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Tennis Unfiltered

Author: Tennis Unfiltered

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Tennis Unfiltered is a weekly podcast where we try to make sense - tactical, ethical, emotional sense - of the tennis world. And we don't hold back.

298 Episodes
Calvin Betton, George Bellshaw and James Gray are back behind the microphones to look at all the biggest stories of the week - and celebrate Henry Patten and Harri Heliovaara's victory in Marrakesh. The WTA has confirmed that its biggest tournament, the WTA Finals, will be held in Riyadh for the next three years in a deal worth around $50m in prize money Rafael Nadal is out of the Monte Carlo Masters saying his body 'simply won't allow me' Danielle Collins wins her second title in a row, this time in Charleston, and has only lost two sets in the last three weeks. We talk about her incredible numbers on return of second serve It was a good week for the big servers as Ben Shelton, Hubert Hurkacz and Matteo Berrettini all won titles on clay across three different continents But it was a bad start to the clay season for the Brits with Dan Evans and Cam Norrie both bounced out in the first round in Monaco LINKS Calvin's week in crazy Marrakesh: James ran a half-marathon on Sunday, raising money for his local community cricket club. You can donate here: Jeff Sackmann has written this excellent blog on Danielle Collins's second serve return: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
FACTCHECK FROM JAMES: I said I was watching Charleston on red clay. I was of course watching *Houston*, not Charleston. Houston = reddish brown clay, Charleston = still equals mucky grey-green. Apologies... Calvin Betton joins James Gray ( and George Bellshaw (man of the people) from the ATP 250 in Marrakesh to discuss a very busy few days in tennis... Danielle Collins is the surprise Miami champion after beating Elena Rybakina in the final, losing the first set of the tournament and then not another one after that But Collins also made headlines after clapping back at the suggestion she might reconsider retirement, due at the end of this year, given she is now playing the best tennis of her life Sofia Kenin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands won the women's doubes: an unlikely duo or a force to be reckoned with? Jannik Sinner comfortably beat Grigor Dimitrov in the men's final, having beaten Daniil Medvedev in the semi, their first meeting since the Australian Open final. Andy Murray has chosen not to have surgery on a “full rupture of my ATFL” and a “near full thickness rupture of my CFL” - that is the anterior talofibular ligament (ATFL) and calcaneofibular ligament (CFL) to give them their full names. Novak Djokovic has split with Goran Ivanisevic and does not know if he will replace him. Who would be the perfect coach for Djokovic at this point in his career? Djokovic said: “First of all, Goran is my friend for life, mine and of my family’s. I will always remember that he was there for me as a person, as a human being, first and foremost, and that he brought the right set of values into our relationship. That kind of chemistry was followed by great results. I wish Goran all the best. I still don’t have a clear idea who a new coach would be, or whether there will be one at all. I’ve had coaches since I was a kid, now I am trying to feel by myself what I need, what I feel most comfortable with. You will be informed in case someone joins the team.” PLUS... We answer your questions on Dominic Thiem and whether there really is "a dominant eye". LINKS MENTIONED James's piece on everything we know about Andy Murray's injury: Novak Djokovic's quotes in full on his coaching situation: John McEnroe's penchant for the dramatic: Hubert Hurkacz loses his mind: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
George Bellshaw, James Gray and Calvin Betton are back round the microphone to discuss Andy Murray picks up two valuable wins in Miami - but then tears two ligaments in his ankle while losing to Tomas Machac Simona Halep loses on return and gets into a fiery spat with Caroline Wozniacki over wildcards and doping bans There were defeats for Cameron Norrie, Dan Evans and Christopher Eubanks Holger Rune was thrashed by Fabian Maroszan (and blamed illness for winning just two games Denis Shapovalov wins the battle of the one-handers with Stefanos Tsitsipas Naomi Osaka is beaten by Caroline Garcia again and Katie Boulter picks up a couple of wins including beating Beatriz Haddad Maia Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
