Davis Cup party in Prague; Rafael Nadal’s great unknown — The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

Party in Prague

When it comes to the elite team competition in tennis, 2012 will forever be remembered as the year of the Czechs. Tomas Berdych and Petra Kvitova got the ball rolling with their victory run at the Hopman Cup in January, and they played their parts in helping the Czech Republic to end the year in style as Fed and Davis Cup champions. It was the Czech Davis Cup team that completed the trio of championships, which was no small feat with power house Spain standing in their way to the title. It was a true team effort by the duo of Berdych and Radek Stepanek. Each won a point for singles and teamed up to secure a crucial point in the doubles to defeat Spain 3-2. As with other top players in the past, the victory will likely help Berdych continue his upward trend. He’ll be able to draw on the experience of coming through in a clutch five-set win in the second rubber to draw even with Spain on the opening day of the tie. But the bigger moment of the tie belongs to Stepanek. He’s never enjoyed near the same amount of success as game’s greats, so coming through in the decisive fifth rubber to seal the deal is likely to be the crowning moment of his career. It was a phenomenal effort by the Czechs, and going forward, they’re going to be a tough out for any nation.

Dissension in the Ranks

Spain’s loss in the Davis Cup final left a bad taste in the mouth, and it had nothing to do with the defeat that they’d been dealt at the hands of the Czech Republic. Instead, it came from within the team itself, and the bulk of the blame lies primarily on the shoulders of Feliciano Lopez. It was ultimately Nicolas Almagro that came up short in the singles, and his teammates did little console him after his two heartbreaking losses. But the fact that this team wouldn’t quite gel was made evident by F. Lopez’s comments before the tie even began – comments that may have played a part in Almagro’s nervous play as he likely felt the need to justify his place on the squad. All credit to Captain Corretja, who stood by Almagro and declared he’d pick the same four guys if he had it to do all over again. It was instead F. Lopez who was left with the most egg on his face, as he attempted to backtrack and smooth over his previous comments. This was an ugly loss for Spain, and Corretja is going to have a bit of work to do in order to mend fences and prepare a team for a 2013 Davis Cup run.

Demise Continues

American tennis took another hit this past week when the Farmer’s Classic held at UCLA was discontinued, and its ATP sanction was sold to a group in Bogota, Colombia. It was tremendous loss as the historic event dated back to 1927 and saw many of tennis’ greats grace its courts, including Laver, Ashe, Sampras, and Agassi. But in recent years, the event struggled to find solid sponsors, the fields became less star-studded, which led to lower revenues, and therefore resulted in the difficult realization that the tournament needed to be sold. It’s a blow to tennis in that region, and it also means one less opportunity to expose young American sports enthusiasts to the game. It’s a worrying trend for American tennis, and one organizers at all levels of the game in the United States need to reverse, and reverse fast.

Worldly Ambitions

The brainchild of StarGames President Jerry Solomon and the ITF, World Tennis Day is set for March 4, and there’s some tantalizing tennis on offer. As has been the case the last few years, there will be some entertaining matches at New York’s Madison Square Garden, with Azarenka playing Serena Williams and Nadal facing del Potro. But also on that day, on the other side of the world in Asia, Li Na will compete against Wozniacki, and even Lendl and McEnroe will renew their rivalry. More star-studded matchups may be scheduled, as the hope is to hold several pro events around the world and tie them to grassroots programs in order to grow the game. They couldn’t have picked two better markets in which to stage the events, with the matches likely to continue the forward momentum of tennis in Asia and with any luck reverse the downward spiral the game is enduring in the United States. So here’s to hoping this initiative is not only a success, but the start of many more successes to come.

Great Unknown

Rafael Nadal

Arguably the biggest question in tennis for 2013 is what will happen with Rafael Nadal. Video footage surfaced earlier this week of the Spaniard practicing on hard courts, and you can be sure he’ll give everything he has to be ready to go when the season gets underway. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a player with more grit, determination, and drive. Still, it’s hard to predict how he’ll fair. When we last saw Nadal, he’d suffered his worst defeat at a major when he was bounced out of the second round of Wimbledon. A rejuvenated Federer took back the No. 1 ranking and had a very successful summer. Andy Murray upped his level to claim Olympic and US Open glory. Guys like Ferrer, Berdych, and del Potro stepped up to the plate with statements of their own, with de Potro in particular looking like he might now finally be ready to crash into the Big Four. And then Nadal’s most troublesome nemesis, Djokovic, capped off a good year with a strong autumn and finished No. 1. Granted, some of these events were potentially helped by the absences of the Spaniard, but that won’t take away from the confidence these players have gained through those accomplishments. Nothing is impossible when it comes to Nadal, but on anything outside of clay, when you take stock of what has transpired in the second half of 2012 and add it to his extended layoff, it appears likely that Nadal will find it trickier to find his footing than he did when he returned from injury in 2009. But no matter what happens, we all look forward to seeing Nadal and the rest of the competitors duke it out for bragging rights in 2013.

60 Responses to Davis Cup party in Prague; Rafael Nadal’s great unknown — The Friday Five

  • I don’t even understand how I finished up right here, but I
    thought this post used to be great. I do not understand who you
    are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger should you are not already.
    Cheers!

  • We’re a bunch of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community.

    Your website provided us with valuable information to work on. You’ve
    performed a formidable task and our whole group will
    likely be grateful to you.

  • I enjoy what you guys are usually up too. This kind of clever work and exposure!
    Keep up the amazing works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to blogroll.

  • Nursing/midwifery college students should select the option that applies to you for data
    on the way to apply for funding.

  • *
    Hello, I enjoy reading through your article. I like to write a little comment
    to support you.

    Lilliana

    Also visit my web-site: gry multiplayer online

  • real nitro says:

    Does your website have a contact page? I’m having problems locating
    it but, I’d like to send you an email. I’ve got some creative ideas for your blog you
    might be interested in hearing. Either way, great blog and
    I look forward to seeing it grow over time.

  • What i don’t understood is actually how you are no longer actually much more neatly-liked than you might be right now.
    You’re so intelligent. You know thus significantly in the case of this subject, made me in my view consider it from so many
    various angles. Its like men and women aren’t interested
    except it is one thing to accomplish with Woman gaga! Your individual
    stuffs nice. All the time care for it up!

  • Thanks for another great article. The place else could
    anyone get that type of information in such an ideal way
    of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on the search for such information.

  • Hello there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and
    found that it is truly informative. I am going to
    watch out for brussels. I’ll appreciate if you continue this in future.
    Numerous people will be benefited from your writing.
    Cheers!

  • Quality articles is the important to be a focus for the
    visitors to visit the web site, that’s what
    this web page is providing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


5 − one =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>