The clock is ticking like wow

Djokovic and Murray, will they or won't they? NBC has plans for the Olympics, and the ATP prepares a tech revolution

Welcome back! Happy to still have you here 🙂 

We’re a bit in the unknown before the start of Wimbledon, so let’s look at what drama may be going on.

WIMBLEDON 
The clock is ticking like wow

Will they? Won’t they? In a rather unfortunate turn of events, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are tennis twins again those days. As Wimbledon’s draw will be done on Friday and the first round will start on Monday, they don’t have much time yet to decide if they can play at Wimbledon.

Novak Djokovic on Centre Court on Thursday

Novak Djokovic on Centre Court on Thursday

Regarding Novak Djokovic’s situation, the signs seem to lead toward participation for the man who reached the past five finals here. On Thursday, he tested himself with the young wolf who took his spot on the ATP throne, Jannik Sinner. From what we saw during their time on Centre Court, the Serbian looked pretty good. Not amazing, and he was surely not giving everything on the run, but for someone who tore a meniscus a couple of weeks ago, he looked fine. The man who owns seven titles at Wimbledon was in a good mood, joking around with Sinner and Darren Cahill.

Novak Djokovic talking with the ground people on Centre Court on Thursday

Novak Djokovic talking with the ground people on Centre Court on Thursday

After the session, he took pictures with his and Jannik’s team and asked the ground people watching from the stands to come on the court for a picture with him. “You made this court perfect,” he told them, adding that the court felt “amazing,” that “good is an understatement,” and that it was a “pleasure to be here again.” He became very interested in a machine brought onto the court as he left. Right before he left, a colleague asked him how he was feeling. Djokovic answered, “I’m feeling good. I’ll see you guys.” Asked if he’d still be in the draw on Friday, he put a thumb up.

“I’m feeling good.

Novak Djokovic

Things are looking much murkier, though, for Andy Murray. Do we need to state again how unfair this is for him, as this was supposed to be his farewell tour? It seems that Muzz is in the race of all races against the clock, and chances are high that he will not be seen playing into that singles draw. However, the Wimbledon champion (2013, 2016) will not give up until he has tried everything to recover on time from the back surgery he got last weekend. So, players hoping for his withdrawal to get a spot in the draw can stop sending him messages. Yes, someone did that.

Keep Away Andy Murray GIF by Wimbledon

Gif by wimbledon on Giphy

"The rate that I’m improving just now, if that was to continue then an extra 72 to 96 hours makes a huge difference. It’s complicated, and it’s made more complicated because I want to play at Wimbledon one more time. I want to have that opportunity to play the tournament and I know that some people might look at that and say, withdrawing from a tournament late at the last minute or something like that isn’t the right thing to do, even though it happens every single week on the tour. (…) But I feel like I deserve the opportunity to try to play there again. And I want to have that opportunity, so I’m going to give it as long as I can to see how well I recover,” Murray told the British press.

I’m also fucking doing rehab 24/7 to try to give myself that opportunity.

Andy Murray

Murray revealed that scans made after Roland-Garros already showed that spinal cyst, but then it grew significantly by the time the Queen’s happened. He was told that the recovery would take six to twelve weeks, but anyone knowing Murray knew he wouldn’t take that for a reason to stop hoping to be able to play one last time on that Centre Court. He knows the chances are slim, but he will give everything anyway.

I’m going to wait until the last minute to see if I’m going to be able to and I’ve earned that right to do that. This is not clearcut where I am 100% going to be ready to play or there is a 0% chance that I can play. That is the situation. I would say it’s probably more likely that I’m not able to play singles right now. I’m also fucking doing rehab 24/7 to try to give myself that opportunity to play there again.” Murray will still retire this summer if he’s able to play in London and then at the Olympics. If not? He says he could pick another tournament. Andy Murray wants to retire on the court, as his career deserves.

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BUSINESS / MEDIA 
NBC Sports goes all out for Paris 2024

NBC Sports provided more details on their coverage of the Olympics on Wednesday. And it’s going to be a lot about the celebs this summer on the network.

WHO’s IN:

  • Steven Spielberg: The Oscar-winning director will narrate a short film called The Land Of Stories right before the opening ceremony on July 26th. NBCUniversal will use parts of Land of Stories to promote its Olympics coverage across studio platforms and in AMC and Imax theaters,” says a statement.

  • Kelly Clarkson and Peyton Manning will be on the scene during the opening ceremony.

  • Dwyane Wade, comedian Leslie Jones, Mary Carillo, and Snoop Dogg will provide coverage throughout the Games.

  • Kenan Thompson will co-host a Peacock highlights show with Kevin Hart, and Colin Jost (Saturday Night Live) will be in Tahiti to cover the surfing competition.

AI is ready: NBC Sports will launch “a new artificial-intelligence-powered daily Olympics highlights feed,” reports Front Office Sports. Offered on Peacock, it will feature “the synthesized and recreated voice of Hall of Fame announcer Al Michaels.” A team of human editors will keep that AI in check.

