2016 was an exceptional year for German tennis star Angelique Kerber. She won two majors, beating world number one Serena Williams in the Australian Open and Karolina Pliskova in the US Open. She also reached the Wimbledon final, with Serena reversing the Australian result.
However she amassed enough ranking points to pass Serena and take over the top spot. At the Summer Olympics Angelique won the singles silver medal. Not surprisingly, she won the WTA Player of the Year and was nominated for the prestigious Laureus Sportswomen of the Year Award. I sent this drawing to Angelique at the Aegon International in Eastbourne earlier this year and was returned this week, from her German base, signed and dedicated.
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.
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.
After a stellar junior career, 19 year-old German tennis prodigy Alexander Zverev’s rise up the senior rankings is attracting attention. While growing up he was a huge Roger Federer fan and many are predicting he will emulate his idol. Rafael Nadal said, “He is a clear possible future No.1. He has all the shots.” Tennis is in his blood. His father Alexander Snr was a professional player, representing Russia in the Davis Cup before emigrating to Hamburg, where Alex Jnr, known on the tour as ‘Sascha’ was born. Both his father and mother are now tennis coaches and his brother Mischa is also a professional player.
Alexander won the ATP Star of Tomorrow Award and is the youngest player inside the top 50 with a current ranking of 28. On the ATP website his bio describes his playing style as “punchy ground strokes, a booming serve and sauntering athleticism” The 6′ 6″ Sascha can follow up a 130 mph first serve with a 120mph second. At the pre-Wimbledon Boodles Tennis event in June this year he beat world No.1 Novak Djokovic in straight sets and signed my sketch.
The tall bandana-wearing Spanish tennis ace Carlos Moya won the French open in 1998 and was a semi-finalist at the US Open in 1998. In March the following year he climbed to No.1 in the world rankings. He also reached the Australian open final in 1997, losing to Pete Sampras. In 2004 he was part of the Spanish Davis Cup-winning team, securing victory with a win over Andy Roddick for a 3-2 scoreline.
In a fifteen year career Carlos won 20 titles and just to include a miscellaneous fact for the ardent statisticians, served 4,416 aces. A nagging foot injury ended his career in 2010 and he now runs the SD Tennis Academy in Madrid and plays on the ATP Champions Tour. He is also coaches Milos Raonic, who reached the final of Wimbledon this year, where I caught up with him after a practice session While Carlos played tennis with a potent right hand he writes left-handed and demonstrated that with his graph on my drawing.
At the age of seventeen, Tracy Austin become the youngest female tennis player to win a Grand Slam, beating Chris Evert in the 1979 US Open final. She went on to add two more Slams to her impressive 30 career titles, winning the US Open again in 1981 with a victory over Martina Navratilova and the Wimbledon Mixed Doubles with her brother John a year earlier. In that year she also won the WTA World Tour Finals, becoming World No.1 and the youngest ever inductee into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1992. Tracy was known as a solid baseliner with a strong forehand and a reliable double-fisted backhand using substantial pace and pinpoint accuracy.
Since retiring in 1994, Tracy has been a tennis commentator with a number of TV networks, including the BBC at this year’s Wimbledon Championships, where I met her outside the media centre and she signed this drawing for me.
One of the greatest tennis players of all time, American Chris Evert dominated the women’s game in the 1970’s and early 80’s. She was the first World Number 1 when the official WTA computer ranking system was instituted in 1975 and held that position year-end until 1981, winning 137 singles and 32 doubles titles in a professional career that spanned 17 years until her retirement in 1989. Her total of 260 weeks is third behind Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova. She was successful on all surfaces, especially clay, winning the French Open on seven occasions. Her 18 Grand Slam singles titles also include two Australian, three Wimbledon and six US Open victories. Chris’ winning percentage of 89.96 is the highest in the history of the Open era, men’s and women’s and on clay her 94.55% is a WTA record. She also won four World Tour Finals.
I meet Chris at this year’s Wimbledon Championships, where she has been an analyst for ESPN since 2011 and signed my sketch.