Nicknamed ‘The Scud’ because his serve was once regarded as one of the fastest in the game, resembling a scud missile, retired Australian tennis ace Mark Philippoussis returned to London’s Royal Albert Hall last week for this years final Champions Tour event.
While he didn’t win a Grand Slam, he did reach the final of the US Open, losing to compatriot Pat Rafter in 1998 and Wimbledon in 2003 where he was beaten by Roger Federer. He won 11 career titles and reached No. 8 in the world rankings in 1999. Mark was also instrumental in Australia winning the Davis Cup in that year and again in 2003, winning both deciding rubbers.
He signed my sketch at the RAH stage door last Thursday evening before his opening match with former No.1 Juan Carlos Ferrero.
English all rounder Dannielle Wyatt made history in Canberra last week as England achieved the highest successful run chase in the history of Women’s T20 Internationals to beat Australia and draw the Ashes series. Her brilliant century, off just 57 balls was the first by an English women in T20’s. It included 13 fours and two sixes, winning her the player-of-the-match award. Chasing an impressive 178 by the hosts, England were quickly in trouble at 30/3, but ‘devastating Danni’ and captain Heather Knight put on a 139-run fourth-wicket partnership to set up the win and earn a 2-1 victory in the T20 matches and an 8-all draw in the overall series.
Twenty-six year-old Danni has been with the England team for the past seven years since her March 2010 debut in Mumbai. She was part the World Cup-winning national squad which beat India in the Final at Lords earlier this year. Her domestic T20 team, the Southern Vipers also reached the final of the Kia Super League in September, in Hove where she signed this drawing for me.
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.
British golfer Charley Hull is one of the rising stars on the women’s International golf scene. Introduced to the game at the age of two, the twenty-one year old turned professional in 2013, becoming the youngest player to compete in the Solheim Cup. She was part of the first European squad to win on US soil and was named Rookie of the Year She was also voted Best Newcomer by the Sports Journalists Association. In 2014 Charley became a champion on the European circuit before the age of 18 and was named the European Ladies Player of the Year. Last year she won the prestigious season-ending CME Group Tour Championship. Charley signed this sketch for me while competing at the Scottish Open at the Dundonald Links in Ayr in July.
Twenty-two year old American professional golfer Lexi Thompson is currently ranked Number 3 in the world. When she was 12 she was the youngest golfer ever to qualify for the US Women’s Open and in 2011 she become the youngest winner of an LPGA Tournament collecting the Navistar LPGA Classic title at sixteen years of age. Four years later Lexi won her first Major at the Nabisco Championships. She also finished in the top three at two other majors in 2015 with a second at the Evian and a third at the PGA. I sent this drawing to Lexi at this year’s British Women’s Open at the Kingsbarnes Golf Links in Fife, Scotland and it came back signed.