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  1. Roger Federer made history in a new way on Tuesday when he became the first tennis player to top Forbes’ list of highest-paid athletes. Forbes estimated Federer's annual earnings at $106.3 million.

    The Swiss just edged football stars Cristiano Ronaldo ($105m) and Lionel Messi ($104m), who were the only other athletes to surpass the $100m milestone.

    Forbes Highest-Paid Athletes - Top 5

     Athlete  Total Earnings
     1) Roger Federer  $106.3 million
     2) Cristiano Ronaldo  $105 million
     3) Lionel Messi  $104 million
     4) Neymar  $95.5 million
     5) LeBron James  $88.2 million

    View Full Forbes List

    Three other ATP players made the list, with each of them ranking inside the Top 40.

    World No. 1 Novak Djokovic came in 23rd with $44 million in total earnings, World No. 2 Rafael Nadal was second at $40 million, and Japanese star Kei Nishikori was 40th at $32.1 million.

    Federers has earned nearly $130 million in career prize money.

  2. Editor's Note: But for the COVID-19 pandemic, Roland Garros would now be underway. During the next two weeks will look back on memorable matches and happenings at the clay-court Grand Slam, which tournament organisers are now hoping to stage in September

    After maiden championship victories at Wimbledon in 2003 and the Australian Open earlier in the year, Roger Federer arrived at Roland Garros in 2004 seeking his third Grand Slam trophy in 11 months.

    The World No. 1, who entered the event fresh from lifting his second Hamburg European Open trophy, avoided a third-straight first-round loss at the clay-court Grand Slam championship with back-to-back straight-sets wins against Kristof Vliegen and Nicolas Kiefer.

    But in the third round, the Swiss' title bid came to an abrupt end against three-time champion Gustavo Kuerten.

    [ATP APP]

    The Brazilian, who underwent arthroscopic right hip surgery in 2002, was competing for the first time since retiring from his Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell quarter-final showing with a hip injury. Kuerten began the tournament with a five-set battle against Nicolas Almagro, before moving past Gilles Elseneer to book a date with the World No. 1 on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

    Supported by regular chants of ‘Guga! Guga!’, Kuerten played with aggression from the baseline and found consistent success on serve. Despite dropping his serve early in the first set, the Brazilian did not face a break point in any of his remaining 14 service games to complete a memorable two-hour, four-minute victory.

    “I came here in bad shape, playing bad. But every time I go on the court, it seems something special happens with the love and passion I have for the tournament. That brings the best out in me,” said Kuerten.


    Kuerten’s victory extended his streak of fourth-round appearances at the tournament to six years. The 2000 year-end World No. 1 ultimately advanced to the quarter-finals in Paris, where he was beaten in a fourth-set tie-break by World No. 8 David Nalbandian.

    With Federer adding a second Wimbledon trophy and a maiden US Open crown to his resume later in the year, Kuerten was the only man to defeat Federer at a Grand Slam event in 2004.

    "The last three years haven't been the best for me here," said Federer. "I just didn't play like I can. This is a little bit of a disappointment for me. I can play better."

    Federer soon proved that he could achieve greater success on the Parisian terre batteu. The Swiss has reached the Round of 16 or better in each of his 12 appearances at the event since his loss to Kuerten. Federer has made five final appearances in Paris and, with his 2009 final victory against Robin Soderling, the Swiss became the sixth man to complete the Career Grand Slam.

  3. Editor's Note: But for the COVID-19 pandemic, Roland Garros would now be underway. During the next two weeks will look back on memorable matches and happenings at the clay-court Grand Slam, which tournament organisers are now hoping to stage in September.

    Saturday, 31 May 2003 was a special day for Tommy Robredo. He had just turned 21 and was facing the biggest challenge of his career so far at Roland Garros: defeating a World No. 1 at a Grand Slam.

    His opponent was Lleyton Hewitt, who took the first two sets 6-4, 6-1. However, the Australian would not be the man to claim the victory that day.

    Playing in the third round of a Grand Slam was nothing new to the Spaniard. It was not even the first time he had met — and defeated — a Top 5 player at a Grand Slam event, as he had previously overcome Juan Carlos Ferrero at the 2001 US Open. But, in Paris, he produced the best victory of his career until that point.

    “Until now I had always remembered my 2001 win over Ferrero in the US Open. But today’s surpasses that by a distance,” said Robredo.


    So, what happened that day on the French clay? David brought down Goliath. And he did so by coming back from two sets down in a total of three hours and 24 minutes to win 4-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3.

    "The important thing was keeping a good head. I didn’t care about going two sets down, or losing 0-3 in the fifth. I kept fighting, convinced that I could beat him,” said Robredo.

    Sixteen years later, Robredo revealed something intriguing that happened to him before the match against Hewitt. The day after beating Jonas Bjorkman in the second round, the Spaniard went to the physio room for his treatment. In just 24 hours he had to face the World No. 1 and he wanted to be as prepared as possible. Andre Agassi was close by and he quickly asked him for some advice.

    ”Hey, Andre, tomorrow I’m playing with Hewitt,” said Robredo. “What tactics should I use?

    “I’m not the kind of person that asks a lot of questions, but I thought I’d ask Agassi,” said Robredo. “It was very interesting. He suddenly got up off the bed. He sat down. And he started explaining the tactics to me.”

    They spoke of Hewitt’s tactics, his cross-court backhand, his solid forehand and that on his second serve and on break points he tended to aim at the ‘T’.

    “Agassi kept talking and I remember that the match was exactly as he had told me,” said Robredo.

    [ATP APP]

    Robredo progressed to the fourth round, along with his countrymen Albert Costa, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Felix Mantilla and Carlos Moya. The next day, he returned to the same room he had spoken to Agassi in. And the US player was there once more.

    “He got up and gave me a hug and said, ‘I watched the whole match and you honestly played incredibly. You applied all the tactics we talked about perfectly. I’m really glad.’ Nobody had ever given me tactics for a match as elaborately and clearly as he did. Everything he said was right. I knew exactly how Hewitt played and how you had to play him,” said Robredo.

    After the evident success, the then-World No. 31 did not hesitate, “Hey, tomorrow I’m playing Kuerten, maybe you can give me some tactics. And he did it again for me,” said Robredo.

    The result? Robredo reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final by beating the Brazilian 6-4, 1-6, 7-6(2), 6-4.

  4. Your favourite players are finding plenty of ways to keep busy this week. From Fabio Fognini's big day out, to Daniil Medvedev gearing up for summer, find out how the world's best players have been spending their days.

    Fognini enjoyed a day in the woods near his home in Italy.

    Medvedev showed off his new summer haircut.

    #newlook 👦🏻

    A post shared by Medvedev Daniil (@medwed33) on

    Rafael Nadal hit the practice court for the first time in two months.

    Stefanos Tsitsipas took time to thank frontline healthcare workers.

    John Isner made it clear that he'd give anything to be competing right now.

    Yuichi Sugita rejoiced at being able to resume his training.

