In what should have been the opening week of Wimbledon, Stats Perform News revisits an interview with analyst Craig O'Shannessy.

 

"By the end of that match, Rafa's mind was scrambled eggs."

Craig O'Shannessy was part of Dustin Brown's coaching team when the German qualifier sensationally eliminated two-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal at the All England Club in 2015.

Through numbers, patterns and data, Australian pioneer O'Shannessy orchestrated the gameplan to send Nadal packing in the second round almost five years ago.

"After the match, I described that as organised chaos," O'Shannessy told Stats Perform News prior to the Australian Open in January. "A lot of times with Dustin it's pure chaos. Sometimes he wins with it, sometimes he loses. What gelled was we organised his chaos so that people didn't know him, would've looked at that thinking all hell is breaking loose. Whereas I'm watching the match going 'he is running the patterns that we talked about perfectly'.

"It's about taking away what Rafa wanted to do. It's about attacking him early on the point, it's about attacking him wide of the forehand, going after returns simply because you know where the serve is going, about drop shots and bringing him in. It's just about messing with his mind and making it very unclear."

O'Shannessy – recognised as a world leader in teaching and analysis – has continued to transform the sport. He teamed up with Novak Djokovic as his chief strategist in 2017 and helped the Serb rise back to the top with four grand slams in three years.

Now working with 2019 US Open semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini, Jan-Lennard Struff, Alexei Popyrin and Tennis Canada, O'Shannessy crunches the numbers for his players.

Struff – with mastermind O'Shannessy in his box – threatened to derail Djokovic's quest for a record-extending eighth Australian Open title before the defending champion fought hard to survive in the opening round in Melbourne, where he eventually hoisted the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup aloft.

"Every single match the player receives a pre-match report that has text, specific details about what the players like to do, I'll put in a bunch of numbers, tables and graphs particularly on serve patterns and rally length, then video," he said. "You just keep hammering away and supporting the winning strategy in as many different ways as you can."

At the forefront of analytics in tennis, how further can data go?

"Still a long away. We're only scratching the surface," O'Shannessy said. "There's a lot of numbers and data that we see but still don't know exactly what it means. The next five years will be incredibly important and we'll know way more than we do now. We're just at the start of the journey."

On data and patterns, O'Shannessy added: "For example, when you're returning, you can't cover everything. Players that try to cover everything, basically end up covering nothing. You look at it by the point score, if a player is at 30-30, they really need the point. If they're at 40-15, they don't necessarily need the point.

"So the players will have the tendency to gravitate to certain locations when they need that point and if you're sitting there waiting for it, all of a sudden the advantage of that point gets completely turned around. Instead of the returner being unbalanced, the server is off balance because the return is coming back harder and faster. They're on defence instead of offence.

"Early in my coaching career, I naturally put a big emphasis on the opponent, the idea being you're going to play 50 matches in a year and you may only play two or three where you think you've played incredible. The other 47 it's going to be your B or C game that triumphs, so the more you can understand it's not about you playing phenomenal tennis, it's about making them play bad. That mentality takes the pressure off and delivers it to the other side of the court."

Then there is artificial intelligence. Stats Perform harnesses the true power of sports data by leveraging advancements in AI to generate the industry's richest insights, though it is relatively untapped in tennis.

"AI is able to crunch some very big data and make sense of it," O'Shannessy added. "The ability to do forecasting through there about percentages and situations. I'm already looking at the best way to incorporate AI and the end result to basically help players win more matches."

World number 34 Struff also shared his thoughts on AI and numbers in an interview with Stats Perform News in April.

"Yes of course," Struff said when asked if AI will become more important in tennis. "I don't know exactly what the other players are doing on that area. You are always trying to hide these things. Nobody wants to talk about what he is doing, how his fitness training looks like and such things.

"Everybody is trying to hide himself, so the opponents don't see if certain things are working out or not. This is to prevent the other guys from copying certain things and actually catching up. But this is definitely going to come."

French Open organisers are planning for this year's event to go ahead with spectators present at a level between 50 and 60 per cent of full capacity.

The grand slam event in Paris is scheduled to take place between September 27 and October 11.

It was recently pushed back by one week as the ATP Tour and WTA Tour announced their schedules to return, the tournament having initially been postponed from its May start date due to the coronavirus pandemic.

