and my father went out to the courts and played at least six, seven hours. I think those were the kind of choices that made me a step ahead of my competitors, in Norway at least, for some years.”
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It helped that Ruud had a role model to look up to in his father, Christian Ruud, who reached the second-highest FedEx ATP Ranking of any Norwegian in history: World No. 39.
“He was the guy who put Norway on the tennis map a little bit… we had a small tennis court in our garden, so he took me there to play ever since I could walk,” Ruud recalled. “I was really young and I did a bunch of other sports as well, but eventually tennis was the one I enjoyed the most. When I was 12, I put all the other sports aside and focussed only on my tennis.”
Although the elder Ruud enjoyed success on the ATP Tour, he knew that didn't guarantee the same for his son, and he made sure Casper maintained his focus.
“My father is a very nice and funny guy, but also strict whenever we’re on court, and strict with me always trying to do the right choices and being serious, even from a young age,” Ruud said. “I think it’s paying off a little bit now at least. I’ve taken a lot of choices and decisions that weren’t always as easy, but I had to do it because of my career.
“It was tough sometimes to get up on Saturday and Sunday and train for three, four hours… my father also guided me and advised me to do it, I believed in him, and it’s been paying off, and of course I’m very grateful now.”
Ruud’s home base since September 2018 has been the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar, so it’s fitting that the 21-year-old looks up to the Spaniard and how he carries himself on court.
“I think that I would be happy if people called me humble, a good fighter,” Ruud said. “I look up to Rafa a lot and people know him as very humble and a good fighter. Of course I’m not trying to be just like him, but I’m looking at the stuff that I like with Rafa, I’m looking at the stuff that I like with Federer or Djokovic and of course I’m trying to bring that into my own game.”
Ruud cracked the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time last March, and now he has put himself in strong position inside the Top 50. But he is focussed on continuing to improve, and not looking back.
“It’s the tough thing about tennis: You can be really happy one day, but then the day after is a new match, a new opportunity. You can either lose or win. If you lose, you’ll be disappointed. If you win, you’ll be even more happy,” Ruud said. “[There’s] not too much time to celebrate or take off, either."