Most Successful Tennis Players 2019

Most Successful Tennis Players 2019

There were many great moments in tennis in 2019, such as when Rafael Nadal beat Dominic Thiem to win his 12th singles title at the Roland-Garros in June, or when Andy Murray teamed up with Serena Williams in Wimbledon’s mixed doubles to form an exciting new partnership that had the crowds going wild.

In terms of success, some players have earned a fortune in prize money over the past 12 months, with the top earners including some of the veterans of the circuit, in both the men’s and women’s singles.

Top men

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The most successful male tennis player of 2019 was Novak Djokovic, 32, who won prize money totalling £6.7 million. Despite his prize money, the Serbian finished the year ranked world number two by the Association of Tennis Professionals. He won a record seventh Australian Open title and fifth Wimbledon title in 2019.

In terms of winnings, the number two male player was Spaniard Rafael Nadal, 33, who won £6.1 million prize money. He was ranked world number one by the ATP at the end of 2019, after winning the French Open (the Roland-Garros) and the US Open. He also led Spain to victory at the Davis Cup Final, when he won all eight of his matches, in both the singles and doubles.

The third top-earner in men’s tennis was Swiss veteran Roger Federer, 38, the oldest player in the top rankings for 2019. He earned £4.3 million in prize money and was ranked number three in the world by the ATP. He won his 100th career singles title at the Dubai Tennis Championship, his fourth Miami Open title and he reached his 12th Wimbledon final.

Even though the top three men are in their 30s, they have all enjoyed remarkable form throughout 2019 and there are no rumours of impending retirement for any of them.

Top women

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On the women’s circuit, the highest earner was Japanese player Naomi Osaka, 22, who won prize money totalling £6.3 million. Ranked number one in the world, she won the Australian Open and the China Open and reached the finals of the Canadian Open and the Cincinnati Open. She is the first Asian woman to become world number one.

German player Angelique Kerber, 31, won a total of £4 million prize money in 2019. She reached the final of the mixed doubles with Alexander Zverev at the Hopman Cup and the women’s singles final at the Indian Wells Masters. She also reached the women’s singles semi-finals at the Qatar Open, the Monterrey Open and the Mallorca Open, but suffered injuries towards the end of the season.

Named by Forbes as the third highest-earning female athlete of 2019, after she signed sponsorship deals with many major brands such as Adidas, Procter and Gamble, Porsche and Rolex, she is also an ambassador for children’s charity UNICEF. On 4th December, it was revealed Kerber will play in the 2020 Adelaide International.

Another tennis veteran, 37-year-old American Serena Williams, won a total of £3.2 million in 2019. Plagued by injuries, she overcame adversity to reach the top ten in the women’s rankings. Although she did not win any major titles, she reached the final of the US Open.

She reached the Wimbledon singles final, but throughout the year suffered further injuries, including a sprained ankle and back spasms. Serena is planning to continue playing through 2020 but has also announced plans to launch a new clothing line, plus jewellery and beauty products.

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How Advanced Technology Has Helped Tennis

How Advanced Technology Has Helped Tennis

Advances in technology have had a big impact on tennis, according to research from the Tennis Industry Association. People wanting to play the sport for the first time have access to new technology that our predecessors could only dream about. This has taken the experience to a whole new level.

While familiar on-court technology includes the likes of “Hawk-Eye” (the electronic system that logs with precision whether a ball is in or out), today’s advanced tech even enables players to obtain feedback that can be used to improve their fitness levels and performance.

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It’s no surprise that 2.07 million people are taking up the sport for the first time each year and this figure is rising by 3.8% annually. In addition, 2.2 million people are returning to tennis after a break, while 14.75 million non-players have expressed an interest in learning how to play.

The popularity of the new technology is being cited as a direct reason why interest in tennis is increasing. Smart court technology and wearable tech offer players and coaches an opportunity to hone their skills like never before, enabling them to enjoy exciting new opportunities.

Racquets and courts

Tennis has been altered dramatically as a result of technical innovations. In the 1870s (Wimbledon was first launched in 1877), the only “technology” available to players was a wooden racquet. Over the years, racquets have developed through metal frames in the 1960s, to today’s composite frames made of graphite, titanium and carbon fibre, giving players more precision and power.

Tennis court surfaces have been changing too: while grass and clay remain popular, bespoke hard surfaces have been developed over the years. Decoturf was launched in 1978, comprising layers of acrylic, silica, rubber and other materials, on an asphalt or concrete base. This surface has been used at the US Open since the late 1970s.

In 2008, another new playing surface, Plexicushion, was developed. It is a blend of latex, rubber and plastic particles, topped by a 100% Plexicushion surface. It has been used at the Australian Open since 2008. Depending on the materials being used, the courts can be tailored to play at a specific speed or bounce.

Cyclops and Hawk-Eye

The first major electronic innovation was the “Cyclops” machine, launched in 1980. A system of infrared beams could help determine whether serves were in or out. It was ousted by “Hawk-Eye” in 2006, which detects the ball’s movement and provides a digital image of where it landed.

