Auger-Aliassime Joins Ultimate Tennis Showdown

WASHINGTON, May 29, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime, currently ranked No. 20, has been added to the draw for the first edition of the Ultimate Tennis Showdown, an invitation-only tournament that international coach and broadcaster Patrick Mouratoglou is setting up for next month at his Mouratoglou Tennis Academy, near Nice, France.

Auger-Aliassime, who was a finalist earlier this year at Rotterdam and Marseille, joins ATP Top 20 players David Goffin of Belgium, ranked No. 10, and No. 11 Fabio Fognini from Italy. Also committed are: No. 58 Lucas Pouille of France, No. 103 Alexei Popyrin of Australia and No. 239 Dustin Brown from Germany.

The final three UTS entrants will be announced by the beginning of the competition that is scheduled to take place June 13-14.

Nike: Never Too Far Down …

Iconic American apparel brand Nike knows we all love a feel good comeback story. This week, it released a new 90-second spot, “Never Too Far Down,” which features a trinity of Grand Slam tennis stars – Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal and Naomi Osaka.

Narrated by NBA superstar LeBron James and also featuring pro golf star Tiger Woods and NBA star Paul George, there’s a can-do theme to the spot. Near its climatic ending, James voices: “Right now, we’re fighting for something much bigger than a win or a championship. But if we learn anything from sports, that no matter how far down we may be, we’re never too far down to come back.”

Lacoste: In honor of volunteers on the front line 

In honor of volunteers on the front line, Lacoste, the casual luxury brand that embodies French elegance, is donating the entire sales from its L12.12 Merci Polo to partners including the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world. Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Gustavo Kuerten are among those who are featured in a promotional Lacoste video.

Tying the knot – David Goffin 

On the cover of Paris Match Belgique

Mary Pierce: Twenty years ago …

Frenchwoman Mary Pierce won the 2000 Roland Garros women’s singles title. She is tweeting about her memorable French Open fortnight run.

Behind The Racquet – Alex de Minaur

Ask Alex de Minaur and he will tell you that tennis is “a battle of its own.” As the #NextGenATP rising star from Australia, currently ranked No. 26 after reaching a career-high of 18th last October, wrote in a first-person essay for the Instagram series Behind The Racquet last year, “the amount of things you have to do to prepare for matches is unbelievable, even when you are in the right head space.

I was speaking to my psychologist about once a month,” de Minaur wrote last September. “I had an unbelievable year last year (2018). He had to sit me down to let me know that what I thought was unbelievable, was going to lead to new stresses. He told me the work we were doing wasn’t enough. We actually had to do much more because what’s coming up was tougher than you can ever imagine. The expectations that came with backing up a big year led to a lot of difficulty.”

De Minaur began the 2018 season ranked No. 208 and finished as one of two teenagers (Denis Shapovalov was the other) ranked in the Top 100. Then, in 2019, he enjoyed a breakout year by winning three outdoor titles – Sydney, Atlanta and Zhuhai. The Aussie has finished runner up in each of the past two Next Gen ATP Finals. In an abbreviated 2020 season, de Minaur is 2-3 and hasn’t played since late February in Acapulco.

De Minaur has continued his conversations with his psychologist. “I now talk to him almost every day on the phone,” he wrote. “I have a tendency to have high expectations for myself and if I don’t achieve it, that’s when I get pissed off at myself. He tries to bring out a level of calmness and enjoyment, which is when I play my best tennis. For me it has been about dealing with my problems upfront. I’ve tried to bottle up many different emotions. I couldn’t handle it anymore. The best thing that has happened to me was seeing a psychologist. I am just excited to get back to a place that I lost for a while; Happiness.”

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“I had to be sidelined during my injury. I was expecting myself to come back at the same level, but ended up not being able to win a match for a fair bit. You start to doubt it all and ask yourself, “Jeez, what am I doing here? Why am I traveling?” It feels like there’s no positives. You’re traveling, away from home and you start to look at only the negatives. It takes so much effort to get yourself back into a positive head space going into the next tournament, until you lose first round again and it takes an even bigger toll. At Queens this year, after I lost my match, I didn’t want to get out of my room for a day. I finished at like 4:00 PM, went to Tescos and I bought five packets of lollies, chocolate and a Coke. I didn’t talk to anyone until midday the next day. That’s when you know you’re in a bad head space. The main thing that I realized is that anything that happens, on and off the court, highly affects you every time you play. I realized that I had to deal with my problems off-court first, to truly be able to focus solely on tennis. Tennis is a battle of its own. The amount of things you have to do to prepare for matches is unbelievable, even when you are in the right head space. I was speaking to my psychologist about once a month. I had an unbelievable year last year. He had to sit me down to let me know that what I thought was unbelievable, was going to lead to new stresses. He told me the work we were doing wasn’t enough. We actually had to do much more because what’s coming up was tougher than you can ever imagine. The expectations that came with backing up a big year led to a lot of difficulty. I now talk to him almost every day on the phone. I have a tendency to have high expectations for myself and if I don’t achieve it, that’s when I get pissed off at myself. He tries to bring out a level of calmness and enjoyment, which is when I play my best tennis. For me it has been about dealing with my problems upfront. I’ve tried to bottle up many different emotions. I couldn’t handle it anymore. The best thing that has happened to me was seeing a psychologist. I am just excited to get back to a place that I lost for a while; Happiness.” @alexdeminaur

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