Sunday, 31 October 2010

Basel Preview

There will be more than a few compelling storylines to follow this week at the Swiss Indoors Basel event in Switzerland. First off, Roger Federer returns to his hometown tournament in search of his 65th career title, while attempting to recapture the crown that Novak Djokovic defeated him for last year.

Although Federer and Djokovic have firmly cemented their names in the season-ending finale in London Tomas Berdych, Andy Roddick, Jurgen Melzer, Marin Cilic, Ivan Ljubicic, and John Isner all of whom still have a mathematical chance of capturing one of the three remaining spots at the O2 Arena, are ranked three through eight in the draw, respectively.

Holding 500 crucial points to the winner, the Basel champion will pocket € 291,700 in prize money.

After musing through the 32-man field, I was pleasantly surprised to see the quality of first-round matches on hand. There could be a handful of early exits from the top seeds—considering their opposition—but I'm willing to bet that more than a few classic encounters are contested by week's end.

Let's now dive into an analysis of the top and bottom halves of the draw.

Top Half:

If there's one match that I've been waiting to see all season, it's been a clash between Roger Federer vs. Alexandr Dolgopolov. The young Ukrainian is one of the most talented players on the circuit, and remains the youngest player inside the top 100. Possessing exquisite timing and balance off the ground, Dolgopolov will be tested by the artful grace of Federer from the get go.

Federer's opposition in this half apart from facing Dolgopolov will feature the likes of Janko Tipsarevic, Melzer, Roddick, Sam Querrey, and David Nalbandian.

Tipsarevic has had a banner year, while Melzer remains hot on the heels of a singles position in London.

Roddick has been cleared by doctors to resume his fight towards the World Tour finale, but America's top ranked player will have to get by good friend Querrey in the first round.

Nalbandian, who has troubled Federer in the past, remains capable of a monumental upset, but could very easily lose to Marin Cilic in the second round.

Don't get me started on Cilic, who has been the single biggest disappointment of the 2010 season.

Look for some imminent fireworks between Federer and Dolgopolov before the second-round, but I wouldn't count out a hungry Roddick to make a determined charge to the semifinals.

However, Federer has reached the finals or better in his native event on six occasions, and that record should prove to be worthy as the week moves on.

We can all hope for a Federer-Nalbandian semifinal tussle on Saturday, but I'll stay with the Swiss master to make his seventh final in Basel.

Pick: Federer

Bottom Half:

With a breath of fresh and the roof over his head, Djokovic appears ready to end the year in fine form.

The defending champ was dealt a menacing draw, though, which will see him face Ernests Gulbis in the first-round, and John Isner or Marcos Baghdatis in the quarterfinals. Isner struck his 1,000th ace of the season last week in Montpellier, and he would be a formidable final eight opponent for the Serb.

Berdych will also be a man to watch for this week, considering his recent poor form. Berdych needs a big result in Basel, and an early exit would allow David Ferrer, Roddick, or Fernando Verdasco to leapfrog him in the race to London. Berdych is a swing for the fences kind of guy, and when his game is clicking, there are very few players who can stop him.

Ivan Ljubicic and Viktor Troicki have been playing well as of late, but neither player has posted the recent results to indicate a deep charge in a tournament of this magnitude.

With that being said, I've enjoyed watching Troicki develop his confidence, and his linebacker style of play could provide an upset or two.

However, Djokovic has proven since the US Open that his talent can not be undermined. He's defended the points that he's needed to, and there's no reason for him to stop in Switzerland.

Taking down the king pin last year, Djokovic should have enough game to set up a rematch with Federer this year. A result that could very well resemble last year's final.

Pick: Djokovic

Champion: Djokovic 

Courtesy: Bleacher Report

Tennis Now Magazine

Thanks to NadalNews for this find.

Click the link below for the magazine.  It is their US Open Round-up issue and is packed full.


A Decade of Grand Slams: Part Three


The oldest tennis tournament in the world, this is the third Grand Slam of the tennis calendar. A grass court tournament, it has been played at the All England Club since 1877.

In year 2001, Wimbledon saw the dethronement of ruling champion, American Pete Sampras. Although it was Swiss Roger Federer who ousted Sampras, it was Croat Goran Ivanišević who bagged the men’s singles title that year. He was the only professional at that time to have won the Wimbledon as a wild card entry. Joining him in the winners rank that year was defending champion, American Venus Williams. The Americans dominated the titles at Wimbledon that year since the men’s doubles title went to the Americans, Donald Johnson and Jared Palmer. Even the one half of the women’s doubles title was an American win, American Lisa Raymond and Aussie Rennae Stubbs won the title that year.

2002 was the last year when an Aussie managed a men’s singles title win. Aussie Rod Laver bagged the first ever Wimbledon title in the Open Era. In 2002, Lleyton Hewitt managed a title win. This was his first ever title win at Wimbledon and second career Grand Slam title. The women’s title that year was bagged by Venus’s sister, Serena who retained the title the following year.  

The men’s doubles title for 2002 went to the team of Swede Jonas Bjorkman and Aussie Todd Woodbridge. The pair retained the title till 2004, losing it to Aussie Stephen Huss and South African Wesley Moodie in 2005. 2006 saw the first and only doubles win for the Bryan twins, Bob and Mike. Although the American twins have managed to win several titles at other Grand Slams, they could only manage one win at Wimbledon. The much acclaimed pair of Canadian Daniel Nestor and Serbian Nenad Zimonjic won the title in 2008 for a second title win that year. The following year they successfully defended their title; however, the rising team of Austrian Jurgen Melzer and German Philipp Petzschner took the title from them in 2010.

The Wimbledon title for the men’s singles never changed hands much, after Federer won it in 2003. Federer managed to retain the title for five years from 2003 to 2007, the only player other than Swede Bjorn Borg to retain the title for half a decade. Federer lost the title to Spanish legend, Rafael Nadal in 2008 and since then the title has alternated between Federer and Nadal in these past two years. Nadal won the 2010 Wimbledon.

The women’s singles title also did not see much change since 2003 when Serena successfully defended her title against her sister, Venus. In 2004, Serena was defeated by rising Russian star Maria Sharapova who managed to bag herself her first Wimbledon title win. In 2005, Venus returned to regain her lost title and with the exception of 2006, when she lost it to French Amélie Mauresmo, she managed to retain it till 2008. In 2009 she was toppled over by her sister, who retains the title to date.

The Williams sisters won their second doubles title at Wimbledon in 2002. They lost the title next year to Belgian Kim Clijsters and Japanese Ai Sugiyama. 2004 saw the rise of Cara Black from Zimbabwe, who won three doubles titles with different partners. In 2004 she won the match partnered with Stubbs. She then won the title in 2005 and then again in 2007, partnered with South African Liezel Huber. The Williams sisters returned again in 2008 to win their third doubles title. They successfully defended their title the following year; however, the Williams sisters were denied a victory in 2010 by countrywoman Vania King and Kazakh Yaroslava Shvedova.

Courtesy: Bettor

Olympic Rafa

Thanks again to Sofie @ Rafaholics for bringing this to my attention.

We all know what Spain means to Rafa and for him winning the Olympic Gold Medal was as good as winning a Slam.

