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Roger Federer, Petra Kvitova Show Strength For Wimbledon – Mondays With Bob Greene

The following is the Monday column from www.WorldTennisMagazine.com called “Mondays with Bob Greene” that features a review from the past week in tennis, written by former Associated Press tennis writer Bob Greene. This column is featured here this week on TennisGrandstand.com due to maintenance work on WorldTennisMagazine.com.

 

26 June 2017

 

STARS

Roger Federer beat Alexander Zverev 6-1 6-3 to win the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany

Feliciano Lopez beat Marin Cilic 4-6 7-6 (2) 7-6 (8) to win the Aegon Championships in London, Great Britain

Petra Kvitova beat Ashleigh Barty 4-6 6-3 6-2 to win the Aegon Classic in Birmingham, Great Britain

Anastasija Sevastova beat Julia Goerges 6-4 3-6 6-3 to win the Mallorca Open in Mallorca, Spain

Marton Fucsovics beat Alex Bolt 6-1 6-4 to win the Aegon Ilkley Trophy men’s singles in Ilkley, Great Britain’

Magdalena Rybarikova beat Alison Van Uytvanck 7-5 7-6 (3) to win the Aegon Ilkley Trophy women’s singles in Ilkley, Great Britain

 

SAYING

“My goal was to keep myself 100 percent for the grass season.” – Roger Federer, who easily beat Alexander Zverev to win the Halle, Germany, tournament for the ninth time.

“I came to play, to improve my game, I didn’t really have any expectation. I wanted to play my best, which I showed today, and I hope I can keep doing that.” – Petra Kvitova, after winning the Aegon Classic.

“It’s the best week of my career, which is crazy when you’re 35.” – Feliciano Lopez, after beating four players ranked in the Top 15 to win Queen’s Club.

“I was pretty pumped. Beating the world number one and a Grand Slam champion, on grass at Queen’s, it’s definitely number one for me.” – Jordan Thompson, a first-round winner over top-ranked Andy Murray at Queen’s Club.

“I know Azarenka is coming back, but it’s always tough to play against her.” – Ana Konjuh, who handed Victoria Azarenka her first loss since returning to the women’s tour following the birth of her child.

“The season is very long and I must look at the bigger picture.” – Elina Svitolina, saying there’s a possibility her injured heel could keep her out of Wimbledon.

“My earnings are well publicized and it was clear that I have the means to repay this debt.” – Boris Becker, after a London court declared the former tennis star bankrupt for failure to pay a debt that dates to 2015.

 

SOLID PERFORMANCE

The king of grass appears ready to regain his throne. Roger Federer won his ninth Gerry Weber Open title by stopping Alexander Zverev in the final of the Wimbledon warm-up event. The victory – his 92nd ATP Tour level title, putting him just two behind Ivan Lendl on the all-time list – contrasted with his loss to Tommy Haas the week before in Stuttgart, Germany. “It was by far my best match of the week,” Federer said of his thrashing of the 12th-ranked Zverev. “After my long break, I’m feeling excellent and it’s a pleasure to be back and I’m fit for Wimbledon.” That might scare a lot of players: Federer will be going for a record eighth Wimbledon title. The 35-year-old Swiss skipped the entire clay-court season, yet still has lost only two matches this year. He won the Australian Open – his record 18th Grand Slam tournament singles crown – and hard-court titles in Indian Wells and Miami before the clay-court break. Until Halle, every time Zverev reached a final, he came away with the trophy. But Federer was ready for revenge, having lost a semifinal to Zverev last year at Halle. Zverev was on court for just 53 minutes as Federer was spectacularly sharp. The eventual winner began the day by winning the first four games. “I now hope that I’ll stay healthy in this second part of the season and we’ll see what happens,” Federer said. A scary thought for everyone else.

 

SHE’S BACK

Petra Kvitova has two Wimbledon trophies and appears ready to add another. The Czech left-hander won the Aegon Classic in just her second tournament back being slashed with a knife during a home invasion. The December attack left her with a damaged left hand. But it didn’t seem to bother her one bit as she beat Australian Ashleigh Barty in three sets. “It was an amazing week, an amazing tournament,” Kvitova said. “From my first hits on the grass I felt great. It was encouraging to get into the grass season.” The last time she was in a grass-court final was in 2014 when she won her second Wimbledon title, three years after her first. At Birmingham, Barty held her own to begin the match, losing just one point in her first four service games. But Kvitova found her rhythm and raced to a 5-1 lead before leveling the match at one set apiece. After they traded service breaks in the decisive third set, Kvitova broke her opponent one more time, then finished off the victory with her 13th match of the day. “I like to play finals on grass,” Kvitova said. “I wish I could have more. I won’t be sad if it is in a couple of weeks (at Wimbledon), but there is still a lot of work to be done.”