It also determines the spin and speed of every shot and the movement of players throughout a rally, further making it possible for players to challenge a decision if the ball is called out. Within seconds, a precise digital image is produced that will show the outright conclusion.

The radar gun, launched in 1994 to track the ball, is able to detect the serve speed. The fastest serve ever has been achieved by Australian player Samuel Groth, who holds the official world record of 163.7mph.

IBM tech

American tech giant IBM, which has powered Wimbledon for around two decades, is responsible for advances in tech that are way beyond our imagination. Its PointStream technology has transformed the sport, such as the SlamTracker, launched in 2008. The online dashboard serves up information and statistics for every match being played in real-time, point by point.

In 2012, IBM analysed 41 million pieces of data, covering Grand Slams over the past eight years, to provide an analytic assessment of players and what they need to do to improve their game. The same year, IBM’s Momentum was launched, enabling scores and statistics from matches to come to life.

The data is aggregated into a momentum meter, revealing which players currently have a statistical edge. Not only do the players benefit from the statistics, but commentators also have the information at their fingertips, enabling them to make a more knowledgeable assessment of a match. Spectators can benefit from having more inside information than ever before.

Wimbledon’s “tech bunker”

At Wimbledon, there is a “tech bunker” that enables the data giant to deliver live tennis all over the world, across different mediums. The bunker is underground, next to court number – Wimbledon’s second-biggest court. A multitude of screens hang from the walls, while rows of desks are lined with IBM tech, used by tennis experts to provide the most relevant content to fans all over the world.

A giant screen inside the bunker details all the data, delivered in real-time, from each of the 18 courts. The data isn’t broadcast live: it is presented to broadcasters during the tournament, who decipher the data and present it to fans in an interesting way that everyone can understand.

Summarised data also provides information for players who wish to analyse their performance after the match via a video file. Data sets are embedded in the video files that the players can receive and access as quickly as 20 minutes after play. This enables them to compare their form with previous matches.

Amazingly, data has been compiled about top players, dating way back to 1877! Their statistics have been added to the system, so today’s players can compare their own play with some of the world’s greatest players in history, who used the same courts in the 19th century.

Today’s players can have the information sent to their mobile device, so they can watch it on the journey home and assess how they played. The system was trialled at Wimbledon in 2018 and proved popular.

Enhanced AI

IBM introduced a host of new ideas to the Wimbledon bunker in 2018. They have improved data capture in quality terms, with senior data operators monitoring not only the show court matches, but also the action from any match around the whole of Wimbledon. The new IPTV system allows IBM to look at the day’s footage, quickly updating and reviewing statistics on any of the courts.

The enhanced AI this year was even able to recognise players’ emotions on the six main Wimbledon show courts! This enhanced the AI-powered automated video highlights for viewers. Other new audio technology brought Wimbledon’s most exciting moments to life, enabling highlights to be generated for viewers within just 15 minutes.

3D technology

In the 21st century, 3D technology is playing its role, with 3D motion tracking hardware and new software able to do amazing things, such as studying the motion of a player’s spine and determining whether they are likely to experience any back injury, even before they have felt any pain!

At the recent Tennis Tech Fair in Miami, future technology was on display, with a mind-boggling array of innovations that are currently being developed. They included the QLIPP racquet sensor, which fits on to any racquet and reads the shot type, spin, speed and ball contact accuracy. It can measure how often the player hits the racquet’s “sweet spot”.

Wearable Smart tech

New wearable Smart technology includes the PIVOT, developed by Turing Sense, which comprises a selection of sensors attached to the player’s shoulders, wrist, elbow, hips and knees to provide instant real-time feedback. This can be analysed by a professional to help improve the player’s swing and protect against injuries.

Compatible with Android or Apple phones, the Babolat POP is worn on the racquet hand. It contains a sensor to track power, spin and rally length.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the top tennis fitness trends include wearable technology and smartphone apps, not just for the professionals, but for players of all abilities. With technology continuing to develop at a rapid rate, we can only imagine how far it will push the boundaries of tennis in future.

Dragon Courts provides professional tennis court maintenance services including cleaning, lining, marking and painting. Please contact us for details.

Peter Jones: Tennis Coaching

Peter Jones: Tennis Coaching

British entrepreneur Peter Jones became a millionaire after honing his business skills running a tennis coaching school. The 53-year-old Dragon’s Den star is worth an estimated £485 million and owns his own television production company.

The lofty business mogul, who stands 6ft 7ins tall, was a keen tennis player in his teens, taking his inspiration from stars such as Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. Aged 13, he spent hours practicing, until his tennis coach, John Woodward, held the teen up as an example of excellence at summer training camp.

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However, rather than pursuing a career as a player, Jones was more interested in the business side of tennis. He studied Woodward’s management style in running the tennis academy. By the age of 16, Jones felt confident enough to run his own – his first venture into the business world.