Check out the videos and photos below of Rafa's path to Olympic Gold.

Rafa's Page -


Video from the final -

Video from the semi-final:

Courtesy: swissmaestro45

Medal ceremony video - Cristisevillana

Final Previews

Here are the match-ups, previews and players facts for the 3 finals being played today.

Vienna - ATP

St Petersburg - ATP

Montpellier - ATP

Good luck to all the players

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Tennis round-up

All 3 tournaments have their final line-ups.

The St Petersburg final will have top seed Mikhail Youzhny going for a title defence and 250 valuable points towards his bid for the O2.  He certainly is cutting it fine as he had to save 4, yes 4 MP's against fellow Russian Dmitry Tursunov.

In the final he will play Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan who overcame Ukraine's Ilya Marchenko in straight sets.

Here are some match reports:

Bangkok Post

In Vienna we have an all Austrian final as Lucky Loser Haider-Maurer continues the fairy tail run and has reached his first ATP final.  On the other side of the net will be #1 seed Jurgen Melzer as he overcame Nicolas Almagro.  Melzer is the defending champion.

Match reports:

The Age

The all French semi final was won in 3 sets by Gael Monfils.  He will be going for title #1 of 2010 against golden oldie Ivan Ljubicic who came through against Montanes.  Ljubicic is going for a title defence and #2 of 2010 after his memorable win at the Indian Wells Masters in March.

Match reports:

CBS Sports

As you will have read all 3 finals tomorrow have the defending champion in the line-up.  Will there prevail?

Tennis Phenomenon and The Modest Young Man

Rafael Nadal is the current world number one. He has won 9 Grand Slam titles and at 24, is the youngest in the Open Era to complete the career slam. In fact, he has completed the career golden slam. He has achieved the European double twice. He has won three consecutive Grand Slam titles this year and could make history by making it  4-in-a-row if he wins the Australian Open 2011. He is undoubtedly the Tennis Phenomenon of this era. But what is more remarkable is that this extraordinary tennis genius is also the modest well-mannered young man from Mallorca.

While on court, he is a fierce competitor but he has never smashed any rackets or hurled abuses at the linespeople or the umpires. Off court, he is a shy and humble young man. He lives with his parents in Mallorca and he will tell you that he loves his mother, his sister and his girlfriend. A perfect role model for the new generation.

If the media people ask him if he is the greatest claycourter, he will remind them that that title belongs to Bjorn Borg. You point to his amazing haul of Grand Slam titles by age 24 and his remarkable h2h record against Roger Federer and try to proclaim him as the greatest. He vehemently denies the appellation. He tells you that Roger Federer is the greatest and that you know nothing about tennis. He asks the rhetorical question, "You see the titles of him and you see the titles of me?"

He does not tell you that he is going to surpass Roger someday. Oh no, he humbly tells you, " ...the titles say he is much better than me and that's the truth at the moment. I think that will be true all my life."

104938817_crop_340x234 (Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)
So amazing is this modesty in an age of self-centred arrogant superstars that some are tempted to consider it a facade. Is he too good to be true?

I am inclined to believe that with this young man, what you see is what you get. We know that very often super achievers fail to identify with the larger than life image the world has of them. Many newly crowned CEOs of companies and heads of governments have confessed to feeling like imposters when treated like royalty.

Again ,there is this interesting fact about the brain which science has learnt, that though generally action follows feeling, equally feeling follows action.You  laugh when you feel happy. But suppose you were not feeling happy but you still decided to laugh.Your brain, because of strong learned patterns, would interpret this as happiness and trigger all the accompanying responses. So you end up feeling happy! If Rafael is constantly telling everybody that he is a long way off from greatness, it is evident that his brain would give him all the feeling of a humble tennis star still a long way off from the pinnacle of greatness.

His humility, I am sure, is the secret of his ever present drive to improve, the drive which is behind his motto ," I go to practice every day not to practice; I go to practice every day to try to learn something and to keep improving my level."

I am reminded of these lines from Alexander Pope's poem " On a certain Lady at Court."


'Has she no faults then (Envy says), Sir?'
    Yes, she has one, I must aver:
When all the world conspires to praise her,
    The woman's deaf, and does not hear."

When all the world conspires to praise  him, Rafael Nadal is deaf and does not hear. He focuses on doing what he does best, learning and winning.

I am certain that the day Rafael Nadal hears this praise, that would be the day when the last chapter would be written in his book of greatness.

Courtesy: Bleacher Report

Website for Fundación Match

If you wish to purchase tickets for the Fundación match in Madrid on December 22 then please use this website

Click here

Friday round-up & Saturday preview

Lets start in St Petersburg where Mikhail Youzhny is keeping his faint hopes of a spot in London alive by becoming the only seeded player left in the draw. Though only just, he had to save MP against Hanescu.

How the seeds have fallen: Bettor

Results: USA Today

Saturday Preview: ATP

Onto Vienna where the match I wanted to watch yesterday never happened.  Unfortunately Kohlschreiber had to withdraw before the match due to a slight groin strain :(

Results: USA Today

Saturday Preview: ATP

And finally we go to Montpellier.

Big Jo came out the winner in the all French affair and keeping alive his hopes of making the World Tour Finals in London next month.  He has also increased his chances of making the French squad for the Davis Cup final against Serbia in December.

Results:  USA Today


Sky Sports

Saturday Preview: ATP

Training video

Finally we get to see Rafa back on the practice court.


Courtesy: ckuencan

Rafa in Barcelona

Please note this is a Google translation so excuse any grammar errors!

Rafael Nadal, No. 1 in the ATP ranking, valued at Barcelona the season and has indicated that the balance is better than I thought. "Every season is different. Some are better and worse, like 2008, but this have been well and things have gone. The balance is positive, much better than I thought, but you always hope to go further".
The player will return to competition at the Masters in Paris (7-11 November) at the Masters Cup in London (22-28 November).  In this regard has explained that addresses the two tournaments with a desire and hopes to do my best.  "I will try to get as far as possible in both. The truth is that both are complicated."

"Of course winning the Masters Cup is my goal, but I said that is the most complicated because it is played on a surface that is not going to my characteristics, but I can assure that I will make every effort to get as far as possible" .

"You never know when you can llegarte injury because you always play at the highest level and the limit of your possibilities, but right now I'm fine."

"I'm a professional since age 18 and things have been going much better than I ever could have imagined," he said.
Loaded on the tennis calendar, Nadal explained that we must work to have an appropriate program. "Not so much the number of tournaments we play as having a proper schedule," said

Video courtesy of vamosrafa via rafaholics
Interview courtesy: Marca 

Friday, 29 October 2010

Tennis World Online cover

Once again Sofie from Rafaholics has come up with the goods in these lean Rafanews times.

Article covering Rafa's win at the US Open.

Full magazine link here

Download pdf here

Pat Rafter in his undies

Brilliant video

Courtesy: TennisX

Andy Murray video

I always wonder if these shots are real but it looks impressive.

Courtesy: Sportsvibe

Tennis in Cambodia

This is so humbling.  So sad but then so inspiring that the country is slowing rebuilding.  And a big round of applause to Tep Rithivit & Leander Paes.  Click the "courtesy" link below for a video.