 

SPANISH TINGE

Three years ago, Feliciano Lopez had a match point in the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club, only to lose to Grigor Dimitrov. This time, the Spanish veteran needed three match points, but finally came away with the biggest title of his long career as he defeated Marin Cilic. “I can’t believe that I finally won it,” Lopez said. “I’ve been waiting for 15 or 16 years to hold this trophy.” At 35, Lopez is the oldest player to win Queen’s Club in the Open Era. And it wasn’t an easy path to the title. He defeated Stan Wawrinka, Tomas Berdych, Grigor Dimitrov and Cilic, four players ranked in the top 14 in the world. Cilic reached match point in the final-set tiebreak, but Lopez saved it with a stretching volley. Then the Spaniard had a match point, only for Cilic to slam his 22nd ace of the day. A Cilic volley staved off a second Lopez match point. But his 19th ace gave the Spaniard a third match point, and they time he came away with the title. “I thought that at the end of the tiebreak, after losing match points, I wouldn’t make it, but I managed to do it,” Lopez said. “It was tough to put that (match point in 2014) out of my mind, so it was difficult to handle my nerves. But I managed it.”

 

SHORT STAY

Now a mother, Victoria Azarenka returned to the tennis tour at the Mallorca Open. Her stay was cut short by seventh-seeded Ana Konjuh of Croatia 6-1 6-3 in a second-round match. “She’s one of the best players in the world,” Konjuh said of Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open champion who once was ranked number one in the world. “I was motivated, for sure, and I’m really glad that I could play so well today and win.” Azarenka also had problems in her first-round match. She saved match points in her win over Japan’s Risa Ozaki.

 

SICK BAY

A heel injury could keep fifth-ranked Elina Svitolina out of Wimbledon. The injury hampered the 22-year-old Ukrainian as she suffered a 6-4 4-6 6-2 second-round loss to qualifier Camila Giorgi in the Aegon Classic in Birmingham. “The heel feels painful and is very sensitive,” Svitolina said. “I am disappointed I am out of the tournament, but I am not disappointed with my performance because I could not show even 50 percent. Also, the court was slippery, which is bad for the foot.” Svitolina’s best results have come on clay. She won the Italian Open this spring and reached the French Open quarterfinals, losing to eventual runner-up Simona Halep. And the weather didn’t help. One day it was extremely hot. The next day there was drizzle and dampness. Giorgi adapted to the slick surface, while Svitolina didn’t.

 

STRAIGHT IN

Tommy Haas, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2009, 2016 junior champion Denis Shapovalov and three British women – Laura Robson, Heather Watson and Naomi Broady – have been given wild card entries into the main draw of the year’s third Grand Slam tournament. At 39, Haas is playing his final season on the ATP World Tour and beat Roger Federer at a grass-court tournament in Stuttgart, Germany, this month. Other men receiving wild cards into the main men’s singles draw were British players Brydan Klein, Cameron Norrie and James Ward. Other women wild-card entries are Britain’s Katie Boulter and Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.

 

SIMONA AT EASTBOURNE

After losing the French Open women’s singles final, Simona Halep pulled out of the Aegon Classic in Birmingham, Great Britain, with an ankle injury. But the Romanian is feeling better and received a wild card entry into the Aegon International this week in Eastbourne, Great Britain. “The quality of the draw is very high so I’m hoping for some great matches to give me the best possible preparation ahead of Wimbledon,” Halep said.

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SHOCKER

It was supposed to be an easy workout for top-ranked Andy Murray. Instead, it turned into a shocking defeat as he fell to Australia’s Jordan Thompson, a “lucky loser,” in a first-round match at Queen’s Club. It was the first grass-court match win in the Thompson’s career. “I signed in for the ‘Lucky Loser’ spot,” said Thompson, who lost in the qualifying. “I hung around. If someone was going to pull out, I was always going to be there. Then this morning I just got my transport, planning on doing the same thing, signing in, waiting around. Pretty much when I got here, someone pulled out. When I heard I was playing Andy, I was pretty nervous. I just wanted to go out there and enjoy it.” Thompson did enjoy the day; Murray didn’t. Murray had won Queen’s Club a record five times, including three times in the last four years. Thompson hit 12 aces and saved all three break points against Murray.

