Rafael Nadal sends message to young guns trying to end dominance with Federer and Djokovic

Rafael Nadal says he is not ready to move aside for the emerging crop of talent in men’s tennis and vowed to ‘last as long as possible’.

Alongside Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, Nadal has dominated the sport, winning the last 13 Grand Slams combined.

However, there have been some signs that the likes of Stefanos Tsitsipas, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev are ready to make their mark at the majors.

For now, those players must wait for the tennis season to potentially resume in August and renew the battle between the elder statesmen and the future stars of men’s tennis.

And speaking in an interview with ESPN, Nadal made clear he was up for the fight.

“The reality is that they are already there,” he said when asked about the young players.

“There are many young players fighting for the maximum and winning important things. They have not been able to do it in Grand Slams, also because we have not left.

“So now there is a very nice fight between young people and old men that I hope will last as long as possible.”

Nadal’s comments come after Boris Becker, who coached Djokovic to six Grand Slam titles in their three years together, issued a plea for the young generation to step up in 2021.

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“Maybe 2021 will see the breakthrough of the young guns because they will be a year more experienced, and the older players are another year older,” Becker told Laureus.com.

“The big three have won everything multiple times. I think it’s for the younger generation to step up.

“The best one of the rest for the last two years has been Dominic Thiem. He’s made three major finals and played beautifully against Novak, losing in five sets in Melbourne.

“I like Stefanos Tsitsipas very much, the way he presents himself on and off the court and the way he plays the game.

“From a German point of view I like Sascha Zverev a lot, you know he was in the semi-final in Melbourne and he’s still only 22, so he has a long career ahead of him.

“There are other younger players that are fascinating.

“I would like to see the top three still at their best, and being beaten. I don’t want the young generation to take over when the top three won’t play anymore or are actually too old.

“I want to see a final between a 22-year-old and a 33-year-old. That would be the best thing in tennis. So guys, step up to the plate.”

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LTA announces four new British Tour events to take place in July

The Lawn Tennis Association have confirmed they hope to stage a series of new British Tour events for professional players in July, subject to government confirmation.

Four new competitions, aimed to provide a pathway back into competitive tennis for players, are set to take place over consecutive weeks between July 3 and July 26.

All four tournaments are planned to be held at the LTA’s National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, south west London.

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LTA chief executive Scott Lloyd said: “Since the coronavirus crisis, we have been working incredibly hard to support all our players, venues, coaches and officials through this very challenging time.

“I’m delighted to announce today the next stage of elite tennis’ return to competing safely behind closed doors as part of a five-phase plan coordinated by UK Sport with Government.

“The LTA is actively engaged in developing the necessary guidelines for behind closed doors events, which we hope will be determined by the Government in the coming weeks to ensure the safest environment for anyone involved in returning to competition and look forward to bringing tennis back into people’s lives this summer.”

Prize money at each tournament has risen by 50 per cent, for the first time at a British Tour event.

It is then hoped that other venues will get the seal of approval to host competitions.

Each of the events will play host to 32 singles players (16 men and 16 women) and will be open to the highest ranked players with an LTA Membership number who wish to enter.

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The tournaments will largely take place over three days: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with a one day doubles-only event.

An LTA statement added: “Throughout this process, the LTA has been working closely with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), UK Sport and other sports governing bodies in carefully planning the return to training for elite level athletes.

“The LTA remains in close consultation with the ATP, WTA and the ITF regarding the future of international events this year, following the suspension of the professional Tours.

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Swan opens up on overcoming mental health struggles and Murray’s lockdown advice

Katie Swan now practises her mental game along with her forehands after revealing her off-court struggles a year ago.

The Fed Cup star shared her feelings in a searingly honest post on social media after losing in the third round of French Open qualifying.

“Every match I lost I didn’t just feel like a worse tennis player, but also less of a person,” she admitted then.

But Swan, now 21, had felt empowered to open up after already starting talking to a London-based psychologist.

And the British No.6, speaking from her home in Kansas, said the work is ongoing even without Roland Garros this May.

“Speaking to a psychologist impacted on me really quickly in a short space of time,” she said. “I was feeling so much better and I thought it was a good thing to share with people during Mental Health Awareness Month because it was a positive story, not as a negative story. I am sure that a lot of people would have no idea that I was someone who maybe struggled for confidence.

“It is something I am still working on even a year later and I know I will be throughout my career.

"Your mental game is definitely as important, if not more important, than the other things I work on.

"I do mental sessions every week now with Elena Sosa to work on not always positive self thoughts but a lot of different things. It is something I have to be conscious of. I have to practise it.

