Lisa-Marie Burrows

Lisa-Marie Burrows is a qualified LTA Community Tennis Coach from England and a freelance sports journalist. She has travelled across Europe to watch tennis and cover events, including several Masters series tournaments. Lisa-Marie is a member of the International Press Association and a contributing journalist for its online magazine, IMPress. She has contributed articles for various leading websites including World Tennis Magazine, The Tennis Scoop and Olympic Tennis. She also manages her own tennis website and you can read her reports here. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @TennisNewsViews.

ITF Release 2012 Testing Summary

By Lisa-Marie Burrows

“Last year, through the Dubai, Rotterdam and Indian Wells swing where I won all three, I didn’t get tested once. That shouldn’t be OK.”

At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Roger Federer once again shared his thoughts about doping and testing. He revealed that in 2012, there was a lack of frequent and consistent testing for doping whilst he was competing, despite having won three consecutive tournaments.

This week, the ITF (International Tennis Federation) have shared their plans for biological passports. They have been busy of late redesigning their Davis Cup and Fed Cup websites and their latest relaunch has been the official website of its Anti-Doping department.

The website aims to share detailed information on the Tennis Anti-Doping programme and it has uploaded many PDFs from recent years of blood testing which has been carried out on the athletes.

A summary of testing conducted under the 2012 ITF Tennis Anti-Doping Programme is now available on their website of all players who hold an ATP or WTA ranking. The results show the amount of times the athletes have been tested during the year whilst competing and also when they are out of competition. The results do not include samples collected during the London Olympics by the National Anti-Doping Organisations.

During 2012, the statistics show that a total of 1727 in-competition urine specimen samples were taken from male and female athletes and 124 specimens of blood.

Out of-competition testing was slightly lower with 271 specimens for urine and 63 for blood. Overall, 2185 total specimens were taken and it is interesting to see how consistently players were tested, particularly the higher ranked players.  I have put together a table of results for the current top 20 ATP and WTA players.

ATP Top 20 Testing Summary

These are the sample testing results for the players ranked in the top 20 in the ATP rankings as of this week.

The samples are fairly consistent with Djokovic, Murray, Ferrer, Berdych, Del Potro, Tsonga. Tipsarevic, Gasquet, Cilic, Wawrinka and Seppi all tested on seven and above occasions, whilst the other players were largely tested four to six times.

The only exceptions are Rafael Nadal, who due to injury was not tested for in-competition as frequently and therefore has a higher out-of-competition sample compared to his colleagues. Milos Raonic was also tested on one to three in-competition occasions.

For further names of athletes and their testing summary, you can access the ITF anti-doping website here:

WTA Top 20 Testing Summary

These are the sample testing results for the players ranked in the top 20 in the WTA rankings as of this week.

Half of the WTA top 20 players were tested during competitions on seven or more occasions and surprisingly four out of the current top 5 have been tested fewer times than some of their counterparts. Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Na Li have been tested on one to three occasions and four to six occasions respectively.

For further names of athletes and their testing summary, you can access the ITF anti-doping website here:

Over the next few years, expect the number of overall testing to rise, as the ITF have made it clear that they are going to increase the number of blood tests done each year under its anti-doping programme.

Federer was pleased by the announcement and said at the BNP Paribas Open:

“I think tennis has done a good job of trying everything to be as clean as possible but we are entering a new era. We have to do everything to ensure our tour is as clean as it possibly can be.”


Rafael Nadal – It’s a Matter of Time

By Lisa-Marie Burrows

Rafael Nadal is back. How long have his fans and supporters been waiting to hear those words? A very long 222 days.

Time is a great healer, or so we are told. The Spaniard may have been back for less than two weeks, but in that time he has reached the singles and doubles final at Viña del Mar and has been crowned champion in São Paolo.

Today he won his 51st ATP Tour title and 37th on clay, but is Rafa back at his very best after a great two weeks of his comeback? I doubt it, but give him time.

‘Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time.’ – Abraham Lincoln

Taking time out from the ATP Tour to recuperate and recover has been necessary for the 11-time Grand Slam champion to ensure his knee heals and to prevent further injury. Undoubtedly his rhythm and feel for the ball is not at its best, but at least he is back on the courts competing again and without taking the time to recover, he may have made his injuries worse.

