A podcast discussing the happenings in the wacky world of professional tennis. Hosted by Ben Rothenberg and Courtney Nguyen.
Episode 361b: Sabalenka Smashes Australian Open Women's Field
1:10:38Ben 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.
Episode 361a: Sinner the Winner of Men's Australian Open
1:17:10Jannik 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.
Episode 360: 2024 Australian Open Draw Show
1:29:07Coming 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!
Episode 359: ”Naomi Osaka” - Behind the Book
1:11:29At 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!
Episode 358: Women’s Tennis Turmoil Reviewed
1:37:49Ben 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!
Episode 357: The Year in Men’s Tennis (With Ricky Dimon)
1:21:42With 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!
Episode 356: Simona Halep and the Biggest Doping Conviction in Tennis History
1:42:03Ben 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!
Episode 355i: 2023 US Open Finals - Coco Gauff’s First; Djokovic’s 24th
1:13:48Ben 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!
Episode 355h: 2023 US Open - Semifinals Wrap, Finals Preview
54:32Ben 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.
Episode 355g: 2023 US Open Day 10 - Blair Henley, the New Voice of the US Open
27:09Ben 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!