 

SET FOR EXHIBITION

The world’s two top-ranked players – Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal – will play two exhibition matches in Hurlingham, Great Britain, this week to get extra match play on grass before Wimbledon. Murray signed up for the Aspall Tennis Classic event after suffering a shocking loss at Queen’s Club. Nadal has not played since winning a record 10th French Open title. He has not played a tournament on grass since 2015. Speaking with the Spanish media, Nadal said the “level I have today is not sufficient for me to compete the way I would like at Wimbledon.” Each player is guaranteed to play two matches.

 

SHARAPOVA SET

Maria Sharapova will return to competitive tennis next month when she plays World Team Tennis. The Russian will play for the Orange County Breakers, a team she has played with for seven years. She recently returned to the WTA Tour after a 15-month doping ban. She pulled out of the Wimbledon qualifying because of an injured left thigh.

 

“SURPRISED AND DISAPPOINTED”

Boris Becker says he was “surprised and disappointed” when a court in London declared him bankrupt for failing to pay a long-standing debt. Lawyers for the three-time Wimbledon champion pleaded with a Bankruptcy Court registrar to allow Becker a “last chance” to pay off the debt, which dates back to 2015. But Registrar Christine Derrett ruled there was a lack of credible evidence that the outstanding payment would be made. Becker’s lawyers had argued there was sufficient evidence to show that the former player would be able to pay the debt soon through a refinancing arrangement involving remortgaging property in Mallorca. He said Becker was not likely to benefit from bankruptcy and it could have an adverse effect on his image., But the judge replied: “One has the impression of a man with his head in the sand.”

 

SETTLES

Former tennis star James Blake and the City of New York have reached an agreement that will set up a police watchdog agency. In exchange, Blake has agreed to drop his right to sue the city after he was mistakenly tackled by police and arrested. In exchange, a legal fellowship will be created in Blake’s name, with the fellow to serve two-year terms at the Civilian Complaint Review Board. The city will fund the fellow for six years with the salary to be commensurate with other staff there and will be no less than USD $65,00 a year. The fellow’s job will be to help navigate the system for people making complaints against police and to push for strong investigations. Blake was tackled and handcuffed outside a Manhattan hotel on Sept. 9, 2015. He had been ranked as high as fourth in the world before retiring after the 2013 US Open. In a statement, Blake thanked the city of New York. “It has been my intention since Day One to turn a negative into a positive, and I think this fellowship accomplishes that goal,” he said.

 

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Birmingham: Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua beat Chan Hao-Ching and Zhang Shuai 6-1 2-6 10-8 (match tiebreak)

Halle: Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo beat Alexander Zverev and Misha Zverev 5-7 6-3 10-8 (match tiebreak)

Ilkley (men): Leander Paes and Adil Shamasdin beat Brydan Klein and Joe Salisbury 2-6 6-2 10-8 (match tiebreak)

Ilkley (women): Anna Blinkova and Alla Kudryavtseva beat Paula Kania and Maryna Zanevska 6-1 6-4

London: Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares beat Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-2 6-3

Mallorca: Chan Yung-Jan and Martina Hingis beat Jelena Jankovic and Anastasija Sevastova by walkover.

 

SURFING

Antalya: www.antalyaopen.com/

Eastbourne: www.lta.org.uk/major-events/Aegon-International-Eastbourne

Wimbledon: www.wimbledon.com/index.html

 

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

MEN

$719,080 Aegon International, Eastbourne, Great Britain, grass

$555,305 Antalya Open, Antalya, Turkey, grass

 

WOMEN

$731,000 Aegon International, Eastbourne, Great Britain, grass

 

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

MEN and WOMEN

Wimbledon, London, Great Britain, grass (first week)

 

Will Novak Djokovic Get Back To His Best Or Will His Decline Continue?

Things have not been going well for Novak Djokovic and even changing coach to legendary tennis player Andre Agassi performances have declined. One of the lowest points of his career in recent year was the humiliating defeat against Dominic Thiem who he has won 12 matches against to one in previous meetings. Before the tournament started he was in most experts tennis predictions and tips to make the final. No one expected such a decline in his performance and it has led to many questions being asked about the player’s desire for competing.

