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Federer’s Wall Challenge Sends Dimitrov Back To Childhood

Roger Federer put on a social distancing show at the end of March, playing tennis in the snow against a wall, showing off his racquet skills with plenty of tweeners and behind-the-back shots.

During his recent Tennis United segment, 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov revealed that the viral video reminded him of his own childhood.

“I remember every morning with my dad in the early development of my life. We used to go in the morning in the hall. It was very cold when it was snowing outside,” Dimitrov said. “We used to put scotch tape on the wooden floor and we used to play with gloves and everything because it was so cold in the morning. We didn’t have a heater in the hall.

“This brings a very good example of tenacity and just wanting to do more. It’s a great video to see from every perspective. I think it’s also inspiring at the same time. When you want something, there are no limits to it, no way it can be stopped.”

[TENNIS AT HOME]

As far as seeing Federer show off his racquet skills, Dimitrov enjoyed that, too.

“You know sometimes you’ve got to work on those shots!” Dimitrov said.

Another video Dimitrov highlighted was Fabio Fognini and his wife, 2015 US Open champion Flavia Pennetta, playing makeshift tennis in their backyard with a baby carriage — neither of their two children were in it — serving as a net.

“We have our finest in the business… Fabio and Flavia,” Dimitrov said. “This is what happens when two competitive people are locked in for a while with kids. She’s still got it, look at those moves! Between the legs, behind the back. Fabio is just being Fabio!”

Federer’s Wall Challenge Sends Dimitrov Back To Childhood

Roger Federer put on a social distancing show at the end of March, playing tennis in the snow against a wall, showing off his racquet skills with plenty of tweeners and behind-the-back shots.

During his recent Tennis United segment, 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov revealed that the viral video reminded him of his own childhood.

“I remember every morning with my dad in the early development of my life. We used to go in the morning in the hall. It was very cold when it was snowing outside,” Dimitrov said. “We used to put scotch tape on the wooden floor and we used to play with gloves and everything because it was so cold in the morning. We didn’t have a heater in the hall.

“This brings a very good example of tenacity and just wanting to do more. It’s a great video to see from every perspective. I think it’s also inspiring at the same time. When you want something, there are no limits to it, no way it can be stopped.”

[TENNIS AT HOME]

As far as seeing Federer show off his racquet skills, Dimitrov enjoyed that, too.

“You know sometimes you’ve got to work on those shots!” Dimitrov said.

Another video Dimitrov highlighted was Fabio Fognini and his wife, 2015 US Open champion Flavia Pennetta, playing makeshift tennis in their backyard with a baby carriage — neither of their two children were in it — serving as a net.

“We have our finest in the business… Fabio and Flavia,” Dimitrov said. “This is what happens when two competitive people are locked in for a while with kids. She’s still got it, look at those moves! Between the legs, behind the back. Fabio is just being Fabio!”

Breakthrough | Tiafoe On ’18 Delray Beach Title: ‘I Had No Expectations At All’

Editor’s Note: ATPTour.com is resurfacing features to bring fans closer to their favourite players during the current suspension in tournament play. This story was originally published on 18 February 2019.

Entering the 2018 Delray Beach Open, Frances Tiafoe was No. 91 in the ATP Rankings. The American had made just one tour-level quarter-final, which came the previous week at the inaugural New York Open.

“I had no expectations at all,” Tiafoe said.

In the first round, Tiafoe faced Matthew Ebden, who defeated the American with the loss of just five games the month before. But the American hung tough after losing the second set against the Aussie to reach the second round in Delray Beach.

Next up was a daunting task: Tiafoe’s childhood idol and 2011 champion Juan Martin del Potro. The Argentine had won both of their previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, including a straight-sets victory at the Australian Open just weeks before.

But Tiafoe summoned some of his best tennis, converting on his fourth match point to defeat Del Potro after two hours and 27 minutes in a three-set thriller. It was just his second victory against a Top 10 opponent.

“I was cool with the tournament after I beat Delpo, honestly. Could have lost in the next round and I really wouldn’t have cared,” Tiafoe said.

