Featured Columns

A Look Back At Boris Becker’s Historic First Wimbledon Title

In 1985, Wimbledon bore witness to one of the most unpredictable and exciting runs to a championship when 17-year-old Boris Becker romped his way to an historic title at the All England Club. Bud Collins, the Hall of Fame journalist and tennis personality, profiles Becker’s run to his first of three Wimbledon titles in this excerpt from his book “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” below.

Attention, please. Or, in the native tongue of Boris Becker, Achtung! Not only did a new champion appear on the tennis scene in 1985, he also ushered in a new era. In a year that sparkled with fresh faces, the brightest and most engaging belonged to a 17-year-old son of a West German architect, a teenager either too cool or too naive to know he had no business playing with grown men.
At Wimbledon, a tournament that prizes tradition above all else, Becker challenged the past and won. Never had anyone so young claimed a men’s title at The Lawn Tennis Championships. Never had an unseeded player been fitted for a singles crown. Never had a German male ascended to the throne of tennis. Becker changed all of the above in the span of three hours, 18 minutes on one sunlit, summer afternoon.
The youngster, who had won only one previous event on the men’s tour (three weeks earlier at Queen’s Club in London, over Johan Kriek), climaxed a breathtaking rise to prominence by wearing down eighth-seeded Kevin Curren, 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, in the Wimbledon final. By the end of the season, he had made a spectacular jump in the rankings from No. 65 to No. 6 and became the symbol of change sweeping over the sport.
Belly-flopping Boris, who threw himself at balls with teenage abandon, injured his left ankle in the fourth round against Tim Mayotte and wanted to quit after the fourth set. His manager, Ion Tiriac, dissuaded him. Becker probably should have been defaulted because of the overly long delay in being treated. He resumed thanks only to the sporting forbearance of Mayotte. It was soon obvious that this was a charmed fortnight for the husky redhead. Three of his first six matches were suspended and held over for another day, a circumstance that would unnerve even veteran players.
Not Becker. He responded to every challenge like a man, yet still reacted with the infectious enthusiasm of a boy. In the final, before a capacity crowd that included assorted princes and princesses, the 6-foot-3 man-child answered Curren’s serve with a bludgeon of his own— 21 aces to Kevin’s 19. He also out-volleyed and out-steadied his 27-year-old opponent from the baseline.
“I should have had the advantage,” Curren said. “Being older, being to the semi-finals [1983], being on Centre Court. Maybe he was too young to know about all that stuff.”
Or at least too young to rattle. Becker became such a sensation in the early stages of the tournament with his reckless dives—”Usually, he comes off the court with blood on him,” observed Tiriac—that the bookmaking chain, Ladbrokes, installed him as a 7-4 favorite after the quarterfinals.
His popularity with the fans was not echoed in the British press, which did not let anyone forget he was a German. Even the respectable broadsheets relentlessly used war analogies in describing the player. In The Times, the respected Rex Bellamy duly noted that scheduled television programming in Becker’s homeland was interrupted to carry his quarterfinal victory over Leconte and added, “How odd it was that Germany should have such a personal interest in a court on which, in 1940, they dropped a bomb.”
It’s true a bomb did land on the roof of Centre Court in October 1940, destroying 1,200 seats. And no German was permitted to enter the tournament for four years after it was resumed in 1946. (Germans had been banned for nine years after WWI.) Ironically, Becker’s shining moment occurred on July 7, the birth date of Baron Gottfried von Cramm. For more than half of the century, the Baron was regarded as one of the finest players never to have won Wimbledon.

Thirty Years Ago At Wimbledon….Anne White’s Fashion Statement

It was 30 years ago in 1985 when Wimbledon experienced perhaps its most controversial moment of fashion. On the cold day of June 27, 1985, Anne White decided to wear a more functional all white body suit outfit provided by her clothing endorser Pony in her match with Pam Shriver, but the outfit was later deemed to be a “wardrobe malfunction” by the strict Wimbledon officials. The excerpt from the “This Day In Tennis History” mobile app and book by Randy Walker (www.TennisHistoryApp.com) documenting the famous fashion incident can be found below.