    Mackenzie McDonald took on the Splash Challenge.

    Robert Farah had his hands full with feeding four dogs.

    Jamie Murray sharpened his golf skills.

  5. John McEnroe announced his arrival to tennis fans in 1977 as a brash 18-year-old whose temperamental outbursts made him the face of teen angst. Nearly 45 years later, he’s reprising that role for a new Netflix series.

    The former No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings has a recurring voice-over role in Never Have I Ever and makes a cameo appearance in the season finale. The show is created by Mindy Kaling, best known for her role as Kelly Kapoor in the American version of The Office. McEnroe is the narrator for the inner voice and life of 15-year-old girl Devi Vishwakumar, played by Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, who struggles with the recent death of her father.

    ”I don’t know why it works,” McEnroe said to The New York Times. “At first, people are like, ‘What?’ I’m not the normal voice-over sound.”

    Although it might seem odd to have McEnroe narrating a teenage girl’s obsession with an attractive male swimmer, as he does in one episode, the tennis legend was specifically sought for the role. Kaling cited Vishwakumar’s temperamental moments throughout the series, such as shattering her bedroom window with a textbook, as areas that he would be suited to analyse.

    "When we decided that the character of Devi would have a temper, the McEnroe thing just kept coming back,” Kaling told USA Today. “Someone who's high-achieving but is undermined by their own temper. He has really high standards for himself and everyone around him. We kept talking about him and were like, 'Wait, should he be doing the narration?' Devi's dad loved tennis and it timed out that he would have grown up watching McEnroe." 

    But the age gap between McEnroe and 18-year-old Ramakrishnan was evident in other ways. The actress admitted having to Google who McEnroe was before they began filming.

    The entire first season of Never Have I Ever is currently available to stream on Netflix.

  6. Dirk Nowitzki is widely considered one of the best NBA players of his era. The German was a 14-time All Star, the 2007 Most Valuable Player, and plenty more. Not many know that growing up, he loved playing tennis.

    “I grew up playing a double-handed backhand, and then once I stopped playing when I was about 14, 15, I kind of went away and put all my eggs into the basketball basket and took 10, 11 years off and never really played,” Nowitzki said. “Once I got to my mid-20s, in the summer I started playing again and then my double-handed backhand was completely gone! I didn’t even know how to hold it anymore. Then I actually switched to a one-hander.”

    That is the shot the basketball star enjoys watching most in today's game, and there are a few players in particular whose one-hander he is in awe of.

    “Roger to me is of course one of the best. Stan Wawrinka has a laser of a one-hander, and he’s super-fun to watch with his power game. Dominic Thiem is coming up and his one-hander is beautiful and powerful,” Nowitzki said. “That’s just to name a few. There are so many great one-handers in the game.”

    Has Nowitzki been able to replicate their one-handers when he gets on the court?

    “I slice a lot and if I do get it, I do a little spin,” Nowitzki said. “I’ve tried both in my career. My backhand is definitely my weak spot.”

    If Nowitzki had to pick one all-time one-handed backhand to add to his arsenal, it would come from his good friend, fellow German Tommy Haas, who is less than three months older than Nowitzki.

    “I love a beautiful one-handed backhand. My boy Tommy Haas has one of the prettiest one-handed backhands ever on Tour, so I’d probably use his,” Nowitzki said. “My game is more forehand and serve, so backhand definitely needs some help.”

    Growing up, Nowitzki had star Germans to look up to in Boris Becker and Steffi Graf. “Everybody tried to be like them,” he said. Nowitzki played attacking tennis in his junior tournaments, keeping points short.

    “When you’re tall, the movement is not quite there as much for me,” Nowitzki said. “I tried to keep the points short with an aggressive serve and aggressive forehand.”

    Dirk Nowitzki Charity event
    Photo Credit: Dallas Mavericks
    The German has held four annual Dirk Nowitzki Pro Celebrity Tennis Classics to raise funds for the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation. At those events, current or former pros like Haas, Andy Roddick, John Isner and Mark Knowles play with celebrities, like Nowitzki and his former Dallas Mavericks teammates. But that’s not a one-off tennis moment for Nowitzki each year.

    “I’m still a tennis fan more than anything. I watch it all the time. Sometimes I’ll sit there in the evening and the kids are in bed and I’ll just flip to the Tennis Channel and watch random tournaments somewhere indoors in a little town and it’s a Challenger,” Nowitzki said. “I love watching tennis, I watch it all the time and it’s fascinating some of the shots they hit out of positions that are really hopeless. It’s just an amazing game and something new always happens. It’s such an athletic game now and the shotmaking is incredible.”

  7. Michael Chang made his Grand Slam breakthrough at 1989 Roland Garros after overcoming severe cramps to defeat Ivan Lendl en route to winning the title. Twelve years later, he found himself on the same court staring at another cramping American teenager in Andy Roddick.

    Their five-set, second-round clash was seen as a changing of the guard in American tennis as the 18-year-old Roddick prevailed 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-5 after three hours and 50 minutes. Roddick, then No. 48 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, grimaced and hopped on one foot between points in the fifth set, even leaning on a linesman for support. But he also broke the record for most aces in a match at Roland Garros (37) since the ATP started keeping stats in 1991.

    After Chang hit a backhand wide on match point, Roddick broke down in tears as he hobbled to the net. The crowd rose in unison and began chanting his name. Despite the disappointing defeat, the always classy Chang imparted a few words of wisdom as they shook hands.

    “One of the cool moments was when we shook hands and Michael said, ‘Listen, I’ve cramped. I’ve done this before. Here’s what you need to do,’” Roddick recalled to Tennis Channel. “He went point by point as to how I could best recover. It was a real lesson learned on how to prepare yourself going into the match.”

    The similarities between Roddick's victory and Chang's heroic comeback in 1989 weren't lost on the rising American. He cited the match with Lendl as one of his biggest motivators growing up.

    "It was going through my head while I was out there," Roddick said. "That match was one of my first memories of tennis. I went out after it and played for three hours. It really inspired me."

    Although Chang’s best years were behind him in the 2000s, beating him on red clay was still a difficult task. He was full of praise for Roddick afterwards and wanted to see his opponent continue forward in the draw.

    “At that point, I figured that I’m out of the tournament and he’s an American. All Americans want other Americans to do well,” Chang said of his advice at the net. “Obviously it was an incredible match… It was ridiculous how high and deep his serve was kicking.”

    Roddick was forced to retire midway through his next match with Lleyton Hewitt due to a strained left thigh. Although the American struggled in Paris throughout his career and never reached the quarter-finals, he would go on to capture the 2003 US Open title and finish that season as year-end No. 1.

  8. Almost every junior tennis player has a rival growing up. But it’s not often those kids grow up to be so good that they battle for the No. 1 FedEx ATP Ranking.

    Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, who were born one week apart in May 1987, first played one another aged 11. But not only have they remained great friends more than two decades later, they have developed a captivating rivalry.

