Petra gets pranked in Prague

Petra Kvitova knew there was going to be a special guest for this Tag Heuer promo.

But she legitimately didn’t know who it was.

And so, this elderly fellow swatting a wooden racket was a bit of a revelation – until the style gave away … countryman Tomas Berdych.

Berdych, who hasn’t played since losing in the first round of Queen’s Club because of a chronic back issue, underwent a serious hair and makeup transformation to be literally unrecognizable.

But even more impressive was the way he swung the vintage piece of equipment.

LTA at a loss for the 2nd straight year

The British Lawn Tennis Association ran a $10 million US deficit for 2018, on the heels of a $6 million deficit in 2017. 

As a result, the BBC reports it will close its nine regional offices and centralize.

The documents the BBC saw also noted participation fell 10 per cent in 2018.

This comes four years after the a $50 million “national center” stopped being used as intended, as a training base for elite players and a return to the regions was prioritized.

The LTA has $184 million US in reserve – a strange, huge number.

They have a “new vision”, though. Should be good.

Fritz full of praise for Caruana

Taylor Fritz doesn’t get interviewed often, as he’s still rising up the American depth charts.

But if his post-match interview after a win over childhood rival Liam Caruana of Italy at the Next-Gen finals is a sample, he has plenty of insight to offer.

It wasn’t so much the praise for his opponent. It was that he was able to see the other side of the court and realize that much of his opponent’s success (even in a losing cause) came from his good play – not Fritz’s poor play.

Fitz is 1-1 in pool play so far.

Mannarino explains the buzz cut

Adrian Mannarino’s follicular challenges are nothing new.

But he returned to France with a new, minimalist look.

It wasn’t capitulation to the inevitable. The Frenchman said it was a capillary cultural clash.

“It wasn’t voluntary. I went to the hairdresser at a tournament in China, in Chengdu, Clearly, they don’t have the same hair styles we do,” he said at the Paris Masters

“I left him free to use  his imagination. It didn’t work. I came back to my hotel room and asked my coach to come with his hair clippers and shave it all off.”

Mononucleosis slows down Kozlov

Everything looked aces for 2014 Orange Bowl champion Stefan Kozlov as he headed to the top 100 in 2017. The 20-year-old was part of that American next wave with Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz, Michael Mmoh, and Tommy Paul.

But while Tiafoe, Fritz and Stefanos Tsitipas (his victim in that Orange Bowl final) are in Milan this week, Kozlov is ranked … No. 414.

One explanation comes from father Andrey, who was competing at the ITF World Seniors Championships in Florida a few weeks ago.

Kozlov told the ITF website his son has battled mononucleosis for the past six months.  

Testy times for Muguruza-Sumyk

It didn’t take long after their relationship began with a trial in Sept. 2015 that two-time Grand Slam champion Garbiñe Muguruza and coach Sam Sumyk’s on-court coaching consults became an exercise in drama.

But as the 2018 season wraps up, it’s gone up a notch.

This exchange – as Muguruza was trounced 6-2, 6-0 by Qiang Wang in Zhuhai Saturday – ended with Sumyk uttering a profanity and walking off the court. It was a step up from a month ago.

Earlier this week, Muguruza dropped an f-bomb on a cameraman.

Every time, fans think it’s the end. Yet they carry on.

Zhuhai hard to find in North America

There’s a terrific women’s tournament going on this week in Zhuhai, China. Some of the game’s future stars are shining.

But it’s awfully hard to find it.

It’s on Tennis Channel – a preview of the return of women’s tennis to the specialty channel in 2019.

Well, as of Friday you could find there. Before that, you got one match – and the others on the extra-cost TC Plus. 

In Canada, you’re completely out of luck.

The tournament was supposed to be on the WTA’s streaming service. But then, it wasn’t. 

Highlight packages will have to suffice.

Next-Gen video documents journey

The second edition of the Next-Gen exhibition event in Milan, Italy is less than a week away.

So the ATP Tour has produced a slick 26-minute video chronicling the journey to the elite of the game, to promote it.

There was a deadline on that, obviously. Denis Shapovalov was one of the top qualifiers and a player in the first edition in 2017. So he has a large part in the documentary.

Unfortunately, Shapovalov decided after losing in the first round of the Paris Masters to Richard Gasquet that he was withdrawing from Milan, due to exhaustion.

Norman eager for 2019 with Wawrinka

It seems Magnus Norman’s return to Team Wawrinka wasn’t just temporary.

“He’s been so motivated all year, pushing really hard physically but even more mentally, with his body and the knee, to play tennis again,” Norman said in an interview on his academy’s website.

“He’s very motivated for next year. He’s already talking about the off-season and the pre-season. The whole team is looking forward for next year,” Norman added. “We really want to go in with a positive mindset, a healthy body and a healthy mind to be able to push maximum and prepare for 2019.”

Nadal back, fighting for No. 1

Rafael Nadal is back, for the first time since retiring against Juan Martin del Potro in the US Open semifinals nearly seven weeks ago.

He and Novak Djokovic begin their second-round matches with Nadal just 45 points ahead in the live rankings. So Djokovic must go one round further than the rusty Nadal to take back the No. 1 spot.

“He’s so good. He’s having a great second part of the season, so he deserves to be where he is,” Nadal said. “Happy to see somebody like him back playing at that high level.”