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The Greatest Forehands In Tennis History – Ranked!

The forehand is perhaps the most the most destructive weapon in the sport of tennis. Who in the history of the game had – or has – the best forehand of all time? Steve Flink, newly-nominated International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee, tennis historian, journalist and author of the book THE GREATEST TENNIS MATCHES OF ALL TIME (available here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Greatest-Tennis-Matches-Time/dp/0942257936/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346763283&sr=8-1&keywords=Greatest+tennis+matches+of+all+time) ranks the top five forehands of all time as part of his book. The list is found below.

Top Five Forehands of All Time – Men

1.ROGER FEDERER Some hit the ball more mightily off the forehand side, and others were flashier, but Federer’s forehand is the best I have ever seen. His capacity to station himself inside the baseline and shorten the court for his opponent has surpassed all others. Once he is inside the court, he can go either way—inside-in or inside-out—and hit winners at will. In top form, he clips more lines with his majestic forehand than anyone and yet he makes very few mistakes for someone so adventuresome.

2. RAFAEL NADAL The Spaniard’s forehand has always been his trademark shot. Nadal tortures his rivals with his rhythmic precision off the forehand. The hop he gets on the forehand with the heaviest and most penetrating topspin of all time is almost mind boggling. He can go full tilt for hours on end and hardly miss a forehand, but it is not as if he is pushing his shots back into play; he is pulverizing the ball and weakening his opponent’s will simultaneously. He sends his adversaries into submission with a barrage of heavy forehands, weakening their resolve in the process. His ball control off the forehand is amazing. I give Federer the edge over Nadal for the best forehand ever, but it is a very close call.

3. IVAN LENDL The former Czech who became an American citizen transformed the world of tennis with his playing style, most importantly with his signature inside-out forehand. There were an abundance of serve-and-volley competitors along with more conventional baseline practitioners during his era, but Lendl changed it all, serving with impressive power to set up his magnificent semi-western, inside-out forehand—the shot that carried him to eight major titles. Lendl’s power and accuracy with that forehand had never been witnessed before.

4. BILL TILDEN Over the course of the 1920’s, when Tilden ruled tennis and studied the technique of the sport with all-consuming interest, the American influenced the sport immensely. He had an estimable first serve and he improved his backhand markedly, but the forehand was Tilden’s finest shot. He drove through the ball classically and confidently and it was a stroke that would not break down under pressure. The Tilden forehand was a shot made for the ages.

5. BJORN BORG, PETE SAMPRAS and JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO Although many observers took more notice of the Swede’s two-handed backhand because he joined Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert to popularize that shot in the 1970’s, his forehand was in many ways superior. Borg ushered in a brand of heavy topspin that was unprecedented and the forehand took him to the top of the sport. He passed particularly well off the backhand and disguised his two-hander adeptly, but the Borg forehand defined his greatness more than anything else. Sampras had the most explosive running forehand of all time and he could do quite a bit of damage from the middle of the court off that side as well. His magnificent forehand was relatively flat and it was awesome when he was on. Del Potro is changing the face of the modern game with his explosive flat forehand, the biggest in the sport today. It is a prodigious weapon, released with blinding speed. More than anything else, his sizzling forehand was the reason he halted Federer in a five-set final at the 2009 U.S. Open.

 

Top Five Forehands of All Time – Women

1 . STEFFI GRAF This was among the easiest selections to make among the best strokes ever produced. Considering how much pace she got on this explosive shot, it was made all the more remarkable by her grip—essentially a continental, on the border of an eastern. She would get into position early and with supreme racket head acceleration she would sweep through the ball and strike countless outright winners with her flat stroke. She had little margin for error, yet the forehand seldom let her down. In my view, it stands in a class by itself as the best ever.

2. MAUREEN CONNOLLY A natural left-hander who played tennis right-handed, Connolly had a beautifully produced one-handed backhand that was a shot which came more easily to her. The fact remains that Connolly’s forehand paved the way for her to win the Grand Slam in 1953. She placed the same value on fast footwork as Graf. Her inexhaustible attention to detail and sound mechanics gave Connolly a magnificent forehand.

