Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Benoit Paire in his first match in the 2020 Ultimate Tennis Showdown.

The event in France, created by Serena Williams' coach Patrick Mouratoglou, is aimed at attracting new fans to the sport and is one of the first tennis tournaments to take place since the coronavirus pandemic struck Europe.

The event is played in a league format, with each match consisting of four quarters and a sudden-death fifth if the scores are level.

On Sunday, world number six Tsitsipas defeated Paire 3-1, hitting more than 30 winners en route to victory.

Gasquet beat David Goffin 3-2 after sudden death, with Feliciano Lopez overcoming Lucas Pouille by the same scoreline.

The UTS' first match was won by Alexei Popyrin against Frenchman Elliot Benchetrit, while Matteo Berrettini also claimed a 3-1 victory over Dustin Brown.

Dominic Thiem overcame Filip Krajinovic in three sets to win the final of the Adria Tour exhibition event in Belgrade.

The world number three claimed the opening set after dominating a tie-break but was pegged back in the second, meaning a decider was required to reveal the inaugural champion.

Thiem crucially recorded a break in the third game before holding his serve to love, pushing him to the brink of glory.

While Krajinovic, who had reached the final at the expense of Novak Djokovic, delayed the inevitable by winning the next game, the Austrian served out for a 4-3 (7-2) 2-4 4-2 victory.

Djokovic had seen his hopes of success on home soil dashed when he finished second in his group, a defeat to Krajinovic during Saturday's second session of play proving costly.

While the world number one did go on to record a 4-0 1-4 4-2 win over Alexander Zverev at the Novak Tennis Centre on Sunday, it was not enough.

The eight-player tournament was the opening leg of the Adria Tour, with the next to be staged in Zadar in Croatia on June 21-22.

A planned stop in Montenegro on June 27-28 was cancelled due to restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic, though the schedule will still finish in Bosnia on the opening weekend in July.

The Adria Tour concludes on July 5, as Djokovic takes on Damir Dzumhur in an exhibition match in Sarajevo.

An emotional Novak Djokovic will not be involved in the final of the Adria Tour exhibition event in Belgrade despite beating Alexander Zverev on Sunday.

The world number one needed to triumph in straight sets to finish top of Group Novak Djokovic, but his hopes of progressing were dashed when he lost the second to his German opponent.

While the home favourite did go on to record a 4-0, 1-4, 4-2 victory at the Novak Tennis Centre in Belgrade, it was not enough.

“I am not crying because I got knocked out of the tournament, I am just overwhelmed by emotion because this reminds me of my childhood," Djokovic told the crowd. 

"It's been an emotional few days and I want to thank everyone who made this possible. The important thing after this match is that we have one of our own in the final. I love you all and thank you so much for turning up."

Djokovic had opened his campaign at the tournament with a comfortable win over Viktor Troicki on Saturday, though he did come off second best in a point played against a ball boy, who thrilled the crowd with a successful drop shot.

Playing again in the evening session, the 17-time grand slam champion suffered his first loss of 2020, coming out on the wrong side of a deciding set in his contest against Filip Krajinovic.

Djokovic compiled an impressive 18-0 record on the ATP Tour this year, including winning the Australian Open, before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Krajinovic will instead provide a home presence in Sunday's final, a victory over Troicki enough to see him top the table.

He will go up against Dominic Thiem, who defeated Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets to progress from a group named after his opponent.

Novak Djokovic suffered his first loss of 2020 as the Adria Tour exhibition event got underway in Belgrade on Saturday.

The 17-time grand slam champion started the event with a 4-1 4-1 victory over fellow Serbian Viktor Troicki.

However, Djokovic was stunned by Filip Krajinovic 2-4 4-2 4-1 in his second match, beaten for the first time this year.

Djokovic was 18-0 on the ATP Tour in 2020, including winning the Australian Open, before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 33-year-old launched the Adria Tour last month, although the event scheduled for Montenegro later in June was cancelled.

Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem claimed two wins from as many matches on Saturday.

Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev have cast doubt over whether the US Open can go ahead as scheduled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The grand slam is due to get under way on August 31, but New York has been hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

World number one Novak Djokovic this week described the restrictions that players would be subjected to in order for the major to be staged as "extreme" and "impossible".

It has been suggested players will have restrictions on the size of their entourages for the tournament, while access to outside courts at the venue will be limited and players arriving from outside the United States could face a quarantine period.

Rafael Nadal, Ash Barty and Simona Halep are among the other stars to have questioned whether it is realistic for them to be taking to the court at Flushing Meadows.

Thiem and Zverev also expressed their reservations on Friday.

Speaking in Belgrade before featuring in Adria Tour exhibition matches arranged by Djokovic, Thiem said: "All of these circumstances are pretty tough.

"I think some circumstances will have to change [for it to] make sense to go there [New York]."

The world number three added: "Well nobody knows, maybe things improve, maybe not, so we'll have to wait until the facts are out and then decide."

Zverev, the world number seven, said: "It's great if we get the opportunity to play, but under these circumstances I don't think a lot of players will feel comfortable in the environment there.

"So that's my opinion. But it's not really up to us players in that way; in a way, the US Open decides."

The ATP Tour is suspended until at least the end of July.

The rest of the 2020 ATP season remains uncertain due to the coronavirus pandemic, but one thing we know for sure is Roger Federer will play no further part.

Federer announced on Wednesday that, having undergone another arthroscopic procedure on his injured knee, he will not play again until 2021.

The 20-time grand slam singles champion said: "Much like I did leading up to the 2017 season, I plan to take the necessary time to be 100 per cent ready to play at my highest level."

That will be music to the ears of Federer fans. After sitting out the second half of 2016 in order to shake off lingering injury concerns, the 38-year-old's comeback heralded one of the most remarkable seasons of his storied career: 54 wins, just five defeats, and seven titles – all in the year he turned 36.

January: Australian Open

Having made his return to action at the Hopman Cup, Federer entered the opening major of the year – and his first since losing the 2016 Wimbledon semi-final to Milos Raonic – seeded only 17th.

He needed four sets to defeat Jurgen Melzer in round one but seemed to find his groove against Noah Rubin and then Tomas Berdych, although defending champion Novak Djokovic's shock defeat to Denis Istomin caught the headlines. Federer was due to face world number one Andy Murray in round four but, when he lost in four sets to Mischa Zverev, the draw suddenly looked wide open.

Federer beat the German and won mammoth contests against Kei Nishikori and Stan Wawrinka en route to a final against Rafael Nadal that nobody had expected. Nadal had won their previous six meetings at majors, but it was Federer who triumphed 6-4 3-6 6-1 3-6 6-3 to claim his first Melbourne crown in seven years and his 18th slam in total.

March: Indian Wells Masters

Federer lost to world number 116 Evgeny Donskoy in Dubai in February but bounced back in style, winning the Indian Wells Masters without dropping a set and defeating Nadal and Wawrinka again along the way.

It was his first title in California since 2012 and set him up for a happy few weeks in the United States.

March/April: Miami Open

Federer's third career Sunshine Double came despite an ominous-looking draw at the Miami Open. Rising star Frances Tiafoe and Juan Martin del Potro fell to straight sets, before Roberto Bautista Agut, Berdych and Nick Kyrgios – all in the top 20 – failed to stop him.

In the final, he beat Nadal for the fourth time in a row and surpassed his own record as the oldest winner of a Masters 1000 event – a record he set weeks earlier and would break again later in the year.

June: Halle Open

Federer skipped the clay season to return refreshed for the grass tournaments, but he lost to veteran Tommy Haas in the round of 16 in Stuttgart.

Order was restored at the Halle Open. He again reached the final without dropping a set and swept aside Alexander Zverev 6-1 6-3 to win the tournament for the ninth time.

July: Wimbledon

Such was Federer's form coming into his favourite slam that it looked unlikely anyone could stop him from winning a record eighth title.

So it proved: the Swiss was nigh-on faultless as he breezed into the final, again without dropping a set, where he beat Marin Cilic 6-3 6-1 6-4.

