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Editor's Note: But for the COVID-19 pandemic, Roland Garros would now be underway. During the next two weeks ATPTour.com will look back on memorable matches and happenings at the clay-court Grand Slam, which tournament organisers are now hoping to stage in September. This story was originally published on 9 June 2018.Nicolas Mahut appeared to be tearing up after partnering Pierre-Hugues Herbert to their first Roland Garros title in 2018. Suddenly his six-year-old son, Natanel, sprinted across the red dirt and leapt into his father’s waiting arms as the crowd cheered him on.Mahut said that Natanel had asked him for two days how he can get down from the stands onto the court. And while he did not know how it would play out, the Frenchman was ecstatic it happened.“I knew that they had found a possibility. I didn't know if he was going to go through the locker room or the players' entrance. I knew he was going to find a way,” Mahut said. “These two, three minutes, when we hugged with Pierre-Hugues and then my child arrives on the court, I felt really blessed. I'm really fulfilled. I don't think I can achieve something or live something bigger.”Moments like this 珞#RG18 https://t.co/mTx9NlDbI7— ATP World Tour (@ATPWorldTour) June 9, 2018Seven years ago, Mahut came excruciatingly close to winning the Roland Garros title with Michael Llodra, leading Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 4/2 in a third-set tie-break for the championship before falling short. But on Saturday, Mahut joined Herbert to wash away those memories, defeating Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic 6-2, 7-6(4) to become the third all-French team in the Open Era to lift the trophy on the terre battue.Natanel got in on the celebration, leading Herbert and then his father in a ‘floss’ dance to the delight of the home crowd. It is safe to say that for everyone involved, it is a moment that will last a lifetime..@NMahut's son knows all the right moves for the perfect celebration!@p2hugz approves.#RG18 pic.twitter.com/VhkhskwbZA— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 9, 2018"Roland Garros is "the" tournament. When you're a French guy, you want to win it. You dream of winning such a tournament," Herbert said. "We were more thinking about the singles tournament. But winning the doubles title, it's as important. And winning at home, there is nothing better in terms of feelings."Herbert and Mahut joined Henri Leconte/Yannick Noah (1984) and Julien Benneteau/Edouard Roger-Vasselin (2014), saving six of seven break points in their one-hour, 40-minute victory. The duo became the first French team to win three or more major titles together in the Open Era. Herbert and Mahut, who also won the 2015 US Open and 2016 Wimbledon, defeated the ATP Doubles Race To London leaders for the third time in as many ATP Head2Head meetings. "It had been really painful in 2013, because I thought it was my only chance of winning Roland Garros. Thanks to Pierre-Hugues, we are here five years after. I'm smiling, and I can tell you there is a real difference between losing in the finals and winning a final," Mahut said. "We are in front of you trying to explain what we are feeling, but it's almost too late. The emotion is difficult to tell. What we lived, we won the match point, and the two, three minutes afterwards, when we try to explain it, it's already too late. It's almost indescribable. It's just utter happiness."
