The season-ending ATP Finals at London’s O2 Arena gathers the world’s top men’s tennis players in singles and doubles in the final showdown of the year. The top 8 ranked singles players were all present this year plus two alternates in case of injury. They are not always the No. 9 and 10 ranked players, but this year was an exception.
Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut and the flamboyant Frenchman Gael Monfils filed the reserve positions respectively. It can be a thankless task, practicing everyday and staying match fit, but not getting to play a match in the unique arena. At the time of writing with one day to go in the pool play before the weekend’s semis and final, neither alternates have been required. Oh, they do get paid for the week’s work – $US116,000 and if they did get to play and win a match, then an extra $US215,000 is deposited into their bank account.
It’s been a great year for Roberto. At 31 and given the young ages of half the field, he’s almost in the veteran category. The quick counterpuncher with a consistent all-court game with nine ATP tour titles broke into the world’s top 10 for the first time, with an impressive set of results, winning the Qatar Open and reaching the quarters at the Australian Open and the semi-finals at Wimbledon.
He signed my drawing yesterday after arriving at the North Greenwich pier for yet another practice session, resigned to the fact he probably wasn’t going to get a match, but knowing he’s finished the season as the 9th best male player on the planet.
The 23 year-old Italian tennis player Matteo Berrettini was ranked outside the top 50 men’s single players at the beginning of the year, but played his way up the rankings to become world No. 8 and secure the last spot in the singles field at this years ATP Finals at London’s O2.
The tall, all-court player with a strong serve and forehand had his dazzling momentum momentarily stopped during Wimbledon, after making it to the second week, only to meet Roger Federer, who dismantled the young Roman in little over an hour. While congratulating him at the net, Matteo jokingly said to the Swiss maestro, “Thanks for the tennis lesson, how much do I owe you?” He obviously was a good student and learnt fast.
In only his second full year on the ATP Tour he has won three singles and two doubles titles and reached the semis at this years US Open, losing to eventual winner Rafa Nadal.
Matteo signed my sketch outside the O2 Arena before the team photo was taken last Friday.
Rising tennis star Daniil Medvedev is one of four singles players, 23 years of age and under at this year’s season-ending ATP Finals at London’s O2 Arena. The 6′ 6″ Moscow-born right-hander with a double-handed backhand possesses superior lateral movement and excels from the back of the court.
He is currently ranked No. 4 in the world, reaching six consecutive tournament finals this year, winning 29 of his past 34 matches including his first two ATP Masters 1000 titles in Cincinnati and Shanghai, a crown on his home soil in St Petersburg and a maiden Grand Slam Final at the US Open, losing to Rafa Nadal in five sets.
Daniil signed my sketch last Friday after the team photo was taken outside the O2 Arena.
Half the singles players in this years ATP Finals at London’s O2 Arena are under the age of 23. The youngest is 21 year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas from Greece, who is currently ranked No. 6 in the world. The tall, aggressive baseliner won his opening pool match yesterday against fellow Finals debutant and even taller Daniil Medvedev, the first time he has beaten the Russian in six match-ups.
Born into a tennis family in Athens, Stefanos started taking lessons at the age of six, becoming the worlds No. 1 junior. In 2016 he won the Wimbledon Championships Boys’ Doubles title with Estonia’s Kenneth Raisma. Last year he won the Next Gen ATP Finals and reached three tour-level finals, winning his first title at the Stockholm Open. This year he reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open and reached No. 5 in the ATP world rankings.
Stefanos signed my sketch after a practice session last Thursday at the O2 Arena.
The season-ending ATP Finals are underway at London’s O2 Arena. It’s the 50th edition of the singles tournament with the top 8 ranked men’s players participating. The one and only Roger Federer holds the record for the most appearances. He has made 17 consecutively since 2002, winning a record six.
The thirty-eight year-old, often nicknamed G.O.A.T – Greatest of all-time – holds the third highest number of Guinness world records within one discipline with 30, 18 performance based, including 20 grand Slam titles. Eight of those are Wimbledon Championships, winning his last in 2017 with a victory over Marin Cilic in yet another record-breaking 11th appearance in a men’s singles Final, surpassing the seven won by Pete Sampras and William Renshaw. His sponsors at the time, Nike, designed a commemorative logo incorporating the numeral 8 into his christian name.