    “We have known each other since very, very early days,” Djokovic said at the 2016 Rolex Paris Masters, where Murray clinched World No. 1 for the first time. “To see how he has raised his level in the past 12 months is quite extraordinary.”

    When Djokovic and Murray clash, there has almost always been a lot at stake. Nineteen of their 36 ATP Head2Head meetings (Djokovic leads 25-11) have come in a final, and 33 of their 36 meetings have come at a Grand Slam, ATP Masters 1000, the Nitto ATP Finals or the Olympics. They have met in all four Grand Slam finals.

    The childhood friends first played for a tour-level trophy at the 2008 Western & Southern Open, when they were both 21. Djokovic was already a four-time Masters 1000 champion, and he’d won that year’s Australian Open. The Serbian earned plenty of momentum in the semi-finals with a straight-sets victory against Rafael Nadal. But Murray, a first-time Masters 1000 finalist who was ranked No. 9, would not be denied, defeating Djokovic 7-6(4), 7-6(5).

    “I played some rocket tennis, the way my coach says,” Djokovic said. “Today I was trying to do the same, but I got rocket back.”

    Djokovic has won 14 more matches than Murray in their rivalry, but in title matches, the Serbian leads 11-8.

    The pair plays a similar style: Djokovic and Murray are both excellent on defence, capable of playing aggressively, and they are two of the best returners in the sport.

    “When you play against the best players in the world you go in knowing that you have to play great tennis to win,” Murray said. “Sometimes you do and you don’t win. They’re that good.”

    The biggest moment of their decades-long rivalry came at the 2016 Nitto ATP Finals. The week before, Murray had taken World No. 1 for the first time. But both men worked their way to the final, and the winner was guaranteed the coveted year-end No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.

    “Seems like a movie story scenario,” Djokovic said before the championship match. “It's a script.”

    Murray, who saved a match point in his semi-final against Milos Raonic, played clean tennis to defeat Djokovic 6-3, 6-4 to take the title and World No. 1. It was his 23rd consecutive win, capping a fairytale run to end 2016 atop tennis' mountain.

    “It was obviously a big, big match against someone who I've played so many big matches against in my career. That would be my main rival really throughout my career,” Murray said of Djokovic. “We played in all of the Slam finals, Olympics, obviously here now, and a match to finish the year No. 1. We played in loads of Masters Series finals, as well, and are one week apart in age. It was obviously a big match, a very important win for me. It was just a huge match to finish the year, to try and obviously finish No. 1.” 

    Even though Djokovic and Murray have played for each of the Grand Slam titles, World No. 1, and plenty more, they’ve always maintained the utmost respect for one another. According to Murray, off the court, they don't discuss tennis.

    “When me and Novak speak with each other, we don't talk about tennis, rankings, the matches we play against each other,” Murray said. in 2016 “Maybe when we finish playing, that might change. But we talk about each other's families, children and stuff. We chatted at length this year quite a lot because obviously I became a father the first time. We spoke about the difficulty in keeping the sort of balance in your life with the family and the travelling and the work and everything.”

    That was at the same time as they battled for World No. 1, showing that rivals could be great friends, too.

  9. Editor's Note: But for the COVID-19 pandemic, Roland Garros would now be underway. During the next two weeks will look back on memorable matches and happenings at the clay-court Grand Slam, which tournament organisers are now hoping to stage in September.

    Classic matches are remembered for various reasons, from the players involved to the stakes. Fabio Fognini and Gael Monfils’ match in the second round of 2010 Roland Garros, however, will be remembered for darkness.

    Monfils, who was only 23 at the time, had already made two quarter-finals at the clay-court Grand Slam. Fognini, however, entered the tournament without a main draw win at Roland Garros. The Frenchman was a two-time ATP Tour titlist, and the Italian hadn’t made a tour-level final.

    So when 13th seed Monfils sprinted to a two-set lead against World No. 92 Fognini, it was not a surprise. The rest of the match, however, was.

    Fognini had lost eight of nine matches entering the event. Facing a home favourite who’d enjoyed success at the tournament in the previous two years was tough enough. Coming back from down two sets would be even more difficult.

    But Fognini showed an early sign of his love for the big moments on Court Philippe Chatrier, hanging in there with the athletic Frenchman. As day turned to night on the event’s biggest court, the match’s momentum switched from Monfils’ racquet to Fognini’s.

    The Italian showed some of the shotmaking prowess that today has him at No. 11 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. It was clear Monfils was not physically at his best as the match went deep into the decider. The Frenchman is capable of crushing his first serve, but as dusk fell over the Parisian crowd, he was simply rolling the ball in — perhaps even slower than he normally would hit a second serve — and daring Fognini to take the match from him.

    Gael Monfils, Fabio Fognini

    That was when things got wonky. At 4-4 in the fifth set, there were discussions about suspending play due to darkness, as it was increasingly difficult to see. Only the stadium’s scoreboard and a television studio lit the court.

    But the players continued for two more games. Fognini held for 5-4, and then a hobbling Monfils served to stay in the match. At 15/40, Fognini let slip his first match point by missing a backhand into the net. On the next point, he had a great look to attack a slow second serve, but he just put the ball back in play, and eventually missed a forehand squash shot into the net. Two points later, Fognini had a third chance to seal his victory, but he missed a forehand return long. The darkness only got more noticeable on television, which made the setting look brighter than it actually was.

    With the partisan crowd that remained in the stands fully behind Monfils, the Frenchman somehow survived to fight another day, holding for 5-5 as cheers erupted from the crowd. Fognini had a golden opportunity to close out a higher-ranked opponent, but just before 10 p.m. local time, they walked off the court.

    Fognini somehow gathered himself the next day, to close out a memorable 2-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 9-7 win.

    "Look at the score,” Fognini said, according to Reuters. “It's an incredible match."

    After all the effort it took to push the match to a second day, it was a big disappointment for Monfils, who was the second-ranked Frenchman in the field. But he was honest about who the better player was.

    "He beat me fair and square."

  10. In the sixth profile of a series on the 26 players to rise to No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, looks back on the career of Ivan Lendl. View Full List

    First week at No. 1: 28 February 1983
    Total weeks at No. 1: 270
    Year-End No. 1s: 1985-87, 1989

    As World No. 1
    Ivan Lendl first became No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings on 28 February 1983, the year he won seven titles, for a total of 11 weeks until 15 May that year. At a time when the Czech turned-American jockeyed Jimmy Connors and, predominantly, John McEnroe for the top spot, Lendl was No. 1 on eight occasions, including for 157 straight weeks between 9 September 1985 and 11 September 1988. It was three weeks shy of Connors’ 160-week unbroken streak during the mid 1970s. Lendl once said, “I was between two and three in the world for two, three years. That’s not exactly where I wanted to be.” He finished the 1985-87 and 1989 seasons as the year-end No. 1 and was the world’s best player for 270 weeks in total.

