Drawing: Rafa – La Decima

Autographed drawing of tennis player Rafael Nadal celebrating La Decima, ten French Open wins

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.

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Drawing: Grigor Dimitrov – the 2017 ATP World Tour Finals Champion

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.

Drawing: Feliciano Lopez

f-lopez2

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.

Drawing: David Goffin

david-goffin

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.

Drawing: Dominic Thiem

dom-thiem

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.

Drawing: Jamie Murray

jamie-murray

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.

Drawing: Andy Murray

Andy Murray

Here’s a doozy of a dilemma for you. When the world’s top 8 men’s tennis players are walking towards you on a chilly London night on the Greenwich peninsula, dressed to the nines, heading to the O2 pier and a ferry to take them to the opening gala for the year ending ATP World Tour Finals, who do you get? Signature wise, I mean.

I had sketched them all and some of their high profile coaches – Boris Becker, Michael Chang, Amelie Mauresmo

Security warned the small group of us waiting that they were late and in a hurry. Nothing new there. I calculated that I only had a few minutes. There was one other ‘grapher in the group, the rest were after selfies – that could slow them down a fraction…

Because Andy Murray wasn’t at last year’s event, he was my top priority. In fact, I actually had two sketches of him, but he has a quick siggy and is always obliging. Mission accomplished and both signed – one even dedicated. This is the other one.

For the record, on that cold November evening I managed to get Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori, Boris Becker and Andy of course. Not a bad harvest in two minutes!

Drawing: Tomas Berdych

Thomas Berdych

One of the nicest guys in world tennis is the 6ft 5 inch Czech Tomas Berdych. Currently ranked at number seven, Tomas is known for having one of the cleanest and hardest hitting games on the ATP Tour. He has the ability to generate great pace with his serve and groundstrokes. He reached his first and only Grand Slam final at Wimbledon in 2010 after beating defending champion Roger Federer in the quarters and Novak Djokovic in the semifinal. He lost to Rafael Nadal in the final. He has reached the semifinals of all the remaining slams – Australia (2014), French (2010) and US Open (2012).

On every occasion I have met Tomas, he has always been friendly and happy to sign. At the ATP World Tour Finals at London’s O2 earlier this month was no exception and he happily signed and dedicated this sketch.

Drawing: Milos Raonic

milos raonic

Rising tennis star and world number eight Milos Raonic was born in Yugoslavia (now Montenegro) but grew up in Ontario, Canada.

The 23 year old has one of the strongest serves in the world. From his 6foot 5 inch height he served more aces per match and won a higher percentage of service games than any other player in 2012. His fastest serve has been clocked at 249.9 km/h (155.3mph) at the Roger’s Cup – which is the fifth fastest serve ever recorded. Novak Djokovic commented that Milos’ serve was, “very powerful, very precise”.

Unfortunately, Milos retired with  a thigh injury from the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 in London earlier this month before his final round-robin match with Kei Nishikori. Luckily he signed my drawing before that!

Drawing: Stan the man (Stanislas Wawrinka)

Stanislas WawrinkaWorld number 4 Stan Wawrinka narrowly lost a tense semi final against compatriot Roger Federer at the ATP World Tour Finals in London on Saturday evening.

Given the latter’s withdrawal from the final, due to a back injury sustained in the long match, many Swiss supporters may have wish a different result in hindsight.

Stan made his first Grand Slam breakthrough in January this year, beating Rafael Nadal in the final of the Australian Open. He also won a gold medal with Roger at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Both men now head to Lille to contest the Davis Cup Final against France this weekend.