June 27, 1985 – Anne White turns heads at The All-England Club when she sports a white body stocking in her first-round match against Pam Shriver at Wimbledon. White wears all-body leotard-like outfit to keep her warm during the chilly day in London and splits sets with the No. 5 seeded Shriver before play is suspended due to rain. Wimbledon referee Alan Mills later calls the outfit not appropriate tennis attire and forbids her from wearing it again in the tournament. White returns the next day, without her all-white body suit and dressed in a traditional white tennis skirt and blouse, but loses the third set and the match 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-3. Says White the following day, “I’m a little aggravated I couldn’t wear it today. But it’s their tournament and I don’t want to do anything to upset them or hurt their feelings. I mean, I don’t want people spilling their strawberries and cream because of me.”

The 10 Greatest Wimbledon Matches of All Time

With Wimbledon upon us, it’s fun to get nostalgic looking back at the greatest matches of all time from the greatest tournament in tennis. In his book “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” (for sale here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0942257936/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_J0GGvb1GB6WV8) author Steve Flink describes the greatest tennis matches of not just Wimbledon, but in the history of the sport, and ranks the matches in order of their significance. The following is the Flink’s rankings of the greatest Wimbledon matches of all time as they appear in his book. Here is the list, in order, of the greatest tennis matches in Wimbledon history, with their respective “all-time” ranking on the left.

1. (No. 1 All-Time) Rafael Nadal d. Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-7 (9), 9-7, final, Wimbledon, grass, 2008

2. (No. 2 All-Time) Bjorn Borg d. John McEnroe 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (16-18) 8-6, final, Wimbledon grass, 1980

3. (No. 8 All-Time) Pancho Gonzales d. Charlie Pasarell 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9, first round, grass, Wimbledon, 1969

4. (No. 10 All-Time) Henri Cochet d. Bill Tilden 2-6, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-3, semifinal, Wimbledon, grass, 1927

5. (No. 12 All-Time) Margaret Court d. Billie Jean King 14-12, 11-9, final, Wimbledon, grass, 1970

6. (No. 18 All-Time) Helen Wills Moody d. Helen Jacobs 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, final, Wimbledon, grass, 1935

7. (No. 25 All-Time) Maria Bueno d. Margaret Smith 6-4, 7-9, 6-3, final, Wimbledon, grass, 1964

8. (No. 27 All-Time) Stan Smith d. Ilie Nastase 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, final, Wimbledon, grass, 1972

9. (No. 28 All-Time) Roger Federer d. Andy Roddick 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14, final, Wimbledon, grass, 2009

10. (No. 29 All-Time) Maureen Connolly d. Doris Hart 8-6, 7-5, final, Wimbledon, grass, 1953

Rod Laver: Develop A Killer Instinct

Rod Laver documented his 1969 Grand Slam season – and his life story – with Hall of Fame tennis journalist Bud Collins in the book “The Education of a Tennis Player” (for sale here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0942257626/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_tiFEvb1MG9Y13 In the book, Laver also imparts his wisdom on how amateurs can achieve more success in tennis. In this book excerpt, Laver discusses “Killer Instinct.”

When I was a kid, and beginning to play well, a little better than the ordinary, I first experienced the enjoyment of playing to a crowd. It was a good feeling to have my strokes admired, and I was in no hurry to get off the court. As a result I let too many opponents off the hook. I found out that you have to play with the intention of making it a short day, of doing the job quickly and thoroughly.

I don’t mean rush it. Anything but that. But when you have the opportunity you strike then, and you realize that no lead is as big as it looks. If your opponent is serving at 1-4, you feel pretty good: three games ahead. But that’s only one service break, and you want to keep the pressure on, or you’re going to be in trouble. It’s no time to experiment with new shots or to show off for the “sheilas” in the crowd.

I’ve heard it said that you’re either born with the killer instinct or you’re not. I don’t agree with that. I feel I had to develop that killer outlook which, to me, means making the shot called for to win the point and resisting certain temptations. You don’t try to blast a ball 200 mph crosscourt into a corner when you have an easy sitter and your opponent is way out of position. If a soft, unimpressive-looking dink is called for, you hit it and make the point.

