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No Challenges Remaining

English, Sports, 1 season, 528 episodes, 13 hours, 23 minutes
About
A humorous and informative podcast discussing the happenings in the wacky world of professional tennis. Hosted by Ben Rothenberg and Courtney Nguyen.
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Episode 374: Krejcikova, Alcaraz Win Wimbledon

Ben and Tumaini reunite the morning after the Wimbledon Ball to discuss the champions who danced together after dancing alone atop their respective draws, Barbora Krejcikova and Carlos Alcaraz. We discuss what makes Krejcikova so good (with an assist from Andrea Petkovic), where she goes from here, and the state of the top of the women's game after this result.  After debuting an original song by NCR's bard Dan Bern, we turn to the men's champion Carlos Alcaraz, who delivered a decisive domination of Djokovic that clarifies their respective places in men's tennis right now. Is Alcaraz the best player in the world right now? And can Djokovic still win another major someday? Also, exciting news of an upcoming show for our Patreon backers is (sorta) revealed.  Thank you for listening! Our Patreon is back up and running as of this week to ensure NCR keeps going and stays ad-free, and we hope you can join in supporting NCR! And we especially thank our GOAT backers: Pam Shriver, Jean Simeon, and J. O'D.
7/16/20241 hour, 5 minutes, 54 seconds
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Episode 373e: Wimbledon Finals Preview

Ben and Tumaini reunite now that the Wimbledon finals are set, to discuss the unexpected women's final between Barbora Krejcikova and Jasmine Paolini, and the far more predictable rematch of last year's final between Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic. We discuss the great women's semifinals, including Paolini's epic battle against Vekic, and how Krejcikova is proving herself to be a generational talent. On the men's side, we discuss Medvedev's near-default, and the disparate styles of locking in that Alcaraz and Djokovic both use with such success in best-of-five. Thank you for listening! Our Patreon is back up and running as of this week to ensure NCR keeps going and stays ad-free, and we hope you can join in supporting NCR! And we especially thank our GOAT backers: Pam Shriver, Jean Simeon, and J. O'D.
7/13/202427 minutes, 17 seconds
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Episode 373d: Wimbledon Quarterfinals Preview

Ben and Tumaini start this mid-tournament show with a catch up on the fourth round action, which included some crowd combativeness in victory from Novak Djokovic, some complaining and collapsing from Zverev, and some painful injuries on the grass. We look ahead to the quarterfinals with special focus on the surprise runs of Emma Navarro, Lulu Sun, Barbora Krejcikova, and Taylor Fritz, and Tumaini also weighs in on the Raducanu/Murray mixed doubles mess. Thank you for listening! Our Patreon is back up and running as of this week to ensure NCR keeps going and stays ad-free, and we hope you can join in supporting NCR! And we especially thank our GOAT backers: Pam Shriver, Jean Simeon, and J. O'D.
7/9/202454 minutes, 33 seconds
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Episode 373c: Wimbledon - Astonishing, Vanishing Doubles

Ben is joined by James Gray of The i newspaper, inews.co.uk, and Tennis Unfiltered to discuss Saturday's big upset and some doubles drama causing buzz around Wimbledon. We discuss #1 Iga Swiatek getting hammered in the second and third sets by Yulia Putintseva as the crowd turned on her in the middle, but we start with the big British news of the day (in a busy time for British news generally), which was Emma Raducanu pulling the plug on Andy Murray's Wimbledon career by withdrawing from their mixed doubles match. What are the reactions to this news which Andy's mother Judy Murray called "astonishing"?  We also discuss James' recent reporting on anger in doubles ranks about the ATP limiting opportunities for doubles specialists to enter tournaments, and what the path forward for doubles might be, both as a source of employment and entertainment. Thank you for listening! Our Patreon is back up and running as of this week to ensure NCR keeps going and stays ad-free, and we hope you can join in supporting NCR! And we especially thank our GOAT backers: Pam Shriver, Jean Simeon, and J. O'D.
7/6/202422 minutes, 45 seconds
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Episode 373b: Wimbledon Early Rounds - Favorites, Farewells, and Clowns

Ben is joined by Ricky Dimon to discuss the first week of Wimbledon so far, which has been mostly pretty straightforward on the men's and women's sides. We discuss the biggest scare a men's favorite has had so far, when Alcaraz needed five sets to beat Tiafoe, as well as Sinner's battle past Berrettini and Djokovic's tricky road ahead. We also discuss the strong form of Emma Navarro, and the wide-open women's bottom half that includes a path for Emma Raducanu. We also discuss the big retirement sendoff Wimbledon gave Andy Murray, a ceremony which was very different from traditional Wimbledon fare. Thanks for listening! Our Patreon is back up and running as of this week, and we hope you can join in supporting NCR! And we especially thank our GOAT backers: Pam Shriver, Jean Simeon, and J. O'D.
7/6/202432 minutes, 12 seconds
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Episode 373a: Wimbledon Round 1 - A Winter of Discontent

Ben is joined by L'Equipe's Quentin Moynet to discuss one of the most striking players at this year's Wimbledon, Maxime Janvier, who has stood out for his uniquely bleak outlook on tennis, even in victory. We get into Janvier's remarkably open cynicism, his mid-match explanations about money, class divides throughout the tennis rankings, and how his remarks have been received within tennis circles. Ben and Quentin also discuss the player whom Janvier beat in the final round of qualifying, young French rising star Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard, who scored an upset win over Sebastian Korda today as a lucky loser. Also, our Patreon is back up and running as of this week, so we have lots of backers to thank, and we hope you can also join them in supporting the show! And we especially thank our GOAT backers: Pam Shriver, Jean Simeon, and J. O'D.
7/3/202423 minutes, 47 seconds
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Episode 372b: Wimbledon 2024 Draw Preview - Men

Ben and Tumaini continue their conversation into the men's draw, where Jannik Sinner is the top seed for the first time at a Slam, defending champion Carlos Alcaraz looms in his half, and grass specialists like Matteo Berrettini loom large. We take several deep dives along the way into scheduling and health issues, first discussing the women and men who decided to skip the Olympics and why they might regret it. Tumaini then regales us with Andy Murray's full saga leading up to what he's confirmed will be his last Slam, and then we close with a look at Novak Djokovic's rapid return from surgery on his torn meniscus.  Thanks for listening to our preview episodes! If you're enjoying our Wimbledon content, please consider backing NCR on our Patreon page, which gets back into gear on the first day of the tournament! 
6/30/202453 minutes, 8 seconds
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Episode 372a: Wimbledon 2024 Draw Preview - Women

Ben and Tumaini spent a long time discussing the Wimbledon draws just hours after they came out, and are splitting the preview episode into two parts for your convenience. First up are the women, where top seed Iga Swiatek has question marks on grass, where Parks-Wozniacki is one of the most intriguing first round matches (and listen to the discussed Black Spin Global interview with Parks' coach here), and where lots of other possible pivot points exist in understanding how this all might unfold. Thanks for listening, and thanks for supporting NCR on our renewed Patreon crowdfunding efforts! Our men's show will be to you shortly! 
6/30/202455 minutes, 18 seconds
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Episode 371: The Grass Specialty, With Barbora Strycova

Ben is joined on this episode by Barbora Strycova, a titan on grass courts over the last decade before her retirement, to talk about the secrets to success on this unique surface which takes up just about a month on the tennis calendar. We discuss what works on grass, her memories of deep runs at Wimbledon, winning with Hsieh Su-wei, beating a Brit on Centre Court, facing Serena, and more. Hope you enjoy! NCR's Patreon is back up and running soon and we'd love to have your support there!
6/23/202428 minutes, 54 seconds
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Episode 370: Inside Zverev's Trial - "The Truth Remains Open"

Ben is joined by Jonathan Crane, who covered the recent criminal trial of Alexander Zverev in Berlin for DW, to discuss the proceedings he covered before and during the French Open and the conclusion they reached last Friday. We discuss how the case reached this point, the atmosphere inside the court room, and the ultimate resolution they reached in which Zverev made settlements with both his ex-girlfriend Brenda Patea and the court itself. We also discuss Zverev's misleading claims of proven innocence, how the ATP failed to face this issue, and what justice can mean in cases like this. Thanks for listening! The NCR Patreon is back up and running if you would be up for showing your support for the show that way, we'd appreciate it! 
6/11/20241 hour, 1 minute, 28 seconds
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Episode 369e: Swiatek, Alcaraz Lead Their Generations - 2024 French Open Finals

Ben and Tumaini wrap up their coverage of this French Open with a look at the generation-leading champions who won it, Iga Swiatek and Carlos Alcaraz. Swiatek, who won her fifth Slam, has established herself as the best player in many generations, drawing comparisons to stars like Justine Henin with her fourth win in Paris. What can she do to play as well at the other Slams? On the men's side, how did Carlos Alcaraz survive hot and cold streaks to be cool under pressure to finish off his third Slam? Also, how did the 90s-born players get so totally left behind in men's tennis? Housekeeping note: As mentioned at the end of this show, we are resuming the NCR Patreon! If you were an existing patron who hasn't unsubscribed, you will be included when it boots back up. If you aren't and want to support the show at any number of various levels, please do sign up, we really appreciate it!
6/10/202438 minutes, 39 seconds
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Episode 369d: French Open Lurches Toward Rocky Finish

Ben checks in with Tumaini in Paris to discuss all the happenings of the business end of a sometimes fun, often frustrating French Open. We start with the women, where Iga Swiatek is set to face Jasmine Paolini in the final. Both great stories on their own, as we discuss, but will the final itself be a memorable one? We then tuck into the men, among whom Novak Djokovic bowed out with a torn meniscus, and the Sinner-Alcaraz blockbuster semifinal was fairly lumpy. We also briefly discuss our reactions to the sudden end of Zverev's legal proceedings in Berlin (and how he is trying to frame the resolution). Tumaini ends the show with his strong thoughts on night sessions at Roland Garros, which fit into a wider pattern of greed in tennis lately. Thanks for listening! 
6/8/202457 minutes, 3 seconds
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Episode 369c: Is Women's Tennis Missing the Moment? (French Open Day 6)

Ben and Lindsay Gibbs of Power Plays are celebrating together in Tennessee and also discussing what they see in tennis, when it comes to how the women's game may be missing out on the cultural wave that other women's sports are riding in 2024. What separates the trajectory of women's tennis from the momentum brought by Caitlin Clark to basketball and similar surges in professional women's soccer and hockey? What should the WTA's priorities be? How much are female players responsible for the success of their sport as a product? We also touch on the Alexander Zverev criminal case, after the first hearing happened earlier today in Berlin
5/31/202441 minutes, 49 seconds
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Episode 369b: Osaka Nearly Stuns Swiatek - 2024 French Open Day 4

Ben checks in with Tumaini at Roland Garros to discuss the match of the tournament so far, in which Naomi Osaka was just one point away from stunning the huge favorite Iga Swiatek before the three-time champ rallied for a late escape. How does this surprisingly strong performance set up Osaka for the remainder of her season? And is it a cause for concern for Swiatek's favorite status in Paris? Also, we discuss Elena Rybakina's souring in her first round press conference, and revisit Tumaini's thoughts on Rafael Nadal's future.
5/30/202433 minutes, 9 seconds
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Episode 369a: Nadal Says Goodbye (...Probably) - 2024 French Open Day 2

Ben and Ricky Dimon debrief on what very much looked like Rafael Nadal's last match at the French Open, in which the 14-time champion played decently but was clearly overmatched by fourth-ranked Alexander Zverev. We discuss the match, and hear from Rafa himself on what his future might hold. If not answers, there was some clarity in his remarks that helps light a clearer path for his future. We also discuss what was most impressive in Nadal's era of dominance, the newfound parity seemingly hitting men's tennis, and a couple other early results from Sinner to Sakkari. 
5/28/202429 minutes, 39 seconds
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Episode 368: Draw Me Like One of Your French Opens, 2024

Ben and Tumaini reconvene for a quick-paced look through the French Open draws, looking at the top lines stories from the wide-open men's draw and the Swiatek-steered women's side. We start with the headline first round match between Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev, a daunting test for the 14-time champion against an opponent who brings on-court for and in-court legal issues to make this a discomfiting occasion.  We also discuss Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, Jannik Sinner, Iga Swiatek, Elena Rybakina, Danielle Collins, and more!  Enjoy the tennis, amis!
5/25/202452 minutes, 29 seconds
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Episode 367: Iga Does Double; Men Are Rubble

Ben and Tumaini catch up on the Dinara Double, in which Iga Swiatek "won Rome and Madrid" while on the men's side a whole bunch of draws fell apart and the top of the men's ladder looked shakier than it has in years. We talk about Swiatek launching herself into a new orbit, the upper hand she has on Sabalenka, and wax poetic about the current gloriousness of Danielle Collins. We also discuss the uncertainties around many men's stars, including Djokovic, Sinner, Nadal, and Alcaraz. We then spend a lot of this mega episode discussing players who have announced their retirements and the legacies they leave. Garbine Muguruza, Dominic Thiem, Diego Schwartzman, and Camila Giorgi led four very different lives on this tour, and all left marks in their own ways. We also cover wild cards, how media should discuss Zverev as his criminal trial gets underway in Berlin, Ben's detour into the very different ecosystem of Eurovision coverage, and more!
5/22/20242 hours, 1 minute, 42 seconds
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Episode 366: "Challengers" Screenwriter Justin Kuritzkes

To dive further into "Challengers," the much-buzzed-about tennis movie coming out this Friday, Ben chats with the movie's screenwriter Justin Kuritzkes about his inspiration to tell a story about the unique emotional landscape of tennis. We discuss the infamous match that planted the initial seed of desperation, the details tennis heads are appreciating (including the Applebee's near the Cincinnati tournament), introducing the sometimes convoluted structure of tennis to a general audience, the eroticism of tennis, and possible similarities with his wife Celine Song's acclaimed 2023 film "Past Lives." Thanks for listening! 
4/25/202431 minutes, 4 seconds
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Episode 365: "Challengers" Changes the Tennis Movie Genre

Ben and AJ Eccles attended screenings of the new movie CHALLENGERS this week, and are here to discuss this bold new entry into the growing tennis movie canon (NB: we very carefully avoided any significant spoilers until a very clearly marked intermission at the 41-minute mark). Directed by Luca Guadanigno and starring Zendaya, Josh O'Connor, and Mike Faist, we discuss how CHALLENGERS compares to recent tennis movies like KING RICHARD and BATTLE OF THE SEXES, and how fiction can actually allow for greater truths. We also discuss what big and small things new movie gets right about the experience of life on the professional tennis tour, what it explains about tennis culture, and how the campy action sequences do or don't affect the film. We also discuss what the film shows that Netflix's Break Point failed to do. Again, no spoilers until 41 minutes into the show (and even then we hardly give away everything). AJ also wrote about CHALLENGERS for The Second Serve, so please do check that out as well! Thanks for listening! 
4/20/202458 minutes, 2 seconds
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Episode 364: WTA Goes Saudi; Huge Premier Tour Changes on the Table

Ben and Tumaini reconvened this week to react to the news that the WTA Finals are going to Saudi Arabia, a move that felt unfathomable five years ago but has more recently felt inevitable. What do we make of the news? Should women's sports be held to a different standard when it comes to selling out? And what does the deal say about both the recent past and near future of women's tennis? We then shift to a conversation about the proposed Premier Tour, a radical revamp described in detail in an interview of USTA CEO Lew Sherr in his interview with  Jon Wertheim. What would tennis be losing with massive streamlining? Would the gains offset the losses? We also discuss the cancellation of Netflix's Break Point after two seasons. In a time of discord in tennis, nearly everyone can agree on how disappointing it was; what went wrong? Next time, a review of Luca Guadanigno's Challengers! 
4/13/20241 hour, 28 minutes, 5 seconds
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Episode 363: Sun Shines on Sinner, Collins, Swiatek and Alcaraz

Ben and Tumaini answer listener questions and recap the month that was in March, where Indian Wells and Miami formed the Sunshine Double and changed some of the forecasts of the sport. We start with Indian Wells, where Swiatek and Alcaraz won their second titles and Novak Djokovic lost early and bailed on the swing. We then head to Miami, where Danielle Collins won the biggest title of her career and Jannik Sinner cemented his spot as the dominant player on tour. We also discuss recent form of Dimitrov, Gauff, Sabalenka, and more. From our mailbag, we also discuss the fairness and merits of wild cards (including for returning dopers), the shrinking status of the Miami Open. (Another episode soon on the huge changes afoot on tour from the Saudi money and Premier Tour jockeying!)
4/5/20241 hour, 25 minutes, 51 seconds
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Episode 362b: The State of the Union in Women's Tennis, Golden, Oldies

Picking up where we left off on the last episode, Ben and Tumaini cover several other big stories from the first part of this season. We talk about the diverging fates of Brits in tennis, as Andy Murray sets a dispirited retirement date while Katie Boulter surges to a new high. We then spend quite a while on the health of women's tennis as a product, which seems to be getting left in the dust while the men surge, with no apparent strategy for building interest in their product. What can be done? And how transformative can the looming infusion of Saudi cash be? (Here's a link to a separate Cracked Racquets podcast Ben did on the Saudi ATP sponsorship.) We also catch up on recent results in men's tennis, talk about the pleasant alternate tennis universe that is the South American "Golden Swing," and cover the Netflix Slam (we recorded before Break Point was cancelled), with a bit on its uncertain star Rafael Nadal. Thanks for listening! 
3/13/202450 minutes, 29 seconds
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Episode 362a:A Halep Reversal and a Rublev Removal

Ben and Tumaini had a lot to catch up on this week, so we are splitting this episode into two parts. The first part, here, begins with the Court of Arbitration for Sport issuing a radical reversal of the first decision on Simona Halep's positive test, which means Halep can return to tour immediately. We don't have all the answers yet, but what does the dramatic disparity between the two decisions say about the dysfunction of the tennis anti-doping system? In the second part of this episode, we discuss Andrey Rublev getting defaulted from his semifinal in Dubai for berating a line judge, and how that moment should be instructive. Thanks for listening!
3/8/202449 minutes, 56 seconds
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Episode 361b: Sabalenka Smashes Australian Open Women's Field

Ben and Tumaini turn to the women (and the miscellany) in this second Australian Open wrap show. This one was more straightforward, resultswise: Aryna Sabalenka was the best player, by a lot, defending her title in emphatic fashion. What do we make of her consolidation as a champion? And where is the sport at now, geopolitically? We also cover the strong runs of Coco Gauff and Zheng Qinwen, as well as early exits of Swiatek, Wozniacki, and Naomi Osaka. We also cover some other miscellaneous stories of the tournament, including the delightful Hsieh Su-wei, the tacky trophy boxes, and new the freedom of movement.
1/31/20241 hour, 10 minutes, 38 seconds
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Episode 361a: Sinner the Winner of Men's Australian Open

Jannik Sinner is the winner of the Australian Open, dethroning the Djokovic dynasty and prevailing in a thrilling comeback final to claim his first Slam win. We discuss Sinner's ascendance and what the defeats mean for the two men, Djokovic and Medvedev, whom he beat to clinch this title.  We also discuss other various things on the men's side of the tournament (we also recorded a women's episode which will come soon), including late finishes. We then close with a discussion of the darkening shadow that the abuse accusations against Alexander Zverev cast over this tournament, and why they got so much more traction here than ever before. Ben and Tumaini start this episode with a remembrance of our colleague Mike Dickson, who passed away suddenly while covering the Australian Open. He is much loved and much missed.
1/30/20241 hour, 17 minutes, 10 seconds
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Episode 360: 2024 Australian Open Draw Show

Coming full circle, NCR begins its 13th(!) season with our look at the Australian Open draws. Ben and Tumaini start with the men. Who can meaningfully challenge Novak Djokovic? And then we talk about the women. Have you heard that Ben wrote a book about Naomi Osaka? We really think you'll like it, and we thank you for buying it! We'll be back with you with more shows during the tournament!
1/13/20241 hour, 29 minutes, 7 seconds
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Episode 359: ”Naomi Osaka” - Behind the Book

At last it's finally publication day for Ben's new book, the biography Naomi Osaka: Her Journey to Finding Her Power and Her Voice!  After months of copious plugs on the show, we are excited to finally be able to talk about the book in more depth and detail, with the tremendous help of NCR's intrepid correspondent Reem Abulleil who interviews Ben about the book, his process, and some of the key moments of Naomi's career. Reem was also a close observer of Naomi's since her earliest days on the tour, so there's lots to discuss here about this singularly fascinating and complex person. Enough to fill a book, even!  We also plan on doing a listener mailbag episode about the book once y'all have had a chance to read it, so please do buy a copy (or check it out from a local library) and think about what you might want to ask! Hope you enjoy the episode and the book! Thank you for your support!
1/9/20241 hour, 11 minutes, 29 seconds
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Episode 358: Women’s Tennis Turmoil Reviewed

Ben and Tumaini have a lot to cover as they try to make sense of the year in women's tennis and explain the forces behind the stormy finish to the year, on-court and off-court, and where it leaves the sport going forward. After a brief discussion on the last couple events of the men's calendar—including if Jannik Sinner was right to keep Novak Djokovic in contention in Turin—we dig into the year that was on court, first by running through some of the headlines off court, and then covering how that turned into headlines off-court with player criticisms roiling the final event of the year. Are the criticisms justified? Who is fertilizing the seeds of player discontent against WTA leadership? And where does the sport go from here? Thanks for listening to NCR in 2023! And if you've enjoyed NCR this year, please do pre-order Ben's new biography of Naomi Osaka! 
12/9/20231 hour, 37 minutes, 49 seconds
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Episode 357: The Year in Men’s Tennis (With Ricky Dimon)

With Ricky Dimon in town to run his sixth Marine Corps Marathon, he joins Ben for their annual wrap show on the year that was in men's tennis, which was another season of Novak Djokovic, now 36, lording over a much younger field. Ben and Ricky get somewhat granular, going over the top seventeen men in the rankings and spending a few minutes on each, assessing their years and their prospects for next year. In order: Dimitrov, Shelton, Tiafoe, Khachanov, de Minaur, Paul, Ruud, Hurkacz, Fritz, Rune, Zverev, Tsitsipas, Rublev, Sinner, Medvedev, Alcaraz, and Djokovic Plus a few honorable notable mentions: Murray, Auger-Aliassime, Kyrgios and Nadal. Thanks for listening! And thanks for pre-ordering Ben's new biography of Naomi Osaka!
11/2/20231 hour, 21 minutes, 42 seconds
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Episode 356: Simona Halep and the Biggest Doping Conviction in Tennis History

Ben and Tumaini read the 126-page decision in the tribunal's decision to convict former No. 1 Simona Halep on two charges of intentional doping, and give you a deep dive into the details of the document and expound on what it all means. In the first half of this episode we get into the details so you don't have to, explaining the reasons why the tribunal was "comfortably satisfied" of Halep's guilt, and how they arrived to those two parallel verdicts through different detection methods. We also discuss why Halep's defenses failed, and what she was trying to achieve with her focus on delays to the process. In the second part of the deep dive, we explore the ramifications of these convictions, the most serious convictions a tennis star has ever received, and what they mean for Halep, her coach Patrick Mouratoglou, and the sport of tennis writ large. There's a lot to unpack here, and it's not always fun, but we hope we can shed some light on this complex case for you. Thank you for listening, and if you enjoy deep dives into tennis please pre-order Ben's biography of Naomi Osaka, coming out soon!
9/26/20231 hour, 42 minutes, 3 seconds
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Episode 355i: 2023 US Open Finals - Coco Gauff’s First; Djokovic’s 24th

Ben and Tumaini wrap the US Open finals in their eighth show of the tournament, starting with Coco Gauff fulfilling the years of hype and hope by winning her first grand slam title. What did this win show us about a player we first met when she was a young teenager of 13 or 15? And what are the perils of such expectations? We then get into Djokovic's win over Medvedev, for his 24th major. Where does he go from here? And how should his relationship to the public best be characterized at this point? You'll also get to hear TWO original songs by Dan Bern about this tournament. And as plugged many times, please do pre-order Ben's soon-to-be-released biography of Naomi Osaka, now available from your local bookstores or online retailers!
9/12/20231 hour, 13 minutes, 48 seconds
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Episode 355h: 2023 US Open - Semifinals Wrap, Finals Preview

Ben and Tumaini discuss the four semifinals that were, and all the storylines they contained, before looking ahead a bit to the fast-approaching US Open finals. First, what do they think of the protest that lengthily interrupted Coco Gauff's win? What is the message tennis should take from that moment? And how was Madison Keys derailed from her zoning start by Aryna Sabalenka? And what about Naomi Osaka, who dropped in on the US Open and discussed future plans (you can and should pre-order Ben's biography of Naomi as soon as you can, as many times as you want!) We then discuss Novak Getoffmylawnovic hanging up on Ben Shelton's dial tone, and Medvedev reminding folks he's still great with his emphatic win over Alcaraz. 
9/9/202354 minutes, 32 seconds
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Episode 355g: 2023 US Open Day 10 - Blair Henley, the New Voice of the US Open

Ben is joined by Blair Henley, the star interviewer on tennis courts around the world, to talk about her new role as an announcer inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, and the many different roles she's had at this US Open. What are the challenges of being the "Voice of God" at the world's biggest tennis stadiums? What makes on-court interviewing such a unique thrill? And what have been her standout moments of the tournament so far? All that and more! And you can still pre-order Ben's book, and he'd be very appreciative! 
9/7/202327 minutes, 9 seconds
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Episode 355f: 2023 US Open Day 9 - Shelton Upsets Order, Beats Tiafoe

Ben and NCR's Youth correspondent Alex Gruskin discuss Ben Shelton's big win Tuesday night over Frances Tiafoe in the US Open quarterfinals, a big result both within the American tennis ladder and in the big picture of the ATP generations game. Has Shelton's generation (Alcaraz, Sinner, Rune, etc) already passed Tiafoe's generation (Tsitsipas, Rublev, Auger-Aliassime etc) for good? What about within the American ladder? And when did the buzz about Shelton, who seemed to come out of nowhere, first start? Exciting news, listeners! For the next three days members can get 25% off when they pre-order Ben's forthcoming book Naomi Osaka online at Barnes & Noble! Use code PREORDER25, and please message us so we can thank you when you order it there or elsewhere! 
9/6/202341 minutes, 6 seconds
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Episode 355e: 2023 US Open Day 7 - Ostapenko Ends Swiatek’s Reign

Ben and Tumaini convene in the late hours of the night after Jelena Ostapenko thunderously knocked out Iga Swiatek, emphatically ending both Swiatek's title defense and her 75-week reign at the #1 ranking. Given Ostapenko's talent and head-to-head record, should this be considered a "bad loss" for Swiatek? Can Ostapenko win the tournament? How does Aryna Sabalenka come into the #1 ranking? Plus, a bit on Gauff d. Wozniacki, the constant corner chatter of coaches, and on how the worst way to beat Novak Djokovic seems to be to take the first two sets against him.  You can pre-order Ben's book now, including in the UK and Australia! 
9/4/202329 minutes, 34 seconds
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Episode 355d: 2023 US Open Day 4 - Going Back to Tennis

For our fourth daily show from the US Open, Ben is joined by tennis writer AJ Eccles to discuss his return to live tennis at the US Open last night, and what the sport looks like from inside the stadium. What did it feel like being back at a crowded tennis tournament after years away? What are the differences between watching live and watching on TV And what was it like seeing his favorites Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova battle it out in one of the marquee matches of the first week?
8/31/202316 minutes, 30 seconds
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Episode 355c: 2023 US Open Day 3 - Is the US Open a Good Neighbor?

