Thursday, December 11, 2014

Roger Federer, Pete Sampras talk to NDTV in India

NEW DELHI: In an exclusive interview to, two of the world's greatest-ever tennis players, Roger Federer and Pete Sampras, talk to Prannoy Roy about competition, inspiration, and ambition. Indian icon Amitabh Bachchan shares his career secrets, and questioners include tennis great Boris Becker and actress Deepika Padukone.

Here are the highlights from this all-star interview:

Roger Federer:
For me, Pete is the greatest. He is my hero. Stefan Edbergh, Boris and Pete. He was my inspiration. Without Pete, I wouldn't have tried to chase his record. For me, he is the greatest ever

Pete Sampras:
If you look at the numbers, Roger has been so dominant over the years, it's hard to compare anyone to Roger. We're both very nice and very humble!

Pete Sampras:
I saw him (Mr Bachchan) at court today and he was making quite a showing

Roger Federer:
You have to react against Pete, because he would serve very well -almost unbreakable. You have to not make any mistakes when it counts the most.

Pete Sampras
: Roger was a very tough match for me. He moved great. When I played him, I knew he was special. I would do my best to impose my will...but he does everything great. There's not many holes in his game. He moves great, he serves well. He's the most dominant player I think I've ever seen. I was certainly the player of my time, but I wasn't as dominant as Roger I stopped at 31...he's 33...he almost became No 1 again. The hardest thing to do in sports is to get to No. 1 and stay at No. 1 and he has done it better than anybody else.

Pete Sampras:
I was emotionally done, I was finished emotionally. I was cooked (on retiring).

Amitabh Bachchan: there are not many people who would leave their profession for emotional reasons.

Roger Federer
: His (Sampras) end -it would be the dream for any player- to end on top (winning the US Open)

Roger Federer: At 16, I won Junior Wimbledon.

Pete Sampras: Honestly, I wasn't that good young. I was good, but I wasn't great. I didn't win many junior tournaments. I got better as I got older- 16,17,18 I really started to figure it out. I went to school, practiced every day, was very focused. It has to be your life.

Roger Federer (on advice to young players): In tennis, it's very imp that you get supports from your parents and get decent coaching and you have to love what you do, parents have to let go eventually and trust the coach. You have to train hard and believe that you can be a champion one day. Dream big, but also be realistic.

Pete Sampras (on advice to young players): It's more about improving than winning., developing your game. Parents put so much pressure on kids to win, win, win It's not about winning, it's about learning...learning how to lose...getting good techniques...getting good coaching. You need good parents.

Amitabh Bachchan: The generation of today has many more opportunities. In our time, it was very tough to get into the movies. Once you get in, you have to prove you have talent -that you can act. There has to be some kind of internal strength that motivates you to keep going on. And a lot of luck.

Roger Federer: When I fist-pump, it's not to the other guy. It's for me, my team, the fans It shows you are happy and you are willing and wanting to fight and to win. I do it for myself.

Pete Sampras: I was never fazed. McEnroe was always trying to pull some sort of shenanigans. He would towel off, slow down the game. I like him, he is a friend of mine. But we all know he could lose his shit! He was tricky to play. He looked mean. I was intimidated a little by him when I was a kid. As I got older, I knew what I was doing.

Pete Sampras: It's very tough to have friends on the tour. It's a very intimate tour. It's hard to have dinner after that match! You are playing for No 1 ranking. You respect each other, you get along, but there's always a tension, a distance. It's hard to let your guard down.

Roger Federer: It may be a bit easier to have best friends that are not your super-rival. Those are the ones you respect a lot because they get the best out of you. The entourages have gotten big, everyone lives their own life. It is cool seeing each other. You may be closer to the guys ranked lower, because those may be the ones you practice with.

Amitabh Bachchan (on competition with colleagues): unlike them, our ratings come from the audience. When you do well, you rise up in status...that determines whether your rival or colleague is on the same plane. As you grow older, you have a very healthy relationship because you are not in the same reckoning as the younger generation.