3. HELEN WILLS MOODY Brought up on the hard courts of California, taught to play the game from the baseline with steadfast conviction, realizing the importance of controlling the climate of her matches, Wills Moody was not called “Little Miss Poker Face” without good reason. She was relentlessly disciplined in her court craft, making the backcourt her home, refusing to make mistakes yet hitting her ground strokes hard. Her flat forehand—hit unfailingly deep and close to the lines—was far and away the best of her era and one of the finest ever.

4. MONICA SELES Authorities often debated whether Seles was better off the forehand or the backhand. Both were left-handed, two-fisted strokes. Each was taken early. She could explore the most acute crosscourt angles or direct her shots within inches of the baseline off either side. Unlike most of her peers, Seles’s forehand was not one dimensional.

5. SERENA WILLIAMS On her finest afternoons, when her timing is on and her concentration is sharp, Williams can be uncontainable off the forehand. She covers the ball with just enough topspin and takes it early, often from an open stance. It is the shot she uses to open up the court, to either release winners or advance to the net. She can be breathtaking off that side at her best, but her ranking is not higher because her brilliance off that side can be sporadic.

“The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” book features profiles and rankings of the greatest matches of all time dating from the 1920s featuring Bill Tilden and Suzanne Lenglen up through the modern era of tennis featuring contemporary stars Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. Flink breaks down, analyzes and puts into historical context the sport’s most memorable matches, providing readers with a courtside seat at these most celebrated and significant duels. Flink also includes a fascinating “greatest strokes of all time” section where he ranks and describes the players who best executed all the important shots in the game through the years. Other champions featured in the book include Don Budge, Maureen Connolly, Rod Laver, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf among many others.

“The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time,” a hard-cover book that retails for $28.95, can be purchased via this link http://m1e.net/c?110071729-mFSTVX3uyJ5zw%407612075-hqIGItXY8SJAw at www.NewChapterMedia.com and where ever books are sold.

Flink, one of the most respected writers and observers in the game, is currently a columnist for TennisChannel.com. A resident of Katonah, N.Y., he is the former editor of World Tennis magazine and a former senior columnist at Tennis Week.

The book has received high praise from some of the most respected names in the sport, including Chris Evert, a winner of 18 major singles titles, who wrote the foreword to the book.

Said seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras, “Steve Flink was there reporting on almost every big match I played in my career. He has seen all of the great players for the last 45 years. I encourage you to read this book because Steve is one of the most insightful writers on the game that I have known and he really knows his tennis.”

Said former U.S. Davis Cup captain and player Patrick McEnroe, “As a writer and a fan, Steve Flink’s knowledge of tennis history and his love of the sport are second to none, which is why you should read his new book.”

Said ESPN’s Cliff Drysdale, “To see tennis through the eyes of Steve Flink is to wander through a wonderland. These are not fantasies because Steve captures the essence of tennis matches in graphic detail. There is no one more passionate or caring about his subject. In this absorbing book, I can relive matches that I have called on television.”

Said CBS, NBC and Tennis Channel commentator Mary Carillo, “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time is a masterful tennis epic. Its pages are brimming with insight, hindsight. And as always with Steve Flink, the 20/20 vision of the subtleties and complexities of a match. From Budge to Nadal and “Little Mo” to Serena Williams, Steve will guide you through the greatest matches you ever saw, or never saw. The game’s finest players and brightest moments will come alive and play again, right before your eyes. This book is a tennis treasure.”

Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is also the publisher of “The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players of All Time” by Sand Harwitt, “The Secrets of Spanish Tennis” by Chris Lewit, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer, “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins, “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was” by Sidney Wood, “The Days of Roger Federer” by Randy Walker, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “Titanic: The Tennis Story” by Lindsay Gibbs, “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes with Peter Kolar, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “On This Day In Tennis History” by Randy Walker (www.TennisHistoryApp.com) “A Player’s Guide To USTA League Tennis” by Tony Serksnis, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli (www.Boycott1980.com), “The Lennon Prophecy” by Joe Niezgoda (www.TheLennonProphecy.com), “Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Susan Anson, “How To Sell Your Screenplay” by Carl Sautter, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According To Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin, “How To Permanently Erase Negative Self Talk” by Emily Filloramo, “Lessons from the Wild” by Shayamal Vallabhjee among others.