Ben is joined by David Waldstein of The New York Times, who recently wrote about the disconnect between the US Open and its neighbors, the Latino communities of Corona and other neighborhoods like Elmhurst and Flushing. Why is the US Open so walled off from these communities? What could be done to make them more connected and invested in one another? And what is lost by hundreds of thousands of people passing over these neighborhoods in "flyover" fashion as the tournament teleports its people from Midtown Manhattan to the island of the USTABJKNTC?
8/31/202318 minutes, 20 seconds
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Episode 355b: 2023 US Open Day 2 - John Isner’s Legacy

Ben and Tumaini reconvene on Day 2 of this US Open to talk about players retiring at this US Open, including Barbora Strycova (who you'll hear), CoCo Vandeweghe, and Jack Sock. But mostly, we talk about John Isner, the towering American who had an outsized impact on the sport while being popular among his peers but polarizing among fans.  You'll hear from Andy Murray, Grigor Dimitrov, Eric Butorac, and John himself about what his legacy has been on the court, where he broke records and uniquely inspired rule changes. We discuss Isner's spectacular serve, the way it inspired awe in some and boredom in others, and also how he foregrounded a conversation about how fans choose whom to support based on public political opinions, and how tennis players think about each other's views.
8/30/202326 minutes, 44 seconds
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Episode 355a: 2023 US Open Day 1 - Saudis, Sakkari, and Schedule Screeching

Ben and Tumaini are back together again at the US Open, for the first of what will be daily shows here! We discuss the big story off-court, which is the Saudi bid to move into women's tennis, as well as some of the big headlines on court on Day 1, where Maria Sakkari and Holger Rune were the notable upset victims. Also, how relevant is American tennis globally?
8/29/202323 minutes, 52 seconds
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Episode 354: Bianca Andreescu

As he wraps up the book he's been writing about Naomi Osaka (pre-order now, please, thank you!) Ben is back on site at the ATP-WTA tournament in Washington, where he did a short-but-sweet interview with Bianca Andreescu, the 2019 U.S. Open champion who remains a remarkably engaging presence on the tour as she looks for ways to rediscover her dominance. Ben and Bianca chat about the stage presence she gets from her "unapologetic" mom, the upsides and downsides of having set the bar so high for what she can do in 2019, and how she works to block out the noise of being in the public arena. Thanks for listening!
7/31/202313 minutes, 12 seconds
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Episode 353: Wimbledon Wrap - Alcaraz Upends Djokovic; Vondrousova Vexes Jabeur

Ben and Reem Abulleil chat about the big stories of the business end of Wimbledon, starting with the massive narrative potential of the men's final. Does Carlos Alcaraz's win over Novak Djokovic in the final represent a passing of the torch, or something less drastic? How surprised were we by this result? And how could this be a good thing for Djokovic going forward? We also discuss Chris Eubanks and Matteo Berrettini, who both had meaningfully great runs on the men's side. On the women, we discuss how Marketa Vondrousova went so under the radar on her way to a historic Wimbledon title, and how she ended the fairytales of Ons Jabeur and Elina Svitolina. How does her win change the look of the women's tour? And how do we process Jabeur's disappointing loss at the final hurdle? We also look at the runs of Svitolina, Iga Swiatek, and toast the doubles win of Hsieh/Strycova. Lastly, at the end, Dan Bern sings out the show with an original composition in honor of the mythical men's final. 
7/17/20231 hour, 7 minutes, 36 seconds
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Episode 352b: 2023 Wimbledon Draw Show (REUPLOAD)

With their preamble out of the way, Ben and Tumaini Carayol (*who is audible in this fixed, reuploaded audio!) dig into the 2023 Wimbledon women's and men's draws to discuss the favorites and other notable names among the 256 players competing for the singles crowns at SW19. Both respective top seeds, Iga Swiatek and Carlos Alcaraz, have their stocks rising after strong grass lead-ups. Have they improved enough to contend for the Wimbledon title? We discuss the bottom-heavy women's draw, the continuing joy of Venus Williams, the struggles of Matteo Berrettini (who was the one player in his generation who seemed like a natural on grass), the retirements of Anett Kontaveit and Milos Raonic, the opportunity for Jannik Sinner, and the enduring juggernaut that is Novak Djokovic. Enjoy!
7/2/20231 hour, 42 minutes, 24 seconds
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Episode 352a: A Wimbledon Preamble

Ben and Tumaini Carayol sat down to record a draw show, but there was enough other stuff they wanted to touch on beforehand that they're breaking it into a separate prologue episode for you to enjoy here as an amuse bouche! On Wimbledon qualifying, Caroline Wozniacki's comeback announcement, the WTA's announced commitment to equal prize money by 2027, Billie Jean King giving her blessing to women's tennis pursuing Saudi Arabia, and the current state of the WTA as a business and a product. Enjoy!
7/1/202335 minutes, 10 seconds
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Episode 351: Djokovic & Swiatek Rack ’em Up Again in Paris

Novak Djokovic and Iga Swiatek both won their third French Open titles this weekend at Roland Garros, separating them from their respective fields in meaningful ways, and Ben and Tumaini Carayol discuss them and more! First on Djokovic, we discuss how his reaching the summit of his 23rd Slam changes (or doesn't change) the GOAT debate, and what the future holds for Djokovic. We also discuss the fizzling of his semifinal vs Carlos Alcaraz, and how Casper Ruud has made it to a whopping three Slam finals. On the women's side, Iga Swiatek seems to be building herself a dynasty at Roland Garros, the likes of which we haven't seen in women's tennis in a long time.   Then, as tennis reporters, we cover the reliably robust geopolitical part of our beat, including tensions between Ukrainians and players from Russia and Belarus, Djokovic's unexpected nationalism on Chatrier. Also, we discuss the unlikely most talked about story of the tournament: what should and shouldn't happen when a ball girl gets hit with a ball and starts crying?
6/12/20231 hour, 45 minutes, 45 seconds
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Episode 350: Draw Me Like One of Your French Opens, 2023

Ben and Tumaini Carayol dust off the NCR machine to bring you a look at the 2023 French Open women's and men's draws, breaking down the contenders and darkhorses while touching on several of the big stories of the past few months while the show has been on hiatus (Relatedly, Ben's forthcoming book on Naomi Osaka is now available for pre-order!) Can Iga Swiatek reestablish her dominance on the women's side at her favorite tournament? How clear a favorite is Carlos Alcaraz on the men's side? Before that, we start with a discussion of two notable absences: Rafael Nadal, the 14-time champion who hasn't played in months due to a persistent psoas injury, and Simona Halep, a former champion and #1 who has taken an increasingly vocal and outspoken stance as she tries to rally support against anti-doping authorities following her positive test for a blood doping agent last year. We also discuss the extended formats of the Madrid and Rome Masters 1000 events, changes which have been poorly received across the board. Thanks for listening! Bon voyage, bonne chance, bonne nuit!
5/26/20232 hours, 4 minutes, 48 seconds
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Episode 349: Sabalenka and Djokovic on Top Down Under at Australian Open

Ben and Tumaini Carayol wrap up the year's first Slam with two hours of chatting across all sorts of topics. First, we discuss the breakthrough win of Aryna Sabalenka, who conquered her demons (and braved new frontiers in her iconic trophy photo shoot). With so much power and talent now under control, how far can she go? And what did this win over the resurgent Elena Rybakina tell us? We then (27:46) discuss Novak Djokovic, his cathartic reaction to winning, and his management of an injury during this run to a 10th Australian Open final. How do we process Djokovic winning yet again despite all the distractions? And what does it say of the field that it's still an old man's game? We also discuss the ultimate old man of the ATP, the ever-thrilling Andy Murray (1:03:03). We then (1:11:34) discuss the new coaching rules, and the scrutiny of Rybakina's coach, Stefano Vukov. How do we feel about the new rules, and how should we discuss discomfiting player-coach dynamics, particularly on the WTA Tour? Our last main topic (1:28:30) is a discussion of the growing prominence of nationality and nationalism in tennis, as exemplified by the surreal pro-Putin pep rally on the steps of Rod Laver Arena which Tumaini wandered into during the tournament. How should we process the role of patriotism and flags in tennis, and is there a way to turn down the temperature during this continuing wartime? Many other topics as well in there for y'all to enjoy! Thanks for listening! 
1/31/20231 hour, 59 minutes, 56 seconds
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Episode 348: Australian Open Draw Show, 2023

Ben and Tumaini Carayol break down the women's and men's draws at the year's first Grand Slam event, and also discuss some of the early season storylines like United Cup and Netflix's "Break Point" that have dominated discussion in the build-up. Is Iga Swiatek clear favorite to win this tournament against the field, or are rising threats like Jessie Pegula or Aryna Sabalenka ready to thwart her? And on the men's side, is Novak Djokovic ready to resume business as usual in Australia? And what is the outlook for Rafael Nadal's future? We also discuss Naomi Osaka's baby news, and Craig Tiley's lack of accountability. Also! Ben's forthcoming book about Naomi Osaka is now available to preorder!
1/14/20231 hour, 51 minutes, 33 seconds
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Episode 347: Netflix’s ”Break Point” Hits and Misses

To start our 12th(!) season of NCR, Ben and Reem Abulleil preview and review the highly anticipated Netflix tennis docuseries "Break Point," which features a group of young challengers on the tours in the first half of the 2022 season. Ben and Reem (who also reviewed the show for The National) discuss the sport's hopes for the show to recreate the magic of "Drive to Survive," as well as the format, where it succeeds and where it disappoints. There are spoilers in this episode, so to speak, but really not many if you know what happened in tennis last year.
1/9/20231 hour, 10 seconds
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Episode 346: Men of the Year (With Ricky Dimon)

Ben is stepping back briefly from book writing hiatus on the occasion of being joined by Ricky Dimon of The Grandstand for a look back at the year that was in men's tennis, and how it's setting up for the finals. We talk about each of the top eight guys, and also Novak Djokovic, whose Wimbledon title will leapfrog him into the field in Turin. It's been an odd, transitional year in men's tennis, and it's not clear quite where anything is heading in the near future, so we decide it's a good time to make predictions.  Thank you for listening to NCR, we've missed you and we'll be back more often soon!
11/1/202253 minutes, 28 seconds
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Episode 345: Swiatek, Alcaraz Reach New Heights at US Open

Ben and Tumaini Carayol reconvene a bit after the U.S. Open to reflect on the tournament that was, with two winners who capped off great seasons with their first titles in New York. And they've only just begun? First, Iga Swiatek won on the women's side, overcoming a doubt-filled lead-up and solidifying her position as a bona fide star in the sport. What impressed us most about this win, and where does she go from here? Also thoughts on Jabeur, Pegula, and, of course, the fantastic farewell of Serena Williams. Then on the men's side we discuss Carlos Alcaraz's ascendancy to the top, the "oatmeal stallion" that is Casper Ruud, the long-awaited breakthrough of a player like Frances Tiafoe, the missed opportunity by Nick Kyrgios, and more! Thanks for listening!
9/14/20221 hour, 50 minutes, 16 seconds
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Episode 344: U.S. Open Draw Show 2022!

Ben and Tumaini Carayol are courtside at the U.S. Open to give you the outlook on how the year's last Grand Slam and Serena Williams' last tournament is shaking up. We start with the women, where we discuss Iga Swiatek cooling off from her lava-hot spring swing, her complaints about the balls, the Azarenka-Kostyuk situation, Emma Raducanu, Osaka-Collins, and more.  We finish, of course, with a discussion of Serena, and what her last singles matches could look like. On the men's side, it seems like a very open draw due to notable absences, except for that Rafael Nadal guy who seems to win every time he's overlooked this year.
8/28/20221 hour, 24 minutes, 38 seconds
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Episode 343: Serena’s Sunset

Ben and Tumaini Carayol convene to discuss Serena Williams, the greatest women's tennis player of our lives, calling time on her career. Well, she didn't exactly call Time; she called Vogue, and penned a first-person cover story explaining her thoughts and making it clear that she believes the end of her career is in sight. Ben and Tumaini discuss Serena's decision to retire at long last, what she said--and didn't say--in her essay about the decision and the context around it, some of our favorite Serena memories, and what to expect from her send-off in New York, which figures to be a massive cultural event. Let's enjoy this last dance, y'all!
8/10/202248 minutes, 37 seconds
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Episode 342: Rybakina and Djokovic Win Wimbledon

Ben and Tumaini Carayol (before he turns into a pumpkin) wrap up the Wimbledon that was, which featured both some feel-good and some uncomfortable storylines across the fortnight. We begin with the women, with Elena Rybakina making good on her potential and breaking through for the title with a win over Ons Jabeur. We talk about the Kazakh tennis strategy, and what it says about Russia, particularly in the wake of Wimbledon's ban. We also talk about the delights of Jabeur, the shock run of Tatjana Maria, how to measure expectations for the suddenly returned Williams sisters, and the end of Iga Swiatek's stellar streak. On the men's side, Novak Djokovic continued his increased dominance of this tournament with a seventh title at Wimbledon, beating Nick Kyrgios in the final. We talk about the odd feelings around both runs, the ugliness of Kyrgios-Tsitsipas, the anticlimactic finish to Rafael Nadal's Grand Slam bid, and Cam Norrie rising to the occasion. We finish, as Tumaini puts on his glass slippers, with a quick chat about the legendary Women's Invitational Doubles field. Thank you for listening to NCR!
7/10/202256 minutes, 46 seconds
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Episode 341: Walking Around Wimbledon’s Century

On the 100th birthday of Centre Court, Ben is joined by Alexandra Willis, the director of communications and marketing for Wimbledon, and the two of them take a walk into Centre Court's most hallowed places. Along the way, we discuss Wimbledon's continuing balancing between retaining history and progressing to the present, plans of growth ahead, and the circumstances and consequences of the ban of Russian and Belarusian players this year. Spice up your ears and enjoy!  
6/26/202248 minutes, 50 seconds
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Episode 340: Wimbledon 2022 Draw Preview

Ben and Tumaini Carayol are back together again at Wimbledon for another look ahead at a Grand Slam draw, looking at the men's field, the women's field, and a concerning hole on the side of Court 14.  After a general look at the draw balance--and the intrigue missing from the field because of the ban of Russian and Belarusian players--Ben and Tumaini dig into the men's draw, in which balance emerged despite some misleading seedings, with Hubert Hurkacz and Matteo Berrettini landing in separate quarters from fellow contenders Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. On the women's side, we discuss Serena Williams' unexpected return and her prospects, Ons Jabeur's comfort in this world, Bianca Andreescu reasserting her gifts, and Iga Swiatek's chances of extending her streak of dominance. Also, justice for Julia Pegula.  Thanks for listening, as always! 
6/24/20221 hour, 23 minutes, 41 seconds
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Episode 339: The Book on Emma Raducanu (With Mike Dickson)

As Emma Raducanu readies for her first Wimbledon as a Grand Slam champion, Ben chats with Mike Dickson, the man who literally wrote the book on the young British sensation's origin story and remarkably meteoric rise to stardom last year. Emma Raducanu: When Tennis Came Home tells the story of Raducanu's origins and walks through the brief career she had until being thrust into an international spotlight in an unprecedented way. We discuss Raducanu's remarkable rise, and the uncertainty surrounding her near and long-term future as her sophomore season brings struggles with Wimbledon on the horizon.
6/18/202243 minutes, 44 seconds
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Episode 338: Swiatek and Nadal Roll Roland Garros

Ben and Tumaini Carayol meet back up just hours after the men's final at Roland Garros to discuss Rafael Nadal's record extending 14th title here and Iga Swiatek's streak extending 35th win and second French Open title. We start with Swiatek, who has just been so dominant. Is the field anywhere close to her now? What will it take for a challenger to emerge? And what to make of the strong run by teen phenom Coco Gauff to the final? Then we switch to the men--how to reconcile Nadal's dominance and his injury malaise? How much longer do we think he has left? And what will Djokovic regret about letting this one slip? We wrap up with a look at why night sessions were not ready for prime time in Paris, and what to look for as the grass is green on the other side of the English Channel. Thanks for listening, folks!
6/6/20221 hour, 56 seconds
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Episode 337: Draw Me Like One of Your French Opens, 2022

We are delighted to return to you, and to return to Paris, and to return our favorite annual episode title! Ben and Tumaini Carayol start this French Open draw show with a bit first on the big news of the day, which was the ATP and WTA deciding to withhold ranking points from this year's Wimbledon Championships because of the tournament banning Russian and Belarusian players. What effect will this have on the tournament, the players, and the outlook for the #1 ranking in men's tennis? We then break down the French Open draws, starting with the women and prohibitive favorite Iga Swiatek. Who or what can stop her from cruising onward to her second French Open title? We also discuss two of the most compelling floaters, Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu. On the men's side, we discuss the top-heavy draw, how the three-horse race of Djokovic, Nadal, and Alcaraz has set up, and who can take advantages of the openings on the bottom half. Thank y'all for listening! Bonsoiree! 
5/21/20221 hour, 26 minutes, 11 seconds
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Episode 336: Was Wimbledon Right to Ban Russians and Belarusians?

Wimbledon took the drastic step of banning all Russian and Belarusian players from this year's tournament, escalating the impact that Russia's invasion of Ukraine has had on the world of tennis. Tumaini Carayol joins Ben to discuss this decision, where it fits into the British political context, and how it might further divide an already fractious sport. Is fairness a possible concept amid a war? What can we learn from past precedents? And what might tennis authorities have to do next as this war shows no sign of abating? Thank you for listening to NCR! We are on Patreon, Twitter, and your favorite podcast apps.  
4/22/202255 minutes, 56 seconds
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Episode 335: José Morgado on Tennis Twitter

Taking the face of your tennis scrolling into your ears, Ben is joined by José Morgado, the Portuguese reporter and commentator who has become the most complete and comprehensive stop on Tennis Twitter for news and information about this never-stopping sport. José discusses the state of tennis in Portugal, how he got into the sport, building a presence on Tennis Twitter, and the prizes and pitfalls from being an increasingly visible figure in this strange space. Thank you for listening to NCR!
4/15/202249 minutes, 40 seconds
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Episode 334: Harvey Fialkov, Miami Maven

Harvey Fialkov, a veteran sportswriter who covers the Miami Open with more gusto than anybody, joins Ben to share his contagious excitements for all things tennis. Chatting before the women's final, Ben and Harvey discuss the pros and cons of the move from Key Biscayne to the Dolphins' stadium, memories of tournaments past, South Florida's status as a hotbed of world tennis, and who catches his eye on the current tour. Harvey is a delight to share a press room with, and we hope you also can feel his effervescence in this audio medium. We have paused our crowdfunding efforts while Ben's focus is taken up by his book project, but we thank you for your support!
4/3/202226 minutes, 5 seconds
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Episode 333: Rick Macci on ’King Richard’

In a week where the Williams family got a bizarre twist on what should have been a Hollywood ending for their cinematic journey, Ben traveled to the Rick Macci Tennis Academy in Boca Raton to chat with Rick Macci, whose work with the Williams family is portrayed in 'King Richard.' Rick discusses the impact of the film on his life, working with the family, how actress Saniyya Sidney was able to portray Venus so well on court, that slap, and the other tennis story he'd most like to see made into a movie. We have paused our crowdfunding efforts for the time being, but we thank you for all of your support!
4/1/202228 minutes, 17 seconds
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Episode 332: Ash Barty Goes Out On Top

Emergency Episode! Top-ranked Ash Barty's surprise announcement that she is calling it a career at only 25 years old and less than two months after winning the Australian Open was urgent cause for our first emergency episode in a long while, folks! Reem Abulleil joins Ben to discuss our immediate reactions to the news and Barty's initial explanations, how we process it, Barty's legacies of looking out for herself and maintaining firm control over her career, and what the tour now looks like in its sudden post-Barty era. We're gonna miss you heaps, Ash.  Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our ELEVENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers Pam Shriver and J O'D!)
3/23/202235 minutes, 35 seconds
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Episode 331: Indian Wells - Fritz Breaks Through; Swiatek Soars

Just back from the desert, Ben chats with David Avakian about the weeks that were at Indian Wells, with culminated in a surprise triumph for Taylor Fritz over Rafael Nadal, and an increasingly expected victory for Iga Swiatek, over Maria Sakkari. For the men, we discuss Fritz and where American men's tennis is at globally right now, what lies ahead for Nadal and the field, Kyrgios' strong run and awkward finish, Norrie's banishment to Stadium 5. On the women's side, we discuss Swiatek emerging as a dominant force on the tour and the room she might have to go even higher, if Sakkari can push higher, and some other breakout performances from the week. Oh, and Holland's Got Tallon, in case you missed it. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our ELEVENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers Pam Shriver and J O'D!)
3/22/20221 hour, 2 minutes, 30 seconds
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Episode 330: Dayana Yastremska on Escaping the War in Ukraine [Reupload]

(Reuploading this episode as a duplicate because of issues with iTunes and Apple Podcasts services) With war suddenly raging in Ukraine after Russia's invasion, Ben is joined on this episode by Dayana Yastremska, the 21-year-old WTA player who had to flee her hometown of Odessa, Ukraine, after the bombs began dropping on her city. Yastremska tells her journey of escaping via boat to Romania alongside her 15-year-old sister, her attempts to focus on tennis this week at a WTA tournament in Lyon, France, and her hopes and fears for what is happening back home in Ukraine, where her family remains. Organizations you can support to help people in Ukraine include Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, and The Kyiv Independent.
3/3/202234 minutes, 50 seconds
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Episode 330: Dayana Yastremska on Escaping the War in Ukraine

With war suddenly raging in Ukraine after Russia's invasion, Ben is joined on this episode by Dayana Yastremska, the 21-year-old WTA player who had to flee her hometown of Odessa, Ukraine, after the bombs began dropping on her city. Yastremska tells her journey of escaping via boat to Romania alongside her 15-year-old sister, her attempts to focus on tennis this week at a WTA tournament in Lyon, France, and her hopes and fears for what is happening back home in Ukraine, where her family remains. Organizations you can support to help people in Ukraine include Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, and The Kyiv Independent. 
3/2/202234 minutes, 50 seconds
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Episode 329: The Men in Mexico (with Mike Cation)

Acapulco has turned into one of the biggest tennis destinations on the ATP calendar, and our buddy Mike Cation is there this week, checking in on a week of festive fun, new highs, and distressing lows. We discuss the atmosphere at this unique resort, night-time event, the wild day Stefan Kozlov had that contributed to the latest finish in ATP history, the violent outburst that got Alexander Zverev kicked out of the tournament, Daniil Medvedev's ascent to the No. 1 ranking, and more. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our ELEVENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers Pam Shriver and J O'D!)
2/25/202241 minutes, 54 seconds
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Episode 328: Our Woman in Dubai (with Reem Abulleil)

Ben is joined by NCR's intrepid Middle East and North Africa correspondent Reem Abulleil to discuss the tennis happening in Dubai this month, where she enjoyed more access to players than she has been able to get at any time before since the pandemic began. Reem discusses the women's week that was in Dubai, starting with her interview with Danielle Collins and Collins' mentor, and then Jelena Ostapenko storming through a loaded field. We then discuss the week ahead in the men's draw, and what questions might still remain as Novak Djokovic returns to the tour (and interviews).  Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our ELEVENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers Pam Shriver and J O'D!)  
2/20/202249 minutes, 21 seconds
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Episode 327: Adiós, Delpo

With Juan Martín del Potro playing what is set to be the last match of his career last week in Buenos Aires, Ben and Courtney reflect on the career of the gentle giant who had an outsized presence and popularity in the sport to match his enormous on-court gifts. Ben then has a longer chat with Alfredo Bernardi, a longtime Argentine tennis correspondent who closely followed Delpo's career from its beginnings, about his rise, triumphs, struggles, and future. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our ELEVENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers Pam Shriver and J O'D!)
2/15/202256 minutes, 41 seconds
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Episode 326: Australian Open - Nadal and Barty’s Fairytale Endings

The stormy lead-up to the Australian Open ended with two great resplendent victories, with Ash Barty becoming the first Aussie champ in Melbourne in four decades, and Rafael Nadal winning just his second Australian Open to win a record 21st Grand Slam men's singles title. On Barty, we discuss her win, the catharsis after a lack of tension, parallels to Andy Murray, and how the field could try to disrupt her dominance. We also discuss runner-up Danielle Collins, who breaks into the Top 10 after a run of self-driven power tennis. We then move to the men's side, where Nadal's win was seen as obvious from the outside but as a longshot inside the sport. What does this remarkable comeback win mean for him and the sport? Was Medvedev right to be aggrieved at the crowd? And what should be done to police mid-match coaching after seeing the Tsitsipas sting operation in the semifinals? Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our ELEVENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers Pam Shriver and J O'D!)
2/4/20221 hour, 54 minutes, 14 seconds
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Episode 325: Australian Open - Semifinal Showdowns

Ben and Tumaini Carayol are back to discuss the four women and four men still in contention to win this Australian Open, which has held up to set up for some surprisingly unsurprising semifinals. On the women's side, can anyone derail Ash Barty, or even approach the dimension of her game? How much has the heat been a factor in the success of Madison Keys and Danielle Collins? And what is Iga Swiatek showing us that she didn't during her French Open run? On the men's side, why are folks sleeping on Matteo Berrettini? Can Rafael Nadal win 21? Why is Daniil Medvedev such a troll, and why is Stefanos Tsitsipas so cold? Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our ELEVENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers Pam Shriver and J O'D!)
1/27/202247 minutes, 43 seconds
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Episode 324: Australian Open - The Slam After the Storm

Now that the Djokovic debacle has ended and the tennis has begun, Ben and Tumaini Carayol wrap up the big stories of the first week of the Australian Open. What did we see from Naomi Osaka in how she won and in how she handled defeat? How did Emma Raducanu manage to slice her way into Romanian hearts? Can anyone stop Barty and Medvedev? Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our ELEVENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers Pam Shriver and J O'D!)
1/23/202226 minutes, 12 seconds
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Episode 323: Djokovic’s Deportation Debacle is Done

The Djokovic deportation drama dragged deliriously Down Under, feeling a whole 'nother Grand Slam's worth of drama and intrigue before finally resolving itself on Sunday with a panel of judges upholding a second deportation order and sending Djokovic on a flight out of Australia soon after. Paul Sakkal, whose coverage of the political sides of this story has been extraordinarily insightful, and who got rave reviews for his first appearance on NCR at the onset of this saga, joins Ben once more to explain what happened, and to contemplate questions ahead. Why did the government change its tactics so drastically for Round 2 of proceedings? Does this case raise civil liberties concerns? What will the fallout be for Tennis Australia? And will this do anything to help the plight of the refugees? Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our ELEVENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers Pam Shriver and J O'D!)
1/17/202245 minutes, 38 seconds
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Episode 322: 2022 Australian Open Draw Preview

Ben and Courtney(!) know that a whole lot else has been going on in the world of tennis, but now that Novak Djokovic is on a plane out of Australia (which wasn't yet settled when we recorded), the coast is clear to talk about the draws ahead for the year's first Grand Slam. How is Ash Barty's ambition clearer than before, and will that eagerly awaited match with Naomi Osaka happen? How do last year's surprise success stories look early on this year? Also, Ben's been imagining a specific surprise champion on the men's side, and we send some love to friends in the tennis world.   Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our ELEVENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers Pam Shriver and J O'D!)
1/16/20221 hour, 13 minutes, 58 seconds
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Episode 321: Deciphering Details of Djokovic’s Deportation Drama

Novak Djokovic's Australian Open fate changed drastically while he was up in the air during the recording of our last episode, but luckily for us Paul Sakkal, Victoria Political reporter for The Age, is here to break everything down with incredible knowledge, depth and detail. What went wrong with Novak Djokovic between his exemption being granted by Tennis Australia panels and then his being rejected by Australian Border Force? On what grounds was his application rejected? How much was the politicization of his arrival a factor in the decision? How much blame does Tennis Australia bear? What is the appeal process now? What is the history of the building where he's being detained alongside refugees? Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our ELEVENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers Pam Shriver and J O'D!)
1/7/202251 minutes
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Episode 320: Djokovic’s Exemption and The Vibes

Ben and Tumaini Carayol reunite in Melbourne's newest arena (which could have better acoustics, sorry) to discuss the great vibes at the tournament, and the news which harshed them considerably. Novak Djokovic's announcement that he had received a medical exemption which would allow him to play the Australian Open without the required coronavirus vaccination. This has caused considerable anger in Australia, and we discuss why it has been such a buzzkill. We also talk about why the ATP Cup isn't resonating with viewers, and the happy comeback of Naomi Osaka.  Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our ELEVENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers Pam Shriver and J O'D!)
1/5/202243 minutes, 26 seconds
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Episode 319: Wrapping Up Tennis in December (With Reem Abulleil)

Ben is rejoined by NCR's Middle East and North Africa correspondent Reem Abulleil for a discussion of the very late and fairly busy finish to the tennis season, which went into December and will have less than a month of full off-season before resuming again in 2022. We discuss the new Davis Cup format and the good vibes on the winning Russian team, led by mascot Andrey Rublev, as well as the negative kneejerk reactions to the news that Abu Dhabi could be the next host city. We also discussed the endless saga about Novak Djokovic's vaccination vacillations. Also, where does tennis go now that the WTA has suspended ties with China, and where does the WTA go from here and who can help them out? Lastly then we talk about our own journeys covering this long year, our fatigues, and our hopes for Australia.   Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers Pam Shriver and J O'D!)
12/8/20211 hour, 11 minutes, 54 seconds
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Episode 318: WTA Stands Up Against China For Peng Shuai

After the WTA backed up its strong talk by suspending all of its tournaments in China because of the continued censorship of Peng Shuai, Ben is joined by Human Rights Watch's Senior China Researcher Yaqiu Wang to discuss how Peng's case fits into the wider landscape of issues in China.   What made the WTA's stance so unique? How should we see the International Olympic Committee's solidarity with China? And how pervasive is the restriction on free speech in Chinese life? Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
12/3/202131 minutes, 4 seconds
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Episode 317: Peng Shuai, China, and the End of WTAsia?