When confirming the new date in June, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) had expressed their determination to admit fans, with the number depending on the outcome of talks with public authorities.

Having held those discussions, the tournament set a target of 50 to 60 per cent of capacity on Thursday, as they confirmed ticket sales will open to the general public on July 16, with priority purchasers having the chance to buy from July 9.

"The Roland Garros tournament announces the opening of the ticket and specifies its conditions for welcoming visitors," read a statement.

"The French Tennis Federation – which is acting responsibly and in close collaboration with the French government authorities, while benefiting from the advice of a committee of multi-disciplinary experts – is adapting and will continue to adapt to the situation caused by the Covid-19 crisis." 

Explaining the measures, the statement continued: "On the three show courts, the tiered seating will follow a precise protocol: on every row, one seat will be left empty between every group of purchasers (a maximum of 4 people who wish to sit in adjacent seats). 

"On the outside courts, every other seat will be out of bounds, and spectators may sit in any of the available seats. This way, the number of spectators allowed inside the stadium will be 50% to 60% of its usual capacity, allowing us to ensure the barrier measures are respected.

"The FFT will adapt the way spectators move around inside the stadium in order to ensure that the barrier measures and social distancing are respected." 

Also confirmed were rules around cleaning standards, a commitment to ensure social distancing in areas around the grounds and instructing fans to wear marks while moving around the stadiums, with coverings recommended at other times too.

Strict protocols surrounding players and their entourage are due to follow, while the number of fans in attendance could end up being higher or lower than the current target range.

"If the situation continues to improve, more tickets may be put on sale at the beginning of September," added the statement. 

"However, if the situation requires more stringent hygiene standards that force us to reduce the number of spectators on site, the tournament organisers will refund any supplementary tickets sold."

Serena Williams remains tantalisingly close to Margaret Court's all-time grand slam record of 24 major victories.

The American, still going strong at the age of 38, has lost her last four grand slam finals against Angelique Kerber, Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep and Bianca Andreescu.

Wimbledon is a special event for Williams, who has reached the final on 11 occasions, including those recent losses to Kerber and Halep.

The tournament therefore represents one of the best chances for the seven-time champion to draw level with Court's historic mark.

However, the event in 2020 was cancelled – the first time that has happened since World War II - due to the coronavirus pandemic, complicating Williams' record pursuit.

Ahead of what would have been the start of Wimbledon next week, Stats Perform News debated whether Williams can already be considered the greatest player in women's tennis history.


Graf is the greatest

By Joe Wright

Serena is a modern powerhouse, her serve and shot-making unrivalled at its best; Martina Navratilova's serve-and-volley skills delivered 59 majors across singles and doubles from 1981 to 1990; Margaret Court still tops the tables for grand slam singles titles, winning 24 between 1960 and 1973, spanning the shift to the Open era.

The greatest, then, would be a player who could feasibly have thrived in any of those eras. The greatest, then, is Steffi Graf.

The German ruled women's tennis for more than a decade after winning the 1987 French Open. A year after that triumph in Paris, she became the first to win tennis' 'Golden Slam' - all four major singles titles and Olympic gold in the same year. She was 18.

Between 1987 and 1996, she won 22 grand slam singles titles spread neatly across the four events: four in Australia, six in France, seven at Wimbledon and five in the United States. She held the number one ranking for 377 weeks, a record never beaten in the women's or men's game.

Her 107 tour titles puts her behind only Navratilova and Chris Evert on the all-time list and only she and Court have won three majors in a single calendar year five times.

'Fraulein Forehand' could overpower opponents from the baseline, unbalance them with a wicked sliced backhand and demoralise them with ferocious serves and precision volleys.

She combined power and elegance in such a way that she could dominate on every surface. She would have been a match for Court in the 60s, she beat Navratilova in four of six slam finals and, had she not retired at just 30 in 1999, she'd have known how to handle a young Serena.

In that same year, Billie Jean King proclaimed: "Steffi is definitely the greatest women's tennis player of all time." That should be proof enough.

 

Serena has dominated in toughest era

By Chris Myson

On and off the court, Serena has had a monumental impact in taking women’s tennis to incredible heights.