He may have ‘lost’ seven months on Tour, but in doing so it’s possible he has lengthened his time competing and that is the most valuable thing.

‘It’s better to do the right thing slowly than the wrong thing quickly.’ – Peter Turla

Nadal has won his first title in eight months and has received a mix bag of press about his return. He has been honest that he is not 100% and still feels some occasional discomfort in his knee. Whilst playing at the two South American tournaments, he revealed that he has struggled with his movement and timing on the ball, but after months of not playing, that is natural.

The Spaniard will not be playing in Buenos Aires next week and this is a sensible decision. It will give him an opportunity to assess his performance over the last two weeks, evaluate how he is feeling physically and relax mentally after two weeks of interrogation about his knee and level of play. Taking things slowly now may create better results in the future.

‘All the flowers of all of the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.’ – Chinese Proverb

The South American swing of the Tour is a good test for Nadal. He may not be playing against the top 5 players, but match practice is more vital. Clay is his favourite surface and one that is the least likely to cause further injury to his knee. Participating and winning at these tournaments are small stepping stones towards his bigger goals – winning against the best and adding further Grand Slams to his outstanding list of achievements.

Not being able to do the one thing you love always has the ability to make you realise how much you miss it. Have the last two weeks planted the seeds for future success for the King of Clay? I believe so, but only time will tell…

Rafael Nadal in your Pocket!

This week, 11-time Grand Slam champion, Rafael Nadal, may be making his debut of the new season at Viña del Mar in Chile, but he has also made his debut in the world of mobile technology.
Nadal has launched his new application, which can be downloaded on the iTunes App Store. The new Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy App is for all recreational players, which helps you to learn directly from the Spanish champion himself.

The application offers exclusive, in-depth tennis tutorials of Rafa’s strokes and has easy-to-use video coaching tools so players can capture their strokes, analyse their games and compare their technique side-by-side with Rafa.

With this application, it is like having a bit of Rafael Nadal in your pocket, learning his secrets on his powerful serve, brutal forehand and ripping backhand.

The Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy App comprises of nine tutorials featuring his serve and returns with a host of future tutorials of all Rafa’s strokes, along with exclusive insights from Rafa himself on what makes him one of the world’s best tennis players.

For those who download the application can also upload their own videos as well as their own Vstrated coaching sessions to the Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy on

It seems to me that for any budding future tennis star, this is the easiest (and most likely cheapest!) way of having Nadal as your own personal tennis coach!

Roger Federer Will Continue to Make History

Roger Federer: 17-time Grand Slam champion, 6-time Year-End Championships winner, 21-time ATP Masters 1000 champion (he holds the record amount of titles alongside Spaniard, Rafael Nadal), Olympic silver medalist and Olympic gold medalist in the doubles with compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka. Overall, he has won 76 career singles titles in total, but why am I collating a list of his outstanding career achievements? Well, it is because Roger Federer made it to the semifinals of a Grand Slam and for many tennis players that would be a dream come true, for Federer’s critics, it’s simply not good enough.

World No.2, Roger Federer, was bundled out of the semifinals of the Australian Open by eventual finalist Andy Murray after 5 gruelling sets against the world No.3, not too dissimilar to his Australian Open achievements last year.

At the start of 2012 after Federer lost to Rafael Nadal in four sets during the semifinals of the first Grand Slam of the year, some began to question his future in tennis and if it would be the beginning of his career decline due to his age, after starting a family and having other players emerging and dominating in the major tournaments.

Last year in Rotterdam during the press conferences I heard the former world No.1 being questioned about his career and possible retirement (he went on to win the title in Rotterdam), whether he would ever win another Slam again (Wimbledon 2012 anybody?) and if he believed he would regain his place at the top of the rankings again (on July 16th 2012 he tied Pete Sampras’ record of 286 weeks at No.1 after taking back the top spot once more). Prior to these achievements, Roger Federer had been written off in the minds of some people, but in 2013, write him off at your own peril.

After his 2012 semifinal Australian Open defeat, Federer went on to win consecutive titles in Rotterdam (where he defeated Del Potro), Dubai (where he beat Murray) and Indian Wells (once again beating the then-ranked No. 9 Del Potro, No. 2 Nadal and No. 11 Isner, all in straight sets).

