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No Challenges Remaining


A podcast discussing the happenings in the wacky world of professional tennis. Hosted by Ben Rothenberg and Courtney Nguyen.


United States


A podcast discussing the happenings in the wacky world of professional tennis. Hosted by Ben Rothenberg and Courtney Nguyen.








Episode 350: Draw Me Like One of Your French Opens, 2023

Ben and Tumaini Carayol dust off the NCR machine to bring you a look at the 2023 French Open women's and men's draws, breaking down the contenders and darkhorses while touching on several of the big stories of the past few months while the show has been on hiatus (Relatedly, Ben's forthcoming book on Naomi Osaka is now available for pre-order!) Can Iga Swiatek reestablish her dominance on the women's side at her favorite tournament? How clear a favorite is Carlos Alcaraz on the men's side? Before that, we start with a discussion of two notable absences: Rafael Nadal, the 14-time champion who hasn't played in months due to a persistent psoas injury, and Simona Halep, a former champion and #1 who has taken an increasingly vocal and outspoken stance as she tries to rally support against anti-doping authorities following her positive test for a blood doping agent last year. We also discuss the extended formats of the Madrid and Rome Masters 1000 events, changes which have been poorly received across the board. Thanks for listening! Bon voyage, bonne chance, bonne nuit!


Episode 349: Sabalenka and Djokovic on Top Down Under at Australian Open

Ben and Tumaini Carayol wrap up the year's first Slam with two hours of chatting across all sorts of topics. First, we discuss the breakthrough win of Aryna Sabalenka, who conquered her demons (and braved new frontiers in her iconic trophy photo shoot). With so much power and talent now under control, how far can she go? And what did this win over the resurgent Elena Rybakina tell us? We then (27:46) discuss Novak Djokovic, his cathartic reaction to winning, and his management of an injury during this run to a 10th Australian Open final. How do we process Djokovic winning yet again despite all the distractions? And what does it say of the field that it's still an old man's game? We also discuss the ultimate old man of the ATP, the ever-thrilling Andy Murray (1:03:03). We then (1:11:34) discuss the new coaching rules, and the scrutiny of Rybakina's coach, Stefano Vukov. How do we feel about the new rules, and how should we discuss discomfiting player-coach dynamics, particularly on the WTA Tour? Our last main topic (1:28:30) is a discussion of the growing prominence of nationality and nationalism in tennis, as exemplified by the surreal pro-Putin pep rally on the steps of Rod Laver Arena which Tumaini wandered into during the tournament. How should we process the role of patriotism and flags in tennis, and is there a way to turn down the temperature during this continuing wartime? Many other topics as well in there for y'all to enjoy! Thanks for listening!


Episode 348: Australian Open Draw Show, 2023

Ben and Tumaini Carayol break down the women's and men's draws at the year's first Grand Slam event, and also discuss some of the early season storylines like United Cup and Netflix's "Break Point" that have dominated discussion in the build-up. Is Iga Swiatek clear favorite to win this tournament against the field, or are rising threats like Jessie Pegula or Aryna Sabalenka ready to thwart her? And on the men's side, is Novak Djokovic ready to resume business as usual in Australia? And what is the outlook for Rafael Nadal's future? We also discuss Naomi Osaka's baby news, and Craig Tiley's lack of accountability. Also! Ben's forthcoming book about Naomi Osaka is now available to preorder!


Episode 347: Netflix’s ”Break Point” Hits and Misses

To start our 12th(!) season of NCR, Ben and Reem Abulleil preview and review the highly anticipated Netflix tennis docuseries "Break Point," which features a group of young challengers on the tours in the first half of the 2022 season. Ben and Reem (who also reviewed the show for The National) discuss the sport's hopes for the show to recreate the magic of "Drive to Survive," as well as the format, where it succeeds and where it disappoints. There are spoilers in this episode, so to speak, but really not many if you know what happened in tennis last year.


Episode 346: Men of the Year (With Ricky Dimon)

Ben is stepping back briefly from book writing hiatus on the occasion of being joined by Ricky Dimon of The Grandstand for a look back at the year that was in men's tennis, and how it's setting up for the finals. We talk about each of the top eight guys, and also Novak Djokovic, whose Wimbledon title will leapfrog him into the field in Turin. It's been an odd, transitional year in men's tennis, and it's not clear quite where anything is heading in the near future, so we decide it's a good time to make predictions. Thank you for listening to NCR, we've missed you and we'll be back more often soon!


Episode 345: Swiatek, Alcaraz Reach New Heights at US Open

Ben and Tumaini Carayol reconvene a bit after the U.S. Open to reflect on the tournament that was, with two winners who capped off great seasons with their first titles in New York. And they've only just begun? First, Iga Swiatek won on the women's side, overcoming a doubt-filled lead-up and solidifying her position as a bona fide star in the sport. What impressed us most about this win, and where does she go from here? Also thoughts on Jabeur, Pegula, and, of course, the fantastic farewell of Serena Williams. Then on the men's side we discuss Carlos Alcaraz's ascendancy to the top, the "oatmeal stallion" that is Casper Ruud, the long-awaited breakthrough of a player like Frances Tiafoe, the missed opportunity by Nick Kyrgios, and more! Thanks for listening!