Tennis Players Love Forged On “The Titanic”

Karl Behr was one of the best tennis players in the United States – a member of the 1907 U.S. Davis Cup team and a Wimbledon doubles finalist that year. In 1912, he was madly in love with Helen Newsom. However, Newsom’s mother, Sally Beckwith, did not approve of their relationship and whisked her daughter away on a European adventure in an attempt to break up the couple. Behr concocted a European business trip to chase after the love of his life. Both had return trips to America on the famed and fated ship TITANIC.

The love story of Behr and Newsom, as well as the incredible story of survival and triumph of another TITANIC survivor and future U.S. singles champion Dick Williams, are featured in the book TITANIC: THE TENNIS STORY by Lindsay Gibbs ($12.95, New Chapter Press, available for order on Amazon.com here: http://m1e.net/c?96585803-6OBSTdj9z6JKs%407231931-gXuzNVNsCWbmw

TITANIC: THE TENNIS STORY narrates the extraordinary stories of tennis players Behr and Williams, who survived the sinking of the famous ship 100 years ago this coming April 15 and met on the deck of the rescue ship Carpathia. Behr and Williams eventually became teammates on the U.S. Davis Cup team and faced each other in the quarterfinals of the 1914 U.S. Nationals in Newport, R.I. – the tournament that is now the US Open.

The historical novel is published by New Chapter Press of New York City.

Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is also the publisher of  “The Greatest Tenni Matches of All Time” by Steve Flink, “Macci Magic” by Rick Macci, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer, “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins, “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was” by Sidney Wood, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes with Peter Kolar, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “On This Day In Tennis History” by Randy Walker (www.TennisHistoryApp.com), “A Player’s Guide To USTA League Tennis” by Tony Serksnis, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli (www.Boycott1980.com), “The Lennon Prophecy” by Joe Niezgoda  (www.TheLennonProphecy.com), “Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Susan Anson, “How To Sell Your Screenplay” by Carl Sautter, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According To Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin, “People’s Choice Guide Cancun” by Eric Rabinowitz, “Lessons from the Wild” by Shayamal Vallabhjee among others.

How To Bet On Tennis Online

Tennis is played all over the globe and attracts vast sums of money being placed on the outcome of matches. There are tournaments all year round and if you follow the sport closely it is possible to make lots of cash. If you are considering betting on tennis there are a number of things that you must know first. In this article, I will go through the basics and give you helpful tips to enable you to win big.

Tennis Betting Types

The first thing that you must understand before placing an online tennis bet is to know the different gambling options available. Choosing the correct method of betting will help you to increase your profits and cut the financial risks you’re taking. Different bets can be used as part of a strategy and it is easier spotting value on alternative betting types as generally, you get better odds than placing it only on the outcome of the match.

Match Tennis Betting

The most common type of tennis bet is Match betting which is a wager placed on the outright winner of the match. It is the easiest form of bet type to understand and use. It works by the favorite having a minus against their name. This means that the amount that you stake is greater than the winning you would receive if the bet won. The underdog is marked with a plus sign and this means that the amount you place is less than the total you would receive in winnings.

Tennis Set Betting

This form of tennis bet works by the punter guessing the correct score of the match. It is riskier than placing on the winner as it is more difficult to get right. Due to this, it has higher odds attached to it so if your bet comes in you stand to make a lot of money.

Parlay Tennis Betting

This bet type works by the punter placing a combination of different wagers all linked to the same bet. These can be a mixture of the different betting types and the payout is far greater than placing it on single matches. It is a very risky way to gamble as if just a single game does not go your way you will lose the whole amount placed on the bet.

Futures Tennis Betting

If you want to get better odds than what are available once the tournament has started you can use futures tennis betting. This works by the punter placing a wager on an outcome of a tournament that has not started. The further away it is the better the odds available. It is risky due to the punter losing all their stake if the player does not take part in the tournament. To overcome this though it is possible to take out insurance that will cover the bet made if this takes place.

Proposition Tennis Betting

It is possible to bet on anything tennis related and this is called props betting. It works by the punter choosing an outcome that they think will happen and the bookmaker will supply odds for this. The payouts for this tend to be extremely high and expert gamblers use this type to win big. By using all of their insider knowledge they are able to spot opportunities the bookie’s miss.