His success continued back in Europe where he was successful in the final against Tomas Berdych on the controversial blue clay in Madrid and won a record 5th Cincinnati title against world No.1 Novak Djokovic. His victories continued on his beloved grass courts of Wimbledon where he was crowned champion for the seventh time against Andy Murray and two weeks later he was avenged by the Brit in the final of the Olympics where he was awarded the Olympic silver medal.

His 2012 season did not end too badly either with back-to-back final appearances in hometown Basel and at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the 02 Arena in London.

There is no doubt that current world No.1 Novak Djokovic and world No.3 Andy Murray are a formidable force on the tennis court and the ‘Novandy’ battles could serve up a rivalry lasting several more years, but whilst Roger Federer is around, he still has the ability to beat the top players – after all he is still one of them. If Federer remains healthy, he may go on to win another major, let’s remember what he achieved last year. Could 2013 be a bit of history repeating? For many Federer fans, they are hoping so and they never give up on their hero.

Ahead of the Australian Open, Federer had not played a tournament going into the first Grand Slam of the year and by his own admission, he was pleased to reach the semis with very little match practice prior to the tournament:

“So I go from here with a good feeling for the year. I didn’t play a tournament leading in, so now obviously I know where my level is at.”

Murray may have knocked Federer out of the semifinals, but has that knocked his confidence or willingness to improve? Of course not…

“I have even more time to work on my game, work on my fitness this year. It’s something I’m excited about.”

With Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray frequently taking centre stage in Grand Slam finals and with the imminent return of Rafael Nadal after his lengthy injury battle with his knee, domination is something which Roger Federer will have to fight for, but he is a sportsman and losing is a learning experience that teaches you to work harder.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion is often referred to as arguably one of the greatest of all time (GOAT) players and as long as the Swiss maestro has the desire to continue playing, he will endure fighting amongst the greatest for more Grand Slam glory and to continue making history. For this reason I would not write him off for future success, after all, he is Roger Federer.

Birthday tribute to Serena Williams

By Lisa-Marie Burrows

Today is the 31st birthday of tennis star, Serena Williams and to celebrate her birthday, it seemed fitting to share some of her inspirational quotes, which have become infamous for shaping her professional and personal life over the years and during a flourishing career. Like a fine wine, she has continued to get better with age and her fantastic 2012 season proves just that.
Serena Williams has experienced many highs and some painful lows, but throughout these roller coaster times, she has never held back on sharing her thoughts and occasionally they have been somewhat controversial. Either way, as she has said: “I am not a robot. I have a heart and I bleed.” Here are some of the heartfelt quotes she has shared with the world during her acceleration towards tennis superstardom:

Her love for tennis
Despite having the world at her feet and the opportunity to explore many different things in life, Serena has always stayed faithful to her one true passion – tennis:

‘I definitely have found a balance. I’ve had so many offers in the past to do different movies or different things and I always choose tournaments over it.’

A fighting champion
Being on the tennis court has not always been plane sailing for Serena Williams, as over the years she has been embroiled in some tough battles against great competitors and her inability to give up has put her in good stead to stare defeat in the eyes and refuse to back down. The final against Victoria Azarenka in 2012 is a perfect example of her resilience and winning attitude where she delivered this inspirational quote:

“I believe that a champion is defined as such for their achievements but also for the times when they have fallen and were able to get back up again. I’ve fallen several times and every time I have got up. I’m stronger than before.”

A battle against her health
Like every athlete, Serena Williams has become accustomed to dealing with sporting injuries that can plague a sportsperson during their career, but she has dealt with preventing injuries well and always ensured her physicality is a top priority in her training sessions, however, there are some things which you cannot prepare for, which she has had to bravely overcome, including the deadly blood clot which prevented her from playing on the circuit:

“I was so tired at that point. I had a tube in my stomach and it was draining constantly. Gosh, I mean, right before that I had the blood clot. I had lung problems. I had two foot surgeries. It was a lot. It was a lot. I felt like I didn’t do anything to bring that on. I just felt down, it was just the lowest of lows.”

