WASHINGTON, May 21, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)
Eurosport has launched “Hanging Out With Babsi,” a new Instagram Live series hosted by former Austrian pro Barbara Schett-Eagle, who resides with her family in Queensland, Australia. On Wednesday’s debut, Schett interviewed rising Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas, seen shuttering at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in the south of France, on how he’s been keeping busy during the pro tennis shutdown.
“I was lucky enough to have this place open to me to be able to practice even during lockdown,” said Tsitsipas, currently ranked No. 6 in the world. “I’ve been in a very safe environment. No people were coming in. No people were coming out. During lockdown, I’ve been staying in shape, going through a daily routine. I also have my team, which is important to me.
“I’m trying to stay creative besides tennis and besides fitness with the space we have here. I have been pretty privileged to have access to all of this.”
The 21-year-old Tsitsipas has been sharing time with his family during the lockdown. They are a close-knit group. The nearly hour-long Instagram Live chat, which has received over 12,500 views by Wednesday evening, also included a guest cameo by Tsitsipas’s mother, Julia. She revealed that she once faced Schett-Eagle in a match – and lost – near the beginning of the Austrian’s career, and also shared a lesson in Greek cooking with her son and host.
View this post on Instagram
Among the interview highlights:
Tsitsipas was asked how difficult it has been finding the right balance during the hiatus from playing competitive tennis. He said:
“It’s tough, I don’t think about the future. I practice every day. Of course, I don’t really put 100 percent, but at the same time I am gradually getting better. It is important to get better and to understand what things have been working right and what other things you can improve and get better at. It is a process. You have so much time in front of you. You aren’t aware when things are going to get back to normal. Right now, I am taking it easy. I’m not pushing myself to the limit and I’m resting and also not doing nothing. It is a good contrast.” Tsitsipas said his practices are typical 90 minutes long followed by an hour of fitness and time with treatments and physio, and he’s enjoying walking.”
On discovering new things about himself:
“Life is pretty different being in a lockdown. It feels very weird not really engaging with people (in person) where you can hang out – the daily interaction – and that’s something I miss. I miss not having to go somewhere. I miss the competition. Traveling and competing gives you another dimension of life.”
On being in lockdown:
“I think it’s important that this has happened. I believe we should put people in lockdown once a year just because it’s good for nature, for our planet. I believe this is going to be environmentally beneficial. I’m with it … for the world to be in a better place.”
“Life is such a hustle. You never really have time to be with your family, to connect with your family – and now is the perfect opportunity to do so.”
On his next YouTube “Vlog” project:
“How to stay human using telephones in the 21st century” – Tsitsipas said: “There are about 15 things that will help you stay sane and human. Social media keeps us connected yet we are also alone. … Think about the old days staying connected without social media.”
On his favorite tennis tournament:
“My favorite tennis tournament is Laver Cup. Team Europe!” he says with a big smile. “I love the vibes at Laver Cup. We are so connected, trying to represent our continent. It is just so magical being on the same team with Roger and Rafa. It has been a great experience for me, a dream come true for sure.
“Playing for your country is one thing, but playing for Team Europe, if you just sit down and think about it … you are one of the best players in the continent. … You get to be chosen as one of the top tennis players in Europe, you compete for your continent – and that’s such a pride. It adds up so much to your value, it makes you feel very emotional.”
Behind The Racquet – Pablo Andújar
Tennis was all consuming for Spain’s Pablo Andújar – his life – until the birth of his children. Then it all changed for the 53rd-ranked native of Valencia. “My life is my family and kids,” he wrote in a first-person essay for the Instagram series Behind The Racquet last month. “At times it could be a negative thing for tennis like when I practice or focus less on just tennis.
“When you have other important things in life it is a huge relief from the pressures of tennis and allows yo to enjoy tennis like you once did. People usually think that having a family will always be a negative but it isn’t. Even if you don’t have as much time as before, when you are training you giving it your all and are more focused than ever before.”