The good chances don’t come that frequently, and the killer knocks them off surely when presented with them. The killer doesn’t let up or ease off when he gets a good lead. This can be learned. Make sure of the easy shots—concentrate extra hard on those. Everybody has problems with difficult shots, but the killer gets his edge because he is meticulous with the setups.

Don’t compose eulogies to yourself when you get ahead. Concentrate on staying there. When Charlie Hollis, my coach, decided that I wasn’t homicidal enough, he sent me out with the intent of winning every match 6-0, 6-0. That seems grim for the usual player, but Charlie’s theme was good and clear: run scared and don’t let anybody up.

Tommy Robredo Always Fights To The End

By Andrew Eichenholz

When Andy Murray walked to the net after a hard fought victory in a final set tiebreak in Valencia late last year, he looked to embrace his opponent, who jokingly or not, flipped him the bird.

Murray had just Tommy Robredoed Tommy Robredo.

Now, it may seem impossible for a person to create a verb with his or her own name, but with his long track record of fighting until the end, Robredo has proven time and time again that he exemplifies that very thing better than anybody else.

So, when Murray looked to congratulate Robredo on a good match, which their clash was, one of the best of the season in fact, the Spaniard was not very happy. Not only did he lose a tough match, but he got beat at his own game, the game of survival.

Robredo’s Grand Slams on his least favorite surface, hard court, in 2014, show why the gritty right-hander has earned his reputation of being a fighter.

In his first Grand Slam match of the season at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Robredo played the always-dangerous Lukas Rosol. Although Rosol is somebody who many would expect Robredo to beat, down two sets to one makes things look a lot different.

It takes enough energy to play down under with the fatigue caused by the rigors of the Australian summer heat, but to hang tough in the fourth set, clinging to his life in the match until a tiebreak would be impressive enough. Not only did Robredo emerge from that vital tiebreak in an even match, but he toughed out the Czech 8-6 in the fifth.

Typical Robredo, never convincing, always there until the end.

Fast forward to Wimbledon, on yet another surface that is not conducive to the heavy topspin, high-net clearance game of Robredo. On the other side of the net, the powerful Jerzy Janowicz, whose serve and groundstrokes skip right through the Wimbledon grass.

Even after not getting off to a good start to his season, or their third round encounter, Janowicz fought back, and started playing tennis reminiscent of his standout 2013 season. From two sets down, Janowicz pushed one of the toughest players on tour around, evening affairs with all of the momentum in his corner.

That is exactly where Robredo wanted him. Down and nearly out, Robredo once again showed that he is most dangerous when backed into a corner. Although he would lose next round to Roger Federer, Robredo showed his character to stay the course and defeat Janowicz.

Robredo may have thought that nobody had seen the script before, so he pressed the rewind button when he arrived to Flushing Meadows for the United States Open. It was time to show the world who he is again, this time on the biggest stage of them all, Arthur Ashe Stadium.

As the crowd looking down from the seats of the largest stadium in the sport of tennis gasped in awe, Robredo was in trouble. The fans were witnessing the birth of a future star in Australian Nick Kyrgios during a third round match. The big-hitter was pushing one of the fleetest afoot of the ATP World Tour around for more than a set, making it seem like Robredo would be on the next flight out of John F. Kennedy Airport.

Slowly but surely, point by point, Robredo maintained his composure, and let Kyrgios start to miss. The first sign of Kyrgios’ dropping confidence was all it took, seemingly giving Robredo a hook to latch onto, never letting go, as he would pull away for a four set win.

By the way, Robredo was down two sets to love against Italian Simone Bolelli in the second round.

Although Robredo may never be a true Grand Slam contender, or a player who fans get to see be at the top of the world in the rankings, one thing is for certain.

Nobody wants to be stuck with Robredo in his or her section of the draw. And, while many opponents will go away and give up when they get down, that is when Robredo is most dangerous.

As he showed after his loss to Murray in Valencia, nobody hangs in there better, and he wants the world to know it.