Ben is joined by The Guardian's Tumaini Carayol to discuss the fallout of the accusations made by Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai against a senior government official, the WTA's strong stance, and the impact on tennis in China going forward. Was the WTA's partnership with China always doomed to fail, as Tumaini predicted in 2019? And what would a reset of the tour without China look like for the future of women's tennis? Plus, the new-look WTA year-end championship event in Guadalajara and the same-look-new-venue event for the ATP in Turin. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
11/18/20211 hour, 9 minutes, 5 seconds
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Episode 316: NCR Movie Club - KING RICHARD (2021)

Ben and David Avakian are delighted to bring you an NCR Movie Club installment on what is set to be the biggest tennis movie in a long time, and perhaps ever: KING RICHARD, which stars Will Smith as Richard Williams and shows his early journey raising Venus and Serena into perhaps the greatest story in tennis history. The movie comes out on November 19, so if you want to hold off listening until then you can (but since this is almost all based on a true story we don't think it's necessarily spoilable). Ben and David discuss their opinions on the movie (which are very positive!) and what role the Williams family's involvement in it should play in how we watch it. We also discuss what the movie gets right, what it gets wrong, and what it leaves out. Also, what responsibility does a movie have to its audience when it says it is "based on a true story"? Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
11/11/20211 hour, 15 minutes, 36 seconds
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Episode 315: Prague Progress Report (with Jannik Schneider)

The first edition of the Billie Jean King Cup (née Fed Cup) is happening this week, and so Ben is joined by the German reporter Jannik Schneider, who was there in Prague covering the event. We discuss how the event's atmosphere and organization has been, the impact of Billie Jean King's legacy on the competition, and why Russia is doing business as "RTF" at the event.  We also discuss how the accusations against Alexander Zverev have been covered in Germany, and what challenges reporters there including Jannik have faced covering them. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
11/5/20211 hour, 9 minutes, 40 seconds
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Episode 314: Backroom Business (With Bret McCormick)

There's been batches of backroom brouhahas brewing this year in tennis as the sport continues to be in a moment of flux and transition during the pandemic. To make sense of the landscape, Ben is joined by Sports Business Journal's Bret McCormick, who discusses his reporting on many issues. Could changes to the calendar made because of the pandemic become long-term shifts? How are the men's and women's tours already coming together? How are the new leaders in men's tennis faring so far? Does the PTPA look poised to succeed? And what does this hotly debated long-range plan entail? And more. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
10/27/202144 minutes, 15 seconds
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Episode 313: ATP is Investigating Zverev; What Comes Next?

Nearly a year after Olga Sharypova publicly accused tennis star Alexander Zverev of repeated physical and emotional abuse during their relationship, the ATP announced this week that it is opening an investigation into (one of the) accusations, which Zverev has repeatedly denied in blanket terms. Ben, who has interviewed Sharypova and investigated the story for both Racquet and Slate, is joined by Mary Carillo and Jessica Luther to discuss the accusations and their impact on the sport. What took so long for the ATP to act, and why is their scope limited to Shanghai 2019? Should we have faith in the ATP to do a proper investigation? What does an investigation need to do the job correctly? How important is Sharypova's continued participation and cooperation? How has tennis dealt with the cloud over the sport in the past year? Why are tennis broadcasters so reluctant to discuss difficult topics? What to make of the select input from other players? And more. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
10/7/202159 minutes, 6 seconds
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Episode 312: Starting up in San Diego (With Dani Vallverdu)

The tennis map has been redrawn this year as the world continues shifting during the pandemic, bringing the tours to many new stops that it previously left out. This has included many major American cities such as Chicago, Cleveland, and San Diego, where there was a first-ever ATP event this week. Dani Vallverdu, managing director of the new San Diego Open, joins Ben to discuss what it took to make a new ATP tournament in only six weeks, the shifting sands of the calendar and where they might go from here, traditional vs. non-traditional markets, and the persistence and appeal of Andy Murray.  Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
10/4/202126 minutes, 52 seconds
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Episode 311: Bridging the App Gap

On this episode, Ben chats with Lewis Simmons, creator of the TNNS Live app, who has helped fill the void left by the sudden disappearance of the simple but essential ATP-WTA live score mobile app last year, which left many tennis fans and followers marooned without the compass they'd used to navigate the tennis tours for about a decade. We discuss the chasm left by the old app's departure, trying to replicate its simplicity while adding various enhancements, and what the challenges were of making the app a success. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
9/23/202131 minutes, 12 seconds
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Episode 310b: Medvedev Beats Djokovic for U.S. Open Title; the Grand Slam Is Hard

Ben and Courtney begin "Boys' Time!" at the U.S. Open with a discussion of Novak Djokovic falling one match short of his historic bid for the Grand Slam (which means a specific thing, y'all). What signs were there that Djokovic was in trouble, looking back? And how does Djokovic, 34, move on from this? We then salute our new major champion and Troll King, Daniil Medvedev, who had established himself as an heir apparent in recent years and deservedly took the throne in New York. What makes him so much fun among the problematic ATP Top 5? We also discuss semifinalist Felix Auger-Aliassime, who still hasn't quite been convincing, the effervescent joy of Frances Tiafoe, the potential of Carlos Alcaraz, and the breakthrough run of Bob Van de Slap. We end by finally flushing the Flushing furor over bathroom breaks, and how both Andy Murray and Stefanos Tsitsipas reacted to it all in unideal ways. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
9/18/20211 hour, 34 minutes, 33 seconds
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Episode 310a: Emma Raducanu Wins U.S. Open; What, Like It‘s Hard?

Ben and Courtney dive right into the paradigm shifting, generational groundshaking moment that shocked the tennis world this week in New York: the photo of Maria Sharapova with the Williams Sisters at the Met Gala. After that, we turn our sights to the new star born in New York, Emma Raducanu, who won history as the first qualifier to win a Slam. What made her such a juggernaut on court? And how will her broad base of support in strong markets like Britain and China make her a force off court? We also discuss the thrilling underdog run of runner-up Leylah Fernandez, Barbora Krejcikova's still-remarkable year, Ash Barty's disappointing exit, and the first week MVP that was Sloane Stephens. We also have a long chat about Naomi Osaka, and how a break from tennis might be just what she needs to recalibrate and recontextualize her career. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
9/17/20211 hour, 37 minutes, 59 seconds
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Episode 309: Mardy Fish‘s Breaking Point

Ben and Courtney both took the time during this U.S. Open to watch the new Netflix documentary "Untold: Breaking Point" about Mardy Fish and his struggles with anxiety and mental health during the end of his elite tennis career. We both loved it, and heartily recommend it to you as a very timely watch for many reasons. Mardy joins Ben for a discussion about various things raised by the documentary and his career, including media sensitivity, American tennis, and more. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
9/9/202130 minutes, 40 seconds
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Episode 308: Live, From New York, It's US Open Draw Show!

Reunited for their first in-person show together in more than 18 months, Ben and Courtney chat in New York on the eve of the U.S. Open about storylines from the men's and women's draws, including: Who, if anyone, can derail Novak Djokovic? Why is Stefanos Tsitsipas a good draw for Andy Murray? What do we make of Barty's increasingly impressive reign at #1, and can Osaka or Andreescu contend without much match play? And what about all the top players who are missing? Tangents on Venus Williams in Chicago, Jil Teichmann, and the surprising person whom Ben spoke to this week about a fast-rising qualifier. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
8/29/20212 hours, 13 minutes, 45 seconds
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Episode 307: Tokyo Takes a Toll (With Tumaini Carayol)

Our guy Tumaini Carayol joins from Tokyo, where he's covering the Olympics for The Guardian, for a discussion of the happenings in tennis and elsewhere at the Games. What happened to Novak Djokovic, who was cruising toward a Golden Slam before suddenly crashing out with three defeats and a withdrawal in a nightmare 36 hour stretch? And how did Pablo Carreno Busta become the breakout achiever of the Olympic singles? And how about the big surprises in some doubles draws? We also discuss Naomi Osaka, and the parallels between her, Simone Biles, and Serena Williams, and what happens to athletes when they're hyped as inevitably flawless queens. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
8/2/20211 hour, 10 minutes
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Episode 306: Checking Back in in the Capital

As the Olympic results surprise on the other side of the globe, we take a moment to check back in more locally on the tennis scene stateside, where the Citi Open in Washington is set to begin this weekend with Rafael Nadal as a surprise headliner. Tournament owner Mark Ein, who was a three-time guest on NCR last year as he discussed the uncertainty of having an event in the flux of the pandemic, joins to talk about the challenges and opportunities this year, and what it takes to get a tournament back up and running after missing a year. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
7/31/202122 minutes, 36 seconds
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Episode 305: Ringing in the Olympic Tennis Draws (With Alex Gruskin)

The Olympics are on the horizon at last in the Land of the Rising Sun, and so Ben is joined by Alex Gruskin of Cracked Racquets to break down the women's and men's singles draws for the fast-approaching Tokyo tennis turn-up. On the women's side, is Ash Barty ready to be seen as a dominant clear favorite in women's tennis yet? Or could other surging players like Barbora Krejcikova or Aryna Sabalenka stop her before the final? And what should we expect from Naomi Osaka's return to competition under this intense spotlight? On the men's side, can anyone stop Novak Djokovic but himself? And is it actually a sneakily straightforward time in the rest of men's tennis as well? (We also did a companion Olympic episode of sorts to this over on Great Shot Pod, talking about more big picture Olympic tennis concerns.) Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
7/22/202155 minutes, 45 seconds
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Episode 304: Barty, Djokovic Win Wimbledon; Olympic Exodus

Back stateside, Ben reconnects with Courtney to discuss the Wimbledon finals, which saw Ash Barty win her 2nd and Novak Djokovic win his 20th. On Barty, what does her win say about the current conversation around mental health? And on Djokovic, is he destined to win a Calendar Golden Slam? Also bits on Pliskova, Berrettini, and our thoughts on the increasingly large numbers of top players opting out of the Olympics (we don't love it!) Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
7/14/20211 hour, 22 minutes, 17 seconds
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Episode 303d: Wimbledon's Second Week, With Tumaini Carayol

On the eve of the finals, Ben and Tumaini Carayol catch up on the second week that was at Wimbledon, which has set up two pretty strong finals: Djokovic-Berrettini and Barty-Pliskova. Plenty else happened along the way to those showdowns, of course, so we discuss men's happenings including Federer's dramatic fade against Hurkacz, Felix Auger-Aliassime's strong showing,  and the wackadoodle fifth set of Korda-Khachanov. On the women's side we discuss things like Aryna Sabalenka breaking her Slam duck, Ons Jabeur's magnificence, the attention on Emma Raducanu, and the prime scheduling of Coco Gauff. It may or may not be coming home, but we're very happy you're listening wherever you live!  Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can during the Wimbledon! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
7/10/202144 minutes
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Episode 303c: Wimbledon, on the Last Middle Sunday

Ben and Courtney convene for the last of what has been a tradition: a Middle Sunday episode from Wimbledon. What do we make of this tradition being phased out? And how about this first week at Wimbledon, which seemed to have found its footing as a great tournament after some early slips? We discuss our favorite moments so far, and how both the men and women are set up for the second week. Also, Courtney prepares for her adventures in ghostbustin' as she tries to pick Casper Ruud out of a lineup...check that out over on our Patreon.  Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can during the Wimbledon! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
7/4/202135 minutes, 52 seconds
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Episdoe 303b: Wimbledon Round 3: On Being Here, With Tumaini Carayol

After five days together at Wimbledon Ben and Tumaini Carayol chat about what it's been like to be back at a Grand Slam in person for the first time in well over a year, what's the same, and what's different about being at the All England Club once more. We also discuss Andy Murray's fatalistic finish to his press conference, and what we can see among the many aging stars openly contemplating their futures. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can during the Wimbledon! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
7/3/202130 minutes, 16 seconds
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Episode 303a: Wimbledon Round 1: Falling Stars (With Pam Shriver)

Wimbledon is back up and running, but many of the top players have been falling down. Serena Williams was the biggest casualty of the slick Centre Court, aggravating an injury that forced her out of her third round match. To get the low-down on the ground, Ben is joined for a quick chat by NCR's Charm City correspondent Pam Shriver for her take on the lush lawns, and what might be done to make them less treacherous. It's been a busy Wimbledon for Ben so this is a fairly tapas-sized meal, but we hope you're feasting on all the tennis! Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can during the Wimbledon! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
7/1/202113 minutes, 39 seconds
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Episode 302: Quiet, Please - Wimbledon 2021 Draw

Ben and Courtney reunite from eight time zones apart to discuss the men's and women's draws at Wimbledon, where the tours return after two years away. We start with the men, where Novak Djokovic is a clear favorite. But the French Open taught us to be ready for surprises, right? The women's side is, as typical, quite wide open. And like the men, there's some incomplete data for these players on grass which makes it all trickier than a slice from a carving station. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can during the Wimbledon! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
6/27/20211 hour, 35 minutes, 19 seconds
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Episode 301i: French Open Day 15: Novak Djokovic the Inevitable

Novak Djokovic came back from two sets down to win the French Open final on Sunday, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets and putting himself in increasingly rare in men's tennis history. NCR's Middle East and North Africa correspondent Reem Abulleil joins to discuss what has made Djokovic so uniquely great and unflappable, and how big hopes for his near future should be. His ambitions, and his form, show little sign of abating right now. We also discuss Tsitsipas, Nadal, and Reem's favorite parts of this very long French Open. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can during the French Open! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
6/14/202136 minutes, 47 seconds
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Episode 301h: French Open Day 14: Barbora Krejcikova Breaks In

Barbora Krejcikova prevailed over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Saturday's unlikely French Open final, and Ben and Courtney are here to talk about what it all means. How was Krejcikova able to win this match? What does her win tell us about what it takes to win a Slam? What questions do we still have about her and her game? What does this win mean for the tour going forward? And what about that unusually long and casual trophy ceremony? Also, Courtney has some quick lingering thoughts on Novak Djokovic. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can during the French Open! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
6/13/202145 minutes, 17 seconds
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Episode 301g: French Open: A Serbian Special (With Saša Ozmo)

We will have our show on the women's final soon, but in the meantime we are delighted to share a bonus episode with Saša Ozmo, the Serbian reporter who has covered Novak Djokovic more closely than anyone on his ascendancy toward the front of most of the G.O.A.T. discussions. Ben and Saša discuss Djokovic's win over Nadal (and the importance of consolidating it), the ups and downs on his recent path, where the races against Nadal and Federer now stand, differences between how Djokovic is perceived in Serbia and Western media, and the local context behind Adria Tour. If you are or know) a Serbian, please do buy Saša's book!  Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can during the French Open! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
6/12/202134 minutes, 16 seconds
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Episode 301f: French Open Day 13: Djokovic Turns Back Nadal

Novak Djokovic dealt Rafael Nadal only the third defeat of his Roland Garros career on Friday, knocking out the 13-time French Open champion in four sets, in a match that had people calling it one of the greatest of all time during the epic third set. Andrew Eccles of The Spin joins to discuss how this match ranks in the pantheon, what Djokovic did to defy the odds, how surprising the result is, and if Nadal's days of dominance could be done. We also briefly discuss the first semifinal, the bizarre behavior of a Eurosport commentator during it, and what we're hoping for in the women's final. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can during the French Open! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
6/12/202143 minutes, 29 seconds
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Episode 301e: French Open Day 12: Speaking Greek Tennis (With Vicky Georgatou)

Greece is the word at the 2021 French Open, with two semifinalists in Maria Sakkari and Stefanos Tsitsipas. Sakkari lost in an epic semifinal on Thursday against Barbora Krejcikova (who plays Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the final), while Tsitsipas hopes to make his first Slam final with a win on Friday. To discuss the Greeks, we are joined with the Athena of tennis media, Vicky Georgatou, who is manning the Argo of Greek tennis coverage all by herself at Roland Garros. What was the key to Sakkari's run? How is Tsitsipas' quirky personality received in Greece? And what does the growth of the sport do for tennis in Greece? Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can during the French Open! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
6/11/202132 minutes, 24 seconds
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Episode 301d: French Open Day 11 - Women Open Up, Top Men March Onward (With Pam Shriver)

What semblance of stability there had been in the women's draw disappeared with Iga Swiatek's loss on Wednesday to Maria Sakkari, making it four first-time Slam semifinalists in the final four of the French Open. Hall of Famer Pam Shriver joins Ben to discuss the women's draw, and the high-quality tennis that has led to an unlikely semifinal slate which also includes Barbora Krejcikova, who defeated Coco Gauff earlier on Wednesday. We also discuss the chalk on the men's draw, where sure things Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal advanced through four-setters to set up yet another big time meeting in the semifinals. How will that big showdown in the semifinals influence the final? Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can during the French Open! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
6/9/202135 minutes, 37 seconds
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Episode 301c: French Open Day 10: Tsitsipas Beats Medvedev

In the most highly anticipated quarterfinal, Stefanos Tsitsipas dispatched his rival Daniil Medvedev in straight sets. Ben is joined by The Guardian's Tumaini Carayol, NCR's Spain and Sub-Saharan Africa correspondent, to discuss Tsitsipas' big win, how it sets up the men's draw, and how much sizzle there really still is to the Tsitsipas-Medvedev beef. We also discuss Tsitsipas' semifinal opponent Sascha Zverev, and the difficult position we and others are put in by having to discuss him while the ATP fails to address or resolve the accusations against him. We also discuss Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Tamara Zidansek reaching the women's semifinals, and what these continued surprises in women's slam mean in terms of quantifying the achievements.  Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can during the French Open! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
6/9/202142 minutes, 38 seconds
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Episode 301b: French Open Day 9: Quarterfinal Previews and Such

Ben and Courtney reconvene to discuss the eight women and eight men left standing after four rounds at Roland Garros, and how things might play out from here. We start with Andy Murray fave Iga Swiatek, the last to book her spot, who is becoming an increasingly prohibitive favorite. How will she handle that role? And what of the other women in the top draw who can trouble her? And how might things shake out on the more open bottom half? In the men's draw, after Courtney weighs in on Federer's withdrawal, we give some props to Diego Schwartzman and then dive into the weird Musetti-Djokovic, which was thrilling and close and then immediately stopped being either of those things on a dime. Also some hopes for Tsitsipas-Medvedev and how we talk about that other quarterfinalist. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can during the French Open! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
6/8/20211 hour, 7 minutes, 28 seconds
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Episode 301a: French Open Day 8: Federer and Serena Age Out

It was a day of easy parallels at Roland Garros, with 39-year-olds Roger Federer and Serena Williams both bowing out, albeit in different fashions. Federer withdrew from the French Open hours after his late-night win over Dominik Koepfer, having gotten the match practice he wanted before the grass season where he plans to peak. Serena played, but was outplayed by Elena Rybakina, who handed in a pretty straightforward straight-set win. How does that less intentional exit set her up for grass? To discuss the role of aging, and the young guns left in both the men's and women's draws, we're joined by NCR's Youth Correspondent Alex Gruskin of Cracked Racquets who has all sorts of takes and stats on your Davidovich Fokinas, Musettis and whatnots.  Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can during the French Open! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
6/7/202137 minutes, 16 seconds
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Episode 300: This Is A Spartan! Maria Sakkari (French Open Day 7)

Ben and Courtney cross the 300 threshold at long last, inspired by the truly Spartan effort of Maria Sakkari. After a bit of chatting and reminiscing about the milestone, Ben and Courtney talk to Maria about her warrior mentality, where that has to give way to taking it easy, finding the right coach, having a mom who played on tour, and making friends and keeping connections to home on this traveling circus. Thank you all for helping us get to this big number, we couldn't have done it without y'all.   Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can during the French Open! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
6/6/202135 minutes, 57 seconds
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Episode 299k: French Open Day 6: Sorana Cirstea & Picks With Ricky

We have a two-part episode today for you! First, Ben and Courtney chat in press with Sorana Cirstea, who is back into the second week at Roland Garros for the first time since 2009. Where did this good form come from, and what advice would she give to young players?  Then, Ben is joined by Ricky Dimon for a slew of prop picks about Day 7 happenings at Roland Garros, both off court and on. Will Iga Swiatek stay as dominant against Anett Kontaveit? Will lefthandedness be a major topic of Cam Norrie's press conference? All this and more, and weigh in with your picks for our 11 questions on Twitter here. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can during the French Open, and march toward Episode 300 and 300 followers, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
6/5/202137 minutes, 9 seconds
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Episode 299j: French Open Day 5: RG Recap: Barty Bows Out; Bob Van De Slap

Ben and Courtney reunite to look back on the first two rounds that have been completed at Roland Garros in the men's and women's draws. We start with the men, but the big story from Day 5 was undoubtedly the injury of Ash Barty, which forced the 2019 champion out of the tournament. What were the signs this was coming? Is Iga Swiatek reaching Nadalesque levels of dominance and inevitability already? What are commentators going to do about Botic van de Zandschulp? Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can during the French Open, and march toward Episode 300 and 300 followers, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
6/4/20211 hour, 48 seconds
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Episode 299i: French Open Day 4: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has been winning matches at Grand Slams for a long time, and she makes an overdue visit to NCR after winning her second round match at Roland Garros on Wednesday. Ben and Nastia discuss changes in her motivation over her career, what she's looking for in a coach, trying to keep her individuality in a cookie cutter world, mental health in tennis, and, most crucially, how our Eurovision tastes align. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can during the French Open, and march toward Episode 300 and 300 followers, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
6/3/202121 minutes, 26 seconds
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Episode 299h: French Open Day 3: Reilly Opelka

As the clay dust settles from Naomi Osaka's turbulent departure from Roland Garros, we turn back to the players still standing at Roland Garros, none of whom stand taller than Reilly Opelka. Opelka, who won his first round convincingly over Andrej Martin, joins Ben to discuss things including the advantages of being a big hitter on a small court, playing anti-tennis, his love of museums, and his art-and-practice partner Venus Williams. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can during the French Open, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
6/1/202118 minutes, 5 seconds
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Episode 299g: French Open Day 2: Naomi Osaka Steps Back (with Mary Carillo)

It was a sad day at Roland Garros on Monday as Naomi Osaka's stand against mandatory press conferences ended with her withdrawal from the tournament, posting an eloquent statement that cited not wanting to be a distraction as well as mental health struggles that have included long bouts of depression. To discuss this somber news, how this impasse arrived, and what if anything could have been handled differently, Mary Carillo of NBC Sports joins Ben after having been on-air on NBC when the news broke. After the mental health discussion, we discuss the media ecosystem of tennis, which is under scrutiny from all sorts of corners, and also what press conferences are all about. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can during the French Open, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
6/1/202144 minutes, 5 seconds
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Episode 299f: French Open Day 1 - Slams Dig In Against Osaka's Stand

While there was certainly on court news on Day 1 at the French Open, led by #4 Dominic Thiem exiting in the first round and further opening up the men's draw in its already wide-open bottom, the news of the day again revolved around Naomi Osaka, against whom the Grand Slams responded forcefully with a $15,000 and threat of further, escalating sanctions if she does not end her boycott of mandatory post-match media obligations. Ben is joined by Andrew Eccles of The Spin to discuss the standoff, why it has escalated, and why it has resonated so widely beyond tennis. We discuss why more understanding of both sides is warranted, the unclear but important mental health side of this situation, and how it all might resolve itself. Plus a bit on Thiem, Sabalenka, Kvitova, and Eurovision, natch. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can during the French Open, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
5/30/202136 minutes, 52 seconds
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Episode 299e: Draw Me Like One of Your French Opens, 2021

It's our favorite annual episode title! Ben and Courtney dive deep into the draws of Roland Garros to cover themselves in tidbits and terre battue about this draw. Defending champions Rafael Nadal and Iga Swiatek hit together on Saturday; how likely was it that Nadal was going to know anything about possible Swiatek first round opponents? We explore. On the women we go into folks including Barty, Swiatek, Kenin, Pliskova, Stephens, Muguruza, Sabalenka, Serena, Andreescu, and Osaka, while the men's side is more a conversation about how loaded the top half is around Rafael Nadal, and the opportunities it presents for the lads on the bottom. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can during the French Open, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
5/30/20211 hour, 43 minutes, 32 seconds
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Episode 299d: Naomi Osaka Chooses Silence

The surprising story that has dominated the week's tennis conversation is Naomi Osaka's statement that she will not be doing press conferences at the French Open, citing "mental health." To discuss Osaka's decision, which seems small but pulls on many different threads, Ben is joined by Tumaini Carayol of The Guardian. Where did this choice come from? Does it make sense, based on how Osaka has been treated by the press? What does it say about celebrities increasingly controlling their content? How will other players react to her decision? And more such conundrums. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
5/28/202146 minutes, 34 seconds
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Episode 299c: NCRvision Spotlight: Dan Bern

It's that wonderful time of year, for the first time in two years: Eurovision! At NCR, Eurovision means NCRvision, our celebration of the intersection of tennis and music--main show here; results show here--where we've found this episode's troubadour. Dan Bern, the singer-songwriter whose song "Isner and Mahut" closed out NCRvision, joins Ben to chat and play a live concert of several of his original songs inspired by tennis players of the past and present. It's a show like none we've ever done before on NCR, and we do hope you enjoy it. If you want to hear more from Dan, he has newly bundled 15 of his original tennis songs together on his Bandcamp for you to check out. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!)
5/20/202143 minutes, 5 seconds
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Episode 299b: Donald Dell

After our mailbag fun over on Patreon in past weeks, we return to the main feed of NCR with the first in-person interview we've done for NCR in more than a year. Donald Dell, an agent and promoter who did as much to shape the professional tennis landscape into its modern form as anyone over his decades in the sport, joins Ben near DC to discuss the structure of the sport, how it got that way, and what sort of changes might be on the horizon (ATP-WTA merger, a separate players union, etc). Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, Chris Bishop, and Nicole Copeland!)
5/14/202138 minutes, 39 seconds
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Episode 299a: Barcelona, Barty, Belgrade and Boseman (in Brooklyn)