"When I am practising, I am not just working on my tennis, I am working on positive self talk and being nicer to myself. I am definitely improving from last year.

"And these last two months have been a really big test for me because it is the first time I have been practising this long without having my coach (Esteban Carrill or Julien Picot) with me. It has been really good for me to have a bit of time by myself.”

Team-mates can offer support in other sports but Swan, who is based in the USA because her father Richard works in the oil industry, added: “Tennis can be quite lonely when you are travelling a lot.

"There is only one winner every week. Everyone apart from one person will lose every week. It is really important to have that support system around you of people who want you to do well and win.

"For me that has been my parents, brother (Luke), coaches and the LTA have been amazing. The main thing is finding someone to talk to if you are feeling a bit down. It doesn't have to be a psychologist – anyone you trust is better than keeping it inside. I am sure there will be people during this lockdown and quarantine who will be doubting things.”

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Djokovic sets up eight-player tournament in the Balkans next month

Novak Djokovic sets up eight-player tournament across the Balkans next month with stars Dominic Thiem and Grigor Dimitrov to join world No 1 for series of exhibition matches

  • Novak Djokovic is bringing together some of the world’s top tennis players
  • Eight stars will feature in series of matches from June 13-July 5 in Balkan region
  • Dominic Thiem and Grigor Dimitrov have confirmed their participation in event

With professional tennis shut down by the novel coronavirus pandemic, world No 1 Novak Djokovic is bringing together some of the world’s top tennis players for a series of matches to run from June 13-July 5 in the Balkan region.

All pro tennis tours were suspended in early March and will not return before August as countries went into lockdown and closed borders to contain the spread of the virus.

Some players, including Djokovic, have returned to the practice courts while maintaining strict hygiene and social distancing norms, and some exhibition events without fans have also been held in countries like Germany and the United States.

Novak Djokovic is bringing together some of the world’s top tennis players in Balkan region

The world No 1 announced the eight-player tournament, starting next month, on social media

 

‘I’m proud to officially share the news that the #AdriaTour will be held across the Balkans 13 June – 5 July kicking off with a tournament in Belgrade,’ Djokovic, who turned 33 on Friday, said in a Twitter post.

‘Very grateful we could make this happen to play and support humanitarian projects across the region.’

World No 3 Dominic Thiem of Austria and Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, who is ranked 19, have confirmed their participation in the eight-man event which will end with Djokovic’s exhibition match against Bosnian Damir Dzumhur in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

World No 3 Dominic Thiem of Austria has confirmed his participation in the event 

Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, who is ranked 19, will also feature in the series of exhibition matches

Zadar, in Croatia, Montenegro and Banja Luka in Bosnia will be the other venues for the matches, which will be broadcast on television.

Djokovic, who won his 17th Grand Slam title at the 2020 Australian Open, has been 18-0 this year in all matches.

He lifted the ATP Cup with Serbia, won an eighth Australian Open title and then completed a fifth triumph at the Dubai Tennis Championships, extending his unbeaten run to 21 matches dating back to last season.

Djokovic, 33, won his 17th Grand Slam title at the 2020 Australian Open back in January




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ATP to work with charity founded by former Arsenal defender Tony Adams to support players’ mental health

The men’s professional tennis tour is to work with the charity founded by former Arsenal defender Tony Adams to support players’ mental health.

The ATP said players would be able to contact a 24/7 helpline operated by Sporting Chance to discuss any issues, including the psychological effects of Covid-19.

Arsenal’s former captain set up Sporting Chance in 2000 and provides services for sporting stars who are experiencing emotional problems and require support.

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The charity also works with the Premier League, Football Association and Professional Footballers’ Association, as well as cricket and rugby organisations.

ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said: “Everyone has been adapting to periods of self-isolation and decreased physical activity during the pandemic, but this can have a particularly detrimental effect on professional athletes who are used to particular training structure and playing day in day out.”

Indian Wells was the first ATP tournament to be called off due to the coronavirus pandemic, while the French Open was postponed and Wimbledon shelved.

Adams said: “The challenges that all sports and sports professionals are experiencing in the light of this pandemic will be affecting all of us in different ways.” PA

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Novak Djokovic: I believe I can beat Roger Federer’s Grand Slam and world No 1 records

Novak Djokovic says he believes he will finish his career with the most Grand Slam titles and weeks at No 1 in the world rankings and might be prepared to play until he’s 40 to do so.

Before the tennis season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, Djokovic was seemingly on an unstoppable march to rewrite the history books.

