Rafa 13.0: 'I'm Going To Need My Best Version'

Does Rafael Nadal consider himself the favourite at this year’s Roland Garros? As a 12-time tournament champion, he has dominated the event like no other player in all Grand Slam history. On the other side of the ledger, he has played just one tournament since February and suffered a surprise quarter-final loss to Diego Schwartzman last week in Rome.

His great rival, Novak Djokovic, comes in with a 31-1 record on the season, and the confidence of having won a record-breaking 36th ATP Masters 1000 title in Rome. To win the trophy, Nadal may need to beat US Open champion Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals and Djokovic in the final. And the World No. 2 feels that conditions are not in his favour.

So maybe, just maybe, there is hope for others in the field.

“I always have been beatable on clay. [Novak] beat me a lot of times,” said Nadal. “But at the same time [it] is true that I had a lot of success on this surface. [The] situation is special. Conditions here probably are the most difficult conditions for me ever in Roland Garros for so many different [reasons]. The ball completely different. The ball is super slow, heavy. It's very cold. Slow conditions.

“Of course, the preparation have been less than usual. But you know what, I am here to fight and to play with the highest intensity possible, to practise with the right attitude, to give [myself] a chance. That's the main goal for me. Be competitive on Monday, and let's try. Just day-by-day. I know this place very well. It is about being patient, being positive, just trying to find the positive vibes every single day.”

Despite the challenging conditions for the Spaniard at this year’s event, Nadal is excited to be back at the most successful tournament of his career. The Spaniard can create history in Paris this year. If Nadal lifts the trophy by winning seven matches in Paris, he will equal Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam crowns and hit 100 victories at the clay-court Grand Slam championship. Nadal currently holds a tournament record 93 wins from 95 matches.

“We are just about to start a very important event, the most important event in my tennis career historically,” said Nadal. “I am just happy to be back here in this place… The situation is a little bit more difficult than usual without a doubt. But that's it. I going to keep trying my best. I know [it is] going to be a big

Read more: https://www.atptour.com/en/news/nadal-roland-garros-2020-preview

Thiem Sees 'Huge Challenge' To Repeat US Open Success In Paris

Dominic Thiem hopes to keep the feel-good factor that his US Open triumph brought him two weeks ago on the crushed brick of Roland Garros, where he has reached the final for the past two years.

“I felt great coming here because, I've achieved such a big goal,” said Thiem on Friday, in Paris. “At one point, whatever comes now is somehow a bonus. On the other hand, I want to do the best I can in every single tournament I play. Especially here in Roland Garros, [where] I [had] four crazy years with two semi-finals [and] two finals.

“I love the conditions here. I love the whole tournament. First practice yesterday, I straight away felt great with the conditions, with the clay, in the Suzanne Lenglen stadium. I tried to not think too much about the US Open, but to see this as a new tournament, as a new challenge. To be as good as possible from the first point on.”

Thiem has had little time to celebrate and reflect on his first Grand Slam championship title over Alexander Zverev in the US Open final on 13 September.

“I was enjoying that obviously at home with family and friends,” said Thiem, who played on clay in Austria for two days prior to arriving in Paris on Wednesday. “I tried not to lose all the tension, tried not to do nothing for too long. I did nothing for three or four days, then I started to practise on clay. But I'll see how I handle all the emotions, also all the physical challenges which happened in New York. In the past, I was not that great playing the tournaments, after big titles like [the BNP Paribas Open in] Indian Wells last year or [the Erste Bank Open in] Vienna. I've always played not that great the following week. I will try to do it differently here in Paris [and] try to be on top of my game from Monday onwards.”

The 27-year-old Austrian could rise to a career-high No. 2 in the FedEx ATP Rankings should he go on to capture the Roland Garros crown, but Thiem isn’t ruling out 12-time champion Rafael Nadal, who has a 93-2 record at the Paris major.

“I think he's always going to be the big-time favourite when he's playing, when he's healthy and fit,” said Thiem. “I think he is… the big favourite, just because of the past. He won the tournament 12 times, which is just incredible. He's by far the best clay-court player ever. But there are some slight changes. The balls are a little bit different… It

Read more: https://www.atptour.com/en/news/thiem-roland-garros-2020-preview

Musetti: "The Real Work Was In The Challengers"

It was exactly one year ago that Lorenzo Musetti experienced one of the biggest tests of his young career.