Live from Brooklyn, Ben is rejoined by Andrew Eccles of The Spin to discuss a busy April weekend of tennis (and the Oscars). WTA #1 Ash Barty solidified her hold on the top spot with a title on the indoor clay of Stuttgart; should she be considered the favorite for the French Open, where she won two years ago? And does Aryna Sabalenka get treated fairly by the commentariat? Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas played a very, very long match that ultimately wasn't the sort of torch pass it might have been; or was it? Also, Berrettini and our reactions on the surprises of the startlingly shuffled Oscars. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, Chris Bishop, and Nicole Copeland!)
4/27/202140 minutes, 30 seconds
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Episode 299: Barty, Bianca, and Boys in Miami

Ben and Courtney(!) join forces once more to discuss the breakout stories of the Miami Open, of which there were many. We lead off with a long chat about Ash Barty, the WTA #1 who seemed to prove her claim to that mantle more than ever with her title. Why did this title feel so big for a player who has already achieved so much? We then discuss Bianca Andreescu and her remarkable charisma and stage presence, which feels singular and retro. We also discuss Naomi Osaka, whose win streak stopped at 23.  Then we move onto the boys, of whom Hubert Hurkacz prevailed in a depleted field (but through a tough draw) to Courtney's considerable delight, Jannik Sinner proved to still be a real-deal, and Sebastian Korda is way better than we bargained for. Also Vasek Pospisil and Alexander Bublik! Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, Chris Bishop, and Nicole Copeland!)
4/9/20211 hour, 57 minutes, 57 seconds
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Episode 298: The Empty Miami Open (with Michelle Kaufman)

The Miami Open, which has been in a state of flux in recent years, is underway this week in the parking lot of the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens in front of a scant crowd and limited media, and with an especially depleted men's player field. To get a feel for how it's going on the ground, Ben checks in with Miami Herald columnist Michelle Kaufman, who discusses the vibe on the ground, how it fits into the South Florida sports landscape currently, and how it feels to cover this unusual event. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, Chris Bishop, and Nicole Copeland!)
3/31/202128 minutes, 14 seconds
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Episode 297: The Broken Economics of Tennis

Think tennis could work better? So does pretty much everyone who works in tennis. Ben is joined by David Yaffe-Bellany of Bloomberg News, author of a recent piece exploring the long tradition of dysfunction and underperforming within the business side of tennis. What are the roots of the disorganization and the animosity? What are possible fixes to the sports poor earnings and its short payroll? What do we know about the still largely undefined PTPA and the role it could play? Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, Chris Bishop, and Nicole Copeland!)
3/31/202148 minutes, 35 seconds
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Episode 296: The Voids to Fill

As the tours spend another week in the Middle East, the region's tennis queen Reem Abulleil joins NCR once more from (nearly) on-site in Dubai. First, Reem shares her impressions of having been on site at a tournament this week for the first time in more than a year, at ATP Dubai. How different does the empty bubble atmosphere resonate in person? Then we discuss Aslan Karatsev, who keeps winning and soaring up the rankings at an incredibly steep rate, all while we really haven't learned much about him or understood what's transformed his career so dramatically. Where might we find answers? Then we look toward the Miami Open, where there has already been an exodus of top men's talent, making it the first Big 3-less Masters draw since 2004. What can be done to prevent such things? Do tournaments deserve loyalty from their stars in hard times? You'll hear a bit of Denis Shapovalov in this part. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, Chris Bishop, and Nicole Copeland!)
3/20/202156 minutes, 27 seconds
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Episode 295: Muguruza Wins; Federer Returns; Djokovic Reigns

It was a newsy week in tennis, and Ben is joined by our MENA correspondent Reem Abulleil to discuss it all. Garbiñe Muguruza won her first title in two years at WTA Dubai, and seems to be building meaningful momentum as a top player week-in, week-out. What impact could that have on the tour? Roger Federer returned to competition at ATP Doha for his first matches in more than a year; what is he still targeting? And speaking of targets, Novak Djokovic hit one of his big ones, reaching 311 weeks at #1. How does that impact the dreaded GOAT debates? Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, Chris Bishop, and Nicole Copeland!)
3/13/202138 minutes, 40 seconds
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Episode 294: Our Man in Rotterdam

With the tours continuing onward amid the pandemic, we welcome NCR's Dutch Lowlands and Caucasus Highlands correspondent David Avakian joins from Rotterdam to update us on the tournament there, which has long been a jewel of the indoor circuit. We discuss what the tournament has done to not look sad despite being empty, the role of appearance fees and entry list uncertainty, and the beautiful syllables of the Dutch language.  Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, Chris Bishop, and Nicole Copeland!)
3/6/202134 minutes, 24 seconds
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Episode 293i: Australian Open 2021 - Novak's Ninth

Ben and Courtney (the #ATPOutsider) are back to discuss the men's final in Melbourne, which was weighted with high hopes of a classic but ultimately turned into a pretty one-sided win for Novak Djokovic. We discuss Djokovic's incredible match management skills, Medvedev's disappointing performance, if expectations were unrealistic, how this sets up the GOAT conversation in terms of the race to most Slams won, and more! Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
2/21/202134 minutes, 55 seconds
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Episode 293h: Australian Open 2021 - Naomi Osaka Wins Her Fourth (and Counting...)

With a second Australian Open title and fourth Grand Slam win overall, Naomi Osaka is into what feels like the beginning of the resume-padding phase of her already illustrious career. Ben and Courtney discuss Osaka's impressive run in Melbourne that ended with a win over Jennifer Brady, where she goes from here (particularly on clay), and the current state of the top of women's tennis. We also discuss the quirks of Jennifer Brady, our feelings about fully automated officiating, the charisma of Bianca Andreescu and Daniil Medvedev, and whether or not BlacKkKlansman was a good movie. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
2/20/20211 hour, 2 minutes, 6 seconds
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Episode 293g: Australian Open 2021 - Finals Set: Osaka-Brady, Djokovic-Medvedev

Both the men's and women's finals are set at the Australian Open, and we're thinking they'll be pretty good! Reem Abulleil joins Ben to discuss the semifinals that were and the finals that they set up, starting with Jennifer Brady backing up her U.S. Open run to book another blockbuster match against Naomi Osaka. Also, what do we make of Serena's exit from Melbourne, which many perceived as a possible farewell? Then we discuss the men, and how we both think Daniil Medvedev has a real shot of ending Novak Djokovic's undefeated streak in Australian Open finals.  Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
2/19/202138 minutes
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Episode 293f: Australian Open 2021 - Semifinal Showdowns Set

The wonderfully multitalented Nick McCarvel joins NCR now that the Australian Open semifinals are set, with Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka set to face off in a blockbuster clash, and Jennifer Brady and Karolina Muchova following as a compelling undercard on the women's side. On the men's side, Novak Djokovic faces previously unknown Aslan Karatsev, while the interesting dynamic of Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas facing off a day later for the other spot in the final. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
2/17/202143 minutes, 1 second
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Episode 293e: Australian Open 2021 - Day 7: Women's Star Power Shines

It was a blockbuster day of women's tennis at the Australian Open, and Ben, Courtney, and Reem had a great time watching and discussing Osaka-Muguruza, Serena-Sabalenka, Halep-Swiatek, and the magical run of Hsieh Su-wei. What to make of these great matches? Which was the best? And how does the top half compare? Also a bit on Thiem-Dimitrov, Olivia Gadecki, and more. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
2/15/202155 minutes, 30 seconds
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Episode 293d: Australian Open 2021 - Round 3 Round-up

As we reach the end of the Australian Open's first week, saying goodbye to Nick Kyrgios, the crowd, and Novak Djokovic's lock status, Ben is joined by Tumaini Carayol to wrap up the week that was and set the stage for the prize fights looming. How does this tournament feel so far? What were our impressions of Thiem-Kyrgios? How would the tournament change if Djokovic can't compete? And what is making the women's bottom half so special? Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
2/13/202141 minutes, 19 seconds
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Episode 293c: Australian Open 2021 - Day 4: Kenin Falls, Barty Stumbles, Kyrgios Rises

After a pretty flat opening round (and week before at Melbourne Park) the Australian Open seemed to be jolted to life on Wednesday night by Nick Kyrgios, and several other intriguing moments emerged on Thursday as well. Ben and Courtney discuss their concerns about #1 Ash Barty, who struggled down the stretch. They also discuss the strangely self-defeating attitude of #4 Sofia Kenin, who bowed out under a blanket of pressure which seemed to be entirely of her own knitting. Then Ben chats with Quentin Moynet of L'Equipe about the Kyrgios-Humbert match, Gael Monfils' emotions, and his impressions of the tournament so far from on the ground in Melbourne. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
2/11/202143 minutes, 4 seconds
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Episode 293b: Australian Open 2021 - Day 3: The Passion of Venus

Venus Williams showed such staggering resilience, toughness, and determination on Wednesday that it almost didn't matter that she won only one game. Andrew Eccles, founder of The Spin, joins to discuss Venus' loss to Sara Errani, what it showed us about her, and why he has such love for Errani. We also discuss Hsieh Su-wei's win over Bianca Andreescu, Stan Wawrinka's five-set flameout, and the unsettled vibe of this Australian Open. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
2/10/202127 minutes, 46 seconds
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Episode 293a: Australian Open 2021 - Round 1 Round-up

It's been a different feeling Australian Open so far, with more scant crowds than anticipated, but also emphatic early performances by contenders on the women's side. Ben is joined by three tremendous women on this episode to get a sense of the tournament so far: NCR's Middle East and North Africa correspondent Reem Abulleil (who is delighting in the first ever Egyptian win in a women's Slam main draw), Jessie Pegula (who upset two-time champion Victoria Azarenka) and Ann Li (who routed #31 Zhang Shuai after making the most of two weeks in hard hotel quarantine). Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
2/9/202142 minutes, 29 seconds
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Episode 292: Australian Open 2021 Draw Show

Another Slam is around the corner, and, in a surprise to no one, there are many players who seem wildly competitively relevant in the women's draw. Serena and Osaka are very good! Barty and Andreescu are back in action! Kenin and Halep remain legit! And then a whole bunch more people! On the men's side, there's Djokovic, who just about always wins in Melbourne. And then, we guess, Nadal? Thiem? Medvedev, maybe?  Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
2/6/20211 hour, 4 minutes, 1 second
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Episode 291: Stefanos Tsitsipas

Amid his busy schedule of creating photos and music, ATP #6 Stefanos Tsitsipas joins NCR this week, chatting with Ben about all sorts of things in a wide-ranging interview from his hotel room in Melbourne.  We discuss topics including how he's handled the quarantine so far, his lifelong interest in creating things on the internet, his relationship with Nick Kyrgios, the pressures of the junior tour, being grounded from his travel-loving lifestyle, his fracas with Daniil Medvedev in Miami, tennis as a family business, and more. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
1/27/202159 minutes, 54 seconds
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Episode 290: The Complaint Department (with Reem Abulleil)

With conditions tougher than many players had expected for the mandatory quarantine period in Melbourne, and with gripes about how unevenly players have been treated, there were plenty of complaints to be heard from players, and then even louder complaints from the Australian public about those complaints. Ben and Reem Abulleil discuss what's been going on in Melbourne, whether or not players are entitled to being upset, the perception from the public, the Melbourne-Adelaide divide. And, most existentially, whether doing all of this, with everything it takes and how much can go wrong, was a bad idea from the jump. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
1/22/202156 minutes, 19 seconds
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Episode 289: Locked Inside, with Taro Daniel

The Australian Open lead-up has hit more snags than players expected, with 72 of them (and counting?) facing a hard lockdown that could keep them from leaving their hotel rooms at all for 14 days, presenting major challenges to their Grand Slam preparation. To discuss that predicament, Ben is joined by one of the 72, ATP player Taro Daniel, who was on a flight from Doha where another passenger tested positive for coronavirus. Taro discusses the mental and physical challenges of being stuck in the room, what might be meaningfully gained by hitting against a mattress in the room, and how the organization of the event has been so far in his mind. Taro also discusses topics including the PTPA, gaining perspective during the stoppage, and Naomi Osaka's perception in Japan. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
1/19/202146 minutes, 39 seconds
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Episode 288: Remembering Tom Perrotta

The small world of tennis media lost one of its most beloved last week with the passing of Tom Perrotta, who had earned the love and admiration of practically everyone lucky enough to meet him. Since it's going to be a while before we're all able to come together again to properly raise a glass in Tom's honor, Ben and Courtney decided to use this space to "gather" together somewhat virtually with a series of spoken remembrances from a dozen of the folks who knew Tom best from his professional life, mostly his fellow American media but also a couple of players on whom Tom's thoughtful coverage left an impression. There's a mix of approaches and a mix of memories, but one thing runs true throughout: we all liked this guy a whole lot. For more reflections on Tom, here are four recent tributes written by Steve Tignor, Jason Gay, Jon Wertheim, and Pete Bodo. Rest in peace, friend.
1/15/20211 hour, 1 minute, 29 seconds
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Episode 287: Working in Tennis (With Katie Spellman)

Ben and Courtney are delighted to be joined by Katie Spellman, a communications expert who joins for a companion episode to her Instagram series highlighting what it takes to make it working in the world of tennis, particularly on the media sides both independent and corporate. What are the keys to breaking into the business? What do you need to do to stay afloat? And what are particular challenges facing women in the industry? All this, and more. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our TENTH(!) season! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Pam Shriver, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
1/6/20211 hour, 20 minutes, 29 seconds
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Episode 286b: Remember When? 2020, Part 2

Ben and Courtney wrap up their wrap-up of the uniquely weird year that was 2020 with this episode, which focuses on everything that happened after the pandemic first stopped the tours. How do we look back on how tennis players handled the stoppage, both as players and as citizens? Is it fair to make generalizations? And how did we feel about the tennis once it came back? Also, Courtney is on Twitch, as she mentions several times. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received this year on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Nicole Copeland, Anna Welinder, and Pam Shriver!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
12/28/20202 hours, 1 minute, 45 seconds
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Episode 286a: Remember When? 2020, Part 1

What was it like to form memories in 2020? For Ben and Courtney, things were far more vivid when we were still able to travel, so this first half of our annual "Remember When" is heavy on January. Have our thoughts on ATP Cup changed with the passage of time? And how about those donations to the Australian bushfire relief? Where were we when we realized coronavirus was going to be serious? And how did our outlook on the year and our lives shift? Part 2, which covers April to the present, out later this week! Happy Holidays! Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received this year on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Nicole Copeland, Anna Welinder, and Pam Shriver!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
12/23/20201 hour, 37 minutes, 41 seconds
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Episode 285b: A 2021 Roundtable, Part 2

We're delighted to bring you the conclusion of the roundtable with Reem Abulleil, Tumaini Carayol, and Alex Gruskin on our (sometimes myopic) 2021 vision for tennis. Topics the gang cover on this back half include the new WTA "rebrand," continuing media access shortfalls (particularly during quarantine), how Roger Federer might take to playing in empty stadiums, and what Tumaini's experience was like watching the ATP Tour Finals in empty O2 Arena in London. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received this year on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Nicole Copeland, Anna Welinder, and Pam Shriver!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
12/8/202046 minutes, 16 seconds
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Episode 285a: A 2021 Roundtable, Part 1

Staring into an uncertain future, Ben is joined by an all-star panel for a roundtable about what 2021 might and should look like in tennis. Reem Abulleil, Tumaini Carayol, and Alex Gruskin all return to NCR to discuss the 2021 outlook, starting with the Australian Open's apparent shift to February, which could majorly disrupt the first two months of the season. Is all the upheaval worth it? (A column by Richard Hinds which we discuss is here.) We then discuss how tennis' challenges this year have exposed some dysfunction, opportunities for innovation that have yet to be taken, and then lastly who we'd pick as a practice partner if stuck with the same person for five days in quarantine.  Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received this year on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Nicole Copeland, Anna Welinder, and Pam Shriver!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
12/6/202049 minutes, 41 seconds
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Episode 284: What's Up Down Under: Australian Open 2021 Outlook

The 2020 tennis off-season has begun, but we don't have a very confident idea just how long it will be before the 2021 season begins, with the Australian Open having to navigate a complex landscape in a place that has stood out during the pandemic for its success. To help explain the context of the conversation about holding a major event in COVID-free Melbourne, Ben is joined by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Tim Callanan to discuss the journey Melbourne and Victoria have been on, and the road ahead from here. Is the Australian Open the reward Melbourne has earned, or a risk it can't afford? And can tennis players be trusted? (Apologies for the intermittent crackling on Tim's connection; he's coming to us from quite a ways away.) Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received this year on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Charles Cyna, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
11/26/202035 minutes, 14 seconds
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Episode 283: The Year in Men's Tennis (with Ricky Dimon)

In lieu of their usual annual fall weekend together in DC, Ben is remotely joined by Ricky Dimon for their annual men's tennis season wrap show, this time right after the final tour match of the year, which was Daniil Medvedev beating Dominic Thiem in the last iteration of the ATP Finals to be held in London. Ben and Ricky discuss the major themes of the year, evaluate the seasons that were had by each of the top eight guys and how they are set up for next year, and discuss the new wrinkles to the ranking system. We also, as is tradition, go over what would be our ballots for the ATP award slate, including the cases for and against Novak Djokovic as player of the year. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received this year on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Charles Cyna, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
11/23/20201 hour, 14 minutes, 1 second
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Episode 282: Catching Up (With Courtney!)

Ben and Courtney are back for their first episode together since the French Open! While not particularly enthused by the offerings on tour currently, they have lots to discuss all the same, including Courtney's journey as a Twitch streamer, the unlikelihood of traveling to Australia next year, the shifts in the apparel landscape, and more! Also for you OGs, we bring back Take a Number! Fun! And then for considerably less fun, we discuss the silence in the face of the allegations by Olga Sharypova against Alexander Zverev (recorded before the ATP's pretty meh statement on Friday), and breakdown why the concept of "innocent until proven guilty" doesn't hold much relevance to how this case should be discussed. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received this year on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Charles Cyna, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
11/14/20201 hour, 16 minutes, 9 seconds
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Episode 281: A Woman Speaks Out; Tennis Stays Silent

This week's episode discusses the accusations of domestic violence made by Alexander Zverev's ex-girlfriend Olga Sharypova, as further detailed in Ben's interview with her last week which was published on Thursday by Racquet Magazine.  Ben is joined for this episode by Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated and 60 Minutes, who discussed the allegations in his column this week.  What to make of the accusations? How should the ATP respond? Why doesn't tennis have a clear domestic violence policy like other sports? And what does silence make clear about tennis' shortcomings? Also, a little detour into comparing tennis scoring and the electoral college.  Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received this year on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Charles Cyna, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
11/6/202042 minutes, 11 seconds
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Episode 280: A Bit on Bubbles

This is just a very brief update to our podcast feed to alert folks that we've uploaded to our Patreon an earlier interview with Alexander Bublik, aka Sasha Bubbles, aka...Alex? Aside from various nicknames, Bublik discusses the deals he's struck with Kazakhstan, what separates the best players from the rest of the pack, and the enduring appeal of bad boys. Also, Ben has more coming soon on the domestic violence allegations against Sascha Zverev. Also, please vote. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received this year on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Charles Cyna, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
10/31/20203 minutes, 6 seconds
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Episode 279: Does Tennis Love You Back? (With Jessica Luther & Kavitha A. Davidson)

Jessica Luther and Kavitha A. Davidson, co-authors of the new book Loving Sports When They Don't Love You Back, join to discuss the lovability of tennis, and the difficulties that fans can still encounter while trying to reconcile the sport and their own personal values. Issues covered include the continuing grumbling over equal pay for men and women, the evolution of Serena Williams' perceived marketability, what to do with a player whose politics you find objectionable, and how to feel about tennis and other sports continuing to soldier on during a continuing global pandemic. Also, please vote. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received this year on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Charles Cyna, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
10/21/20201 hour, 7 minutes, 39 seconds
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Episode 278: Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon

There was big news on the tennis business front this week as Tennis Channel acquired rights to Indian Wells, Miami, Canada, and Cincinnati that had previously belonged to ESPN, further tightening the network's portfolio (and further reducing the visibility of tennis on more general channels). To discuss the shift, Ben is joined by Tennis Channel chairman and CEO Ken Solomon, who discusses his network's growth, the benefits of being a dedicated network, the way to grow the sport from a niche position, and if the sport (or at least his channel) needs innovation to attract younger viewers. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received this year on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we bring you the best shows we can each week, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Charles Cyna, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
10/16/202041 minutes, 29 seconds
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Episode 277o: 2020 French Open Day 15 - Nadal Wins Easy 13th

Ben and Courtney discuss Rafael Nadal's much easier than expected romp over Novak Djokovic in the French Open final, winning 6-0, 6-2, 7-5.  Were we dumb to think the result would be anything different? How did Nadal get this moment so pitch-perfect, on and off court? In what ways was this French Open still political, if less overtly so?  And what was it like to cover this tournament, and are there unexpected negatives to the Slam slog being over? Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent weeks on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we strive to bring you the best French Open content we can from across the Atlantic, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Charles Cyna, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
10/11/202041 minutes, 36 seconds
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Episode 277n: 2020 French Open Day 14 - Iga Swiatek Wins Big

Ranked outside the Top 50, Iga Swiatek completed one of the most dominant title runs in Grand Slam history on Saturday, beating Sofia Kenin in the French Open final. Ben and Courtney discuss what makes Swiatek special, her stigma-breaking embrace of sports psychology, and the unique way in which her peers glow about her.  What other title runs could compare to this one? We also discuss Sofia Kenin's Player-of-the-Year-worthy 2020 season, and Courtney's hopes for tomorrow's Nadal-Djokovic final. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent weeks on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we strive to bring you the best French Open content we can from across the Atlantic, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Charles Cyna, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
10/10/202042 minutes, 5 seconds
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Episode 277m: 2020 French Open Day 13 - Final Showdowns

To preview both the men's and women's finals at Roland Garros this weekend, Ben is joined by the two NCR correspondents, Reem Abulleil and Tumaini Carayol. First on the men's side, familiar foes Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will meet once again with major stakes in the GOAT race. Who will win? We're on the same page, albeit with different degrees of confidence. And on the women's side, how to begin to evaluate the somewhat untested Iga Swiatek? And why are folks sleeping on Sofia Kenin, who is one match from locking up Player of the Year? Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent weeks on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we strive to bring you the best French Open content we can from across the Atlantic, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Charles Cyna, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
10/10/202033 minutes, 8 seconds
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Episode 277l: 2020 French Open Day 12 - Iga Swiatek's Mental Strength

With 19-year-old Iga Swiatek reaching the French Open final (against Sofia Kenin), showing incredible mental strength and poise that belies her age and relative inexperience, Ben is joined by Daria Abramowicz, the sports psychologist who has been with Swiatek at Roland Garros during her remarkably doinant run. Ben and Daria discuss the field of sports psychology in general, her work with Iga particularly, and how this sort of focus can fit into an athlete's day and routine.  Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent weeks on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we strive to bring you the best French Open content we can from across the Atlantic, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Charles Cyna, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
10/8/202027 minutes, 55 seconds
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Episode 277k: 2020 French Open Day 11 - Setting Up Semifinals

With just four women and four men left in contention at Roland Garros. Ben and Courtney look back to the quarterfinals and ahead to the semifinals. Iga Swiatek will face Nadia Podoroska, Petra Kvitova will face Sofia Kenin, Rafael Nadal will face Diego Schwartzman, and Stefanos Tsitsipas will face Novak Djokovic. These are shaping up as some very different matches, and we have many thoughts across the board. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent weeks on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we strive to bring you the best French Open content we can from across the Atlantic, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Charles Cyna, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
10/8/20201 hour, 1 minute, 3 seconds
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Episode 277j: 2020 French Open Day 10 - GIFs Given and Taken

As the first slate of quarterfinals saw big wins for Argentina, we take a look at what suddenly went missing from the French Open: the small army of GIF-makers who animate (literally) Tennis Twitter so steadfastly. The French Federation of Tennis issued a major crackdown on GIFs this week, bringing the pictures on our timelines to a stand still. To better understand this landscape, Ben tries to track down an answer from the FFT (no luck yet), and then talks to the King of the Tennis GIFs, @doublefault28, a Tennis Twitter Hall of Famer. Ben then chats with another GIFer in the Tennis Twitter ranks, Ashish of @Tennis_GIFs. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent weeks on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we strive to bring you the best French Open content we can from across the Atlantic, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Charles Cyna, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
10/7/202031 minutes, 35 seconds
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Episode 277i: 2020 French Open Day 9 - Quarterfinal Previews (With Reem Abulleil)

Reem Abulleil, queen of content for Roland Garros, joins Ben to look ahead to the quarterfinal slates in Paris which are (almost) complete. On the women's side, how will Elina Svitolina handle the pressure? Will momentum help qualifiers?  On the men's side, could Jannik Sinner pull off a huge surprise against Nadal, or should Diego Schwartzman pull off a smaller one over Thiem? Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent weeks on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we strive to bring you the best French Open content we can from across the Atlantic, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Christopher Bishop, Charles Cyna, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
10/6/202033 minutes, 22 seconds
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Episode 277h: 2020 French Open Day 8 - Halep Falls; Zverev Ails

Sunday at Roland Garros saw the exit of overwhelming favorite, Simona Halep, and another disappointment from frequently-underwhelming pandemic citizen Sascha Zverev. Tumaini Carayol is here to discuss both of those events and more. What can Halep's loss be chalked up to? Is it now Elina Svitolina's half of the draw to lose? And on the men's side, we discuss Jannik Sinner's impressively consistent four-set win over Sascha Zverev, and then Zverev's decision to play and stay in the tournament despite symptoms which almost certainly should have forced him out. Who is to blame in this scenario? Plus a brief look ahead to Monday's slate, and an ode to turtlenecks. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent weeks on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we strive to bring you the best French Open content we can from across the Atlantic, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Christopher Bishop, Charles Cyna, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
10/4/202053 minutes, 29 seconds
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Episode 277g: 2020 French Open Day 7 - Different Faces, Different Voices

Ben and Courtney reunite to discuss the first week of the French Open, which ended with Danielle Collins beating Garbine Muguruza in one of the bigger surprises so far. Collins joins many other unexpected names (Daniel Altmaier, anyone?) in the second week of a tournament that could go some very different directions in the next few days. We discuss how it's felt to cover the tournament that's a world away in many ways, and also get into what it's been like to have a new ear on tennis than usual, as we're home like most viewers, digesting tennis through the coverage on ESPN and Tennis Channel. What do we make about the way issues in the sport (like Hawkeye on clay, notably) are talked about, and what does that say about tennis coverage? It all makes us very grateful for our independence, let's say that. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent weeks on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we strive to bring you the best French Open content we can from across the Atlantic, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Christopher Bishop, Charles Cyna, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
10/4/20201 hour, 14 minutes, 48 seconds
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Episode 277f: 2020 French Open Day 6 - Barbora Krejcikova, Making It on Her Own

Roland Garros has seen many new names emerging to go deep into the tournament already, including a bevy of players from outside the Top 100 reaching the second week. Among them is our guest on today's show: Barbora Krejcikova, a former Slam champ and #1 in doubles, who achieved a long-awaited breakthrough into the Top 100 on Friday by reaching the fourth round of the French Open. Krejcikova discusses her determination to stick with singles, her ability to accept her shortcomings that allowed her to go further, and the continued inspiration she gets from her late coach, Jana Novotna. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent weeks on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we strive to bring you the best French Open content we can from across the Atlantic, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Christopher Bishop, Charles Cyna, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
10/2/202021 minutes, 2 seconds
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Episode 277e: 2020 French Open Day 5 - Hot Take-Off (with Alex Gruskin)

