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Jay Berger – The Man With The Back-Scratch Serve

The following is a chapter excerpt on Jay Berger from Sandy Harwitt’s book “The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players of All Time” (for sale here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/193755936X/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_RIZZyb1KGTC5C

It sounds very cliched to say, but nonetheless is very true: Trying to catch up with Jay Berger is like trying to hit a moving target.

Jay is here, there and everywhere, which is not that surprising considering that since 2008 he’s served as the USTA Head of Men’s Tennis. Trying to develop talent is no easy or part-time responsibility. It was never that Berger wasn’t amenable to chat about himself, his life in tennis, and his relationship to Judiasm. It’s just he’s one guy trying to be in a multitude of places at the same time. Just watching him traverse a Grand Slam tournament with American players — pros and juniors alike — on courts peppered around the grounds is dizzying to the observer.

Finally, during a relatively mundane work week at the USTA’s Boca Raton training facility, Jay phoned, first offering apologies for being so hard to pin down, and then with the good news that he had some time to talk – right then and there.

“You’re in a car,” the question was posed, but not needed since the background noise betrayed Berger’s whereabouts. He laughed, “Yes.” The response: “Perfect, you’re a captive audience then.” Jay patiently waited as the tape system was turned on and then spent some quality time telling his story.

Jay was born in Fort Dix, New Jersey, but relocated with his family to South Florida where Jay grew up and initially facilitated his own interest in tennis.

“I started playing tennis on my seventh birthday,” said Berger, the son of a dentist. “I got $10 from my grandmother and I went out to Walmart and bought an Emerson racket. I started by hitting balls in the street with my dad.”

Berger quickly upgraded from the road in front of his house to a tennis court, playing at Center Court, a club in Sunrise, Fla., where standout doubles star Robert Seguso also played. A half year into owning that Emerson racket and Jay was taking a once-a-week tennis lesson and by eight he was starting to play 10-and-under tournaments.

“I was dropped off at the courts at eight in the morning and picked up at five o’clock,” said Berger, thinking about how he developed as a youngster. “I would just try to find people to play with. I’d just hang out at the courts at the club all day. I’d play with anyone I could find.”

Back in Berger’s time, there were so many quality juniors in South Florida alone that a player had all the competition they needed to improve while living a more traditional childhood. Part of Jay’s normal childhood routine was attending Hebrew School and being Bar Mitzvah’ed.

Of growing up, Berger said, “Judiasm was definitely part of my life and who I was.”

He remembered that his dad donated money to the Israel Tennis Center. Nowadays, however, Berger says, “Not so much,” when asked if he’s active within the Jewish community. His wife, Nadia, isn’t Jewish and they haven’t raised their four children in the religion.

“There was definitely a sense of who the other players were who were Jewish and I think there probably still is,” Berger admitted. “You know, when I see (Israeli tennis player) Dudi Sela I think he knows who I am and I know who he is — there’s definitely some recognition.”

From the time Berger was 12-years-old to throughout his pro career his main coach was Jorge Paris. But he also was fortunate enough from his mid-teens to pick the brains of tour players Brian Gottfried and Harold Solomon. Solomon would frequently hit with Berger, but it was Gottfried who would become a vital mentor and coach. Besides for Berger, Gottfried worked at the same time with Aaron Krickstein, Jimmy Arias and Greg Holmes.

“I was lucky at 16 to start training with Brian Gottfried,” Berger said. “Brian was a huge influence in my life, my pro career. I couldn’t have a better transition to the pros than with someone like Brian, who was such a consummate professional. In a different way, Harold was also an influence.”

In 1985, Berger made quite a splash in the juniors, winning the USTA Boys’ 18s Clay Court and USTA Boys’ 18s Hardcourt titles. The latter, more commonly known as Kalamazoo, comes with a special prize to the victor every year – a wildcard into the upcoming U.S. Open. Still an amateur, the No. 730th-ranked Berger, who had only ever played one pro tournament prior to the U.S. Open — losing a first-round match in Boston that summer — made great value of that U.S. Open wildcard. He journeyed to the fourth round, where he fell in four sets to Yannick Noah. To reach that fourth round, however, Berger upset Brian Teacher, the 1980 Australian Open champion, in a four-setter in the third round. The big joke about Berger at that U.S. Open was that this unknown junior and his family had to keep checking back into the swank St. Moritz Hotel on Central Park South every time he’d win his match. No other Kalamazoo champion has fared better as Berger did at that U.S. Open in the Open Era.

