Rafael Nadal once described tennis as “a sport of the mind” while Novak Djokovic likes to call it “a mental game”.
They act as a perfect description for the often wavering game of Alexander Zverev, who can go from outclassing the world’s best players and winning Olympic gold to being unable to land a serve in.
When he last faced Andy Murray at the Cincinnati Masters last August, the German’s second serve almost completely vanished as a useable shot.
He has had worse capitulations with ball in hand on the service line but the hope for Murray when the pair meet again in the third round of Indian Wells on Tuesday night is that memories of that encounter still weigh heavily on his opponent.
There have been positive signs of the physical rather than mental rebirth of Murray in recent weeks – his fightback to beat one of the game’s rising stars in Carlos Alcaraz in the previous round a particularly pleasing tonic to some previously tough defeats.
But he faces a step-up against Zverev, the No3 seed and a recent US Open semi-finalist.
Casting his mind back to their last encounter, Murray said: “The match that we played last year, I’m not saying he was playing his best tennis at that stage but he did make the final of the US Open a couple of weeks later.
“I wasn’t physically feeling particularly good and did not play particularly well but managed to win. From that perspective, I can gain confidence knowing that, if I play a really good match, I’ll be in there with a shot. He’ll certainly go in as the overwhelming favourite but, if I play a high-level match, I’ll be right in there.”
With relatively little tennis in his legs compared to the likes of Zverev in recent months, the question is always around Murray backing up a good result as against Alcaraz. Too often against higher-ranked opponents, being match shy he has understandably faded – but the confidence is building.
“I’m starting to get there again and get to a level where it wouldn’t surprise me if I won a tournament,” he said. “Playing with a metal hip is not easy but I do genuinely believe that I can win tournaments again and have big results against top players.”
Murray readily admits he and Zverev are not “best friends” ahead of their meeting and had pushed the ATP to create a domestic abuse policy, which has since been adopted.
For his part, Zverev welcomed that same move amid an investigation into allegations of abuse by his ex-girlfriend Olya Sharypova, which he vehemently denies.
Cameron Norrie, meanwhile, continued his fine 2021 as he knocked out Roberto Bautista Agut in a third-round match that went late into the California night.
The British No2 beat the Spanish No15 seed 6-4 5-7 6-3 to set up a last-16 encounter against Tommy Paul, who was a surprise three-set winner over fourth seed Andrey Rublev.
Dan Evans, meanwhile, let slip a one-set 4-2 lead as he lost 10 subsequent games against Diego Schwartzman in a 5-7 6-4 6-0 defeat.
‘If Roger Federer, Nadal and Djokovic hadn’t existed…’, says ATP ace
The Big 3 have dominated the last decade and a half of this sport, as well as having collected as many as 60 Grand Slam titles. Many believe that their opponents were unlucky to happen in this era, not having had the chance to win as much as they deserved.
Andy Murray has been for many years the most valid alternative to the domination of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, so much so that he hoisted himself at the top of the ATP ranking in 2016. The Scottish phenomenon boasts three Majors in his palmarés, without forgetting his triumph at the Finals five years ago.
Injuries have affected the Brit’s career in recent seasons, having brought him one step away from retirement before his lifesaving hip operation. Although he has not managed to reach the same level as in the past, the former world number 1 is back to having fun on the tennis court and can still take away some satisfaction.
In an interview given during the Antwerp tournament, Murray was asked if he was happy to play at the same time as Roger, Rafa and Nole.
Andy Murray on the Big 3
“Do I regret being born at the same time as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic? It’s a difficult question,” Murray said.
“Obviously, on the one hand, I regret it because I tell myself that I could have won a lot more if they hadn’t been there or if I had been 5 or 6 years younger. I would have had more opportunities. On the other hand, I had the opportunity to play and challenge the best players in history in the biggest tournaments.”
The Scot believes that facing such high-quality opposition in so many big matches helped him improve as a player. “I was able to face Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros, Roger Federer at Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open and the US Open and always in the final, even at the Olympic Games,” Murray said.
“I obviously did not win all these meetings but I won a few. I feel lucky to have been able to play against them, they allowed me to improve by setting the bar so high.” Andy Murray was also asked which young players were most likely to dominate the tour in the years to come.
“For me, right now, Medvedev is best equipped to win on hard,” Murray said. “He just won the US Open, but before that his hard results were excellent. I think his game is more complete than the others, (but) on clay it’s hard to say.”
Naomi Osaka cries after question from ‘bully’ reporter in first press conference since French Open media flap
Nearly three months after her French Open media blackout prompted a firestorm and debates about media and mental health, Naomi Osaka returned to the press conference stage for the first time on Monday.