To read more about the attitudes and teaching methods of Spanish tennis, order the book “The Secrets of Spanish Tennis” by Chris Lewit available here: http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Spanish-Tennis-Chris-Lewit/dp/1937559491

Former Tennis Standout Discusses Two Deadly Diseases – Skin Cancer and Depression

By Cliff Richey

The following is written by Cliff Richey, a former U.S. No. 1 tennis player, who was a semifinalist at the 1970 French Open and the 1970 and 1972 U.S. Open, who was also a member of the winning U.S. Davis Cup teams in 1969 and 1970. Richey is author of the book “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” available here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0942257669/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_iLEBvb1W4RNYX

When I was younger the scariest thing in my life was facing Arthur Ashe’s serve! Trust me, that was scary. But it doesn’t compare to two potentially lethal diseases I’ve been in treatment for. Nineteen years ago my skin doctor diagnosed me as clinically depressed and three weeks ago my current skin Doctor gave me the news that I had Melanoma. It is ironic that a skin doctor diagnosed these two different diseases. And as different as they seem to be these two diseases have a lot in common. For one thing in my case the two sick parts of my body are only about twelve inches apart–my right shoulder and my brain! Both diseases at their most basic level are human cells gone awry. Why does that happen? The best researchers of both diseases say there are two main reasons. The first is genetic predisposition inherited from your forebearers in other words. The second reason is stress. For your skin, stress can be the sun, tanning lamps or too much radiation. For your brain, stress can be the negative circumstances life throws to all of us–job loss, divorce, addictions, illness. So a predisposition combined with stress can produce both of these diseases. The good news is both are treatable and curable. I am in good treatment for clinical depression and my recovery has been very good. I had the melanoma leasion removed and thankfully it was caught very early and in spite of eleven stitches i am told it is 100% curable.

Now the bad news. Both diseases left untreated can kill you. Only 30% of our population who need treatment for depression receive it and 20% commit suicide. Of those who get proper treatment 85% gain good recovery. Melanoma has a high mortality rate unless caught early.

I am going to switch gears here for just a bit and get on my soap box. But lets create a more warm and fuzzy setting. I’m on my easy chair and you’re on my couch and here is what i want to tell you. We ain’t doin’ all this stuff the right way. Yes both of these diseases kill but only one of them has a higher mortality rate that has nothing to do with the disease! Stigma! Stigma of mental illness is killing many people. Obviously no one person is at fault. But our community can do better. My brain is only 12 inches from my right shoulder and guess what? the DNA is the same in both places. Look i’m a pro athlete. I know that there is a lot of male maucho tied in with even whispering the words mental illness. Pros are comfortable asking for help in order to win on the playing field. We had head coaches, trainers, dieticians and team doctors. We see asking for help as a maucho strength. Wanna win? Get good advice! In my tennis career i had great coaches and others who helped me in areas i needed help with. I felt more confident and performed better when i got that help. I played 1500 pro matches in 500 events all over the world. I wanted to know all about each opponent i played. I had a game plan every time. I wanted to win.

I truly looked at clinical depression and melanoma as opponents i want to beat. I reached out for help with experts that know both of these deadly foes. As a pro athlete i looked to my doctors much the same as i did the coaches in my career. Of course there is just a slight difference one helps you win a tennis match the other can save your life. Mental illness or Melanoma can kill if we don’t ask for help. My serve can be improved (and it needed help!) but hey the worse that can happen if i don’t ask for help is that I lose a tennis match!

So pal, my preaching if over. Ask for help when you need it. As we say in the locker room “Don’t be a dumb ass.” Stigma is an opponent too. Let us all reach out. We will beat stigma and remember — never, ever, ever give up!

PlaySight Launches New “Smart Court Live” Program

TENAFLY, N.J. — PlaySight Interactive today announced the launch of a new “SmartCourt Live” system that provides unlimited smart live streaming and recording of practice and match video on any tennis court. The program features unique features such as:

• HD quality video with embedded audio
• Unlimited viewers no need to buy data packages
• Store and watch recorded practice and matches
• Online live stream has a three hour DVR capability for the viewers to be able to go back in time
• Changeable and automatic adjustable resolutions to fit the viewer’s bandwidth
• Online control room to turn the streaming on and off anytime, anywhere
• Video player can be embedded easily on a website
• Embedded scoreboard on the live streaming video for live scoring
• Indoor and outdoor compatible

The “SmartCourt Live” offering is also applicable to other sports and has recently been implemented for squash and basketball.