    Grand Slam Highlights
    Lendl made his Grand Slam championship debut at 1978 Roland Garros, but picked up the tag of ‘nearly man’ after four runner-up finishes (1981 Roland Garros, 1982 US Open, 1983 Australian Open and US Open) before his major breakthrough. On Parisian clay, Lendl trailed McEnroe by two-sets-to-love and 2-4 in the 1984 Roland Garros final, only to win 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5. He lost to McEnroe in the US Open final a few months later but new-found confidence heralded the start of a dominant period, which included two further clay titles at Roland Garros in 1986 and 1987. Lendl contested eight straight US Open finals, equalling the record of Bill Tilden (1918-1925), winning in three successive years (1985-87) and famously hired the same workers to lay the exact US Open surface at his Connecticut house. Lendl won back-to-back Australian Opens in 1989 and 1990 and twice finished runner-up at Wimbledon in 1986 and 1987. Later in his career, while still near the top of the rankings, Lendl stepped up his bid to win what proved to be an elusive title at the All England Club. He skipped 1990 Roland Garros to win grass titles at Beckenham and then at The Queen’s Club, but could not replicate his form at Wimbledon, where he reached the semi-finals for the seventh time in eight years. His determination to win at SW19 was in stark contrast to his earlier outlook. He once said, “I am not playing Wimbledon because I am allergic to grass.” Overall, he won eight major crowns in 19 Grand Slam finals and reached a semi-final or better on 47 occasions.

    Nitto ATP Finals Highlights
    Lendl reached nine consecutive finals at the Masters [now named Nitto ATP Finals], from 1980 to 1988, when the season finale was held in New York. He won on five occasions in 1981 (d. Gerulaitis), 1982 (d. McEnroe), 1985 and 1986 (d. Becker), and 1987 (d. Wilander), while his fifth-set tie-break loss to Boris Becker in the 1988 final remains one of the sport’s greatest matches. In 12 straight appearances through to 1991, Lendl never once failed to advance to the semi-finals, and he finished with a 39-10 match record.

    Tour Highlights
    Turning pro in 1978, the year he won the Roland Garros and Wimbledon junior titles, Lendl soon began to amass singles titles: seven in 1980; 10 in 1981; 15 in 1982, including a 44-match winning streak, and seven trophies in 1983, before his big breakthrough. Lendl won more than 90 per cent of his tour-level matches in 1982, 1985-87 and 1989, when he won 10 trophies. His record of 94 singles titles is third on the ATP list, behind only Jimmy Connors (109) and Roger Federer (103). He also helped then Czechoslovakia to the 1980 Davis Cup title. He finished in the year-end Top 10 every season from 1980 to 1992 and recorded 164 victories against Top 10 stars, from Arthur Ashe at 1979 Roland Garros to Becker at the 1993 Tokyo indoors. Lendl called it quits shortly after the 1994 US Open, after chronic back pain hindered the final years of his career. He was 34.

    Overall ATP Singles Match Win-Loss Record 1,068-242
    Overall ATP Singles Titles/Finals Record: 94-52

    Biggest Rivalries
    Lendl, seven years younger, met Connors on 35 occasions (Lendl 22-13), including victories in their first eight matches. In the 1982 US Open final, one of seven meetings at Grand Slam championships, there were the first signs of niggle as Connors dared Lendl to drive a ball past him. Lendl also played McEnroe 36 times between 1980 and 1992, leading the American 7-2 in their major championship clashes. McEnroe once said, disparagingly, “Nobody gives a damn about Lendl and that’s the bottom line. I could have no personality and be more popular than him”. Pat Cash once said, “McEnroe didn’t like Lendl at all, not one bit. They were both fiery and wanted to be the best they could be, and to win. I thought it made tennis entertaining.” Their rivalry was evenly split at 15-15, until Lendl won the last six matches between 1989 and 1992.

    Lendl and McEnroe

    Built around a solid forehand, hit with heavy topspin, the steely, fiercely competitive and no-nonsense Czech developed an aggressive style of power tennis seen in today’s modern game. Lendl was one of the fittest players on Tour, who prepared meticulously and looked for an edge. “My serve and my forehand I pretty much always had, but my backhand was a ‘made’ backhand,” said Lendl. “I worked on it for years.” He was one of the first players to customise the weight, balance and string tension in his racquets. As one of the world’s top indoor and hard-court players, his records of consecutive finals at both the Masters [now named the Nitto ATP Finals] and the US Open may never be broken. In playing retirement since 1994, he developed his golf game and in 2011 heightened his credentials by coaching Andy Murray to three Grand Slam titles, the 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medals, the 2016 Nitto ATP Finals and No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. Murray’s triumph at 2013 Wimbledon ended a 77-year wait for a British Gentleman's Singles champion at SW19. Lendl also briefly coached Alexander Zverev.

    Memorable Moment
    Arguably, the definitive moment of Lendl’s career, making him a major force throughout the 1980s, was his second Roland Garros final appearance on 10 June 1984. It also happened to be McEnroe’s worst moment on a tennis court. “It's still tough for me now to do the commentary at the French,” said McEnroe in 2002. “I'll often have one or two days when I literally feel sick to my stomach, just at being there.” Sensing it was his one opportunity to win on Parisian clay, McEnroe led Lendl 6-3, 6-2, 1-1, but became increasingly agitated by the noise from a courtside cameraman’s headphones. In a seesaw third set, McEnroe walked over to the cameraman and shouted something into his headset and later regrouped to lead 4-2. However, Lendl had rediscovered his game, starting to strike his backhand with significant topspin and lobbing when McEnroe attacked the net. McEnroe distanced himself from the net, allowing Lendl to strike crosscourt winners and he recovered to win 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5 in four hours and eight minutes. The monkey was off Lendl’s back, after four runner-up finishes at major championships.

    McEnroe on Lendl
    "I realise I have to toughen up more in terms of physical conditioning, but I’m not going to live like a monk like Lendl. He’s an extremist. He’s sacrificed himself totally and in his case he got results. But I don’t think that has to be the general rule."

    Lendl on Lendl
    "I only play well when I'm prepared. If I don't practise the way I should, then I won't play the way that I know I can… People may say I developed an iron will, but what really happened is that I made myself much fitter. I think an iron will is always supported by fitness."


    Journalist/Broadcaster Graeme Agars On Lendl
    There was a simple reason that Ivan Lendl won an amazing 1068 of his 1310 matches. Every time he went on court, he gave 100 per cent effort. If you beat Lendl, it was a significant achievement. Lendl was known for his work ethic, his uber competitiveness and his hard-hitting game. One of his early Adidas composite rackets has found a home in the ATP office in Ponte Vedra Beach in Florida. Picking it up is more a weightlifting exercise than anything else; the head is lined with more lead than a boat anchor. The implement was more a club than a racquet and not many players could have used it as effectively as did the super strong Czech-born eight-time major champion. Not surprisingly, it allowed Lendl to be one of the pioneers of the power game in men’s tennis, which ultimately transformed the way the game was played, much to the frustration of touch players like John McEnroe.