Tennis academy

It wasn’t always a smooth ride for the multi-millionaire. Despite his first business idea going well, he also had some tough times during his climb to the top. Born in 1966 in Maidenhead, he always had big ideas. His friends were doing milk rounds to make some money while at school but getting up in the early hours of the morning to earn £35 a week didn’t appeal to Jones.

Hence his idea to open a tennis academy. In an interview, he said he wasn’t lazy – he just didn’t want to work so hard for only a little money. Woodward was also his English teacher and Jones spoke to him about a summer job at his tennis camp.

Between the ages of 13 and 16, Jones studied the way Woodward ran his academy, noting his customer base, the type of letters he sent to students’ parents, his marketing strategy and how it worked overall. Finally, he thought it looked “easy” and decided to set up his own tennis academy – even though he was still a 16-year-old schoolboy!

He described it as his “first step into the world of business” and an “incredible” time. After passing his Lawn Tennis Association coaching exam, he asked his local tennis club if he could use a court after school and on a Saturday.

Initially, he coached children, but over time, adults started booking lessons too. Jones charged the adults £25 to £30 an hour – he was amazed at how successful his tennis academy became. While his friends were earning £35 a week with a milk round, he was working for five hours every Saturday and earning quadruple the money.

Computer business

He had earned enough to buy himself a car by the time he was 18 and carried on running the tennis academy even while studying for his A-levels. However, he then launched his own computer business, giving tennis lessons in his spare time. By the time he was 20, Jones’ computer business had taken over and he allowed the tennis academy to wind down.

Business failures

It wasn’t all plain sailing for the high-flying entrepreneur, who suffered a major setback when in his twenties. At the time, he was living in the suburb of Martins Heron in Berkshire. In a radio interview, he admitted making mistakes that left him sleeping on a warehouse floor!

He described how he “got carried away” and “made huge mistakes”, losing everything as a result with one of his businesses. Making and selling his own-brand computers ended in disaster and led to his downfall at the time.

He had to give up his home and his cars and revealed to Virgin Radio breakfast show host Chris Evans that he lived on a warehouse floor for a while. Speaking in August 2019, Jones admitted his failure came after people didn’t pay him the money he was owed.

He said it was “naivety” that caused the problems, as he had failed to take out credit insurance when offered the chance, but like every survivor, he started again, first getting a salaried job at the age of 28, before setting up Phones International Group and getting back on track.

Dragons’ Den

Jones is a regular judge on the TV show, Dragons’ Den, on which would-be entrepreneurs demonstrate their inventions to a panel of millionaires in the hope of persuading them to invest in the business. The long-running BBC reality show first aired in January 2005.

Despite his vast wealth today, Jones looks back with fondness at his time as a tennis coach in his youth. He revealed how he had dropped into his old school to surprise his former teacher, Woodward, who hadn’t realised until then the long-lasting effect his mentorship had on his former tennis protégé.

Jones described his first business venture with the tennis academy as an “amazingly good time” that also taught him a “key lesson” – try to work at doing something you enjoy, as it makes the hours go by more quickly.

Dragon Courts

Dragon Courts provides high-quality tennis court maintenance services including cleaning, lining, marking and painting. Please contact us for further information.

Who are the Youngest Tennis Players of 2019?

Young Tennis Players

Have you ever thought that tennis players seem to be getting younger? Every tennis fan must have been aware of the star potential of 15-year-old American prodigy Cori “Coco” Gauff, who stormed through to week two of Wimbledon, taking out veteran former champion Venus Williams on the way.

While tennis is a very physical sport, age doesn’t matter, as long as the players have the skills and the correct mindset to succeed. Gauff, the former number one junior player, became the youngest women’s player to enter the championship in the modern era. Had she won, she would have been the youngest ever champion.

Wimbledon hits and misses

Other young players who made their mark this summer at Wimbledon included 18-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime, of Canada, who lasted until the end of the first week, when he said the “pressure got to” him. Veteran player and commentator John McEnroe hotly tipped him as a player to look out for in the future.

Jay Clarke, of Great Britain, aged 20, also played well against Roger Federer in the men’s singles, although he lost the match.

However, Clarke hit the headlines for the wrong reasons after he dumped his doubles partner, Harriet Dart, in favour of partnering newcomer Gauff instead! They were knocked out after being completely overpowered in straight sets by Robert Lindstedt and Jelena Ostapenko.

Top-ranking Greek prodigy

Greek player Stefanos Tsitsipas, 20, had arrived at Wimbledon tipped to do great things, but lost in the first round. He is currently the youngest player in the world top 10, ranked by the Association of Tennis Professionals.

His highest career-ranking is sixth in the world. He is currently the highest-ranked Greek player since records began. To date, he has won three ATP singles tournaments and has reached a total of seven finals.

A young tennis prodigy’s life isn’t simple – even though Gauff has wowed the fans with her performances thus far, the rules governing the games limit her to playing only 12 tournaments a year.