PlaySight is also in the midst of a rapid expansion, installing “SmartCourts” at tennis clubs, tennis academies and private tennis courts around the world. The technology is currently being used in such facilities as Roland Garros in Paris, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York, the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California, the Midtown Athletic Club in Chicago, the Junior Tennis Champions Center (JTCC) in College Park, Maryland, the Bonita Bay club in Naples, Florida, and the Bay Club in San Francisco, Calif., among others. College tennis programs currently using PlaySight technology include the University of Georgia, Harvard, Princeton, Cal-Berkeley and Virginia Tech among others.

PlaySight’s SmartCourt technology is rapidly changing the way tennis is enjoyed and coached. The affordable and proprietary technology provides players with professional real time (and post session) match statistics, analytics, line-calling and video. The system uses six HD cameras and automatically classifies and tags all the events that take place during a session without the need for court-side operators or wearable sensors. Players can watch selected events (e.g. every backhand down the line that went long), with no need to watch the whole video or manually tag it. PlaySight is also able to record 3D tactical game management information including the height of balls over the net, speed of every shot and the depth of balls hit within the court. The SmartCourt is easily operated by players through a courtside kiosk and all video and data can be shared within seconds with coaches, friends and family at remote locations. Players can also track distance covered and calories burned during a match or practice session. Each player’s activity and motion during the entire match/training are automatically recorded, analyzed and uploaded into PlaySight.com – a social network for players/athletes where they can review their performance and share it with their coaches, friends and family. To watch a video that further explains how PlaySight works, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrp9X3K82Ek

World No. 1 and reigning Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic heads a list of impressive group of investors in the technology, also including tennis legend Billie Jean King, renowned performance coach Dr. James Loehr, Pershing Capital Management LLC Founder Bill Ackman, Entrepreneur and Washington Kastles owner Mark Ein, Former ProServ Founder Ray Benton, CourtSense owner Gordon Uehling, III and former Wall Street executive James Kern. For more information on PlaySight, go to www.PlaySight.com

French Open Men’s Draw Preview – Novak Djokovic Looks To Claim First Title

This gallery contains 1 photo.

by Andrew Eichenholz

Novak Djokovic is playing the best tennis of anybody on the men’s tour, no ifs, ands or buts about it. However, as the Serbian star looks to grab his first French Open title, he faces stiff competition and an even tougher draw.

If he will lift his first Coupe des Mousquetaires after all the dust settles, he will have denied Rafael Nadal, who seeks his tenth French Open championship, Andy Murray, who pushed Djokovic to his limit in Australia and Roger Federer, who is a 17-time Grand Slam champion.

The big debate heading into the draw ceremony on Friday was whether or not the tournament supervisors should make an exception and seed Nadal higher then his No. 7 ranking, making him the sixth seed at the tournament due to the withdrawal of Milos Raonic. Would it be fair to the higher-ranked players who may have to deal with the Spaniard earlier then usual?

Djokovic was anything but the beneficiary when the tournament decided to leave Nadal at No. 6, as arguably the two best clay court players in the world ended up in the same quarter of the draw, making for what should be an entertaining fortnight in Paris.

FIRST QUARTER
So much for the top seed supposedly deserving the easiest draw. Novak Djokovic faces what really is not all that tricky of an opening week in Paris, but he may not fall for the City of Love even if he were to get through the toughest sections of the four. By the time Djokovic could face his first seeded opponent, he should be pretty fresh, with no clear threat early on, as Gilles Muller of Luxembourg is far more dangerous on a quicker surface with his lefty serve. However, a duo of Australians who will more than likely face off in the second round, No. 27 Bernard Tomic and Thanasi Kokkinakis, may pose somewhat of a challenge to the World No. 1. Even though Novak comes into the second major of the year with a 35-2 record, it is hard to believe he will come out of the gates in peak form, giving a player like Tomic, who tends to draw the worst out of his opponents, a chance to make a fight of affairs.