    Lendl was particularly comfortable on a hard court, especially at the the US Open's Louis Armstrong stadium in New York. Lendl won there three times, but just as impressively made the final eight times in a row from 1982. He was no slouch on clay either, but the one win that eluded him despite mammoth efforts was a win on the hallowed grass courts at Wimbledon. He made two finals, but Boris Becker and Pat Cash denied him a Career Grand Slam. One other Lendl characteristic – he always played with a pocket full of sawdust to keep his racquet handle dry. That was in the days before players rushed to towel off between points.

  11. Editor's Note: is resurfacing features to bring fans closer to their favourite players during the current suspension in tournament play. This story was originally published on 8 June 2018.

    The abiding memory is watching Luke Jensen stretch three fingers of his right hand to reach a handle of the Jacques-Brugnon Cup as his younger brother, Murphy Jensen, with two hands firmly on the base, hoisted the trophy high above his head. It was meant to be the high-point celebration of a family game for the box-office siblings with firepower, who always competed with great emotion and enthusiasm.

    Here were the Jensens, hailing from a Christmas tree farm in Ludington, Michigan, a town of 8,000 residents, as tennis champions watched by millions globally, trading insults for a couple of minutes. The Tournament Director was seen pleading for Murphy, nursing concussion and a broken jaw, to drop his bag and return to Court Central [the main show court’s name until 2001] for the trophy presentation “‘Murphy, you must put down your bags,’ Luke remembers the official saying, just as Philippe Chatrier, in his final year as president of the French Tennis Federation, stepped out onto the red carpet. It certainly wasn’t what the organising committee had envisaged of their 1993 Roland Garros doubles champions.

    The seeds had been sewn for the Jensen brothers’ moment in time seven days earlier, when, after a third-round victory at Roland Garros on the middle Saturday, long-time ATP trainer Bill Norris asked, “What are you going to do if you win this title?’ As big fans of wrestling, Luke told Murphy, ‘If we win this, I’m going to body slam you to the ground, Hulk Hogan-style. It will be the greatest celebration of all time.’”

    It was quite some admission, considering that Murphy thought that the team — formed at the start of 1993 — would be better off splitting up just four weeks earlier. Murphy, who only wanted to play tennis with his brother, remembers, “In Hamburg, I had suggested to Luke that he find another partner for Roland Garros. But I remember Luke telling me, ‘No, even if I drop to 1,000 in the world, we’ll still play together.’ We didn’t have a lot of success in clay-court matches, but beating Jakob Hlasek and Marc Rosset, the defending champions, in the Rome first round, gave me confidence. It helped me to believe that I belonged and what it took to win. From Rome to Bologna, where we reached the final [l. to Visser/Warder], and on to Roland Garros, we never gave up.” Luke, who initially received criticism for teaming up with his inexperienced brother, recalls, “Family was more important than maybe getting a better partner. When I won with Murphy, it was so much better, and the weekend before Roland Garros began, I said to Murphy ‘You know man, we can win this thing!’ Murphy said, ‘What are you talking about, ‘I’m just happy to be here!’”

    American Gene Mayer, who captured the 1979 Roland Garros doubles title with his older brother, Sandy Mayer, told, “Every player dreams of winning a Grand Slam title. Playing with a sibling brings both additional pressure and satisfaction, so winning the French was not merely indicative of how far we had come from the two-year-old’s that had first picked up a racquet, but also, a fitting tribute to our Dad as a coach. On an emotional level, this was the pinnacle of our tennis careers.”

    The same was true for the Jensens, whose father, Howard, a former New York Giants offensive lineman who played with future Pro Football Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle, was an elementary school teacher that had been asked to take over the Ludington high school tennis team in the 1970s. At the time, Howard Jensen knew nothing about the sport and learned from magazines, but he went on to build a tennis court — one of just four in the town — in the family backyard, clearing out trees and pouring concrete for all of his children, which also included Rachel and Rebecca, both former pros. Tennis became his passion for more than 30 years and the family court, with one side fenced, and the other side open to the woods, was central to their rise. “We’d do a 10-mile run to decide who would play No. 1 on the high school team,” says Luke, who aged eight cycled from Michigan to Florida. “Selection wasn’t based on singles prowess, but on athleticism. Our whole games were founded on fitness. It toughened us up early on and instilled in us the ability to think we could win when we were down in a match. Our father had an unorthodox style and learned with us, through tennis magazines, being on site and watching other coaches.”

    With their mother, Patricia, always known as PMJ, a six-foot, red-headed, high school gymnastics teacher, as their chief marketeer of rock n’ roll tennis, the ‘Gen-X’ doubles team of the 1990s were football players playing tennis, who’d taken tap-dancing lessons as children to improve their footwork. Ambidextrous 6’3” team leader ‘Dual Hand Luke’, with a gap-toothed smile and shoulder-length hair, had long dreamed of being a quarterback at Notre Dame, but became one of the world’s leading juniors and enrolled at the University of Southern California, before transferring to Georgia after two years. Murphy, 6’5”, three years younger and with $35,000 in prize money after two years as a pro, was the sensitive, yet effervescent playmaker, who made things happen, and as a teenager believed he would lead Michigan to the Rose Bowl.

    Jensen brothers

    The Jensen brothers run to the 1993 Roland Garros doubles title, included five of their six matches going to three sets – two were 12-10 third-set triumphs; Goran Ivanisevic “broke every racquet in his bag after losing with Henri Leconte in a fervent quarter-final,” says Murphy, on the bullring, Court 1, then there was a stand-out team performance in the semi-finals against Stefan Edberg and Petr Korda, that year’s Monte-Carlo champions.

    The brothers’ endurance had stemmed from relentless competition, numerous trips to Norton Pines and West Shore Tennis Club to play indoors during the winter months, punishment runs behind their parent’s car, long road trips to national tournaments and brutal sessions on the almost 40-50 metre vertical sand dunes of ‘Puke Hill’, which their father used for his football teams. “When we played junior matches, you’d have to travel a long way to find people who were fitter than Murphy and I,” says Luke. “We always knew the longer the match went, if it became a test of endurance, we would win.” Murphy adds, “Dad once gave me his best line, ‘You never leave a match, you just run out of time.’”

    Prior to the biggest match of their lives, John McEnroe, who was due to commentate live with his great friend Vitas Gerulaitis — who had previously dubbed the Jensens as “Grunge tennis” — and Bud Collins on NBC Sports, had come into the locker room to give the Jensen brothers a surprise, rousing pep talk. “With Goellner and Prinosil sat nearby in the locker room, McEnroe talked about how the next day was going to be the 49th anniversary of D Day [6 June 1944],” remembers Murphy, who, aged 24, was appearing for the first time at the clay-court major. “A hero of mine was yelling at me. He cared, and still does care, about American tennis so much. He wanted us to bring the trophy back home. He said, ‘Luke, you’re experienced and have Davis Cup experience. Murphy, just do what you’ve done to get yourselves here. You have to seize the day.’" Luke, aged 27 in June 1993, remembers, “Until the moment McEnroe walked in, we’d been joking around, not even thinking or being nervous about the match. But McEnroe changed all that, after saying, ‘This is the title. This is what you dream about, you play for. You have to do it. You’ve come this far. You’ve been down serving for it. You’re not going to lose it.’ Suddenly we had responsibility.”

