ATP Tour sets attendance record

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The press release from the ATP Tour Finals put the good news first.

A total of 4,573,152 attended ATP events in 2017 – a record.

On the ATP Tour Finals side, the news is good, but not necessarily amazing.

According to the release, there were six sellout sessions (out of 15), and total attendance was 253,642 last week. For the ninth straight year, the event has broken the 250,000 attendance mark.

But … attendance has been down some 10,000 the last two years compared to previous years. There were more than 260,000 fans every year from 2012-15 (10 sellouts in 2013 for example), maxing out at 263,560 in 2014.

Two awards for Denis Shapovalov

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After three round-robin matches at the Next-Gen Finals in Milan, Denis Shapovalov finally got home to Canada for a few days.

And then – straight back to Europe – to London, specially – to receive two awards on Saturday at the ATP Tour Finals.

The 18-year-old received the “Star of Tomorrow” award, given to the youngest player ranked in the top 100. His countryman Milos Raonic won it in 2011, when it was called “Newcomer of the Year”

Shapovalov also received the “Most Improved” award, voted on by the players.

ATP University is in session

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Several times a year, the ATP Tour holds three-day seminars to inform the younger players about how the Tour’s doughnuts are actually made.

On Sunday in London, school was in session once again.

Among the students were several Canadians: Denis Shapovalov, Filip Peliwo and Steven Diez.

Diez, who is 26 and ranked No. 298, had his big moment on the first day. He met soccer legend David Beckham.

Look at this 2015 video from London. That’s a class. You can spot Lucas Pouille – as well as teacher’s pets Zverev, Coric and Khachanov (Next-Gen personified) in the front row.

Dimitrov pranked at ATP Tour Finals

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From the outside, this little video from the ATP Tour Finals is entertaining because it’s always fun to watch players you didn’t even know were friendly have fun with each other.

From the inside, it’s  head-nodding to watch Dimitrov’s reactions to the out-there questions ranging from “Oh, I didn’t know you won”, to modeling (although the women tend to get that one more).

We’ve heard much worse in real life.

Dimitrov’s grace under pressure as he tries his best to answer them is impressive. And his relief upon finding out it was a prank palpable.

ATP guys try the Cockney rhyming

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We’re not 100 per cent sure they actually knew what it was.

But the players at the ATP Tour Finals were game to try to figure out a few words of Cockney rhyming slang.

It’s a whole ‘nother language, even when you start to get the hang of it.  

(To get you started: “Britney Spears” means “beers”. “I haven’t a Scooby” comes from “Scooby-Doo”, and means “I haven’t a clue”. To “have a giraffe” means to “have a laugh”. 

Here’s a whole dictionary of them, so you’re fully prepared before your next trip to London.

Fed, Grigor and the Backstreet Boys

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If it’s a natural assumption to think the ladies are the biggest fans of the Backstreet Boys (even in 2017), think again.

It turns out such ATP luminaries as Roger Federer and Grigor Dimitrov are pretty familiar with the iconic boy band’s repertoire – although they couldn’t come up with the right answer to a 90s quiz Backstreet Boys question.

Federer did guess it – and then second-guessed himself. 

In other news, it turns out Jack Sock has a solid knowledge of 90s tennis history, including where the ATP Finals were held when he was a baby.

Sock big target for Federer

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It was early in the match, and Roger Federer ended up winning it in straight sets.

So he could laugh at ATP Finals rookie Jack Sock’s move – a “big” distraction that caused him to make an error on what appeared to be an open court sitter.

“It was a big distraction, I’ll tell you that, because it was very big,” Federer said. “That’s what I should have aimed for. That target was bigger than the down-the-line court that I had.”

Federer said it was hardly the first time he’d seen it. But never on such a big stage.

Sock detours from Augusta to London

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Jack Sock’s offseason was going to get off to a nifty start with a planned trip to Augusta, Georgia to play the Masters course with buddy John Isner.

But fate intervened.

A title at the Paris Masters (pardon the pun) meant the American qualified for the Tour Finals in London.

“Big thanks to John’s fiancée’s father. Madison (McKinley)’s dad is a member at Augusta so that was how we were going to be able to play,” Sock told the media in Paris.

Sock coach Jay Berger’s son Daniel finished 10th at Augusta this year. So he’d have some tips.

Lüthi snubbed in COY nominations

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The ATP Tour’s coach of the year nominations are out.

And Roger Federer’s longtime coach Severin Lüthi has been snubbed.

Toni Nadal and Carlos Moyá were co-nominated as the coaches for Rafael Nadal. But in the case of Federer, only part-time “super-coach” Ivan Ljubicic got the nod.

Lüthi, also the Swiss Davis Cup captain, never seeks the spotlight or the credit. Which may well be one of the things Federer values about him.

But he also has tended to be overlooked in recent years with the arrival first of Edberg, then Ljubicic into Team Federer.

Next-Gen tennis history quiz

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The participants in the Next-Gen Finals in Milan were tested on their tennis history knowledge.

Specifically, they were asked how many former No. 1-ranked players they could name.

Russian Karen Khachanov seemed to have the most, right off the top of his head, including Marcelo Rios and Stefan Edberg.

Of course, the Russian players are at a little bit of an advantage on the less obvious ones, which include countrymen Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin.

Canadian Denis Shapovalov came up with Patrick Rafter – a pretty good get.