Nadal on the other hand is the king at Roland Garros. Nine times he has conquered the terre battue, with his only loss coming against Robin Soderling. It will take a tremendous effort to take him out, and it is hard to see it happening unless Djokovic does so. Now, their potential quarterfinal match may very well be the early final, but first, Nadal may face some of the tour’s next big stars. In the round of 16, Grigor Dimitrov is the likely opponent, one of the most naturally talented players in the world. He broke through at Wimbledon, but is he ready to do so again? Others to look out for include Borna Coric and tough veteran Tommy Robredo.

Popcorn Match-Grigor Dimitrov v. Jack Sock OR Pablo Carreno Busta v. Victor Estrella Burgos
First Seed Out- Adrian Mannarino
Quarterfinal Result- Novak Djokovic def. Rafael Nadal
SECOND QUARTER
If Andy Murray plays the type of tennis that he conjured during the first couple of sets of the Australian Open final when he looked for all the world to be the best pure ball-striker in the world, he will advance through this quarter. But, there will be a huge issue in the form of a small, but tough-as-nail man— David Ferrer. Murray tends to fall apart most when he gets frustrated, and there are few on tour who are better at scraping balls back and making an opponent work for a point than Ferrer. The “Little Beast,” as Ferrer is called, has arguably the easiest 1/16th in the draw, with Murray facing far tougher challenges along the way. Vasek Pospisil recently hurt himself playing doubles, but has the firepower to test the Scot in the second round if he does not come prepared, with the energetic Nick Kyrgios lurking in the third round for what be one of the most fun matches with two of the biggest personalities on tour. Kyrgios is scared of nobody, but if Murray is aggressive right off the bat, the Australian may not have enough experience and guile to stay in touch. David Goffin is the most improved player on tour in the last couple of seasons, but again, will not have enough to take it to Murray. But, all of the obstacles in his way may take just enough out of Murray for Ferrer to pounce.
Popcorn Match- John Isner v. Andreas Seppi
First Seed Out- Leonardo Mayer
Quarterfinal Result- David Ferrer def. Andy Murray
THIRD QUARTER
This section of the draw may have the most diverse group of players and talents in the tournament and in recent memory, with players from all over the world and court looking to advance to the semifinals. Tomas Berdych and Kei Nishikori, seeded fourth and fifth, respectively, are the most talented players of the group, both elite ball-strikers who are two of the few capable of competing from the baseline with Djokovic and Murray. There are enough lefties in this section to fill multiple courts, distinguishing themselves with many different playing styles. Feliciano Lopez is a slicing and dicing serve and volleyer who on his day can keep anyone on their heels, while Fernando Verdasco has the only lefty forehand within realms of Nadal’s. Thomaz Bellucci is one of the hottest players on tour, and the list keeps on going. But, there are also the players who bring an out-of-the-ordinary game onto the court, with the flat strokes of Roberto Bautista Agut and confusion of Florian Mayer. Then, there is the enigma that is Fabio Fognini, who can blitz anybody in the section when focused, but could lose in the first round to Tatsuma Ito if he is not ready. This is the most unpredictable section with many talents, but look for two of the more dynamic players to get through.

Popcorn Match- Roberto Bautista Agut v Florian Mayer
First Seed Out- Feliciano Lopez
Quarterfinal Result- Kei Nishikori def. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

FOURTH QUARTER
It is impossible to ignore the greatest player of all time, and that is what is happening in the lead-up to the French Open. Roger Federer may have the easiest road to the second week, yet all the talk is about whether or not Djokovic or Nadal were affected more by ending up in the same quarter. His first two opponents will be a qualifier and possibly Marcel Granollers, who does not have enough weapons to threaten Federer. Ivo Karlovic and eventually Gael Monfils could be looming, but could either really put together a solid enough block of play to take out the No. 2 seed in a five-set affair? If Roger plays well, neither can, and then comes his compatriot Stan Wawrinka. The man is one of the most talented in the sport, as he showed when he won the Australian Open last year, but his play so far this season has left much to be desired. It is never easy, but if Federer is focused from the get-go, it is his section to lose. Arguably the highlight is the potential drop that Ernests Gulbis may suffer in the rankings pending his result. The Latvian made the semifinals in Paris last year, even with his odd forehand, but losing those points combined with a lackluster start to the year can plummet him to near the boundary of the top-100.