Deepika Padukone
(question to Federer): How do you manage to stay fit throughout the year given that you have very little downtime?

Roger Federer
: That's why I can only be here for a few days. I have to stay healthy, fit. If I play too many matches, muscle memory goes away a little. The good thing is I can decide myself how much I want to play. This year I played a lot, next year, will slow down a little and spend more time at the gym.

Boris Becker (question): How would you rate history of tennis- the like of Lever in 60s and Bjorg in it fair to compare generations?

Pete Sampras: It's very tough to compare decades. You look at Lever who won 12 majors...he had six years where he didn't play a he could have won over 20 majors if he was able to play. But I believe each decade has its guy. To say which generation is the best, I'd probably have to say this generation or my generation. It's hard to say. Technology has changed, there are more players playing today. Roger's generation is probably the deepest. This generation is special, we have to sit back and appreciate Roger and everything he's done.

Boris Becker: It's very difficult to compare generations but you have to give credit where credit is due. Winning 17 majors- it doesn't happen overnight. I think everyone in this room agrees that the greatest of all time is sitting up there (on the stage) next to the second-greatest.

Roger Federer: India is absolutely fascinating story...colorful, vibrant. In one word- friendly. I feel very welcome. Namaste. Thank you.

Pete Sampras: India is a country with a lot of history. The people are very friendly. A lot of selfies! I have done more selfies in the last two days here than I have in 10 years! Happy to be here. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Agnieszka Radwanska hires Martina Navratilova as coach

KRAKOW, Poland - There's been a trend in tennis lately, particularly on the men's side, for top players to hire "supercoaches" - former top players, usually legendary players - to help push them to the next level. In many cases it's worked, for example Andy Murray's breakthroughs with Ivan Lendl.

On Monday night, the supercoach trend made its way to the women's side through a single tweet:

So happy to announce @Martina as the newest member of my coaching team!

Last week, Agnieszka Radwanska told the Polish press she would be hiring a supercoach - she didn't name names, but she did say they were a former Grand Slam winner with coaching experience.

It would hard to top Martina Navratilova as a supercoach. Navratilova won 59 Grand Slam titles - 18 in singles, 31 in doubles and 10 in mixed doubles. She also reached World No.1 in both disciplines, spending 332 weeks as World No.1 in singles and a record 237 weeks as World No.1 in doubles.

This is Navratilova's first major coaching role and she will join forces with Tomasz Wiktorowski to become part of Radwanska's coaching team. They will begin working together after Christmas.

"I did not sleep very well last night, thinking about getting back into match mode and the competitions," Navratilova said of the new partnership with Radwanska. "I am really excited about this opportunity to join Agnieszka's team and work with Tomasz and it is going to be a fun challenge. I was delighted when Agnieszka asked me if I would collaborate with Tomasz and I can't wait to get started."

"I am absolutely delighted that Martina has agreed to help me and my team next season," Radwanska said. "She is my idol in tennis and I am honored we will be working together. Her achievements speak for themselves and I hope that I can learn from all her experience. My goal is to win a Grand Slam, so to have someone with Martina's accomplishments in my corner is going to be hugely advantageous and give me a big boost. We are originally from a similar part of the world so we share an understanding about tennis and life, which I'm sure will translate into a successful relationship."

Radwanska's current coach, Wiktorowski, echoed the excitement. "I have been discussing this idea with Aga for a couple of months now and Martina is absolutely the perfect person to add to the camp. We can all learn a lot from her and we are hopeful that she can help us take that next step."

Am very excited to be working with @ARadwanska and her team:), should be a fun ride!!!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Martina Hingis, Kim Clijsters, Sabine Lisicki raise over 1 million for Mylan WTT Smash Hits Tennis

Credit Getty Images & Martin Hingis Official Facebook

LONDON, England - WTA stars Martina Hingis, Kim Clijsters, Sabine Lisicki, Heather Watson and, of course, WTA legend and founder Billie Jean King, were all a part of a magical night at Royal Albert Hall on Sunday night, helping Mylan WTT Smash Hits raise more than $1 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation - just the second time in the event's history that they crossed the $1 million mark.