On her physique
Many have talked about Serena’s incredible physique and the power and intensity she brings to the game. There is no doubt she is a great physical specimen, but for her, she prefers a different part:

“My smile is my favorite part of my body. I think a smile can make your whole body.”

Family and friends
Throughout her career, Serena Williams has always credited her family and friends for her success and confessed that without them, many of her achievements would not have been possible:

“Tennis is just a game, family is forever.’

Of course, we cannot get forget her beloved sister Venus who has shared so many of the triumphs with her little sister:

“I don’t know what I would have done if Venus didn’t exist. I don’t even know if I would own a Grand Slam title or if I would be playing tennis, because we do everything together. Growing up I copied Venus. She was a really big influence for me. So when she started winning, I wanted it so bad. When she became No.1, I had to be No.1. I had to work harder. I had to do everything in my power to get there. I have no idea what would have happened if she weren’t around.”

Serena is enjoying a fantastic 2012 season and still has much more to look forward to. Happy birthday Serena Williams!

Top 5 reasons why Tomas Berdych impressed during the Davis Cup semifinal

By Lisa-Marie Burrows

During the weekend there were Davis Cup matches taking place all around the globe. Some countries were fighting to stay in their world group category; others were fighting for a place in the final of the Davis Cup. In Gijon, Spain, the home country favourites took on the USA and booked their place in the final despite a comeback attempt from the Bryan brothers on Saturday where they won their 5-set thriller to keep the USA’s hopes alive. By Sunday, their dream was crushed after David Ferrer defeated American, John Isner, in their encounter after a fairly straightforward 4 sets victory.
The question on their lips afterwards was, where would Spain be playing and whom will they face in the final? Spain had to wait to see the outcome of the other semifinal between Argentina and the Czech Republic and what a weekend of thrilling matches that was for both countries and that for me, was the standout Davis Cup tie of the weekend. The Czech Republic made it through after another nail-biting match by Czech hero, Tomas Berdych and he proved himself to be an impressive and formidable player that weekend. Here are the top reasons why Berdych should be very satisfied with his imposing performances over the weekend:

Fighting against fatigue
Coming into the Davis Cup semifinal in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Berdych had admitted that it was going to be a big last minute adjustment to get use to the clay again after the hard courts of New York and he like many other players who were competing in the Davis Cup, was also feeling the effects of a long summer on the courts. Berdych reached the fourth round in the ATP Masters 1000 events in Toronto, Cincinnati, he was a runner-up in the last event before the US Open at Winston Salem and then progressed to the semifinals in New York defeating Roger Federer en route, before losing to eventual champion Andy Murray. Coming into the tie, many questioned his physical condition, but despite the 4-hours he spent on court against Mónaco, 2-hours and 30 minutes in his doubles match and a further 2-hours and 30 minutes on Sunday, he fought against his weariness to win all three matches.

Facing adversity
The Argentinean home crowd was fantastic, animated, loyal and very involved. Drums were banging, trumpets were played and the crowd was creating enough noise to resemble that of a football match. Every point that was won by an Argentinean player was celebrated as though they had won the match and in each of those matches, it was Berdych who had to face the crowd. The Czech player was extremely impressive having kept his cool during every battle and he did not let the crowd interrupt his flow or concentration of the game. Even as Berdych was winning his matches, making an astounding comeback against Juan Mónaco and he kept Charly Berlocq at bay, the increasingly hostile crowds who cheered when he netted a ball or jeered when he questioned a call were still unable to break him. That is the beauty of Davis Cup and no doubt he will be pleased that the final will take place on his home soil and this time the crowd will be cheering him on!

Three days, three matches, three victories

Originally, Tomas Berdych was only suppose to play in the singles and reverse singles initially, but after his win against Juan Mónaco, their tie was leveled at one point a piece and many began to wonder if he would also feature in the doubles to try and seal the third and valuable point to give the Czech Republic the advantage at 2-1 and surprise, surprise, he did. Berdych paired up with Radek Stepanek who also featured on Friday in the singles match against Juan Martin Del Potro, to win their doubles encounter on Saturday. After their Davis Cup semifinal victory, Tomas Berdych was understandably proud that he had won all three matches that he had played in to secure the win for his country.

