Former World Tennis Number 1, Martina Hingis won her 23rd Major title on Sunday collecting the Wimbledon Mixed Doubles crown with Jamie Murray. She now has twelve women’s doubles, six mixed doubles titles from all the four Grand Slams and has won the singles on five occasions, only missing out on the French, although she was a finalist twice.
She also has an Olympic silver doubles medal from Rio in 2016. In 2005 Tennis Magazine named her the 8th greatest female tennis player of all time. Although I have collected Martina’s graph on a few occasions I didn’t have a signed sketch. Twice I had attempted but had missed the Swiss Miss. But I was lucky enough to catch her at Gate 13 a few days before this year’s Wimbledon Championships started and while she said she didn’t usually sign sketches, was happy to do so this time.
ROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTTT is the battle chant for the popular and prolific Yorkshireman cricketer and New England captain Joe Root. And there was plenty of it on the opening day of the first test again South Africa at Lords yesterday. It was a ‘dream’ start to his captaincy, scoring a majestic unbeaten century on the hallowed slope at the home of cricket.
It was his 12th test ton and once again rescuing his side from a precarious position. After winning the toss and electing to bat, England were in early trouble at 17/2 when he came to the crease, slumping further to 74/4. But at the close of play, Joe was still there on 184, guiding his team to a satisfying 357/5. However it seems it’s not unusual for English captains on debut to score a century. Joe is the sixth to achieve the feat.
One of the truly nice guys in sport, Joe always has time for his numerous fans and he signed this sketch for me after the historic ODI match against Ireland at Lords last month.
Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez makes ATP World Tour Finals debut this week at London’s O2. At 35 – which he says is 200 in tennis years – the current world No. 28 in singles teams up with fellow Spaniard and Lopez, Marc, to compete in the doubles.
They entered the Finals ranked the No.4 team, with Feliciano as the 9th best men’s doubles player on the planet. His highest ranking in the singles was No.12 last year.
Together with Marc they won this year’s French Open beating the Bryan brothers in the final. They also reached the US Open semi finals. The left-handler signed my sketch this week at the O2.
Another rising star on the men’s tennis circuit is the charming David Goffin, who is the alternate at this year’s ATP World Tour Finals at London’s O2. ‘La Goff” as he is known did play a pool match, replacing an injured Gael Monfills against Novak Djokovic yesterday.
The 25 year-old right-handler has won two ATP titles. His breakthrough year was 2012, when he missed qualification for the French Open, but gained entry as the ‘lucky loser’, ironically replacing Gael again. He reached the final 16 before being beaten by a certain Roger Federer. This year he reached the quarter finals, attaining a career high No.11, which is his current ranking.
As a diligent alternate, David has been arriving first thing each day to practice with all the players. David is proof that you don’t have be a ‘physical monster’, as the TV commentary team described him, to be a top player. There’s hope for me yet. The charming 5′ 11” Belgian signed my sketch on his arrival earlier this week.
After a stellar year, young tennis player Dominic Thiem made his debut at the year-ending ATP World Tour Finals which started this week at London’s 02 arena. In spite of struggling during the latter part of the season, his four titles earlier in 2016 and a career high ranking of 7 enabled the 23 year-old to become the youngest player in the elite eight man field. Known for his aggressive baseline play, heavy ground strokes and a rare and impressive single-handed backhand. After losing, but taking a set off former No.1 Novak Djokovic in his opening match, Dominic showed his much heralded potential with a win over the stylish Frenchman Gael Monfils in his second pool match to keep his hopes alive of making the semis later in the week. I caught up with ‘The Dominator,’ as he’s nicknamed when he arrived from the clipper at the Greenwich Peninsula pier on Monday. The likeable and humble Austrian liked the drawing and was happy to sign and dedicate it for me.
It’s the ATP World Tour Finals time again and my chance to gather another harvest of signed tennis drawings. My first post is the older half of ‘the first family of British Tennis’, Jamie Murray, who along with younger brother, singles numerous uno Andy could both claim the year-end No 1 doubles and singles spots by end of this week.
Along with his Brazilian partner Bruno Soares, the thirty-year old Scottish left-handler has had an exceptional year, winning both the Australian and US Open titles. His other previous Grand Slam win was the Wimbledon Mixed Doubles with Jelena Jankovic in 2007. In spite of their 2016 success, Jamie and Bruno came into this Tour Finals seeded number 2, but after remaining unbeaten after two rounds have put themselves in the driving seat to take the title and end the year at the top men’s doubles rankings. Earlier in the year Jamie reached the doubles No 1 individual spot in the doubles but is currently No 4. He arrived at London’s 02 early yesterday for his match with the legendary Bryan brothers and said “Nice one” as he signed this sketch it for me.