With two rounds of the French Open now done, it's time to make some bold calls. Ben is rejoined by Alex Gruskin of the Cracked Racquets media empire to make some bold calls and predictions about the short-term (Roland Garros) and long-term outlook of tennis. From Jelena Ostapenko to Sofia Kenin to Sascha Zverev to Serena Williams to Jannik Sinner, we've got all the hot takes you could ever want...and then some.  Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent weeks on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we strive to bring you the best French Open content we can from across the Atlantic, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Christopher Bishop, Charles Cyna, and Nicole Copeland!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
10/2/20201 hour, 4 minutes, 2 seconds
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Episode 277d: 2020 French Open Day 4 - Exits and Arrivals

It was an eventful day at Roland Garros, with three-time champ Serena Williams withdrawing due to a lingering Achilles' injury, Victoria Azarenka and Coco Gauff also exiting, and Sara Errani and Kiki Bertens getting into all sorts of drama as their third set rocked (and then rolled). After bits from Serena, Errani, and Bertens, the main body of this episode focuses on two men who advanced on Wednesday: U.S. Open finalists Dominic Thiem and Sascha Zverev. Ben is joined by German reporter Jannik Schneider to discuss Zverev, his perception in Germany, his physical development, the impact of signing with Roger Federer's Team 8 company, and the legal battles that remain for him, as well as the similar legal battles around Dominic Thiem and his former manager. This was our 22nd(!) episode of the month of September! Golly. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent weeks on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we strive to bring you the best French Open content we can from across the Atlantic, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Christopher Bishop and Charles Cyna!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/30/202053 minutes, 54 seconds
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Episode 277c: 2020 French Open Day 3 - Fun With Props with Ricky Dimon

Trying to recreate a Paris tradition in podcast form, Ben and Ricky Dimon try to predict various happenings on Wednesday at the French Open, both on court and off. The questions range from straightforward (How many sets will Pironkova win? How many double faults will Zverev hit?) to more unusual (How many times will the word "ball" be said Nadal's press conference?) 21 prop questions in all, we hope you have fun thinking about these questions and hearing our thought processes. To leave your own predictions, do so in the episode thread for this episode on our Patreon! Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent weeks on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we strive to bring you the best French Open content we can from across the Atlantic, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Christopher Bishop and Charles Cyna!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/30/202042 minutes, 43 seconds
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Episode 277b: 2020 French Open Day 2 - Alexander Bublik Bursts Monfils' Bubble

We are joined on this Day 2 episode by one of the big winners of the day at Roland Garros: Alexander Bublik (aka Sasha Bubbles in NCRland) who knocked out #8 seed Gael Monfils in four sets. It's a relatively short chat but not short on material: Bublik covers everything from ambition to old men to underhand serving to Faust. And, if you're a Sasha Bubbles celebrator, good news: we'll have a more extended chat that Ben did with him coming later this week on our Patreon. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent weeks on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we strive to bring you the best French Open content we can from across the Atlantic, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Christopher Bishop and Charles Cyna!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/29/202016 minutes, 3 seconds
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Episode 277a: 2020 French Open Day 1 - The British Are...Leaving

The marquee matches of the day were both won in decisive straight sets, with Stan Wawrinka romping over Andy Murray, and Coco Gauff controlling play against Johanna Konta. Tumaini Carayol, NCR's newly-enshrined Spain and Sub-Saharan Africa correspondent, joins to discuss these matches and the reactions to them. Is giving a wild card to Murray debatable, as Mats Wilander claimed? Should Konta be less walled off with the media? And what made Wawrinka and Gauff so sharp? Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent weeks on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we strive to bring you the best French Open content we can from across the Atlantic, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Christopher Bishop and Charles Cyna!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/27/202041 minutes, 29 seconds
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Episode 276: Draw Me Like One of Your French Opens, 2020

Another Slam approaches at a time of year which has never held a Slam before, so Ben and Courtney try to gather their physical and mental strength to take on what is shaping up to be an incredibly challenging Slam in many ways. We start with the women, where Simona Halep is a clear favorite, but parity abounds also in women's tennis, as always. Garbine Muguruza appears set for success, and Serena and Azarenka are also intriguing in a Slam which may reward power more than the average French Open. On the men's side we discuss Novak Djokovic's status as favorite, and detour into topics such as the complaints of players who are testing positive, the "struggles" of Stefanos Tsitsipas, the height of Diego Schwartzman, the wonders of Sasha Bubbles, and more. Also, we discuss what we'll miss most about Paris.  Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent weeks on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in as we strive to bring you the best French Open content we can from across the Atlantic, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Christopher Bishop and Charles Cyna!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/26/20201 hour, 47 minutes, 55 seconds
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Episode 275b: Original 9 - Kristy Pigeon

On September 23, 1970, women's professional sports were changed forever by the bravery of nine tennis players who defied the sport's authorities and signed $1 contracts to become professionals with Gladys Heldman, setting in motion what would become the WTA Tour we know today as the world's most successful women's professional sport. Kristy Pigeon, one of these "Original 9," joins from her home in Idaho to discuss her life in the sport, the moment everything changed 50 years ago, and where the sport has gone since. It's a great, wide-ranging chat and we think you'll enjoy this one tremendously. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent weeks NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, Christopher Bishop and Charles Cyna!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/22/20201 hour, 13 minutes, 48 seconds
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Episode 275a: Original 9 - 50th Anniversary Approaches

On the week of a massive milestone anniversary in women's tennis history, Ben and Courtney set the table for a discussion of the Original 9, the group of women who broke away from the tennis establishment and risked their careers in order to make women's professional tennis into a viable sport on September 23, 1970. An interview with Kristy Pigeon, one of the nine, will be here on NCR soon, so Ben and Courtney wanted to set the stage a bit and explain what the Original 9 was, why they matter, and why their stories still resonate. Courtney has been doing lots of great stuff about the Original 9 over at WTA Insider, so go listen to Gladys Heldman, listen to Judy Dalton, or (re)visit NCR's chat with Julie Heldman. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received over the course of the 2020 U.S. Open on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, and Charles Cyna!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/21/202023 minutes, 26 seconds
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Episode 274: In a Roomy Rome

Desperately missing Rome as we miss out on covering the Italian Open for the first time in many years, Enrico Maria Riva joins from on the grounds of the Foro Italico to discuss what it's like being at the most sensory and vibrant tournament that suddenly is all but empty. Enrico, who works in television graphics, also discusses that side of the tournament, what changes have been made to television production because of coronavirus, and the rise of Italy as a robust and promising contingent in men's tennis.  Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received over the course of the 2020 U.S. Open on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, and Charles Cyna!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/19/202029 minutes, 45 seconds
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Episode 273o: 2020 U.S. Open Day 14 - Under Pressure, Thiem Outlasts Zverev

After a men's final that became a battle of nerves late, Dominic Thiem outlasted Sascha Zverev in a fifth set tiebreak to win the U.S. Open, his first Grand Slam title. Ben is joined on late notice by Reem Abulleil to discuss the scratchy final, in which Zverev started well but went back into his shell, which both players failed to serve out when they had the chance, and which became an exciting/excruciating battle of who could manage to eke across the finish line first. Was it a good match, even charitably? And if not, what does it mean as a coronation moment? And how does it set these guys up going forward? Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received over the course of the 2020 U.S. Open on the NCR Patreon! If you'd like to join in, check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, and Charles Cyna!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/14/202043 minutes, 27 seconds
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Episode 273n: 2020 U.S. Open Day 13 - Naomi Osaka's Statement Win

Naomi Osaka, making herself heard on court and off, won her third Grand Slam title on Saturday at the U.S. Open, coming back from 1-6, 0-2 down to beat Victoria Azarenka in the final. Ben and Courtney chat about the match, the incredibly impressive way Osaka has found her voice and her game, Victoria Azarenka's reemergence, who the current alpha is in women's tennis, and more. Also, Courtney gives some parting thoughts on her hopes for the men's final.  Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent days! If you'd like to join fellow listeners in supporting our show as we work to crank out daily shows during the 2020 U.S. Open, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, and Charles Cyna!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/13/20201 hour, 17 minutes, 4 seconds
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Episode 273m: 2020 U.S. Open Day 12 - Zverev & Thiem are Last Men Standing

We've got another voice from inside the U.S. Open bubble, man-of-the-people Mike Cation, on NCR to discuss the men's semifinals, from which Sascha Zverev and Dominic Thiem advanced to the final. It wasn't always pretty, especially not for Zverev. What should we think when Zverev, a guy we're convinced can be great wins so unconvincingly? And where does this result leave men's tennis as it seeks new stars? Also, more on life inside the bubble, calling crowdless matches, and looking back at the men's event from an American perspective and otherwise. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent days! If you'd like to join fellow listeners in supporting our show as we work to crank out daily shows during the 2020 U.S. Open, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, and Charles Cyna!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/12/202056 minutes, 50 seconds
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Episode 273l: U.S. Open Day 11 - Azarenka & Osaka Win Semifinal Showstoppers

The women put on an incredible display in their semifinal showcase on Thursday evening at the U.S. Open, with Victoria Azarenka beating Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka besting Jennifer Brady in two spectacular matches. Nick McCarvel, who was one of the 147 people watching Azarenka-Williams in Ashe (yes, he counted) joins Ben to discuss the experience, the matches, the two finalists set for a Saturday showdown, and what has been a surreal and memorable two weeks in the "ghost town" Grand Slam. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent days! If you'd like to join fellow listeners in supporting our show as we work to crank out daily shows during the 2020 U.S. Open, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, and Charles Cyna!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/11/202057 minutes, 54 seconds
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Episode 273k: 2020 U.S. Open Day 10 - Mary Carillo and the Final Fours

Mary Carillo, NCR's favorite, joins Ben and Courtney for a third time as the U.S. Open gets to the business end of the draws, as we are now down to four semifinalists for both the men and women. What has it been like calling this completely different tournament from on site at the Open? What have been the unexpected revelations of this new landscape and soundscape? Why does the Chinese restaurant want you to order the fries? We discuss all eight semifinalists in some detail: Jennifer Brady, Victoria Azarenka, Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka; Pablo Carreno Busta, Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev, and Dominic Thiem. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent days! If you'd like to join fellow listeners in supporting our show as we work to crank out daily shows during the 2020 U.S. Open, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, and Charles Cyna!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/10/20201 hour, 20 minutes, 38 seconds
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Episode 273j: 2020 U.S. Open Day 9 - Pam Shriver's Distance Learning

Pam Shriver is used to being on the very front lines of tennis reporting for ESPN, running around the grounds of tournaments, hunting down celebrities, coaches, drunk Scottish people on Henman Hill, or whoever else might have something worthwhile to say. In this very different 2020, Pam is at home during this U.S. Open, staying connected to the coverage from afar as she tries to balance work and family priorities amid this pandemic. Pam and Ben discuss the 2020 U.S. Open, how it's coming across on TV, the sudden opportunity in the men's draw, Djokovic's simmer, recent tennis politics flareups, and their shared love of the Baltimore Orioles. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent days! If you'd like to join fellow listeners in supporting our show as we work to crank out daily shows during the 2020 U.S. Open, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, and Charles Cyna!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/9/202032 minutes, 39 seconds
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Episode 273i: 2020 U.S. Open Day 8 - Quarterfinals!

With the U.S. Open reaching the quarterfinal stage, where the draws get considerably more manageable to process on a more granular basis, Courtney and Ben reconvene to reset the table for the feasts of tennis cooking for the men and women. The men's field is ordering off the kids menu, with the men's game tour finally guaranteed a new Grand Slam champion for the first time in six years. Who is best poised to take advantage of this? How will the new favorites, like Thiem and Zverev, deal with the pressure? On the women's side we discuss a field that includes the Americans Jennifer Brady and Shelby Rogers, the crafty Yulia Putintseva, the remarkable Tsvetana Pironkova, the regal Serena Williams, and the resurgent Victoria Azarenka. Also! We are uploading video of the recording of this episode to our Patreon as an experiment, if you want to see what it's like to watch NCR instead of just listening! Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent days! If you'd like to join fellow listeners in supporting our show as we work to crank out daily shows during the 2020 U.S. Open, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, and Charles Cyna!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/8/20201 hour, 1 minute, 39 seconds
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Episode 273h: 2020 U.S. Open Day 7 - Djokovic Defaulted; NextGen Get Slam Chance

We made a mega mid-Slam episode for today's shocking developments, as No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the prohibitive favorite, was defaulted from the U.S. Open in the first set of his fourth round match after striking a lineswoman in the throat with a ball. Courtney and Ben are joined by Reem Abulleil to discuss this moment, what it says about Djokovic and the rules of tennis, and where it leaves Djokovic and the tournament going forward. Then in the second half of the show, Ben is joined by Alex Gruskin of the Cracked Racquets media empire to discuss the fact that we're suddenly guaranteed a new Grand Slam champion in men's tennis, something we haven't had for six years. Which of the young guys seems ready to take this mantle? And how do these unusual circumstances color the moment? Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent days! If you'd like to join fellow listeners in supporting our show as we work to crank out daily shows during the 2020 U.S. Open, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, and Charles Cyna!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/7/202058 minutes, 1 second
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Episode 273g: 2020 U.S. Open Day 6 - French Fracas (The Paire 11)

As the first week of the U.S. Open wraps up, we get into (and hopefully wrap up) the story that dominated the first week: the fallout of Benoit Paire's positive coronavirus test last weekend, and the slow-but-severe effect it had on other players he had contacted before testing positive, ending with Kiki Mladenovic getting defaulted from the women's doubles draw to be quarantined fully in her Nassau County hotel.  Quentin Moynet of L'Equipe joins to discuss this week and other developments in French tennis including what's in Alize Cornet's new book, Corentin Moutet, and the rapidly approaching Roland Garros, which is still planning on having thousands of fans on the grounds each day. Sacre bleu! Also, check out Quentin's book! Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent days! If you'd like to join fellow listeners in supporting our show as we work to crank out daily shows during the 2020 U.S. Open, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, and Charles Cyna!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/6/202025 minutes, 44 seconds
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Episode 273f: 2020 U.S. Open Day 5 - The Mystery Files and Shelby Rogers

On a typically bizarre 2020 day in which New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had to rule on Adrian Mannarino's U.S. Open eligibility, we at NCR are delighted to bring you a cool, calming chat with Shelby Rogers, who solidified her great year by advancing to the fourth round of the U.S. Open on Friday. Shelby discusses how she used the quarantine time to work on herself physically, mentally, and spiritually, the fun variety of fast courts, and enjoying the solace of tennis in a bubble, even as craziness continues inside and out.  Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent days! If you'd like to join fellow listeners in supporting our show as we work to crank out daily shows during the 2020 U.S. Open, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, and Charles Cyna!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/5/202023 minutes, 4 seconds
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Episode 273e: 2020 U.S.Open Day 4 - In Order to Form a More Perfect Union

On a day at the U.S. Open on which its co-president Vasek Pospisil upset Milos Raonic, Ben chats about the new Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA, aka pihtihpihAHHH) with Amy Fetherolf, who knows her unions and her tennis. What to make of this new tennis union? Does it need to have more specific goals outlined as it's getting off the ground? What classic anti-union tactics are visible in the resistance it's received? What if the ideas behind this union, like leaving out the women, are bad? What are the next steps? Amy has answers to these questions and many more. Also, thunder. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received in recent days! If you'd like to join fellow listeners in supporting our show as we work to crank out daily shows during the 2020 U.S. Open, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, and Charles Cyna!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/4/202047 minutes, 18 seconds
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Episode 273d: 2020 U.S. Open Day 3 - Wild Women's Wednesday

Ben and Courtney reconvene on Day 3 of the U.S. Open to recalibrate their forecasts for the top half of the women's draw, which saw top-seeded Karolina Pliskova knocked out, as well as somewhat surprising exits by Alison Riske, Marketa Vondrousova, and Dayana Yastremska. Who is well-positioned for success going forward? Who looks comfortable in these unusual conditions? Is Naomi Osaka a fair favorite to win it all? And what makes Madison Brengle's approach so delightful? Also, we discuss some of the early challenges we've encountered trying to cover a Grand Slam from home.  Again, thank you so much for the incredible support for NCR in recent days! If you'd like to join fellow listeners in supporting our show as we work to crank out daily shows during the 2020 U.S. Open, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, and Charles Cyna!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/3/202043 minutes, 24 seconds
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Episode 273c: 2020 U.S. Open Day 2 - Tsvetana Pironkova Finishes Her Question

The second day of first round play included many impressive comebacks, both mid-match and several years in the making. Kim Clijsters played her first Slam match in eight years, Andy Murray won (and stuck up for women again, as per), and, in her first match in more than three years, Tsvetana Pironkova took advantage of the fast courts to lay a beatdown on Liudmila Samsonova. Ben and Courtney caught up with Pironkova after her win to hear about her decision to come back, playing as a mom, and finding new challenges. Again, thank you so much for the incredible support for NCR in recent days! If you'd like to join fellow listeners in supporting our show as we work to crank out daily shows during the 2020 U.S. Open, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, and Charles Cyna!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/2/202019 minutes, 13 seconds
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Episode 273b: 2020 U.S. Open Day 1: Bubble Trouble

Day 1 of the U.S. Open was dominated by talk of the decisions made a day earlier, when a number of players who were in contact with Benoit Paire after his positive test for coronavirus were still allowed to play their matches, albeit under tighter restrictions which one referred to as "a bubble within a bubble." You'll hear from two of those double-bubbled players, Adrian Mannarino and Kiki Mladenovic, as well as from Noah Rubin, host of Behind the Racquet, who spread word of this late last night on his podcast and has growing concerns about how the "bubble" is being handled by the USTA. You'll also then hear from our cherished NCR Middle East correspondent Reem Abulleil for her thoughts on how it's been handled. Lots to cover! Thank you so much for the incredible support for NCR in recent days! If you'd like to join fellow listeners in supporting our show as we work to crank out daily shows during the 2020 U.S. Open, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D, Mike, and Charles Cyna!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/1/202038 minutes, 16 seconds
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Episode 273a: 2020 U.S. Open Day 0 - Blair Henley, Inside the Bubble

As Ben and Courtney prepare watch and cover this U.S. Open from home, they check in with a buddy who has been on the ground in New York for "Cincinnati" and will be for the U.S. Open as well: Blair Henley, on-court interviewer to the stars and a woman of many varied talents in tennis. Blair discusses her journey through tennis from teaching pro to writer to YouTuber to on-court emcee, what makes for the best on-court exchanges with players, and how much preparation it takes to pull off a MarioKart win on social media. She also discusses what it's felt like on the largely empty grounds of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center so far, and how she and players are adjusting to the new protocols. She also asks for a reiteration of "PTPA" pronunciation, and we marvel over Novak Djokovic's ability to compartmentalize. If you'd like to support our show during this odd, disruptive year, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers J O'D and Mike!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
8/30/202057 minutes, 23 seconds
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Episode 272: 2020 U.S. Open Draw Breakdown!

Ben and Courtney break down the U.S. Open draw amid a tournament build-up which feels very different to that of a normal Grand Slam, particularly as we aren't even in New York this week.  We discuss the women's draw first, where 2018 champ Naomi Osaka impressed on and off the court during "Cincinnati" but comes in carrying a hamstring injury. What to make of Serena's form since the shutdown? Can Kim Clijsters make an impact? Also, Dayana Yastremska is very much. On the men's side, after a helpful pronunciation guide to the new "PTPA," we discuss Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Reilly Opelka, Daniil Medvedev, Milos Raonic, Bobby Bautista, and more. Also, hear Courtney's thoughts about night trains!  This is the first of many, many shows we have planned for the U.S. Open, so stay tuned! If you'd like to support our show during this odd, disruptive year, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
8/30/20201 hour, 30 minutes, 48 seconds
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Episode 271: Naomi Osaka Takes a Stand and Tennis Follows

UPDATE: After Osaka initially withdrew from Thursday's semifinals, she has agreed to play on Friday after the entire day of play was postponed on Thursday.   Postponing the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open because of continuing police violence against Black people, Naomi Osaka joined an escalating wave of anti-racism athlete activism that began in basketball and has echoed across North American sports. Tennis has been seen as remedial in recent years when it comes to athlete engagement, so Osaka's gesture was especially striking.  Tumaini Carayol of the Guardian joins to discuss Osaka's action, what if any precedents there are for it in recent tennis memory, and where the sport goes from here, now that Cincinnati has canceled play on semifinal Thursday out of deference to the moment and that the U.S Open main draw is only days away.  You'll also hear in this episode from Milos Raonic, who was strikingly forceful on the topics in the moments after his own quarterfinal win.  If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has disappeared along with the sport, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
8/27/202039 minutes, 35 seconds
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Episode 270: Courtney's Back! (And So Is Tennis)

For the first time in two-months-but-feels-like-much-longer, Courtney returns to an NCR episode! She graces us with her presence as we discuss tennis getting back underway in earnest now with a few weeks of the WTA Tour behind us and the New York swing of "Cincinnati" and the U.S. Open rapidly approaching. What do we make of the challenge of covering the sport remotely? Who has stood out in the on-court action we've seen so far from the women? Will this U.S. Open be "asterisked," and what does an asterisk even mean? And what do we expect and want from players in the New York bubble? Also, Courtney discusses her burgeoning career as a Twitcher. If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has disappeared along with the sport, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
8/21/20201 hour, 30 minutes, 43 seconds
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Episode 269: Sendhil Ramamurthy of "Never Have I Ever"

The most talked about TV show in the tennis world during this long stretch of indoor entertainment, without doubt, has been the Netflix comedy "Never Have I Ever," narrated by John McEnroe and featuring Sendhil Ramamurthy as the tennis-loving father of protagonist Devi Vishwakumar. Sendhil doesn't just play a tennis lover on TV; the dude seriously plays and knows his tennis, and we're delighted to have him on NCR to discuss his love for tennis, working with John McEnroe, the relative lack of tennis in pop culture, and much more fun.   If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has disappeared along with the sport, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
8/18/202040 minutes, 3 seconds
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Episode 268: Louisa Thomas on the Fractured World of Tennis

The New Yorker's Louisa Thomas is back with us to discuss the comprehensive piece she published about the state of tennis in these tumultuous last five months, "The Fractured World of Tennis Amid a Prolonged Pandemic." Louisa and Ben discuss the notion of self-centeredness and tennis and how players are trained by people to potentially hurt those same people, how tennis' structure reflects both its strengths and weaknesses, the fast-approaching U.S. Open, and much more, including, inevitably, Nick Kyrgios. It's a wide-ranging story and a wide-ranging chat, and we think you'll enjoy it. Also, please go get Louisa's new book, Losers, for yourself and/or everyone you know!  If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has disappeared along with the sport, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
8/14/20201 hour, 17 minutes, 7 seconds
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Episode 267: Tennis Returns, But a Rocky Road Ahead

Well, tennis is back, folks! But at the same time, tennis continues to go away. What to make of it all? To help make sense of it all, Ben is rejoined by Reem Abulleil and Tumaini Carayol who also have been (virtually) covering the WTA's return event in Palermo this week. Is the tour set to succeed? And how do we think this sort of virtual coverage will change our work? We also discuss the cancellation of Madrid and the new rules document from the U.S. Open, as well as the decision of defending champion Rafael Nadal to skip this year's event. And then as a bonus at the end, you'll hear Dayana Yastremska discuss her unexpected turn as a recording artist. (Apologies for some of the audio issues on Ben's track as this issue goes on, we did our best to make it sound decent) If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has disappeared along with the sport, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
8/6/20201 hour, 29 minutes, 27 seconds
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Episode 266: Glenn Greenwald on Martina Navratilova

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, creator of The Intercept, joins Ben on this episode to discuss his longtime admiration of Martina Navratilova, the documentary project about that admiration he has been working on, and the hurdles that he's run into along the way as Navratilova has incurred the wrath of activists, as Glenn wrote about here at the Intercept. We discuss Navratilova's sudden fall in LGBT sports circles, the notion of cancel culture, and also Glenn's longtime love of tennis and what he makes of the modern game. If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has disappeared along with the sport, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
7/28/20201 hour, 7 minutes, 40 seconds
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Episode 265: Knowing When to Call It Off, with Mark Ein

Mark Ein, owner of the Citi Open ATP tournament in Washington, joins NCR for a third time this year to share what went into the decision this week to call off his tournament, after months of previous optimism that holding it might be possible even amid a pandemic. Ben and Mark discuss the uncertainty of the moment regarding travel, why now was the time to make the decision, and what challenges the U.S. Open still needs to clear in order to go ahead. Also, could a radical reimagining of the traveling tour structure which tennis has had allow for a more viable product during this global crisis? And what might that look like? If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has disappeared along with the sport, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!) As always, thanks for following us on Twitter and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
7/23/202046 minutes, 9 seconds
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Episode 264: Sports Bubbles Roundtable

As sports work towards a mid-pandemic return across North America, Ben is joined by a veritable constellation of media stars across the landscape to discuss how things are progressing across various arenas, and what their successes and struggles might indicate about what's in store for the tennis tours as they plot out a mid-pandemic comeback. The panel: Helene Elliott, sports columnist for the Los Angeles Times; Ava Wallace, reporter for The Washington Post; Lindsay Gibbs of Power Plays; and Caitlin Murray, author of The National Team. We think you'll have a real good time listening and learning. If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has disappeared along with the sport, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that, including a new episode since last posting featuring Courtney discussing her love of The Last of Us! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!)  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter, and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
7/17/20201 hour, 32 minutes, 27 seconds
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Episode 263: Can Tennis Stars Be Trusted to Act Responsibly? (With Reem Abulleil)

The fall out from the Adria Tour coronavirus cluster took an unexpected trip to the dance floor within a week later, with video surfacing of Alexander Zverev partying in Monte Carlo just days after being repeatedly exposed to the disease (and promising to follow health protocols) enraging people around the sport in tennis and severely damaging trust in tennis players. To discuss the ramifications, and the notions of a code of conduct, Ben is joined by NCR's Middle East correspondent Reem Abulleil (please do support her Patreon as well!) to talk about what the tours can and can't do, the corrosive effects of selfishness in tennis, and more.  Should tennis continue on without putting super rigid restrictions on personnel behavior in place? And if tennis has to do so much in a pandemic that it stops being fun, should it just stop all together? Big, bleak conversations are had here, but we also had a lot of fun. If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has disappeared along with the sport, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!)  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR263!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
7/3/20201 hour, 14 minutes, 2 seconds
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Crack the Codenames With Us on Patreon!

Two programming alerts for you here, one sort of a bummer but the other one super-duper. Firstly, we decided that the US Open roundtable episode we recorded after the press conference in New York had become instantly outdated when the positive tests started rolling in from the reckless Adria Tour, so we made the tough decision not to publish it since it was feeling obsolete. In much happier programming news, we have some very fun stuff rolling onto our Patreon now: games of tennis-themed Codenames with Ben, Courtney, Blair Henley and Nick McCarvel! We had a TON of fun with our friends, and hope you'll have just as much watching the three-part video series, the first round of which is up now. To access these shows, and for the hook up on how to play this tennis-themed game with your own crew of tennis-loving friends, please join the 200+ wonderful listeners who are backing us on our Patreon.  If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has disappeared along with the sport, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!) As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter, and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
6/26/20205 minutes, 5 seconds
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Episode 262: A Tennis Star Catches COVID-19...Now What?