The Italian teen was standing on Center Court at the prestigious AON Open Challenger in Genova, Italy, facing former World No. 16 Philipp Kohlschreiber. For a 17-year-old first embarking on his professional career, the moment could not get any bigger.

Located just one hour from his hometown of La Spezia, the coastal city of Genova was essentially a home tournament for Musetti. Friends and family flocked to the Valletta Cambiaso to watch Italy's future star compete on one of the country's brightest stages.

The crowd was packed beyond capacity as day turned to dusk on a Wednesday evening. Floodlights illuminated the stadium, creating a surreal atmosphere for the teen. He had never competed in such a vibrant and energetic environment before. The ATP Challenger Tour in Italy features many festive backdrops, but they are nothing like this.

Akin to the Foro Italico in Rome, the venue features large trees surrounding the main stadium and ampitheater-style seating. A total of 2,500 people witnessed their native son battle for one hour and 26 minutes, eventually falling to Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-4.

Genova
Musetti vs. Kohlschreiber, Genova 2019

What a difference a year makes. Twelve months later, Musetti had the opportunity to compete at the Foro Italico itself. This time, he was ready for the moment. Not intimidated or fazed in the slightest, the teenager reached the Round of 16 at his home ATP Masters 1000 event. This time, there were no fans in the stands, but the tension was just as palpable. Statement wins over Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori thrust Musetti into the spotlight, which he embraced like a seasoned veteran.

How was Musetti able to make such a significant transition so quickly? The Italian credits his experiences on the ATP Challenger Tour.

"Last year, after I won the Australian Open juniors, I started this process. It was not easy at the beginning, but as I played more matches and saw my ranking go up, it helped me a lot," said Musetti. "The experience in Rome was great, but the real work was in the month before, when I was playing the Challengers in Todi, Trieste and Cordenons. Those were an amazing three tournaments and I played a lot of important matches. I entered Rome with a lot of trust in m

Read more: https://www.atptour.com/en/news/musetti-2020-challenger-feature-forli

London Calling For Laver Cup In 2022

The Laver Cup will be held in London in 2022, with organisers naming The O2 as the venue for the event that will take place from September 23-25, 2022. London will host the fifth edition of the competition, following Laver Cup 2021 which will be held next September at TD Garden in Boston.

“We’re so excited to be bringing the Laver Cup to London, a city steeped in tennis heritage,” Laver Cup Chairman and CEO of TEAM8 Tony Godsick said. “The British fans love their tennis and the Laver Cup is like nothing they have seen before. Over one amazing weekend we bring together today’s greatest players as teammates, alongside legends and rivals from previous generations to create a truly unique spectacle that has thrilled fans around the globe."

“London has always held a special place in my heart and it’s going to be incredible to bring the Laver Cup to one of my favourite cities in the world,” Roger Federer, 20-time Grand Slam champion said. “I know the British fans will love the way the Laver Cup brings together the top players in the world while paying respect and recognition to the legends of our game.”

Named in honour of Australian tennis legend Rod Laver, the Laver Cup is played on a dramatic black court that will be constructed within The O2, a 20,000 seat arena. The three-day team competition pits six of the best players from Europe against six of their counterparts from the rest of the World.

Since its debut in Prague in 2017, the Laver Cup has been staged in Chicago in 2018, and Geneva last year. Boston will host the 2021 edition and 2022 will mark the third time Team Europe has held the ‘home advantage’.

The O2 has welcomed more than 70 million people to music, sports and entertainment events since opening in 2007. No stranger to tennis, The O2 has been home to the hugely successful Nitto ATP Finals since 2009.

“London’s The O2 is one of the world’s most iconic music and entertainment venues,” Laver Cup CEO Steve Zacks said. “It is a destination unto itself, with spectacular scale, design, technology and amenities. It is the perfect setting for the Laver Cup to create an unrivalled fan experience.”

“We are delighted The O2 will host the Laver Cup in 2022 and look forward to welcoming the tournament to London and bringing the excitement of tennis to the British fans,” Gael Caselli, VP of

Read more: https://www.atptour.com/en/news/laver-cup-2022-london-announcement

Gerhard Weber, Halle Tournament Founder & Fashion Designer, Dies Aged 79

Gerhard Weber, the award-winning German fashion designer, who founded the Gerry Weber manufacturing and retail chain, and turned Halle into an international tennis destination, passed away on Thursday morning aged 79.