The French Open is a competition that Djokovic normally dominates which made the loss to Thiem even more shocking. He started the match well but quickly declined and seems to give up which is not the player that once was. What got him to the top was his determination and ability when things got tough to raise his game. This seems to be missing from his game and unless he can find that fire it will quickly fall down the ATP tennis rankings.

One of the main problems with Djokovic is he is making too many unforced errors. This must be due to the mental side of the game and he needs to regain his focus if he wants to regain the throne of being the number one men’s tennis player.

Andy Murray rise to the top is down to his pure determination, he wants it more than Djokovic. The best players in the world find a way to get through matches when they are not playing at their best and Djokovic is struggling to do this.

Djokovic can still turn things around but if he is going to he will need to do it fast. The other players have stopped fearing the once unbeatable star and if his performance level does not improve he may as well call an end to his lustrous career. It will be better than putting in the type of humiliating performances that he did at the French Open and will protect his legacy in the sport.

When asked about his performances of late Djokovic sounds like a player that is ready to retire. Any player at the top of the game when they consider this should retire. It is impossible to be world number one with this type of mindset. Many pundits are making tennis predictions 2017 that this will be the last year that we see Djokovic play so let’s hope that he can put on a show for the fans and enjoy his last playing days.

It is amazing just how fast the decline of Djokovic has happened. It is going to be a tough task for to player to get back to his best but even slightly below his top-level, he is still with a chance of winning another Grand Slam. For the latest betting tips for tennis and news make sure you subscribe and leave a comment below on your thoughts on Novak Djokovic.

 

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Taylor Fritz Still One of America’s Great Hopes

Taylor Fritz is one of the most promising tennis players that America has to offer, although he has endured a difficult period since his emergence on the ATP World Tour. His struggles continued on the grass of Stuttgart, with the young American failing to make it past the first qualifying round. Fritz has spent a few months away from the game, but on his return has lost in the first round of the Surbiton Challenger in addition to Stuttgart in matches which he entered as heavy favourite. The 19-year-old has time on his side, but he will be keen to prove that his breakout season in the sport was not an anomaly.

Fritz’s best career performance came in just his third ATP tournament, with his run in Memphis the first appearance in a final for eight years by an 18-year-old. He ultimately lost to Kei Nishikori, a mainstay of the top ten in the rankings, but Fritz’s youthful exuberance impressed the tennis world. Fritz consolidated this showing with a quarter-final run in Acapulco, eventually succumbing to compatriot Sam Querrey, and a slightly weaker end to the year could not take the shine of a remarkable season.

Fritz stormed to a career-high ranking of 53 as an 18-year-old, prompting inevitable assertions that he was the next great American hope and a future Grand Slam winner. Of course, few would have expected him to be challenging for those titles while still at a very young age, but the latest tennis odds of Fritz being 250/1 to win Wimbledon accurately reflect how his development has slightly stagnated. Incidentally, the leading American players that Fritz was expected to sit alongside sooner rather than later, Jack Sock and John Isner, are odds of 100/1 to triumph on the grass in London.

American Slam success, in the men’s game at least, does not appear to be on the immediate horizon. However, Jelena Ostapenko’s remarkable run to take the French Open singles title as an unseeded player highlights how a great couple of weeks can change everything. Fritz is a great couple of weeks away from shooting up the rankings. It was his adventures in Memphis that propelled him up the rankings, and it was never really expected that Fritz would consolidate all of those ranking points the following year. He made the last sixteen in 2017’s iteration of the tournament at Memphis, which is still a commendable showing.

Fritz’s success in Memphis and Acapulco, combined with his scope for growth, means that expectations are high of the young American. Pressure can be telling, with perhaps the relative grass-court experience of veteran Marco Chiudinelli the difference in Stuttgart between success and failure. However, the emergence of other young Americans will take the spotlight off Fritz, and this could be a constructive development in his progress.

Frances Tiafoe has soared up the rankings and has held his own against Roger Federer. The big-serving Reilly Opelka reached the quarter-finals of the grass-court challenger in Surbiton and his game should suit the green surface. Opelka looks on course to break the top 100 soon, where other young Americans Jared Donaldson and Ernesto Escobedo already reside with Tiafoe. The future is bright for American tennis, and Fritz will inevitably work his way back up the ranks. With such a deep source of talent for American fans to root for, Fritz should be able to play with less pressure and recapture the heights of 2016.

Inspiring Senior Tennis Players Profiled In New Book “Sport of a Lifetime – Enduring Personal Stories From Tennis”

New Chapter Press announced the release of the book “Sport of a Lifetime – Enduring Personal Stories From Tennis” written by long-time tennis enthusiast Judy Aydelott.