In today’s world, Berger would’ve probably taken that fourth-round appearance as a sign he was ready for the real world: the pros. But in those days, juniors went on to college and that’s exactly what Berger did. He enrolled at Clemson University, where he spent two years and received All-American honors before joining the pro tour.

During his career, Berger won three titles (Buenos Aires in 1986, Sao Paulo in 1988 and Charleston in 1989). He ended the 1989 season with a year-end best ranking of No. 10, enjoying a career-high ranking of No. 7 in April of 1990. His best results at the Grand Slams was reaching two quarterfinals — at the 1989 French and U.S. Opens. He also represented the United States in Davis Cup, winning both singles matches he played.

“For me, the highlight was playing Davis Cup, without a doubt,” Berger said. “That’s something I always dreamed of being part of and is one of my greatest memories. Obviously, making it to the Top 10 was something I’m not sure I ever thought I’d be able to do. Getting to the quarterfinals of a couple of Grand Slams would be some of my highlights. And getting to the semifinals at the Lipton (Key Biscayne) at home in front of friends and family was exciting.”

During his career, Berger claimed a number of victories against top players, including Mats Wilander, Pete Sampras, Michael Chang and Boris Becker. In fact, when he upset Becker 6-1, 6-1 in the Indian Wells third round, en route to the semifinals, it would turn out to be the worst defeat Becker would suffer during his stellar career.

“Really, when I look back on my career I think the thing that is nice is that I did everything I could to be the best player I could become,” Berger said. “I was known by my peers to be a great competitor, somebody who was pretty fierce on the court. You know, it’s great to be able to look back and have no regrets in the way I went about my tennis and I think that’s what it’s all about.”

Berger would be the first to admit that although he was a top 10 guy his American compatriots, such as Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, kept him from being a major focal point in the game. However, there is one notable, quirky style to his game that many fans remember clearly. Berger had a unique service motion where he did away with the normal backswing motion of a serve. When he got in position to serve, his starting point was with the racket located behind his back — almost as if he was using it as a back scratcher.

“My serve developed — the first time I ever used it I was 16-years-old and I was playing the 16-and-unders at Kalamazoo,” Berger said. “I was going to graduate high school a little bit ahead so that was the year that college coaches were going to be looking to recruit me because I was going to graduate at 17. In my first round match I pulled a muscle very badly — my chest muscles — and the only way I could’ve continued the tournament was to continue serving in a half motion. I served some of the best tennis I ever served.

“That was the first time I ever used that serve,” Berger continued. “When I went to college my first year I was having a lot of shoulder issues and I also wasn’t serving that great – it was probably the weakest part of my game. So I just decided to try the serve again and it just worked better for me so I stuck with it and never went back.”

Upon his retirement, Berger went into coaching and spent some time as a coach at the University of Miami. In 2003, he joined the USTA national coaching staff, working to help current players and assist in identifying talent for the future. Berger believed his path after playing the pros was to pursue coaching as it would fulfill his desire to give back to the game he loved.

“I find it extremely satisfying at times, sometimes not as satisfying, but overall I really enjoy what I do,” Berger said. “I do love learning about tennis. I enjoy trying to become as good as I can as a coach. I don’t feel like I go to work every day. I feel like I get to follow my passion.”

