Away from the spotlight of the Laver Cup, American tennis stars Andy Roddick and John Isner were in action on Sunday at the Dirk Nowitzki Pro Celebrity Tennis Classic. Held at the SMU Tennis Complex in Dallas, the annual Pro Celebrity Tennis Classic is hosted by basketball star and Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki. All proceeds from the event go to the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation, which awards grants to organizations supporting the well-being, health, and education of children.
Besides the two American tennis professionals, the likes of former World No. 1 Mardy Fish, former basketball players J.J. Barea and Mardy Fish, and actor Ben Stiller also took part in the event - among others.
In a chat with The Dallas Morning News, Nowitzki shared his thoughts on the event, its success, and his excitement about hosting it. The event made its return after a two-year coronavirus enforced hiatus.
"This is our fifth year doing it. It started with me being a huge tennis fan, and we wanted to do our own event, and so tennis was something that I’m passionate about, so we started this event a bunch of years ago, and it’s been fun to see how we grew," he said.
"We had to take a few years off for the pandemic. Even last year we did it, 2019 before the pandemic, to see the support — it was sold out and Luka played. It was such a wonderful event for us that we definitely wanted to bring it back," he added.
Dallas Mavericks and basketball kept a close eye on the event as it saw the involvement of past legend Nowitzki and current star Donic. The 44-year-old German took a light-hearted dig at Donic for his tennis skills, before thanking him for taking part in the tournament.
"His tennis game is, I would say, so-so. There’s definitely room to improve. I always tell him to stick to basketball," he said, adding, "For him to support me and support the foundation and the event means a lot, so we’re excited to bring him back. You know, he’s the man around here, so he’s going to obviously attract a lot of attention, and it means a lot that he gives his time and supports the event."
At a press conference, Luka Donic responded by claiming that Nowitzki always avoids taking him one-on-one.
“The challenge is, he never agreed to a one-on-one. So, I’m waiting,” he said.
In one doubles match on the day, Andy Roddick found himself across the net from Donic. The 2003 US Open winner later stated that he was praying for the Slovakian not to get injured during the match before the NBA season gets underway on October 18.
“My only thought was don’t let Luka Doncic get hurt before the season starts,” Andy Roddick said.
Former Mavericks great and current Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash emerged victorious at the tournament. Nash and his partner, Spencer Papa, defeated British tennis pro Luke Bambridge and Leo Antonio to take home the title in front of a sold-out crowd.
"He gave me nightmares for so long" - Andy Roddick on Roger Federer
Despite being busy with the charity event in Dallas on Sunday, Andy Roddick also kept an eye on developments at the Laver Cup in London, as the tournament marked the end of Roger Federer's long and illustrious career.
In a video posted on social media, Roddick, paid tribute to the Swiss maestro's achievements and wished him well in retirement. The Ameircan was Federer's main rival before Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic
"When I hear the name of Roger, I get nightmares because he gave me nightmares for so long," recalled Andy Roddick, who lost all of his eight Grand Slam battles against Federer, four in the finals.
"But Roger is all class. He acts the same way when no one is watching. I worry about a lot of people post-retirement; Roger is not one of them," he added.