Diary: Sports royalty occupy Centre Court

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Wimbledon guests: England rugby's Stuart Lancaster & Matt Dawson.

On the first Saturday of the Championships the Royal Box on Centre Court is traditionally packed with British athletes, who get invited to catch the third round action of the day.

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Yesterday, a host or rugby union stars were in attendance including Brian O’Driscoll, the most-capped player in rugby union history, who was joined by Bill Beaumont, Matt Dawson, Chris Robshaw and Stuart Lancaster.

Among the many sports stars who were there are Nicola Adams, the first-ever female Olympic and Commonwealth boxing champion, distance runner and mother-of-two, Jo Pavey, who struck gold in the 10k at the European Championships last summer, six-time Paralympic champion David Weir, squash ex-world No1 Nick Matthew and Ryder Cup heroes Luke Donald and Justin Rose.

Martina Navratilova and Boris Becker were amongst the tennis legends in the Box while Judy Murray, Andy Murray’s mother was there with her Strictly Come Dancing partner Anton du Beke.

Elsewhere on the grounds, ex-Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp was spotted courtside for Dustin Brown’s match. Brown revealed a friend of his had asked him to get tickets for Klopp, a fellow German, and the player obliged without knowing Klopp personally or knowing much about football to begin with.

Klopp was appreciative enough to go to Court 3 and watch Brown lose to Viktori Troicki in the third round.

“I gave him tickets. Not from me, but a friend of mine asked me if I could put the tickets down. I wrote the name down on the paper, but I didn't think about it. Then when I went on the court, I saw him.  I was like ‘okay, maybe that's the person I left the tickets for’,” revealed Brown after his match yesterday.

“It's great. It's an honour. I don't know a lot about soccer, so I'm not going to get into that. It was an honour for him to be there and watch the match. Also saw that he was sitting in the box area.”

Funny that it seems Brown wasn’t sure who Klopp even was.

Another interesting revelation from Brown was the fact that he was hopping straight on a plane to Germany so he could take part in some club matches in Cologne. One day he is beating Rafael Nadal on Centre Court to make the Wimbledon third round and the next he is playing club matches back home. You’ve got to respect the hustle!

A reporter tried to get too personal with Brown yesterday and asked him if he had any debt to pay off. Brown made £77,000 for making the third round at Wimbledon, which is a considerable sum for someone ranked outside the top 100 and it will inevitably help alleviate some of the expenses he has as a professional player. But that doesn’t mean we have a right to ask him how much debt he has.

Naturally Brown was not amused by the question.

“I don't see what that has to do with this,” responded the German. 

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Murray positive on chances after two quick wins

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Andy Murray believes his prospects of glory at Wimbledon have been enhanced by the speed of his two opening victories.

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Murray beat Robin Haase 6-1, 6-1, 6-4 in an hour and 27 minutes on Court One, meaning he has taken less than four hours to reach round three after another straight-sets victory over Mikhail Kukushkin on Tuesday.

Italy’s Andreas Seppi awaits in the third round today and Murray was relieved to save energy, with the likes of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Roger Federer potentially to come.

“In grand slams you have to try to conserve energy when you can because the two weeks can be quite draining physically and mentally,” Murray said.

“If you can get yourself off the court quickly and capitalise if your opponent maybe isn’t playing as well, if you’re on your game, (you have to) try to push yourself to keep playing that way. It can pay off towards the end of the tournament so I’m glad I got done quickly.”

Murray felt dissatisfied after his battling win over Kukushkin but the British No1 raised his level against Haase, with a more aggressive and dominant display.

After the match, Murray threw his wristband towards the Duchess of Cornwall as she sat in the stands and it was caught by All England Club chairman Philip Brook, who then passed it to the Duchess.

A Clarence House spokeswoman said the Duchess and Murray met after his win so she could ‘’pass on her congratulations’’.

And Murray said: “The wristband actually hit the chairman of Wimbledon. The Duchess opened up her bag and my wristband was in there, so he obviously had given it to her.” 

Murray will now focus on Seppi, who has never been past the fourth round in SW19 and has failed to win a set in six consecutive defeats to the world No 3.

The Italian has enjoyed an encouraging year, however, after he inflicted a shock defeat on Federer at the Australian Open, before losing to the Swiss in the final at Halle last month.

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Tomic slams Tennis Australia after Wimbledon exit

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Hitting out: Tomic.

Bernard Tomic has slammed Tennis Australia, citing lack of respect and funding, but has confirmed he will be playing Davis Cup out of “respect” for his team-mates and his country.

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Australia will face Kazakhstan in the World Group quarter-finals this month and it was believed that Tomic was not going to play following comments from Pat Rafter who said the young Aussie was being held hostage by his father, John Tomic, who was at odds with Tennis Australia over lack of funding for Sara Tomic, Bernard’s sister.

But Tomic said he wanted to set the record straight yesterday, following his third round exit at the hands of Novak Djokovic, saying he was going to play Davis Cup before unleashing a scathing attack on Tennis Australia officials, including chief executive Craig Tiley, president Stephen Healy and Rafter, the director of performance.

“I always wanted to play Davis Cup. I’m going to. I’m going to go down there and play for the respect of Davis Cup, for the respect of the Australian public, for myself, and mainly for the respect of Lleyton (Hewitt) and the team,” a calm but sharp Tomic announced yesterday.

“Personally it’s been very difficult for me the last year or so in the Tennis Australia group. Pat is a nice guy. If the Australian public don’t know Pat, he’s a good actor, he’s well-spoken, always prepared and knows what to say. He’s prepped by Tennis Australia to know what to say,” Tomic said of Rafter.

“He’s always ready to fire back questions that we answer to. Very disappointed in Craig Tiley, in Tennis Australia. He’s the reason the last few years, it’s been up and down for me. There has been lack of support towards me. There has been no respect towards me.”

Tomic, who exploded onto the scene by making the quarter-finals at Wimbledon as a qualifier in 2011, has been unable to live up to his potential so far and had hip surgery last year which hampered his progress.

“Things started changing after I had that surgery. I didn’t get one phone call from Tennis Australia ‘can we help you, Bernard? Can we do this? Do you need something? Can we give you something?” he explained.

“Nothing. No phone calls were there. From what Pat said, a lot of money was invested in me, for sure. But whatever they invested in me, they got in return 10, 20 times more. Now all of a sudden, they are neglecting me. They are not supporting me, not respecting me.”

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