Twenty-one years after her first grand slam title at the 1999 US Open, she remains a fierce contender for the sport's biggest accolades, having changed the game with her unrivalled talent, athleticism and longevity.

Seven Wimbledon titles, six US Open crowns and three French Open wins are on her record.

Throw in another seven Australian Open victories, including her remarkable 2017 triumph while pregnant with her daughter, and you have a resume that may never be topped.

Thirty-three major finals in a 20-year span is a statistic made all the more remarkable when you factor in she missed 15 slams over that period.

Serena held all four grand slams when she won in Australia in 2003, while 11 years later she was celebrating a three-peat at Flushing Meadows by beating close friend Caroline Wozniacki.

Not that it is needed to bolster her claim, but Serena has also won 14 women's doubles majors with her sister Venus, having never lost a grand slam final in that format.

She has two mixed doubles crowns as well, taking her total major haul to 39.

Most significantly, these incredible feats have taken place in the modern era, where the level of competition has never been so strong and so deep, due to the global growth of tennis.

Top-tier rivals are more plentiful than in the eras of Graf, Navratilova and Court, while they are stronger, fitter, better equipped and more prepared than ever before.

Serena’s impact and staggering commercial success off the court has paved the way for future generations like Osaka to thrive.

But it is her play on it that means her place as the greatest women's player of all time is secure, even if the cancellation of Wimbledon has made her path to the elusive 24th crown more complicated.

As Novak Djokovic and the Adria Tour gang cavorted in a Belgrade nightclub, the limbo-dancing tennis stars demonstrated precisely how low the sport could go.

If the president of the ATP player council can get it so egregiously wrong in a time of global crisis, and if Nick Kyrgios can pipe up as the voice of reason, then tennis has just thrown up the most shocking of double faults within its established conventions.

So tennis is in crisis: Wimbledon is cancelled, the US Open will attempt to go ahead without fans, and the French Open is clinging to hope it could happen starting in September.

People have lost their jobs, tournaments have been scrapped and might struggle to return, and coronavirus has caused untold damage, aided and abetted by bewildering human assistance.

A relief fund for low-ranked players whose livelihoods were under threat was openly scorned by multi-millionaire Dominic Thiem, whose argument was put brutally dismantled by near-penniless Algerian player Ines Ibbou.

This is tennis then, midway through 2020.

What's happened so far?

The season was suspended on March 12, days after the Indian Wells Masters was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, and there has been no tennis on the ATP or WTA Tours since.

Rafael Nadal said in May that he doubted there could be any more tennis played in 2020, but the harsh economic reality means there is a strong will to find a way.

And that means tennis is coming back in August, public health and player buffoonery permitting, with a string of tournaments leading up to the US Open, which has kept its regular place on the calendar.

The Cincinnati Masters is moving to Flushing Meadows, but Washington is staying in D.C., and Kitzbuhel, Rome and Madrid are all billed ahead of Roland Garros.

On the women's side, tennis will relaunch in Palermo, Italy, with 20 tournaments scheduled to happen before the end of the year.

Wimbledon, to which the eyes of the sporting world routinely turn at this time of year, looks poised to come out of this intact because of pandemic insurance cover.

Other tournaments have not been so prudent, and are feeling the pinch.

How realistic is a resumption?

If anyone needed a warning about how badly wrong this could all go, Djokovic's exhibition Adria Tour at least provided that. That he, Borna Coric, Grigor Dimitrov and Viktor Troicki – others too – should test positive for COVID-19 was a damning indictment of an event set up with good intentions that descended into an apparent free-for-all.

Tennis within a bio-secure bubble, with regular testing and restrictions on movement, should allow the sport to push ahead with some of its plans.

But that is a highly expensive exercise and many tournaments will inevitably come to rely on self-policing.

Tennis without fans, living out of hotels, promises to be an austere experience. At the US Open, the stars will be able to see the Manhattan skyline, but they reportedly face being banned from visiting the island.

For the players that cannot afford to rent a house – which will come from a limited supply – then the US Open fortnight will see them split their time between Flushing Meadows and a hotel next to JFK airport.

It will take discipline to make not only the US Open work, but every tournament until the end of the season and beyond. Pockets of infection could be economically ruinous, and from a health perspective the worst-case scenario ought to be lost on nobody.