Jimmy Conners is quoted, “In an era of specialists, you’re either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist or a hard court specialist… or you’re Roger Federer.”
Roger signed my sketch last Friday before a photo call and media sessions at the O2 Arena.
Neil Simon’s THE GOODBYE GIRL remains one of my all-time favourite films because of his script and its delivery. The 1977 film, directed by Herbert Ross about an odd trio thrown together in “one of life’s little jests,” features Marsha Mason as Paula McFadden, a former Broadway dancer bringing up her ten year-old daughter Lucy (Quinn Cummings) when a struggling actor, Elliot Garfield (Richard Dreyfuss) arrives at their New York apartment in the middle of the night, because Paula’s ex-lover has fled to Europe, subletting it… without telling her.
The film was a critical and commercial success with Richard winning the Best Actor Oscar, BAFTA and a Golden Globe. Marsha was also nominated for all three awards, winning the Globe. Her Actress in a Leading Role Academy Award nom was her second of four.
She had previously been acknowledged for her Golden Globe winning performance as prostitute Maggie Paul in CINDERELLA LIBERTY (1973). She played actresses Jennie MacLaine in CHAPTER TWO (1979) and Georgina Hines in ONLY WHEN I LAUGH (1981), receiving Oscar nominations for both. They were written by Neil Simon, who was her husband at the time. Marsha will be familiar to fans of the sitcom FRASIER, in which she had a recurring role as the fun-loving, brash and crass bartender Sherry Dempsey in the late 1990’s, receiving an Emmy nomination.
I sent this GOODBYE GIRL montage of Marsha to her Connecticut home a few weeks ago after my wife and I watched the film for the millionth time, and she kindly signed and returned it to me.
British actor Matt Smith made his name on the stage before becoming the youngest and eleventh incarnation of the Doctor (2010-2014) in the long-running BBC television series DOCTOR WHO, winning two National TV Awards and a BAFTA nomination. He has returned to the London boards in the revival of LUNGS alongside his THE CROWN co-star Claire Foy at the Old Vic. They play a nameless couple wrestling with the planet’s biggest dilemmas. While shopping in Ikea, he mentions the idea of having a baby which unleashes an absurd hour of verbal fireworks.
He made his West End debut playing Guy in the world premiere of the stage adaption of the dark comedy-drama SWIMMING WITH SHARKS at the Vaudeville Theatre in October 2007 opposite Christian Slater. A year later he won acclaim and an Evening Standard Award for his performance as Henry, an aspiring artist who left school to care for his mother in Polly Stenham’s THAT FACE at the Royal Court Theatre, before a West End transfer. The cast were nominated for an Olivier Award.
After leaving DOCTOR WHO, Matt returned to the stage in another world premiere. He played the sociopathic investment banker Patrick Bateman who embarks on a deadly journey as a Manhattan serial killer in Rupert Goold’s musical adaption of the 2000 film AMERICAN PSYCHO in the winter of 2013. The season sold out and was extended.
Matt kindly signed my drawing of him as Patrick Bateman, which I had been carrying around in my folder for the past six years, after a LUNGS rehearsal session at the Old Vic stage door.
Claire Foy has returned to the London stage for the first time after her acclaimed portrayal of Lady Macbeth opposite James McAvoy’s MACBETH at the Trafalgar Studios in 2013. She reunites with her THE CROWN on-screen husband Matt Smith in Matthew Warchus’s revival of Duncan MacMillian’s hilarious two-hander LUNGS at the Old Vic for a short run, which ends this Saturday. They play an unnamed couple freaking out over what to do with their lives in the face of imminent climate catastrophe.
After being nominated for a BAFTA for her performance as the ill-fated queen Anne Boleyn in the BBC television serial WOLF HALL (2015), Claire received further international recognition for her role as the young Queen Elizabeth II in the first two seasons of Peter Morgan’s Netflix series THE CROWN opposite Matt, who played her consort, Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, winning a Golden Globe, an Emmy and two SAG Awards. She was also BAFTA nominated as she was for her performance as Neil Armstrong’s wife Janet in Damien Chazelle’s 2018 biopic FIRST MAN.