Between the recording and posting of an episode about the U.S. Open going forward, a big tennis news item dropped on Sunday: Grigor Dimitrov announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19 after participating in the Adria Tour events, making this the most high-profile known incidence of coronavirus in tennis yet and casting a pall over the sport's plans to go forward with tour events soon. Ben is kindly rejoined by Reem Abulleil and Tumaini Carayol to have another discussion of what the Dimitrov test result means for the sport, both in terms of lessons to be learned from what went wrong at the Adria Tour (seems like a lot!) and what it might mean for events like the U.S. Open which had optimistically planned on forging ahead. Can be players be trusted to behave responsibly enough to keep a fragile thread of optimistic hope intact? If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has disappeared along with the sport, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!)  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR262!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
6/21/202030 minutes, 14 seconds
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Episode 261: Tennis Plans An American Summer Return (with Mark Ein)

The U.S.T.A. confirmed today that it plans to hold the U.S. Open in its regular dates, albeit without fans and with players and their teams kept in a isolated bubble. The Western & Southern Open will also be played, but at the U.S. Open venue rather than in Ohio. But before those, the first tournament back on the ATP Tour will be the Citi Open in Washington DC. To talk about what it's taken to get there, and what comes next for the tournament, Ben is rejoined by tournament owner Mark Ein to discuss how his tournament is preparing, what challenges lie ahead, and what an event could look like this summer. If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has disappeared along with the sport, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!)  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR261!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
6/17/202039 minutes, 19 seconds
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Episode 260: Patrick Mouratoglou

For our second episode of the week, Ben is joined by Patrick Mouratoglou, the coach of Serena Williams, founder of the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy, and most recently the creator of the Ultimate Tennis Showdown, a tennis event with lots of new ideas on rules to make tennis more appealing to a new, younger audience. Patrick discusses the need for more open displays of emotion in tennis, how to make tennis more competitive in a crowded entertainment marketplace, his thoughts on the U.S. Open's proposed rule limiting player support personnel to one person, what his charge Serena Williams has been doing during this shutdown time, tennis-wise, and lots more.  If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has disappeared along with the sport, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!)  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR260!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
6/12/202032 minutes, 19 seconds
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Episode 259: Sandra Zaniewska

Ben and Courtney are delighted to bring you a conversation they had last month with Sandra Zaniewska, a rare former WTA player who now coaches on the tour (or did before the tour stopped, anyhow), working first with Petra Martic and now with Alize Cornet. We discuss finding meaning during the shutdown, her own journey through the sport as a player and a coach, how coaches can cope with this stoppage, what she makes of Dominic Thiem's controversial comments, and her own nascent adventures in podcasting. If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has disappeared along with the sport, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!)  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR259!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
6/11/202056 minutes, 34 seconds
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Episode 258: Voices Emerge (with Tumaini Carayol)

Ben and Courtney are joined by The Guardian's Tumaini Carayol to discuss his reporting on Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff, two young stars who have emerged as leading voices among players as America is gripped by protests following the murder of George Floyd. How are these two women using their voices? What sort of shift might this represent in the public persona of Osaka, particularly? Are there any drawbacks to athletes speaking out? And how might the stoppage change social awareness in the sport? If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has disappeared along with the sport, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!)  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR258!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
6/5/20201 hour, 9 minutes, 46 seconds
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Hey! Big New May Mailbag Episode Over on NCR's Patreon!

At the suggestion of a few listeners, we thought it might be useful to alert listeners on this main feed when we upload a Patreon-only episode. And Ben and Courtney just put up their biggest Patreon-only yet, with over two hours across all sorts of topics, mostly non-tennis though with a few decided tangents into the sport we find ourselves without currently.  This is our fifth Patreon-only episode, and backers to our Patreon can access all episodes and other discussion threads and posts. We're currently at 192 backers--just eight short of 200?--and would love to have your support. And we think it's a deal worth your while if you enjoy Ben and Courtney talking (which hopefully you do if you're reading this). Hope everyone is well out there! And thanks to our G.O.A.T. backer J.O'D!
5/29/20201 minute, 42 seconds
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Episode 257b: The NCRvision Results Show Spectacular!

Four years after we launched NCRvision into this world, we're finally able to bring some closure to the adventures of our 26 heroic songs inspired by tennis, and to enjoy a whole lot of fun side quests along the way!  We've counted the 411(!) ballots that our listeners cast, and we reveal the finishing order of the songs from 26th to champion, having a whole lot of fun along the way. We start with a recap of the show and an interview with Eurovision expert William Lee Adams who lends his expert eye to our field. Then we have tons and tons of montages of bonus songs, interviews of artists, and more surprises along the way. Hopefully you'll have as much fun with the way this whole NCRvision journey wraps up as we have had putting it together. Thank you again for your votes, and for your patience. Getting this done was a major undertaking, and we're very relieved it is finally complete. If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has disappeared along with the sport, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!)  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCRvision!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
5/26/20201 hour, 41 minutes, 17 seconds
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Episode 257a: An NCRvision Refresher

The 2020 Eurovision Song Contest final was slated to be held today in Rotterdam, but alas 'twas not to be given the coronavirus situation around the continent and the world. The world is a far less glittery place than it should be.  But fear not if you're missing that song contest fix! We're reairing our beloved NCRvision Song Contest from 2016 here for your renewed enjoyment. There's also a purpose behind this reairing: to get you refamiliarized with the songs for when our results show finally drops later this month! You're going to love it, we promise. If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has disappeared along with the sport, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!)  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCRvision!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
5/17/20201 hour, 19 minutes, 34 seconds
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Episode 256: We Need to Talk About Novak

In light of recent developments, Ben is joined by a Novak Djokovic superfan, Katrina aka @returnwinner, to talk about her journey as a fan of Novak's from the beginning to now. We talk about what drew her to Djokovic initially, her journey as a fan of a less popular player, and what she most admires about Djokovic. Then, pivoting to more recent developments, we discuss Djokovic's frustrating fall into the fray of faux-wellness charlatans, and how we should react to a favorite having some undesirable traits. If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has disappeared along with the sport, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!)  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR256!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
5/15/20201 hour, 30 minutes, 55 seconds
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Episode 255: Calling Tennis Remotely, with Ravi Ubha

As the world works from home, we thought it might be useful to give you perspective from the folks who work remotely in tennis even under normal circumstances: the world feed commentators. Ravi Ubha, veteran journalist and commentator, talks about what it's like to call matches that happen around the world from a small studio in England, how to prepare, how to create atmosphere, and more. If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has disappeared along with the sport, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!)  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR255!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
5/6/202029 minutes, 57 seconds
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Episode 254: How We Carry on While Stopped, with Mike Cation

For another perspective on life without tennis from someone inside the sport, Ben is joined by NCR favorite Mike Cation, co-host of the Behind the Racquet podcast, who shares his experiences now that his commentary work has ceased indefinitely with the sport halted due to coronavirus. We discuss the impact of the current moment on both financial and mental health, how lower-ranked players might be especially affected, and on the strains of exhibition match ideas which are popping up in all sorts of various places. We also discuss payment ideas, for players and coaches alike. These are tough, weird times, but there is comfort to be found, for sure, in knowing just how many people are in this together. If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has disappeared along with the sport, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!)  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR254!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
4/27/202055 minutes, 27 seconds
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Episode 253: The Dudes Wanna Merge Now? (With Reem Abulleil)

The tennis world is stopped, but it got suddenly busy on Wednesday with Roger Federer expressing a view that he'd like to see the ATP and WTA tours merge into one organization after decades of being side-by-side but separate. More curiously, Rafael Nadal, not a supporter of equality measures in tennis, quickly endorsed this idea. What is going on? Ben is joined by Reem Abulleil try to figure out what's happening here, where it's coming from, and what it might mean for the futures of the tours. We have a lot of questions and a lot of suspicions. If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has disappeared along with the sport, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!)  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR253!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
4/23/202041 minutes, 9 seconds
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Episode 252: How to Begin to Restart, with Mark Ein

With the traditional European clay swing and the grass court circuit both off the calendar for the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the next possible start line for the sport is the summer hardcourt stretch in North America, on which the first big combined event would be the Citi Open in Washington. To discuss how the tournament is preparing and thinking currently, Ben is joined by Citi Open owner Mark Ein, who gives his insights and perspectives about how tennis might return after months away, and in what form. Though the event is still months away, there's lots of ideas and contingencies already floating around, and Mark walks us through several different scenarios which should help to illuminate this murky landscape more clearly for listeners. If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has disappeared along with the sport, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!)  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR252!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
4/14/202033 minutes
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Episode 251b: NCR Book Club Author Chat - Jon Wertheim

To enhance our discussion and understanding of NCR Book Club selection Venus Envy, Ben and Courtney are joined by Jon Wertheim to chat about his experiences writing the book and how he looks back on it, two decades later. How has the tour changed since? How will history remember Anna Kournikova? And what is the current state of tennis in the publishing world? If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has disappeared along with the sport, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!)  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCRBookClub!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
4/3/202054 minutes, 28 seconds
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Episode 251a: NCR Book Club - "Venus Envy" by Jon Wertheim

Ben and Courtney are delighted to bring you the long-awaited first discussion of the NCR Book Club, chatting about one of our favorite tennis tomes: Venus Envy by Jon Wertheim, which covers the 2000 season on the WTA Tour We discuss the colorful characters, what's changed in the sport in the last two decades, and how the book is a great snapshot of a moment on tour which is often sanitized or glossed over in modern narratives. Plus, a whole lot more. We will have another episode on Venus Envy featuring author Jon Wertheim later this week. The NCR Book Club next continues on to our next selection: Hard Courts by John Feinstein. After the book chat, Ben and Courtney debrief on life in our current quarantines. It's a weird time, y'all.  If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has ceased, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!)  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCRBookClub!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
4/1/20201 hour, 57 minutes, 51 seconds
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Episode 250: Courtsiding with Brad Hutchins

To distract you all from the bizarre world in which we live, Ben introduces you to one of the more unusual characters from the tennis ecosystem: the courtsider. (For more of an explainer on what courtsiding is, you may want to read this piece first) Brad Hutchins, author of the book Game, Set, Cash, reminisces about his time on tour as a courtsider, the highs and lows of that job, and what it's like to be the mouse in a cat-and-mouse chase around the globe, working lawfully but against the wishes of the tennis powers that be. He's got quite a story to tell, which makes him something of an honorary selection for the upcoming NCR Book Club, which launches next week with *two* episodes on Venus Envy by Jon Wertheim.  If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has ceased, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!)  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR250!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
3/29/202042 minutes, 13 seconds
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Episode 249b: What the French?! (Mini Episode)

This tiny update is mostly to alert followers who track our show primarily through this feed that Ben and Courtney got together earlier this week to record an episode about what quarantined life is like. Since it didn't have tons to do with tennis, we put it on our Patreon page for supporters there. But since we were told many people had missed it and would have liked to have known it was there: voila, this mini episode. It's available to our backers there, and you can become one if you're not already. Also, the French Open did some wild stuff.  Thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!)
3/22/20204 minutes, 24 seconds
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Episode 249: Closing For Coronavirus, With Dr. Chris Worsham

With the tennis tours now officially being suspended for at least more than the next month (goodbye Indian Wells, Miami, Charleston, Monte Carlo, etc), Ben is joined again by Dr. Chris Worsham, a pulmonologist at Mass General and Harvard Medical School, to discuss the spread of the virus and why events are ceasing. What makes a tennis tournament such a bad idea during a pandemic? Would the suggested fixes (like ballboys wearing gloves) have done much? And when might we see a light at the end of the tunnel? In happier news, NCR is using this hiatus to get the NCR Book Club up and running! Our first pick is Venus Envy by Jon Wertheim, which is available as an e-book as well as at libraries and other used book purveyors. Please read along with us! If you'd like to support our show, particularly as our normal work has ceased, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!)  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR249!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
3/13/202037 minutes, 2 seconds
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Episode 248: Coronavirus Shuts Down Tennis

The spread of the global pandemic COVID-19 (coronavirus) is forcing the world of tennis (and much of the wider world as well) to grind to a halt as we seek to slow the spread of the deadly disease. Ben is joined by Reem Abulleil to discuss the impact of the disease so far, and the headline-making cancellation of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, the fifth-biggest tournament in tennis behind only the Grand Slams. We discuss where tennis might go from here, the idea of playing tournaments in front of empty stadiums, and how the players (and their rankings) might adjust to the uncertainty. We can make lots of educated guesses, but there's a whole lot we don't know. If you'd like to support our show, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!)  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR248!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
3/12/202031 minutes, 15 seconds
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Episode 247: Communicating on Tour, With Sally Bradfield

Ben and Courtney are joined in this episode by Sally Bradfield, a former communications rep on the tennis tours who is the author of the new novel Not Quite 30 Love, and who has a host more stories to tell about her time working in tennis, particularly (to Ben's delight) on the WTA at the turn of the millennium.  Sally has stories about working with emerging stars like the Williams sisters, Martina Hingis, Anna Kournikova, Maria Sharapova, and also speaks generally to the ever-ongoing plight of communications reps who have to corral players after tough losses, deal with egos, and constantly negotiate obligations against objections. If you delight in backstage tennis tea, you will be quite quenched. If you'd like to support our show, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!)  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR247!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
3/7/202042 minutes, 24 seconds
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Episode 246: Louisa Thomas on Writing About Tennis

We are delighted to have Louisa Thomas, one of the most wonderfully writerly writers about tennis in her work for The New Yorker, on this week to talk about all sorts of things to do with tennis and writing, and answer bunches of listener questions. We discuss how she got into writing about tennis, how to make tennis relevant to a general audience, the Kim Clijsters comeback, her favorite athlete to profile, the Big Three and how to compare greatnesses, tennis books, and much more. (Recorded before the Sharapova retirement announcement, which Ben discussed with Tumaini Carayol here). If you'd like to support our show, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!)  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR246!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
2/28/20201 hour, 13 minutes, 19 seconds
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Episode 245a: Maria Sharapova Retires (with Tumaini Carayol)

After Maria Sharapova announced her retirement on Wednesday morning, Ben is joined by Tumaini Carayol of The Guardian for an emergency episode to discuss her career and its many highs, lows, and controversies. After expressing some relief that she's stopped, we discuss what made Sharapova keep pushing on through the pain so long, and also what our early memories of her career were. We discuss her arrival as a star, and then the darkening of that when she tested positive for a newly-banned substance in early 2016, which complicated and muddled a career which was already likely on its downhill.  We also share some of our favorite memories of Maria, and what made her such a tremendously satisfying antagonist on the tour--particularly for Serena Williams, whom she was a distant second behind in the end. If you'd like to support our show, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backer J O'D!)  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR245a!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
2/27/202059 minutes, 8 seconds
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Episode 245: The Path to WTA Coaching (with Tom Hill)

Ben is joined on this week's show by Tom Hill, the coach of Maria Sakkari (who is set to make her WTA Top 20 debut on Monday), to hear more about the path of a young coach onto the WTA Tour. Tom takes you from his beginnings as a young Brummie boy who ventured off to the Bollettieri Academy in Florida and then worked his way through the college ranks before getting an unexpected break into elite women's tennis. First with Danielle Collins and then with Maria Sakkari, Tom has slowly but surely proven himself as a coach on the tour, and we hope you'll enjoy coming along for the ride. If you'd like to support our show, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many who have already given their support!   As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR245!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
2/21/202050 minutes, 11 seconds
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Episode 244: A Picture Perfect Tour, with Jimmie

This week we bring to your ears a conversation with one of the sharpest eyes on tour: traveling women's tennis photographer Jimmie, who follows the tour year round with a dedication to the sport no other photographer can match. We talk about how Jimmie worked his way onto the tour, building himself as a trusted person in the fabric of the tour, and what his days and weeks look like as he depicts the women of the WTA in new and fresh ways with an unrelenting schedule (which even included some off-season ventures). If you'd like to support our show, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you! And thank you to the many who have already given their support!   As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR244!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
2/14/202036 minutes, 41 seconds
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Episode 243g: Australian Open - Novak Djokovic Eight 'Em Up

Ben and Courtney wrap up the Australian Open with a look at the end of the men's event, which finished for the eighth time with Novak Djokovic as champion. He sure seems to be closing in on that G.O.A.T. count, huh? Also, we discuss runner-up Dominic Thiem, who is establishing himself as the new Andy Murray, Sascha Zverev, who made a first Slam semifinal and generated a lot of donation talk, and Roger Federer, who toughed out a win over Tennys Sandgren and then gamely took court to face the music against Djokovic. We also discuss Nick Kyrgios, the female officials who drew praise, and how the protesting of Margaret Court is being led by two retired players. If you'd like to support our show, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you!  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCRAusOpen!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
2/6/202048 minutes, 52 seconds
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Episode 243f: Australian Open - Sofia Kenin's American Dream Come True

Ben and Courtney wrap up the Australian Open starting with the women's side, in which Sofia Kenin leaves Melbourne as the unexpected champion. How did she fly under the radar for so long? What does her story say about the immigrant experience in tennis? And what can we expect next from her? We also discuss Garbine Muguruza's revival, Ash Barty's coping mechanism, and more from the second week of the Australian Open on the women's side. Men's wrap show out soon!  If you'd like to support our show, we've launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you!  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCRAusOpen!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
2/3/202057 minutes, 12 seconds
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Episode 243e: Australian Open - Previewing the Finals

The 2020 Australian Open finals are set, and Ben is joined by longtime friends of the show Nick McCarvel and Matt Trollope to predict who will leave Melbourne with the trophies. The women's final pits Sofia Kenin against Garbine Muguruza, meaning a largely unknown quantity against an often unpredictable one. How will they each handle this occasion? The men's final represents another chance for Dominic Thiem to break through the stranglehold of the Big Three, but he'll need to beat the toughest Melbourne customer in Novak Djokovic to do so. If you'd like to support our show, we just launched an NCR Patreon where you can do just that! Check out our five tiers and see which might be right for you!  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCRAusOpen!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
1/31/202025 minutes, 37 seconds
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Episode 243d: Australian Open - Serena, Wang, Osaka & Gauff Stun Week 1

Ben and Courtney get together at the end of a long week one which really just featured one crazy day. Beginning with the end of Caroline Wozniacki's career and continuing with the upset wins of Wang Qiang over Serena Williams and Coco Gauff over Naomi Osaka, what exactly happened to make Friday so crazy? And what else happened throughout the week, and how does it set up the rest of this tournament? As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCRAusOpen!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
1/25/202058 minutes, 59 seconds
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Episode 243c: Australian Open - Wozniacki & Jabeur, with Freddie & Reem

As we finish Day 3 in Melbourne, you'll hear more about two of the more interesting players to have advanced through two rounds so far, who (somewhat coincidentally, honestly) happen to play each other in the third round.  First, you'll hear from 2012 Wimbledon champion Freddie Nielsen (who first guested way back on Episode 32) about his compatriot and longtime friend Caroline Wozniacki, who has carried the flag for Denmark in tennis higher than anyone could have imagined it will fly. Then, Ben is joined by Reem Abulleil to discuss Ons Jabeur, Wozniacki's third round opponent, who is blazing a greater trail for Arab women than anyone has before, and still has tremendous potential left to unlock in her game. You may not have thought you wanted a Wozniacki-Jabeur hype show, but we're pretty sure you're gonna be ready to run through a brick wall to see it by the time you finish this.  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCRAusOpen!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
1/22/202032 minutes, 21 seconds
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Episode 243b: Australian Open - Clearing the Air

To make sense of the hazy situation regarding the poor air quality in Melbourne, Ben talks to Dr. Chris Worsham, a pulmonologist at Mass General and Harvard Medical School, about what to know about the possible risks to players and others at the Australian Open. What sort of symptoms can be expected? Who might be most affected? What to make in the disparate messaging from tournament and city officials? And what are safe limits when it comes to the air we breathe, whether we're playing tennis or not? As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCRAusOpen!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
1/19/202029 minutes, 45 seconds
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Episode 243a: Australian Open - Where There's Smoke...

The air in Melbourne can change with the winds, but to get a sense of which directions this tournament is listing towards, Ben is joined by Stuart Fraser of the Times of London to get his sense of what's been happening with the air quality and the tennis so far this month, and what might be happening next. As we gaze through the haze, you'll hear from Stu, from Dalila Jakupovic, and from Craig Tiley. There's controversy, conflict, and confusion. Hopefully the air is clear and the fires subside, but if not, things could quickly become very muddled. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCRAusOpen!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
1/18/202037 minutes, 24 seconds
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Episode 242: Australian Open 2020 Draw Preview

Ben and Courtney dive into the first Grand Slam of the 2020s with some Big Decade Energy, breaking down the paths for the top women and men in Melbourne. We start with the women, where Ash Barty is the top seed and hometown hope, and where many contenders clustered in the top half, particularly in the second quarter (Osaka, Serena, and an R1 between Venus and Gauff). On the men's side, we like the paths for the top four, and appreciate the pruning of the plant to inspire new growth. Or something like that.  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR242!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
1/17/20201 hour, 3 minutes, 1 second
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Episode 241: Battles in Brisbane; Serena Wins a Title

Ben and Courtney wrap up the week that was in Brisbane, where a loaded women's field produced four in-form semifinalists (Karolina Pliskova, Madison Keys, Petra Kvitova, Naomi Osaka) who all look to be in great shape for Melbourne. Also, who is currently the best player without a Grand Slam title? We think it's probably a Brisbane finalist, and we discuss. We then shift to Serena Williams, who won her first title in three years in Auckland. The field there wasn't the toughest, but Serena still impressed, and may have gotten past an important mental block? We wrap up with some closing thoughts on the first ATP Cup, featuring a win by Serbia and Novak Djokovic, and losses in the composure of many players.  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR241!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
1/12/202043 minutes
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Episode 240: ATP Cup Begins; Fires Continue

As the week winds on in Brisbane, we first hear from one of the players already affected by the fires: Liam Broady, who had to reroute after traveling to Canberra for the challenger there before it was relocated. Then we assess the first ATP Cup, which is now progressing to the knockout stages in Sydney. After thoughts from Novak Djokovic and Felix Auger-Aliassime, Ben is joined by reporters Courtney Walsh and Quentin Moynet to discuss the ATP Cup, where it came from, and what we make of its present and future. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR240!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
1/9/202050 minutes, 17 seconds
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Episode 239: Barbora Strycova

Kicking off our *NINTH* season, NCR is thrilled to be joined by one of our favorite people on tour, Barbora Strycova. From the grounds of the Brisbane International, Ben and Courtney chat with Barbora about her life in tennis and her unique game, as well as topics ranging from fashion to figure skating. Also, hear why Maria Sharapova was jealous of her when they were teenagers, and how she explains her enigmatic doubles partner Hsieh Su-wei.  As Australia has been our home every January for nine years now, we wish everyone here the best through the terrible fires, and encourage you to donate to fire relief efforts if you're able. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR239!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
1/6/202034 minutes, 6 seconds
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Episode 238b: Top 10 Defining Female Players of the Decade

Ben and Courtney wrap up the decade with our choices for the 10 most defining players of the 2010s in women's tennis. Tough decisions had to be made! Just counting women with 2+ Slams in the 2010s already gets you to 10, and what fun is that? So to be representative and interesting, we had to make some tough, tough snubs along the way. Agree? Disagree! Please share your own lists! Thank you for joining us all decade long and into 2020! Happy New Year! As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCRDefinesTheDecade!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
12/24/20192 hours, 22 minutes, 55 seconds
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Episode 238a: Top 10 Defining Male Players of the Decade

Ben and Courtney wrap up the decade of NCR with our lists of who were the most defining players of the decade, each picking 10 players (10 men, 10 women) who we think best tell the story of the last 10 years in tennis. We start with the men, which was a much more straightforward exercise in some ways, but also still leaves plenty of room for debate. Do you agree with our picks? Share your own top 10 (and an explanation, ideally) with us on social media or email! As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCRDefinesTheDecade!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
12/14/20191 hour, 45 minutes, 28 seconds
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Episode 237: Tennis Power Plays with Lindsay Gibbs

NCR is delighted to welcome back Lindsay Gibbs, creator of Power Plays, for a wide-ranging discussion of sexism in sports, anchored (obviously in tennis). Ben and Lindsay start with the massive symbolic importance of the mega millions on offer to the WTA Top 8 in Shenzhen, what that signals for women's sports, but also how that signal might be muddled by the relative lack of coverage or attendance at the event. We also compare the WTA to the LPGA, talk about how athlete activism can be built, and much more.  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR237!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
12/4/20191 hour, 12 minutes, 10 seconds
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Episode 236c: Reviewing New Davis Cup (with Eleanor Crooks)

To wrap up the highs and lows of the radically revamped Davis Cup Finals event which just wrapped in Madrid, Ben is joined by Eleanor Crooks of PA to get impressions from on the ground at the new "World Cup of Tennis" from a veteran reporter of the format. How did expectations match realities? Which constituencies were most and least happy? What most needs addressing? And how does the relative success of Davis Cup change the pressure on ATP Cup, which is the next event on the men's tennis calendar? Also, a bit of bonus talk about the new Andy Murray documentary, which comes out later this week.  As always, thanks for liking  us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR236c!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
11/26/201934 minutes, 58 seconds
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Episode 236b: Farewells and Fair Blocks

Ben and Courtney continue their end-of-season show by looking at the various, disparate newsmakings of retired WTA stars Margaret Court (what should Tennis Australia do?) and Kim Clijsters (what should we expect of her comeback?). Also discussed are the careers of the departing Dominika Cibulkova and Tomas Berdych, Courtney's handshake with Andy Murray, Hawkeye replacing line judges, and the first comparison you've ever heard between Jannik Sinner and Lizzo. Also we discuss our worst experience with a person on tour, and our criteria for blocking on Twitter. As always, thanks for liking  us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR236b!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
11/26/20191 hour, 32 minutes, 59 seconds
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Episode 236a: Tsitsipas is King in England; WTAsia Wrap

After far too long apart, Ben and Courtney reunited to record a sprawling conversation as the tennis season nears its end, and here's the first half. We start with Stefanos Tsitsipas triumphing at the ATP Finals in London, which sure offered evidence of a changing of a guard if we're ever ready to be ready to accept that. What makes Tsitsipas so unique? And is Thiem now a threat everywhere? We also dig into the discussions around the visibility and yet privacy of Sascha Zverev's health, and how it should be covered going forward. Also, Davis Cup is here in a whole new way.  We then shift to Courtney's trip through WTAsia, which featured long-awaited match-ups of breakout stars. We also discuss rising phenoms Sofia Kenin and Coco Gauff. Our first attempt at timestamps!  0:58 Tsitsipas 14:16 Looking back at last episode's crucial error. 25:37 Zverev health discussions 41:40 Davis Cup 48:55 WTAsia with Barty, Bianca, and Osaka 1:07:07 Kenin 1:11:05 Coco Gauff As always, thanks for liking  us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR236a!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
11/19/20191 hour, 20 minutes, 18 seconds
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Episode 235: Dude Tennis With Ricky Dimon

In an annual NCR tradition, Ben is joined in DC by marathoner Ricky Dimon for a lookback at the ATP season that was.  2019 offered a lot of the same in terms of Big 3 dominance--will the one who finishes with the most Slams automatically win G.O.A.T. debates? Though in 2019 there were also meaningful breakthroughs...right? And will Andy Murray be able to contend again soon? We also look at the overflowing cupboard of cups in men's tennis, which now bulges with Laver Cup, new Davis Cup, and ATP Cup. Is there possibly an appetite for them all? And is it fair that ATP Cup awards points, unlike the other two? Lastly, we go over a possible ballot for the ATP awards this year--as well as their inverses. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR235!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
11/3/20191 hour, 12 minutes, 57 seconds
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Episode 234: Tennis Politics with Vasek Pospisil

We're back with an interview from a bit ago with Vasek Pospisil, who has been using his spot on the ATP Player Council to lead a crusade for greater representation and compensation for players. Ben and Vasek talk about those issues, as well as conflicts of interest, Justin Gimelstob, Chris Kermode, relations with the WTA player leadership, and more. If you're interested in tennis politics, this is the episode for you. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR234!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
10/18/201953 minutes, 20 seconds
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Episode 233: Bianca, Rafa Win a U.S. Open for the Millennium