What has been said?

Serena Williams says she "really cannot wait to return to New York". Her involvement is a huge boon to the US Open, with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) in need of good news, having made 110 job cuts during the pandemic period, change in the organisation hastened by the crisis.

In a recent conference call, USTA chief executive Mike Dowse said US Open net operating income stood to be down by "about 80 per cent" for 2020, but he said keeping prize-money at a high level by delving into reserves amid the fall in revenue was "not a model that can continue".

Expect that to be the case practically across the board, with tournaments pulling out all the stops this year in the hope of saving tennis from the prospect of a season all but wiped out.

While the grand slams can just about cope without fans, many other events face an uncertain future if they face behind-closed-doors orders.

Herwig Straka, who manages Thiem and is tournament director of the Vienna Open, told German newspaper Der Standard the event would be "doable" provided it could operate at least at 50 per cent of crowd capacity.

"It is of course not enough," Straka said. "We'd be in the red. We don't want the public to take a year off. It would be impossible below 40 per cent."

Saint Nick?

Australian firebrand Kyrgios has quite the rap sheet, punished at various points for insulting umpires, his vulgar tongue, and even showing a lack of effort.

But this has been open season for the mercurial 25-year-old, who sniped after the news of Djokovic's positive test: "Don't @ me for anything I've done that has been 'irresponsible' or classified as 'stupidity' - this takes the cake."

If Kyrgios is enjoying his break from the tour, so too must the umpires be relishing their time away from him.

His greatest misstep during the pandemic, however, appears to have been going perhaps a touch heavy on the red wine during an Instagram live session with Andy Murray in May.

What happens next?

For all the best intentions, it remains hard to imagine every ATP and WTA tournament going ahead as planned, once the season resumes.

Tennis, like golf, relies on its biggest stars travelling from city to city, country to country, and the speed at which this virus moves and takes hold is hardly conducive to such a lifestyle.

Golf's PGA Tour is already encountering problems, and so will tennis.

The sport is living on the edge. At this point, it needs its star players to be setting a high bar, rather than going low, danger-dancing like nobody's watching.

Andy Murray will be focusing on the US Open and French Open when professional tennis returns, but only if they are "safe".

The ATP Tour has been suspended since March due to the coronavirus pandemic but is scheduled to get back under way with the Citi Open on August 14.

However, questions have arisen after Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric tested positive for COVID-19 after participating in the Adria Tour, which was backed by world number one Novak Djokovic.

Strict health and safety protocols will be in place for the US Open, with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) potentially limiting players to just one member of support staff for the tournament.

Djokovic branded that "extreme" and "impossible", but Murray would be happy to abide by such a rule if it reduced the risk of exposure to the virus.

"Playing the grand slams would be my priority. I think the schedule is tricky and I understand the reason why it is like that," said Murray, who will take part in the Battle of the Brits exhibition event this week.

"I don't know exactly which tournaments I will and won't play in terms of the lead up to the grand slams.

"The proposals that the USTA have made, I don't know if all of them are set in stone. They seemed to have changed quite a bit over the last couple of weeks.

"I don't mind what the situation is, providing it's safe. If I was told I could take one person with me, for example, you can make that work.

"I would probably go with a physio in that situation, with some coaching done remotely. That's not a perfect situation, obviously. From a performance perspective, that's tricky.

"But I also appreciate that these are unprecedented times, so you have to make do with what's possible. That sort of thing wouldn't bother me much. For me it's more about safety."

The US Open is slated to start on August 31, with the French Open scheduled to begin on September 27.

Having seen players dancing together at nightclubs and playing basketball during the Adria Tour events, Murray questioned how US Open authorities will stop players breaking protocol.

"In a bubble – if that's what people are doing – what's the punishment for people who are not sticking to the rules there that have been put in place?" Murray said.

"You imagine a situation where you're in the last stages of the US Open but, because someone's gone out [of] that bubble and broken those rules and gone into Manhattan or done something he shouldn't have been doing, and you then contract the virus and are not able to compete in the quarter-finals and semis of the US Open. It would be extremely frustrating.

"So how do they police that exactly? I don't know how they go about it."