Conclusion

If you are thinking about having a punt on tennis make sure you set yourself a budget and do not go over that amount. To get your bankroll started why not use a Betvictor Promo Code 2017 for a £60 Free Bet. You can then get free money to gamble with and eliminate the risk of losing completely.

PowerShares Series 2017 Schedule Announced

PowerShares Series Tennis, the circuit for champion tennis players over the age of 30, announced its full 2017 circuit of events starting March 30 in Toronto, Canada.

The 2017 PowerShares Series will also again partner alongside ATP and WTA events in Charleston, S.C., Newport, R.I., Winston-Salem, N.C., and New Haven, Conn. The series of one-night tournaments, featuring two one-set semifinal matches and a one-set final-round match played between tennis legends, will feature for a third straight year players making their own line-calls with the assistance of electronic line-calling.

The full 2017 PowerShares Series schedule, with player fields, is as follows:

 

* March 30: Toronto, ON (Ricoh Coliseum) – John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish, Mark Philippoussis

* April 1: Charleston, S.C. (Family Circle Tennis Center) – John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, James Blake, Mark Philippoussis

* April 28: Birmingham, AL (Legacy Arena At The BJCC) – John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, Mardy Fish

* May 17: Chicago, IL (UIC Pavilion) – John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis

* July 23 Newport, R.I. (International Tennis Hall of Fame) – Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake, Mardy Fish

* August 20 Winston-Salem, N.C. (Wake Forest University) – Andy Roddick, James Blake, Michael Chang, Mardy Fish

* August 24, 25 New Haven, CT (Yale University) – John McEnroe, Michael Chang, James Blake, Mark Philippoussis

* Lincoln, NE (Pinnacle Bank Arena) – to be announced

* Los Angeles, CA (Sherwood Country Club) – to be announced

* Nashville, TN (Bridgestone Arena) – to be announced

 

Each PowerShares Series event also features special VIP experiences, including hit-with-the-pros opportunities and special back-stage access. All ticket, experience and event information can be found at www.PowerSharesSeries.com.

Mark Philippoussis won the 2016 PowerShares Series season championship with tournament victories in Memphis, Tulsa, Newport, Winston-Salem and New Haven. Andy Roddick won four events during the 2016 season in St. Louis, Charleston, Los Angeles and Orlando, followed in third place by James Blake, who won titles in Chicago, Portland and Brooklyn. In 2015, Roddick won the PowerShares Series points title in his second year of competing on the series winning a record eight events in Los Angeles, Lincoln, Chicago, Austin, Little Rock, Dallas, Richmond and Minneapolis. The year before in 2014, McEnroe won the points title for the first time in the history of Champions Series tennis by winning events in Kansas City, Indianapolis, Nashville and Charlotte

ABOUT INSIDEOUT SPORTS + ENTERTAINMENT

InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a Los Angeles based producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Champions Series, a collection of tournaments featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including “Legendary Night” exhibitions, The World Series of Beach Volleyball and numerous corporate outings. Since inception, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment has raised over $4 million for charity. In 2014, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment merged with Horizon Media, the largest privately held media services agency in the world.  For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.powersharesseries.com or follow on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

ABOUT HORIZON MEDIA

Horizon Media, Inc. is the largest and fastest growing privately held media services agency in the world. The company was founded in 1989, is headquartered in New York and has offices in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Chicago. Horizon Media was chosen as 2011 Independent Media Agency of the Year by Mediapost, 2010 U.S. Media Agency of the Year by Adweek, Brandweek, and Mediaweek as well as by Ad Age and as one of the world’s ten most innovative marketing and advertising companies by Fast Company in 2011. In 2012, Bill Koenigsberg, President, CEO and Founder, was honored by Advertising Age as Industry Executive of the Year. Most recently, in 2014, Bill Koenigsberg was named 4As Chair of the Board and is the first person from a media agency to hold this prestigious position in the 100 year history of the 4As, the marketing industry’s leading trade association. The company’s mission is “To create the most meaningful brand connections within the lives of people everywhere.” By delivering on this mission through a holistic approach to brand marketing, Horizon Media has become one of the largest and fastest-growing media agencies in the industry, with estimated billings of over $5.3 billion and over 1,200 employees. The company is also a founding member of Columbus Media International, a multi-national partnership of independent media agencies. For more information, please visit horizonmedia.com.