19th-century prodigy

Another 15-year-old won the Wimbledon women’s championship more than a century ago. Charlotte “Lottie” Dod won the title in 1887, at the age of 15 years and 285 days. However, it was a very different set-up in those days, when few women entered.

Cheshire-born Dod had to survive only two rounds, although she was playing older opponents. She went on to win four more Wimbledon singles titles and was recognised as one of the pioneers of women’s tennis.

As the daughter of wealthy cotton trader Joseph Dod, she was lucky that her father was able to fund her career, in the days before big sponsorship deals existed. She received a private education and learned to play tennis at the family’s private courts at their estate, Edgeworth.

Famous young players

During the late 20th century, a series of teenage tennis phenomena hit the headlines. At the age of 16, Martina Hingis won the Australian Open in 1997. She also won five grand slams before the age of 19. However, she didn’t win another major singles title after this.

Boris Becker won the Wimbledon men’s singles title at the age of 17 in 1985, while Maria Sharapova won the women’s title at the same age in 2004. Bjorn Borg, Rafael Nadal, Michael Chang, Monica Seles and Tracy Austin were all teenage champions.

American teenager Jennifer Capriati reached the semi-final at Wimbledon in 1990, at the age of only 14. Further success eluded her, after problems in her personal life at the age of 17 caused her to take a 14-month break from professional tennis. She returned to the circuit and in her mid-20s won three grand slams.

When do players peak?

Gauff’s sudden emergence has the tennis pundits wondering if she will defy the fate that befell a number of teenage prodigies, who were burned out before they were 20.

Academic research carried out at the University of Exeter in 2018 analysed data on the 100 highest-earning male and female players. They found the speed and accuracy of their serve (a vital part of any player’s game) peaked between the ages of 26 and 28. If this is the trend, then anyone facing Gauff in 10 years’ time had best beware!

This rule was introduced in 1994 – partly in response to the burnout young players had experienced in the late 20th century. Players must be 18 years old before they can play in as many tournaments as they choose.

Dragon Courts provides professional tennis court maintenance services that include cleaning, marking, lining and painting.

Please contact us for details of how we can help keep your tennis courts in tip-top condition.

Wimbledon: The Top Celebrity Guests

Wimbledon Celebrities

There’s a buzz around the famous All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club, as the legendary venue gears up for this year’s Wimbledon Championship. With the qualifiers already underway, the main tournament is due take place from July 1st to 14th, attracting the cream of the world’s tennis players.

This year is the 142nd event. It is set to be the most prestigious fixture on the international tennis circuit, as always. The familiar spectacle of players dressed all in white on the lush grass courts, with spectators basking in the sunshine enjoying strawberries and cream, is a familiar sight every July.

In fact, the public consume a staggering 166,000 bowls of strawberries with 10,000 litres of dairy cream every year! They also enjoy a tipple, as 320,000 glasses of Pimm’s and 29,000 bottles of champagne are sipped while the crowd enjoys the action on the courts.

A Wimbledon pastime almost as popular as eating strawberries and cream is celebrity-spotting, as the annual tournament lures its fair share of A-listers, not to mention royals.

While the dress code for players is strictly all-white, spectators can wear what they please, so the arrival of a celeb is eagerly anticipated, not least to see what they’re wearing!

Royal family

Over the years, the royals have made a big impact on Wimbledon. Famous for her smart tailored blazers and designer suits, the late Princess Diana was a regular visitor.

The Duchess of Cambridge is also an avid tennis fan and has scored many an ace in the style stakes. She often wears shift dresses in bold prints, including polka dots and bright colours. Her sister, Pippa Middleton, is a regular visitor to Wimbledon too.

Queen Elizabeth II and her sister, Princess Margaret, could often be seen in the royal box in the 1950s and 1960s. Both of them have presented winners’ trophies in the past. Prince Charles has been spotted at Wimbledon, as has Prince Albert of Monaco, Prince William, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, the Duchess of Cornwall and Princess Eugenie.

The Duchess of Sussex was pictured at Wimbledon watching the ladies’ singles final with her sister-in-law the Duchess of Cambridge in 2018. She created a fashion statement in her bold striped top and white trousers.

Celebrities

Many famous celebrities from the entertainment world love attending Wimbledon. Bradley Cooper and Jude Law are regular visitors, always serving up a smartly-tailored summer suit.

The editor of US Vogue, Anna Wintour, is a regular Wimbledon-goer and always wears a stylish ensemble. In recent years, she has gone for floral numbers and a heritage-inspired tweed dress. One year, she even managed to match her outfit to the colour of the chairs!

Other famous women who have wowed the Wimbledon crowds with their fashion sense in recent years have included Sienna Miller, Heidi Klum, Keira Knightley, Anne Hathaway, Beyonce and Victoria Beckham.

Who’ll be there this year?