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 25 May 2019.Alexander Zverev cemented his marathon man status on Saturday at the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open. The top seed clinched his first ATP Tour title this season by winning his third consecutive three-setter, saving two match points against a determined Nicolas Jarry to prevail 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(8).“It was a very tough match. He was playing aggressively, serving big and hitting everything he can," said Zverev. "I thought I was in control until the rain came, but I’m happy to find a way. I felt it could have gone either way.”The German had struggled for form since finishing runner-up this March in Acapulco (l. to Kyrgios). Zverev arrived in Geneva with a 6-8 record in his previous eight tournaments, including an opening-round loss to Jarry last month at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, which saw him squander a match point. He now has 11 ATP Tour titles, all of which have come in less than three years."When I start playing good, I don't worry about titles. I know that I can be one of the best players in the world when I find my rhythm," said Zverev. "This week definitely helped with that."Zverev also survived three-set battles this week against Bolivian Hugo Dellien and Argentine Federico Delbonis to reach the final, but the extra on-court time helped his game. He hit 41 aces this week, with 35 coming in his past three matches. Zverev led the tournament in first-serve return points won (38%, 100 of 263).Jarry powered into the Geneva final without dropping a set. He went into Saturday’s final leading the tournament in second-serve points won (67%, 54 of 81), service games won (95%, 37 of 39) and break points saved (78%, 7 of 9). The 23-year-old still seeks his first ATP Tour title, having also finished runner-up last year in Sao Paulo (l. to Fognini).“I don’t have the words to talk about it. I did my best, had some chances and fought until the last point. It didn’t go my way,” said Jarry. “I just have to keep on fighting and give myself the chance to compete for another title.”The match appeared to be firmly in Zverev’s hands at the beginning. He raced out to a 3-0 lead and comfortably took the opening set before rain halted proceedings with Zverev leading 6-3, 0-1.Play resumed after 90 minutes and it was Jarry who came out of the gate first. A backhand error from Zverev gave the Chilean the lone break of the second set to lead 4-2, but a second rain delay took place right after Jarry held in the next game. After another lengthy suspension, Jarry maintained his advantage to send the match into a deciding set.Read More: Pavic/Marach Make Geneva HistoryBoth players traded service holds to force a third-set tie-break. A pair of groundstroke errors from Jarry gave Zverev a 3/0 lead and the top seed rode that momentum to a 6/3 advantage. Jarry refused to budge, saving the first championship point with a stretch backhand volley winner. He followed it up with a forehand winner and forehand volley winner to even the score at 6/6.A double fault from Zverev gave Jarry his first championship point at 7/6, but the Chilean hit a routine volley into the net. Another championship point came and went at 8/7 as Jarry misfired on a forehand. Zverev laced a difficult backhand passing shot winner at 8/8 to earn a fourth championship point and made good on his opportunity. As Jarry sent a forehand long and dropped to his knees, Zverev raised his arms in triumph as he wrapped up the win in two hours and 36 minutes.Zverev picked up 250 ATP Ranking points and €90,390 for his week. Jarry earned 150 ATP Rankings points and €48,870.Both players will now turn their attention to Roland Garros. Zverev, seeded fifth, start his campaign against Aussie John Millman, while Jarry faces a challenging opening test against eighth-seeded Argentine Juan Martin del Potro.
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 30 September 2019.When in Tokyo, Novak goes sumo. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is in Japan to compete at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships for the first time. And the top seed took full advantage of the country’s culture on Monday by visiting Ryogoku Edo-Noren, a facility with restaurants that features a dohyo, a sumo wrestling ring.Djokovic not only got an opportunity to watch retired professional sumo wrestlers during their ‘keiko’ — or morning practice — but he also stepped up on the dohyo to learn some of the moves himself.“It’s a great experience. I’ve never had this experience before. It’s one of the most popular sports in Japan,” Djokovic said. “Speaking with my father yesterday on the phone I was telling him that I’m going to have an opportunity to meet sumo wrestlers. He and I were remembering many years ago at home [when] we used to watch Akebono [Tarō, who reached Yokozuna status], who was someone that we supported a lot.”Djokovic was in awe of the sumo wrestlers, even playfully seeing if he can make one of them budge. Spoiler alert: it didn't work. They also taught the World No. 1 seiko and suri-ashi among other sumo moves.“I felt that I am out of shape [for sumo] a little bit. I think with a few more kilos, I’ll be ready to compete,” Djokovic joked. “Probably three times as much as I have right now would be the right measurement for me to compete.”The 75-time tour-level titlist paid great respect to the professionals, taking in their technique and power on the dohyo. But that wasn’t all that impressed Djokovic.“It’s quite impressive to see also how flexible they are. I believe at the beginning they were demonstrating their flexibility,” Djokovic said. “I didn’t think that they were that flexible considering it’s a heavyweight sport, but I see that they are paying a lot of attention to the mobility of their joints and the flexibility, which is of course what allows them to move around as agile as possible at their weight.” Now, Djokovic will turn his attention to the tennis court as he prepared for this ATP 500 tournament. Later Monday, the Serbian will partner countryman Filip Krajinovic in the doubles against Croat Mate Pavic and Brazilian Bruno Soares. In the singles draw, the World No. 1’s first opponent is #NextGenATP Australian Alexei Popyrin.“I’m not going to have that kind of encounter with my opponents on the court,” Djokovic said. “We are going to be separated with a net and racquets, but it is a one-on-one sport, so there is something there."