About PowerShares by Invesco

PowerShares by Invesco is leading the Intelligent ETF Revolution® through its family of more than 140 domestic and international PowerShares exchange-traded funds (ETFs). PowerShares is the provider of PowerShares QQQ, one of the earliest and largest ETFs in the industry. QQQ trades on the Nasdaq Stock Market where innovation and technology expertise have created a world-recognized marketplace for the world’s biggest and best technology companies.  PowerShares ETFs seek to outperform traditional benchmark indexes while providing advisors and investors access to an innovative array of focused investment opportunities. PowerShares has US franchise assets exceeding $110 billion as of December 30, 2016. For more information, please visit us at powershares.com or follow us on Twitter @PowerShares.

Roger Federer Claims “Milestone” Victory At 2017 Australian Open

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Roger Federer claimed his 18th major title on Sunday at the Australian Open as he and Rafael Nadal turned back the clock. Federer grabbed the win in an intense five-setter, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

“This one is definitely a milestone in my career, there’s no doubt about it,” Federer said. “Rafa definitely has been very particular in my career. I think he made me a better player. It remains for me the ultimate challenge to play against him.”

With the two men alternating sets, it was never really clear who was going to come out on top until the last point of the match. In the fifth set alone, Nadal was up a break at 3-1 and looked poised to finish the deal, but Federer rattled off the last five games of the match to steal the title from his long-time friend and opponent, earning his fifth Australian Open title.

“I’d like to congratulate Rafa on an amazing comeback,” said Federer, who made an incredible comeback of his own at this year’s Australian Open. “I don’t think either of us believed we’d be in the final of the Australian Open when we were at your academy four or five months ago. But here we stand.”

A straightforward first set saw zero break points in nine out of the 10 games. The one exception to that came in the 3-3 game, as Federer opened up a 15-40 lead on Nadal’s serve and took advantage of his first break point. From there, the Suisse would drop just one break point in his last two service games to take the lead.

In the second set, both players started to get more comfortable in the match. Nadal was able to go up a double break lead early in the set, but Federer fought back to get one of the breaks back, making the score 4-2. Nadal locked it down on his serve after that break, though, holding at love twice to close out the set and even up the match.

Federer bounced back very strongly in the third as he was the one taking a double break lead this time, and he even had chances to win the set 6-0. Nadal did create his opportunities as well, seeing five break points total in the first and last games of the set, but he was unable to convert on any of them, allowing the Suisse to regain the lead.

In the fourth, Nadal settled down and really found his rhythm. He broke early for a 4-1 lead, and didn’t face a break point in the entire set. Just like in the second set, Nadal held at love twice to close out the set and even up the match, forcing a decisive fifth set.

That fifth set saw Nadal jump out to an early 3-1 lead, fighting off four break points in his first two service games. Federer wouldn’t go down that easily, though, as he was finally able to break Nadal and get back on serve at 4-3. In the eighth game of the set, Federer opened up a 0-40 lead with three break points to set himself up to serve for the title.

Nadal incredibly won three points in a row to get back to deuce before Federer would create two more break chances. On the second one, Federer was finally able to convert for the 5-3 lead. There, he fell into a 15-40 hole and it looked like Nadal was going to make a run of his own. That wasn’t the case, though, as Federer won five of the last six points, including the final one on a challenge which gave him the title.

“Tennis is a tough sport. There are no draws. But if there was one, I would have been happy to accept a draw with Rafa tonight,” Federer said during the trophy presentation.

The title for Federer extends his record of major title to 18 over Nadal’s and Pete Sampras’ count of 14, with Novak Djokovic lingering behind at 12. Federer came into the year hoping to win just one more major title, but now he’ll have the confidence to win one or two more throughout the rest of 2017.

Serena Williams Beats Sister Venus For Record 23rd Major at Australian Open

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Serena Williams won her 23rd major title on Saturday at the Australian Open as she defeated her older sister, Venus Williams, in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4.

The theme after the match was not about Serena celebrating her win, but about celebrating her relationship with her sister.