In his TimeOut review, Andrzej Lukowski wrote, “Claire Foy and Matt Smith are magnetic in this big stage outing.”
Claire kindly signed this sketch for me during rehearsals at the Old Vic.
Autographed drawing of actor Anette Bening
Annette Bening has received four Academy Award nominations. Her first was for her supporting role as Myra Langtry in the new-noir crime drama THE GRIFTERS (1990). She also received a BAFTA nomination. Nine years later, she appeared as Carolyn Burnham in the Best Picture winner, AMERICAN BEAUTY, earning her second nom and first for Best Actress. She did win two SAG awards-one as Best Actress and the other as a member of the cast and collected the Best Actress BAFTA. Her third Oscar nomination was for her portrayal as the popular, but disillusioned theatre actress Julia Lambert in BEING JULIA (2004), winning a Golden Globe. Her last Academy recognition was for the 2010 comedy drama about a same-sex couple raising two teenagers, THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT. Once again she won a Globe.
Many Marvel fans will know her as Supreme Intelligence and Mar-vell/Wendy Lawson in the CAPTAIN MARVEL films and was a guest at this years BFI London Film Festival, attending the Gala screening of her latest movie about the CIA’s post 9/11 detention and interrogation Programme, THE REPORT, in which she plays Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Annette has also been nominated for an Emmy for her portrayal of Jean Harris in the 2005 TV movie MRS HARRIS. She began her acting career on the stage and earlier this year returned to Broadway after a 32 year absence as Kate Keller in Arthur Miller’s ALL MY SONS, receiving a Tony Award nomination, to go with the her first in 1987, as photographer Holly Dancer in COASTAL DISTURBANCES.
Annette kindly signed my portrait montage I sent to the American Airlines Theatre in New York, during the ALL MY SONS run in May this year.
Al Pacino joined Robert DeNiro and director Martin Scorsese on Sunday 13 October at the Closing Night Gala screenings of THE IRISHMAN, an epic saga of organised crime in America, at both the Odeon Luxe in Leicester Square and the Embankment Garden Cinema. While it’s not the first time the bona fide acting legends have worked together it is, surprisingly, the first movie Al has done with Marty. He has known Robert since 1968, appearing together in a handful of memorable films, beginning with the second instalment of Francis Ford Coppola’s THE GODFATHER trilogy in 1974.
THE IRISHMAN centres on Robert’s title character, a reminiscing geriatric union official and New York hitman Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran and his involvement in the disappearance of powerful Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa played by Al.
Accolades have been frequent during Al’s five decade career. In a 2003 Channel 4 poll, British TV viewers voted him the greatest film star of all time. He is one of the few to win the triple crown of acting-a competitive Oscar, Emmy and Tony. His single Oscar win (from eight nominations) was for his portrayal of blind and medically retired Army Officer Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade in SCENT OF A WOMAN (1993). He also received the Best Actor BAFTA in 1976 for his roles as bank robber Sonny Wortzik in DOG DAY AFTERNOON and Michael Corleone, the crime family’s Don in THE GODFTHER PART II.
His two Emmys were for his portrayal of lawyer Roy Cohn in ANGELS IN AMERICA (2004) , which also won him a Golden Globe and Dr Jack Kevorkian in YOU DON’T KNOW JACK (2010) collecting a SAG Award as well. His double Tony wins were for his role as Bickham, a teenage drug addict in DOES A TIGER WEAR A NECKTIE (1969) and eight years later for the title role as a Vietnam soldier in THE BASIC TRAINING OF PAVLO HUMMEL. Al also received a Director’s Guild Award for the documentary LOOKING FOR RICHARD in 1997.
If critical response is any indication, his portrayal of Jimmy Hoffa will see additions to his trophy collection. The first was collected last night for Best Supporting Actor at the Hollywood Film Awards in Santa Monica.
Al signed for me as he was leaving the Corinthia Hotel in London on his way to the Gala screenings.