    Up a set against Germans Marc-Kevin Goellner and David Prinosil, who’d beaten top seeds Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde in the semi-finals, the trophy sat on the front row of the president’s box. “We could taste it, but our problem was we started to think of winning,” Luke told, 25 years on. Murphy got broken late in the second set, and recalls, “I told Luke I blew it, that we’d lost it. I really believed that.’ Luke remembers, “I told Murphy, ‘We’ve been down in every match, it’s a dog fight.’” The writing was certainly on the wall, when they were 0-3 down in the decider “and packing our bags” remembers Murphy, but Luke had inner-belief. “I said to my myself, ‘I’ve got to get our team back into the match.’ It was the biggest service game of my life.’”

    “Goellner was serving at 3-1, 40/15 up, a virtual match point, when Prinosil missed a point-blank forehand on the top of the net,” says Luke. “At 40/30, I went for a poach. Murphy played a solid deep volley, Prinosil lobbed, Murphy called for me to take it and I hit the second smash for a winner. From 0-3 down we found ourselves 5-3 up.”

    Having put Goellner under pressure, Murphy, competing in his second Grand Slam championship, constantly moved on his courtside chair preparing to serve for the trophy at 5-4. He was shaking his legs to stay lose. Murphy was initially rock solid, with one big serve and then great defence at the net for a 30/0 lead. Murphy remembers, ‘It was at that point I asked Luke, ‘Whatever you do, don’t hurt me.’”

    The nerves set in. “We got to 30/0 up and Murphy hits a double fault,” remembers Luke. “At 30/15, Murphy needed a first serve, but double faulted again. At 30/30, I could tell Murphy couldn’t breathe properly, he was rushing. I didn’t know if he could hit a serve, so I decided that if he did hit a first serve, that I would cross. I sent the ball out of the court with a forehand volley. On the first match point, Prinosil hit a forehand that was too hot, then at deuce, Goellner struck a forehand return long as I crossed. Soon, on the second match point, Murphy picked up a great half volley on approach to the net, then I struck two smashes, the last of which Prinosil netted.”

    As the Jensens went to celebrate, Luke’s right elbow caught Murphy squarely in the jaw. “As our German opponents walked to the net, he started swearing at me,” recalls Luke. “They saw us swearing and he said to me, ‘I told you not to hurt me.’ Murphy didn’t shake the umpire’s hand, but sat on his chair, grabbed his racquets and began walking off the court as the red carpet unfurled. Murphy, perhaps diplomatically, says 25 years on, “I didn’t realise there was a trophy presentation on-court, it was such a blur and surreal receiving the trophies.” Luke, who’d been on Tour since 1987, had once missed part of 1989 and 1990 after accidentally walking through a glass door, which required two surgeries to get the glass out of an elbow and finger.

    Afterwards, Murphy sat in the locker room alone, shaking with emotion. Luke was off somewhere. “I used to have nightmares, centred on whether I would be good enough, because you don’t know what it takes until you do something,” remembers Murphy. “Prior to the final I had been stressed out, going through hundreds of superstitions. We’d been told for years that Americans couldn’t win on European red clay, but we did so through fortitude and fitness. We learned to play with wooden racquets in the 1970s, playing with two hands. We tried to be the best we could possibly be, maximising on our potential.”

    Twenty-five years on Luke says, “Winning a Grand Slam validated all the hard work, they can’t take it away from you. Murphy felt so lucky. Instead of confidently talking up winning a Grand Slam, we did it and lived up to the result. He had never felt worthy to be a Grand Slam champion, but it was his destiny.”

    Murphy didn’t join in the post-final family celebration that saw Luke and their mother drink a champagne toast at the hotel, which didn’t have air conditioning, so Luke continued to sleep on a mattress out on the porch. “Murphy went out with a friend, apparently, to a night club, Les Bains Douches, where Ilie Nastase used to hang out,” says Luke. “Dressed down and with half the prize money, he presented his cheque by way of identification in order to get in.”

    On the flight home, ahead of a two-week break, Murphy recalls that Luke said, ‘I am going to sign every autograph and shake every hand and thank every tournament director from here on out.’” Their victory gave doubles global visibility and through their mother’s savvy marketing skills, product endorsement deals came flooding in, feature stories were written in Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, People and dozens of tennis magazines. The entertaining Jensen brothers became a brand, a must-see show-court attraction in the 1990s, and 25 years on from their momentous early summer’s day in Paris, their influence and legacy endures.

  12. Editor's Note: is resurfacing features to bring fans closer to their favourite players during the current suspension in tournament play. This story was originally published on 29 May 2019.

    It was in Harlingen, Texas that the conversation took place, after bearing witness to an awkward, tense exchange between father and son, united in doing their best and what they thought was right, but never quite spelling out their real concerns – perhaps out of fear, but certainly out of love. For years, Pierre-Hugues Herbert had supplemented early singles losses, with confidence-boosting runs on the doubles court, to ensure the belief that his tennis development was on the correct trajectory. But was it? After a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 first-round loss to South African wild card Dean O’Brien — who played two-handed shots off both sides — at a USA F6 ITF Futures tournament, where Herbert had been the top seed and played from the baseline, Ronald Agenor stepped in. Not because the Haitian needed to, but because he saw similarities in Herbert and the Frenchman's tennis-loving father, Jean-Roch, to his own father, Frédéric, and older brother, Lionel, who had coached Agenor to a successful life on the ATP Tour.

    Agenor, coaching a Zimbabwean player, Takanyi Garanganga, at the time, had witnessed a player who had developed his own style; away from the baseline-dominated modern power game. Recalling the encounter of February 2013, the former World No. 22 admitted six years on, “There was a void in his (Pierre-Hugues) head and a lack of confidence; a player looking for himself. His father, courtside, took more notes than I have seen anyone take. There was passion, and it was fabulous to see a Dad invest so much, but it hurt me to see such a partnership in trouble.

    “Jean-Roch, who I knew a little, asked me to talk to Pierre-Hugues a little bit. I said I would do, but ‘I would like to talk to you both at the same time.’ We spent more than an hour in a café, and I started telling Pierre-Hugues that he was ‘lucky to have a father who wants the very best for you.’ There was technical mastery, forged by working with a number of coaches, but Herbert played a risky game that could not be trusted when it came to the crunch.

    “I said to Jean-Roch, ‘You have a son who wants to express himself, to show his Dad he is independent. You have done everything you can, and more, but, if at a certain moment Pierre-Hugues does not want you to coach him, it is not because he does not love you.’”