Winning breeds confidence and 12 months ago, one star was burning brightest of all. Daniil Medvedev, who had swapped sweets and croissants for a better diet to match his dedication and professionalism on the court, went on a tear.After Nick Kyrgios narrowly beat him 7-6(8), 7-6(4) in the 2019 Citi Open final, the Russian travelled to Montreal, for arguably the pivotal moment of his career, when years of training and repetition came together — and ultimately propelled him on a path for the Top 5 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.His 2019 Coupe Rogers performances were all the more remarkable when you consider that Medvedev had had to qualify the year before to play in Toronto, where he lost to Alexander Zverev in the 2018 third round of the main draw. In the build-up to Montreal, one year on, Medvedev had reached three ATP Tour finals in 2019 and earned a career total of four Top 10 scalps, including back-to-back victories, a few months earlier, over No. 8-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.Now, returning to Canadian soil, the 23-year-old was the eighth seed. And, throughout the week, he was not just beating, but dominating great players, having found his rhythm and the right tactics, forged in partnership with his coach Gilles Cervara. Medvedev did not lose more than three games per set in his first three matches in Montreal. He beat No. 4 Dominic Thiem 6-3, 6-1 in the quarter-finals and earned a 6-1, 7-6(6) semi-final victory over fellow Russian Karen Khachanov, then ranked No. 8, took the player into unchartered territory.While Rafael Nadal breezed past Medvedev 6-3, 6-0 in his first ATP Masters 1000 final, his education continued. And Medvedev has never looked back."It's one of two best tournaments I've played in my life," said Medvedev, of Montreal last year. "One was basically of course Tokyo, the only ATP 500 I won at this moment. Of course, to be in the final of a Masters 1000, I mean, it's an amazing achievement for me at this moment... Of course, I always say this: if you don't win the tournament, you are always disappointed. Even if you lose in a final of a Grand Slam, you will be disappointed."With a booming serve, one of the flattest backhands and most unorthodox games on the ATP Tour, Medvedev was not downcast. The following week, he kept putting the ball back, continued to frustrate opponents and subsequently captured the Western & Southern Open crown, overcoming Djokovic 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, for the second time, in the semi-finals, and David Goffin 7-6(3), 6-4 for the biggest trophy of his career.Immediately touted as a favourite for the US Open, Medvedev, who’d been the World No. 16 on 14 January, fell, narrowly, one step short in the final. Hours after an outstanding campaign had ended with a five-set loss to Nadal, Medvedev rose to a career-high No. 4 on 9 September. He was the first player to accrue 50 match wins on the 2019 season.“Of course, deep inside of me, I understand that what I've done these four weeks is amazing, even comparing to what I've done before,” said Medvedev. “I don't want to stop. I will always work to be better. I will try to do my best every day.”Memories of Medvedev winning 20 out of 23 matches and reaching four straight finals on North American hard courts — only the third player to do so after Ivan Lendl and Andre Agassi — remain vivid, ahead of the ATP Tour’s return this month.While Medvedev would go onto lift two more trophies, the St. Petersburg Open (d. Coric) and the Rolex Shanghai Masters (d. Zverev), to extend his post-2019 Wimbledon streak to 29-3 and cement his place inside the Top 10, it was his week in Montreal that was pivotal in his rise to consistent, peak performance.
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