“The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players Of All Time” is a guide to the best and most influential Jewish tennis players in the history of the sport and includes features and biographies of the greatest players, stories of both break-out success and anti-Semitism. Beginning with the Italian Baron Umberto de Morpurgo in the 1920s, the book features stories such as the best German player who was prevented from playing by the Nazis, the player who competed on both the men’s and women’s tour, the only fully Jewish player to rank No. 1 in the world, and the player who was denied entry into a country to play a Women’s Tennis Association tournament—in the 21st century. This history also discusses the ways in which Jewish individuals have been instrumental behind the scenes, playing key roles in the growth of tennis into one of the world’s most popular sports. Among the 37 players featured are Dick Savitt, Brian Teacher, Ilana Kloss, Aaron Krickstein, Brad Gilbert, Julie Heldman, Amos Mansdorf, Anna Smashnova, Justin Gimelstob, Angela Buxton and Brian Gottfried. The book retails for $19.95 and is available where books are sold, including here on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/193755936X/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_vl8rub1RK7P00

“Tennis does have its ‘Game, Set and Matzo’ element and I am thrilled to present them in ‘The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players of All Time,’” said Harwitt. “Each player’s personal saga will touch all tennis fans, Jewish or not, because their stories are instrumental to the history of the game. The experience writing this book was an exciting and rewarding adventure in discovering many fascinating stories.”

Harold Solomon, who is also profiled in the book, contributed the foreword to the book. “You don’t need to be Jewish to appreciate the story of any of these Jewish tennis players,” wrote Solomon. “You just have to be someone who has a curious side and likes to learn about people and how they ended up being who they are and doing what they did.”

Gottfried, the 1977 French Open singles finalist, said of Harwitt, “Who better to write a story about the lives of Jewish tennis players than someone who has ‘been there and done that.’ Sandy has been a fixture on the ATP and WTA Tour for many decades as a very knowledgeable and respected tennis journalist. My family and I have enjoyed getting to know her over the years and being included in her book has been an honor and a privilege.”

Peter Bodo of Tennis.com said, “Sandy Harwitt is a deeply experienced and well-traveled writer, which brings to this book a special stamp of authority. It isn’t just a good book about Jewish tennis players – it’s a good tennis book, period.”

U.S. Davis Cup captain and former world No. 1 Jim Courier said, “Sandy has lived and breathed the sport for years. Her detail and insight into these players personal and professional lives is both remarkable and inspiring.”

Tennis writer and historian Joel Drucker said, “Dozens of Jewish men and women have made a distinctive mark on tennis. Longstanding tennis writer Sandra Harwitt has dug deep to bring these compelling stories to life – fascinating backstories and remarkable journeys both inside and outside the lines.”

Television commentator and former player Mary Carillo said, “Sandy Harwitt is the ideal writer to bring you the lives of the people in this book. She is a true tennis “lifer” and her love and knowledge of the game has produced one remarkable story after another, about tennis players you knew, or wish you knew.”

Harwitt, a freelance sportswriter who specializes in tennis, has covered more than 70 Grand Slam tournaments for media outlets such as the Associated Press, ESPN.com, ESPNW.com, the Miami Herald, the New York Times, and Tennis magazine. She is a member of the International Tennis Writers’ Association and the Association for Women in Sports Media. She lives in Boca Raton, Florida.

Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is also the publisher of “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All-Time” by Steve Flink, “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “Macci Magic: Extracting Greatness From Yourself And Others” by Rick Macci with Jim Martz, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer (www.RogerFedererBook.com), “The Days of Roger Federer” by Randy Walker, “Andy Murray, Wimbledon Champion: The Full Extraordinary Story” by Mark Hodgkinson, “The Secrets of Spanish Tennis” by Chris Lewit, “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by 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, “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, “Court Confidential: Inside The World Of Tennis” by Neil Harman, “A Backhanded Gift” by Marshall Jon Fisher, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli (www.Boycott1980.com), “Internet Dating 101: It’s Complicated, But It Doesn’t Have To Be” by Laura Schreffler, “How To Sell Your Screenplay” by Carl Sautter, “Bone Appetit: Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Suzan Anson, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According to Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin among others.