Keeping his cool
During all three matches, there was not one occasion when Tomas Berdych lost his cool on the tennis court with himself, his opponent or with the crowd, which he has been known for in the past. For me, there was an occasion when I held my breath and thought that now is the time when Berdych will become angry during his match on Sunday against Berlocq as the umpire, James Keothavong, addressed the Czech crowd in English at 5-3, a pivotal time during the match, asking them to be quiet and respectful during play. The Czech crowd was clearly the minority and the laughable request did not even make Berdych flicker with surprise or rage, he simply adjusted his hat and continued play, not allowing the demand to affect him. This was impressive given the absurdity of the call as he served out for the set regardless.

Birthday celebrations

On Monday, it was Tomas Berdych’s 27th birthday and no doubt for him it was an extra special celebration with his family, friends, team and compatriots after securing all three points for the Czech Republic and along with Radek Stepanek, he contributed enormously to booking their place in the final in November.


Andy Murray and Ivan Lendl: Different players with a similar history

By Lisa-Marie Burrows

Andy Murray is still one of the main topics of discussion on TV and in the newspapers (particularly the British ones!) after his epic battle against defending US Open champion, Novak Djokovic on Monday night, after a grueling five set match that lasted almost 5 hours that boasted exquisite rallies in each of the 5 sets played.

Ivan Lendl, the coach of Murray since January 2012, has admitted that Andy Murray and his ‘Slamless’ situation very much remind him of himself when he was younger and competing on Tour, but the comparisons do not end only there…

Andy Murray has become more known for his tough mentality as he has for his great physicality. Yes, there have been moments on the tennis court where he has admitted that his mind let him down (e.g. most famously during the Wimbledon final this year against Roger Federer where he could have been up 2 sets to 0) but as his tennis has developed, so has his mental toughness and ability to win attitude.

This is also comparable to the attitude displayed on court by Ivan Lendl. He too played in an era alongside tennis greats such as John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Bjorn Borg and experienced some crushing defeats at the hands of them, but just as Murray has done, he never gave up and always believed that he could win. Like Lendl, Andy Murray has learnt from his painful losses.

Pressure in their prime
Throughout his career, the Olympic champion has frequently single-handedly shouldered the weight and expectation from the British public to do well, win tournaments, knock out the top 3 three players in the world and win a Grand Slam. Not much to ask of a young player in their early twenties? Now at 25-years-old, Murray seems to be able to deal with that pressure and has finally answered the call and hopes of many after his victory at the US Open.

Ivan Lendl as a coach and player has been a good influence on Murray as he can relate to the pressure and strain which Andy Murray has been under. He too had experienced it at a very young age and having lost to Connors, Borg and Wilander, he admitted that he did not know how to play against the big players in his prime and it was something that he learnt to do.

Fitness vs fatigue
Andy Murray did not have an easy start early on his career, having been criticized heavily for his personality, his mentality, for having a low first serve percentage, he was also targeted about his fitness. He experienced cramping during long matches in his early twenties and he knew that in order to compete at the top level, against the top players of the world, he had to become physically stronger as well as mentally stronger and this was also the case for Ivan Lendl. Like his coach had to when he was younger, Murray has spent hours at the gym and during training he has become increasingly stronger and has trained hard to keep his endurance levels up to sustain his energy levels during long matches – which have paid off extremely in recent years. Murray continues with his same demanding regime on the practice courts and in the gym today.

Fifth time lucky
Ivan Lendl could relate to Andy Murray and his sorrow after yet another Grand Slam final defeat at the hands of Roger Federer at Wimbledon this year, as he too experienced crushing losses and lost four Grand Slam finals before winning in his fifth appearance, à la Andy Murray. After his quartet of heartbreaking defeats, Lendl went on to win another eight Grand Slams and if history really does repeat itself, who knows if and when Andy Murray will lift another major title – or eight?

The stats
It took 5 sets for Ivan Lendl to win his first Grand Slam in Roland Garros against John McEnroe and he rallied back from a two set deficit to secure his victory, whereas for Andy Murray at the US Open, he also needed 5 sets to lift his first major but he needed to rally back after losing the third and fourth sets before sealing the championship title in the penultimate set.
The strangest thing of it all is that during their encounter, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic equalized the record for the longest final of all time played at the US Open after their 4-hour and 54 minute battle and they equaled the record of – yes you guessed it – Ivan Lendl and Mats Wilander in 1988 which saw Lendl win after 4-hours and 54 minutes too.