“She’s an amazing person. There’s no way I’d be at 23 without her,” Serena said. “She’s my inspiration. She’s the only reason I’m standing here today.”

The match-up between the Williams sisters in the final in Melbourne was the oldest major final in history on the women’s side, but the two sisters showed no signs of slowing down this fortnight as each looked very impressive. Serena was just a bit more impressive, as she was able to claim her 7th Australian Open title and regain her throne at No. 1 in the WTA rankings.

“I’m enormously proud of you. You’re the world to me,” Venus said.

The match got off to an interesting start as there were four breaks of serve in a row. With each player possibly a bit nervous and unsure of how to handle the situation, it took a few games for everything to settle down. But once it did, Serena was the one who took charge. She would break for a 4-3 lead in the first set before holding at love a few games later to close it out.

Up a set, Serena continued to look confident. She had a look at a break point in Venus’ second service game of the second set, but the older sister was able to fight it off. But with Serena continuing to dominate on serve, the pressure on Venus was ever-present, and it finally got to be too much in the 3-3 game.

With Venus serving, Serena created three break chances and was able to capitalize on the third, giving her a break lead and putting herself just two games away from the title. Nothing would get in Serena’s way, as she dropped just two points in her last two service games, holding comfortably to close out the win and take the Australian Open title.

Serena is now an astonishing 23-6 in major finals, and improves to 7-2 in major finals against her sister Venus. Venus still has many positives to take away from this event, as she will improve to No. 11 in the world, her highest ranking since September, plus she also had her best result at a major since 2009.

“Thank you, Venus, for inspiring me to be the best player that I could be and inspiring me to work hard,” Serena said.

Serena’s 23 major titles is now an Open Era record, passing Steffi Graf’s 22. Margaret Court holds the overall record at 24, something that Serena will certainly have her sights set on throughout the rest of 2017.

Serena2017Aussie

Rafael Nadal Edges Grigor Dimitrov In Five-Set Epic, Roger Federer Next In Australian Open Final

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Rafael Nadal beat Grigor Dimitrov in an epic five-setter on Friday at the Australian Open to reach the final, 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-4. Nadal’s win sets up a matchup between two of the greatest athletes tennis has ever seen, the 14-time major champion Nadal and the 17-time major champion Roger Federer.

“It is amazing to be through to a final of a Grand Slam again here in Australia at the start of the year. Means a lot to me,” Nadal said. “It’s special to play with Roger again in a final of a Grand Slam.”

The final on Sunday will be the first time Nadal and Federer have faced off in a major final since the French Open in 2011, which Nadal won with ease.

The semifinal match between Nadal and Dimitrov was an instant classic as the two battled for almost five hours. Nadal came into the match as the heavy favorite, and eventually was able to reach in first major final in almost three years. Dimitrov, playing in just his second major semifinal, was almost able to withstand the constant high-energy style of play from Nadal, but just fell short in the end.

“It was a fantastic match. Very emotional. Grigor played great. I played great. So it was a great quality of tennis tonight,” Nadal said. “Both of us deserved to be in that final. It was a great fight.”

In a straight forward first set, Nadal fought off three break points in the opening game before settling down and breaking Dimitrov to take a 4-1 lead. Dominant on serve, Nadal dropped just two points in his last four service games to easily take the first set.

The second set was much crazier, as there were five breaks in total. Dimitrov got it started with a break to take a 4-1 lead, but Nadal was up to the task, breaking back a couple games later. The two exchanged breaks once more and it looked like we were headed for a tiebreak, but Dimitrov found some extra level late in the set, opening up a 15-40 lead on Nadal’s serve in the 12th game, breaking to take the set 7-5.

Once again, the two warriors exchanged breaks in the third set, but neither was able to find a late break to take the set. A tiebreak was needed to separate the two, and that was just as tight as the rest of the match had been. Nadal held leads at 3-1, 4-2, and 5-3, but Dimitrov was able to fight back each time. At 5-5, though, Nadal was able to reel off the last two points to take the tiebreak and a two sets to one lead.