It was the 22nd edition of Mylan WTT Smash Hits and Team Elton went in with an 11-10 head-to-head lead. But Team Billie Jean came out with the victory this time, evening that head-to-head up, 11-11.

The night featured five matches, starting with Hingis and Watson beating Clijsters and Lisicki in women's doubles, 5-4, followed by Tim Henman and Jamie Murray beating John McEnroe and Andy Roddick in men's doubles, 5-0. Lisicki then beat Watson in women's singles, 5-3, followed by Hingis and McEnroe beating Clijsters and Murray in mixed doubles, 5-3. The on-court action wrapped up with a 5-3 victory for Henman over Roddick in men's singles. Team Billie Jean beat Team Elton, 22-16.

But the big picture was the more than $1 million raised, which brings the 22-year event total to over $13 million to support HIV and AIDS prevention and awareness. The live auction before the on-court action brought in over $247,000 of that amount, the top-selling items being US Open ticket packages, a Wimbledon package featuring a visit with McEnroe, and an autographed Elton John piano bench.

"This is a wonderful evening," Elton John said to the capacity crowd. "Without Mylan, we couldn't possibly do this. They've made drugs for HIV positive people and we're an HIV positive AIDS foundation, so the two of us fit hand and glove very well and it's a wonderful relationship. It would be wrong of me not to acknowledge the extent of the generosity Mylan has given us, which is immense."

Click here to see more pictures from Sunday night's event, and check out the below videos for a glimpse into just what makes Billie Jean King and Elton John such a perfect mixed doubles team...

Monday, December 08, 2014

Roger Federer having fun with International Premier Tennis League in India

Modern-day maestros of the men’s game and wondrous talents of the women’s join forces with legends of yesteryear in the glitzy International Premier Tennis League, live on Sky Sports.

The showbiz event, comparable to cricket’s IPL, takes place between four teams in four Asian cities and showcases the world’s greatest tennis players of not one, but two, generations in a never-before-seen format.

The IPTL kicks off on Sky Sports on Friday with every game shown live, presenting tennis in a exciting new way – but who is competing? And what are the rules?

The Teams

Indian Aces

Based in the largest indoor stadium in India holding 15,000 fans, the Delhi outfit are headlined by the presence of the mercurial Roger Federer. If you thought his recent Davis Cup win was the missing piece in the jigsaw of his trophy cabinet, think again! Federer is joined by fellow record-breaker and trophy hoarder Pete Sampras in a combination only previously possible in tennis folklore.

The Aces also boast world number 18 Gael Monfils and world number five Ana Ivanovic. Indian pair Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza sign up and Fabrice Santoro comes out of retirement as player-coach.

Manila Mavericks

Andy Murray is tasked with providing another ‘Thrilla’ in the Filipino city aiming to repeat their one historical sports event – it will be the first chance to see him under his currently unnamed back-room staff. Murray is joined by fellow Grand Slam contenders Maria Sharapova and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga while former world number one Carlos Moya returns from retirement.

The Mavericks are completed by Kirsten Flipkens and doubles supremo Daniel Nestor and Philippines representative Treat Huey, who will be player-coach.

Singapore Slammers

American heavyweight pair Serena Williams and Andre Agassi are the main attractions for the Slammers who will compete at the regular WTA Finals stadium in Singapore. If the prospect of legendary duo Williams and Agassi wasn’t star-studded enough, they are joined by Australian great Pat Rafter.

Fellow Aussies – ex-world number one Lleyton Hewitt and teenage sensation Nick Krygios – join the Slammers, as does Tomas Berdych, Daniela Hantuchova and Bruno Soares.

UAE Royals

Novak Djokovic can continue his dominant 2014 with the Dubai-based Royals. But he won’t be short of help – Goran Ivanisevic comes out of retirement, and Caroline Wozniacki is a top-class inclusion.

