Davis Cup flashback with Boris and Mac


With Boris Becker turning 50 this week, and the Davis Cup final set to go Friday, here’s a flashback to an epic Davis Cup tussle from history.

In 1987 – 30 years ago, when Becker was just 19 and McEnroe 28 – they battled for six hours and 20 minutes in Hartford, Connecticut.

It wasn’t even a final; it was a relegation match – if you can believe it, between two such great tennis nations. No tiebreaks in any set; McEnroe prevailed 4-6, 15-13, 8-10, 6-2, 6-2.

The current record is six hours, 42 minutes – set in 2015 by Leonardo Mayer of Argentina and Joao Souza of Brazil.

Steckley directs Nestor’s acting debut


Tennis coach Rob Steckley produced a lot of fun videos during his many years working with Czech player Lucie Safarova.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Safarova’s doubles partner, was a frequent guest star.

And he’s still going.

Steckley somehow convinced Daniel Nestor to star in his latest production, shot in Toronto this fall.

The premise is that the doubles legend goes back on his intention to retire after the 2018 season. And two “local clowns” then have to kill him.

(Without being too much of a spoiler, they were unsuccessful in that endeavor).

ATP University is in session


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


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.

Soderling enjoying the super-coach ranks


Add Robin Soderling to the ranks of the super-coaches.

But it’s been very low key.

The former French Open finalist, whose playing career was cut short by mononucleosis, has been working with countryman Elias Ymer since the spring.

“I practice with him at home in Sweden and travel with him 10 weeks, maybe 12 weeks, every year. So it’s kind of a half-time, part-time job,” Soderling said at the Vendee Challenger.

The Swede said time is making it easier to turn the page. Although he is frustrated when he sees players he competed against still going strong.

ATP guys try the Cockney rhyming


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.

Stepanek shows Djokovic his best side


When Roger Federer missed a sitter during his first match in London Sunday – distracted by opponent Jack Sock’s best “asset” – he couldn’t remember it happening on such a big stage.

Of course, it has.

Jokester Radek Stepanek, who announced his retirement Tuesday, pulled out the same trick as opponent Novak Djokovic served for the second set in the third round of the 2013 Australian Open.

Djokovic never lost his focus – much to his pal Stepanek’s annoyance. He put away the easy sitter and went on to win 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.

It was one of 12 Djokovic wins in 13 meetings between the two.

Fed, Grigor and the Backstreet Boys


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


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.

Clear those stray balls, kids


What happened to Francesca Schiavone on the practice court is something that anyone who takes part in group clinics should be mindful of every time they step on the court.

Schiavone, in the middle of a practice session, failed to avoid a stray tennis ball and ended up rolling her ankle when she inadvertently stepped on it.

The 37-year-old, who has entered enough tournaments early in 2018 to indicate she plans to continue playing, said on social media that nothing was broken, mercifully.

But she will have to stop for a month. – i.e., most of the offseason.