Murray has not played competitively since November due to a bruised pelvis and now feels in better shape than he did in March, when he was initially planning to return.

"My hip has been feeling better for probably the past three or four weeks. It feels better than it did in March," said Murray.

"Right now, I feel a little bit more confident because I've had more training under my belt, more practice. In March time, I'd only been practising for four or five weeks since I'd had the issues."

The French Open has been provisionally put back a week, while the WTA and ATP Tours are set to resume in Palermo and Washington respectively in August.

US Open organisers on Tuesday confirmed the grand slam will start as scheduled behind closed doors on August 31.

September 20 was due to be the revised date for the French Open to begin, but the Paris major was listed as getting under way seven days later when the WTA and ATP announced their revised calendars on Wednesday.

The tournament could not be held in May and June due to the coronavirus pandemic, which brought sport all over the world to a halt in March.

Five months after the season was suspended, it is hoped WTA Tour action will return at the Palermo Ladies Open on August 3.

Events will only take place if medical experts give the green light along with governments and travel restrictions are relaxed.

There were 20 tournaments listed on the new WTA schedule, including the Western and Southern Open, which has been switched to New York, and the Madrid Open leading up to Roland Garros.

August 14 is the proposed date for the resumption of the ATP Tour, with the Citi Open the first tournament for the men to return if the all-clear is given.

There were just seven events listed on the ATP Tour schedule, with the potential for an Asia swing to be included on the next update in the middle of next month.

As with the Madrid Open and Western and Southern Open, both the men and women have the prestigious Internazionali BNL d'Italia clay-court tournament in Rome on the calendar.

Serena Williams has confirmed she will play at the 2020 US Open.

On Tuesday the United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced the grand slam at Flushing Meadows will go ahead as planned despite the global coronavirus pandemic.

The WTA will resume on August 3 and there are three tournaments scheduled before the US Open, which is due to run without fans present from August 31 to September 13.

While reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep and world number one Ashleigh Barty have expressed concerns about the tournament in New York, Williams has confirmed she will be involved.

"Ultimately, I really cannot wait to return to New York and play the US Open 2020," Williams told reporters on a Zoom conference call.

"I feel like the USTA is going to do a really good job of ensuring everything is amazing and everyone is safe.

"It's gonna be exciting. It's been over six months since a lot of us have played professional tennis.

"I'll certainly miss the fans, don't get me wrong. Just being out there with that New York crowd and hear everyone cheer, I'll really miss that in some of those tough matches. But this is crazy, I'm excited."

Williams needs one more grand slam title to equal Margaret Court's record haul of 24.

The 38-year-old has ended up on the losing side in each of the previous two US Open finals and the last of her six titles there was won in 2014.

Halep and Barty are not the only elite players to raise concerns about participating in the grand slam while curbing the spread of COVID-19 continues to be an issue for the USA and beyond.

Defending men's champion Rafael Nadal admitted he was not comfortable with travelling while the pandemic continues and world number one Novak Djokovic complained about protocols, which could see players remain at hotels between matches and have only one other person with them at Flushing Meadows.

The US Open can showcase tennis as "the ideal social distancing sport", United States Tennis Association (USTA) CEO Mike Dowse said after plans to stage the grand slam were approved.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo confirmed on Tuesday the tournament will go ahead behind closed doors at Flushing Meadows from August 31 to September 13.

Dowse described the USTA as "incredibly excited" after the green light was given for the hard-court major and the Western and Southern Open to be held at  the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The US Open will go ahead as planned without spectators beginning in August, New York governor Andrew Cuomo has confirmed.

Both the ATP and WTA have been suspended since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the respective Tours announcing in May no competitions would take place until at least the end of July.

Consequently, Wimbledon was postponed for 2020, while the French Open was controversially rescheduled to begin a week after the final of the US Open.

The future of the slam at Flushing Meadows remained unclear but Cuomo announced on Tuesday that the event will take place between August 31 and September 13.

 

 

Andy Murray is "really pumped" about the US Open, according to Feliciano Lopez.

Three-time grand slam champion Murray was nearing a return from injury when the ATP Tour season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

There remains uncertainty over when the campaign will resume and whether the US Open, scheduled to start in August, will be played.

Lopez said Murray, who he has played doubles with in the past, was looking forward to the event in the United States.