Andy Murray has now laid his demons to rest, as his coach had after finally winning that elusive Grand Slam that he was so desperately chasing and yearning for. I just hope that now the talented Scot has got time to enjoy this momentous occasion he relishes it immensely before another dreaded question starts to beckon…. ‘Andy, do you think you can win more majors?’

The US Open comeback kings into the second round

By Lisa-Marie Burrows

On Tuesday it was only the second day of the US Open main draw action in New York, but yesterday served up some fantastic round one matches which entertained for hours and thrilled the audience.

The three five set matches involving Juan ‘Pico’ Mónaco vs Guillermo García-Lopez, Fabio Fognini vs Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Alexandr Dolgopolov vs Jesse Levine may not have featured the infamous rivalries between the top guys that we have been so accustomed to seeing, but last night at Flushing Meadows, audiences both at home and on site were treated to matches worthy of that caliber.

The matches that took place between the players mentioned above showed the spirit and the fight of a toe-to-toe match reminiscent of the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
On Grandstand Argentine and No.10 seed Juan Mónaco had an extremely tough first round opponent against Spain’s Guillermo García-Lopez who proved to be more than a handful for Mónaco. The Argentine took the advantage quickly as he led by two sets and 4-1 up in the third, but García-Lopez had other plans – he was not giving up that easily.

In a match that was played with as many highs and lows as a roller coaster and with such determined grit from both players, you would not have thought it was a first round match, the way the players fought and with such heart, you would have been forgiven for being fooled into thinking it was a Grand Slam final and they were fighting for the trophy, not a place in the second round.

Mónaco and García-Lopez fought against their nerves and against each other as it clearly meant so much to them to win. They ventured into the all-important fifth set tiebreak, after Mónaco broke back twice in the set from the brink of defeat and stopped the Spaniard from serving out the match. With a Davis Cup atmosphere on the tennis court and football style chants heavily in the favour of the Argentine with ‘Olé, olé, olé, olé, Pi-co, Pi-co,’ the match was there for the taking and it all boiled down to who could hold their nerve and the realization suddenly dawned that one of them was going to win… but also that one was going to lose and it would be a painful loss.

The joy and jubilation belonged to Guillermo García-Lopez after playing a very solid tiebreak, releasing his heavily weighted forehand continuously and used his well placed serve to give him the upper hand. After his 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6(6), 7-6(3) victory a very relieved and emotional García-Lopez sat in his chair with a tear in his eye, whilst Mónaco visibly annoyed and understandably upset quickly exited the court.

Up next for García-Lopez is Fabio Fognini of Italy who was also involved in an epic five-set encounter against Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France. The Italian will be equally as tired going into his second round match against the Spaniard as he too was on court for nearly four hours with his 3-6, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 comeback victory against the Frenchman and will be relieved of the day off to recover from that match.

It was during the key moments that Fognini was able to withstand the pressure and contained his fraught emotions to claw his way back into the match. As match point dawned on the Italian, the atmosphere around the court was raucous with expectation and disbelief with what Fognini was about to achieve. The Italian was clearly delighted with the turnaround of the match, but visibly tired too, as he and his weary legs exited the court knowing that he had finally booked his place into the second round.

Alexandr Dolgopolov found himself caught up in a difficult opening round against home country hopeful, Jesse Levine on court 17. The first two sets did not go as planned for the Ukrainian who played some loose service games which proved to be costly as he was suddenly staring at defeat after losing the first two sets.

At the start of the third set, Dolgopolov was quickly broken again and found himself 0-4 down and two games away from packing up his belongings and leaving New York. As Levine became tight, Dolgopolov began his revival and battled his way back into the match. Despite facing a heavily partisan crowd, Dolgopolov kept his composure to break back and take the third set 6-4 and stamped his authority in the fourth set by taking it 6-1.

Eyebrows were raised at his comeback and it was evident that Levine was disappointed with the renaissance that Dolgopolov was bringing to the court. Eventually the Ukrainian won 3-6 4-6 6-4 6-1 6-2 and he will now play Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis in the second round.