The brutal rule of the Khmer Rouge during the 1970s brought Cambodia to its knees. Pol Pot and his cadres persecuted anything they regarded as middle-class or intellectual -- from pop musicians to tennis players.

Former tennis coach turned journalist Robert Davis told CNN of the extremes to which the Khmer Rouge were willing to go.

"When the Khmer Rouge took over Phnom Penh and Cambodia, anyone who was elite or academic was exterminated," said Davis.

As a child, Tep Rithivit learned tennis with his father at Le Cercle Sportif club, which now houses the U.S. embassy. His father was captain of the national tennis team. When the Khmer Rouge seized Phnom Penh in 1975, the family fled into exile.

It would be nearly 20 years before Tep returned to his homeland to embark on a mission to reintroduce the game he loved to his compatriots.

"As everyone knows Pol Pot wanted to start at year zero; we started at year zero back in 1993 as far as tennis was concerned," Tep told CNN's Open Court.
It was basically ethnic cleansing. Tennis is considered elitist and anyone who had anything to do with tennis was killed
"It was a painful, difficult process -- we had no equipment, we had no money to do this but we had one thing, this determination. From my part and also from the kids, they wanted a better place in the sun."

Now, in his role as head of the Tennis Federation of Cambodia, he has established a national tennis center and introduced the game into schools.

"We basically rebuilt it from scratch. I went to get a lot of young talent and found it in the ball-boys. I personally took all the ball-boys and started giving them a tennis lesson."

In 1997, Tep saw his hard work pay off as Cambodia entered its first international competition, the South East Asian Games (SEAG) in Indonesia.

Though the team came away without a single win to its name, it had made an important step on the road to recovery.

And, 10 years later, young Tan Nysan achieved something that many would have never dared imagine was possible. Nysan won a bronze medal at the SEAG, and then repeated the feat in 2009.

"That day everything changed for Cambodian tennis, everything changed for our players and everything changed for me," recalls Tep.

"It was worth gold or platinum for us, everybody was cheering, most of the people were crying and our player was delirious."

Cambodia's tennis revolution will be complete in 2012, when the country proudly makes its Davis Cup debut.
It will be the ultimate accolade for Tep Rithivit, the man who made it his mission to pull Cambodian tennis out of the killing fields and put it back onto the world stage.

Courtesy: CNN

IMG betting scandal - update

I have a feeling this one is going to run and run and run :(


The smear campaign is working and Jim Agate appears to be scum, financially desperate and baselessly suing one of the richest men in the world. After all, Teddy Forstmann, CEO of IMG, is a billionaire and one of the most powerful men in the sports world. Agate, who filed a lawsuit claiming he was the go-between for Forstmann with Costa Rican gambling houses, is not.

IMG has aggressively said that Agate tried this lawsuit once before and it was "thrown out,'' and that Agate later sent a letter to Forstmann apologizing for "falsely attacking'' him. IMG even sent me a copy of that letter.

But documents FanHouse obtained this week from sources close to the situation show Forstmann apparently paid Agate $575,000 in hush money over the past 18 months as part of a legal settlement to make that first case disappear.

And the apology? Term No. 6 in the settlement says this: "Agate will deliver a letter to Forstmann in which Agate apologizes for his conduct directed at Mr. Forstmann ...''

Did Agate's apology show a mentally unstable man, as IMG portrayed, or one cutting a deal with a rich guy who wants his problems to go away?

"Bought and paid for,'' a source said about the apology.

Forstmann's attorney, Mike Sitrick, responded via email, "There was no hush money because there was nothing to hush."

Sitrick said Forstmann did pay Agate an undisclosed sum to avoid the cost of further litigation, and that the original lawsuit "contained none of the false allegations concerning betting, racism or any of the other nonsensical claims that are in the 2010 lawsuit."

Sources also played me a scratchy voice mail message of what sounds like Forstmann asking Agate to place a $2,000 bet on Vijay Singh, an IMG client, to win the British Open. Forstmann has said he has bet on sporting events but hasn't acknowledged betting through Agate. Agate and his attorneys declined to comment, but the lawsuit lists a copy of that tape for evidence.

And this sports gambling scandal is about to start mushrooming, a disaster for tennis -- as Agate claims Forstmann got inside information from his client, Roger Federer -- but also for golf, NCAA basketball and possibly other sports, too. In court documents from the current lawsuit, Agate lists nearly 600 bets he claims to have placed for Forstmann, including more than $150,000 on the 2007 NCAA basketball tournament alone.

"Any bets that Mr. Forstmann may have made on college sports would have been made before IMG acquired the business in 2007 that put IMG into the college sports business,'' Sitrick said. "He has made none since that time."

Nowhere in there is a denial that Forstmann bet on college sports.

IMG is huge in the sports world, and its CEO has power and access. He compromises the world's most famous athletes, and their sports, by placing bets.

An IMG vice president told FanHouse that Forstmann did, as Agate claimed, bet $40,000 on Federer to beat Rafael Nadal in the 2007 French Open final. IMG seems to say that betting for Federer, instead of against, makes it OK.

Agate's suit also claims that Forstmann bet on Singh in a head-to-head bet over Tiger Woods, another IMG client. IMG denies that.

Forstmann has access to information that others don't have.

When someone has that much power over a sport and that much control, you start wondering if his betting is going to influence the outcome. That's why it's against the rules.

A sport depends on its credibility, that games are played fairly and that players are playing by the rules. Forstmann is a big player, whether on the court or off, and isn't playing by the rules. He is putting suspicion in the minds of fans, and once that suspicion is there, it's hard to get past it.

But Nadal is also an IMG client. More importantly, the Tennis Integrity Unit said it is a violation of tennis rules for a tournament owner -- IMG owns and operates several tournaments -- to bet on the game at all.

Forstmann has given one interview since Agate filed a lawsuit again. He told the Daily Beast that he did lose $40,000 on that match, but that it's a small sum for someone as rich as he is. He also referred to Agate as a "scumbag lowlife'' and "shakedown artist.'' The VP, Jim Gallagher, called Agate a "whackjob.''

But here's a question: if Agate is scum, then why did Forstmann hang around with him for at least 10 years, traveling him around the world on his private plane, placing him in his Huggy Bear charity tennis tournament in the Hamptons, golfing with him in some of the world's most prestigious courses and putting him together with some of the world's beautiful people?

Here's another question: if Forstmann didn't think there was anything wrong with his gambling, then why was he having someone else do it?

Agate might just be the kind of guy willing to do the dirty work for someone who wants to keep his hands clean.

The sports world has a huge problem on its hands, as Forstmann so recklessly and arrogantly has placed himself above the rules, and above conflicts of interest.

IMG serves as the management firm for many of the world's most famous athletes, including Tiger Woods. Its college division is the self-described leader in NCAA licensing and marketing. It has tentacles worldwide in soccer.

Roger Federer

Federer has said he had nothing to do with Forstmann's bet. It's hard to believe Federer would be involved, as he has taken seriously his responsibility to the game. But Forstmann has now put Federer in a position to have to defend himself.

In fact, Forstmann said he might have called Federer the night before the match. What was said? Did Federer know that Forstmann was planning to bet?