US Open winner Marin Cilic joins the team, as does doubles expert Nenad Zimonjic, up-and-comer Kristina Mladenovic and Malek Jaziri.
The Format

The four teams will visit each other (although individuals might not compete in every match, for example Murray only plans to play in Manila). Matches will be five sets – one set each in men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles, mixed doubles and men's legends singles. But the winners are the team that won the most games within five sets – not the team who won the most sets.

The winning team receives four league points, the losing team receives two league points if they win 20 games, one point if they win 10-19 games and no points for less than 19 games. The winning team pockets US$1 million.

Anthing else?

Rather than a tie-break when the score is 5-5 a special four-minute game will decide the set winner.

A shot clock will ensure a maximum of 20 seconds between each point and a maximum of three minutes between each set. Organisers want every match finished within three hours.

There is no advantage – next point wins if it’s deuce.

A ‘Power Point’ is available once to each team in each set and can be claimed only when receiving – it means the following point is worth double. For example, if called in at 30-30, the ‘Power Point’ team win the game by winning the next point.

The ‘Super Shoot-Out’ will create drama. If a team wins the fifth set but is behind on total games, they can continue the match but must draw level in games before the other side wins a single game. This forces a ‘Super Shoot-Out’ which is a seven-minute game to crown the eventual winner.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Martina Hingis to play mixed doubles at Australian Open

After already retiring twice from tennis, Martina Hingis remains a strong player in her chosen sport. The 34-year-old professional player from Switzerland was tagged by Leander Paes to play for a mixed event at the upcoming Australia Open.

In a statement that Paes released during the Premier Tennis League (PTL) media interaction in June, the 14-time Grand Slam champion said that he wanted his partner to exhibit both his strengths and weaknesses to make for a compelling game. For his next men’s doubles game, Paes chose South African Raven Klaasen to compete with him, making Klaasen the 99th person to compete side by side with the Indian ace.

Meanwhile, Paes can only hope that Hingis will aid him in receiving yet another Grand Slam title. Paes was reportedly having a hard time this year after only receiving one title, no Masters Series final, and no Grand Slam final. “Tennis still remains a priority. I’m an eternal optimist,” he said in an interview with NDTV sports. “I feel very motivated as I look ahead. I will be strong.”

Hingis could be Paes’ ticket to winning the Australian Open. The nine-time Grand Slam women’s title holder made a bold comeback July of last year when she came out of retirement to play with Daniela Hantuhchov√°. Although the Czech tennis star retired from playing singles, she has found great success in playing doubles with fellow women. Sabine Lisicki and Flavia Pennetta were just some of the professional players who recently tagged Hingis as their partner for doubles.

When she was only 17, Hingis won the Wimbledon league making her the youngest champion ever. During her downtime from tennis, Hingis coached young hopefuls and shaped them into great players. Lisicki was one of Hingis’ students and they showed the power of their tandem when they won the Sony Open in Miami earlier this year.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Roger Federer's new villa in the Swiss Alps fit for a G.O.A.T.

Roger Federer is arguably the greatest tennis player of all time, having won 17 Grand Slam singles titles and a tour-leading 68 wins this season at the age of 33.

Success on the tennis court also means that Federer earns more than £19m annually from endorsements alone. He holds the record for most career prize money earnt at £44 million.

And it's those lucrative sponsorship deals with the likes of Nike, Gillette, National Suisse, Rolex, Lindt, Mercedes Benz, Wilson and Moet-Chandon which have enabled him to build a new £6.5m house in his native Switzerland.

After construction delays, the Federer family are now about to finally move into their new villa in the Swiss Alps, reports Swiss newspaper Schweiz am Sonntag.

The villa is 500 square metres, has three floors, a swimming pool, a glass dome around the dining room and views of lake Zurich.