October: Shanghai Masters

August did not quite go to plan for Federer as he lost the final of the Montreal Masters to Alexander Zverez before Del Potro ousted him at the quarter-final stage of the US Open.

Further hard-court success did not elude him for long, though. He won his second Shanghai title in October, gaining revenge on Del Potro in the semi-finals and dispatching Nadal 6-4 6-3 in the final.

October: Swiss Indoors Basel

It was fitting that the last title win of Federer's spectacular comeback year would come on his own turf.

Roared on by the home crowd, Federer had few concerns in reaching a final against Del Potro, which he won 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-3.

His eighth Swiss Indoors Basel triumph was the 95th Tour title of his career and ensured 2017 was his most successful season since 2007.

Roger Federer will not play again until 2021 due to complications in his recovery from a knee injury.

The Swiss star was expected to be sidelined for four months after undergoing an operation back in February, his initial plan to return in time for the grass-court season.

With Wimbledon having been cancelled and the ATP Tour suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was anticipated the 20-time grand slam singles champion could compete at the US Open in August.

However, Federer says a setback in his rehabilitation means he requires a further arthroscopic procedure, and he intends to give his body as long as possible to recover.

In a Twitter post, the 38-year-old wrote: "A few weeks ago, having experienced a setback during my initial rehabilitation, I had to have an additional quick arthroscopic procedure on my right knee.

"Now, much like I did leading up to the 2017 season, I plan to take the necessary time to be 100 per cent ready to play at my highest level.

"I will be missing my fans and the tour dearly but, I will look forward to seeing everyone back on tour at the start of 2021."

In February 2016, Federer suffered a torn meniscus while running a bath for his children and then pulled out of the French Open due to a back problem.

He chose to skip the rest of the season after losing to Milos Raonic in the Wimbledon semi-finals, saying: "The doctors advised that if I want to play on the ATP World Tour injury free for another few years, as I intend to do, I must give both my knee and body the proper time to fully recover."

Federer enjoyed a spectacular comeback in 2017, winning seven titles including the Australian Open and Wimbledon, marking his most successful season for over a decade.

June 8 is likely to be a date forever remembered fondly by Rafael Nadal, who secured two of his historic 12 French Open titles on this day.

Serena Williams also twice had reason to celebrate on the clay of Roland Garros on this date, although one final was tinged with the regret of having beaten her sister.

The Golden State Warriors tasted glory once again in 2018, while there was truly a shock for the ages when Argentina faced Cameroon at the World Cup in 1990.

Going back nearly 60 years, there was also a moment of baseball history for the Milwaukee Braves.

 

1961 - Milwaukee Braves hit home-run record

There were six teams scrambling for top spot in the National League when the Braves met the Cincinnati Reds at Crosley Field.

In front of a sparse crowd of just over 5,000 fans - many seem to have been exhausted by three previous night games in the series - the Reds claimed a 10-8 victory.

The Braves did at least make history with four consecutive home runs through Eddie Mathews, Hank Aaron, Joe Adcock and Frank Thomas in the seventh inning.

 

1990 - Argentina shocked by Cameroon

Perhaps the biggest World Cup upset in history, the reigning champions were beaten 1-0 by Cameroon at Italia 90.

A solitary goal from Francois Omam-Biyik was enough for the Indomitable Lions to defeat Diego Maradona's Argentina at San Siro.

Cameroon progressed as group winners and reached the quarter-finals, where they lost to England. Argentina made it to the final again but were beaten by West Germany.

 

2002 - Serena wins all-Williams final in Paris

The first of Serena's three French Open singles titles came 18 years ago when she defeated sister Venus 7-5 6-3.

It was the first step in the American's path to winning all four majors in a row, which would become known as the 'Serena Slam'; she claimed Wimbledon and the US Open later that year before winning the 2003 Australian Open, defeating her sister in each of those finals.

Twelve years later, Serena would achieve the feat a second time.

This date also marks seven years since Serena beat Maria Sharapova in the final at Roland Garros.