“The method was identical,the timing was superb and the spectators at long-on are now an endangered species,” said Channel 9 commentator Frank Tyson, describing New Zealand’s crowd-pleasing Lance Cairns batting heroics against the old foe Australia at the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground on a hot February afternoon in 1983. It was the final of the World Series Cup, Lance carried more of a wooden club than a bat, with cutaway shoulders and a massive blade, which became known as ‘Excalibur’ The veteran all-rounder hit six 6’s in ten balls, including a one-handed hit to the longest boundary in one of the world’s biggest sporting stadiums of the legendary Aussie quick Dennis Lillie. NZ may have lost the match and the series but few overseas players ever receive such sustained acclaim for a performance against the home side as Sir Lancelot did that day.
He probably didn’t hear much of it since he has been profoundly deaf since the age of 17, but I’m sure he was aware of the adulation that is still spoken about today. The following month back in NZ he hit the English spinners to all parts of the ground, including a gigantic six at the Basin Reserve in Wellington that cleared the inner-city ground and sailed down the street never to be seen again.
His bowling style was unique-an awkward wrong footed right arm ‘Harvey the helicopter’ delivery action that he thought was orthodox, but it produced big lethal medium quick in-swingers that harvested a lot of wickets. I have captured the just before release in this sketch which was part of a series of the best 11 NZ cricketers I did in 1991 and all signed through the mail for me. I have described the energetic biro technique before as the ‘epileptic expressionism’… more scribble than careful draftsmanship, but as Jackson Pollock said “technique is just a means of arriving at a statement.”
Back in the early 1990’s I did a series of NZ cricketers, essentially the best kiwi 11 that had played the game to that point. I adopted what could be best described as an ‘epileptic biro’ rendering technique, which only lasted momentarily. One of the first picked was Bert Sutcliffe, the legendary left-handed batsman who was named one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year for his outstanding achievements during their tour of England in 1949. He was later to be named as NZ Champion Sportsperson of the 1940’s Decade in 2000. However it was one particular innings that has engraved Bert into kiwi folklore.
It was Christmas Eve,1953 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. NZ was being routed by the South African fast bowler Neil Adcock on a very green wicket. Bert suffered a near fatal blow to the head and was taken to hospital. But he returned swathed in a large head bandage to continue his innings.It was an injury that would affect him for the rest of his life. He later said, “I must confess I was fortified to some extent by a generous helping of Scotland’s chief product… and I don’t mean porridge.”
Another sombre event affected the team that day. Back in NZ, 151 people lost their lives on the Overnight Express passenger train which was derailed when the Whangaehu river bridge collapsed at Tangiwai. NZ bowler Bob Blair’s fiance, Nerissa Love was one of them. He was too distraught to play, so stayed back at the hotel. When the ninth wicket fell, Bert was unbeaten and started to leave the field. Then Bob appeared, walking to the middle. 23,000 spectators fell silent, not a dry eye on or off the field.
It was one of the most poignant days in the history of sport and Bert’s words to the grieving youngster have been immortalized in what has been regarded as one of the defining chapters in NZ sport, “C’mon son this is no place for you. Let’s swing the bat at the ball and get out of here.” And that they did, putting on 33 in ten minutes before Bob was dismissed, leaving Bert on 80 not out. He passed away in 2001 at the age of 77.
This David Gower caricature was the final cross-hatching experimentation in my series of English cricketers who toured New Zealand in the summer of 1991/92. Considered as one of the most stylish and prolific batsman that has ever played the game, ‘Lord Gower’ recorded an impressive First Class record, accumulating over 26,000 runs at an average of 40.08, including 53 centuries, 18 of which were scored in Test matches, including his top total of 215 against Australia at Edgbaston during the 1985 Ashes series.
The former England captain was described by Wisden as “fluffy haired, ethereal looking, who payed beautifully until the moment he made a mistake, but somehow the mistake was put off long enough for him to play an innings of unforgettable brilliance.” He was often criticised by the media for being too laid back and nonchalant Peter Roebuck to remark “Gower ne’er moves, he drifts,” and France Edmonds in the Daily Express wrote,” it’s difficult to be more laid back without being actually comatose.”
These days he leads the Sky Sports commentary team in his usual stylish and relaxed manner.