There’s always speculation about who will be attending Wimbledon and which celeb will steal the show with their outfit, but a more pressing topic this year is whether rumours of a rift between the Duchess of Sussex and the Duchess of Cambridge will be disproved at Wimbledon.

The press has been full of talk that the two royal wives don’t get on since Meghan’s marriage to Prince Harry. Kate, the tournament’s president, will definitely be there. Now, there’s plenty of media chat about whether the two duchesses will arrive together and put on a united public front, putting to bed the rumours of a feud.

Speculation has already begun about who will attend from the entertainment world this year. This is based on who attended last year – such as A-list actors Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch and Damian Lewis, the star of Band of Brothers.

Hollywood actress Kate Winslet is another Wimbledon regular, as is veteran English actress Dame Maggie Smith, recently seen in the period drama Downton Abbey. Fellow thespians Emma Watson and Hugh Grant have also put in an appearance to watch the tennis in recent years.

It’s always thrilling for the spectators when they spot true Hollywood legends in their midst. These have included Woody Harelson, Dustin Hoffman and Ben Stiller.

From the music world, Sir Cliff Richard and Dame Shirley Bassey are among the biggest stars who have attended Wimbledon. Modern icons Kylie Minogue, Justin Timberlake, rapper Drake, Ellie Goulding and Stormzy are also fans of the world’s most popular tournament.

The star-spotters will be out in force on Monday, not only to grab the players’ autographs, but also to see which icons of the stage and screen will be sitting watching the action.

So, who would you like to sit next to while you enjoy your strawberries and cream?

If you’re someone who enjoys Wimbledon for the spectacle and occasion as much as the tennis, Monday is going to be a fabulous day, whatever the weather!

Dragon Courts provides professional tennis court maintenance services. Please contact us online for more information, or give us a call today on 01572 770404.

Enjoy the tournament!

Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova

Think of famous female tennis players and Martina Navratilova is sure to spring to mind. This Czech-born star dominated the tennis scene during the 70s and 80s but still continues to be an inspiration to many today.

Martina Navratilova

Early life

Born in Prague in 1956, Martina began playing tennis at the age of four. With her grandmother already a successful tennis player, and her stepfather a tennis coach, Martina was given a good grounding in the sport.

By the age of nine, left-handed player Martina was receiving lessons from tennis champ George Parma, paving the way for her to win the Czech national championship at the tender age of 15. Just a year later, Martina had turned professional.

Tennis legend

Martina quickly realised that coming from Czechoslovakia would hold her back from competing in tennis competitions at a professional level, and so she moved to the USA and applied for American citizenship.

Success came quickly for the young Martina, as she bagged her first Wimbledon Grand Slam tournament win at the age of 22. She retained her Wimbledon title the year after and then won the Australian Open Grand Slam title in 1981. The wins kept on coming for Martina – from 1982 to 1984, she only lost six major matches.

Martina’s professional tennis career endured for over four decades, during which time she amassed an impressive 59 Grand Slam titles; 18 of these were singles titles, 31 women’s doubles and 10 mixed doubles.

Martina was a Wimbledon singles finalist a staggering 12 times, winning nine of these, six of which were consecutive. To add to her accomplishments, she was just one of three women to achieve every senior Grand Slam win, known as the Grand Slam Boxed Set.

She also gained the most singles and doubles titles in the Open Era and was a world number one record holder for both singles and doubles for more than 200 weeks – a title that she still retains to this day.

Although Martina retired in 1994 from singles tennis, she continued to play in doubles matches. Her last major win occurred in 2006 at the US Open, shortly before her 50th birthday. Even then she was breaking records, becoming the oldest player to win a Grand Slam title.

Recognition

With such an impressive bounty of professional wins, Martina has gained huge respect and positive acclaim.

Tennis magazine rated her the greatest female player from 1965-2005, while many tennis experts regard her as one of the greatest players of all time. She has also won player and athlete of the year and has been inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Post-tennis

Martina continues to remain in the public eye even though she’s no longer winning major tennis titles. She has written several books and appeared on shows such as Dancing with the Stars and I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!

The former tennis pro has also been the American Association for Retired Persons fitness ambassador and is an ambassador for the WTA. Martina also regularly commentates for sports channels and the BBC. She currently has plans to open a tennis academy in her native Czech Republic.

She is an active promoter of issues that are close to her heart, including gay rights and animal rights.

Despite suffering setbacks through ill health, including breast cancer, toxoplasmosis and pulmonary oedema, Martina continues to inspire to this day and remains one of our greatest female tennis icons of all time.

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ATP Masters 1000 Rome 2019

Clay Tennis Court

The Italian Open is one of the three ATP Masters 1000 tennis tournaments that is played on clay. It takes place annually at the Foro Italico in Rome, where the cream of the world’s players will be converging on 12th May for this year’s event.

As one of the world’s most prestigious clay tennis tournaments, along with the French Open, it is also known as the Italian Championships, or the Rome Masters. Rafael Nadal of Spain, now aged 32, has won the Italian Open a record eight times and will be going for his ninth victory this year.