Improve Your Backhand – Book Excerpt From “Tennis Made Easy”

Having trouble with your backhand? The following chapter from Kelly Gunterman’s book “Tennis Made Easy” may help you execute the shot better the next time you play. To improve your game, buy or download his book here https://www.amazon.com/dp/0942257715/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_BsAYybKY4RG27 via @amazon

 

The backhand has remained a bit more traditional than the new more open stance forehand. That being said let’s try to make some adjustments in the backhand to make it more of a strength on the court. No longer will our opponents say “just hit to his/her backhand and you’ll win the point”. Our goal is to be equally strong off both sides.

The forehand and two handed backhand are based on rotational swings with the dominate arm swinging across our body. We need the rotation of our hips and shoulders to clear our body from the path of the swing and allow the racquet to accelerate through the ball. The one-handed backhand is much more of a linear swing, with your arm swinging away from your body. Here, keep our body much more sideways and balanced to accelerate the racquet through the contact point of the swing.

One handed backhand;

Hitting the backhand with one hand is a little less stable than the two-handed backhand but with the proper footwork, grip and timing this can be a very graceful and effective shot with a lot of variety. We can drop the racquet head [photo] and close the face to hit with a great deal of topspin or we can start the racquet head higher [photo] and more open to hit through the ball with underspin or slice. Slice, topspin or flat backhands are similar in body movement. The difference is the starting position of the racquet, the plane of the swing through the ball and the follow through

[Sequential photos of one handed slice and topspin backhands]

Back to basics:

• Step first with the foot on the same side as the ball. ( the left foot for right handed players) This turns your hips and shoulders while preparing you to move to the ball. At this point the racquet should be prepared (take the racquet back) for the shot.

• Weight is back when the racquet is back. Try to hold your weight on the back foot until the swing starts forward, transferring the weight as the racquet moves through the contact point of the stroke.

• In the backswing close the racquet face to hit with topspin, [photo] or open it to hit with underspin. [photo] This can be done by rolling the knuckles toward the court for topspin and to the sky for slice. Dropping the racquet head much lower, below the contact point of the swing, allows you to generate a great deal of top spin. Use your free hand to pull the racquet back, this helps you control the angle of the backswing and generate the desired spin on the shot.

• Step into the court with the right foot (right handed players), not across your body. [photo] By having the weight transferring in the direction of the shot it allows you to swing faster through the ball, which generates a much stronger shot.

• Contact with the ball is slightly in front of the right foot. The more closed and down the racquet head is in the backswing, the more the contact point has to be front of the body. If the racquet face is slightly open and underspin is the goal the contact point is much closer to the body.

• As you start the racquet forward pull your free hand back (much like an umpire making a safe sign) to keep your shoulders sideways to the net. This simple move helps keep the racquet head moving through the contact point and allows you to follow through the plane of the ball to get the desired depth and spin.

• For topspin finish high and in front. Release the wrist on the follow through like throwing a Frisbee. The release of the wrist adds racquet head speed, which increases power through the full swing.

• When hitting the ball with underspin or slice avoid chopping at the ball. This swing feels as if you are sliding the ball off a table top with a very smooth motion through the ball. The wrist rolls under the contact point allowing the racquet to impart underspin. The racquet finishes up and slightly open on the follow through. [photo of finish]

• Recover back to the athletic ready position anticipating the move to the next shot.

If you are trying to develop topspin or slice backhand it is very important that you keep your body sideways through the swing. If your shoulders open on the swing, the racquet face will also open at contact and the ball tends to go high and long. Staying sideways through the shot helps keep the racquet head moving through the plane of the ball.

Practice drill; Standing sideways with a ball in your racquet hand, hold ball next to your left hip, for right handed players, now simply throw the ball across the net to the back fence with a backhand motion. Keeping your shoulders sideways and releasing the wrist on the throw will give you a great feel for the one handed backhand. [photo] This will give you the feel of a full follow through on the one handed backhand. This drill can also give you a feel of how to direct the ball from one side of the court to the other. With the same motion throw a few balls cross court and then down the line. This is exactly the feel you will need to direct the ball on your backhand.

Two handed backhand;

The biggest difference between the one handed and two handed backhand, besides the obvious second hand on the racquet is how much your body moves through the swing. As we discussed earlier, the one handed backhand is a linear swing with the hips and shoulders remaining somewhat sideways through the entire swing. The two handed backhand requires the body to rotate through the swing as if you are hitting a left handed forehand for right handed players.