The Players Fund invests in Naomi Osaka’s Hana Kuma

They all want in. Hana Kuma, Naomi Osaka’s production company that was launched in 2022, is welcoming a fifth investor. The Players Fund has been announced as joining the list of Nike, LeBron James’s Springhill, Epic Games and Fenway Sports Group. The Players Fund launched last August and is led by athletes. Hana Kuma raised $5 million last spring already.

Who’s the prettiest?

Well, the ITF wants to know! They’re launching a “global search for the best tennis imagery of 2024 with the launch of the ITF Tennis Photograph of the Year competition.” And, as she’s in high demand these days, Garbine Muguruza will be on the judging panel. For the first time ever, the game’s international governing body is welcoming entries from both professional and amateur photographers across the world, with a top prize of $3,000 USD on offer for the winner,” said the ITF in a statement.

SOME BREAK POINTS… 
No AC in Paris? No problem, they’ll bring their own

Sweating Season 5 GIF by Friends

Gif by friends on Giphy

Paris 2024 had plans for the environment, but some teams are putting their foot down. Or, more, their AC units up. The U.S. Olympic team, Germany, Australia, Italy, Canada, and Great Britain are among the ones who have decided to go rogue. They will bring their AC units with them. Sustainability? Sure, it's an amazing principle on paper. But when medals are on the line, apparently, it goes through the window. It’s widely known that Europe is not big on AC as far as accommodations are concerned and that Paris is very - very - not big on AC at all.

“As you can imagine, this is a period of time in which consistency and predictability is critical for Team USA’s performance. In our conversations with athletes, this was a very high priority and something that the athletes felt was a critical component in their performance capability,” said U.S. Olympic and Paralympic CEO Sarah Hirshland to Reuters.

The Paris 2024 organizers had plans to cool the rooms with a geothermal energy system (underfloor cooling, insulation of the buildings), but it seems it didn’t convince these countries. “I want the Paris Games to be exemplary from an environmental point of view,” Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said in the past. Well, good luck with that.

Muguruza joins Nadal in working with the Saudi Tennis Federation

(WTA Ventures CEO Marina Storti, President of the STF Arij Mutabagani, Garbiñe Muguruza, Judy Murray, Credit: WTA)

After Rafael Nadal signed with the Saudi Tennis Federation as an ambassador, it’s Garbine Muguruza’s turn to ink a deal. The former Spanish player has agreed to work with the WTA, the Saudi Tennis Federation, and the Ministry of Sport as tournament director for the WTA Finals, which will be played in Riyadh at the end of the season.

Muguruza won the French Open in 2016, Wimbledon in 2017, was a World No.1, and has just retired. "I'm excited to work with a great team to present a showcase for women's tennis that not only grows tennis but encourages all fans, and especially girls and women, to pursue their dreams,” she said. She also joins Judy Murray, who will be the WTA Finals Community Ambassador.

Alcaraz in Charlotte in December

Do you already know what your plans are for next winter? No? Well, Carlos Alcaraz does. The Charlotte Sports Foundation announced an exhibition coming to Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday, Dec. 6, and the Spaniard is on the players’ list. He will be joined by Frances Tiafoe, Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens at the Spectrum Center. The title sponsor hasn’t been revealed yet. Tickets will go on sale in the middle of July.

PLAY HARD, TRAIN HARD, DRESS THE PART 
It’s a what? It’s a wearable device

(@ATP)

The ATP announced on Thursday that it would approve “in-competition wearable devices for players across the ATP Tour and ATP Challenger Tour, starting from 15 July.” What is a wearable device? Well, we already told you about one on TSS: the patch that was originally made for people with diabetes but whose use is growing among athletes. And last year, Novak Djokovic had a metal disc strapped to his chest.

So after Wimbledon, it’ll be a new era on the men’s Tour as all these devices, and undoubtedly many that are in the waiting room will be officially approved. The goal? Wearable devices will generate cutting-edge insights for players from physical metrics such as heart rate and high-intensity load data, enhancing their analysis of matches and training sessions. ATP has approved both STATSports and Catapult devices and will centralise all data into ATP Tennis IQ – Wearables, an intuitive new dashboard for players", says the ATP. Ross Hutchins, ATP Chief Sporting Officer, added: "The introduction of wearables on Tour is a big step forward in our push to optimise player performance and prevent injury. Ultimately, empowering players to get the very best out of their careers.” All data collected will remain confidential.

EDITOR’S PICKS 

Nails therapy, anyone? I had this saved for a while, and now it seems like a good time to share. Seriously, isn’t it the perfect moment as Wimbledon is about to start to let you all know the best places to get your nails done in London? I think it is, so here you go: these are the places to go. I wonder if “Pimm’s” could be a color…

Also, if you’re around and are already trying to plan a getaway from the tennis (why would you, though?!), here’s a list of seven of the UK’s best beaches.