Well, Forstmann and IMG have blasted Agate, saying his claims are ludicrous. Yet Forstmann admits to betting on sports. And the voice mail shows it is likely he bet through Agate.

As for whether the first lawsuit was thrown out or settled, it might have been both. First, it was discharged, and then, apparently, Agate was about to file again. Forstmann's attorneys, in the current suit, have filed a motion saying that the first case was dismissed from court over two years ago and then "subsequently settled pursuant to a settlement agreement between James Agate, the principal of Agate Printing, and Theodore Forstmann.'' The attorneys are calling for that settlement to be sealed.

Agate's case makes several claims, mostly based on money he feels Forstmann promised him, or business he promised Agate Printing through IMG or Forstmann's 24-Hour Fitness, through the years without following through. Most of those alleged promises, though, seem to have been made by word of mouth, not signed contracts.

Agate apparently owes more than $1 million to the IRS, and claims that the bulk of that was the result of Forstmann wiring his sports gambling money into Agate Printing's accounts. The IRS then apparently became suspicious of how Agate Printing had so much more money coming into and out of his accounts than his claimed business revenues would amount to. Agate says Forstmann promised to cover any tax liabilities from his gambling.

The settlement says that Agate is not eligible to sue again. The current suit is not filed by Agate, but by Agate Printing.

Documents included as evidence in Agate's filing show multiple e-mails sent from Agate to Forstmann with betting lines.

He has phone records he says show that Forstmann called him, and then that he called betting houses in Costa Rica minutes later. He has documents that purportedly show Forstmann wiring money into his accounts.

And he lists 584 bets he claims in court documents to have made for Forstmann on NFL games, the NCAA basketball tournament, NBA, golf, baseball, tennis, college football and NHL. Most bets seem to be around $2,000 or $3,000.

But tennis and the NCAA have been fighting off image problems from betting scandals, and this one, from such a prominent person, is not going to help.

The IMG campaign says that Agate is making the whole thing up. But Forstmann has already admitted to making at least one big bet that Agate brought to light.

If Forstmann isn't careful, credibility might start swinging from the billionaire to the "scumbag lowlife.''
Courtesy: Fanhouse

Friday previews

Montpellier - ATP

Nice line-up today, especially the last match.  Ljubicic going for win #400 and Isner looking for ace #1000 of the year.  Then we have the battle of the Frenchmen.  Simon getting back some form after injuries and Tsonga still hoping for an appearance at the O2.

Vienna - ATP

I might try and catch the Melzer v Kohlschreiber match

St Petersburg - ATP

Nothing catches my eye here

Alma Award 2010

The annual gala will be on Thursday, in the Canal Theater, which will be give out 2010 Alma Awards , among which the recipients will be the tennis player Rafa Nadal.

The Foundation Real Madrid next Thursday will celebrate, in the Theaters of the Canal, its annual gala, in which delivery of 2010 Alma awards will be done, among the ones that are awarded will be the tennis player Rafa Nadal.

Through these awards, the Foundation wishes to acknowledge the work of individuals or entities that represent an example for society and directly or indirectly have a link to the world of sport.

Thus, the awards will be presented in four categories, Lifetime Sports, to Solidarity, the National Collaboration Project, the International Cooperation, and an extraordinary one, given the five-time Roland Garros champion "in recognition of his work, values and social commitment.

Courtesy: Rafaholics

A Rafa video

A collection of great moments from Rafa. I still love seeing the look on Sebastian's face when Rafa won Wimbledon for the first time - 04.55

Courtesy: BrilliantTennis

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Jamie Murray ties the knot

Congratulations to Jamie and his bride Alejandra.


Tennis player Jamie Murray has married his Colombian girlfriend at a ceremony near his hometown of Dunblane.

The wedding between the 24-year-old - older brother of world number four Andy Murray - and Alejandra Gutierrez took place at Cromlix House.

Andy Murray was best man at the service which was a "small, private gathering" attended by close friends and family.

Jamie Murray, who won the Wimbledon mixed doubles title in 2007, met Ms Gutierrez two years ago.

Courtesy: BBC

Revamped Roger website

Roger Federer has relaunched his official website.

The popular platform for fans and people interested in Roger currently counts more than 310,000 members and almost 3.5 million visitors in 2010. "It is fantastic to have such a great fan following in the 'real' world as well as on the web. It is because of this that I decided that it would be important for me to give my loyal fans something new and exciting," Federer said.

The focus of the revamped website is a classic and clear design with more images and content as well as improved usability and interactivity. Fans will find current information as well as details on Roger's career, statistics, images and videos about the 16-time Grand Slam champion. New functions also include RSS feeds as well as the option to create a connection between a user and a facebook account.

Courtesy: ATP

French Open 2005

Nice video from Rafa's first GS. I particulary like @ 5.22 :-)

Courtesy: pcalafate

Rafa update on Facebook

Not much and not new news but it is always good to hear from Rafa. Even whilst he is busy making his final preparations for Paris he has time for his fans.

"Hi all, I am sure you already know we announced a match and dinner on Dec. 22nd with Roger in Madrid. Thanks all for your support because on that day we play for the kids that need help."

Rafa - King of Clay

Courtesy: Ben26Tennis

12 players the "Big 4" should watch out for

In the world of tennis, 'The Big Four' – namely Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have built up a legend for themselves. The legend convinces almost every player on the Association of Tennis Professionals that while these players are in the game, winning a Grand Slam is nothing more or less than a pipe dream. It is as Robin Soderling said about winning a Grand Slam in this decade, “It’s not easy today. I wish it were a lot easier.”

However, this mindset is precisely what keeps some A-grade players from playing their best tennis and introducing new talent to dethrone the top four tennis players who seem to have made a permanent niche for themselves at the top of the ATP Rankings.

12 players who could, with the right training and mental preparation, win Slams in the next few years are analyzed below:

1. Robin Bo Carl Soderling:

Ranked World Number 5 by ATP, this Swedish player seems like he could go both ways; he may make one more charge to defeat one of the champions and climb up the rankings, or he may fizzle out and leave the sport, having reached his limit.

His performance this year has been remarkably consistent. The 26 year old player has reached the French Open Final and the quarters of both Wimbledon and US Open in 2010.

While he holds wins over both Rafa and Federer at the French Open, his combined win record against them is 3-19. He lost to Nadal at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, and was beaten by Federer at Flushing Meadows.

2. Tomas Berdych:

Similar to Robin Soderling, this 25 year old Czech player seems to have really settled into the game this year. He managed to defeat both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic at the Wimbledon Championships to become a finalist, losing the title match to Rafael Nadal.

He also reached the semi finals at Roland Garros, where he fell to Robin Soderling. Although, he was once considered a weaker player with not enough consistency, he seems to be more grounded now, and may make something of his success.

3. Fernando Verdasco:

There are only two Spaniards on the ATP Top Ten as of right now, and one of them is World Number 7, Fernando Verdasco. He has participated in a great number of events this year, playing a total of 25 tournaments and 61 singles matches.

This is the most that any player in the top ten has played this year. However, he may have burnt out due to this excess involvement, and went down 0-3 on the Asian circuit. He may also not qualify for the ATP Finals next month.

