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London | What are players doing?

What are players doing, now that they can’t practice or play matches? Rafael Nadal is growing a beard and cooking, Novak Djokovic has been playing Captain Hook, Johanna Konta appeared on Celebrity Bake Off while Roger Federer announced that he and his wife Mirka are donating one million Swiss Francs (£857,000) to ‘the most vulnerable families in Switzerland’.

 

If I bake, I bake proper. I will use the sugar, I will use the butter, I will use the eggs. I haven't tried any healthy alternatives. I do like my baking to do what it says on the tin. Johanna Konta

“These are challenging times for everyone and nobody should be left behind,” said Federer, who is recovering from a meniscus surgery to his right knee at home.

“Mirka and I have personally decided to donate one million Swiss Francs for the most vulnerable families in Switzerland.

“One contribution is just the start. We hope that others might join in supporting more families in need,” he added.

Some days ago Federer posted a video of himself on social media asking everyone to follow the social distancing protocol in the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Nadal is at home in Mallorca, urging everyone to stay safe and follow the rules in these troubled times caused by the coronavirus, or COVID-19, outbreak.

The Spaniard went to Indian Wells after claiming the title in Acapulco, but couldn’t compete for his fourth title in the desert since the organisers cancelled the event, closely followed by the Miami Open, sending all players back home.

Rafa left California just 5 days after he arrived, heading back home to Porto Cristo in Mallorca to work on his physical fitness and cooking skills while taking care of his Academy and all the students and staff there.

The 19-time Grand Slam winner, looking somewhat unshaven, took to social media to post pictures of himself whipping up a culinary delight on the stove.

Nadal, 33, married his long-time partner Xisca Perelló in October 2019.

He is one Grand Slam title shy of great rival Roger Federer’s 20-mark, but may have to wait until September to draw level after the French Open, originally scheduled for May, was postponed until later in the year due to the Covid-19 outbreak.


Roger and Mirka Federer

Twitter

Elsewhere, Djokovic posted on Twitter ‘My version of Captain Hook  #dadlife #stayhome’

The Novak Djokovic Foundation has shared a number of resources aimed towards helping children who are concerned about what they are hearing in the news and to keep them active and learning even though many schools around the world are now closed.

Vasek Pospisil has challenged the World No 1 to the #StayAtHomeChallenge where he is seen playing football with a toilet paper roll.

Besides Djokovic, Pospisil also challenged other players including doubles partner Jack Sock, and compatriots Eugenie Bouchard, Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

A Dutch football media company, N33, started the idea to do as many ‘keepy-uppies’ as possible using, a toilet roll and Simona Halep is amongst those to take part, putting in a solid display.

It paled in comparison, though, to the efforts of Andy Murray’s grandparents, shared by his mother, Judy, who used tennis rackets rather than fancy footwork, but showed where the Murray brothers inherited their on-court talent from.


Rafa Nadal has been cooking during the lay-off which could last longer than hoped

Twitter

Jo Konta’s appearance on Channel 4’s Celebrity ‘Great British Bake Off for Stand Up To Cancer’ was obviously filmed before coronavirus struck the country, and her ‘four-legged ace for her showstopper!’ very nearly added the ‘Star Baker’ title to her trophy cabinet.

Interest has steadily built up around Konta’s baking skills after her run to the 2017 Wimbledon semi-finals which was famously powered by a supply of homemade muffins – first chocolate chip, then white chocolate and raspberry as she got deeper into the tournament.

Judged by Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith, Konta described the experience as ‘the Wimbledon Centre Court of baking’ and ‘terrifying’.

Facing celebrity rivals, actress Caroline Quentin, comedian Joel Dommett and Queer Eye’s fashion expert Tan France, Konta held her own, particularly in the Showstopper round.

Ahead of the show, Johanna declared: “If I bake, I bake proper. I will use the sugar, I will use the butter, I will use the eggs. I haven’t tried any healthy alternatives. I do like my baking to do what it says on the tin.”

Asked to create a 3D cake themed on her greatest fear, she opted for one of her beloved one-year-old dachshund, Bono, on the basis that she is terrified of losing him.

Pulling out all the indulgent stops she could, Konta sculpted Bono in chocolate cake filled with a hazelnut liqueur cream and topped with chocolate ganache.

Quentin, lagging behind her fellow contestants, opted for a rat-shaped lemon sponge and raspberry jam cake, while Dommett manifested his fear of heights in a diving board shortbread biscuit tower above a lemon sponge swimming pool filled with curaçao jelly ‘water’.

France, though, shaped up as Jo’s biggest threat, making his own fondant to decorate a cinnamon and nutmeg cake in the shape of a wrinkled face to signify his dread of the ageing process.

“It’s like a bad kid’s birthday cake,” Konta laughed as she slathered ganache over her cake, which had burst from its mould.

Both judges visibly smacked their lips: “Looks terrible, tastes amazing!” declared Paul.

France’s technical ambition, however, ended up coming through with his finely spiced cake and, despite Konta arguably turning in the most consistent performance across all three rounds, he was crowned Star Baker.

Konta had to content herself with a third second-place finish in the past 12 months to go with her runner-up showings in Rabat and Rome last year!


Johanna Konta and her Showcase creation

Twitter

Elsewhere, Stan Wawrinka has been especially active online, sharing photos of himself cooking a lasagne complete with an apron emblazoned with the words, ‘Staney Le Magnifiqo’, and then of himself sitting down to dinner with a glass of red wine opposite an oversized cuddly toy.

Halep has added her name to the list of those hoping to be given a call for the next series of Celebrity Masterchef by sharing photos of her attempts at making pancakes.

The World No 2 is also donating funds, announcing on Facebook this would go towards equipment and materials at medical centres in the Romanian cities of Bucharest and Constanta.

Bianca Andreescu posted on Instagram that she was donating a signed racket to athletesrelief.org, with proceeds going to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s COVID-19 Response Fund.

Meanwhile, several sports apparel brands have engaged their star tennis players in Coronavirus awareness campaigns.

Using the hashtag #hometeam, Adidas athletes Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas have shared tips with their followers about how they use their time productively when staying at home.

“In times like these, the most important thing is that everybody stays at home and helps keeping others healthy!” Thiem posted.

“I try to keep myself busy with working out at home and I also improved my FIFA football skills a lot. How do you spend your time at home?

“Tag me and @adidas and use the #hometeam so I can watch your videos!”

Nike have adopted a similar approach, with Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova among those posting to their social media channels about the importance of staying home.

Williams also partnered with Vogue magazine to similarly raise awareness.


Novak Djokovic as Captain Hook

Instagram

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