Featuring enriching and motivational stories about those who love and participate in tennis over the age of 35, “Sport of a Lifetime” is a volume of senior tennis through the stories and experiences of players from across the tennis spectrum – from late bloomers to seasoned champions. The book features 28 chapters of personal stories, including those of high profile players and personalities such as three-time Wimbledon champion John Newcombe, current U.S. Tennis Association and former WTA Tour player Katrina Adams and former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, as well as little-known but inspiring players such as Tony Franco, who has won 44 USTA national championships since age 75, and Betty Eisenstein, who won tournament titles into her 90s.

The book also features one of the last interviews ever given by International Tennis Hall of Famer and celebrated senior tennis champion Gardnar Mulloy before his death in 2016 as well as the riveting story of how Fred Kovaleski balanced playing international tennis while being a spy for the Central Intelligence Agency.

“Sport of a Lifetime” is available for sale and download wherever books are sold, including here on Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1937559645/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_s7AizbEES0ZD3

Aydelott, a resident of Katonah, N.Y., is a graduate of Abbot Academy in Andover Mass., from Smith College and from Pace University School of Law. She became a trial attorney in the field of medical malpractice, a legal analyst for Court TV, a candidate for U.S. Congress in 2006 and a director of a NYS chartered commercial bank. A tennis late-comer starting in her twenties, Aydelott is married to former Dartmouth tennis standout Gordon Aydelott and also documents their personal story of her and her husband’s life and passion for tennis in the book.

Said 2017 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee and author of “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” Steve Flink, “Here is a book that must be read by everyone who celebrates the best of all lifetime sports. Judy Aydelott has reached out to both renowned players and those who are less well known, and the common thread that runs across the pages is the enduring passion they all have for tennis. Yet Aydelott’s superb and poignant book transcends tennis; it is equally about the larger game of life.”

Said Renee Richards, 1977 U.S. Open women’s doubles runner-up, “Judy Aydelott’s stories of senior tennis players, where they came from, where they’ve been – from World War II stories of Gardnar Mulloy and Mayor David Dinkins to the high jinks of the Australian legends, John Newcombe, Roy Emerson and Owen Davidson, to the tales of ‘The Saw Mill Boys’ – are a must read for all tennis players and would-be tennis players. You’ll laugh; you’ll be moved; you’ love this book.”

Said Ivan Lendl, three-time French and U.S. Open champion, “Sport of a Lifetime is a great read for tennis players and non-players alike. A terrific collection of life lessons.”

Said Nancy Richey, former French and Australian women’s singles champion, “My friend Judy Aydelott has authored a great book for serious tennis fans! A nice trip down memory lane – an inspiring read!”

Said Tim Mayotte, 1988 Olympic silver medalist, “This book is filled with entertaining personal stories filled with humor, adventure and an appreciation for the Sport of a Lifetime.”

Said Chuck Kinyon, former Dartmouth men’s tennis coach, “I greatly enjoyed reading Judy’s book. The cast of characters is diverse. As they progressed through their lives, the importance of being able to accept what comes their way and to learn and build as they moved on life’s path were shown to be essential over and over again. As a lifetime activity, tennis can bring great rewards on the court, but even greater lifetime bonuses and relationships off the courts.  Each individual is different and the stories are uplifting. A must read for tennis players and anyone interested in how people achieve happiness and stature as their lives evolve.”

Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is also the publisher of “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, “Titanic: The Tennis Story” by Lindsay Gibbs, “Macci Magic: Extracting Greatness From Yourself And Others” by Rick Macci with Jim Martz, “How To Permanently Erase Negative Self Talk So You Can Be Extraordinary” by Emily Filloramo, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All-Time” by Steve Flink, “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer, “The Days of Roger Federer” by Randy Walker, “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.

Stars Old And New Decorate Roland Garros In 2017

by Rob Hemingway

 

Perhaps it is fitting that a tournament named after a trailblazing fighter pilot who vanquished his many adversaries should become so synonymous with Rafael Nadal, who administers the same fate to his opponents as Roland Garros did during the First World War.

After putting away Stan Wawrinka on Sunday in Paris, the Majorcan notched up yet another French Open title and achieved La Decima, his tenth grand slam victory in one event, a feat that transcends sport and is surely comparable with any other individual achievement in the modern age.