"We are in touch every two weeks or so. We text each other," the Spaniard told UK media.

"Two days ago I was talking to him, and he was really pumped about the US Open. He was starting to practise again. I asked about the hip, how it was feeling, and he was positive.

"He might be able to compete again. I'm crossing my fingers to see Andy playing again, of course. It would be great for everybody, especially for him."

With travel restrictions in place in many countries around the world, just how the ATP Tour season can resume remains to be seen.

But Lopez is eager for it to get back underway, saying: "I think we need to start playing tennis as soon as possible, this situation can't last for longer.

"We need to play, the players, the tournaments, the ATP, we need to resume. It's been already a long time, there's a lot of people struggling."

Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev have cast doubt over whether the US Open can go ahead as scheduled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The grand slam is due to get under way on August 31, but New York has been hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

World number one Novak Djokovic this week described the restrictions that players would be subjected to in order for the major to be staged as "extreme" and "impossible".

It has been suggested players will have restrictions on the size of their entourages for the tournament, while access to outside courts at the venue will be limited and players arriving from outside the United States could face a quarantine period.

Rafael Nadal, Ash Barty and Simona Halep are among the other stars to have questioned whether it is realistic for them to be taking to the court at Flushing Meadows.

Thiem and Zverev also expressed their reservations on Friday.

Speaking in Belgrade before featuring in Adria Tour exhibition matches arranged by Djokovic, Thiem said: "All of these circumstances are pretty tough.

"I think some circumstances will have to change [for it to] make sense to go there [New York]."

The world number three added: "Well nobody knows, maybe things improve, maybe not, so we'll have to wait until the facts are out and then decide."

Zverev, the world number seven, said: "It's great if we get the opportunity to play, but under these circumstances I don't think a lot of players will feel comfortable in the environment there.

"So that's my opinion. But it's not really up to us players in that way; in a way, the US Open decides."

The ATP Tour is suspended until at least the end of July.

The rest of the 2020 ATP season remains uncertain due to the coronavirus pandemic, but one thing we know for sure is Roger Federer will play no further part.

Federer announced on Wednesday that, having undergone another arthroscopic procedure on his injured knee, he will not play again until 2021.

The 20-time grand slam singles champion said: "Much like I did leading up to the 2017 season, I plan to take the necessary time to be 100 per cent ready to play at my highest level."

That will be music to the ears of Federer fans. After sitting out the second half of 2016 in order to shake off lingering injury concerns, the 38-year-old's comeback heralded one of the most remarkable seasons of his storied career: 54 wins, just five defeats, and seven titles – all in the year he turned 36.

January: Australian Open

Having made his return to action at the Hopman Cup, Federer entered the opening major of the year – and his first since losing the 2016 Wimbledon semi-final to Milos Raonic – seeded only 17th.

He needed four sets to defeat Jurgen Melzer in round one but seemed to find his groove against Noah Rubin and then Tomas Berdych, although defending champion Novak Djokovic's shock defeat to Denis Istomin caught the headlines. Federer was due to face world number one Andy Murray in round four but, when he lost in four sets to Mischa Zverev, the draw suddenly looked wide open.

Federer beat the German and won mammoth contests against Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka en route to a final against Rafael Nadal that nobody had expected. Nadal had won their previous six meetings at majors, but it was Federer who triumphed 6-4 3-6 6-1 3-6 6-3 to claim his first Melbourne crown in seven years and his 18th slam in total.

March: Indian Wells Masters

Federer lost to world number 116 Evgeny Donskoy in Dubai in February but bounced back in style, winning the Indian Wells Masters without dropping a set and defeating Nadal and Wawrinka again along the way.

It was his first title in California since 2012 and set him up for a happy few weeks in the United States.

March/April: Miami Open

Federer's third career Sunshine Double came despite an ominous-looking draw at the Miami Open. Rising star Frances Tiafoe and Juan Martin del Potro fell to straight sets, before Roberto Bautista Agut, Berdych and Nick Kyrgios – all in the top 20 – failed to stop him.

In the final, he beat Nadal for the fourth time in a row and surpassed his own record as the oldest winner of a Masters 1000 event – a record he set weeks earlier and would break again later in the year.