Episode 344: U.S. Open Draw Show 2022!

Ben and Tumaini Carayol are courtside at the U.S. Open to give you the outlook on how the year's last Grand Slam and Serena Williams' last tournament is shaking up. We start with the women, where we discuss Iga Swiatek cooling off from her lava-hot spring swing, her complaints about the balls, the Azarenka-Kostyuk situation, Emma Raducanu, Osaka-Collins, and more. We finish, of course, with a discussion of Serena, and what her last singles matches could look like. On the men's side, it seems like a very open draw due to notable absences, except for that Rafael Nadal guy who seems to win every time he's overlooked this year.


Episode 343: Serena’s Sunset

Ben and Tumaini Carayol convene to discuss Serena Williams, the greatest women's tennis player of our lives, calling time on her career. Well, she didn't exactly call Time; she called Vogue, and penned a first-person cover story explaining her thoughts and making it clear that she believes the end of her career is in sight. Ben and Tumaini discuss Serena's decision to retire at long last, what she said--and didn't say--in her essay about the decision and the context around it, some of our favorite Serena memories, and what to expect from her send-off in New York, which figures to be a massive cultural event. Let's enjoy this last dance, y'all!


Episode 342: Rybakina and Djokovic Win Wimbledon

Ben and Tumaini Carayol (before he turns into a pumpkin) wrap up the Wimbledon that was, which featured both some feel-good and some uncomfortable storylines across the fortnight. We begin with the women, with Elena Rybakina making good on her potential and breaking through for the title with a win over Ons Jabeur. We talk about the Kazakh tennis strategy, and what it says about Russia, particularly in the wake of Wimbledon's ban. We also talk about the delights of Jabeur, the shock run of Tatjana Maria, how to measure expectations for the suddenly returned Williams sisters, and the end of Iga Swiatek's stellar streak. On the men's side, Novak Djokovic continued his increased dominance of this tournament with a seventh title at Wimbledon, beating Nick Kyrgios in the final. We talk about the odd feelings around both runs, the ugliness of Kyrgios-Tsitsipas, the anticlimactic finish to Rafael Nadal's Grand Slam bid, and Cam Norrie rising to the occasion. We finish, as Tumaini puts on his glass slippers, with a quick chat about the legendary Women's Invitational Doubles field. Thank you for listening to NCR!


Episode 341: Walking Around Wimbledon’s Century

On the 100th birthday of Centre Court, Ben is joined by Alexandra Willis, the director of communications and marketing for Wimbledon, and the two of them take a walk into Centre Court's most hallowed places. Along the way, we discuss Wimbledon's continuing balancing between retaining history and progressing to the present, plans of growth ahead, and the circumstances and consequences of the ban of Russian and Belarusian players this year. Spice up your ears and enjoy!


Episode 340: Wimbledon 2022 Draw Preview

Ben and Tumaini Carayol are back together again at Wimbledon for another look ahead at a Grand Slam draw, looking at the men's field, the women's field, and a concerning hole on the side of Court 14. After a general look at the draw balance--and the intrigue missing from the field because of the ban of Russian and Belarusian players--Ben and Tumaini dig into the men's draw, in which balance emerged despite some misleading seedings, with Hubert Hurkacz and Matteo Berrettini landing in separate quarters from fellow contenders Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. On the women's side, we discuss Serena Williams' unexpected return and her prospects, Ons Jabeur's comfort in this world, Bianca Andreescu reasserting her gifts, and Iga Swiatek's chances of extending her streak of dominance. Also, justice for Julia Pegula. Thanks for listening, as always!


Episode 339: The Book on Emma Raducanu (With Mike Dickson)

As Emma Raducanu readies for her first Wimbledon as a Grand Slam champion, Ben chats with Mike Dickson, the man who literally wrote the book on the young British sensation's origin story and remarkably meteoric rise to stardom last year. Emma Raducanu: When Tennis Came Home tells the story of Raducanu's origins and walks through the brief career she had until being thrust into an international spotlight in an unprecedented way. We discuss Raducanu's remarkable rise, and the uncertainty surrounding her near and long-term future as her sophomore season brings struggles with Wimbledon on the horizon.


Episode 338: Swiatek and Nadal Roll Roland Garros

Ben and Tumaini Carayol meet back up just hours after the men's final at Roland Garros to discuss Rafael Nadal's record extending 14th title here and Iga Swiatek's streak extending 35th win and second French Open title. We start with Swiatek, who has just been so dominant. Is the field anywhere close to her now? What will it take for a challenger to emerge? And what to make of the strong run by teen phenom Coco Gauff to the final? Then we switch to the men--how to reconcile Nadal's dominance and his injury malaise? How much longer do we think he has left? And what will Djokovic regret about letting this one slip? We wrap up with a look at why night sessions were not ready for prime time in Paris, and what to look for as the grass is green on the other side of the English Channel. Thanks for listening, folks!