Verdasco showed signs of promise at the US Open, beating David Nalbandian and shattering David Ferrer in the fourth round before falling to Nadal.

4. Juan Martin del Potro:

This 2009 US Open champion may just be the contender needed by the tennis world; unfortunately, a stroke of bad luck left him injured and unable to exercise any potential this year.

He may have been able to challenge the Top 2, but he will be beginning from the bottom once again now.

5. David Ferrer:

This 28 year old Spaniard’s career highlight was probably his appearance in the 2007 US Open semi finals; this same year, he also made a break into the top five players of the world. However, he has had a slow year, and by and large his best results have been on clay courts.

He also went further at Wimbledon, reaching the fourth round, than he has ever been before. Ferrer also produced good hard court results, and may have what it takes to progress past his position of World Number 8 – however, his age is definitely a factor and may hold him back.

6. Mikhail Youzhny:

The 28 year old Youzhny is another player who may end up limited by his age. The Russian has had a consistent, impressive year; he won ATP events at Munich and Kuala Lumpur, reached the quarter finals of the French Open and made an appearance at US Open semi finals.

Youzhny, when in form, has one of the trickiest and hardest to manage games on the tour, but he also has his limitations. Now that his compatriot Nikolay Davydenko is on a downward spiral, he is Russia’s best; although, somewhat improbable hope for a Slam.

7. Andy Roddick:

This American player is another superb 28 year old tennis pro on the tour. As with every other player – even Federer’s age seems to be catching up to him – he also lacks the agility to succeed at this age.

He has suffered far more injuries this year than he normally does, which usually means that a player’s body is ready to break down. What Roddick has going for him is that he is both smart and competitive, and may be able to make the most out of his last few seasons.

He did reach one Slam quarter final in 2010, and was out-hit on all his losses.

8. Marin Cilic:

This 22 year old is a mystery. He won the Chennai Open and was a semi finalist at the 2010 Australian Open. For a brief period of time, he was regarded as a fresh new talent on the ATP. But, the Croatian seems to have disappeared in the past seven months entirely.

He possesses height, balance and firepower; although critics were sure that he would be the breakout player of this year, he hasn’t won any consecutive matches since August.

9/10. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils:

Both of these players have more than just nationality in common; they also have a great fault which debilitates them from making further progress in the field of tennis. Both players are enigmas who play exceptionally well, displaying terrific athleticism and potential; however, both of them fall apart at crucial moments in their careers, letting hesitation and lack of focus dominate their play.

Tsonga, who is 25 years old, is a former Australian Open finalist. His main problem is that he remains injured, and his body may be giving up on him earlier than that of most tennis players. Tsonga also requires work on his backhand and return serve, but his most urgent need is a regime which builds his body back and keeps on the tour for a full year. He is still young enough and talented enough to take over one of the Grand Slam champion slots if he focuses himself.

Meanwhile, compatriot Gael Monfils, who was a semi finalist at the French Open, has immense difficulty with a workable game plan. He falls apart and lacks consistency, engineering his failures by his own hand. Although, his offense and defence are superb – a rare combo – so far, he refuses to utilize them to the maximum potential. Monfils recently reached the US Open quarters and the final in Tokyo, where he was upset by Nadal.

11/12. Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey:

28 year old Mardy Fish, Number 18, has had an impressive summer, and looked confident while entering the US Open – however, Nole managed to rip the American player apart in the fourth round. However, he may still be the one to watch at the Slams; though he may not win, he will, nevertheless, make progress in 2011.

Sam Querrey at Number 22 has been winning smaller titles, but has as of yet been unable to move past a victory at the third round of a Masters Series or Majors event. His biggest advantage, perhaps, is his age; he is 23, and unlike Fish, he can afford to take his career with gradual improvement. He has won tournaments on all four surfaces, and that increases his chances of adaptability for a Grand Slam. This young player will definitely bring improvement to his already great forehand and serve in the New Year, but his chances of a Majors' victory are quite variable, depending on consistency and training.

This instalment completes the list of players who may make it big in 2011. All that remains to be done now is to sit back and wait for January to roll around.

Courtesy: Bettor

10 things to love about Rafa

Which is your favorite?

Courtesy: drakexjonas

Serbia - The land of tennis talent.

For the past two or three years, Serbia has steadily produced some outstanding tennis players. The exceptional thing about these pros is, in addition to their high ranking on the charts, the country has produced good singles and doubles players, as well as both male and female athletes.

Here’s a list of the five best Serbian players on the field today:

Novak Djokovic, this 23 year old Serbian is currently ranked World Number 3, and is without a doubt one of the best tennis players of the Open Era. He is the first Serbian to win a Grand Slam title, with his 2008 success at the Australian Open.

He is all the youngest player of this era to reach the semi finals of all four Majors events. He was a finalist at the 2007 and 2010 US Open tournaments, and will now lead his country into the Davis Cup match against France in Belgrade, after putting in an appearance at the ATP Tour Finals in London.

Djokovic is also known as a genuine sportsman, often applauding an opponent for an exceptional shot and possessing the ability to make light of his failures. This has endeared him to his fans, thereby giving him a great following.

Jelena Jankovic, right-handed tennis player Jelena Jankovic is another Serbian player, who seems determined to leave her mark on the game. When she began playing, her style was erratic and generally difficult to watch. She would lost control during matches and lost both fans and points due to this fault.

However, she has completely revised her mental attitude now. Jankovic, currently ranked World Number 7, has become a joy to watch on court, with both fans and critics empathising with her and supporting her game. She is a former World Number 1 (one of the three WTA players to reach the position without winning a Grand Slam) and was a semi finalist at the 2008 US Open tournament.

Janko Tipsarevic, this Serbian player’s highest career ranking is World Number 33, achieved in 2008. His current ranking is Number 37. The 26-year old player has won two Futures events, and nine title matches of the ATP Challenger Series. His first achievement was his success at the 2001 Australian Open, where he seized the junior title. Tipsarevic is the second highest ranked Serbian male on the ATP, after Djokovic.

Nenad Zimonjic, this Serbian pro-tennis player is currently ranked World Number 3 in men’s doubles, and is the second man from Serbia, after Slobodan Zivojinovic, to hold the Number 1 men’s doubles rankings.
While doubles may not be considered as difficult or challenging as singles, Zimonjic is still a class act. He is also a valuable asset to the Serbian Davis Cup team. Zimonjic, 34, recently split from his doubles partner Daniel Nestor, due to a poor tournament record this year. Together, the pair won 21 career titles, including Wimbledon in 2008 and 2009, and the 2007 French Open over a period of three years.

Ana Ivanovic, this 22 year old tennis player is a former World Number 1 champion. Although, her current ranking is Number 26, the right-handed Serbian has still proven herself to be an exceptional player, by winning the 2008 French Open, and putting in finalist appearances at Roland Garros in 2007 and the Australian Open in 2008.

Although a wonderful player, Ivanovic seems to be off her stride lately. She suffers with movement around the court, fitness and unforced error issues, but her mental attitude is of far greater concern. She loses concentration far too easily and lacks focus. To succeed at the game, Ivanovic needs a better coach and a new approach. She may still stand a chance of dominating the rankings.