As with the one handed backhand, we initiate the swing by turning the left foot parallel to the base line and placing it slightly behind the right foot. [photo] This move rotates the hips and shoulders preparing the racquet for the stroke. Keeping your hands for right handed players close to your left hip sets you up to take a rip at the backhand. Remember, this is a left hand dominate swing that feels as if you are driving the racquet through the ball. The weight transfers from your left foot to your right by pushing off from the left foot, rotating your hips and shoulders as you accelerate the racquet through the contact point of the swing. Finish over your right shoulder with the elbows high. Imagine you are wearing a watch on your left arm; now finish with your watch next to your right ear.

[Sequential photo of the two handed backhand]

Since this shot is very similar in structure to a forehand, work the rotation of the hips, direction can be gained by pointing the left elbow to the desired target (right handed players). By the time you point your elbow to the target the ball is long off your strings but this thinking does help with developing the proper rotation on the swing. Stay relaxed and allow the body to flow with the swing.

Back to basics:

• Preparation is similar to that of the one handed backhand. Always step first with the foot on the side that the ball is coming from. Turn your left foot and step to the side to prepare for the two handed backhand for right handed players.

• Keep the weight back when the racquet is back. Holding your weight on the back foot longer allows the transfer of weight as the racquet is moving through the contact point of the swing. This helps keep everything in balance as you swing. The “old school” thinking of step in and get your racquet back just doesn’t work.

• In the backswing start with your hands close to your left pocket for right handed players. This gives you a solid reference point to start the swing. For high or very low balls there will be some adjusting to this starting point but it is a great place to start when developing a new two handed backhand.

• Use your left hand!!! For right handed players. This shot is very similar to hitting a left handed forehand. If the right hand becomes dominate the swing will be a pull rather than a drive resulting in a weaker grip and consequently a much weaker shot.

• Avoid a big cross over step as it locks your hips and limits the swing. Rotate your hips and shoulders eliminating a lot of the pressure off on your lower back. The rotation makes the swing to longer, resulting in a faster more powerful stroke.

• Follow through over your right shoulder for right handed players, as if you were listening to your watch on your left wrist with your right ear. This little trick will guarantee a solid follow through and helps keep the racquet on a low to high path resulting in more topspin.

• Finish with the back foot on the toe, which assures you have rotated your hips and works as a balance point. This looks a little like the finish of a golf swing but don’t hold the position very long; just long enough to finish the shot and maintain your balance.

• Recover back to your athletic ready position.

If you hit a two handed backhand, topspin is your shot of choice. But to hit with slice use one hand or at least release the left hand as you swing forward. It is important to keep the shoulders sideways to the net to avoid the racquet face opening on contact.

Tennis Fantasies With John Newcombe & The Legends To Mark Its 30th Year

The longest-running, most comprehensive tennis fantasy camp in the world marks a special anniversary this coming October.

The 30th edition of Tennis Fantasies with John Newcombe and the Legends will take place from Sunday, October 15 to Friday, October 20, 2017 at the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch in New Braunfels, Texas (30 miles from San Antonio).

Tennis Fantasies was created in 1988 by Steve Contardi.  A Cincinnati-based tennis club manager and veteran teaching pro, Contardi the previous year had attended a baseball fantasy camp and asked himself a simple question: Why not try this with tennis?  Contardi soon joined forces with Newcombe, a three-time Wimbledon singles champion who also operated one of the world’s preeminent tennis facilities.

A male-only event, Tennis Fantasies takes place only one week a year.  Approximately 80 campers play on teams under the eyes of the legends – players who have accumulated more than 150 Grand Slam titles.  In addition to coaching during singles and doubles matches, campers receive tactical and technical instruction and spend time with the legends virtually round-the-clock, including all meals and ample time mixing beer and blarney inside the ranch’s Waltzing Matilda Room.

