By Maud Watson
Andy Murray wasted no time in returning to the court after losing his third consecutive Grand Slam final, as he took on Marcos Bagdhatis in Rotterdam earlier this week. The Cypriot’s ranking is well below what fans and his peers know he’s capable of, but his straight-set dismissal of Murray is still worrying for supporters of the Scot. After jumping out to a 3-0 lead (a double break, mind you), Murray’s game just crumbled as he meekly made his exit 6-4, 6-1. It would be curious to know if he currently had a full-time coach, if that coach wouldn’t have advised him to take more time off to mentally recover from his Australian loss. His game went into a downward spiral quickly after his tearful defeat at the hands of Federer in 2010, and he seems to be starting his 2011 post-Oz campaign the same way. Hopefully he’ll find his head and his game a little sooner this time around.
People are speculating that for the first time in approximately four years, the U.S. Fed Cup team is likely to include both Venus and Serena Williams on the roster. So despite their poor track record of participation, why are so many suggesting that the Williams sisters are apt to play, or at least show up, for the Fed Cup tie in April? Because according to ITF rules, players must make themselves available for two separate ties prior to the Olympics should they wish to represent their countries in the Games. To be fair, the Williams sisters are not the only high profile players to take advantage of this faulty system, as Maria Sharapova has done the same thing. But this is a rule that needs to be changed. It’s not fair to those women who answer the call on a regular basis to represent their nations in Fed Cup only to lose out on playing something as prestigious as the Olympics to a higher profile (albeit probably more talented) player who has done the bare minimum in Fed Cup competition over the last four years. It’s also a joke to say players like the Williams sisters and Sharapova want to play the Olympics to represent their countries. If they really cared about representing their countries, they’d play more Fed Cup to begin with. And finally, seems if the ITF really wants to raise the profile of events like the Fed Cup, it should be doing more to ensure the game’s top stars compete on a more consistent basis to drive more interest in the competition.
Icing on the Cake
For sure Rafael Nadal would have preferred to have completed the “Rafa Slam,” with a win in Melbourne, but the Spaniard did receive one bit of good news as he nears wrapping up his recovery from a leg muscle tear. Nadal was given a high honor as he was named the recipient of the Laureus Award for Sportsman of the Year. Having won three of the four majors in 2010 and finishing as the World No. 1, the announcement didn’t come as a shock. Congratulations to Nadal, and it’s great that his efforts have once again brought valuable recognition to his sport.
Serb Ana Ivanovic has split with her most recent coach, Antonio van Grichen. The two had only been working together since the off season, but apparently were unable to gel, and the former World No. 1 once again finds herself coach-less. At least Ivanovic will be looking to add some stability to her game by hiring a full-time hitting partner, but she really needs to find a full-time coach. Her game was showing signs of turning back in the right direction, but it’s hard to imagine her continuing this trend on her own.
The web as been a-buzz with details and images surrounding the popular royal couple of Prince William and fiancée Kate Middleton. Rumor has it that Middleton, a tennis player and fan herself, will be one of the principle royal figures at the 2011 Wimbledon Championships. In fact, she may even serve as the trophy presenter to the women’s singles winner. As popular as the young couple has been, such a role could entice non-tennis viewers to tune into the final and maybe even bring some new fans into the fold.