George Bellshaw, James Gray and Calvin Betton are back to talk about another week of tennis after the final of Indian Wells... Carlos Alcaraz won first title since June, beating Alexander Zverev, Jannik Sinner and Daniil Medvedev along the way - although he was temporarily halted by a swarm of bees... Novak Djokovic was stunned by lucky loser Luca Nardi, his third ever Masters loss to someone outside top 100, and has pulled out of Miami too Iga Swiatek thumped Maria Sakkari in just 69 mins to win Indian Wells for a second time Emma Raducanu picks up valuable points but is beaten well by Aryna Sabalenka Hsieh Su-Wei is the world No 1 in doubles after spending 18 months out of the game Roger Federer says today’s game is starting to lack variety, his goal when he was on tour was to mix things up Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
EMERGENCY PODCAST with James Gray ( and Calvin Betton (ATP tour coach) to talk about the alleged Saudi Arabian takeover of tennis, and the games reaction to it. We are indebted to Simon Briggs of the Telegraph, friend of the podcast, for breaking this story and writing some brilliantly detailed stories about it. Read his original pieces below.. On the Premium Tour: On Saudi Arabia's bid: On the civil war brewing in tennis: We will do a full podcast on this on Monday when we will know more, but in the meantime please send your questions to and we will try to answer them, or at least discuss them. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
James Gray, George Bellshaw and Calvin Betton are back together to look back at a dramatic week off the court (and occasionally on it), discussing the following... Rafael Nadal pulls out of Indian Wells at the last minute, citing an injury issue - although he seemed fine at The Netflix Slam... Simona Halep gets a successful ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport, her doping ban reduced from four years to nine months and a verdict that she had not deliberately ingested a banned substance Katie Boulter follows up the best result of her career with... a first-round defeat to Camila Giorgi Andy Murray beats David Goffin and then loses a one-sided match to Andrey Rublev Netflix follows up its first live tennis event by cancelling its behind-the-scenes documentary  Queen's is set to host a WTA 500 event from 2025, according to the BBC Calvin calls out the ATP on the doubles entry system - and gets a lot of blowback on Twitter LINKS Calvin's viral tweet: James's piece on Simona Halep and doping: George's interview with Tim Mayotte: Full story on WTA and Queen's: Stu Fraser's piece on Netflix cancelling tennis: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
George Bellshaw returns to join James Gray ( and Calvin Betton (ATP tennis coach) to discuss a controversial week on and off the court. Andrey Rublev was DQed for abuse of an official on Friday - but had his points and prize money reinstated on Monday after appealing to the ATP (More on that story here: Carlos Alcaraz "beat" Rafael Nadal to win "The Netflix Slam" in Las Vegas, but was it more circus than spectacle? Katie Boulter won the biggest title of her career, coming from behind to beat Marta Kostyuk to the WTA 500 title in San Diego (For an opinion piece by James, click here: Titles also for Alex De Minaur, Yuan Yue, Ugo Humbert and Sebastian Baez Corentin Moutet with the best shithousery of all-time: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Eleanor Crooks, the Press Association's tennis correspondent, joins James Gray and Calvin Betton (with George temporarily unavailable). They discussed... Andy Murray's first win of 2024 before losing to Jakub Mensik - and then coming back next week and beating Denis Shapovalov. Is this still the game for him? Has he only got a few months left? Ivo Karlovic has finally confirmed his retirement after years out of the game. Was he really just an enormous server and nothing else? What other athletes's freakish size has made them a spectacle to watch? Anna Kalinskaya beat Jelena Ostapenko, Coco Gauff and Iga Swiatek consecutively to reach the Dubai final. Is she another woman we are going to have to consider in the melting pot of women's tennis? And speaking of, Calvin defends his take on Azarenka-Ostapenko handshake-gate PLUS Wildcards for Irishmen in Dubai, Cam Norrie's struggles in South America and paying $150,000 for a private lesson with Carlos Alcaraz Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Calvin Betton, George Bellshaw and James Gray go through all the big tennis stories from the last seven days, including... Iga Swiatek becomes the first woman since Serena Williams in 2015 to win the same WTA title three years in a row, beating Elena Rybakina to win in Doha Maria Sakkari has dropped out of the top 10 for the first time in two years Jannik Sinner continues his unbeaten 2024, winning the title in Rotterdam and beating Alex De Minaur Carlos Alcaraz loses to Nicolas Jarry in South America PLUS we answer your questions on: The I formation in amateur doubles Andrey Rublev - the new David Ferrer? Felix Auger-Aliassime's ceiling LINKS The death of the one-handed backhand in The Times (£): Gay doubles player Demi Schuurs talks about she has to go to Saudi Arabia because if she doesn't, someone else will: Jelena Ostapenko's "handshake" with Victoria Azarenka: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