Episode 337: Draw Me Like One of Your French Opens, 2022

We are delighted to return to you, and to return to Paris, and to return our favorite annual episode title! Ben and Tumaini Carayol start this French Open draw show with a bit first on the big news of the day, which was the ATP and WTA deciding to withhold ranking points from this year's Wimbledon Championships because of the tournament banning Russian and Belarusian players. What effect will this have on the tournament, the players, and the outlook for the #1 ranking in men's tennis? We then break down the French Open draws, starting with the women and prohibitive favorite Iga Swiatek. Who or what can stop her from cruising onward to her second French Open title? We also discuss two of the most compelling floaters, Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu. On the men's side, we discuss the top-heavy draw, how the three-horse race of Djokovic, Nadal, and Alcaraz has set up, and who can take advantages of the openings on the bottom half. Thank y'all for listening! Bonsoiree!


Episode 336: Was Wimbledon Right to Ban Russians and Belarusians?

Wimbledon took the drastic step of banning all Russian and Belarusian players from this year's tournament, escalating the impact that Russia's invasion of Ukraine has had on the world of tennis. Tumaini Carayol joins Ben to discuss this decision, where it fits into the British political context, and how it might further divide an already fractious sport. Is fairness a possible concept amid a war? What can we learn from past precedents? And what might tennis authorities have to do next as this war shows no sign of abating? Thank you for listening to NCR! We are on Patreon, Twitter, and your favorite podcast apps.


Episode 335: José Morgado on Tennis Twitter

Taking the face of your tennis scrolling into your ears, Ben is joined by José Morgado, the Portuguese reporter and commentator who has become the most complete and comprehensive stop on Tennis Twitter for news and information about this never-stopping sport. José discusses the state of tennis in Portugal, how he got into the sport, building a presence on Tennis Twitter, and the prizes and pitfalls from being an increasingly visible figure in this strange space. Thank you for listening to NCR!


Episode 334: Harvey Fialkov, Miami Maven

Harvey Fialkov, a veteran sportswriter who covers the Miami Open with more gusto than anybody, joins Ben to share his contagious excitements for all things tennis. Chatting before the women's final, Ben and Harvey discuss the pros and cons of the move from Key Biscayne to the Dolphins' stadium, memories of tournaments past, South Florida's status as a hotbed of world tennis, and who catches his eye on the current tour. Harvey is a delight to share a press room with, and we hope you also can feel his effervescence in this audio medium. We have paused our crowdfunding efforts while Ben's focus is taken up by his book project, but we thank you for your support!


Episode 333: Rick Macci on ’King Richard’

In a week where the Williams family got a bizarre twist on what should have been a Hollywood ending for their cinematic journey, Ben traveled to the Rick Macci Tennis Academy in Boca Raton to chat with Rick Macci, whose work with the Williams family is portrayed in 'King Richard.' Rick discusses the impact of the film on his life, working with the family, how actress Saniyya Sidney was able to portray Venus so well on court, that slap, and the other tennis story he'd most like to see made into a movie. We have paused our crowdfunding efforts for the time being, but we thank you for all of your support!


Episode 332: Ash Barty Goes Out On Top

Emergency Episode! Top-ranked Ash Barty's surprise announcement that she is calling it a career at only 25 years old and less than two months after winning the Australian Open was urgent cause for our first emergency episode in a long while, folks! Reem Abulleil joins Ben to discuss our immediate reactions to the news and Barty's initial explanations, how we process it, Barty's legacies of looking out for herself and maintaining firm control over her career, and what the tour now looks like in its sudden post-Barty era. We're gonna miss you heaps, Ash. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our ELEVENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers Pam Shriver and J O'D!)


Episode 331: Indian Wells - Fritz Breaks Through; Swiatek Soars

Just back from the desert, Ben chats with David Avakian about the weeks that were at Indian Wells, with culminated in a surprise triumph for Taylor Fritz over Rafael Nadal, and an increasingly expected victory for Iga Swiatek, over Maria Sakkari. For the men, we discuss Fritz and where American men's tennis is at globally right now, what lies ahead for Nadal and the field, Kyrgios' strong run and awkward finish, Norrie's banishment to Stadium 5. On the women's side, we discuss Swiatek emerging as a dominant force on the tour and the room she might have to go even higher, if Sakkari can push higher, and some other breakout performances from the week. Oh, and Holland's Got Tallon, in case you missed it. Thank you again for the incredible support for NCR we've received on the NCR Patreon which has powered us into our ELEVENTH(!) ad-free season! Please consider joining in as we bring you the best shows we can this year! And thank you to the many listeners who have already given their support! (And thank you to G.O.A.T. backers Pam Shriver and J O'D!)