A Different View For 2009
US Open 2008
by James Buddell|
Never shy to practice shirtless, for years ATP players have worked on their games as well as their all-round tans in the build-up to matches at tournaments around the world. On the court, spectators marvel at their speed and skill, power and endurance... off the court, legions of fans admire their physiques.
With a demanding schedule, players have to remain in optimum shape every month of the year and as a result few sports can compare to tennis in terms of athletic conditioning. So you would think tennis players would therefore make perfect models, right? Wrong! For some unbuttoning their shirts for the 2009 ATP World Tour Player Calendar almost proved too much.
French photographer Corrine Dubreuil, who has covered the professional tennis tour for a number of publications including L'Equipe over the past 20 years, recalled: "Marcos Baghdatis was very shy at the beginning. He was not comfortable, so he told me he would only take off his shirt if everybody left the studio.
"When I started to take the photos, Marcos started to dance to the music and take off the shirt very slowly in a very sexy way, like a belly dance. When everybody returned, he did an Andrew Ilie or Pat Rafter by tearing his shirt to pieces!"
Baghdatis joined 13 other players from each region of the world for the shoot, from the camera savvy Tommy Robredo and Fernando Verdasco – who have both appeared naked in Cosmopolitan Magazine in support of the Everyman Male Cancer Campaign – to Tomas Berdych, Bob and Mike Bryan, Fernando Gonzalez, Tommy Haas, Ivan Ljubicic, Paul-Henri Mathieu, Juan Monaco, Paradorn Srichaphan, Dmitry Tursunov and Mikhail Youzhny.
Dubreuil shot the classic and striking monochrome photographs for the player calendar in Paris, during the ATP Masters Series event last year. Toutchai U-Bol was on hand to photograph Srichaphan in Bangkok.
"The Bryan brothers were very professional and conscientious," said Dubreuil. "They were not so comfortable in showing their bodies but after a while they felt better. For me, it was not so easy to direct them because I thought one was Mike when it was Bob, and vice versa!
"By far the most seductive player was Tursunov. He kept playing with my camera and flirting with the make-up artist Vinca! He was great and easy to shoot."
But it wasn't until the arrival of World No. 13 Verdasco, that Dubreuil's heart started pounding. "He was my favorite. What a body! He got so involved in the shoot and knew exactly which photographs were the best."
Verdasco also has many happy memories of the shoot. "It was a lot of fun and great to do something different for the new calendar," the Spaniard remembered. "When I was young my favorite players were [John] McEnroe, then after [Andre] Agassi. I was not the kind of guy who put a lot of posters in my room, but I did have one of Agassi. He was my greatest idol."
Robredo was also delighted to take part in the fashion shoot, saying: "I am very happy that the ATP included me in their 2009 player calendar. I feel very good whenever I can help promote tennis in some way. It's always fun to be doing different things." Another consistent Top 20 performer, Youzhny, commented: "This calendar is very nice. It's elegant and stylish. You don't see calendars like that in sports."
Monaco, who according to Dubreuil had "a strong presence and beautiful eyes," enjoyed being part of the calendar. "I think it will be interesting for our fans to see us in a different setting; off-court and in fashionable images," said the Argentine.
Even former ATP Player Council president and Top 10 star Ljubicic was pleased with the result, saying: "I think the ATP Player Calendar shows us in another way – not in tennis gear and not on a court, however, as what we are: athletes. It's great to see the result."
Fans can view the photographs at the W Hotel in Times Square, New York, during the US Open fortnight and can purchase the 2009 calendars online at Tennis Warehouse.
Equinox Health Clubs across the United States have also teamed up with Tursunov and his personal trainer Jason Stacy to promote the calendar and develop a fitness routine to help anybody look like a professional tennis player. Using the actual fitness routines of the Russian player, the Equinox Health Club fitness classes will help gym goers improve their strength, speed and endurance.
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