It's the Middle East swing and James Gray, George Bellshaw and Calvin Betton are back home in the UK, picking the bones out of the action. They answered your questions too, including: What does British tennis get from players switching allegiance to play under the Union Flag? And why does Kazakhstan do it? (Thanks to Matthew on email for that one) Can you remember anyone doing such a good job of improving on their weaknesses, at least so quickly, as Aryna Sabalenka has on second serve? (Nikos via email) Danny asks "What's the deal with the ITF events held in places like Monastir and Sharm El Sheikh, how do they afford to host tournaments every week of the year without the backing of wealthy federations, at the bottom tier of the sport with no TV or gate money?" And in this week's news Elena Rybakina wins the title in Abu Dhabi Naomi Osaka talks about failure - but then gets the best win of her comeback so far over Caroline Garcia in Doha Emma Raducanu is beaten by Anhelina Kalinina in a one-sided encounter And so much more! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Thanks to everyone who voted for us in the Sports Podcast Awards. We came SECOND, a one-place improvement on last year, but still losing out to Dan Kiernan. We shall overcome! We're back as a trio this week, a little later after James took the slow boat home from Australia, answering as many questions as possible from the bulging mailbag. Justin Cerny on Twitter/X asked: “Thoughts on the variety of surfaces & locations for events during weeks like this? (ATP, Challengers, WTA tour & 125s) Does it help bring opportunity & exposure or does it lack a uniform brand for professional tennis? Something in between? Keep up the good work” John Williamson on Twitter/X wrote: “After a joyful 2 weeks of loads of televised #tennis games courtesy of a month’s UK Discovery subscription, the potential spectre of Sky Sports thin pickings is appearing over the horizon – any chance of bluer skys?” Fab Miss Ana asked on Twitter/X: “What are possible penalties for (WTA / ATP) players for complaining about tour or tournament? Have they ever been enforced? Asking as Daniela Hantuchova (now appointed the infamous Madrid WTA director?) criticised players for complaining and asked for penalties to be enforced." Andy Lee on email asks: “Looking at the results from the Davis Cup this weekend, including a shock for Serbia (will that affect Novak's plans post US Open this year?) and to a lesser extent Croatia I noticed the finals group stages venues haven't been announced. I'm completely biased being from here but do the panel think Manchester should be a permanent finals venue as per last year? Yes, there were attendance problems at say Switzerland v Australia but the GB games were bouncing. Fill the other games with schools and club tickets if necessary. We suffer from a lack of top class tennis in the North, we have the Ilkley Challenger and then it's down to Nottingham/ Birmingham pre Wimbledon. This would fit the bill very nicely in my opinion.” We also discussed... Andy Murray's savage reaction to an article questioning whether his current form threatens to "tarnish his legacy" Emma Raducanu is one and done in Abu Dhabi, but with no added injury concerns and a win under her belt Heather Watson is back in the headlines, making a run at AD to return to the top 150 Holger Rune has got rid of Boris Becker and Severin Luthi, and signed for IMG Saudi Arabia is going to offer eight top players up to £5m to play an exhibition there later this year, more on the story here from Simon Briggs of the Telegraph: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
That's it! The Australian Open is in the books once and for all. Jannik Sinner and Aryna Sabalenka are the champions (the first men and women's champion at any slam since the early 1990s to share the same first letter of their surname) and James, George and Calvin have (almost) caught up on their sleep. They ask... Having broken his duck, how many grand slams will Jannik Sinner go on to win? Will Daniil Medvedev ever add to his solitary US Open victory? What's going on with Andy Murray? Can anyone stop Aryna Sabalenka? What else has the women's game got to offer? Will Emma Raducanu get back to her US Open heights? Remember to leave us a positive review if you enjoy the podcast - and if you want to ask Calvin a question, email us at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
