No Challenges Remaining

No Challenges Remaining

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A podcast discussing the weekly happenings in the wacky world of professional tennis. Hosted by Ben Rothenberg and Courtney Nguyen.

Episodes

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

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 ch [...]

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 ( [...]

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 listene [...]

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 

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 

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 po [...]

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 [...]

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 

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?

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 

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 [...]

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

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 [...]

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 u [...]

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 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 

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 likin [...]

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.

[...]
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 

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