Courtesy: Bettor

Thursday previews

St Petersburg - ATP

Vienna - ATP

Montpellier - ATP

I would say good luck to my fave players but i seem to be in jinx mode so i am staying nowt!!  Let's hope the tennis is good :-)

Can Murray reach the top?

I don't know about you, but the 2010 season seems to be a bit of a disappointment for Andy Murray.

It almost doesn't seem right to use a word like disappointment when you reached a Grand Slam final, have captured a pair of Masters titles, and are currently standing at No. 4 in the world.

But expectations were high, very high, for the 6-foot-3 Scotsman heading into '10. After all, he was the No. 2 player on the planet in August of last year.

AM started off in pretty fine fashion this season, landing in his second career major final, at the Aussie Open. But after many had picked him to win his first career Grand Slam title, the Dunblane native fell to the great Roger Federer in straight sets in Oz.

He would not reach another major final the rest of the year.

Note: When Murray landed in the Aussie Open finale, he became only the second British man to reach at least two Grand Slam finals in 72 years.

Murray, who also lost to the amazing Federer in the 2008 U.S. Open title tilt, was also considered to be a favorite to capture his first Wimbledon title back in July. But current world No. 1 superstar Rafael Nadal prevented that from happening by beating the talented Brit in straight sets in the semis. It marked the second straight year that Murray fell in the round of four at the storied All England Club.

A few weeks before Wimbledon commenced, Murray tapped out earlier than expected at the French Open, falling to eventual Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych in straight sets in the fourth round on the famed red clay at Stade Roland Garros.

But his biggest Grand Slam disappointment probably came in New York, where Murray was toppled by the other Swiss slugger, Stanislas Wawrinka, in four sets in only the third round at the U.S. Open. It marked the second straight year he failed to reach the quarters in the Big Apple after soaring into the final there in '08.

And in his four Grand Slam losses this season, Murray went 1-12 in 13 sets.

Where's the clutch?

If the 23-year-old Murray wants to give Britain its' first male Grand Slam champion since 1936, he's gonna have to find another gear, and, perhaps, some more (hate to say it) heart. He seems to go belly up when all the chips are on the big table.

Did You Know?: Murray attended Dunblane Primary School and was there the day of the "Dunblane Massacre," a multiple murder-suicide that occurred March 13, 1996. Sixteen children and one adult were murdered that day by Thomas Watt Hamilton, who also shot himself dead.

Back to tennis (somehow).

Okay, so Murray is a quality 41-14 this year and has qualified for the season- ending ATP World Tour Finals for a third consecutive year, but he's tallied only two titles (as the No. 4 player in the world) this season. Granted, both titles are of the prestigious variety as Masters ones, but no one remembers who wins Masters titles, do they? They tend to remember only the major the ones...which Murray has yet to manage.

Back in August, Murray became the first player in 15 years to win back-to-back Canadian Masters titles since Andre Agassi turned the trick in 1994-95. And en route to the fancy title in Toronto, AM became only the fifth different player to upend both Nadal and Federer in the same tournament.

How 'bout that.

And Murray spanked Federer 6-3, 6-2 in 85 minutes in the Shanghai Masters finale just two weeks ago, so things are certainly not all bad for the athletic Scot (even though he failed to reach quarterfinals at half of the majors in 2010).

Note: Murray is 8-5 lifetime against Federer, including wins in those Canadian and Shanghai Masters finals this season, but he's only 4-8 all- time versus Nadal and 3-4 lifetime against Novak Djokovic, the only other player currently ranked ahead of him.

In short, Murray is a fine, fine of the best on the globe to be sure. And I believe he has the ability to win a major. But he has to figure out a way to play his best tennis under the brightest lights, and I'm not talkin' about Toronto or Shanghai. I'm talkin' about Melbourne, Paris, London and NYC.

Can he do it?

Courtesy: Miami Herald

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Rafa "throws" a racquet

Not a Safin-esque type throw but still....

Courtesy: Rafaholic

Rafa & Novak play golf

This is from way back in Feb 2009 but worth a look. Love the hat Rafa.

Courtesy: vamosrafathebest

Rafa Nike Hoodie video

I know this is old but he looks soooooo cute in this video, especially when having a haircut!

Courtesy: slamxhype

Serbia - " A trip to hell"

France can expect a hostile reception from Serbian fans at the Davis Cup final in December, captain Guy Forget has said.

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France, who played their other ties this year at home, will travel to Belgrade for the December 3-5 clash.
"It will be hostile, there could be bad surprises," Forget said at the Open Sud in Montpellier, southern France.
"We have already seen in various sporting events involving Serbian fans that with a dozen idiots things could turn nasty.

"None of my players have experienced nasty atmosphere. We have to get ready for a trip to hell."
Violent Serbia fans forced their national football team's Euro 2012 qualifier in Italy to be abandoned this month, two days after angry protesters clashed with police during a gay parade in Belgrade.

Forget asked the French fans not to provoke their Serbian counterparts.

"I hope they will be discreet because the goal is not to annoy 18,000 Serbs because we know how patriotic they are," he said. "I know we will face a hostile, even maybe hateful crowd."

Courtesy:  Yahoo

A decade of Grand Slams - Part 2

The French Open is the second Grand Slam event of the tennis calendar held sometime between late May and early June - a clay court tournament;  it is played at the Stade Roland Garros.  

The winner at the turn of the century was the Brazilian professional Gustavo Kuerten, who defended the men’s singles title against the Spanish Alex Corretja. This was Kuerten’s 3rd and last Grand Slam win. The same year, Jennifer Capriati defeated the Dutch Kim Clijsters for her 2nd Grand Slam win of the year and her first French Open title. In 2001, also, the Indian team of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi defeated the Czechs - Petr Pala and Pavel Vizner to win the doubles title. It was their first doubles Grand Slam win of the year. The year 2001 also saw the team of Spanish Virginia Pascual and Greek Paola Suarez winning the women’s doubles title.

In 2002, Spanish Albert Costa defeated compatriot Juan Carlos Ferrero to gain his first and only Grand Slam title win. The women’s singles title was bagged by rising star Serena Williams as she defeated her sister, Venus Williams in the final, that year. 2002 also, saw the team of Paul Haarhuis and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, and the team of Virginia Pascual and Paola Suarez win the men’s and women’s doubles titles, respectively.
Juan Carlos, the runner up in 2002, returned the following year and won the title defeating Dutch Martin Verkerk in the final. The twin brothers, Mike Bryan and Bob Bryan won their first career Grand Slam title that year in the men’s doubles. Also, Belgian Kim Clijsters and Japanese Ai Sugiyama bagged the women’s doubles title that year.

In 2003, Justine Henin won the title for the women’s single and retained it till 2007 with the exception of 2004 when she lost the title to Russian Anastasia Myskina. In 2008 she lost the title to Serbian Ana Ivanovic. It was Ana’s first ever Grand Slam title win. The following year the title was bagged by Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova; her first ever French Open win. 2010 saw another champion in Italian Francesca Schiavone. Schiavone was a first time Grand Slam finalist that year and it was also her first ever Grand Slam win.