THANK YOU to everyone who voted for us in the Sports Podcast Awards. The results will be revealed later this year and we look forward to seeing the fruits of your endeavours. To review both singles finals, George Bellshaw in London joins James Gray in Melbourne to discuss... Jannik Sinner beat Daniil Medvedev 3-6 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-3, coming from two sets down to become Australian Open champion and win his first grand slam title Medvedev has now lost five of his six major finals, and twice been two sets up in a final in Melbourne before losing Aryna Sabalenka dominated her Australian Open final, losing just five games to continue her streak of 14 matches unbeaten at Melbourne Zheng Qinwen would rather her first grand slam final had gone better, but does she have what it takes to sustain a lucrative Chinese presence in the top 10? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
VOTE FOR US. We have once again been short-listed for a Sports Podcast Award in the tennis category - but now we need YOU to help us win it. Time is running out as voting closes on January 28th. Vote for us NOW: Novak Djokovic lost at the Australian Open for the first time in six years, with Jannik Sinner not facing a single break point along the way. (James's analysis with input from Boris Becker, Darren Cahill and both players is here: Daniil Medvedev went two sets down to Alexander Zverev but fought back to win in five and reach his sixth grand slam final Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
VOTE FOR US. We have once again been short-listed for a Sports Podcast Award in the tennis category - but now we need YOU to help us win it. Time is running out as voting closes on January 28th. Vote for us NOW: Coco Gauff was beaten 7-6 6-4 by Aryna Sabalenka, who won her 13th straight match in Melbourne and reached the final for the second year in a row, the first female player to reach back-to-back slam finals since Serena Williams in 2017 Gauff served eight double-faults and has been attacked on second serve by almost all her opponents at this year's Australian Open. James wrote something about why, and what Roddick did to try and fix it: Meanwhile, Zheng Qinwen became the first Chinese woman since Li Na here in 2014 to reach a grand slam final, beating Dayana Yastremska 6-4 6-4 in a nervy encounter On Friday Novak Djokovic will play Jannik Sinner, hoping to avenge the three match points he failed to take (remember that match here: The winner will face Daniil Medvedev or Alexander Zverev, two players who really don't like each other. Here's why: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
TIME IS RUNNING OUT - both existentially but also in terms of voting for us in the Sports Podcast Awards. Please do it, do it now: (Apologies for the sound issues here: Calvin's laptop charger got torched by Doha airport so he had to record on his phone on this occasion. Back soon we hope!) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Vote for us! Seriously. Please. We need your help. Badly. Calvin and James discuss... Calvin's overall impressions of the Australian Open - and a run-in with security Alex de Minaur, hot or not? (Tennis-wise...) Can Taylor Fritz stop Novak Djokovic? Previewing Alcaraz vs Kecmanovic, Norrie vs Zverev and Hurkacz vs Cazaux Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Vote for us! Calvin and James discuss... Novak Djokovic finding his best form Cameron Norrie turning into peak Tim Henman Nuno Borges and Arthur Cazaux making shock runs to the fourth round Emma Raducanu trying to tag her opponent on match point Aryna Sabalenka or Coco Gauff Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
RIP Mike Dickson

RIP Mike Dickson


Mike Dickson, the Daily Mail's long-serving tennis correspondent, has died suddenly at the age of 59. Mike was in Melbourne covering the Australian Open for the Daily Mail with his usual gusto and good humour. But on Wednesday, we were given the most awful news imaginable. James and George both knew Dicko, as he was to almost everyone, through working in tennis and have both separately tried to put into words what he meant to them. This obituary from Jonathan McEvoy, who knew Dicko for far longer, is a fitting tribute: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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