The U.S. Open was one to remember for runs by champion Bianca Andreescu and runner-up Daniil Medvedev, whom Ben and Courtney explore on this wrap show from a very good tournament. Rafael Nadal won his 19th Grand Slam, somehow becoming the best U.S. Open player of the decade. And Serena Williams lost a fourth straight Grand Slam final, bafflingly. We discuss both of those happenings, plus men's semifinalists Grigor Dimitrov and Matteo Berrettini, as well as women's fourth rounders Naomi Osaka, Taylor Townsend, and Kristie Ahn.  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR233!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/10/20191 hour, 40 minutes, 29 seconds
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Episode 232: U.S. Open 2019 Preview

On the eve of the U.S. Open, Ben and Courtney sit down with the draws to figure out who is going to win this thing. It only feels worth going so far on the women's side, given the parity and upheaval on that tour lately, whereas our men's picks are mighty confident--including for newcomer to the top Daniil Medvedev. We discuss Serena-Sharapova, Bianca Andreescu, Hubert Hurkacz's mock turtleneck, Jannik Sinner's roots, and much more. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR232!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
8/25/20191 hour, 7 minutes, 41 seconds
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Episode 231: On Stopping

With careers lasting longer than ever in professional tennis nowadays, how does one end?  To discuss that, Ben welcomes Tim Smyczek back to NCR. With the US Open not awarding Tim a wild card into the tournament this year, he found out a couple days ago that he had played the final match of his pro career. Tim didn't reach the highs of many players you'd be more familiar with, but his experience is both reflective of more players who give professional tennis a shot, and also a success story. And one, as you'll learn, that he is happy to close the book on. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR231!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
8/16/201946 minutes, 55 seconds
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Episode 230: Halep Takes the Wheel; Big 3 Roll

Back on Centre Court among the debris of the men's final, Ben and Courtney wrap up the Wimbledon that was. You'll hear much, including: why the men's and women's draws need each other so; the Coco Gauff breakthrough; Halep's incredible run; another close-but-no-cigar for Serena; we love Barbora Strycova; the media vs Johanna Konta; the Big 3 cruising until the late rounds and then playing matches high on drama if chunky on quality, especially the riveting Djokovic-Federer final; the wage theft from Bernard Tomic; and the imperative for tennis to find a way to foreground mixed doubles. Until next time, keep calm and Carrie on.  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR230!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
7/17/20191 hour, 26 minutes, 19 seconds
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Episode 229: A Wimbledon Preview From Centre Court

On their second try, Ben and Courtney recorded a Wimbledon preview from Centre Court, full of rehearsals for the big show which begins tomorrow (no, we don't mean Edmund-Munar). First on the quarter of death in the women's draw, led by Ash Barty (whom Serena Williams was surprised and delighted to learn was #1) and including Serena, Kerber, Sharapova, Muguruza, and more. Then we also talk dudes, including our hopes that the blockbuster Nadal-Kyrgios second round materializes. And lots more. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR228!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
6/30/20191 hour, 2 minutes, 52 seconds
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Episode 228: Barty, Nadal Party in France

A few days after the French Open, Ben and Courtney look back on the tournament that was and wasn't. While celebrating the champions--particularly the breakthrough of Ash Barty--we explore the general ennui we're left with from a tournament that never quite got in gear. We discuss the Big 3, Serena, Thiem, Serena-Thiem, and a bit more from the Slam that was.  Also, because we're in Champagne (we're fancy now), we discuss the fallout from the U.S.A.'s emphatic 13-0 victory over Thailand which we watched in Reims. Bugattis were earned. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR228!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
6/13/201952 minutes, 28 seconds
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Episode 227: Draw Me Like One of Your French Opens, 2019

With hours to go before the 2019 French Open begins, Ben and Courtney sit down for a quick-ish rundown of who can win this tournament and why. From Naomi to Novak, Rafa to Petra, Plisko to Delpo, Tsitsi to Kiki, it's all here.  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR227!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
5/26/201938 minutes, 4 seconds
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Episode 226: Nick Kyrgios

In our first player interview in a while, Ben sits down in Rome with Nick Kyrgios, who provides his remarkably unfiltered views on himself and others in tennis. After a stupid saga of Twitter encounters, Ben and Nick's in-person chat offers infinitely more than 280 perspectives from one of the games most fascinating, complex, and divisive characters. You'll agree with parts, you'll disagree with parts, but mostly, hopefully, you'll be surprised by his honesty, for better or worse. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR226!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
5/15/201948 minutes, 56 seconds
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Episode 225: Quartermarks and Coups

Ben and Courtney catch up on the happenings on the tours over the past couple months, which has been dominated by the story of no one dominating. What's to explain the spread of unique winners on both tours? And is the real story, perhaps, the youth movement? We discuss some of the more intriguing individual plotlines from this stretch as well, including Naomi Osaka splitting with her coach Sascha Bajin, how players like her will adjust to clay, Bianca Andreescu's mature breakout, and Denis Shapovalov's rapping and its reception. Then onto the older guard, we talk about Roger Federer's relaxed, low-stakes mood going into clay, and if that could ever be possible for Serena Williams to enjoy in her career. Then we discuss the problematic fave status of John Isner, the coup of ATP chief executive Chris Kermode, the new-look Miami Open, and the slumping Daria Kasatkina.  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR225!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
4/23/20192 hours, 42 seconds
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Episode 224: The 10 Most Important Women in Tennis History

Taking a conversation that began on Twitter and building it into the longest episode they've ever done on one topic, Ben and Courtney wend their way through the history of women's tennis to discuss which players shaped it the most, from the beginning to the present to the future. There are consensus picks and contentious picks, but whether you agree or disagree with our assessments, we hope you enjoy this lengthy look at who and what made women's tennis the force it is today, and the many different ways in which both positive and negative impact and importance can be measured and assessed.  It's all subjective, but it's a great subject, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR224!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
2/12/20192 hours, 54 minutes, 25 seconds
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Episode 223: Australian Open - Djokovic and Osaka Again

A day after the Australian Open, Ben and Courtney convene to discuss a Slam which seemed to provide more answers than questions, for a change. Both Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka consolidated their US Open wins (and their #1 rankings) with titles in Melbourne, and the future looks reasonably reasonable? On the men's side, we discuss where it sets up Djokovic, put Nadal's result in context, celebrate new semifinalists Lucas Pouille and Stefanos Tsitsipas, and wonder about what the future looks like for Roger Federer On the women's side, we discuss the polarizing Danielle Collins, put Serena's setback in context, and look back on Simona Halep's time at #1. Then, lastly, we do a small bit of Andy Murray reflecting, all caveated by his hedging. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR223!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
1/30/20191 hour, 50 minutes, 5 seconds
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Episode 222: Steve The Talk - Stefanos Tsitsipas, with Vicky Georgatou

With Stefanos Tsitsipas breaking onto the world stage by beating Roger Federer and then backing it up, Ben is joined by Vicky Georgatou, the best (and only) Greek reporter following him around the tour as he's soared up the ranks and into the semifinals of the Australian Open What has she made of his quick rise and his boisterous supporters here? And how will his unique personality hold up as he continues to grow as a superstar in Greece and abroad? As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR222!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
1/22/201922 minutes, 12 seconds
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Episode 221: Mary Carillo Returns

In what we hope will become an annual tradition, Mary Carillo joins us once again as the Australian Open is about to begin, helping us set the table for what should be a tasty Slam. Across a freewheeling chat that takes several sharp turns along a scenic route to Day 1 of the Australian Open, we discuss Andy Murray, Ash Barty, Hopman Cup, ATP Cup, Serena Williams, and our hopes for the 2019 season, which include records and breakthroughs.  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR221!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
1/13/201959 minutes, 15 seconds
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Episode 220: 2019 Australian Open Draw Show

As they begin Season 8(!) of NCR, Ben and Courtney dive into the men's and women's draws of the Australian Open, which look well set up for the usual suspects on the men's side, and for just about anybody on the women's side. So, business as usual!  We will have more for you soon (including Courtney's many feelings about Sir Andrew Barron Murray), but for now enjoy this look ahead at what should be a fun two weeks in Melbourne.  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR220!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
1/12/201953 minutes, 57 seconds
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Episode 219c: Remember When? 2018, Part 3

Our seventh season of NCR wraps up with the third part of our marathon "Remember When?" episode, covering everything from the North American hard courts until the end of the season, with some final musings as well. From Stefanos Tsitsipas' emergence in Canada (and YouTube) to the trauma of the US Open women's final to the Nadal-Djokovic Saudi exhibition that never was, we have lots more to discuss before we're finally done. And we end, of course, with our final raves of the year. See you in 2019! As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCRRememberWhen!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
12/30/20181 hour, 13 minutes, 30 seconds
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Episode 219b: Remember When? 2018, Part 2

The second installment of "Remember When?" sees Ben and Courtney reminisce on the very eventful French Open, as well as Wimbledon, where we did not need 16 seeds and we assured you. Lots of stuff on Serena's catsuit, marathon matches, and an unexpected amount of schadenfreude.  Even if it didn't come home, we're glad you have. These episodes are less about the headline grabbing stories and more about the smaller moments that made the year feel how it felt, and we do hope you enjoy it as a tasty dessert at the end of a year-long meal.  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCRRememberWhen!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
12/29/20181 hour, 19 minutes, 57 seconds
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Episode 219a: Remember When? 2018, Part 1

With a whole year behind them, Ben and Courtney have a whole lot to look back on, both fondly and...less fondly.  And so, the fairly annual "Remember When?" episode is here, at least the first third of it on the first four or so months on the season. All sorts of wacky things happened in Australia, and the year stayed interesting throughout. These episodes are less about the headline grabbing stories and more about the smaller moments that made the year feel how it felt, and we do hope you enjoy it as a tasty dessert at the end of a year-long meal.  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCRRememberWhen!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
12/21/20181 hour, 18 minutes, 38 seconds
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Episode 218: A Season Ends; A Ninja Departs

Back together for the first time since New York, Ben and Courtney recap the fall season, revisiting Elina Svitoina and Sascha Zverev winning the year-end championships, Darren Cahill stopping his work with Simona Halep, the surge of Wang Qiang, and a bit more. We then eulogize and celebrate the magnificent career of Agnieszka Radwanska, a player who found unique possibilities for how to play--and excel in--the sport like no other in this era. She's awesome, and we'll miss her a whole lot. We close the main part of the show with a discussion of the general silence from the tennis media around the arrest of Justin Gimelstob on a felony battery charge in Los Angeles, and what the reaction can and needs to be. Courtney closes out the show with a comprehensive gift guide for anyone in your life who might like a board game, which we do hope you'll find handy.  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR218!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
12/3/20181 hour, 57 minutes, 52 seconds
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Episode 217: Talking Dudes (With Ricky Dimon)

With Courtney covering the end of the women's season in Zhuhai, Ben is joined once again in Washington with friend of the show Ricky Dimon to talk about all things men's tennis.  After a quick look back at the season as a whole, Ben and Ricky look ahead to London, which is coming down to a two-horse race between Kei Nishikori and John Isner. Which would make for a more intriguing participant? Then, we look at the players from last year in London who came nowhere near qualifying this year, most notably Grigor Dimitrov and Jack Sock. On Sock especially, how did he manage to plummet so badly this year? We then weigh in on the current debate over whether or not Pete Sampras was boring (or the boringest), and what makes a player boring. And then we discuss other superlatives by going over the ATP award nominees, and we imagine who would be on the ballot for antonymous awards (like least sportsmanlike). We then eulogize retiring players like David Ferrer and Mikhail Youzhny, and raise a #FreeDimonator rallying cry. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR217!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
11/1/20181 hour, 28 minutes, 44 seconds
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Episode 216: Julie Heldman

On the heels of the release of her new book, "Driven: A Daughter's Odyssey," Ben speaks with Julie Heldman about her journey and the legacy of her mother, Hall-of-Famer Gladys Heldman. Heldman, one of the "Original 9," details the formative days of professional women's tennis and the factors that helped it off the ground. We discuss her mother's role, Billie Jean King's role, and how the story is remembered today. We also discuss the sport today and her struggles with mental health, which were worsened by often cruel treatment by her mother. It's a compelling read and you should check it out, for sure. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR216!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
10/12/20181 hour, 8 minutes, 46 seconds
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Episode 215: Laver Cup with Liz Clarke

With Courtney in China for a bit, Ben was delighted to meet up in D.C. with The Washington Post's Liz Clarke, who recently returned from Chicago where she covered the second Laver Cup, the novel new event which seems to defy expectations and definitions in tennis in first two successful editions. Ben and Liz discuss her impressions of the event and how players and crowds have taken to it, what makes it work, the definition of "exhibition," and her take on the competing interests in men's tennis now. Liz also shares her experience and wisdom on what makes tennis' struggles so uniquely frustrating and self-sabotaging (and please do go buy her great book on NASCAR if that bit piques your interest whatsoever). And, of course, The Boss plays her out.  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR215!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
9/26/201848 minutes, 8 seconds
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Episode 214b: Shutting the U.S. Open, Part 2: Everything Else

After spending the last episode on Naomi Osaka and what happened in her final against Serena Williams, Ben and Courtney move on to the rest of the U.S. Open. Well, after an explanation of what "Pique" is, a bit more on Serena: what do we make of her not being the closer she once was deep in Slams? Then, other topics include: the heat and the slow courts, the impact of moments when non-tennis media becomes interested in the sport, women's top-10 fleeing Slams early, champion Novak Djokovic, runner-up Juan Martin del Potro, and Mo Lahyani's absurd intervention into the Kyrgios-Herbert match.  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR214b!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
9/15/20181 hour, 26 minutes, 22 seconds
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Episode 214a: Shutting the U.S. Open, Part 1: Osaka, Serena, Ramos

The 2018 U.S. Open was absurdly eventful, and the women's side finished with tremendous controversy, so we devote most of this first wrap-up episode to that. But first, we spend ample time on our new breakthrough champion, Naomi Osaka, and her stunning performance. Then we dive headlong into everything that happened in the second set of her win over Serena Williams, which sparked worldwide discussion about officiating, sexism, and more. It was a whole big mess, and we hope we're able to clean it off and sort it out pretty well for you here. Part 2, on everything else that happened at the U.S. Open, coming later this week. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR214a!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
9/11/201857 minutes, 58 seconds
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Episode 213: When NCR Met Naomi Osaka

With Naomi Osaka reaching the U.S. Open final, Ben and Courtney revisit the first time we discussed her, back on Episode 83 in August 2014. We had never heard of her before that week, but we were immediately intrigued and excited. We get a lot of things wrong on NCR, as anyone who listens knows, but we think we got this one right. We also mention Courtney's interview with her on WTA Insider. We'll be back after the finals to wrap up this whole very steamy tournament. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR213!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
9/7/201812 minutes, 48 seconds
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Episode 212: U.S. Open 2018 Draw Preview Spectacular

It's been a minute, but Ben and Courtney are back together to tee up the 2018 U.S. Open draw and do a little catching up on things we missed or covered in our lost post-Wimbledon episode. First, the draws, which feature Serena Williams being dealt a gauntlet of her sister and Simona Halep, clearly the best player of the year. How do we assess the many threats in that quarter? And who else is well positioned to go deep? On the men's side, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic seem like co-favorites, but how do their paths compare? Also, we still agree about best-of-five, and now Andy Murray sees it our way. And one of us is more excited than the other about #poLLanskycaLLendarsLLam As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR212!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
8/25/20181 hour, 31 minutes, 10 seconds
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Episode 211: Open Playbook (LGBT in Tennis, Feat. Nick McCarvel, Brian Vahaly, Casey Dellacqua)

NCR was THRILLED to be able to partner with friend of the show Nick McCarvel for his "Open Playbook: Being Queer & Out in Pro Tennis" event on the Thursday before the U.S. Open at the Housing Works Bookstore in SoHo. After a quick intro chat between Ben and Nick, you'll here Nick host a panel featuring out gay former players Brian Vahaly and Casey Dellacqua, who share their different journeys of coming out and the acceptance (or lack thereof) they felt along the way.  It was a super fun night with cocktails (Martini Navratilova, anyone?) and drag queens and laughs, but also a unique chance to explore the LGBT experience in pro tennis, and we at NCR are thrilled to be able to bring it to those of you who were not in attendance (and it was great to meet the many listeners who were!) As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR211!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
8/24/20181 hour, 2 minutes, 26 seconds
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Episode 210: Wimbledon Draw 2018

Together in the Wimbledon Village, Ben and Courtney break down the women's and men's Wimbledon draws.  First, the women, where much handwringing ended with Serena Williams getting the #25 seed. Fair? We discuss. And how do things look for the favorites? And why are those in the know so stoked about Sabalenka-Niculescu.  On the men's side, is it interesting until clear favorite Roger Federer loses? You may find out our opinion on that, though Ben does his darnedest to offer factoids throughout.  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR210!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
6/30/20181 hour, 6 minutes, 7 seconds
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Episode 209: Strokes of Genius with Jon Wertheim (and Federer, Nadal...and Gulbis)

In advance of the release of the Strokes of Genius documentary, Ben is joined by friend of the show Jon Wertheim, who wrote the book, literally, on the 2008 Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. We discuss what had made this match so exulted and immortal, what it takes to put together a production like this in the disjointed world of tennis, and how the match did (or didn't) change the course of tennis. The show closes with a cameo by shoeless Ernests Gulbis, who has thoughts on being a second-class Wimbledon citizen as he competes in the qualifying draw at Roehampton. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR209!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
6/26/201836 minutes, 45 seconds
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Episode 208: Eleanor Preston

Ben and Courtney go back to their curtain-pulling roots to bring you the wisdom of Eleanor Preston, who works as Media Manager at the Nature Valley Classic where B+C were this week, as well as other various roles in sporting events around the globe. We discuss credentialing (one of the things we're asked about most), press conferences, diversity in media, and much more. We then finish with a very brief wrap of what's happened on the grass so far. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR208!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
6/24/201841 minutes, 35 seconds
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Episode 207: Nadal's 11th, Halep's 1st

Together in Birmingham, Ben and Courtney look back on the French Open, which ended with creative destruction. But before the "demolition party," there was Rafael Nadal's as-planned crushing of Dominic Thiem. How do we appreciate dominance while not being bored by the inevitable? What progress did Thiem show by reaching his first final? And why should no one be overly impressed by Sascha Zverev's run to the quarterfinals? On the women's side, what does Simona Halep's break through say about her previous struggles? What has made Sloane Stephens into a perennial contender? And how do we assess Serena's grass prospects? Then, lots and lots of rants.  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR207!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
6/18/20181 hour, 40 minutes, 6 seconds
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Episode 206: Draw Me Like One of Your French Opens, 2018

Ben and Courtney rendezvous in Paris once again to discuss the women's and men's French Open draws, which set up two very interesting tournaments (or maybe one and a half?) The women's side is full of intriguing and relevant match-ups throughout, especially the highly anticipated section with Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Karolina Pliskova. What can we expect from Garbine Muguruza? Can lightning strike twice for Jelena Ostapenko (or has she become a more stable generator?) And can Elina Svitolina reach her Slam potential. On the men's side, Ben posits why the super lopsided draw is actually perfect for the tournament, as all the best players who aren't Nadal get to battle amongst themselves for a spot in the final. He also defends his advocacy for John Isner, and Courtney explains her new devotion to Lil' David Goffin. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR206!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
5/26/20181 hour, 1 minute, 21 seconds
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Episode 205: Rekindling Our Fuego

After an unintentionally long hiatus, Ben and Courtney are back together on the NCR airwaves from Paris, where they play a bit of catchup and try to set the table for the French Open ahead (with further draw dissection to come once it's out). First, has much really changed compared to this time last year? What do we expect of Serena, and what do we make of the controversy which has arisen about her not being seeded for the tournament? Are seedings earned protections based on results, or projections of potential to win? And can Sascha Zverev finally do at Slams what he's done on tour? That and more. Yeah, yeah, fire. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR205!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
5/22/201854 minutes, 31 seconds
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Episode 204: Osaka and Delpo Feel Their Moment

Back from Indian Wells, Ben and Courtney start with a discussion of surprise champ Naomi Osaka, who won her first title at any level in emphatic fashion against a murderer's row of opponents. What caused her breakthrough now, and what should we expect for Naomi going forward? Also, it was the big stage (and press room) emergence of the runner up, Daria Kasatkina. Before that, what to make of the comeback of Serena Williams so far (including a loss to Naomi in Miami), and is it at all concerning that Venus hasn't been able to close out titles? On the men's side, we discuss the breakthrough of Juan Martin del Potro, who at last won a Masters title. Also, checking in on the slumps of Karolina Pliskova and Maria Sharapova, as well as the how to minimize the distraction of stadium music. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR204!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
3/26/20181 hour, 9 minutes, 31 seconds
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Episode 203: Fights and Fakes in February

Frequently frantic, February fades out with the latest chat between Ben and Courtney, who have lots to catch you up on. Topics covered include Frances Tiafoe's first title, Wozniacki-Niculescu beefing, Federer reaching #1, Serena Williams' long road ahead, Tennis Twitter falling for Darko Grncarov, Harrison-Young ugliness, the rise of Acapulco, and more! Lastly, a celebration of Logan Lucky and a defense of Cool Runnings against attacks. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR203!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
3/1/20181 hour, 46 minutes, 23 seconds
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Episode 202: Bouchard vs U.S.T.A. - Genie Wins Round 1

After three days at a very different court than usual, Ben is joined by Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal to briefly discuss Eugenie Bouchard's victory in the liability phase of her lawsuit against the United States Tennis Association. Speaking outside the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn, Ben and Daniel discuss the first three days of the trial, the testimonies it contained, where the U.S.T.A.'s defenses fell short, and the many ambiguities and uncertainties that are still to come in the wildly debatable damages stage. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR202!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
2/23/201820 minutes, 13 seconds
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Episode 201: Australian Open Wrap

Ben and Courtney fled to opposite corners of the globe after the Australian Open, so just now bring you this show on the Grand Slam that was, in which second seeds Roger Federer and Caroline Wozniacki won their 20th, and first, respectively.  First, on the men. Why was closing the roof a correct, obvious decision? And indoors or outdoors, has it all gotten a bit too easy for Roger Federer at an age when it shouldn't? And on the flip side, does Rafael Nadal have grounds to complain as much as he does about schedules and surfaces and such?  Also, we delve into the Tennys Sandgren saga, what parts of it were fair and not, and what lessons there are to be learned. Then, onto the women, where champion Caroline Wozniacki may have somehow had the least impressive tournament of any of the semifinalists? On her breakthrough, what we learned about Simona Halep, the joys of Hsieh Su-wei and the underwhelming major results of Elina Svitolina.  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR201!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
2/6/20181 hour, 44 minutes, 35 seconds
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Episode 200: Mary Carillo

Ben and Courtney are delighted to see their ersatz odometer click over to 200 with their dear friend Mary Carillo at the Australian Open (the 200th Grand Slam of the Open Era, no less!). She's our kind of people.  Mary, in Melbourne for Tennis Channel, is also in the midst of reporting for HBO's Real Sports about the controversy surrounding the Australian Open's Margaret Court Arena, which has faced calls for a name change or boycott as its namesake, the Grand Slam champ-turned-pastor Margaret Court has continued to escalate her crusade against gay and transgender people, including children. We discuss many of the sides of this complex issue, the perspectives of Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King, as well as how BJK serve-and-volleyed Tennis Australia before the tournament began. We end with Mary's enduring love for tennis, as well as her iconic moment regarding another racquet sport: badminton. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR200!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
1/14/20181 hour, 1 minute, 1 second
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Episode 199d: 2018 Australian Open Preview

Ben and Courtney are back in your ears after far too long, and are in Melbourne ready to tee up the first Grand Slam of 2018. On the women's side, we discuss the women who have surged to start the year (Halep, Kerber, Bencic...Giorgi?) and go through the draw thoroughly to find where openings might emerge.  On the men's side, Rafael Nadal is a clear draw winner, but there still manage to be lots of exciting early round match-ups throughout. And is it Roger's to lose, or can 2,000 points go to Goffindor? As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCRAusOpen!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
1/13/20181 hour, 10 minutes, 22 seconds
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Episode 199c: Keep the Dream Alive

Ben and Courtney reunite on this packed episode and start with a discussion of the legacy of the late Jana Novotna, who passed away at age 49 due to cancer. How should her legendary breakdown and resilience continue to influence how we see the sport today? As the WTA and ATP seasons wrapped up, what did we learn about the respective year-end champs, Caroline Wozniacki and Grigor Dimitrov? Will either be able to carry their results into next year? And is 2018 primed to be a year full of first-time major champions on either or both tours? We then touch on the ATP Next Gen event in Milan, its tasteless draw ceremony, and the reactions to mid-match coaching with headsets. Our takes vary here. Then we introduce you all to the #NCRBookClub, which is starting with Venus Envy by John Wertheim, which you should read! Lastly, Courtney gives all sorts of movie recommendations and Ben talks about his game show experience and recent Jeopardy closure. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR199c!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
11/26/20171 hour, 42 minutes, 12 seconds
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Episode 199b: ATP Rundown (with Ricky Dimon)

While the best women battle it out in Singapore, we look ahead to the men's season wrapping up with guest Ricky Dimon back on the show to talk some men's tennis. How did everything get so flipped around in the Big 4 this year, and how does it set up 2018? Also, we go over our (unsubmitted) ATP awards ballots and dish out some before-and-after fun (full thing on our Facebook page). As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR199b!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
10/25/201732 minutes, 5 seconds
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Episode 199a: The Rises and Falls of Fall

With the field set for Singapore, Ben and Courtney look back at the fall that was, including the sudden surge of Caroline Garcia to defy the odds and grab a spot among the elite eight. On the men's side, Roger beat Rafa yet again--that means he's the best player of the year, right? And who gets our player of the year votes on the women's side? And how can we assess the field of play when it's all so tightly packed together on the women's side and when almost no men seem to be playing all that well? Lastly, would the WTA benefit from a Milan-style showcase for its youngest stars? Or is that event, alternately, detrimental for the men? As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR199a!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
10/19/20171 hour, 15 minutes, 27 seconds
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Episode 199: Laver Cup (With Reem Abulleil)

As she returns from covering the inaugural Laver Cup, NCR's Middle East correspondant Reem Abulleil chats with Ben about the new competition, which proved to be stunningly successful and compelling despite being an exhibition made out of thin air by Roger Federer's marketing team. What did Laver Cup get so right in its first try? Why were players so invested in it? And how can the stale and neglected Davis Cup learn from it to adapt for this changing tennis landscape? Reem is the hero of our times. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR199!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
9/27/201758 minutes, 10 seconds
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Episode 198b: U.S. Open - Rafa, Sloane, Battle of the Sexes, Unstoppable

The 2017 U.S. Open wrapped up with an unsurprising men's champ in Rafael Nadal and a very surprising women's champ in Sloane Stephens. How did we get there? We discuss. What do we make of how the draw broke in Rafa's favor? And how was Kevin Anderson the one able to seize the opportunity on the bottom half?  On the women's side, how did Sloane Stephens go from not being able to walk to playing her best tennis ever so quickly? What's next for her? Also, how should the other Americans in the final four--Madison Keys, CoCo Vandeweghe, Venus Williams--feel about their tournaments? And what sort of #1 will Garbine Muguruza be after unseating Karolina Pliskova? And snaps to the USTA for one heckuva tournament. Also, we discuss the new tennis movie Battle of the Sexes, as well as Maria Sharapova's new memoir "Unstoppable." Mentioned on this episode: Chloe Cooper Jones' GQ piece on Dominic Thiem and Kelsey Anderson talking taxes on NCR. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR198b!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
9/12/20171 hour, 10 minutes, 57 seconds
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Episode 198a: U.S. Open Day 1 - Sharapova Beats Halep

In one of the biggest and best Slam first rounds ever, Maria Sharapova beat #2 Simona Halep in three thrilling sets. Ben and Courtney didn't quite see that coming, so we break it down in this special Day 1 episode from the U.S. Open. What are Sharapova's chances going forward in what's turned into a very open quarter suddenly? There were some other upsets, too (Ferrer? Konta?). Also, Aleksandra Krunic is a delight. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR198a!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
8/29/201716 minutes, 35 seconds
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Episode 197: U.S. Open Preview!