 

2008 - Nadal equals Borg record with Federer thrashing

Nadal became the first man since Bjorn Borg to win four French Open singles titles in a row when he defeated Roger Federer in the 2008 final.

The Spaniard, a 12-time champion at Roland Garros, triumphed 6-1 6-3 6-0 in a decidedly one-sided contest against his long-time rival.

Six years later, Nadal won French Open number nine on the same date, defeating Novak Djokovic 3-6 7-5 6-2 6-4 to draw level with Pete Sampras on 14 major singles titles. He has won a further five since.

 

2018 - Warriors claim third title in four years

Inspired by NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant, the Warriors claimed their third NBA championship in four seasons on this day two years ago.

Golden State completed a 4-0 sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers with a 108-85 win at what was then known as Quicken Loans Arena.

It was the second time in his career that LeBron James suffered the ignominy of a Finals sweep, having also endured it against the San Antonio Spurs in 2007.

Novak Djokovic has described the restrictions that players would be subject to in order for the US Open to take place as "extreme" and "impossible".

The Flushing Meadows grand slam is still scheduled to go ahead, with the main draw to run from August 31 to September 13.

However, the coronavirus pandemic has decimated the calendar on the ATP and WTA Tours and there are doubts over whether the tournament can take place given how hard COVID-19 has hit New York.

Rafael Nadal, who won the 2019 men's singles title, recently expressed his misgivings over the 2020 competition being held, and world number one Djokovic has now voiced his doubts – pointing to proposals to cap the number of members of a support team allowed to attend Flushing Meadows as an area of concern.

Djokovic told Prva TV: "I had a telephone conversation with the leaders of world tennis, there were talks about the continuation of the season, mostly about the US Open due in late August, but it is not known whether it will be held.

"The rules that they told us that we would have to respect to be there, to play at all, they are extreme.

"We would not have access to Manhattan, we would have to sleep in hotels at the airport, to be tested twice or three times per week.

"Also, we could bring one person to the club which is really impossible.

"I mean, you need your coach, then a fitness trainer, then a physiotherapist.

"All their suggestions are really rigorous but I can understand that due to financial reasons, due to already existing contracts, organisers [want the event to be] held. We will see what will happen."

Djokovic has won three of his 17 grand slams at the US Open, most recently in 2018.

It is 15 years since Rafael Nadal lay sprawled on his beloved red clay with a look of disbelief on his face after winning his first French Open title.

The fresh-faced teenager had realised his dream just two days after turning 19, beating an unseeded Mariano Puerta 6–7 (6–8) 6–3 6–1 7–5 under grey Paris skies.

King Juan Carlos of Spain was among those fortune enough to see the Mallorca native win his first grand slam final on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Little did the beaming monarch know he had witnessed the start of a dynasty as he embraced his compatriot, wearing a green vest and long white shorts.

With long hair flowing like a rock star and the bulging biceps of a boxer, Nadal may not have resembled a future royal back in 2005, but his incredible exploits since have ensured he will forever be known as the 'King of Clay'.

Puerta told the media after that showdown a decade and a half ago: "When I went off the court, I knew I had lost against the best player in the world on clay. What could I do?"

That is a question so many have tried and failed to find an answer to.

With phenomenal athleticism, a powerful serve, blistering groundstrokes, deft lobs and drop shots, the domineering left-hander was too good for Argentine Puerta.

Nadal was not at his brilliant best, though, and there were some ominous words from his coach and uncle, Toni Nadal, after his maiden grand slam triumph.

"In every facet of the game he can be better," he said. "And, boy, if he works, and masters more of his game. Then and only then we can win several of these.

"He doesn't work just to win matches, but to be the best, to be number one."

Fifteen years on, Nadal this week celebrated his 34th birthday with a record 12 French Open titles to his name and 19 majors in total, one shy of Roger Federer's haul.

Robin Soderling and Novak Djokovic are the only players to have beaten the legendary Spaniard in his 95 matches at Roland Garros.

You have to go back to 2015 since his last loss in his favourite major, at the hands of Djokovic, and the world number two has lifted the La Coupe des Mousquetaires in each of the last three years.