2004 saw the return of Pascual/Suarez, when they upset the team of Clijsters and Sugiyama to win the women’s doubles title. The pair retained the title for the following year as well. The team of Lisa Raymond (U.S.A)/Samantha Stosur (Australia) took the title in 2005 only to lose it to the team of Alicia Molik (Australia)/ Mara Santangelo (Italy). In 2006 Pascual and Suarez again returned to reclaim their lost title. They won and defended the title the following year, making it their sixth French Open title win. The pair however lost the title in 2010 to the William sisters.

2004 also saw the last time the men’s singles title changed hands when Argentinean professional Gaston Gaudio won his first ever Grand Slam title. In 2005 Gaston was dethroned by rising legend, Spanish Rafael Nadal who retains the title to date with the exception of 2009 when he lost the title to Swiss phenomenon Roger Federer.

Swede Jonas Bjorkman and Belarusian Max Mirnyi won the doubles title in 2005 and retained it the following year. They lost the title to doubles phenomenon Daniel Nestor and Mark Knowles in 2007. One half of the 2001 doubles winning team, Leander Paes returned to win the title in 2008 with a new partner in the form of Czech Lukas Dlouhy only to lose it to Daniel Nestor who returned with Nenad Zimonjic to secure the 2010 title win.

Courtesy: Bettor

A decade of Grand Slams - Part 1

It was only yesterday that the world was panicking over the Y2K scare. We all believed the electronic world was to end as we knew it. Now ten years have passed since the turn of the century. The world has gone through a lot. Even the world of sports and similarly that of tennis has seen many ups and downs. Professionals have retired to join the ranks of “the Old Ones”. New blood has entered and outshone on number of occasions. We’ve seen new champions crowned and champions dethroned.

As in any sporting event, tennis has its own prestigious events. In tennis there are four every year; Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and United States Open, collectively known as the Grand Slams. Here at we take a closer look into the decade of Grand Slams.

 1. Australian Open 

The first Grand Slam in the tennis calendar is the Australian Open. Initially played on grass, the tournament shifted to hard court in 1988 and has been so ever since. The venue for the event has been the Melbourne Park since the shift.

The first winner of the new century in the men’s singles was the American superstar and former world number one Andre Agassi who defended his title against the French Arnaud Clement. It was Agassi’s seventh Grand Slam title and his third Australian open title. In the women’s singles final match American Jennifer Capriati, also a former world number one, defeated the Swiss legend Martina Hingis to win her first ever Grand Slam title. The men’s doubles title was bagged by the team of world number 4 Jonas Bjorkman from Sweden and the Aussie Todd Woodbridge. The William sisters from America, Serena and Venus won the doubles title for women. It was their first doubles win at the Australian Open.

In 2002, Swede Thomas Johansson won the title for the men’s singles since Agassi did not play in the tournament to defend his title. Capriati again defended her title against Hingis, and in an exciting match of 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 managed to retain it. This was her 3rd and last Grand Slam title. The Canadian Daniel Nestor along with his successful partnership with Mark Knowles from the Bahamas won the doubles titles. Tennis legends Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova dethroned the William sisters for the doubles titles though they did not play each other in the tournament.

2003 saw the last ever Australian Open title win for Andre Agassi. The two year consecutive winning streak of Capriati was also broken by the then rising star, Serena Williams. That year she also along with her sister, Venus bagged the doubles title.  The French team Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro won the doubles title that year and also managed to defend and retain their title, next year as well. The following year the title was won by the Zimbabwean team of Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett who defeated the American twins, Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan. Ironically next year the Bryan brothers won the title and to date retain it with the exception of 2008 when they lost it to the Israeli team of Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram.

2004 saw the rise of a new tennis superstar, Roger Federer who won the title four times to date with the exception of 2005, 2008 and 2009. He retained the title for the year 2006-2007. He was defeated by the now retired professional, Marat Safin in 2005. World number three, Novak Djokovic wrested the title from Federer in 2008 for his first ever Grand Slam title win. In 2009 the Spanish phenomenon, Rafael Nadal defeated three times champion, Federer to win his 1st Australian Open.  

The American winning talent, Serena Williams alternated a win at the Australian Open between the period 2003 and 2010. She lost the title to Belgian Justine Henin in 2004; French Amelie Mauresmo in 2006 and Russian legend Maria Sharapova in 2008. She has however been the reigning champion in the Australian Open for the last two years.

The dynamic duo of Spanish Virginia Pascual and Greek Paola Suarez won the doubles title in 2004, and lost it to Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russian) and Aussie Alicia Molik next year. 2006 saw a Chinese win when the team of Yan Zi and Zheng Jie won the title. The Ukrainian Bodarenko sisters, Alona and Kateryna won the title in 2008. For two years now the William sisters have managed to retain the title taking their tally to a total of four Australian Open wins.

Courtesy: Bettor

Roger or Pete?

 On Sunday, Roger Federer tied Pete Sampras with 64 ATP tournament titles, the most by a player whose career began in the last 30 years. Though most tennis writers have all but ceded the crown of "greatest ever" to Federer, Busted Racquet decided to look in-depth at the 64 wins of Sampras and Federer to see whose resume was more impressive.

First, we broke down the victories for both players: 
Federer wins in almost every metric, aside from wins on carpet and indoors. (The ATP doesn't have as many carpet events indoors as it used to.) Advantage: Federer.

Sampras was mediocre, at best, on clay. The only good tournament win he had on the surface was in Rome in 1994. He only made it past the quarterfinals at the French Open once. Federer, on the other hand, won at Roland Garros and has bested Rafael Nadal twice in clay-court finals. Both men were weakened by the slow pace of play on clay, but Federer was able to adapt better. That alone gives Federer the edge in the discussion of who's the greatest complete player of the Open era. (Nadal will certainly have something to say about that in the coming years though.)

But there are other things that go Pete's way. In his prime, Sampras had to play a much deeper top 10. In his first 30 victories, Sampras beat the likes of Jim Courier, Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl and Andre Agassi in finals. Federer's toughest were Agassi, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt and Marat Safin. Nadal was the toughest challenge of all, but don't forget that he didn't come into his own off the clay courts until 2008. 

Sampras may have had to work harder for his 64, but Federer earned his with a better all-around game. So what would have happened if the two played in their primes on their favorite court? Let's say it'd be 1994 Pete Sampras vs. 2005 Roger Federer on Centre Court at Wimbledon?

I'd give the slightest of edges to Sampras. Andre Agassi once said the difference between Federer and Sampras is that Federer could dominate the best players for an entire match, while Pete would sit back and trade the first few service games of a set before unloading on a huge return point to swing things in his favor. He meant that as a compliment to both, but more so to Sampras. He knew when to turn it on and was the best big-point player I've ever seen. In this theoretical meeting, that would be the difference. Sampras would win his serve more easily and would be able to score one or two key breaks of Federer during the match.
Give me Federer's career, but Sampras for one match in his prime. Or give me Sampras' career, but Federer for one match in his prime. Six of one, half-dozen of the other. The only thing we know for sure is that Pete Sampras and Roger Federer are the two greatest players of our generation. 

Courtesy: Bleacher Report

Can Rafa win all 4 in 2011?