    The chat by Agenor, a player who dared to dream and won three ATP Tour titles from eight finals, relieved both parties. “Ronald told me something that my father has been trying to tell me for years and years, and that I hadn't listened to,” remembers Herbert. “You know, sometimes it's easier if a third person tells you something instead of your own father, for instance. I remember that it was something that really made me change. I’d often questioned what type of player I wanted to be, because I have plenty of shots. I needed to find my own balance, and it took me a while to understand that. Initially, I wanted to play from the baseline like everyone else, hitting hard. But that wasn’t my tennis. Then, I realised if I wanted to be efficient, I needed to accept that I should be different.”

    The cerebral introvert had, by that stage, learnt to lose a lot, but the early wins, even when his childhood rivals on the international circuit from 2006 to 2009 were growing up fast, had enabled Herbert to continue working, providing him energy to win the junior Wimbledon doubles title with Kevin Krawietz in 2009. “All my family was amazing,” recalls Herbert, the son of two tennis coaches. “When I was younger and at tournaments with my father, my mother was working. It was a team spirit. When my father was away, my brother [Gabriel], had no father at home. He had to go to school and become older, the same for my sister [Marjolaine].

    “They all made sacrifices for me, my Dad for sure. He gave me the chance to become a pro tennis player. For my development it was amazing, in my whole life. He never gave me a limit. He always told me to reach to the heights and gave me everything. He always wanted me to go with other coaches, and take in what they told me.”

    Herbert became the CEO of his own company aged 23, when he began to realise the true meaning of life as a professional tennis player. The decision was soon vindcated with a practice-session call-up from Roger Federer at the 2014 Gerry Weber Open in Halle, and then, a few months later, signing up with Michal Przysiezny five minutes before the qualifying deadline for the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships and ending the week with the Tokyo trophy. It was a special moment for father and son, but also a turning point.

    Today, Herbert remains in the same boat, but the concerns of whether he has sufficient ability to progress beyond a singles career-high of No. 36 in the ATP Rankings; and the angst, pain and crisis moments that create doubt, are on an all-together different scale. “Mastering the mental side is a long process, it’s not a sprint,” says Herbert, who has walked onto court with a wooden egg in his bag, a gift from a friend that acts as a lucky charm and a reminder of his journey, for the past five years. “A tennis career is a marathon, with lots of tournaments. You have to be 100 per cent positive, confident, and playing doubles on the biggest courts has helped me. Tennis fortunes can be quick to turn negative, and not wanting to play anymore. The mental side is so important as when you’re not in the right frame of mind you cannot make smart decisions. I’m now very focused and in my own world.”

    Julia Lang, his girlfriend of four-and-a-half years, has given Herbert the balance to perform on the court and switch off away from the tramlines. “She has taken on greater responsibilities, but she is my girlfriend, my travel buddy, helping with my career and brightening up my days. She has a big smile and she helps me a lot. Travelling with and playing the guitar, singing, and like a lot of players, selecting my fantasy football team, takes up a lot of my time and makes me crazy too! But it’s also helpful to compartmentalise my life.”


    While Herbert may have commanded headlines for his doubles prowess — becoming the eighth men’s team in the sport’s history to complete a career Grand Slam with Nicolas Mahut at this year’s Australian Open and winning 15 trophies together in the space of four years — don’t make the mistake of categorising the amiable Frenchman solely as a doubles player. “I now consider myself a singles player that plays doubles,” says Herbert, who has already recorded singles victories over Top 15 performers Dominic Thiem, Kei Nishikori and Daniil Medvedev in 2019. “I really do get mad when I hear that I’m just a doubles player.”

    Winning all four major doubles titles by the age of 27 simply accelerated Herbert’s decision to focus on singles, just as he’d hoped for as a 13-year-old wannabe. Three days after their triumph in Melbourne, he telephoned Mahut to break the news. “Our story is not ending,” reassures Herbert. “We’d like to continue playing and try to win a medal for France at Tokyo 2020.”

    The old frailties of Herbert as a dangerous player, able to contest a great match but give away a lot of points, have diminished. He perseveres by rightly playing on the edge, his natural game; and is a stylist of great fluency. His service motion, with deep knee bend, full racquet take back, and exaggerated ball toss deep in the court, evokes memories of John McEnroe’s motion, and enables Herbert to launch an attack on the net — no matter the surface. His hands, as evidenced in his doubles performances alongside Mahut, are among the best on the ATP Tour; his shots have become big weapons, and with an improved baseline game, Herbert is becoming a strong and complete singles competitor.

    “In the first year on tour, it was all a novelty, visiting new tournaments that I’d watched on television,” remembers Herbert. “Then, in the second year, I found it tougher, mentally. The players knew my game and it forced me to grow up, and ‘become a man’. My game, that I worked on growing up, was taken apart, my technique dissected. But I have now certainly gotten better on my groundstrokes. I gained more strength in my legs, because of numerous fitness and physio sessions, and in my head.”

    Herbert’s belief that he can go out and play his game to beat the very best, stems from experience, but also having the best of both worlds in coaches, Fabrice Santoro, the double-handed magician, and Benjamin Balleret, the Monegasque who plied the majority of his career on the ATP Challenger Tour.

    “They each have different views of my game, but they share their views for my benefit,” says Herbert. “With Fabrice we’ve worked a lot on my game, my footwork, to be more precise and stable. Working on drills and feeding the ball. What I like most is that they are both open to trying new things, and together we’re not scared to do so. Both can rest, and not travel as much, then bring energy on tour when ready. They both know what it takes to be a professional tennis player. There is a little more pressure on myself, as it’s a risky decision, but I am longing for good results. It’s a little more stressful, as it’s challenging, but it’s good.”

    Santoro, who first came on board as a coach 19 months ago, was quick to recognise Herbert’s professionalism and ambition. “When we first started working together he was around No. 100-110 in the world,” said Santoro. “We never thought in the first year he'd stop playing doubles at a Grand Slam, but now that he has broken into the Top 40, the ambition is different. He trusts his game and is stronger. We tried to make him stronger in the legs, with better footing on the ground, because if he is stronger in the legs, he'll be more aggressive from the baseline to the net. Before he was a little weaker in the legs, and he struggled moving to balls.”

    Balleret, who admits that the mistakes he made as a player have helped him learn as a coach over the past few years, feels that Herbert’s conditioning has been one of the determining factors over his consistent form. “Initially, I felt that there was a limit to his capabilities on the court, as his body or preparation wasn’t ideal. Now we’ve done a lot of work on this and it’s paying off. Pierre-Hugues is now capable of playing four to five weeks in a row.”

    In reaching three ATP Tour singles finals — the 2015 Winston-Salem Open (l. to Anderson), the 2018 Shenzhen Open (l. to Nishioka) and February’s Open Sud de France in Montpelllier (l. to Tsonga) — Herbert was energised to go big; working his way through the tournament by demonstration of his work ethic and focus on the practice or match court. “I’ve felt for the past few years that I’ve gotten better in singles, particularly over the past 12 months since Roland Garros,” admits Herbert. “I want to get better in practice and learn from my matches.”

