American Michael Chang became the youngest male tennis player to win a Grand Slam Singles title when he won the French Open in 1989 at the age of 17 years and 4 months. He peaked at world number two in late 1996, the same year he reached the Australian and US Open Finals.
Michael has strong religious beliefs and commented on his famous win, “I almost kind of feel that it was almost God’s purpose for me to win The French Open”
Known for his fighting spirit and on court speed, Michael introduced the jumping two handed back hand.
He is the coach of world number five Kei Nishikori and was at London’s O2 Arena with him this year for the ATP World Tour Finals and signed my sketch there, adding his usual message, “Jesus loves you”.
Popular Brazilian tennis player, and former world number one Gustavo Kuerten is among clay court royalty, winning the French Open three times. His first title at Roland Garros was won in 1997 when he was ranked number 66 in the world. He won his second title in 2000, defending it the following year.
He is known as ‘Guga’ – an affectionate nickname which is a common abbreviation of the name ‘Gustavo’ in Portuguese speaking countries. Guga became a tennis icon with a blistering first serve, backed up with the ability to chase down every ball, a unique grunt when he strikes the ball and outrageously colourful clothing.
His beaming smile and engaging personality bought a lively atmosphere to tennis stadiums around the world and made him one of the most popular players with fans and his peers alike.
In 2000, for the first time, the number one year end position came down to the final match of the season. Guga defeated superstar Andre Agassi at the ATP Word Tour finals in Lisbon to win the title and take the number one position which he held for 43 weeks over his career. He was inducted into the tennis hall of fame in 2012.
It was an absolute pleasure to meet him at this year’s ATP World Tour Finals, at London’s O2 where he signed his distinctive ‘Guga’ graph.
The James Plays – James I, James II are a thrilling trilogy of history plays by award-winning Rona Munro. They previewed at this year’s Edinburgh Festival before a limited run in repertory at The National Theatre in London, finishing on the 29th October.
James McArdle (James I) Andrew Rothney (James II) and Jamie Sives (James III) play the lead roles, bringing to life three generations of Stewart Kings who ruled Scotland in the tumultuous 15th Century.
The Daily Telegraph gave the production 5 stars, calling them, “astonishing… could be the finest history plays ever penned.”
Germany’s Boris Becker the former number one men’s tennis player is the coach of the current top ranked player Novak Djokovic. He won Wimbledon in 1985 and 1986 at the age of 17 and 18, the first non seed to do so. He again won in 1989 and finished his career with six Grand Slam titles and an Olympic Gold Medal in doubles.
His booming serves, heavy forehand, penetrating volleys and diving saves were an immediate crowd favourite. They called him “Boom Boom,” a term he disliked, saying it was too, “war like”. His highly dramatic has spawned other sayings however, such as the “Becker Faust” (the Becker fist), the “Becker Sage” (the “Becker Saw”, when he pumped his fist in a sawing motion) and the “Becker Shuffle” (the dance he often performed after winning an important point).
Boris signed the sketch for me at the O2 pier while he attended the ATP World Tour Finals in London last week.
The outstanding Richie McCaw, considered the greatest New Zealand rugby player of all time, will become the first player to lead the famous All Blacks in 100 matches when he captains the legendary team at the Millennium Stadium against Wales this weekend.
It’s a fitting venue for the milestone. Nearly 10 years ago to the day, a 23-year-old Richie was handed the captain’s armband for the first time at the Cardiff ground in a nail-bitting 26-25 victory over a strong Welsh side. With 137 Test appearances, he is the most capped All Black and now becomes the solo member of the 100 Captain’s Club. Richie is the most celebrated rugby player in the world, winning the IRB International Player on a record three occasions from eight nominations.
During his tenure as captain the All Blacks have won the Team of the Year seven times and are expected to add to that at this year’s Awards. The only remote thing I have in common with the great man, apart from our Kiwi ancestry is our attendance at Otago Boy’s High School in Dunedin (although not at the same time). It was not mentioned as he signed this ‘energetic’ 4B pencil sketch at the team’s hotel in London before they played England a couple of weeks ago.