CHEER AND JEER – The BNP Paribas Open Buzz

Cheers and jeers: some go to Acapulco to dive off cliffs. Nick Kyrgios soared.

Bill Simons and Douglas Hochmuth

ONCE YOU’RE HOOKED ON SOCIAL MEDIA, ARE YOU ALWAYS HOOKED? Stefanos Tsitsipas, 20, who has over 140,000 subscribers on YouTube, finally had had it with social media and began a fast from it all. He said, “I was just sick and tired of all those messages, all those people talking about me. All the notifications, like, I felt my brain blocked. I felt like I couldn’t process all of that information coming to me,” Then he scored a marvelous Marseilles win and went right back to Twitter with another tweet. Days later, he asked the Twittersphere, “How do we stay human in an addicting technological world?”

KYRGIOS’ QUERY: Still smarting from the rough time Nadal fans gave him in Acapulco at match point against John Isner, Nick Kyrgios yelled, “Where are the Rafa fans at? Hey, Rafa fans, where you at?” He added, “Let’s get a flight to Indian Wells.”

CAN WE SAY THERE’S SORT OF A LOVE-HATE VIBE HERE? Jim Courier reflected on Rotterdam champ and Dubai semi-finalist Gael Monfils: “I’d pay a lot of money to watch him play and I’d pay a lot of money to not coach him.”

MOST POIGNANT MOMENT: After Serbian Laslo Djere won his maiden title, the Rio Open, the 23-year-old confided that both his parents had passed away – his father just months prior to the tournament.

GO FIGURE: Nick Kyrgios has 17 wins over top ten players but has never been in the top 10…Reilly Opelka, 6’11”, won the New York Open, while both finalists at the Delray Beach Open – Dan Evans and Radu Albot – were 5’9”…At the Rio Open, 18-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime became the youngest player ever to reach an ATP 500 final. The Canadian is now the youngest player in the top 60.

JEER AND CHEER: In the old days, John McEnroe would be intensely booed when he melted down on court. Then, a bit later, he’d unleash a brilliant overhead and the crowd would shower him with elation. Similarly, the volatile Nick Kyrgios said of the fans in Acapulco, “At one point they’re cheering my name. At the other point they’re booing me. It’s insane.”


  • “He beat three top-10 players, and Stan, who is a Grand Slam champion. I know you had a little bit of fire with the crowd, but he’s the one who deserves to win, he’s the real champion of this week. I think people deserve to give credit to the people who deserve credit.” – Alexander Zverev on Nick Kyrgios
  • “I was not the spoiled kid who got millions at 19 years old, but, on the other hand, maybe that’s what makes me stronger.” Radu Albot after winning the Delray Beach title.
  • “What have I done to be the bad guy?” Nick Kyrgios
  • “We’re senior citizens. We go to bed at 8.” Forty-year old Mike Bryan on himself and his brother.
  • “If Federer reminded us of what we’ve been seeing for the last 20 years in Dubai, Nick Kyrgios spent the week in Acapulco reminding us what we’ve been missing for much of the last five.” Steve Tignor

MEXICO MATTERS: The Acapulco Open draws incredibly enthusiastic crowds who love their tennis, yet Mexico has made little Grand Slam buzz since Rafael Osuna won the 1963 U.S Open. Currently, Mexico has no players in the top 200 in either the WTA or the ATP. Four women are ranked between 250 and 350 but there are no men inside the top 400.

FELIX THE [CANADIAN] CAT: The appealing Canadian hotshot Felix Auger-Aliassime is the only tennis player we know named Felix. In February at the Rio Open, the 18-year-old had the best week of his young career, reaching the final of the 500 level event and rising from No. 104 to 58. He lost to Serbian Laslo Djere, who rose from No. 90 to No. 37. Felix fell again the next week to Djere in Sao Paulo.

A BIT LIKE A DANCE: Chanda Rubin said, “You get a sense that with the Bryan Brothers, they just know where to be. One hits a shot, the other knows where to follow – the high percentage replies. It’s a bit like a dance out there.”