The championship offers prize money of €958,055 to the singles winner and €484,950 to the runner-up. Each semi-finalist receives €248,745 and each quarter-finalist receives €128,200. The total prize money is €8.1 million for the men’s and women’s championships combined.

Clay Tennis Court

Event history

Launched by Count Alberto Bonacossa, who was a prominent figure in Italian sports at the time, the championship dates back to 1930, when it was first held at the Milan Tennis Club.

The Count was an early supporter of tennis in Italy and published a popular book, Il Tennis, in 1914. He played tennis himself in the Olympics and was part of the Italian Davis Cup team.

The tournament was held in Milan until 1934, moving to the Foro Italico in Rome in 1935 – the event wasn’t held during World War II and didn’t resume until 1950. It opened to professional tennis players in 1969 and became an ATP Championship tournament in 1990.

In the past, the women’s event was held in Perugia, followed by Tatanto, two weeks before the men’s event, but it moved to Rome in 1987 and has remained there ever since.

Who’s playing this year?

The tournament has attracted the greatest names in sport over the years, with winners including tennis legends such as Rod Laver, Guillermo Vilas, Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl, Jim Courier, Mats Wilander, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic.

All eyes will be on Nadal this year, after he beat the 2017 men’s singles champion, 22-year-old German Alexander Zverev, in straight sets in the 2018 final. He will be defending his title as he competes for his record ninth victory – he is one of the favourites to win. This year’s top seeded man is Novak Djokovic.

The other 2019 top entrants in the men’s singles include Zverev, Roger Federer, Dominic Thiem, Kei Nishikori and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

In April, Italian player Fabio Fognini won the Monte-Carlo Masters 1000 Title, beating Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4 in the final. This caused a major upset and meant Fognini rose to a career-high number 12 in the latest ATP Rankings.

With Nadal and Djokovic suffering a bit of a dip in form at the moment, Fognini’s surprise Monte Carlo win piles the pressure on the top seeds. He beat Nadal in the semi-final on his way to winning the Monte-Carlo Masters. Fognini’s victory in Monte Carlo has provided him with a platform to win the ATP Masters 1000 in Rome, not to mention the Roland Garros.

Last year’s women’s singles champion was Elina Svitolina, the 24-year-old Ukrainian who beat Romanian Simona Halep, 27, in straight sets in 2018. Svitolina, the world number seven, will be back to defend her title, but will be up against tough competition.

The other top-seeded women’s players include four-time Italian Open champion Serena Williams of the United States, who has won a career total of 23 Grand Slams, and the current world number one, Naomi Osaka, aged 21, of Japan, who has never won the Italian Open before.

Osaka is the top women’s seed for this year’s tournament. She won the Australian Open 2019 to become the world number one and was the first female player to win consecutive Grand Slam singles championships since Serena Williams in 2015.

Details of the 2019 event

Organisers of the Italian Open 2019 have described it as “more than just tennis” and have labelled it as a “total entertainment experience”. Spectators can enjoy fine food, shopping and celebrity musical performances during the tournament. It has become one of the most glamorous events on the ATP Tour.

The tennis begins on Sunday 12th May with the first rounds of the men’s and women’s singles events beginning at noon. The men’s and women’s quarterfinals take place on Friday 17th May, with all of the finals (including the doubles) taking place on an action-packed Sunday 19th May.

The Italian Open is the last major warm up tournament before the Roland Garros French Open 2019 championship begins on 26th May.

Whether you’re a professional tennis player, or play just for fun, make sure your courts are maintained to the highest standards.

Dragon Courts is a leading UK provider of tennis court maintenance services, including marking, cleaning, lining and painting. Please contact us for more information on how we can help keep your tennis courts in tip-top condition.

Rafael Nadal: King of the Clay

Rafel Nadal

Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal is recognised as one of the greatest sportsmen of all time. He has earned total prize money of $98 million during his career, ranking him as the third highest-earning tennis player in history.

Rafel Nadal

In the past 12 months alone, he has won $14.4 million and has endorsements with major sponsors, such as Nike and Kia Motors. He also opened his own successful tennis academy in Manacor, his hometown in Spain, in 2016.

Nadal has won more than 850 career matches, including 11 men’s singles victories in the Roland Garros championship – making him the French Open record-holder for the most titles won at a single tournament. He has also won two Wimbledon titles, three US Open titles in 2010, 2013 and 2017 and the Australian Open in 2009.

Narrowly missing out on his second Australian Open title in January 2019, he reached the final and despite his forehand being “on fire”, according to commentators, he was beaten in three sets by Novak Djokovic.

He has earned the title the “King of Clay” because since he exploded on to the professional scene, he has always played particularly well on clay. The French Open, where Nadal has had his record 11 wins, uses clay courts – a unique feature among the Grand Slam tournaments.