Popcorn Match- Guillermo Garcia-Lopez v. Steve Johnson
First Seed Out- Ivo Karlovic
Quarterfinal Result- Roger Federer def. Gilles Simon
_________________________________________________________________________________________________
DARK HORSE- Dominic Thiem
MOST TO LOSE- Ernests Gulbis
FINAL RESULTS-Djokovic def. Ferrer, Federer def. Nishikori; Djokovic def. Federer

Unstoppable Djokovic

by Michael Lemort

After his success in Rome and Monte-Carlo a month ago, two of the three clay-court Masters 1000 of the season, Novak Djokovic has confirmed that he was the favorite for the French Open coming up next week and that he was invincible in the big events since last fall.

He started the 2015 season with a success at the Australian Open, first major of the year, against Andy Murray. It was his fifth crown in Melbourne and his eighth victory in a Grand Slam tournament. Then he won back to back Indian Wells and Miami, the first two Masters 1000 of the season (achieving the double for the third time), beating Roger Federer and Andy Murray in the final.

After his success in Monte-Carlo last April, he became the first player to win the opening three Masters 1000 of the year and also the first one to win the first four big events of the season. Even though he had to withdraw from Madrid’s Masters 1000 two weeks ago, he came back in Rome last week and extended his winning streak to 22 matches after his victory over Federer in the final. That was his 24th success in a Masters 1000 tournament, one more than Roger Federer and only three behind the leader Rafael Nadal (27).

With a 147th week at the top, he has now passed Nadal (141) and only Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe have done better in the tennis history. Novak Djokovic is more than ever the number one at the ATP rankings with 13845 points (a new record). Roger Federer, the number two, is 4610 points behind.
This year, he only lost against Ivo Karlovic in Doha (an ATP 250) and against Roger Federer in Dubai (an ATP 500) which leads him to a 35 wins/2 losses record so far in 2015. Knowing that he also won the ATP World Tour Finals in London and the Paris Masters 1000 last November, his last defeat in a big event (Grand Slams and Masters 1000) took place last October against Roger Federer in the semi-final of Shanghai (Masters 1000).

With all those records and that confidence, no wonder that he will be the favorite for the French Open next week, the only Grand Slam missing in his already huge career.

Wimbledon Readies For Another Andy Murray Assault

This gallery contains 1 photo.

With Wimbledon 2015 just around the corner, all eyes are on the form of the world’s top tennis players. Britain, in particular, will be watching the progress of 2013 Wimbledon champion Andy Murray.

A number of near misses—and the tantalising promise of things to come, when he won gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games—led to his 2013 performance where the Scot became the first British player to win the men’s singles championship at Wimbledon for 77 years.

Those lucky enough to have secured Centre Court tickets for the Wimbledon Men’s Final 2015 will be hoping for a repeat performance—if only to sample the magical atmosphere that is generated at SW19.

Doubtless, in 2013, the shouts and cheers of encouragement for Murray in the final will have been slightly louder and more raucous thanks to his nationality. However, such adulation is not the sole preserve of a “home-grown” player on Centre Court. The likes of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are all supported by their own massive army of fans who add much colour to proceedings.

Outside Centre Court large, and altogether more partisan, crowds gather on Henman Hill— or Murray Mound —as it has now been dubbed. Wimbledon needs home-grown talent to shine and, when it does, it is here that the place really comes alive.

Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski’s performances paved the way for mass celebrations by local crowds on Henman Hill in the nineties—Andy Murray has taken it to a whole new level. And there is still more to come from him.

In early May, Murray recorded a victory over Rafa Nadal in the final of this year’s Madrid Open. Although on clay, it is a clear sign that the Scot is still a force in world tennis. Murray showed a great degree of control against Nadal, who is rightly lauded as the greatest clay-court tennis player of all time, to win the title in two sets.

Legendary US tennis coach Nick Bolletieri believes that Murray has never played better “I would say that this is the best I have seen Murray play, right now, and I include when he won the big ones,” he told Wimbledon.com.

Murray will now head into the Roland Garros French Open—another title held on clay—in great form and high spirits. He will also know that the green, green grass of (almost) home will be waiting for him just a few weeks later.