Such unparalleled dominance, the result of a unique combination of extraordinary talent, world-class coaching and insatiable drive, has been supplemented in the 2017 edition of his reign by the presence in his camp of long-time friend and influence, Carlos Moya. Analysis of Nadal’s matches during these two weeks – and indeed earlier in the year – is clear evidence of subtle tweaks that have allowed him to be so successful since returning to the tour after injury. These changes, including an improved backhand and greater consistency and variety on the serve, should allow him to remain competitive even as age and physical decline gradually take their toll over the coming years.

There was enough evidence in Paris this year to suggest that the men’s game will be well served even when Nadal and his “Big 5” rivals have moved on. Dominic Thiem, the 23 year-old Austrian, broke through emphatically in getting through to the semifinals, and Karen Khachanov, the 21-year old from Moscow, displayed all his emerging skills during a run to the fourth round. Further down the age range, the next big thing from the junior ranks could be Alexei Popyrin, who triumphed in the Boys Singles, becoming the first Australian to take home the title since Phil Dent in 1968.  His game, modeled on Juan Martin del Potro’s, could become equally as effective, given his powerful serve and varied forehand.

On the other side of the locker room, the women’s event revealed a new superstar. Jelena Ostapenko, the unseeded 20-year-old Latvian, defeated the experienced Simona Halep in three sets, sparking wild celebrations at Riga’s iconic Freedom Monument as the country celebrated its first ever Grand Slam champion. This was a remarkable triumph given that she went the distance in every match from the fourth round onwards, that she was a set and a break down in the final, and particularly as clay is her least favourite surface. This breakthrough should equip her with the necessary confidence to build on this win which, incredibly, was also her first ever on the women’s tour.

Tournament Director Guy Forget fortunately had far fewer scheduling headaches this year than in 2016, as the weather remained dry enough to catch up on matches delayed from the first week’s showers. The modernisation project at Roland Garros – provisionally approved earlier this year – cannot come soon enough however. Capacity issues still affect the site, particularly when compared to the other three Grand Slams, and the roof that will be present for this year’s US Open will once again throw into focus the glacial pace of change in French Tennis’ administrative corridors.

As the last of the players now start dusting down their socks, the grass of Wimbledon looms large on the horizon. All eyes will be on the returning, rejuvenated Roger Federer, whose decision to rest during the clay court swing could bear fruit as he seeks his eighth crown in south-west London. It promises to be another unmissable event in this already extraordinary 2017 season.

Rafael Nadal – A Perfect “10” French Open Victory With No Sets Lost

by Randy Walker

@TennisPublisher

 

It was “Perfect 10.”

Rafael Nadal won his incredible 10th men’s singles title at Roland Garros, without losing a set, capped with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 demolition of Stan Wawrinka in the final.

The win marked Nadal’s 15th major title, moving him out of a second-place tie with Pete Sampras for most major singles titles won in a career.

Nadal lost only 35 games en route to the title – his best run to the championship in his 10 victory laps – and the fewest games lost by a major champion since Bjorn Borg lost only 32 en route to winning the 1978 French Open.

No man in the history of tennis has won more titles at a single major championship, Margaret Court being the only player to win double-digit titles at a major when she won 11 Australian singles titles.

It is interesting to note and remember that Nadal led Roger Federer by a service break in the fifth set of their Australian Open final earlier this year. Had Nadal held on to win that match and win the title Down Under, coupled with his win at Roland Garros, he would have only trailed Federer by one major singles title in the career haul 17-16. However, Federer’s comeback win gave him his 18th major singles win and he now leads Nadal 18-15 as the resting Federer prepares to make an assault on an eighth Wimbledon title – and a 19th major – on the grass.

Nadal’s win came 39 years to the day when Borg completed his devastating run to the French title in 1978, with a 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 victory over Guillermo Vilas, according to the book, ebook, audio book and mobile app “This Day In Tennis History.”

It is interesting to read the words of Vilas after being pummeled by Borg and it sounds like Wawrinka talking about Nadal. “He played so well, he didn’t give me any chances at all,” said Vilas. “I knew if I was going to play from the baseline all the time, I was going to win more games but not the match. So I tried different tactics, but it did not work. Nothing worked.”

Jelena Ostapenko Creates Fascinating Tennis Trivia, Talking Points In Roland Garros Victory

by Randy Walker

@TennisPublisher

 

There are too many fascinating facts about Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia winning the women’s singles title at Roland Garros not to share.

