Federer, Nadal, Djokovic let fans eavesdrop on their convos

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Ever wondered what a chat between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal might sound like? How about Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray or Stan Wawrinka?

Fans got the rare chance to watch the Big Three – and two other owners of multiple Grand Slam titles – casually interact with each other in recent days via Instagram Live, a sort of electronic eavesdropping on some of the greatest male tennis players in history.

Once Nadal got some technical issues worked out, that is. The owner of 19 major championships, second only to Federer’s 20 among men, had some trouble figuring out how to connect with his long-time rival on Monday.

Eventually, Federer asked something he said he’s always wanted to know about Nadal, “because it’s been bothering me, you know?”: If Nadal is right-handed, why does he play tennis lefty, something that has helped give him a head-to-head edge over the righty-racketed Federer?

Nadal, who said he was at home on the Spanish island of Mallorca, explained that while he does everything else right-handed – from shooting a basketball to writing – he’s always played tennis and soccer as a lefty. Although he noted that he began tennis by hitting forehands and backhands with two-handed grips.

Djokovic, third on the men’s Grand Slam list with 17 trophies, started the trend of tennis superstars talking among themselves by going live one-on-one with Murray on Friday and with Wawrinka on Saturday.

None has any matches to play, or even a need to practice right now, because the COVID-19 outbreak led to the suspension of all professional tennis until at least mid-July.

“Just trying to be positive, because during this period of time, (it’s) so difficult to stay positive,” Nadal told Federer. “A lot of people suffering a lot.”

Nadal said he hasn’t touched a racket since the tournament in Indian Wells, California, was called off in early March.

“Perfect,” Federer joked. “You won’t be ale to play tennis anymore when you come back.”

Nadal laughed and responded, “I hope to remember something.”

When Nadal asked how Federer’s surgically repaired right knee is doing, Federer said that it’s OK and he is glad he doesn’t need to worry about rushing back to compete.

Once their conversation – which drew more than 50,000 viewers within the first five minutes – was done, Nadal again was a bit flummoxed while trying to get Murray, a three-time major champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, to join in.

“Andy, where are you, man?” Nadal said, furrowing his brow.

Once Murray, who said he was in London and appeared to be laying in bed, did join, Nadal acknowledged, “I’m going crazy with this.”

Murray replied that “it was very amusing watching you” fiddle with it.

After some more issues, including a close-up look at his fingerprint-smudged laptop screen instead of his face, Nadal wrapped up his half hour on Instagram Live with Marc Lopez, his partner while winning a men’s doubles gold medal for Spain at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

When they finished, Nadal tried to offer a sincere farewell to all those who watched – but he got cut off in the middle of a sentence, when the session ended.

Star athletes: They’re just like us!

Alcaraz loses to Goffin in 1st match as No. 1

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ASTANA, Kazakhstan — Carlos Alcaraz’s first match as the No. 1-ranked player ended with a straight-set loss to David Goffin at the Astana Open.

The 19-year-old Spaniard lost 7-5, 6-3 in his first tour match since winning the U.S. Open and capturing the No. 1 ranking.

“David was playing really, really well. To come back to competition is never easy,” Alcaraz said. “It’s really tough for me, for my confidence.”

Alcaraz came from 5-2 down to level the first set at 5-5, only to be broken again by his Belgian opponent.

“When you play against the World No. 1 on a big stage, big crowd, the fire inside gives you so much power to play your best tennis because you don’t have any choice,” Goffin said. “You have to fight and give your best and that was the case today.”

Second-seeded Daniil Medvedev and No. 3-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas both avoided similar upsets. Medvedev beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain 6-3, 6-1 and Tsitsipas ousted Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3. 6-4.

Kasatkina knocks out Raducanu at Agel Open

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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — Fifth-seeded Daria Kasatkina defeated 2021 U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu 7-5, 6-4 to advance to the second round of the Agel Open.

Kasatkina was playing her first match since losing in the first round of the U.S. Open and will next face Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Sixth-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland rallied to eliminate former top-five player Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 6-7 (7), 6-1, while Aliaksandra Sasnovich upset eighth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-2.

American qualifiers Alycia Parks and Catherine McNally both advanced. Parks upset Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 7-6 (3) and McNally eased past Anna Blinkova 6-1, 6-2 at the indoor hardcourt event in the Czech eastern city of Ostrava.