Early life

Nadal was born in the town of Manacor, on the Balearic island of Mallorca in Spain, in June 1986. He comes from a sporty family, as his uncle, Miguel Ángel Nadal, is a former professional footballer, who played for FC Barcelona, RCD Mallorca and the Spanish national team.

His uncle, Toni Nadal, is a keen sportsman, who excelled at football, table tennis and swimming in his youth. The Balearic Islands’ junior table tennis champion started playing tennis at 14, after feeling inspired by watching Ilie Năstase winning the Barcelona Masters in 1972.

Toni went on to become a tennis coach – he took his nephew Rafael under his wing when he first picked up a racket at only three years old. When he was eight, Rafael won the under-12s’ regional tennis championship. He was also a talented football player at the time, but Toni intensified his nephew’s tennis training after his win.

At 12, Rafael won his age group’s European and Spanish tennis tournaments, while continuing to play football. Eventually, he had to choose between the two sports and went for tennis.

Career milestones

After turning professional at the age of 15 in 2001, Nadal won his first ATP match, becoming only the ninth player in the Open Era to achieve this honour before the age of 16. He was ranked 762nd in the world at the time. This was to be the start of his 18-year career to date as a leading tennis player.

In 2005, he dominated the clay court season, winning 24 consecutive singles matches. He defeated Roger Federer in the 2005 French Open semi-final and became one of only four players who had triumphed over the top seed that season.

Beating Leyton Hewitt in the third round of the 2009 French Open, Nadal set a new record of 31 consecutive wins at the tournament, beating Bjorn Borg’s long-standing record of 28 consecutive wins.

In 2017, Nadal’s victories at the French Open and US Open won him more than $6 million in prize money for the two championships alone. In 2018, he was the 20th highest paid athlete in the world across all sports and was number 72 in Forbes’ list of the top 100 celebrities in the same year.

Nadal come back to reach the final of the Australian Open in January 2019. He had dropped out of the US Open in 2018 due to injury, but while at home recuperating, he opened his tennis centre to flood victims in October 2018, donating €1 million to help rebuild the town of Sant Llorenç des Cardassar, which had been worst hit by the floods on the island of Mallorca.

Unfortunately, Nadal had to pull out of a semi-final clash against Federer on 16th March at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis garden due to a knee injury. He is currently recuperating and is due to play again at the Monte-Carlo Masters on clay – the tournament runs from 13th to 21st April. Nadal has already announced his intention to play and says he “doesn’t have doubts” that he will be ready to come back from his injury.

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Tennis: The Greatest Coaches

Ivan Lendl

Tennis is one of the few sports where two competitors pit their wits against one another in a battle of physical and psychological prowess. Aside from the epic battles on the court, there’s so much more going on – as behind every great tennis player, there’s also a great coach!

Tennis is a massive sport across the world, which has retained its popularity into the 21st century, but who are the people behind today’s top players? Read on to find out more about some of the best tennis coaches in the world and the careers they have helped to shape.

Ivan Lendl
  1. Ivan Lendl

Former professional player Ivan Lendl, 58, was a successful champion in his own right in the 1980s. The Czech-born coach was the world’s number one player for 270 weeks and won 94 singles titles during his playing career.

He was appointed to coach British player Andy Murray on 31st December 2011 and was credited with improving his consistency and maturity. Murray won his first two Grand Slam titles under Lendl’s guidance – the 2012 US Open and 2013 Wimbledon Championships.

Lendl helped to strengthen Murray mentally. While Murray had undeniable talent and physical technique, critics often said his mental attitude was the problem. Lendl helped him to improve his mental game, although stated in interviews that he wasn’t good at teaching physical playing technique.

In March 2014, Lendl and Murray parted company, but Lendl re-joined the coaching team again on 12th June 2016 and helped steer Murray to his position of world number one. However, their partnership ended again and in August 2018, it was announced Lendl had joined German player Alexander Zverev’s team.

  1. Brad Gilbert

The American tennis coach is a former professional player, who won 20 singles titles and achieved a world singles ranking of number four in 1990. Since retiring from the court, the 57-year-old has coached a number of top players.

Andre Agassi won six out of eight Grand Slam titles while Gilbert was his coach. He has also tutored Andy Roddick and Andy Murray. Gilbert coached Agassi for eight years and Agassi described him as “the greatest coach of all time”.

He became a coach after retiring as a professional player in 1994. A master at finding opponents’ weaknesses and exploiting them, Gilbert is best known for helping players to improve their tactical and mental approach.

With Gilbert’s help, Roddick won his only Grand Slam singles title, the 2003 US Open, and also became the world’s number one player.

  1. Bob Brett

Bob Brett is an Australian tennis coach, who has tutored the likes of Boris Becker, Goran Ivanišević and Marin Čilić. To date, he has spent 24 years on the ATP circuit, coaching players. The 66-year-old has also founded a tennis academy in San Remo, Italy.

He is known as a hard taskmaster and says a champion is someone who maximises his or her potential, even if they don’t have the world number one ranking. He looks for a great commitment from his players and encourages them to dig in, even when the going gets tough.