June: Halle Open

Federer skipped the clay season to return refreshed for the grass tournaments, but he lost to veteran Tommy Haas in the round of 16 in Stuttgart.

Order was restored at the Halle Open. He again reached the final without dropping a set and swept aside Alexander Zverev 6-1 6-3 to win the tournament for the ninth time.

July: Wimbledon

Such was Federer's form coming into his favourite slam that it looked unlikely anyone could stop him from winning a record eighth title.

So it proved: the Swiss was nigh-on faultless as he breezed into the final, again without dropping a set, where he beat Marin Cilic 6-3 6-1 6-4.

October: Shanghai Masters

August did not quite go to plan for Federer as he lost the final of the Montreal Masters to Alexander Zverez before Del Potro ousted him at the quarter-final stage of the US Open.

Further hard-court success did not elude him for long, though. He won his second Shanghai title in October, gaining revenge on Del Potro in the semi-finals and dispatching Nadal 6-4 6-3 in the final.

October: Swiss Indoors Basel

It was fitting that the last title win of Federer's spectacular comeback year would come on his own turf.

Roared on by the home crowd, Federer had few concerns in reaching a final against Del Potro, which he won 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-3.

His eighth Swiss Indoors Basel triumph was the 95th Tour title of his career and ensured 2017 was his most successful season since 2007.

Roger Federer will not play again until 2021 due to complications in his recovery from a knee injury.

The Swiss star was expected to be sidelined for four months after undergoing an operation back in February, his initial plan to return in time for the grass-court season.

With Wimbledon having been cancelled and the ATP Tour suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was anticipated the 20-time grand slam singles champion could compete at the US Open in August.

However, Federer says a setback in his rehabilitation means he requires a further arthroscopic procedure, and he intends to give his body as long as possible to recover.

In a Twitter post, the 38-year-old wrote: "A few weeks ago, having experienced a setback during my initial rehabilitation, I had to have an additional quick arthroscopic procedure on my right knee.

"Now, much like I did leading up to the 2017 season, I plan to take the necessary time to be 100 per cent ready to play at my highest level.

"I will be missing my fans and the tour dearly but, I will look forward to seeing everyone back on tour at the start of 2021."

In February 2016, Federer suffered a torn meniscus while running a bath for his children and then pulled out of the French Open due to a back problem.

He chose to skip the rest of the season after losing to Milos Raonic in the Wimbledon semi-finals, saying: "The doctors advised that if I want to play on the ATP World Tour injury free for another few years, as I intend to do, I must give both my knee and body the proper time to fully recover."

Federer enjoyed a spectacular comeback in 2017, winning seven titles including the Australian Open and Wimbledon, marking his most successful season for over a decade.

June 10 will forever be remembered as a famous day in Italian football, as it marks the first time the Azzurri conquered the world and Europe.

It is also a date on which Al Geiberger made history on the PGA Tour and Sebastian Coe set an 800m world record that went unbroken for 16 years.

Many French Open tennis finals have been held on this day, but the battle between Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe in 1984 stands out.

This was also the date on which the first University Boat Race, one of the oldest annual sporting events in the world, was held in London.

 

1829 - Oxford win first University Boat Race

The University Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge, England's most prestigious higher-education bodies, has been held annually on the Thames since 1856. The only exceptions were caused by the First and Second World Wars (no races took place from 1915-19 and 1940-45) and in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic intervened.

The very first such event took place back on June 10, 1829. Oxford triumphed by nearly two lengths in around 14 minutes and 30 seconds.

Cambridge got revenge at the second race, seven years later, and they still lead the overall standings 84-80.

 

1934 - Italy win home World Cup

The second football World Cup took place in Italy 86 years ago, under the shadow of Benito Mussolini's fascist regime.

The host nation triumphed after a 2-1 victory over Czechoslovakia in scorching temperatures in Rome, Angelo Schiavo scoring the decisive goal in a 2-1 win.

Italy tasted more success at a home tournament on this date in 1968, winning their only European Championship to date with a 2-0 defeat of Yugoslavia, a match also played in Rome.

That fixture was a replay after the teams had battled out a 1-1 draw two days earlier at the same Stadio Olimpico venue.