Weber first made his move into professional tennis in 1986, when he signed 17-year-old Steffi Graf as a brand ambassador, three years before Gerry Weber went public as a business on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange on 7 March 1989. In 1992, now firmly established in the women’s fashion industry, Weber and his son, Ralf, set about organising a $25,000 ATP Challenger Tour event in 1992 on the clay courts of TC Blau-Weiss, where Gerhard had been club chairman since November 1985.

Subsequently given a spot on the 1993 ATP Tour calendar, one week after Roland Garros, the Webers knew that terre battue tennis wouldn’t work during the summer grass-court swing. Together, they made Halle-Westphalia, home to half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets, a lot of agriculture and 20,000 residents, a must-see tournament, held in the same week as the Fever-Tree Championships at The Queen’s Club.

Local businessmen thought the Webers were crazy, but the Gerry Weber Open [now named the Noventi Open] began in wet conditions in 1993, with Henri Leconte beating Andrei Medvedev in the final, on a court of 400 pre-prepared grass tiles. The tournament team immediately started construction on a retractable roof over the 12,300-seater centre court — named Gerry Weber Stadion — in time for the 1994 event. The roof closed in just 88 seconds, and with a train station just 500 yards away, the crowds grew.

Three former World No. 1s, Yevgeny Kafelnikov (1997-98, 2002), Lleyton Hewitt (2010) and Roger Federer, who first received a wild card as an 18-year-old in 2002 and has clinched a record 10-time Halle trophies, all played a part in building the global appeal of the ATP 250 (1993-2014) and now ATP 500-level (2015-present) event, which is today broadcast to more than 130 countries. In 2018, the Deutscher Tennis Bund [German Tennis Association] presented Weber an award for his “outstanding achievements for German tennis”. The following year, Noventi, a healthcare company based in Munich, became the new title sponsor of the tournament.

Weber, who opened his first fashion shop in 1965, founded the fashion empire from the Westphalian province on 1 March 1973 with his childhood friend Udo Hardieck (who pas

Read more: https://www.atptour.com/en/news/gerhard-weber-obituary-september-2020

Djokovic Chasing Federer's No. 1 Record: 'I'm Going To Give My All'

Will Novak Djokovic finish his career with more weeks atop the FedEx ATP Rankings than anyone in history?

After breaking a tie with Pete Sampras on Monday for second-most weeks at World No. 1 by reaching 287 weeks, the Serbian now has his sights set on Roger Federer. The Swiss star has spent a record 310 weeks in the top spot.

“Of course I'm aware of the amount of weeks,” Djokovic said after winning a record-breaking 36th ATP Masters 1000 title at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia. “I'm getting closer. I'm in a very good position, I feel like. I have also been playing really well and been healthy, which is great.”

If he does not relinquish World No. 1 between now and then, Djokovic can pass Federer’s mark on 8 March 2021. He currently has a 1,410-point lead over World No. 2 Rafael Nadal, who under the current 22-month system can’t gain any points at Roland Garros because he won the tournament last year.

Making history has long been one of Djokovic’s greatest motivators, and reaching Federer is on his mind. However, he is staying in the moment and focussing on what is under his control.

“The historic No. 1 ranking goal is something that is on the horizon,” Djokovic said. “I'm going to give my all and very best that I can possibly give in the next period to achieve that.

“I can't [look] too far [ahead] and I don't know what years to come will bring for me and just tennis and the world in general.”

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Although Djokovic is closing in on the major milestone, he knows how difficult it is to maintain not just the top spot, but a place among the world’s elite.

“Being a top player of the world, top five of the world, it requires a lot of consistency, requires a lot of determination, a lot of sacrifice throughout the year,” Djokovic said. “It's not enough to play well one month a year, two months a year. You have to play well the entire year in order to be one of the best players in the world.

“So that's probably the ultimate challenge we have in our sport, to be No. 1 in the longest season in sports.”

Djokovic is the top seed at Roland Garros, which begins Sunday. The Serb is chasing his 18th Grand Slam title, which would move him within one of Rafael Nadal's haul of

Read more: https://www.atptour.com/en/news/djokovic-chasing-federer-no-1-record-september-2020

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