ROD LAVER ATTENDING FOR THIRD TIME

The presence of Laver – often considered the greatest player in tennis history – has added an exciting new dimension.  Laver first came to Tennis Fantasies in 2014 and in 2017 will appear for the third time.  “It was great to come and spend time with all my friends who I’d competed against,” said Laver, “and then it was terrific to meet all the campers and see how much they loved playing and being around the tennis.”

Said Newcombe, “The repeat rate is more than 70 percent, so over the years everyone from the legends to the campers have really made this a special community.  Competition and camaraderie are the cornerstones of Tennis Fantasies.  People leave blood on the court – and then they eat their meals together.  It’s a lot like the days when we were all traveling the world.”

Hall of Famers Newcombe and Laver will be joined in 2017 by 12 additional coaches, including five other Hall of Famers: Roy Emerson, Fred Stolle, Mark Woodforde, Owen Davidson and Charlie Pasarell.  Rounding out the staff are seven Grand Slam champions: Marty Riessen, Rick Leach, Brian Gottfried, Dick Stockton, Luke Jensen, Murphy Jensen and Ross Case.

For more information about Tennis Fantasies, contact Steve Contardi at 1-800-874-7788 or email him at [email protected]

 

Mardy Fish USTA Futures Event In Vero Beach To Host Wild Card Tourney Starting February 28

The Boulevard Tennis Club in Vero Beach, Florida will host the second of two wild card singles events for the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships, the $15,000 USTA Pro Circuit event, Tuesday, Feb. 28 through Thursday, March 2. The event will be held the day after the conclusion of the qualifying rounds for the $15,000 F9 USTA Pro Circuit event in Orlando, Florida.

The winner of the event will be awarded a main draw singles wild card, or direct entry, into the 2017 Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships to be played April 25-30 at Grand Harbor Golf & Beach Club in Vero Beach, located across the street from The Boulevard.

Entry fees, that benefit the non-profit Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation, are $60. Credit card entries are now being accepted at www.VeroBeachTennisTickets.com and cash/check entries can be facilitated by emailing Randy Walker at [email protected] and Christophe Delavaut at [email protected] Matches, played on clay courts, will be best-of-two sets with a 10-point super tiebreaker played in lieu of a third set.

The Boulevard was the previous tournament site for the USTA Vero Beach Futures event from 2009 until last April.

Founded in 2007, the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation (www.MardyFishFoundation.com and @MardyFishFound on Twitter) is a non-profit tennis foundation benefiting children, named for Vero Beach native son Mardy Fish, a former top 10 tennis star, U.S. Davis Cup hero and silver medalist at the 2004 Olympic Games. The foundation currently supports over 2,100 children in 15 elementary schools and six middle schools in Indian River County, Florida by providing after-school exercise, nutritional and enrichment programs in a safe environment to prepare them for healthy, productive and successful lives. The Foundation introduced the “Six Healthy Habits” in 2012 which are Get Sleep; Drink Water; Exercise Daily, Eat Healthy; Brush and Floss; Make Friends.

Some of the past competitors at the USTA Vero Beach Futures have gone on to succeed at the highest levels of professional tennis, winning major singles and doubles titles, Olympic medals and Davis Cup championships and earning No. 1 world rankings. Andy Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open champion who attained the world No. 1 ranking and helped the United States win the Davis Cup in 2007, competed in Vero Beach in 1999. Thomas Johansson of Sweden, who reached the second round of the Vero Beach Futures in 1995, won the Australian Open seven years later in 2002. Nicolas Massu, the 1998 singles runner-up in Vero Beach, won the singles and doubles gold medals at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, beating Fish in the gold medal singles match. Kyle Edmund, the 2013 champion in Vero Beach, helped Great Britain to the Davis Cup title in 2015. Other notable former competitors in Vero Beach include former world No. 2 Magnus Norman, former world No. 4 Tim Henman, 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic among others. Former Vero Beach competitors have combined to win 19 titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles at Grand Slam tournaments. Six former Vero Beach players have gone on to play Davis Cup for the United States – Roddick, Fish, Taylor Dent, Jared Palmer, Donald Young and Ryan Harrison.