Neither man faced a break point in the entire fourth set, as Dimitrov refused to back down. Another tiebreak was needed, and this time it was the Bulgarian who was taking the leads. After holding a lead at 4-2 at the change of ends, Dimitrov looked confident and stretched his lead to 6-3, holding three set points. On the second chance, Dimitrov was able to close out the set and force a deciding fifth set.

Dimitrov looked like he didn’t have the energy to pull out the win in the final set, as he four break points and was taken to deuce in three of his first four service games. With Dimitrov up 4-3, though, he had his chance. Up 15-40, the Bulgarian had two chances to break for a 5-3 lead to set himself up to serve out the match.

Nadal came up clutch, however, and impressively fought off both break points to hold for 4-4. That seemed to have finally killed off the effort from Dimitrov, as Nadal broke in the next game before holding in a 10-point game to close out the five-set win.

Nadal leads the overall head to head with Federer 23-11 overall, and 6-2 in major finals. He’ll hope to keep those trends alive as the two will battle on Sunday night in Melbourne, or very early Sunday morning on the east coast.

“For me, it’s a privilege and I think it’s a very special thing for both of us to be in the final,” Nadal said. “We are still there and we are still fighting for important events. That’s very special.”

 

Venus and Serena Williams Advance Into Yet Another All-Williams Final In Australia

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Venus Williams defeated Coco Vandeweghe in the Australian Open semifinals on Thursday, 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-3, to help set up an all-Williams final. Venus will take on sister Serena in the final on Saturday after she easily knocked out Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in straight sets.

“It’s always very satisfying to be able to get through in such a big match against an opponent who was just on fire,” Venus said. “It means so much.”

The 36-year old Venus will take on Serena for the 28th time, and the ninth time in a major final. Serena currently leads in both departments, 16-11 overall and 6-2 in major finals. Venus will be going for her eighth major title and first since 2008, while Serena will be looking for her 23rd.

“She’s basically my world and my life and she means everything to me. I couldn’t be happier with these results, and for us both to be in the final is the biggest dream come true for us,” Serena said.

Against Vandeweghe, Venus got off to a bit of a slow start, as she faced four break points in her opening service game. She could only save the first three before getting broken, but was able to bounce back right away and break the big-hitting American. From there, each play settled into the match and found their rhythms, as no more break points were seen in the rest of the set.

In the first set tiebreak, the returner won the first five points, allowing Vandeweghe to take a 3-2 mini-break lead. The 25-year old American playing in her first major semifinal would eventually take the tiebreak 7-3, thanks to a five-point run.

“I’m versatile. I can adjust. I can do what I need to do to win a match,” Venus said. Adjust is exactly what she did as the rest of the match was a completely different story than the first set.

Venus battled back straight away with a no-nonsense mindset in the second set. Vandeweghe’s level of play that had been so impressive the entire tournament finally dropped, and Venus was able to break her twice in the set. Added onto the two breaks, Venus was able to save eight break points in the second set, allowing her to even up the match and take it to a decider.

In the third, Venus was once again able to break early to apply some scoreboard pressure on Vandeweghe. Once again, Vandeweghe had difficulty converting on Venus’ serve, as she missed out on two break points in her first service game. From there, Vandeweghe only won more than one point in a Venus service game once in three tries.

In the final game of the match, with Vandeweghe serving at 5-3, Venus had a look at four break points and the nerves in the building increased with every one that Vandeweghe saved. On the fourth attempt, though, Vandeweghe sent a backhand long and Venus had finally won and reached the Australian Open final.

Venus and Serena will meet in the final on Saturday and it will be one of the most anticipated matches on the women’s tour in a very long time.

“I just feel like no matter what happens, we’ve won. She’s been through a lot. I’ve been through a lot. A Williams is going to win the tournament,” Serena said.

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni Reaches Australian Open Semifinals As Dream Run Continues

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

 

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni’s incredible story continued on Wednesday at the Australian Open as she defeated the 2016 US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, to reach her second career major semifinal.

“To me this is overwhelming. I will never, ever forget this day or the last couple of weeks,” Lucic-Baroni said.

It’s not just the second career semifinal for Lucic-Baroni, but it’s her first since 1999 when she was just 16 years old. As a teenager, many viewed Lucic-Baroni as the next big thing in women’s tennis, and that showed as she won her first WTA title and won the doubles title at the Australian Open before the age of 16.