The coronavirus pandemic prevented Nadal from adding to his tally this month, but he may get the opportunity to continue one of the most astonishing sporting runs of dominance in September.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and provided he stays fit, the irrepressible Nadal's love affair with Paris is far from over.

Rafael Nadal says tennis should "wait a little bit more" and only return when it is safe for competitions to resume.

The ATP and WTA Tours remain suspended until the end of July at the earliest due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nadal took part in a call with reporters on Thursday at a time when ordinarily he would have been in the latter stages of the French Open – a slam he won for the 12th time a year ago – but the tournament was moved to September due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Organisers provisionally rescheduled the Roland Garros grand slam to begin just a week after the final of the US Open, which is not yet guaranteed to go ahead.

The US Tennis Association is due to make a decision later this month on whether the tournament will begin on August 31.

As things stand, Nadal says he has little desire to travel to New York to defend the trophy he won in 2019.

"If you asked me if I want to travel to New York today to play a tennis tournament, I will say no - I will not," Nadal, a 19-time grand slam winner, told reporters.

"But in a couple of months, I don't know how the situation is going to improve. I am confident that if the tournament is played, it's going to be under extremely safe circumstances. If not, in my opinion, it doesn't make sense.

"My feeling is we need to be responsible, sending strong messages, and be a positive example for the society.

"We need to understand we are suffering an unprecedented situation and my feeling is we need to come back when all the players, from all the countries of the world, are able to travel under safe circumstances. I want to see my sport being 100 per cent fair and correct.

"The key, of course, is to find a medicine that helps us to be sure we can travel and compete without being scared of having the virus and bringing back the virus home. My feeling is we need to wait a little bit more."

Nadal also said he is stepping up the intensity of his training having not properly prepared with a racket for two and a half months.

The Spanish great added: "As you can imagine, I need to take things step by step.

"I just try to avoid injuries and increase the amount of work every single week. I'm not practising every single day, I'm just practising a couple of days a week.

"I don't even feel in my mind like defending champion [at Roland Garros and Flushing Meadows]. I just feel myself like coming back from zero and we start again and that's it. It is not like a normal situation that I feel myself I have to defend this, I have to defend the other thing.

"Everybody is suffering; there's a lot of people losing lives. My mind is not thinking about if I have to play the US Open or I don't have to play the US Open [or if] I have to play Roland Garros. I'm just trying to enjoy my personal life a little bit, just trying to do the right things today.

"I need a plan, but today everything is difficult to predict so I don't want to stress myself. I don't want to put any pressure on myself. When we have the clear information, I am sure that with the team we are going to be able to find a solution."

Rafael Nadal is usually on course for yet another French Open title on his birthday but the legendary Spaniard has an opportunity to let his hair down this year.

Nadal has become accustomed to celebrating becoming a year older in Paris, yet he was unable to continue his love affair with Roland Garros on his 34th birthday due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While French Open organisers are hoping the tournament can start in September, 19-time grand slam champion Nadal is among the players who have doubted whether there will be any more tennis at the highest level this year.

Nadal revealed last year that he partied harder on the rare occasions he was not en route to winning his favourite major on his special day.

As the 'King of Clay' celebrates in his native Mallorca rather than the French capital, we look at some of the numbers from what has been an astonishing career to date.

 

0 - Nadal has never been taken to five sets in a French Open final.

2 - The number of defeats the left-handed great has suffered at Roland Garros compared to an astonishing 93 victories.

5 - The tally of major successes he has achieved since turning 30.

11 - He was the first player to win 11 titles at three different tournaments as a result of his domination in Paris, Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

12 - The record number of French Open titles Nadal has to his name. Also a record for any Tour-level event. 

17 - Nadal has won a set with a double bagel on as many as 17 occasions at Roland Garros. 

19 - He was only 19 when winning his maiden grand slam title on his French Open debut.

24 - It is a decade since Nadal became the youngest man in the Open Era to complete a career Grand Slam.

33 - Nadal went on to end last year at the top of the rankings aged 33, the oldest player to achieve that feat.