 

1977 - Al Geiberger cards sub-60 round

Geiberger claimed 30 professional wins in his career including the PGA Championship in 1966, but he is widely remembered for becoming the first player in history to card a score of 59 in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event.

His bogey-free second round helped him to win the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic in 1977, even though it was the only round where he shot under 70.

That round of 59 has been equalled nine times since and beaten only once: Jim Furyk carded a 58 final round at the 2016 Travelers Championship.

 

1981 - Sebastian Coe sets 800m world record

Coe produced a run for the ages in the 800 metres on June 10, 1981 in Florence.

His world record of one minute and 41.73 seconds lasted for 16 years until Wilson Kipketer twice recorded lower times in 1997, and it was not until August 2010 that David Rudisha went even faster.

Coe remains the joint-third fastest man to run the distance in history – Nijel Amos equalled his time at the 2012 Olympics in London. That run by Amos was only good enough for silver, since Rudisha took the gold with a world record of 1:40.91, which still stands.

 

1984 - Lendl defeats McEnroe in Paris

McEnroe had the chance to silence those who questioned whether he could cut it on clay when he reached his first French Open final in 1984.

He took the first two sets against Ivan Lendl, who had lost all four of his previous major finals, but things unravelled as McEnroe's famous short temper got the better of him.

Lendl triumphed 3-6 2-6 6-4 7-5 7-5 for his first of eight grand slam singles titles, three of which came in Paris. McEnroe never made a Roland Garros final again, although he did win at Wimbledon and the US Open – his last major victories – later in the year.

June 9 is a momentous sporting date that Maria Sharapova and her fans will not forget in a hurry.

Eight years ago on this day, the Russian achieved a career landmark that few tennis players can even dream of with her triumph at the French Open.

This date also represents the 35-year anniversary of a famous day in NBA history, when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar set a mark that still has not been beaten.

We look back at some of the top moments to occur on June 9 in the world of sport.

 

2012 - Sharapova achieves career Grand Slam

After winning her first grand slam in 2004, Sharapova had triumphed at two of the four majors by 2006 and won three by 2008.

The Russian had to wait until 2012 before finally getting her hands on the French Open and sealing an emotional career Grand Slam.

Having made a long recovery from shoulder surgery and lost major finals at Wimbledon and in Melbourne over the previous 12 months, Sharapova was not to be denied in Paris.

She became the 10th woman to complete a career Grand Slam with an easy 6-3 6-2 win in the final against Italian Sara Errani and only dropped one set in the whole tournament.

Sharapova lifted the trophy once more in 2014, which proved to be her last major title in a conclusion to her career that was clouded by injury woes and a positive test for meldonium in 2016.

 

1990 - Seles becomes youngest French Open champion

Teen sensation Monica Seles became the youngest French Open singles champion in 1990 when she won the title at the age of 16 years and six months.

The title was sealed in style with success over world number one Steffi Graf in the final, Seles saving four set points to win a dramatic first set 7-6 (8-6), before claiming the second 6-4. 

Seemingly undaunted by the pressure, she had also won her semi in straight sets against Jennifer Capriati.

Seles went on to triumph at Roland Garros again in 1991 and 1992, with her three consecutive crowns representing a tournament record in the Open Era that was later equalled by Justine Henin.

She did not win the French Open again after recovering from being stabbed on court in Hamburg in 1993, going closest in 1998 before losing a deciding set in the final against Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.

Her final tally of grand slam titles was nine.

 

1985 - Kareem is NBA Finals' oldest MVP

The Los Angeles Lakers defeated fierce rivals the Boston Celtics 111-100 on the road in Game 6 to seal a 4-2 series victory in the NBA Finals.

Abdul-Jabbar was named the Finals MVP at the age of 38, making him the oldest winner of the honour in a record that still stands.

The veteran was the Lakers' leading scorer in four of the six contests, including Game 6 when he went for 29 points and Magic Johnson contributed 14 assists.

Abdul-Jabbar's award came 14 years after his other NBA Finals MVP accolade, which he collected after leading the Milwaukee Bucks to their first and only championship in 1971.

The Lakers made eight of the 10 NBA Finals that took place in the 1980s, winning five, and the remarkable Abdul-Jabbar was still playing when they tasted success in 1987 and 1988.

Page 1 of 18
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.