Swiss media reports claim that the villa will be split into two separate luxury chalets, one for Roger, his wife Mirka and their two sets of twins, and the other for his parents Robert and Lynette.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Martina Hingis says horse riding and chocolate is her secret to success

DESPITE dominating the world of women’s tennis in her teens, Martina Hingis surprised even herself by how successful her return as a doubles player has been

“I wasn’t prepared for it at all and was a bit scared of how it would turn out,” laughs Martina, who won Wimbledon aged 17. She had already retired twice though had come back in recent years in various singles and doubles tournaments.

Then German player Sabine Lisicki, whom she was coaching, asked her to team up to play doubles.

“We went on to win the Sony Open in Miami this year and it was a big relief to win because I felt I’d proved myself all over again. I could still win the big tournaments and who doesn’t like winning?”

She says her secret was maintaining the fitness she’d built up from childhood and having a healthy lifestyle which meant she could pick up maybe not quite where she left off but still considerably higher up the ladder than many of her competitors.

Tennis had always been her destiny. Her parents Melanie Molitorov√° and Karol Hingis were top players in the former Czechoslovakia and she was named after the other famous Martina (Navratilova). She entered her first tournament at four and in 1993 when she was 12 became the youngest player to win a Grand Slam junior title.

Martina went on to win five Grand Slam titles before she was 19 and is still the youngest champion at Wimbledon at 17.

“I’d always been incredibly active and I’d always played sport,” says Martina, who is based near Zurich, Switzerland.

“It’s all I’ve known all my life so I wasn’t out of shape and I didn’t have to start training from scratch.

In the intervening years I’ve been coaching tennis players but I’ve also done a lot of skiing and riding my horses. I like being active. If I spend too much time in one place I get itchy feet.”

Sporting injuries are often the price that professionals have to pay for their success and it was problems with her ankle that eventually forced Martina, who emigrated to Switzerland when she was seven with her mother, to retire for the first time at the age of 22.

She returned to tennis in 2005 before retiring a second time in 2007. EVERYTHING in moderation is her mantra when it comes to diet.

“I have a healthy lifestyle. My body is my most important tool and my number one priority so I take care of it. I eat as healthily as possible but I do like to have a little bit of everything and being Swiss I love my chocolate," she said.

"I eat fish, meat, pasta, vegetables and salads. “I love Japanese food, a good curry or a steak. I try to have red meat once or twice a week. I also like chocolate fudge cake with a good vanilla ice cream.”

Since entering her 30s Martina has adapted her diet and while she still enjoys bread and pasta, she reveals: “I now have a rule of not eating carbohydrates after 2pm. I’ve never needed to diet because I’m so active. “I weigh myself. If I’m a little bit more than 58kgs (around 9st) I just cut back on desserts for a day or two and go for a half-hour run.

That usually helps me to burn off a pound or two. I’m 5ft 7in tall so I can afford to eat. I think about my health a lot more now. I want to look good when I look in the mirror. “I didn’t give it any thought at all when I was 17 and when I look back at the photos of when I won Wimbledon I laugh at my baby fat.”

As well as daily chocolate Martina enjoys a glass of wine or champagne now and then. However she confesses that she drinks only water when she is training and sparkling water with dinner. “I have such a sweet tooth,” she admits. “I love iced tea and sweet drinks.”

When feeling tired or stressed Martina escapes to the stables for a couple of hours. “Being around my horses, especially my favourite Ragana, calms me down.

“They give me a feeling of balance. I love getting out into the countryside on a horse and being at one with nature. That’s what calms me down.

“My other trick when I’m stressed is to go for a fast walk or slow jog on the beach or in the forest. That’s often when I get my best ideas.” When she’s competing Martina enjoys massages and physiotherapy.

“I also look after my legs and feet.

I’ve discovered Nelsons Arnicare products. Arnica cooling gel is lovely after a workout. My feet get such a pounding and the gel makes them feel good. “When I travel I love a hotel with a spa. Sauna, steam and Jacuzzi are my favourite things. I find them so relaxing and I sleep so well afterwards.”