50 - The Spanish superstar broke John McEnroe's record by winning 50 consecutive sets on clay before Dominic Thiem ended that run at the Madrid Open two years ago.

Rafael Nadal is usually on course for yet another French Open title on his birthday but the legendary Spaniard has an opportunity to let his hair down this year.

Nadal has become accustomed to celebrating becoming a year older in Paris, yet he was unable to continue his love affair with Roland Garros on his 34th birthday due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While French Open organisers are hoping the tournament can start in September, 19-time grand slam champion Nadal is among the players who have doubted whether there will be any more tennis at the highest level this year.

Nadal revealed last year that he partied harder on the rare occasions he was not en route to winning his favourite major on his special day.

As the 'King of Clay' celebrates in his native Mallorca rather than the French capital, we look at some of the numbers from what has been an astonishing career to date.

 

0 - Nadal has never been taken to five sets in a French Open final.

2 - The number of defeats the left-handed great has suffered at Roland Garros compared to an astonishing 93 victories.

5 - The tally of major successes he has achieved since turning 30.

11 - He was the first player to win 11 titles at three different tournaments as a result of his domination in Paris, Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

12 - The record number of French Open titles Nadal has to his name. Also a record for any Tour-level event. 

17 - Nadal has won a set with a double bagel on as many as 17 occasions at Roland Garros. 

19 - He was only 19 when winning his maiden grand slam title on his French Open debut.

24 - It is a decade since Nadal became the youngest man in the Open Era to complete a career Grand Slam.

33 - Nadal went on to end last year at the top of the rankings aged 33, the oldest player to achieve that feat.

50 - The Spanish superstar broke John McEnroe's record by winning 50 consecutive sets on clay before Dominic Thiem ended that run at the Madrid Open two years ago.

Daria Kasatkina has no problem playing grand slams behind closed doors amid the coronavirus pandemic, while the former world number 10 talked up the possibility of an ATP-WTA Tour merger.

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc globally, with the WTA Tour suspended since March and not expected to return until August at the earliest.

The French Open has been pushed back to September and the US Open is still scheduled to go ahead, with Wimbledon cancelled for the first time since World War II.

Events are set to be staged without fans when tennis returns, though French Open organisers remain hopeful spectators will be able to attend the rearranged slam at Roland Garros.

World number 12 and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova said she would rather see majors cancelled than be held without fans, but Kasatkina has no issue with a spectator-less slam.

"It's going to be completely different, especially at grand slams and in night sessions on the big courts, it will lose its energy," 2018 French Open and Wimbledon quarter-finalist Kasatkina told Stats Perform News.

"At the same time, at least if we can play the tournament without spectators, for me it's fine. Yes it's different but to play a tournament and gram slam, it doesn't matter spectators or no spectators. As I think Marin Cilic said, it will be different to win a grand slam like the US Open without spectators there, which is true. At least it will be very special and it will stay in the history forever.

"For the moment, Roland Garros looks very positive. If we see how it goes and it keeps like that, I think Roland Garros will happen and they want to do it with spectators, which is really good. It's different to play with spectators, that's for sure.

"The US Open, of course everyone wants to play and I wish to play the US Open – it's such a special tournament – but I'm not that sure because the situation in the United States is still shaky. The main thing is travelling. If it's going to happen, it's going to be very good. I'll be very happy."

The re-arranged French Open in Paris could provide headaches for players, with the clay-court slam set to take place a week after the final of the US Open on hard courts in New York.

"It's going to be an interesting experience, especially to change the surface and the time so much," the Russian said. "At least between Roland Garros and Wimbledon there is one month, but at least it's in one part of the world. If it's like this, players have to accept it. I'll be happy, even if it's going to be like this.

"When we were juniors and just starting to play professional tournaments, we'd play one tournament there on clay and another here and there. For sure, for some players it will be tough and for many players with injuries it will be a little bit dangerous but I hope everything will be okay."

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, talk of an ATP-WTA merger has emerged – a tweet from 20-time slam champion Roger Federer backing a unified tennis tour sparking the discussions.