The 20-year-old No. 47-ranked defeated Simona Halep 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the final to become not only the first player from Latvia to win a major championship, but became the first unseeded player to win the women’s title since Margaret Scriven in 1933. Since there are now 32 seeded players in major championships (since 2001), this is an even more outstanding statistic when only 16 players were seeded in most championships – or even only eight in 1933 when Scriven won.

Incredibly, Ostapenko had never won a professional tournament before her dramatic win in Paris. She became the first player to make Roland Garros their maiden pro tournament victory since Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil did the same as the No. 66-ranked player – on the exact day that Ostapenko was born, June 8, 1997.

On Thursday, June 8, 2017 – Ostapenko’s 20th birthday – she advanced into the women’s final with 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3 win over Timea Bacsinsky, who was also celebrating her birthday, turning 28.

Halep, who would have won her first major championship and secure the world No. 1 ranking with the win, led the match 6-4, 3-0 but was not able to close out the match against the loose and free-hitting Ostapenko. Halep also led 3-1 in the final set but, again, could not close out the championship. In one of the most famous – or infamous – let-cord shots in the history of tennis, Ostapenko secured her crucial service break when she hit a down-the-line backhand that was heading wide, but clipped the top of the net, bouncing high in the air while also ricocheting back into the court for a winner.

Ostapenko hit an equalizing 54 winners and 54 unforced errors in the final.

Ostapenko becomes the lowest-RANKED player to win a major singles title since Serena Williams won the 2007 Australian Open when she was ranked No. 81. Kim Clijsters won the 2009 US Open when she did not have a ranking, returning to pro tennis after retirement to have a child.

“Old School” Hollywood Meets “Old School” Tennis In “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was” Book

Incredible stories connected the Hollywood lives of such stars as Grace Kelly, Errol Flynn, Gary Cooper, Charlie Chaplin, Groucho Marx and others to the world of international tennis are featured in the writings of 1931 Wimbledon champion Sidney Wood in the new book “THE WIMBLEDON FINAL THAT NEVER WAS…AND OTHER TENNIS TALES FROM A BYGONE ERA.”

THE WIMBLEDON FINAL THAT NEVER WAS ($15.95, New Chapter Press, www.NewChapterMedia.com), which will be published June, 2011, details the life and times of Wood with a focus on one of the most unusual episodes ever in sport when he won the men’s singles title at Wimbledon in a default – the only time in the history of The Championships that the men’s singles final was not played. Wood, who passed away in 2009 at the age of 97, tells the story of how he won the title over Frank Shields, his school buddy, doubles partner, roommate and Davis Cup teammate – and the grandfather of actress and model Brooke Shields – when Shields was ordered by the U.S. Tennis Association to withdraw from the final to rest his injured knee in preparation for an upcoming Davis Cup match for the United States. He then discusses his “private understanding playoff” that saw his match with Shields at the Queen’s Club tournament final in London three years later be played for the Wimbledon trophy.

Wood, who could be called the greatest story teller tennis ever had, also relates fascinating anecdotes and stories that involve famous personalities from Hollywood and across the globe. Stories include his romance with Grace Kelly, his qualifying for the modern day US Open doubles championship with Errol Flynn, his on-court tennis joking with Charlie Chaplin and Groucho Marx among many others.

David Wood of Queens, N.Y., the youngest son of Wood, serves as contributor to the volume.

Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is also the publisher of Tennis Made Easy by Kelly Gunterman, 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, Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, 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 among others.

Without Serena, American Hopes Of Title At French Open Are Slim

We are in the midst of the worst decade of men’s American tennis in the Open era. Things would be just as dire on the women’s side if not for the Williams sisters. As we head into the second Grand Slam event of the 2017 season, the French Open on the red clay of Roland Garros, is there any reason to think an American can win a title in Paris?

With Serena Williams sidelined the rest of 2017 due to her pregnancy, the chances are very slim. The shortest BookMaker odds to win of any U.S. player belong to Venus Williams at +3000. That tells you all you need to know about the state of American tennis as Venus is an all-time great but also 36 and well past her prime. Planning to bet on the French Open? Check out SBR’s Bookmaker review and visit its website for more tennis odds.

On the men’s side, an American hasn’t won the French Open since Andre Agassi in 1999. Incidentally, Agassi could have an impact on this year’s tournament as he is the new coach of world No. 2 and second-betting favorite Novak Djokovic, the defending champion. In the Open era, Americans have won the French just four times overall; in addition to Agassi, Jim Courier won it back-to-back in 1991-92 and Michael Chang did in 1989. A U.S. player hasn’t reached the finals since Agassi’s win. All-time great Pete Sampras never reached a final.