Last year, Andújar split his time between the ATP Tour and Challenger Tour. In tour-level competition, he compiled a 14-18 win-loss record, while on the Challenger circuit, he posted a solid 19-2 record – winning 16 consecutive matches – and captured three titles.
“The only goal I have had on court, since 2018, is to stay healthy. I work day by day trying to prevent those injuries.” (Andújar underwent three elbow surgeries.) “Of course there are days I train my forehand, backhand or serve but my main goal is health. I play for my family. I would like to play long enough for my oldest son to watch me and enjoy tennis. For now he only knows tennis. As what takes me away from him. What I would love more than anything for my tennis is to be the one that decides the end of my tennis career, not any injury.”
View this post on Instagram
“My doctor at home in Valencia went a different path than the other I saw. They were focusing on the tendon when it may be a nerve problem. During my last surgery time I remember speaking to my wife and telling her this is the last one. It began to feel better and better from April to January 2018. I was happy when I began the new year. There was still a bit pain but it wasn’t the same pain I was used to. During my battle with injuries it was getting tougher for me mentally every day. There were many times throughout it where I thought I would end my career. In July of 2017 my eldest son was born. It helped change my mentality and my vision was different which relieved me from a lot of pressure. The birth of my child was one of the most positive things for my career. It gave me a better outlook. I felt a positive feeling in 2018. I decided to travel with a coach and a physio, which I haven’t done together before. I told myself that it’s okay if it doesn’t work but I want to be the one that does all the right things and then decide if it works or not. We were lucky that it did. I mean this; tennis was my life until the birth of my kids. My life is my family and kids. At times it could be a negative thing for tennis like when I practice or focus less on just tennis. When you have other important things in life it is a huge relief from the pressures of tennis and allows you to enjoy tennis like you once did. People usually think that having a family will always be a negative but it isn’t. Even if you don’t have as much time as before, when you are training you giving it your all and are more focused than ever before. The only goal I have had on court, since 2018, is to stay healthy. I work day by day trying to prevent those injuries. My main goal is health. I play for my family. I would like to play long enough for my oldest son to watch me and enjoy tennis. For now he only knows tennis as what takes me away from him. What I would love more than anything for my tennis is to be the one that decides the end of my tennis career, not any injury.” @pabloandujaroficial Go to behindtheracquet.com for extended stories, podcast and merch.
What they’re writing
Stuart Fraser, The Times of London tennis correspondent, from “Wimbledon success gives LTA a welcome boost”: “The All England Club made a record annual payment to the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) of more than £50 million for the first time after the championships at Wimbledon last year made ‘an improved financial performance’.
“The latest set of annual accounts published by the LTA showed that revenue received from Wimbledon in 2019 totaled £52.1 million, up £11.3 million from the previous year. The figure includes a surplus of £45.7 million, as part of the long-standing agreement that sees the governing body of British tennis receive 90 per cent of the All England Club’s annual profits, and additional contributions towards other grass-court tournaments and the services of umpires and line judges.”
Wimbledon’s success has helped the LTA post an operating profit for the first time since 2015.
What they’re tweeting
Christopher Clarey, New York Times tennis correspondent, on former World 24 Jamie Hampton, who announced her retirement this week:
One of the most talented tennis players of her generation. Ranked No. 24 in 2013 before injury after injury knocked her back. That it took seven more years and many surgeries for Jamie to officially retire speaks volumes about her love of the game. She deserved better https://t.co/fZPyC9BKIk
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) May 20, 2020
What they’re podcasting
The Craig Shapiro Tennis Podcast: On the latest episode, the host talks all things tennis with Barbora Strycova.
— Craig Shapiro (@Shaptennispod) May 20, 2020
What they’re sharing on social media
Stefanos Tsitsipas, Greece / We’re all in this together …
View this post on Instagram
Daria Kasatkina, Russia / Tik-Tok: On my way to US Open 2020 …
— Daria Kasatkina (@DKasatkina) May 18, 2020
Nikolaz Basilashvili, Georgia / Always the crowd pleaser …
Nikoloz Basilashvili is always a crowd pleaser 🎤🤣
— Davis Cup (@DavisCup) May 19, 2020