Perhaps more impressively, Tiafoe earned the respect of his idol, Del Potro. The ‘Tower of Tandil’ would go on to claim his first ATP Masters 1000 title at the BNP Paribas Open and climb to a career-best World No. 3 in August, so it took a lot for Tiafoe to beat him.

“Frances has everything to be in the top positions very soon. He has talent, the power to play long matches. [He has] the smart things to be playing in front of the top guys, also. I like to see him enjoying this sport,” Del Potro said on Monday. “I know he has a little bit of pressure on his back because the whole country is expecting too much of him. But he’s going to be a better player in a very short period because he’s already a good player for us and I would love to watch him playing finals and winning tournaments.”

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“That was great,” Tiafoe said upon hearing of Del Potro’s encouraging words. “It’s still funny hitting with him and spending time with him. It’s good to see him back. He’s such a nice guy and anything he says, even saying hi to me, means a lot to me. I’m a huge fan.”

The tough part for Tiafoe was that, at that point, he was only in the quarter-finals. In the next two rounds, Tiafoe had to play then-reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung and #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov, both of whom were inside the World’s Top 50. What made it tougher was that due to rain on Friday evening, Tiafoe had to complete his quarter-final triumph against Chung on Saturday before returning later in the day to face Shapovalov.

“We were just taking it one step at a time and doing the best we could every day,” said Tiafoe’s coach, Zack Evenden. “We did a great job of that and it was a fairytale week.”

Tiafoe went on to beat German Peter Gojowczyk to lift his maiden ATP Tour title, becoming the youngest American to claim a tour-level trophy since a 19-year-old Andy Roddick at 2002 Houston. Tiafoe struck an ace down the T on championship point, then fell to his back in celebration.

Tiafoe

“Complete relief, joy. That feeling, we’ve spoken about that a lot and that feeling, it’s going to be tough to replicate that. We didn’t expect it,” Evenden said. “We knew he was capable of big things, but him turning around the year that quick and in that fashion, beating the players he did that week, it was definitely overwhelming.”

“To win the event was pretty cool,” Tiafoe said. “I’m happy to have my first title here in South Florida where I spend so much time. Hopefully I can do it again.”

While Tiafoe was just inside the Top 100 when he arrived at Delray Beach last year, his return this season is a different story. Not only did he qualify for the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, but he is at a career-high No. 29 in the ATP Rankings, fresh off his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open. Tiafoe opens his title defence against Daniel Evans.

“I don’t feel any pressure this year, either. It’s kind of just another event I want to do well in. That’s where my head is right now. Obviously I gave myself a pretty good start [to the year], so there’s no real pressure,” Tiafoe said. “I’m just trying to get some momentum going for these next couple of weeks.”

Breakthrough | Tiafoe On ’18 Delray Beach Title: ‘I Had No Expectations At All’

Editor’s Note: ATPTour.com is resurfacing features to bring fans closer to their favourite players during the current suspension in tournament play. This story was originally published on 18 February 2019.

Entering the 2018 Delray Beach Open, Frances Tiafoe was No. 91 in the ATP Rankings. The American had made just one tour-level quarter-final, which came the previous week at the inaugural New York Open.

“I had no expectations at all,” Tiafoe said.

In the first round, Tiafoe faced Matthew Ebden, who defeated the American with the loss of just five games the month before. But the American hung tough after losing the second set against the Aussie to reach the second round in Delray Beach.

Next up was a daunting task: Tiafoe’s childhood idol and 2011 champion Juan Martin del Potro. The Argentine had won both of their previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, including a straight-sets victory at the Australian Open just weeks before.

But Tiafoe summoned some of his best tennis, converting on his fourth match point to defeat Del Potro after two hours and 27 minutes in a three-set thriller. It was just his second victory against a Top 10 opponent.

“I was cool with the tournament after I beat Delpo, honestly. Could have lost in the next round and I really wouldn’t have cared,” Tiafoe said.