He said the world had known only the temperamental side of Ivanišević, but the player’s “tremendous ability to work” was his biggest asset. Brett is famous for his signature counting drills, which begin with 100 volleys, without the ball touching the ground or the net.

Then, they must do 50 groundstrokes, then 20 cross-court forehands. If you make a mistake, you must start again from scratch. It was reported that Ivanišević, Becker and Čilić all had to do the drills when training under Brett.

  1. Stefan Edberg

The Swedish former number one professional player Stefan Edberg, now 53, was a major supporter of the serve-and-volley method during his playing days. Between 1985 and 1996, he won six Grand Slam singles and three Grand Slam men’s doubles titles.

At the end of 2013, Edberg became fellow Swede Roger Federer’s coach, a collaboration which officially began at the 2014 Australian Open. Federer described Edberg as “more of a mentor”. Whatever his official role, Edberg’s influence was recognised in Federer’s eventual resurgence.

One benefit he brought to Federer was a more effective and more frequent serve-and-volley game and more net-charging. Edberg was also credited with bringing more focus and clarity to Federer’s on-court abilities. He has helped keep Federer at the top, even though he is now 37.

The importance of a great tennis coach should never be underestimated. Afterall, they influence the careers of the world’s top players, supervising their performances and helping them to succeed, both physically and mentally.

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Andy Murray: Set in Stone

Andy Murray

Media speculation continues about the future of former world number one tennis player Andy Murray – as the Scot faces the biggest decision of his life due to a recurring hip injury.

Following his early exit from the 2019 Australian Open, when he was beaten in five sets by the world number 23, Roberto Bautista Agut, Murray hasn’t revealed whether he will be retiring from the sport he loves or if further surgery is on the cards – in the hope of being able to play again.

Many people believed his retirement was set in stone after Australian Open bosses screened an elaborate video tribute to the star immediately after his shock exit from the championship on 14th January.

Andy Murray

More surgery?

After graciously accepting the tribute, Murray said “if” it did turn out to be his last match, it had been an “amazing” way of ending his career. However, it was later revealed the star was considering a major operation to resurface his hip bone with a metal implant, in order to extend his career.

According to an official statement from Murray’s camp, “no decision has been made about an operation.”  The press release said Murray had decided to withdraw from all tournaments and would make a further announcement in the near future.

Murray had already revealed he was pulling out of his next tournament, the Open 13 Provence in Marseille, which starts on 19th February. A press release from the tournament organisers claimed Murray would “undergo further surgery” and was therefore forfeiting upcoming tournaments.

However, the Murray camp later refuted that the decision had been made already, although he had also pulled out of the Montpellier and Dubai tournaments next month.

Earlier this year, he had said he hoped to play in one last Wimbledon tournament this summer before retirement. If he has more surgery, it is highly unlikely he’ll be fit to play in the event, which starts on Monday 1st July.

Career highlights

The 31-year-old is Britain’s most successful professional tennis player since Fred Perry in 1936. He is one of the UK’s highest achievers, having been playing tennis since the age of three. He won his first major tournament, the Florida Orange Bowl, at the age of 12.

Winning the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games and his first Grand Slam, the US Open, the same year, his adult career has been highly successful. In 2013, Murray was the first British men’s singles champion in 77 years to triumph at Wimbledon, following Perry’s win in 1936. He won Wimbledon again in 2016 and the gold medal in the men’s singles at the Rio Olympics.

Sadly, his ongoing hip problems have blighted his career in recent years and he limped away from Wimbledon in 2017. The star has never blamed his injuries for any losses – this is one reason why he is so inspirational and why his fans admire him.

Hip operation

On 8th January 2018, he announced he had undergone hip surgery. After being world number one, due to his surgery and recovery period, he dropped out of the top ten players for the first time since October 2014. He had been getting back in training and planned his competitive comeback for the Australian Open 2018. Currently, Murray is ranked 240th in the world.

He must now decide whether to have further pioneering surgery to try and carry on playing, or whether to call it a day. He is also deciding whether to try and play at Wimbledon this summer and whether this will be his swansong. It’s an emotional moment for Murray, but the ongoing support from family, friends and fans is helping to keep him going.

Surgeon Edwin Su, who has been widely tipped to carry out the hip surgery should Murray decide to go ahead, said in an interview this week that he was sure the operation would “absolutely be able” to help Murray. He described the surgery as “really miraculous”, saying most patients were free from pain by the time they woke up from the anaesthetic.

Wimbledon statue

Earlier this month, it was revealed that Wimbledon was planning to honour Murray with a statue at the world-famous All England Club. He would join the ranks of Perry, whose statue was unveiled in 1984. Wimbledon’s chief executive, Richard Lewis, said they could honour Murray in a similar way.

Lewis added he felt it would be the appropriate time to recognise Murray’s “extraordinary career” when the star retired.

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