There was so much entertainment and drama in one evening and we are still only in the early stages of the tournament, but it shows that for all of these players, it does not matter whether it is the first round or the final, they will fight for the win – yesterday they were the comeback kings. Their matches may not have been pretty, but a win is a win and they will be happy to take it all the same and improve ready for their next battles.

After the matches feelings of being emotionally, mentally and physically drained were evident – and that was just me! I don’t know how the players do it!

Top tennis reasons to watch the US Open

By Lisa-Marie Burrows

The US Open is the final Slam of the year and it is rapidly approaching! The atmosphere at Flushing Meadows is unique, fun and home to some of the most interesting, intriguing counters likely to be seen and draws in an audience from all over the world. There are many reasons to love this Slam whether you are there to enjoy it in person or in the comfort of your own home and here are a few top examples as to why the US Open is one of the best tournaments of the year.

The outfits

New York is the home of fashion and where else would you see tennis players showcasing some of their most daring or eye-catching outfits but at the US Open? Over the years many of the players have been discussed as much for their fashion and apparel as they have for their tennis. Many have opted for traditional, summery styles for the final Slam of the year, whilst others have dared to bare their extraordinary and unique outfits and made an unforgettable fashion statement. Who can forget some of the styles of Serena Williams, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Andre Agassi over the years? Serena has a strong body, strong mind and is not afraid to make a strong fashion statement as she stepped out onto the tennis court at the US Open in 2002 wearing a snug and tightly fitted black cat suit which was arguably more daring than any other WTA player had worn before at Flushing Meadows.

Arthur Ashe Kids Day

Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day is an annual tennis/children’s event that takes place in the end of August at the United States Tennis Association at Arthur Ashe Stadium. (USTA) Center in Flushing Meadows. This event also begins the U.S. Open, which officially starts one day later. This event is also televised on the following day for many to enjoy who are not there to experience it firsthand. It is a celebration of the memory of Arthur Ashe, who died of AIDS in 1993, and of his efforts to help young people through tennis. Tennis greats that have appeared annually at Arthur Ashe Kids Day include Venus and Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, and Anna Kournikova, who play to entertain the children and families and to raise money for charity.

The home of thrilling matches:

The Arthur Ashe stadium is known for hosting some of the most exciting, nail biting matches out of all of the Grand Slams and over the years, through history, there have been many which have taken centre stage and thrilled audiences around the world. Here are two examples of the most recent, well-documented matches that have are truly memorable and have been enjoyed by many:

The Williams sister final in 2001: The Williams sisters have both experienced plenty of success in the world of tennis and even today they have continued to push their boundaries – particularly with their health – to achieve the dizzy heights of success in tennis. In the 2001 final the two popular sisters were in an all-American battle against each other and the match was all about Venus. Serena could not trouble her older sister, who cruised to win in straight sets.
Novak Djokovic fights back from the brink of defeat in 2011: In the semi finals last year, Novak Djokovic was dangerously close to elimination in the last four against Roger Federer. The Serb survived a pair of match points en route to his nail biting defeat over Federer, before continuing with his onslaught of the Tour when he defeated Rafael Nadal in the final to be crowned champion.

The possibility of an upset:

This year has been the Olympic year and now more than ever, many of the tennis players have admitted that they are feeling fatigued both mentally and physically and there has been a sea of withdrawals at the Masters 1000 Series tournaments in Toronto/Montreal and Cincinnati this year where many have fallen at the first hurdle, much earlier than planned and those who have remained have confessed that they are feeling the pinch from a jam-packed 2012 calendar with back-to-back tournaments. Coming into the US Open, it may come as no surprise to witness some upsets on the ATP and WTA Tours as some top players have had very limited match practice coming into the Slam and others are fighting off injury. Who knows what surprises we may see in some of the early stages of the tournament?

Celebrity spotting:

The US Open over the years has attracted many of the top celebrities to its courts to soak up the sunshine, enjoy the buzz and watch the fantastic tennis action taking place. Many have relished the opportunity to watch live matches from singers, to actors, to reality TV stars and models. In recent years Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Kim Kardashian and Bradley Cooper are a few examples of many A-list celebrities who have attended the tournament.

It’s New York!