Asked about the possibility of the ATP and WTA joining forces, two-time tournament winner Kasatkina said: "I think it would be good to work together because it's much easier to do something with one structure than two structures like the situation we have now. It's easier to promote tennis as a big tour, not like men's or women's tennis.

"I was a little bit surprised because I never thought they were talking about this, I didn't hear anything. So, it was a little bit surprising especially from Roger Federer on Twitter. But I think it's a good idea. Why not be together? It's better."

The coronavirus-enforced break has provided Kasatkina with plenty of time to reflect and recharge, having struggled in 2019 after her breakout season in 2018.

Kasatkina burst onto the scene two years ago by reaching the French Open and Wimbledon quarter-finals before eventually losing to finalists Sloane Stephens and Angelique Kerber, while she also faced Naomi Osaka in the 2018 Indian Wells decider.

However, Kasatkina endured a frustrating 2019 campaign – only progressing beyond the opening round of a slam once last year, at the French Open, and dropping to 66th in the world rankings. There were, though, signs that the 23-year-old was returning to her best prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

Kasatkina reached the last four of the Lyon Open in March, her first WTA semi-final since claiming the Kremlin Cup in October 2018.

"I had a lot of expectations for myself and not only me but the people around after my very successful year in 2018, which I wasn't ready for, especially mentally," Kasatkina, who has become somewhat of a social media queen during the tennis hiatus, said.

"After this, my game fell apart little bit because you have no confidence in your head, there's no confidence in your shots. Rankings drop down as well because I was losing matches.

"I spoke with my coach and many things happened. I was pretty lost at that time but I think that helped me a lot to rebuild my confidence, rebuild my game maybe to change something.

"I think I started the year, not in Australia [first round], but after it better in Lyon. I really felt like I was building up my game again and I'm hungry to play the tournaments and win. Because I finally taste this semi-final, this special tournament. When I came to Indian Wells, I was feeling perfect in the practices. I really felt that if there wasn't the situation with coronavirus, maybe that was the point I could really start again.

"What happened, happened. Now I have the time for myself to maybe think a bit more, to work on the things which I'll probably need when the season starts again. Everything is going the way it should be."

Since losing 6-3 6-2 to Osaka in the 2018 Paribas Open final, Kasatkina has watched the Japanese star go on to win the US Open and Australian Open. Is it a motivation for the right-hander?

"Well after that final and during the tournament, of course I felt I was close to a very high level of tennis," Kasatkina continued. "I showed some good results and finished top 10, which was very positive at the time but maybe a little bit early. After the final, I felt like okay it seems like I have something inside that can bring me higher. But mentally, I wasn't ready."

Kasatkina, who believes she was close to rediscovering her 2018 form before the pandemic, believes the enforced break has been beneficial.

"For sure because for the past season, it was really tough," she added when asked about her time away from the sport. "Maybe it was good I had this time to come down a little bit and live a normal life. Not to rush to every tournaments, tournament by tournament, week by week."

Roger Federer has eclipsed Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to top the annual Forbes list of the highest paid athletes on the planet.

The Swiss maestro jumped four spots to sit top of the pile, earning $106.3million in the past year as he becomes the first tennis player to lead the way.

That eye-watering figure puts the 20-time grand slam winner ahead of football stars Ronaldo ($105m), Messi ($104m) and Neymar ($95.5m).

NBA icon LeBron James rounds out the top five, raking in $88.2m in a period when some sportspeople took wage cuts amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Endorsements account for most of Federer's income, but he also undertook a tour of North and South America late last year to further boost his earnings.

"The coronavirus pandemic triggered salary cuts for soccer stars Messi and Ronaldo, clearing the way for a tennis player to rank as the world's highest-paid athlete for the first time," said Kurt Badenhausen, senior editor at Forbes.

"Roger Federer is the perfect pitchman for companies, resulting in an unparalleled endorsement portfolio of blue-chip brands worth $100million a year for the tennis great."

Federer's rise to the summit comes after fellow tennis player Naomi Osaka was announced as the highest paid female athlete, her $37.4m putting the Japanese 29th overall.

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