SIMPLY ADORABLE: At the Delray Beach Open, the Bryan brothers faced Britain’s Neal and Ken Skupski. The last all-brothers final on the ATP Tour was Vijay and Anand Amritraj vs. John and David Lloyd at the Queens Club in 1977. The Indian brothers prevailed 6-1, 6-2. In Florida, after the Bryans won their 5th Delray title and their 117th career win, Bob’s kids Bobby Jr. and Richie ran on court and into Bob’s and Mike’s laps. The heart-warming moment brought to mind toddler Jada Clijsters coming on court after her mom Kim won the ’09 US Open, or young Brett Connors tugging at his dad Jimmy’s leg after Connors suffered his painful Super Saturday loss to John McEnroe.

ONLY 115 BEHIND: In his speech after losing to the Bryan Brothers in the Delray final, Ken Skupski said, “Congratulations to Bob. He’s got three kids and a wife – so have I. I’m working in his footsteps and I’m only 115 [titles] behind. But I’m working on it.”   

WHAT’S COOLER? When Rafa won his 10th French Open they called it La Decima. After Federer won his 100th title they called him the Centurion.

STATS THAT REALLY MATTER: In his Acapulco quarterfinal, John Isner went through ten shirts and 14 hats…Federer won the Dubai title both with and without a ponytail.

NOW THERE’S AN IDEA: Tennis is no longer played with wooden rackets, but after it was noted that Moldovan Radu Albot learned the game in part on indoor wooden courts, Arvis Jaggamar suggested, “We need a wooden court swing in the ATP calendar.”

MARTINA MAKES AMENDS: The iconic Martina Navratilova has long been a been a strong advocate for issues empowering the LGBTQ community. But after she wrote a Sunday Times of London Op-Ed about transgender athletes that said, “The rules on trans-athletes reward cheats and punish the innocent,” some members of the community bristled. There was a controversy and even a quarrel with World Champion Cyclist and trans-athlete Rachel McKinnon. Martina rethought her position, and she admitted she’d made a mistake, saying, “I am sorry if I said anything anywhere near transphobic – certainly I meant no harm – I will educate myself better on this issue but meantime I will be quiet about it.” The winner of 18 singles Slams added, “Fairness has been my mantra all my life. And that will not change…The communists tried to shut me up 45 years ago and look how that worked out!”

SAY IT ISN’T SO: The popular Jo-Willie Tsonga confided that due to his long-standing trouble with sickle cell disease, he was pulling out of Indian Wells…Once a bright prospect, Cici Bellis hasn’t played a WTA match since Miami last year.

SEMI-GOOD! In what for him is a sprint from the starting blocks, the usually slow-starting John Isner reached three straight semis – the New York Open, Delray and Acapulco. In the US he’s 40-16 and has won 12 titles since 2017. Outside the US he’s 36-32 with two titles.

ACAPULCO SURPRISES: She may not be next Li Na, but China’s Wang Yafan overpowered American Sofia Kenin for her maiden title in Acapulco. Unseeded Wang surged from 0-2 down in the second to overcome the 20-year-old Floridian who nonetheless reached a career-high ranking of No. 33. Doubles also provided a surprise. Two-time Slam champ Vika Azarenka paired with Zheng Saisai to take the crown. It was Azarenka’s first title since the birth of her son Leo in December 2016.

BENCIC PROVIDING HEART ATTACKS ON AND OFF COURT: Belinda Bencic is joining the jolly list of winners who’ve had wild celebrations after their triumphs. Jim Courier leapt into Melbourne’s Yarra River after winning the Aussie Open. Pat Cash ran up to Wimbledon’s Friends Box, Carlos Moya danced courtside in the desert. After Bencic’s incredible run to the Dubai title, she said planned to go skydiving, and added, “I’m providing a lot of heart attacks on the court. Now I’m going to provide heart attacks off the court!” To gain the title, the Swiss amazingly beat four top ten players – Aryna Sabalenka, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina and Petra Kvitova. Similarly, in 2015, when she won in Toronto, she beat Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, Serena and Halep.



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