Unfortunately, some injuries and issues in her personal life derailed her career for a few years, including a complete hiatus from tennis for a few years that saw her not compete in a single major from 2002 to 2010. Now, she is back on the court and will reach the Top 30 of the WTA rankings for the first time in her career after her run in Melbourne.

“This has truly made my life and everything bad that happened, it has made it OK,” Lucic-Baroni said.

The match started positively for Pliskova, a player who many believed would give Serena Williams issues in a potential semifinal matchup. The Czech saved a break point in her first service game, allowing her to relax and break Lucic-Baroni in the next game. The Croatian didn’t back down, though, as she came back to break twice, including in the final game of the set, to take a one-set lead.

The second set was back and forth as there were six breaks total, including two immediate exchanges of breaks. After the second exchange, Pliskova looked to have finally found her rhythm as she broke Lucic-Baroni two more times to eventually cruise to the second set win, evening up the match.

Another exchange of breaks started off the third set, meaning that Pliskova had now broken Lucic-Baroni five straight times. The 34-year old didn’t let that get her down, though, as she was able to break Pliskova again and took a 3-1 lead. Pliskova would break back a couple games later, but Lucic-Baroni had fate on her side.

With Pliskova serving at 4-4, Lucic-Baroni broke easily at love and followed that up with a comfortable hold to close out the match and earn her spot in the semifinals.

“I can’t believe this, this is crazy,” Lucic-Baroni said. “This is what I’ve been dreaming about. This is what I’ve been training for.”

Lucic-Baroni will take on 22-time major champion Serena Williams in the semifinals on Thursday. Williams will be hoping to set up an all-American final, or even an all-Williams final, as the other semifinal will see CoCo Vandeweghe take on Venus Williams.

Coco Vandeweghe Breaks Out Into First Major Semifinal

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

CoCo Vandeweghe set up an all-American semifinal at the Australian Open on Tuesday as she easily dispatched the 2016 French Open champion Garbine Muguruza in straight sets, 6-4, 6-0.

The other American she will face in the semifinal is seven-time major champion Venus Williams, who also won in straight sets over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 6-4, 7-6(3).

“It’s a dream to play someone you grew up watching. To play an unbelievable player, future hall of famer, to be on the court with her, I’ve only experienced it one time before,” said Vandeweghe, who lost that matchup on clay in Rome. “But to do it at this stage of a Grand Slam is kind of crazy.”

Vandeweghe has been playing the best tennis of her life this fortnight in Melbourne as she knocked out the No. 1 player in the world Angelique Kerber in the fourth round before following that up with a demolishing of the No. 7 seed Muguruza.

In the first set, the American had a look at seven break points before she could finally convert the break on her eighth attempt for a 4-3 lead. In her first four service games of the match, Vandeweghe only lost five points on serve, but when she went to serve out the set a few nerves may have crept into her mind. She fell to 30-40 as Muguruza had a chance to get back on serve, but the big hitting American fought off that break point before winning two more points to take the set.

That was the last change Muguruza would have in the match as Vandeweghe steamrolled through the second set, winning it 6-0. The Spaniard only won four points on serve in her three service games while the American only faced one break point and saved it, earning her a spot in the semifinals.

“It feels really good. It’s amazing to be in a semifinal, but not satisfying. I want to keep going,” Vandeweghe said. “There’s more things to do out on a tennis court that I’m hoping to achieve.”

The 36-year old Williams had a battle on her hands against Pavlyuchenkova, and had to battle back from a break down two separate times in the first set before she broke at love in the final game to steal it from the Russian.

In the second set, Williams once again battle back from a break down twice, but was unable to grab a third break this time, so the set went to a tiebreak. There, Williams fell behind 3-1, but was able to rattle off five points in a row to create three set points. She only needed one as she took the tiebreak 7-3, earning her spot in the semifinals.

“Today was such a hard fought match and she never let up,” Williams said.

“I’m sure she’s going to want to be in her first final,” Williams said about Vandeweghe. “I’m going to want to be in only my second final here. So it’s going to be a well-contested match.”

That semifinal matchup will take place on Thursday in Melbourne, with the winner heading to the Australian Open final.