    Herbert, the analyst, is often spot on. He can be hard on himself, but every champion needs that trait. Santoro and Balleret can talk freely and Herbert doesn’t take criticism in the wrong way. “I’d like to enter the Top 30 [of the ATP Rankings], but it’s a big step forward,” says Herbert. “I’d like to win my first ATP Tour title in singles, but I’d like to continue to be the best player I can be. It would be great too, to reach the second week of a Grand Slam as a singles player.”

    Herbert played with great conviction in his victory over Nishikori at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters in April and with emotion, on Monday, when the chips were down at Roland Garros, to battle back from two-sets-to-love down for the first time in his career against Medvedev, one of the 2019 season’s most consistent and hard-working players. While Herbert remains a work in progress, after years of cautious optimism and questioning, with his intellect and drive anything is possible entering his physical peak.

  13. With just two tour-level victories to his name and no wins against Top 100 opposition, French wild card Eric Winogradsky entered Roland Garros in 1987 under the radar.

    But, after his win against World No. 77 Marcel Freeman in the first round, the 21-year-old made headlines around the world with a 7-6, 7-6, 7-5 victory against two-time reigning Australian Open champion and World No. 3 Stefan Edberg.

    With four trophies to his name already that year and a comfortable victory in his opening match against Mike Leach, Edberg was attempting to avoid back-to-back second-round losses in Paris after a five-set loss to eventual runner-up Mikael Pernfors in 1986.


    The 1985 quarter-finalist charged to a 4-1 advantage in the first set, but Winogradsky proved relentless with his attacking brand of serve-and-volley tennis to find his way back into the set and force a tie-break.

    "I was up, 4-1, in the first and then I let him back in the match," said Edberg. "I just couldn't get his serve into play all day. I felt the whole time like I was in trouble because I just couldn't handle his serve."

    After claiming the tie-break, Winogradsky reached 4-4 in the second set before rain interrupted play. Wet conditions were on the Frenchman’s wish list heading into the match.

    "I went out thinking that I had a small chance to win if it rained, and if the balls got heavy, and if I played very well, and if he didn't play very well," Winogradsky said. "Notice there were a lot of ifs."

    [ATP APP]

    After taking the second set in another tie-break, Winogradsky broke serve late in the third set to claim a memorable victory in front of his home crowd. It would be the 21-year-old’s lone third-round appearance at a Grand Slam singles event and his only win against a Top 20 player.

    "He never seemed to get tight," said Edberg. "He just kept hitting good shots. I never had an opening.”

    Winogradsky, who fell to Karel Novacek in the next round, will also be remembered at Roland Garros for his runner-up finish alongside Mansour Behrami in the 1989 doubles event. The Frenchman also coached Jo-Wilfried Tsonga from 2004 to 2011.

  14. Editor's Note: But for the COVID-19 pandemic, Roland Garros would now be underway. During the next two weeks will look back on memorable matches and happenings at the clay-court Grand Slam, which tournament organisers are now hoping to stage in September.

    Yevgeny Kafelnikov reached the top of the FedEx ATP Rankings on 3 May 1999, becoming the first Russian to accomplish the feat. Three weeks later, he was the top seed at Roland Garros, where he became the first man from his country to win a Grand Slam title in 1996.

    Kafelnikov didn’t enter the event in his best form. After winning the Australian Open and Rotterdam earlier that year, he didn’t reach another final. Facing 1989 champion and 1995 finalist Michael Chang in the first round certainly didn’t help.

    Although he doesn’t recall the moment he saw that year’s Roland Garros draw, he knew Chang wasn’t the only issue. He saw one player who always gave him nightmares — Dominik Hrbaty — potentially lurking in the second round.

    “If I’m looking at the draw and see Hrbaty on the way I’m going, ‘Oh my God! How can I avoid this guy?’” Kafelnikov told “Dominik would lose to anybody, but when he played against me, he always brought his best game. That was really painful for me.”

    [MY POINT]

    Kafelnikov battled past Chang in four tough sets in his opener, and Hrbaty defeated home favourite Julien Boutter in a tight four-setter, so the Russian’s nightmare was going to become a reality. The pair had previously met twice, with Kafelnikov only winning one set.

    “Dominik is a player who had all the answers to my game,” Kafelnikov said. “Thomas Johannson and Hrbaty were two of my nemeses who I couldn’t figure out how to beat them, comfortably.”

    Even so, a one-sided match in favour of Hrbaty didn’t seem likely. Yet the Slovakian rolled past the favourite 6-4, 6-1, 6-4.

    “I was the No. 1 player in the world at the time, but Dominik’s game was such a solid game that he had every answer to all my shots,” Kafelnikov said. “If I was hitting the ball hard, the ball was coming back twice as hard. That stuff was driving me nuts. Those two players [Hrbaty and Johansson] read my game so well.”


    Kafelnikov at times appeared frustrated, double faulting to end the second set, which only took 23 minutes. But he continued to fight.

    Hrbaty broke early in the third set, but the Russian levelled the set at 3-3. Hrbaty’s pressure was relentless, breaking for 5-3 by lacing a backhand passing shot up the line, giving himself an opportunity to serve for the match. Kafelnikov remained mentally engaged, breaking back once more when Hrbaty missed a forehand volley wide.

    But the Slovakian wouldn’t be denied, clinching the match after one hour and 47 minutes when Kafelnikov mishit his trusty two-handed backhand well out.

    “Before the match I was thinking I could beat him because I beat him two times before,” Hrbaty said in a television interview right after the match. “All the match I was just confident I was going to beat him.”

    The upset spurred the best Grand Slam run of Hrbaty’s career. The Slovakian, who won his second ATP Tour title in Prague a month before Roland Garros, beat Andrew Ilie, Marat Safin and former World No. 1 Marcelo Rios to reach his lone major semi-final.

    The only man who was able to stop Hrbaty was Andre Agassi, who eventually lifted the trophy. All of it was possible because of Hrbaty’s stunning performance against Kafelnikov.

  15. Hey Young Writers,

    We have loved reading your creative stories during the first two Fan Essay Contests... and we're now accepting submissions for our third contest.

    The topic: What is the best ATP Tour match you have seen (either in person or on TV)? Describe why the match was so compelling and why it had a big impact on you.

    You have until Friday 12 June at 12 noon ET to submit your essay of no more than 500 words to The best three entries will be featured on

    Fans must be 18 and under to enter. Winning entries will be determined by the editorial team.

    Read the winners from the first essay contest. Winners from the second essay contest will be published later this week.

    Entrants are limited to one entry per essay topic, but may submit entries for each new question in the competition. There will be a new topic every three weeks. Essays must be written in English and submitted to Please do not send essays as attachments. Paste the text into the body of an email.

    Click here for full terms and conditions.

    Check out more great activities in the Emirates ATP Kids Hub.


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