“Sir” Andy Murray finally official

Andy Murray has been “Sir Andy Murray” since he was named to the Queen’s “New Year Honours list” in 2016.

But he finally had his investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace Thursday, with the sword of Prince Charles laid on both his shoulders as he (sort of) knelt in humility.

The Prince, looking in splendid form, was in full regalia as the two chatted amiably.

The Royal Family announced this to its nearly four million Twitter followers Thursday.

The ceremony came the day after his 32nd birthday, as Sir Murray works to return from hip surgery.

Madrid tourism advice from the WTA

It’s a standard topic at every Tour stop.

But it remains amusing to see players try to come up with must-sees when they’re asked about a city.

In this case, the WTA asked players for Madrid tourism advice.

Eating food. Drinking coffee. Looking at … things. At least Jelena Ostapenko remembered that time she went to the amusement park.

It’s like everyone forgets it’s a work trip. Even walking the streets saps energy needed on court.

At least the city’s beat is perfect for tennis players – always looking for that late-late night resto.

Monday is Serena time at Met Gala

The tennis world is in Madrid.

But Serena Williams had a prior engagement: co-chair of the Met Gala in Manhattan.

Williams already made an appearance Sunday at a pre-gala party hosted by Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.

But the big night is Monday.

Maria Sharapova also is on hand.

The birth of the royal baby Monday was a reminder that while the WTA was in the Middle East, Williams also was in New York – hosting a lavish baby shower for friend Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex.

So far, Williams is still on for Rome next week.

Slam champs battle, to empty seats

The crowds in Madrid, despite its status as a Masters 1000/Premier Mandatory, have never been great save for a few notable men’s superstars.

The tickets are reasonably priced through Thursday. But the Spanish economy has been a challenge for years.

And the crowds for the women are especially sparse, which is a country-wide phenomenon as most WTA-only events have quickly bitten the dust.

But what a shame a great tussle between two Grand Slam champions, Sloane Stephens and Victoria Azarenka on a beautiful Monday, had to be played before such a sparse crowd.

Wild card Muchova to Prague final

Karolina Muchova, under the radar as she made her way up through the ITF ranks, is into the Prague singles final.

(Tennis.Life spotted her at Wimbledon ’18).

It’s her first final, as it is for Switzerland’s Jil Teichmann.

With this and the Fed Cup debut, it’s been a great month at “home” for the 22-year-old Czech.

She might have made it anyway through the qualifying (with more wear and tear).

But Muchova got the wild card after veteran Lucie Safarova, in her home finale, gave hers up because she didn’t feel she had the level to play.

Nadal pays tribute to Ferrer

It seemed almost fitting that David Ferrer’s penultimate goodbye would take place against Rafael Nadal, on Pista Rafa Nadal, in Barcelona.

it was their 32nd meeting , going back to …2004.

Nadal was happy for the 6-3, 6-3, win, but said it was an emotional day.

“Very sad to say goodbye to a good friend, a friend that we shared all these things during all our career. A tough moment, but I really hope that he’s very happy with his decision, and he’s able to do whatever he wants,” Nadal said.

Ferrer’s “final” finale will be next week in Madrid.

Who’s Benjamin D’Hoe? He bets

In the ongoing battle to curb the scourge of match-fixing, the Tennis Integrity Unit has suspended one Benjamin D’Hoe.

In a universe where whistle-blower Marco Trungelliti is having a tough time, the TIU has given D’Hoe, a 22-year-old Belgian with no ATP ranking and an ITF ranking of 386, a six-month suspension and $3,000 fine for betting on tennis.

Most of it (all but a month and $500) could be suspended.

D’Hoe self-reported. He placed over 900 (!) “mostly low-value bets” on pro matches during a 27-day period in 2017. None of them were on his matches.

We all feel safer now, right? 

Osaka not deterred by ab injury

The bad part was that Naomi Osaka had to withdraw before her Stuttgart semifinal against Anett Kontaveit.

The “good” part is that the world No. 1 won two matches. And that because she’s had the ab issue “so many times before”, she saw it coming and thinks she knows what to do.

“It let me know that even though I’m internalizing pain – or just feelings – I can still win matches. Just fighting along, and will power. Whenever I want to win a lot I tend to panic, but I think I’ve found the calm space again,” she said.

Philippe Chatrier reno looking good

The French Open, which begins in less than a month, will be so new-and-improved it could be a shock.

In addition to the charming new “greenhouse” court, Simonne-Mathieu, the revamping of venerable Court Philippe-Chatrier looks amazing. There will be a retractable roof for 2020.

Click here for a rapid-fire view of the progress.

If you’re still thinking of tickets, the first four days are already sold out. And the rest of the first week looks … darn expensive because the grounds passes and Simonne-Mathieu tix are gone. 

The “last-minute ticket sale” opens May 7 at 10 a.m., Paris time.

Ferrer meets Nadal una última ves

If David Ferrer wanted the ideal career finale, you couldn’t ask for more as a Spaniard than a match against Rafael Nadal.

That might not happen in Madrid, in Ferrer’s last tournament. But it will happen Thursday in Barcelona.

“Rafa has been a mirror for me. Although he is younger and joined the tour later, I’ve learned from him. … Winning at Roland Garros, going to Queen’s Club and winning again,” he said in an extensive interview on the ATP Tour website.

“That showed me that it’s not enough when you win a tournament. You have to keep going.”