Of course, Rafael Nadal has the capability of winning each major. As of September 7, 2010, he’s captured the singles titles of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open at least once. However, winning all four majors in the same year is well nigh impossible for Nadal or any other male tennis player.

The top players’ off court commitments are too numerous, and their schedule balancing so delicate that the odds of winning that quartet within a calendar year are whittled down to nearly nil. Meanwhile, within those nine months spanning the Australian Open and the US Open, the chances that someone else will get hot, believe totally in himself, or just get plain lucky for two weeks increases the odds against any favorite.

As it stands now, whoever wins the Australian Open is instantly pressured from without and within, and the expectations only intensify geometrically as the year advances.

The term Grand Slam was nicked from the game of bridge well after Don Budge captured all four major titles in 1938. When he actually won the fourth and final singles championship at Forest Hills no one noticed it as any special feat, any more than the first horses who won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes were awarded the Triple Crown, until a journalist coined the term.

The last time a male player snagged all four successively was forty-one years ago in 1969, when Rod Laver swept all of them into his pocket, repeating what he did in 1962. That was at the dawn of the open era when three of those tournaments were contested on grass.

So the entire men’s list of tennis greats who have managed this incredible feat stands at two, and it’s very unlikely that it will ever become a crowd.

This paltry amount of Grand Slam champions is not due to any lack of ability or drive. It’s just due to the fact that almost everyone on the Tour is working hard, being coached proficiently, following a strict regime of both diet and exercise, and is just as hungry for each and every major singles title as the guy at the top of the heap.

An actual Grand Slam is so rare that the term itself, rather than withering from lack of use, has been continuously misapplied to each of the four historic and ranking point laden major championships that it’s become acceptable to all but the purists.

So, the bar is now so impossibly high that a career Grand Slam is considered the acme of tennis achievement. That list is not much longer, consisting of Andre Agassi, Roger Federer and, most recently, Rafael Nadal in the modern era.

2010 has been a year for Nadal to gather an impressive bouquet of titles since his volcanic re-emergence at Monte Carlo in April. However, it must be remembered that he retired from his quarter-final match at the Australian Open. He didn’t lose it; he quit because he couldn’t continue to play. He also failed to defend his Wimbledon title in 2009 because he was physically unable to do so.

Rafael Nadal is now at the top of his game, and his results since April have been stellar, but he still has not won every tournament he has entered. By the time 2011 begins, there’s just as a good a chance that Roger Federer could re-emerge with a new burst of energy. Novak Djokovic may capture his second major title, or Juan Martin Del Potro do the same.

Then there’s Andy Murray, whom the tennis prognosticators see as snagging a major title as well, not to mention some determined player lurking in the shadows and poised to flash into prominence.

In this day and age, it’s theoretically possible that a pig could be genetically altered with wings, and it might be able to fly. It’s just as likely that any male tennis player will win all four major singles titles and earn a legitimate Grand Slam, no matter who that player may be.

Courtesy: Sportingo

Courier to lead the US

Former world number one Jim Courier will take over as coach of the United States Davis Cup team.

The 40-year-old will replace Patrick McEnroe, who resigned last month after 10 years in the post, and will take charge for the first round match against Chile in March.

Courier was a two-time winner of both the US Open and the French Open while also reaching the final at Wimbledonand in the Australian Open, ending 1992 as the top ranked player.

He also helped the United States win the Davis Cup in 1992 and 1995, and finished with a 16-10 record in singles, 1-0 in doubles.

Courier, who has spent much of the last 10 years building a career in the media, immediately put his name forward for consideration for the captaincy role following McEnroe's sudden decision during this year's US Open.

He will be officially unveiled by the USTA later on Wednesday.

Courtesy: Sky Sports

Hewitt not trying to profit

Response from Lleyton Hewitt to the story I carried a few days ago about the name for his 3rd child being announced first via a pay subscription service.

I can see his point but why not just use his own website. Make the announcement first there for members then the public. Anyway his choice. I am not really interested in what people call their children.


AUSTRALIAN tennis star Lleyton Hewitt denied trying to profit from his newborn baby on Wednesday by encouraging fans to pay for a text service revealing the child's name.

Hewitt, 29, accused media of putting a 'spin on reality' by criticising his use of the Text A Star service to announce the name of Ava Sydney, his third child with actress wife Bec.

'Some sections of the media have, as usual, found it opportune to place some spin on reality by suggesting we have taken this approach just to make money,' he wrote on his website,

'Certain media people believe that (they) are the only ones who should have an exclusive,' he wrote. 'In this instance we made a decision that my fans deserve to know first, and the general public second.' Text A Star charges subscribers two dollars (S$2.57) per text to receive two messages a week from their favourite sports stars, mainly Australian Rules footballers, promising 'real messages from real stars in real time'.

It is unclear how much Hewitt, the former US Open and Wimbledon champion, profits from the venture. Text A Star says most of its earnings go to telecoms providers, not the service or its clients.

Hewitt said he had been using Text A Star for several months and 'really enjoyed giving my fans a special insight'.

Courtesy: Straits Times
Rafa 15th.  My God some people have no taste!

2010 is indeed the year of the Spaniard in sports, and one of the primary reasons is World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, who won three Grand Slams this year, including his first U.S. Open, and did it all while looking completely delicious, even when sweaty. Who else can pull off hot pink and electric yellow, and wallop Roger Federer on the regular?

Courtesy: AskMen.com

Wednesday preview

The tour continues in Montepellier, St Petersburg & Vienna.  Here are today's previews.

Montpellier - ATP

Really looking forwad to the all French affair of Mahut v Simon.  If you can find a link i highly recommend that you watch this match.  I can't see any upsets today.

St Petersburg - ATP

Not been following the play in St Petersburg but i hope that Viktor can carry on his good run and that Mikhail keeps picking up the points in his push for London.

Vienna - ATP

Likewise with Vienna, not really been following the results but good luck to Mayer today.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Rafa has been spotted

WooHoo!  Big thanks to Sofie for posting these pics on Rafaholics

Leander the actor

Move over, Vijay Amritraj. There's a new tennis player-turned-actor in town. According to reports, Leander Paes, the 37-year-old doubles specialist from Calcutta, India, is set to star opposite actress Ameesha Patel in a film by Ashok Kohli called Rajdhani Express. The filmmakers are being hush-hush about the movie's plot, just saying that Paes will be playing "a common man in a face-paced [sic] plot." Personally, I can see him fitting into a romantic lead role. Just check out how he interacts with Serena Williams when he interviewed her for NDTV last year. Charisma and chemistry! I also can see Paes doing his own action stunts. He's never been afraid to dive for shots on court.

According to an article, Paes is taking his big-screen debut seriously: He's enrolled in a three-month acting program to prepare. Of course, Armitraj can help his young prodigy (Paes developed his game at Amritraj's academy in Madras) with his acting. Who can forget Amritraj's turn as James Bond's sidekick in Octopussy?

Speaking of Armitraj, his foundation is holding two big charity events this weekend in Calabasas, Calif., one honoring Jimmy Connors on Oct. 29, and a Beach Boys concert on Oct. 30. For information on tickets and details, go to