Tickets for fans for the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation Tennis Championships are available for advanced sale at www.VeroBeachTennisTickets.com. Admission for children 18 and under is free. Fans can follow news and developments on the tournament on Facebook and on Twitter at @VeroFutures. Approximately 3,000 fans annually attend the event, which is seen as one of the best-attended events in the world on the “Futures” level of professional tennis tournaments. The 2016 event featured 13 players who played Davis Cup for their country and was won by Jonas Luetjen of Germany, who defeated Latvian Davis Cupper Martins Podzus in the final.

Get Your Tickets For The Miami Open!

The 2017 Miami Open presented by Itaú will be returning to the Crandon Park Tennis Center for its 30th consecutive year and now is your opportunity to secure tickets to what will be another entertainment and sports extravaganza.

The 2017 Miami Open will take place March 20 – April 2 and will once again be the hottest ticket in town. With ticket packages starting at just $136 and individual session tickets starting at just $30, the Miami Open will be the place-to-be in Miami.

For more information or to purchase tickets go to www.miamiopen.com or call (305) 442-3367.

For three decades the Miami Open has been bringing the best in sports, food, fashion, and entertainment to the Magic City and 2017 will be another global showcase of what makes the event and surrounding community so special.

Located in one of the world’s most multicultural cities, with amazing weather and a glamorous celebrity appeal, the Miami Open has an energy and excitement unlike any other tournament in the world.  Combine that with the greatest men’s and women’s tennis players in the game and you are certain to have an experience to remember.

For those looking to entertain clients and guests in style, the Miami Open has a limited number of Patron Sponsorship opportunities available. These highly sought after sponsorships do not become available very often and include access to premium seat locations for all Stadium sessions, VIP parking, access to the exclusive Patron Sponsor lounge, box seat name identification and recognition in tournament promotional materials and front gate, and 12 vouchers for meals at the Champions Club. These sponsorships will not be available for long, so call today.

Vacation Packages are also on sale. If you are planning a trip to Miami for the Miami Open, then let us take care of your hotel and ticket arrangements at one low price. Packages are inclusive for two (2) guests, which includes three nights at one of our partner properties, plus tickets to the sessions of your choice for the 2017 Miami Open.

Don’t miss any of the action. Secure your seats for 2017 and watch the best players in the world as they battle on the purple courts for one of the most coveted titles in tennis.

About the Miami Open presented by Itaú

The 2017 Miami Open will be played March 20-April 2 at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in Miami. The two-week combined event is owned and operated by IMG. The Miami Open is one of nine ATP Masters 1000 Series events on the ATP calendar, a Premier Mandatory event on the WTA calendar, and features the top men’s and women’s tennis players in the world. The tournament is widely regarded as the most glamorous on the ATP and WTA calendars because of its exotic Miami location, thriving nightlife, five-star hotels and restaurants, beautiful weather and beaches, and its celebrity appeal. For ticket information, call +1.305.442.3367 or visit www.miamiopen.com.

About Itaú

Itau is the largest Latin America privately owned bank, with approximately 95,000 employees and operations in 20 countries throughout the Americas, Asia and Europe. Itaú’s relationship with sport goes back to the 1970s, when Itaú first sponsored the Itaú Tennis Cup in Brazil in 1970. Itaú has been a sponsor of the Miami Open for the last six years, and also sponsors the Rio Open, the only combined ATP/WTA event in South America. Itaú also supports the Brazilian Women’s Tennis Circuit, only female professional tournament in South America, certified by the Brazilian Tennis Confederation (CBT) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF), as well as the Tennis Institute Training Center, responsible for the development of young, new talent.

About IMG

IMG is a global leader in sports, events, media and fashion, operating in more than 30 countries. The company represents and manages some of the world’s greatest sports figures and fashion icons; stages hundreds of live events and branded entertainment experiences annually; and is one of the largest independent producers and distributors of sports media. IMG also specializes in sports training; league development; and marketing, media and licensing for brands, sports organizations and collegiate institutions. In 2014, IMG was acquired by WME, a leading global entertainment agency.

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.