In February, the Serbian won his 17th Grand Slam title with victory at the Australian Open and it put him just three behind Roger Federer’s record of 20.

By the start of March, the 32-year-old was on a 21-match winning streak and on the verge of passing Pete Sampras in the all-time list for weeks at the top of the world rankings.

Had the season gone uninterrupted and Djokovic remained No 1, he would have surpassed Federer’s record of 311 weeks by October 5.

However, with no tennis being played, the ATP have opted to freeze the rankings until further notice which means Djokovic faces a lengthy wait.

Speaking in an interview for the programme ‘In Depth with Graham Bensinger’, Djokovic is asked directly how confident he is that he will have the career grand slam record.

“I’m always very confident in myself. I think confidence is derived from self-belief and self-belief is derived from clarity,” Djokovic replied.

“And clarity you have is derived from the love and joy for what you do and what you choose to do in your life.

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“I think that I still have things to do here in this sport and I believe I can win most slams and break the record for longest number one.

“Those are definitely my clear goals. But at the same time they’re not the only thing that motivates me on a daily basis, it’s not sustainable.

“It doesn’t fuel me every day. What fuels me every day is something that is more related to my growth personally.”

When pressed by Bensinger on whether he will still be playing at 40-years of age, Djokovic laughed and said: “I don’t believe in limits. I think limits are only illusions of your ego or your mind.

“I definitely want to go on for a long time but I know that at the same time “I have to maintain the right principles and the routine to maintain the health and well being of my body, mind and soul.

“Everything has to work in synergy and in harmony with my family and private live.

“I am aware that the tempo and the amount of tournament is going to decrease very soon so I will not be able to play on this intensity, with this many tournaments and this much travelling for a long time.

“So I might be playing at 40 but there will probably be then just focusing on the biggest tournaments and the ones that mean the most to me.”

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Novak Djokovic receives support from Matteo Berrettini amid Dominic Thiem player fund row

Matteo Berrettini has weighed in on the ongoing debate over proposals led by Novak Djokovic to support lower-ranked players.

With the tennis season currently suspended, players outside of the household names are struggling without the regular earnings from being on the ATP and WTA tour.

In an attempt to help ATP players ranked between 250 and 700, world No 1 Djokovic, who is president of the ATP Player Council, proposed a plan where players raise $4million.

It would see players in the top five contribute $30,000 each, $20,000 from players ranked from five to ten, $15,000 from 10 to 20, $10,000 from 20 to 50 and finally $5,000 from players between 50 and 100.

One of the biggest names to oppose the plan has been Dominic Thiem.

The Austrian said: “None of the players are starving. [The top players] all had to fight our way up the rankings.

“I’ve seen players on the ITF Tour who don’t 100 percent commit to the sport. Many are quite unprofessional. I don’t see why I should give them money.”

“I would rather give to people and institutions who really need it.”

But in contrast to Thiem, Berrettini has backed the idea from Djokovic, calling it a ‘very positive thing’.

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“The project is a very positive thing for two months and the suspension has been extremely tough for the lower-ranked players, who can’t go on for a longer period without earning money,” said Berrettini.

“There are many players who need help. However, that’s not mandatory.

“I prefer to help more complex situations, such as hospitals, a family in need, rather than a tennis player.

“There are many players who need help and go red. The plan is very positive thing for tennis and shows that players also care about their colleagues from the rear.”

Meanwhile, Algerian Ines Ibbou has posted an emotional open letter to Thiem, hitting out his stance and view on lowly ranked players.

“The court should decide the outcome of my career, not my finances. This is totally unfair,” she said.

“It’s not because of your money that we survive until now and nobody asked you for anything.”

The world No 620 received notable support for her message from Venus Williams and Nick Kyrgios.

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Murray shares footage of him sending tennis ball into neighbour's yard

Oh s***’: Andy Murray shares footage of his practice session in his back garden as he jokes it didn’t end well after sending the ball into his neighbour’s yard

  • Andy Murray’s first practice session in seven weeks ended with a rusty mis-hit
  • Murray was using a giant rebound board to work on his game during lockdown
  • After displaying several crisp shots he sliced one wide into neighbour’s garden 

Andy Murray has shared footage of a lockdown practice session gone wrong after he sliced a shot into his neighbour’s garden.

Murray took to Instagram on Sunday to upload a video of him hitting a ball against a giant rebound board during a light workout. 

The 32-year-old, who has won Wimbledon twice, can be seen striking several crisp forehand and backhand shots against the board before getting one badly wrong. 