Perhaps more impressively, Tiafoe earned the respect of his idol, Del Potro. The ‘Tower of Tandil’ would go on to claim his first ATP Masters 1000 title at the BNP Paribas Open and climb to a career-best World No. 3 in August, so it took a lot for Tiafoe to beat him.

“Frances has everything to be in the top positions very soon. He has talent, the power to play long matches. [He has] the smart things to be playing in front of the top guys, also. I like to see him enjoying this sport,” Del Potro said on Monday. “I know he has a little bit of pressure on his back because the whole country is expecting too much of him. But he’s going to be a better player in a very short period because he’s already a good player for us and I would love to watch him playing finals and winning tournaments.”

Watch Live

“That was great,” Tiafoe said upon hearing of Del Potro’s encouraging words. “It’s still funny hitting with him and spending time with him. It’s good to see him back. He’s such a nice guy and anything he says, even saying hi to me, means a lot to me. I’m a huge fan.”

The tough part for Tiafoe was that, at that point, he was only in the quarter-finals. In the next two rounds, Tiafoe had to play then-reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung and #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov, both of whom were inside the World’s Top 50. What made it tougher was that due to rain on Friday evening, Tiafoe had to complete his quarter-final triumph against Chung on Saturday before returning later in the day to face Shapovalov.

“We were just taking it one step at a time and doing the best we could every day,” said Tiafoe’s coach, Zack Evenden. “We did a great job of that and it was a fairytale week.”

Tiafoe went on to beat German Peter Gojowczyk to lift his maiden ATP Tour title, becoming the youngest American to claim a tour-level trophy since a 19-year-old Andy Roddick at 2002 Houston. Tiafoe struck an ace down the T on championship point, then fell to his back in celebration.

Tiafoe

“Complete relief, joy. That feeling, we’ve spoken about that a lot and that feeling, it’s going to be tough to replicate that. We didn’t expect it,” Evenden said. “We knew he was capable of big things, but him turning around the year that quick and in that fashion, beating the players he did that week, it was definitely overwhelming.”

“To win the event was pretty cool,” Tiafoe said. “I’m happy to have my first title here in South Florida where I spend so much time. Hopefully I can do it again.”

While Tiafoe was just inside the Top 100 when he arrived at Delray Beach last year, his return this season is a different story. Not only did he qualify for the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, but he is at a career-high No. 29 in the ATP Rankings, fresh off his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open. Tiafoe opens his title defence against Daniel Evans.

“I don’t feel any pressure this year, either. It’s kind of just another event I want to do well in. That’s where my head is right now. Obviously I gave myself a pretty good start [to the year], so there’s no real pressure,” Tiafoe said. “I’m just trying to get some momentum going for these next couple of weeks.”

Need A Babysitter? Haase Is Your Man!

When Robin Haase started out this year, he likely didn’t imagine that he’d become the most recognisable babysitter in the Netherlands.

But once the Dutchman returned home in early March and remained there due to the COVID-19 outbreak, he felt inspired to help after seeing how parents working in the healthcare sector struggled with childcare. He took to Instagram last month and offered to babysit for parents that still needed to work, encouraging his followers to message him if help was needed.

“I had a lot of requests and that was great, but could only do so much because you put yourself and others at risk by being around a lot of people,” Haase said to ATPTour.com. “I did it two times, though, and it was really fun and nice to help out. The only babysitting I’d ever done before was for a nephew about 15 years ago, so I didn’t really have any experience, but it worked out well.”

Haase also received suggestions from fans and followers about ways to help. He turned his attention to being of service and still hopes to follow through on some of the more unique requests.

“For the first two-and-a-half weeks, I was helping others non-stop,” Haase said. For one kids’ 10th birthday, he normally celebrates by going with his parents to a restaurant. Since the restaurant was closed, I decided to buy a game and bring it to him myself. When it was my birthday recently (on 6 April), he surprised me with a video message, which was very nice of him.