It's our U.S. Open preview show! Ben and Courtney catch up on the happenings of the hardcourt season, and make all the tough picks as we breakdown the women's and men's draws in New York this year. With Andy Murray's withdrawal the last of five from the ATP top 11, how should we feel about the men's field? And just how open is the women's draw, really, with eight women who can reach #1? Lots of fun tangents, as per. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR197!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
8/28/20171 hour, 21 minutes, 22 seconds
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Episode 196: Paul Annacone and Giri Nathan

To set the table for the upcoming US Open, Ben chats with two guys who see tennis through very different lenses. First up is Paul Annacone, a former ATP #12 and a past coach of Pete Sampras, Roger Federer, Tim Henman, and Sloane Stephens, who is out with his first book Coaching for Life. We talk all sorts of aspects of coaching relationships, and how they evolve with a player's age and experience. Next, Ben chats with Giri Nathan, who has taken the helm of Deadspin's suddenly robust tennis coverage. How does the reverence of tennis mesh with the irreverence of Deadspin?  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR196!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
8/24/201743 minutes, 16 seconds
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Episode 195: Burning Topics With Lindsay Gibbs

Long-time friend of the show Lindsay Gibbs joins Ben this week to discuss the intersection of all sorts of societal issues--which she covers in her work as the sports reporter for Think Progress--specifically as they apply to the world of tennis, which has plenty of layers of equality and inequality, both visible and invisible. There's lots of work still to be done in women's tennis, even just how we talk about it. From equal pay to LGBT visibility, from WTA streaming to athlete activism, from Ilie Nastase to Andy Roddick, we touch it all. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR195!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
8/1/201746 minutes, 50 seconds
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Episode 194: Wimbledon a Wimbledud?

Wimbledon 2017 is done with two great champions in Garbine Muguruza and Roger Federer...but why does it still feel unsatisfying? On the letdowns that defined the second week of this tournament too often. Ben and Courtney talk about what their wins mean, why scheduling remains a crucial variable for both, and other various stories from the undercard draws at Wimbledon.  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR194!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
7/16/201730 minutes, 59 seconds
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Episode 193: Wimbledon Manic Impressions

Second week already? I was just in the middle of a dream (about flying ants, probably). With four rounds of Wimbledon in the books, Ben and Courtney chat about what has happened and what will at a Wimbledon that hadn't been super eventful, really, until Manic Monday clarified some things. What do we make of Angelique Kerber, who will depart the #1 ranking? Should Bernard Tomic face scorn for his comments? Why is Gilles Muller such a dad? All this and more. As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR193!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
7/11/201751 minutes, 47 seconds
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Episode 192: Wimbledon 2017 Preview (From Centre Court!)

Ben and Courtney are full of Wimbledon joy as they inhale the vaunted fumes of Centre Court, where the 2017 tournament will soon start.  They start breaking down the men's draw by discussing Sasha Bublik, the highly-entertaining Russian-turned-Kazakh who lucked into a spot playing Andy Murray in R1. You'll hear some of his pre-tournament press, then we break down the paths of the top-four seeds, who happen to be the Big 4 again. We both agree on who's tournament this is to lose, which doesn't always happen. On the women's side, we discuss Angelique Kerber's possible steps in the right direction, Karolina Pliskova's pole position to #1, and Petra Kvitova's improbable (but logical) role as the favorite to win this event in just her third tournament back. Also, lots of other shenanigans, including a dog. God save Queen.  As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR192!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
7/2/20171 hour, 18 minutes, 26 seconds
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Episode 191: The Chair Has the Floor

We are delighted to finally be able to fulfill one of our most frequent listener requests: an interview with a chair umpire!  Felix Torralba, a gold badge chair umpire who worked full-time with WTA and has also worked around the world of tennis on all corners of the globe, recently retired from officiating to take a full-time position at the Mallorca Open, where Ben caught up with him. He answers all those pressing questions: when to give a time violation? What is the hardest language to call score in? What happens if the chair umpire has to use the bathroom? As always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR191!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
6/27/20171 hour, 3 minutes, 38 seconds
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Episode 190: French Fortune Favors Brave (and Guy Who Won Nine Times Before)

Ben and Courtney have a lot to catch up on after the French Open. Well, maybe a little bit less on the men's side, where a fairly lackluster men's tournament ended in obvious fashion--albeit in style! Rafael Nadal is really good, but we knew that. Elsewhere in the men's game, things look much better for Andy Murray and much worse for Novak Djokovic. What should Novak do to give himself a chance to be competitive again? On the women's side, it was perhaps an even wilder one than expected, with Jelena Ostapenko coming out of almost nowhere to stunningly win the French Open. What, if anything, can we project about where she goes from here? And how disappointed should Simona Halep be about losing the final? Elsewhere, how will Karolina Pliskova roll on to a possible #1 ranking? How did Kiki Mladenovic steal the show? And what might Elina Svitolina and Caroline Wozniacki have in common? And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR190!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be!
6/19/20171 hour, 41 minutes, 43 seconds
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Episode 189: Draw Me Like One of Your French Opens, 2017

It's Slamming time again! Ben and Courtney break down the French Open draws for both the men's and women's. On the women's side, where there are many favorites to choose from, who got the best and worst draws? And whose great draws and good recent forms could lead them to a second consecutive semifinal (or better)? There are multiple correct answers to that one. On the men's side, could this be a tournament to get Murray or Djokovic back on track? Or is Rafael Nadal just too far ahead of the pack? And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR189!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
5/27/20171 hour, 11 minutes, 38 seconds
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Episode 188: Cautiously Sliding on Clay

In our first somewhat normal show together since the European clay swing began in earnest, Ben and Courtney catch up on what has happened in the past several weeks, from Stuttgart to Madrid to Rome. Firstly, we assess the form and future of Maria Sharapova, the predominant protagonist of those tournaments, even if her runs ended early at the last two. Where does she go from here? Also, we (again, sorry) wonder if there's any sense to be made of the women's side, and Courtney enjoys that caution actually seems to be the prevailing reaction to any forecasting of what might happen at the French Open. On the men's side, how big a deal is Sascha Zverev's breakthrough title in Rome, and what should we expect from him from here? Again, we go with caution. And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR188!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
5/23/201750 minutes, 21 seconds
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Episode 187b: French Open Shuns Sharapova

In a decision that had been anticipated for months, French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli surprised many by not granting Maria Sharapova any wild card--not even into qualifying--for Roland Garros, locking out the two-time champion there as she continues to work on rebuilding her ranking following her 15-month absence due to a positive test. In this short episode, Ben discusses the style, cause, and correctness of the decision with two French tennis journalists: our beloved Carole Bouchard (NCR's France correspondant) and Vincent Cognet of L'Equipe. And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR187b!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
5/17/201718 minutes, 19 seconds
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Episode 187a: NCRvision Song Contest Revisited

It's Eurovision season again, and it's NCRvision season again! One year after we launched the NCRvision Song Contest, we're happy to be able to bring it back to you to gear up from the results show, which will be coming in a few days. It's possible that some of these amazing songs have faded from your memory (or that you missed them altogether), so we're bringing you this refresher of the show, a bit condensed, with a new intro and outro. And in the grand Eurovision tradition of terrible singing by a host, there's terrible singing by a host!  (NOTE: This file originally had some issues--if your version is still only 31 minutes and not the full 1h28m, delete and redownload) And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCRvision!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
5/13/20171 hour, 28 minutes, 32 seconds
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Episode 186: Jamie Hampton

We are delighted to be able to fulfill a wish of many of our listeners for years now by bringing on Jamie Hampton (a.k.a. Julie Hamilton) as a guest, who has been out of sight as she rehabs various injuries but not out of our minds of many listeners. Ben and Jamie discuss her mindset as she copes with setbacks, the perspective she's gained on tour issues from being away, the current landscape of the tour, dealing with attention from traditional and social media, her more supportive stance on Maria Sharapova, her admiration of Serena and Venus Williams and the other players who inspire her. And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR186!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
5/4/201750 minutes, 9 seconds
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Episode 185: What to Expect When Serena's Expecting

With best wishes, Ben and Courtney convene after Serena Williams' announcement that she is expecting her first child this fall, and may already be as far as 20 weeks into her pregnancy. Does this change how we look back on her title at the Australian Open in January, when she already would have been roughly two months pregnant? And what does this mean for the tour going forward? And what is the state of the women's field now? We don't quite agree on this one, as you'll quickly learn. And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR185!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
4/21/201726 minutes, 17 seconds
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Episode 184: Resembling an Ensemble

With a quarter of 2017 now complete, Ben and Courtney try to make sense of it all. But does it make sense, really? Daria Kasatkina won Charleston in an all-teen final, which should be a big result. But what are results anyhow, when every player seems to have a roughly equal share of success and failure these days? Which characters and plotlines are really relevant? Does TV have the answers? The men's side is a completely different coin, because one beloved old dude (Roger Federer) has stepped up to fill the void. But just what is that void without Federer being there as a shiny glaze on top of an otherwise questionable confection? Lastly, we make predictions for the French Open, an amusingly hopeless endeavor.  And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR184!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
4/11/20171 hour, 24 minutes, 20 seconds
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Episode 183: Shade in the Desert

Wrapping up the happenings in Indian Wells, Ben and Courtney cover the popular champs and the odd ways their matches were pitted against each other. First, is the surprising win of Elena Vesnina reflective of a current landscape of opportunity in women's tennis? And where might this title lead her? And for Roger Federer, how much is about him surging and how much is about the others atop men's tennis receding? What to make of the impatient foot-tapping during men's tennis-centered folk during the three-set women's final? And how does how the "Group of Death" played out reflect on all of Djokovic, Kyrgios, and Nadal? And what does it say about U.S. tennis coverage that it took us this long to mention Jack Sock? And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR183!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
3/24/20171 hour, 26 minutes, 28 seconds
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Episode 182a: Maria Sharapova: The Ice Woman Cometh

With Maria Sharapova's ban set to end in just over a month, we've assembled an all-star lineup to discuss her impending return and the many questions it raises in this our fourth episode (here are 1, 2, and 3) about Sharapova's saga. First, Ben speaks with Markus Günthardt, the tournament director of the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart where Sharapova will be making her comeback on Wednesday, April 26. We discuss why this tournament has grown so popular with top players (the car-as-trophy model seems to work), how important Sharapova is to it, the decision to give her a wild card, and how the contentious Wednesday start was made possible. Next, Ben reunites 75% of our March 2016 roundtable on Sharapova by bringing back in Sports Illustrated/Tennis Channel's Jon Wertheim and fabulous French freelancer Carole Bouchard to discuss all sorts of issues and questions raised by the Sharapova brouhaha, what has changed as the story has evolved over the last year, and what should be considered in the decisions about wild cards and whatever else in her comeback. Then, to bring the decidedly different British perspective on this case and anti-doping rigidity in general, Ben chats with BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller about why reactions in attitudes in his country have been so different, and the ethical and logistical questions facing Wimbledon as it weighs whether or not to warmly welcome Sharapova with a main draw wild card. We definitely want you to sound off on these issues, so more than ever, join in the conversation on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), follow and tweet us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR182a!). And as always, please subscribe/review on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
3/21/20171 hour, 13 minutes, 25 seconds
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Episode 182: Dipping Into Indian Wells

If you can't see stars on a clear desert night, are they still there? Ben and Courtney contemplate these quandries and more as they reunite in Indian Wells, where lumpy draws made for exciting clusters of fun, the #1 dude lost to a guy outside the top 100, and Madison Keys returned for her first tournament in five months.  We discuss patience with young prospects who might seem to fall short of the hype, the once-and-possibly-again concept of Slamless #1s, and moderate opinions about things being worthwhile. It's all very measured, we hope.  And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR182!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
3/14/201747 minutes, 39 seconds
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Episode 181: Gulf Claps with Reem Abulleil

With the tours spending three weeks in the region, there's no better time to check in with NCR's Middle East correspondent, Reem Abulleil, for a quick catch-up on the doings over there. After a rough go of things last year, Caroline Wozniacki made good, despite some rain on her parades. And what to make of Elina Svitolina, who has stealthily piled up some very impressive scalps? Also, Roger Federer's stunning loss to Evgeny Donskoy and Andy Murray dropping trou.  And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR181!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
3/3/201733 minutes
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Episode 180: Getting Turned Around

It's been a slowish month of tennis, anthem nightmares notwithstanding, so Ben and Courtney turn to the ever-reliable mailbag to fill out most of this week's show. With the popularity of the Australian Open, should hard court tournament directors adjust their court speeds accordingly? What are fair expectations for Maria Sharapova's return to tour in a couple months? And why don't people talk more about women's matches in the greatest matches of all time conversations?  Also, because we love you, we do Take a Number. And because the world hates us in return, it's crazy high.  And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR180!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
2/18/20171 hour, 36 seconds
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Episode 179: Making a Racquet

There was an eye-catching ending to Davis Cup this weekend, so Ben and Courtney open by discussing Denis Shapovalov's howitzer into the face of chair umpire Arnaud Gabas, and all the various conversations it starts. Should tennis players drastically rein in their tantrums? Should rules change? Or would an overreaction clamp down on a sport that needs big personalities? Then, Ben chats with the founders of the gorgeous Racquet magazine, Caitlin Thompson and David Shaftel, about starting up their quarterly publication, and the ways they want to further intertwine tennis and beauty through their work. If you're interested in the world of print and prestige quarterlies and whatnot, this is the chat for you.  Then, football makes Courtney sad. And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR179!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
2/8/20171 hour, 10 minutes, 10 seconds
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Episode 178: Waking From Australian Dreams

Back home from their Australian adventures, and with time to process the "dream finals" of the Australian Open, Ben and Courtney rouse and reflect on what to make of the Serena-Venus and Federer-Nadal finals, and what they say about the current state of tennis, both for the players involved and the weekend's presumed losers (i.e. Angelique Kerber, Murray-Djokovic matches, etc).  Also, how does the relative spreading of wealth in the WTA compare to the oligarchy of men's tennis? And are these results ideal for the respective tours? Lastly, we talk about movies, and we have strong feelings about current and recent Oscar darlings.  And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR178!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
2/4/20171 hour, 8 minutes, 58 seconds
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Episode 177f: Australian Open Day 10-12: Dream Finals

Tennis got everything it ever wanted! ...right? Ben and Courtney break down the double-dip dream dates of the unexpected vintage Venus-Serena and Federer-Nadal finals that this Australian Open will conclude with. How did the matches go that got these four stars here, how will the finals themselves go, and how should we feel about them? Also, all the props in the world to Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Is some tampering of expectations in order for the finals? Probably. But still, let's revel in this moment. We're excited, you're excited, and we're excited that you're excited. It's all very exciting And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR177f!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
1/27/201743 minutes, 46 seconds
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Episode 177e: Australian Open Day 8-9: Growing Old, Moving Up

With the Aussie Open halfway between quarterfinals and semifinals, Ben is rejoined by Courtney to assess all the fun. Has this Slam been satisfying? Depends on if you're into role reversal, really. The men have been wild and the women have been mild, but it should be setting up for great finishes on both tours, we hope! Speaking of saving the best for last, this sport is aging like a fine wine and Ben and Courtney just want to drink it all up. And we also raise a glass to Mike Cation, normally the voice of the US challenger circuit, who made his Slam debut here in Melbourne. His enthusiasm for our world is contagious, and we hope you're infected in all the best ways. Also, CoCo, Venus, and more. Cancel the noise and tune in.  And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR177e!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
1/24/201751 minutes, 41 seconds
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Episode 177d: Australian Open Day 5-7: Zverevving Up for the Second Week

The surprises continue on Day 7 of the Australian Open, where both #1s lost Sunday. Angelique Kerber went out to CoCo Vandeweghe (not a huge shock) and Andy Murray went out to Mischa Zverev (a huge shock).  First, to talk about both Zverev brothers and some German tennis in general, Ben (alone today as Courtney is out sick) talks to Petra Philippsen, a German freelancer. Then, with the draws collapsing around them, Ben brings on Japan's Aki Uchida and Melbourne's Matt Trollope for an Asia-Pacific perspective on how the second week might shake out. There's a lot to reassess, a lot to rejigger, and a lot to cope with. And a lot to predict!  And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR177d!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
1/22/201757 minutes, 43 seconds
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Episode 177c: Australian Open Day 4: Djokovic Derails

Day 4 was a day of upsets in Melbourne. No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska got blitzed by Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (as Courtney flagged), but the biggest story was six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic stunningly falling in five sets to 117th-ranked wildcard Denis Istomin. To assess Novak's slide, as well as other perceptions of him in Serbia and the wider world, Ben chats with Belgrade-based Saša Ozmo, a journalist for Sport Klub Srbija. How did this slide start for Novak, and what are reasonable expectations for him going forward?  And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR177c!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
1/19/201726 minutes, 19 seconds
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Episode 177b: Australian Open Day 3: On Losing, With Peter Polansky

It's only three days into the Australian Open, but 160 players have already lost in the singles draws (355 if you add qualifying losers). We hardly knew ye! But let's get to know ye? For our second Melbourne mini-show, Ben sat down with #132 Peter Polansky, a Canadian lucky loser who fell in the first round of the Australian Open on Tuesday, dropping out in the brutal heat of a fifth set against Pablo Carreno Busta. He talks about his ups and downs in Melbourne (he's the only player to have lost twice here), and what it's like toiling away week-in, week-out on tour, as well as his passion outside the sport.  And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR177b!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
1/18/201723 minutes, 19 seconds
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Episode 177a: Australian Open Day 1-2: Petko and the Children

The Australian Open is underway, and Ben and Courtney are surviving, so far! Simona Halep was an early casualty, however, so we discuss her limping into the sunset in the tournament's opening hours. Also we hear from longtime NCR stalwart Andrea Petkovic's first round press conference. She's a fun one, yo. The biggest narrative on the men's side so far has been the cavalcade of gangly teens slowly but surely taking over, so we talk about them with some special attention to Sasha Bublik, who Ben is convinced you will have strong opinions about...someday.  And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR177a!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
1/17/201720 minutes, 43 seconds
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Episode 176: Australian Open Draw Show

Together again in Melbourne, Ben and Courtney dive right into the women's and men's draws of the 2017 Australian Open, rolling in some thoughts on the season so far along the way.  It's somewhat business as usual, with so many women relevant and so few men, but there's one particular woman who both Ben and Courtney are super geeked for. Can she break out and win her first Slam? How much or little should we read into early season stumbles by the other top women? And on the men's side, can anyone disrupt the Murray-Djokovic order? And are Roger and/or Rafa ready for runs? And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR176!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
1/15/20171 hour, 28 minutes, 33 seconds
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Episode 175b: Still Remembering When

Since 2016 had so much stuff to remember, Ben and Courtney split Episode 175 into two pieces so they could make it all more manageable. Here's the second part, which covers (more or less) late April until the end of the year.  Lots in there, to be sure, so be sure to chew carefully. And if there's still something worthwhile which we forgot (and there almost certainly is), let us know on Twitter or Facebook!  And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR175b!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
1/10/20171 hour, 11 minutes, 1 second
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Episode 175a: Ana, Auckland, and Anamneses

It's our Season 6 premiere! This is our 217th episode, and golly do Ben and Courtney have lots to reflect on before we get started with 2017. Time to look back to move forward. First, we look back at the career and legacy of Ana Ivanovic, who played excellent tennis at times and was a joy to be around always. We discuss the role she plays in our separate and joint tennis origin stories, and what made her such a welcome presence on tour. Then, Ben chats with Auckland tournament director Karl Budge about running a tournament that has attracted increasingly star-studded fields (including Serena, Venus, and Wozniacki this year), and the differences between running ATP and WTA events. Then we get into the meat of the show, which is our annual nostalgia trip known as "Remember When...?" It's so meaty this time that we need to carve it into two pieces, so this #175a will be followed by #175b in the near future. And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread! Engage with other listeners), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR175a!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
1/3/20171 hour, 13 minutes, 36 seconds
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Episode 174: Kvitova and Kicking Back With Questions #2

After recording the show earlier this week, Ben and Courtney shelved it and then retopped it to address the shocking news of the knife attack which wounded Petra Kvitova's left hand. We discuss the implications it will have, then move on to the main part of the show, which is all of your wonderful (and very varied) Kickstarter questions. From Djokovic to doubles to dissolving countries, we touch 'em all.  Hope you enjoy, and have some shiny, happy holidays!  And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR174!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
12/25/20162 hours, 8 minutes, 4 seconds
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Episode 173: Kicking Back With Questions #1

  With the off-season upon us, Ben and Courtney curl up into their mailbag of questions and use it to keep warm through the winter, while at the same time answering its contents to share the warmth of tennis to all who listen. Gosh I hope no one read that paragraph, it was not our best. Questions come from all sides on general tennis topics such as: Legacy padding! Bro Culture! Sustaining fledgling pro careers! Singles and doubles specializations! And conflicts of interest! If you are someone who still has some show-based Kickstarter reward you're waiting on, we'd love for you to message us with your ideas so we can deliver them to you post haste!  And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR173!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
12/8/20161 hour, 33 minutes, 40 seconds
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Episode 172: Stuffed With Gratitude

The tennis season, save for that pesky Davis Cup final, is finally over, and so Ben and Courtney digest it (before the heavier duty digestion of Thanksgiving) by discussing who the men's player of the year should be. Andy Murray is the year-end #1 after winning London, but there's a sturdy case to be made for Novak Djokovic, too. Speaking of Thanksgiving, Ben and Courtney then serve themselves heaping helpings of thankfulness for things we treasure in tennis and beyond. It's a gravy boat of gratitude. To close, Courtney likes a movie and Ben's rant...disappeared? And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR172!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
11/22/201644 minutes, 28 seconds
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Episode 171: Regime Change

The world has undergone some changes since Ben and Courtney last spoke. Firstly, as this is a tennis show, we guess, we discuss new ATP #1 Andy Murray, what his ascendancy to the top of the rankings means for his career and legacy, and also how alarmed/confused we should be about Novak Djokovic's slide and his enlistment of an unorthodox spiritual advisor. Also, we briefly wrap up Courtney's trip to Singapore, and the unlikely winner there, Dominika Cibulkova.  Then, in an expanded rant/feelings segment, we talk about the new man soon to be atop the United States government, and our emotions about that. We have several.  And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR171!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
11/12/201656 minutes, 36 seconds
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Episode 170: The Boys Are Back in Town

After a WTA-centric episode last time, Ben catches up on the ATP side of the equation this week with special guest Ricky Dimon, fresh off his running the Marine Corps Marathon this past weekend in Washington. After a brief contemplation of the round-robin format after another champion in Singapore went 1-2 in group play, we dive into how this unusual (and underwhelming?) season of men's tennis is wrapping up, especially in regard to the unexpected disappearance of Novak Djokovic.  Will Murray pass Djokovic for #1 before year's end? And would an entirely different octet of players be better in London? Also, we discuss the race for the final few spots in London, and the trend of homogenized slow court speeds around the tour. And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook  (leave comments on the episode thread!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR170!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
11/2/201637 minutes, 31 seconds
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Episode 169: Steve Simon (and the Streams)

With the WTA season wrapping up in Singapore this week, there's no better time to check in with women's tennis boss Steve Simon, who is finishing up his first full year as the tour's chief executive. It's been a turbulent year in tennis, at times, but Simon also made waves of his own this fall by expressing interest in revamping the tennis scoring system to shorten singles matches, including eliminating third sets in lieu of super tiebreaks. Speaking to Ben by phone from Singapore on semifinal Saturday, Simon discusses that as well as other various tour quandaries, including what, if anything, the WTA has planned to cover for its exodus from the ATP Media controled streaming platform, TennisTV, starting in 2017. Speaking of streaming, we then shift to an issue that more affects the journalistic side of the equation: the live streaming of press conferences. After a snippet of the Steve Simon's State of the WTA address via the WTA Insider podcast, We bat around the topic in a roundtable with two NCR favorite guests, Reem Abulleil and Simon Cambers. And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook  (leave comments on the episode thread!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR169!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be. (This episode title is not a band name...yet.)
10/29/201658 minutes, 22 seconds
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Episode 168: Sinking, Tanking, and Politicking

Ben and Courtney are reunited at last, and have lots to catch up on. First, how is WTAsia doing? What to be made of Kerber's underwhelming fall swing, and Serena's (again) nonexistant one?  Also, we discuss Djokovic's increasingly worrying malaise, Kyrgios' finally cracked down upon tanking, and whether or not players should discuss politics.  Lastly, the highs and lows of air travel. And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR168!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
10/20/20161 hour, 29 minutes, 31 seconds
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Episode 167: The Sharapova Resolution

NCR is back after an unforeseen delay (our apologies), and we start by catching up with the conclusion of the Maria Sharapova meldonium case, as Ben welcomes back guest Richard Ings, who had previously discussed Sharapova's positive test with us back on Episode 145A when she announced it back in March. What have we learned over the course of this case? How much should this affect Sharapova's reputation, and should she be labeled a "cheater"? What can ITF do to prevent its athletes having similar pitfalls in the future? All that, plus transparency, TUEs, and more. Reading material referenced in this episode: The initial ITF decision against Sharapova The CAS decision overturning the ITF decision and reducing ban from 24 to 15 months. Ben's interview with Sharapova in the New York Times ESPN's Outside the Lines report critical of tennis anti-doping systems. And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR167!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
10/13/201638 minutes, 29 seconds
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Episode 166: Keeping the Faith in Tennis

With the Istanbul final between Tunisian Malek Jaziri and Israeli Dudi Sela on Sunday, the cross-section of religion and tennis again came into focus this week. To look at it from several angles this week, we welcome three guests: Israeli Jew Shahar Peer, American Catholic Tim Smyczek, and Pakistani Muslim Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, about how their respective faiths (and sometimes their intertwined nationalities) have affected their lives playing tennis on tour in various ways.  And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR165e!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/22/201651 minutes, 38 seconds
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Episode 165f: U.S. Open - Kerber, Wawrinka Win; We Punch Out

Recording late the night after the U.S. Open concluded, Ben and Courtney are low on energy (and occasionally coherence) but high on thoughts about the tennis that transpired, and the two parallel champions who emerged in Angelique Kerber and Stan Wawrinka. Can their every(wo)manness inspire the rest of the tour? And will Kerber be able to hang onto the #1 spot for the rest of the year, or can Serena Williams be counted on to make her reign a short one? Also, we discuss why we are (both, now) so over best-of-five and why tennis would be smart to phase it out. Also, the highs and lows of the Slam season in retrospect, plus Yakko, Wakko, and Dot. And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR165e!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/13/201646 minutes, 27 seconds
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Episode 165e: U.S. Open - Finals Reckoning

The finals of the U.S. Open are upon us, and so Ben and Courtney discuss what we can look for and how we got here. On the men's side (for which we are joined by the emerald of our eye, Leigh Walsh), we start with a contemplation of Gael Monfils, and the tactics (tanking?) that drew so much ire in his semifinal performance against Djokovic. Speaking of Djokovic, everybody seems to think he's going to lose to Stan Wawrinka. Why? On the women's side, we discuss Serena Williams' straight-set loss to Karolina Pliskova, and Angelique Kerber's subsequent ascendancy to #1, as well as who is better equipped to win that final. And as always, thanks for liking us on Facebook (leave comments on the episode thread!), following us on Twitter (discuss this episode with hashtag #NCR165e!), and subscribing/reviewing on iTunes or whatever your podcasting app/platform of choice may be.
9/10/201639 minutes, 53 seconds
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Episode 165d: U.S. Open - The Women in the Room

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