Andy Murray has uploaded footage of him undergoing a lockdown tennis practice session

Murray was hitting backhand and forehand shots against a rebound board to hone his skills

Murray showed some lockdown rustiness after slicing a shot into his neighbour’s garden 

Murray slices the ball and misses his giant target completely, before exclaiming ‘oh s***’ after watching the ball career into his neighbour’s property.  

The former US Open champion revealed it’s the first time he’s picked up a tennis racquet in seven weeks in the caption accompanying the post. 

The caption read: ‘Hit some forehands and backhands for the first time in 7 weeks today… it didn’t end well…’

Murray’s career is on hold after a host of major tennis tournaments were postponed in the light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

Murray has been working on his fitness as he recovers from a pelvic injury sustained in Nov

Murray suffered the injury after battling back from a career-threatening hip injury in 2019

The 32-year-old staged a remarkable recovery last year after fearing he would have to retire

Wimbledon, which was scheduled for July, and September’s French Open have been cancelled, while the ATP and WTA Tours are suspended until at least July 13.

The rest may well be of benefit to Murray, who has battled a pelvic injury in recent months after making a remarkable recovery from a serious hip problem in 2019.

In December, Murray pulled out of January’s Australian Open after failing to recover from the injury which he sustained during an event in November.  

Eighteen months ago Murray thought his career was over after revealing he was in excruciating pain on a daily basis as a result of a serious hip injury.

But cutting-edge surgery on the problem has enabled him to resume his career at the top level and battle back up the world rankings.




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French Open could be staged without fans, says FFT president Bernard Giudicelli

The French Open could be held without fans later this year, the president of the French Tennis Federation said on Sunday.

The clay-court tournament at Roland Garros was initially slated to be held May 24-June 7, but was postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic and rescheduled for September 20-October 4.

Bernard Giudicelli has told French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche that organisers are considering the prospect of hosting it without fans present, as well as delaying its start by a week.

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“Organising it without fans would allow a part of the economy to keep turning, (like) television rights and partnerships. It’s not to be overlooked,” Giudicelli said in the newspaper interview. “We’re not ruling any option out.”

Giudicelli, however, conceded that the lack of visibility when hosting a tournament without fans is a concern.

Recent reports have speculated that the French Open could be rescheduled again.

“The 20th or the 27th, that does not change much,” Giudicelli said.

The FFT is refunding all tickets purchased for the original dates of Roland Garros by the end of May, and a new ticketing procedure will be opened if it goes ahead.

Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley recently admitted the 2021 Australian Open could be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, having seen January’s tournament go ahead as schedule prior to the global sporting hiatus.

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Paul Jubb ready to show his ‘fire’ after joining Andy Murray’s agency

Paul Jubb says tapping into the vast experience of Andy Murray was behind his decision to link up with the former world No 1’s 77 sports management agency.

Jubb came to prominence last summer when he received a wildcard at Wimbledon before losing to Joao Sousa in the first round in four sets.

The 20-year-old then became the first British player to win the NCAA men’s singles title in 2019 and opted to stay in college in the US.

But the youngster from Hull is now set to turn professional and move to London after being included in the LTA’s Pro Scholarship Programme.

Murray’s agency already has British tennis players Katie Swan and Aidan McHugh on their roster and young Athletics stars Shannon and Cheriece Hylton.

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Jubb, who was raised by his grandmother Valerie in Hull after his parents died when he was a child, left home as a teenager to study in America and play tennis.

He is now the latest name to join the stable and the world No 519 is eager to bring the same level of passion to court that helped Murray to win three Grand Slam titles and two Olympic gold medals.

“It’s always been an aspect that has drawn me to Andy because I love that fire that he has,” he said.

“It’s something different – the passion that he has for the game, the will to win, it just comes out of him when he is playing.

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“A lot of people talk about the complaining he does on court but it just shows how much he cares and I love that fire about him.

“He is not dull to watch. That’s certainly an aspect that draws me to him the most.

“You see how far he is willing to go to win. You see how big his heart is when he is playing. He puts all of his emotions into it.

“That’s how it should be. If you really want it, then you’re gonna have lots of emotions, so to me it shows how bad he wants which I really like about him.

“Now I can use him as a source of knowledge and use his brain to try and help me on the tennis court. I’m definitely super excited.”

Murray added: “We’re delighted he chose to sign with us as he starts on his journey as a professional tennis player.

“He’s got a great mindset and work ethic, I’m looking forward to helping him develop as an athlete in any way I can.”

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