[TENNIS AT HOME]

“A guy also messaged me who had been working out for several months and asked if I’d go running with him to help him stay motivated. We haven’t done it yet because he lives two-and-a-half hours away, but it’s a great idea and something that I’d really like to do. You can do it outside and be spaced apart from each other, but it’s also an activity to do together and I think that’s important now.”

Looking for ways to give back has been part of Haase’s life long before the current pandemic. He regularly volunteers his time at ATP Tour events for community outreach and hospital visits, but opted to do so quietly in order to avoid publicity.

“I always try to help other people whether or not I’m playing tournaments. I just didn’t put it out on social media or the news because I enjoyed doing it, but it was also for them,” Haase said. “I’ll go to hospitals and visit people who love tennis or kids who love sports in general, talk with them or maybe go on a walk together. But I’m taking a step back from some of this now, thinking about myself and what I can do to get fit again.”

Although he recently bought a bike, the COVID-19 outbreak has currently halted his tennis and fitness training. Haase admitted that he isn’t certain how his body will respond when he resumes a rigorous schedule on Tour, but is eager to begin competing as soon as possible.

“I have a very bad knee, but I got used to the pain because I kept on playing. But now that I’m not and will have to start up again, I’ll have to go through hell again with the pain. I think I’ll be able to handle it, though, and am really looking forward to playing,” Haase said. “Competing and playing for big crowds are the things I miss most. I see myself not only as a tennis player, but also as an entertainer.”

Need A Babysitter? Haase Is Your Man!

When Robin Haase started out this year, he likely didn’t imagine that he’d become the most recognisable babysitter in the Netherlands.

But once the Dutchman returned home in early March and remained there due to the COVID-19 outbreak, he felt inspired to help after seeing how parents working in the healthcare sector struggled with childcare. He took to Instagram last month and offered to babysit for parents that still needed to work, encouraging his followers to message him if help was needed.

“I had a lot of requests and that was great, but could only do so much because you put yourself and others at risk by being around a lot of people,” Haase said to ATPTour.com. “I did it two times, though, and it was really fun and nice to help out. The only babysitting I’d ever done before was for a nephew about 15 years ago, so I didn’t really have any experience, but it worked out well.”

Haase also received suggestions from fans and followers about ways to help. He turned his attention to being of service and still hopes to follow through on some of the more unique requests.

“For the first two-and-a-half weeks, I was helping others non-stop,” Haase said. For one kids’ 10th birthday, he normally celebrates by going with his parents to a restaurant. Since the restaurant was closed, I decided to buy a game and bring it to him myself. When it was my birthday recently (on 6 April), he surprised me with a video message, which was very nice of him.

[TENNIS AT HOME]

“A guy also messaged me who had been working out for several months and asked if I’d go running with him to help him stay motivated. We haven’t done it yet because he lives two-and-a-half hours away, but it’s a great idea and something that I’d really like to do. You can do it outside and be spaced apart from each other, but it’s also an activity to do together and I think that’s important now.”

Looking for ways to give back has been part of Haase’s life long before the current pandemic. He regularly volunteers his time at ATP Tour events for community outreach and hospital visits, but opted to do so quietly in order to avoid publicity.

“I always try to help other people whether or not I’m playing tournaments. I just didn’t put it out on social media or the news because I enjoyed doing it, but it was also for them,” Haase said. “I’ll go to hospitals and visit people who love tennis or kids who love sports in general, talk with them or maybe go on a walk together. But I’m taking a step back from some of this now, thinking about myself and what I can do to get fit again.”

Although he recently bought a bike, the COVID-19 outbreak has currently halted his tennis and fitness training. Haase admitted that he isn’t certain how his body will respond when he resumes a rigorous schedule on Tour, but is eager to begin competing as soon as possible.

“I have a very bad knee, but I got used to the pain because I kept on playing. But now that I’m not and will have to start up again, I’ll have to go through hell again with the pain. I think I’ll be able to handle it, though, and am really looking forward to playing,” Haase said. “Competing and playing for big crowds are the things I miss most. I see myself not only as a tennis player, but also as an entertainer.”