Despite having to withdraw from the ATP World Tour Finals in London this week due to a knee injury, Rafael Nadal ended the year as the world’s No.1 men’s tennis player after a stellar 2017, including winning both the US Open and, for a record tenth time the French Open. ‘The King of Clay’ achieved ‘La Decima’ on the ‘dirt’ at Roland Garros, beating Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 in the final. He also added his 10th title on the clay at Monte Carlo and Barcelona for good measure.
To commemorate this feat (of clay) I did this ‘La Decima’ sketch and luckily got Rafa to sign it for me before he left the London’s O2 last week.
Bulgarian tennis star Grigor Dimitrov won the year-end ATP World Tours Final last night at the O2 arena in London, beating Belgian David Goffin in three sets, completing the tournament unbeaten.
At the beginning of his professional career the former Junior World No. 1 was dubbed ‘Baby Fed’ because of his stylish play and on court talent, similar to the Swiss mystro Roger Federer. Known for his exceptional shot-making and athleticism, he now moves from No. 6 to the world’s No. 3, behind Rafa Nadal and Fed, having started the year at 17th. He collected three other tour titles this year – Brisbane, Sofia and his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati.
Grigor signed my sketch last Sunday at the O2.
Continuing my week of drawing from the ATP World Tour Finals at London’s O2 Arena is the young Austrian tennis star and world No.4 Dominic Thiem who faces David Goffin today in a sudden death match to decide who goes through to the semi-finals. This is the second consecutive year that Dominic has reached the Tour Finals, having made the semi final at Roland Garros and the fourth round of the three other Grand Slams. Winner of eight ATP singles titles, he is known for his aggressive base line play and great defence and is one of the few younger players to use a single-handed backhand.
He signed my sketch last Sunday at the O2.
The diminutive (by tennis standards) Belgian David Goffin secured the biggest win of his career beating the current world No.1 Rafael Nadal in his opening match at this year’s ATP Tour Finals at London’s O2 on Monday. Rafa was hampered by a reoccurring knee injury which forced him to withdraw from the year-ending tournament after the three-set loss. David, who is currently ranked No. 8 in the world has won four titles and his win over Rafa continues a string of victories over higher-ranked players, including Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka. He signed my sketch at the O2 on Sunday before his practice session.
Former world No.1 tennis player Juan Carlos Ferrero has been coaching Germany’s rising star Alexander Zverev since July this year and both are currently in London for the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 arena. The Spaniard reached the top ranking in September 2003 after winning Roland Garros and runner-up at the US Open. Nicknamed ‘El Masquito’ because of his speed and small build, Juan Carlos was also part of three winning Davis Cup campaigns for Spain. He signed my sketch at the O2 on Saturday.
The top-ranked American men’s tennis player, Jack Sock clinched the final spot in the World Top 8 for the ATP World Tour Finals, which started yesterday at London’s 02 Arena.
The twenty-five year old was ranked 24th in the race to London going into the last tournament of the regular season-the Paris Masters, but won that event. Combined with a number of his rivals falling by the wayside and Nadal’s withdrawal through injury, he booked his ticket to the year-end championship.
Now ranked the Worlds’s Number 9 in the men’s singles the aggressive baseliner with a lethal serve and forehand is considered one of the world’s top players in both singles and doubles, where he also reached the 9th spot in 2015, winning the Wimbledon Doubles title alongside Vasek Pospisil the previous year.
In 2011 he won the Mixed Doubles with Melanie Oudin at the US Open and a Gold medal with Bethany Mattek-Sands and the bronze in the Men’s doubles partnering Steve Johnson at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
I met him after Friday’s practice session at the 02. He joked he couldn’t sign my drawing because he is now in the Nike stable and I had drawn him with his previous sponsor’s Adidas logo, but he did.
When young English actress Clare Louise Connolly was auditioning for the part of Regan, the 12 year old possessed by the Devil in stage adaption of THE EXORCIST, she was mindful of the iconic scene in the 1973 movie, when the character’s head spins 360. “I was sure I told the director Sean Mathias, that my neck was extremely flexible,” she revealed in a recent interview. It obviously helped, she got the part and after a brief run last year at Birmingham Rep, has reprised the role in the West End at the Phoenix Theatre. Musical movie buffs may also remember her in a reverse and lot less graphic role-a screen adaption of a stage production-in the 2008 film version of MAMA MIA! She signed this montage sketch for me on her way into the theatre for another head-turning performance on Saturday.
Much-loved British actor Peter Bowles has returned to the West End in the terrifying stage adaption of THE EXORCIST at the Phoenix Theatre. The 81 year-old veteran of stage and screen plays Father Lankester Merrin in the production that originated at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and is based on William Peter Blatty’s hugely successful novel and William Friedkin’s 1973 masterpiece film. Probably known more for his comedy roles such as Richard DeVere in the very popular sitcom TO THE MANOR BORN, Peter spent his formative television years playing villains in shows such as THE AVENGERS, DANGER MAN, THE SAINT and THE PRISONER. His stage career began at the Old Vic in 1956 with appearances in a series of Shakespearean productions, including MACBETH, ROMEO AND JULIET and RICHARD II. When I met Peter at the stage door on his way in for Saturdays late matinee he signed my sketch. I quipped, “It looks a scary play to watch,’ he replied “It’s a scary play to be in!”
American actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth was in London last month for her one night only engagement at the Palladium as part of her brief European Tour. I had missed her a couple of times before, so was very keen to get a drawing signed. I did this quick portrait based on her poster and dropped it into the new and impressive stage door office at the theatre, fingers crossed. Kristin won the Tony Award in 1999 for her portrayal of the title character’s sister, Sally Brown in YOU’RE A GOOD MAN CHARLIE BROWN. She also originated the role of Glinda in the musical WICKED on Broadway, earning another Tony nom. The cast recording won the 2005 Grammy. On the small screen, Kristin is best known for the reoccurring role as media consultant Annabeth Schott in THE WEST WING and Olive Snook in the comedy-drama PUSHING DAISIES for which she won the 2009 Emmy Award. As you can see my mission was complete when the signed and dedicated sketch arrived in the mail yesterday.
Australian-born, London-based actor, singer and dancer Adam Garcia is Father Damian Karras in the chilling West End premiere of the stage adaption of William Peter Blatty’s best-selling novel THE EXORCIST at the Phoenix Theatre, after an initial run at Birmingham Repertory last year. Adam, a two-time Olivier Award nominee, was last seen on the London stage in the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s THE WINTER’S TALE at the Garrick in 2015. Among his many theatre roles is Flyero in the original London cast production of WICKED.
His breakthrough screen appearance was in COYOTE UGLY in 2000. Adam once again teamed up with Sir Kenneth, this time in the film remake of Agatha Christie’s MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS which opened last week. I caught up with him at the Phoenix stage door as he was returning from a break between Saturday’s performances. After signing my drawing and a brief chat about our Antipodean connections he said, “Better get back, got more demons to exorcise.”