The US Open is held in one of the most fashionable, fun and vibrant cities in the world, where many flock to especially to watch the tennis. It is a mecca for those who enjoy shopping, city life and a spot of some fantastic tennis to boost. Who could not enjoy being in New York during the tennis fortnight? The late night matches that commence on the Arthur Ashe Stadium create an atmosphere like no other – the crowd are into the matches, they are very vocal and being situated close to the bar certainly helps the crowd to cheer on their favourites and create that infamous party atmosphere that lights up the stadium!

Getting to know Milos Raonic – the ATPs new top 20 player

By Lisa-Marie Burrows

This week, Canadian Milos Raonic has been a continuous feature in tennis discussions this week after breaking into the top 20 of the ATP rankings for the first time in his career. The 21-year-old young gun moved up five spots to secure his No. 19 place, thanks to his quarter-final appearance at the Rogers Cup in Toronto last week.
Many have predicted great things for the rising star, speculating on whether he will be a future Grand Slam champion, on his ability to break into the top 10 or even break up the mold that has bound the top 5 players so tightly in recently years, but this achievement is something which no Canadian singles players has managed to do before. He is enjoying being on the court; he is living the dream and he still has a lot more to give. Here is a little bit of information and fun facts about the Canadian hero that many may not know about:

Who is Milos Raonic?

Milos Raonic was born Podgorica, Montenegro, in the former Yugoslavia just before Serbia became an independent country and he moved to Canada at the age of 3-years old. He did not begin playing tennis until he was 8-years old and whilst growing up his hero was Pete Sampras. It seems as though he suddenly exploded on the tennis scene from nowhere after enjoying a very successful 2011. He rocketed up the rankings from No.156 at the end of 2010 to a year-end ranking of No.31 in 2011. The 6’5” player is infamous for his booming serves and possesses an all-court style of play. He has won three career titles – his first in San Jose in 2011, which he successfully defended again this year and he has also won on the hard courts of Chennai.

How much does Raonic remember of his Serbian roots?

Milos moved to Canada with his family because of the war that continued in between the surrounding nations. Milos has said before that he doesn’t remember anything about his homeland except for one bad memory that has always stayed with him – the time when he was stung by a bee on his finger when he was 4-years old.

His super serve

When you hear the name ‘Milos Raonic’ you automatically think: big serve. As a child his father made him train with a ball machine at 6:30am and 9:00pm and those early morning starts and workouts seemed to have put him in good stead as a player. He rarely shows aggression on court (apart from when he is serving or during a rally) and emulates the speed and finesse of his hero’s service motion, Pete Sampras.

Making his mark

Milos Raonic made his mark in the tennis world after he won his first ATP Tour title at the SAP Open in San Jose beating the then-ranked world No.9 player, Fernando Verdasco. It was a very special moment for the Canadian and indeed for Canada, as it was the first time a Canadian tennis player won an ATP title since 1995. After this victory, Milos earned a lot of attention from the media – and particularly the Canadian media – which is something he has had to learn to deal with. Very much like Andy Murray and his British expectations, Raonic has expressed how he hopes that it will benefit and influence the juniors who are up and coming in Canada.

Fast Facts
• Raonic plays with a double-handed backhand
• He can speak Serbian and English
• He moved to Canada when he was 3-years old.
• Both of his parents (Dusan and Vesna) are engineers.
• He has a sister called Jelena, and a brother, Momir
• Raonic first picked up a racquet aged 8-years old.
• His favourite surface to play on is on the quick-paced hard courts.
• He confessed that when he was younger, his dad used to make him train with a ball machine early in the morning and at night as they were cheaper to hire during those times.
• Raonic enjoys watching movies and talking to family on Skype when he’s away.
• Raonic is a big fan of football (soccer) and his favourite team is Real Madrid.
• The Canadian has the correct height to be a basketball player and he supports Toronto Raptors.
• His tennis hero as a child was fourteen-time Grand Slam champion ‘Pistol’ Pete Sampras and he admitted that he recorded his matches that were shown on tv.
• He is coached by former ATP pro Galo Blanco (since October 2010)
• His ultimate goal? To remain consistently in the top 50 and break into the top 10.

Milos Raonic’s rise in the rankings has been documented by the ATP World Tour Uncovered, which you can watch using the video below.