She broke down in tears.
The four-time Grand Slam champion spoke with reporters ahead of this week’s Western & Southern Open, where she has pledged any and all of her winnings from the tournament to Haiti earthquake relief.
She immediately faced questioning about her relationship with media from the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Paul Daugherty, who prefaced his question by declaring “you’re not crazy about dealing with us … yet you have a lot of outside interests that are served by having a media platform.” He then asked, “how do you balance the two?”
“That’s interesting,” Osaka said after asking for clarification on what Daugherty meant by “I’m not crazy about dealing with you guys.”
“… I would say the occasion, like when to do the press conference is what I feel is the most difficult.”
She then paused to gather her thoughts.
“I’m actually very interested in that point of view,” she continued after the moderator asked if she’d like to move on. “For me I feel like this is something that I can’t really speak for everybody, I can only speak for myself. But ever since I was younger, I’ve had a lot of media interest on me, and I think it’s because of my background as well as how I play.
“But I would also say, I’m not really sure how to balance it too, I’m figuring it out at the same time as you are, I would say.”
As another reporter asked about tennis and her Haiti pledge (3:45 above), Osaka started to cry. She then took a break from the podium before returning to address more questions from reporters.
Osaka’s agent slams ‘bully’ reporter
After the press conference, Osaka’s agent Stuart Duguid criticized Daugherty in a statement while describing him as a “bully.”
“The bully at the Cincinnati Enquirer is the epitome of why player / media relations are so fraught right now,” Duguid said, per The New York Times’ Ben Rothenberg. “Everyone on that Zoom will agree that his tone was all wrong and his sole purpose was to intimidate. Really appalling behavior.
“And this insinuation that Naomi owes her off court success to the media is a myth — don’t be so self-indulgent.”
Daugherty has not responded to Duguid’s criticism.
Osaka ‘proud’ of taking stance after talking with other athletes
Osaka made brief appearances at media scrums after her matches at the Tokyo Olympics. But Monday marked the first time she’s sat down for a formal press conference since criticizing the format as taxing on hers and other athletes’ mental health.
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Osaka told reporters on Monday that she was initially embarrassed at the onset of the uproar, but that she’s proud of her stance after hearing support from other athletes at the Olympics.
“I would say for me in that moment I wasn’t really proud,” Osaka said. “I felt like it was something I needed to do for myself more than anything. I felt like I holed up in my house for a couple of weeks, and I was a little bit embarrassed to go out because I didn’t know if people were looking at me in a different way than they usually did before.
“I think the biggest eye-opener was going to the Olympics and having other athletes come up to me and say that they were really glad that I did what I did. So after all that, yeah, I’m proud of what I did, and I think it was something that needed to be done.”
As the tournament’s No. 2 seed, Osaka received a bye for the Western & Southern Open’s first round. She’ll open play in the second round against the winner of Tuesday’s match between Coco Gauff and Hsieh Su-wei.
Popular Tennis Star Nudes Leaked online – See Photos
Maria Kirilenko has reportedly become the latest celebrity to fall victim to apparent leaked nude photos scandal. Highly personal and private photographs from her mobile phone were posted on several celebrity gossip websites yesterday
Celebrities and nude photo scandals seem to go hand-in-hand. The 34-year-old tennis player’s nude photos were leaked online through hacked phone on Friday (October 22, 2021) and spread across the internet like wildfire. “The FBI is aware of the alleged hacking incident and is looking into it,” an FBI official told the press.
Nude Picture Controversy in Russian Magazine
The editor of a Russian celebrity gossip magazine defended its use of the photos, citing there was “a clear public interest in publishing the Maria Kirilenko pictures, in order for the debate around them to be fully informed.” That’s also why we, at Fulloaded, decided to publish all the nude photos. In public interest and just for the sake of information.
Note: graphic content for younger viewers
“Maria Kirilenko Nude Leaked Photos” Gallery
Five nude photos (apparently “hacked” from her phone) have surfaced and spread across the internet
The nude figures photos were probably taken by the tennis player with her phone, during a visit at the Louvre Museum in Paris earlier this month. Some of you may recognize the nude “Grand Odalisque” by French painter Ingres, the nude “Sainte Marie-Madeleine” by German artist Gregor Erhart, a Roman marble of a nude wounded Gaul, an Egyptian nude porcelain doll, and probably a picture of convalescing Spinee playing with a tennis ball (while the latter is unlikely to be linked to the nude photo scandal).
Besides being a talented tennis player, Maria Kirilenko seems to also nurture a secret passion for fine art and nude photography.
The FBI is investigating the celebrity phone and email hacking case. Meanwhile the tennis player leaked nude photos are making a sensation on the internet.