Many believe that clay is a gimmick surface, and that Americans don’t fare well on it because they don’t grow up learning the game on that surface. It’s a prevalent surface in Spain, for example, and Spaniards have combined for 15 French Open titles in the Open era, led by Rafael Nadal’s record nine. He’s the -125 favorite at BookMaker, an A+-rated site at Sportsbook Review, to make it No. 10 in a couple of weeks.

The highest-ranked American man in the world is Jack Sock at No. 15, and he’s a +15000 long shot to win his first Grand Slam event. He’s unfortunately in the same part of the draw as Nadal so they could meet in the fourth round. The furthest Sock has gone at Roland Garros is the fourth round in 2015. He has yet to make a quarterfinal in any Grand Slam tournament.

John Isner is the second-best American player and ranked 22nd. The big hitter is +20000 to win the tournament. He’s looking at likely third-round matchup against No. 13 Tomas Berdych. Isner’s best result at the French Open is the fourth round, and he has reached the quarterfinals of just one Slam: the 2011 U.S. Open.

On the women’s side, Serena would have been the BookMaker betting favorite to win. She is a three-time champion in Paris, still her fewest of any Grand Slam tournament. Sister Venus is the highest-ranked U.S. player on the women’s side, but clay is easily her worst surface. Venus was a runner-up at the French in 2002 but hasn’t advanced past the fourth round since 2006.

Madison Keys is ranked 13th in the world and is +5000 to win. It’s her fifth French Open, and Keys’ best result was the fourth round last year. Only one American woman has won the French other than Serena since 1986: Jennifer Capriati in 2001.

France is simply not kind to Americans – the cliché is very true in terms of tennis.

Mardy Fish Celebrity Golf Tournament Could Be Coming To Vero Beach, Florida

While former top 10 star Mardy Fish fell short in his effort to become only the third man to play in both the golf and tennis US Open when he finished six shots out of advancing out of local US Open qualifying on May 10, golf still remains one of his major pursuits in his post-ATP World Tour career.

And now, he may have a hometown celebrity golf tournament to play in.

The Vero Beach, Florida newspaper “32963” reports that the Mardy Fish Children’s Foundation, the charitable non-profit of Fish and his family, is exploring the possibility of expanding its annual neighborhood golf fundraiser into a one-day celebrity golf tournament.

“It’s very early in the process and we’re still trying to put the pieces together but we’re looking to do this sooner rather than later,” Foundation consultant Randy Walker said to “32963” reporter Ray McNulty. “We’re always seeking ways to promote the Foundation. With Mardy playing a lot of the celebrity golf event – he won the Diamond Resorts Invitational in Orlando last year – we thought it would be great if we could do something in that realm on a smaller scale of course.”

Walker told McNulty that he had been in conversations with Maria Meadors of former boxer Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini’s Foundation which has sponsored a successful celebrity golf event in Youngstown, Ohio, as well as former top 10 tennis star Cliff Richey, who has held another celebrity golf event in San Angelo, Texas.

“To be honest I really didn’t give it much of a chance but Maria was very knowledgeable and very impressive,” Tom Fish said to McNulty of holding a celebrity golf event in Vero Beach. “She explained how they got started and what they did. The more we talked about it, the more it seemed possible to make such an event a reality.”

The Foundation expanded its celebrity offerings for its golf fundraising this past February with former Los Angeles Dodger pitcher Rick Rhoden and tennis star and 1986 French Open runner-up Mikael Pernfors joining Fish at his social scramble outing held at Vero’s prestigious Windsor club.

For 2018, the Foundation will look to possibly add as many as 18 celebrity pros to participate in a pro-am and stroke-play event that would include parties with the celebrities and participants as well as fan admission to watch the golf on the course.  The host club must agree to allow paying spectators and a more convenient date.

“If you do it if you do it this time of year in Florida guys will show up,” Rhoden said to “32963” of a potential Vero Beach celebrity event. “There are a lot of us who like to play golf and there aren’t enough of those events.”

Meadors has told Walker and Fish that players that could be involved in a celebrity event include former Super Bowl champions Jim McMahon and Mark Rypien, former World Series champion Bret Saberhagen and former NBA All-Star Larry Johnson.

“I think it would be awesome if we could make it happen,” said Mardy Fish to McNulty.