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Roger Federer Is On A Mission In London

If you’ve listened to Roger Federer’s interviews in the past several months, whenever the topic of long-term goals or things he still hopes to accomplish comes up, he talks about regaining the #1 ranking in the world. We wrote recently about his quest for #1 in an article about his remaining career milestones, but the fact remains that a year ago, attaining the top ranking again seemed impossible for the Swiss. Federer was undoubtedly on the decline, Andy Murray finally had a couple Grand Slam championships under his belt, and Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic looked to be in a league of their own.

What a difference a year can make. Nadal has once again been hobbled by injury. While he still seems capable of dominating anyone else in the sport when healthy, it’s becoming a fair question to ask if he might break down before he can make a legitimate run at Federer’s Grand Slam record. Djokovic is probably the best player on tour on any given day, but he’s no longer the sure thing he was a couple years ago. And Murray looks so out of sorts that it seems increasingly wrong even putting him in the “top four” conversation. Amidst this turmoil, Roger Federer—despite not winning a Grand Slam—put together a spectacular 2014, and now faces a simple, if difficult task: win the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London. He’s got a great shot at getting back to #1, though he needs Djokovic to stumble as well.

Well, so far, so good.

The World Tour Finals are underway now, and in his first two matches Federer has looked to be in a different class than the rest of his group. For those unfamiliar with the format for this event, it features only the top-eight ranked players in the world, separated into two groups of four. Each player plays the other three players in his group, and the top two competitors for each group then advance to the semi-finals (with each group’s winner playing the other group’s runner-up). Federer, the #2 seed at the event (behind Djokovic), was placed in a group with Murray and rising stars Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori.

In his first match, Federer earned swift and decisive vengeance against Raonic, who actually defeated him at the Paris Masters recently. Federer won 6-1, 7-6 (7-0). Although the second set was certainly tougher, the relief and relaxation in Federer’s demeanor was apparent. BBC Sport quoted him after the match as saying “I was very happy with how I performed,” and those watching the match will certainly agree on his behalf. Facing a powerful young opponent hungry to prove himself at the year-end stage, Federer was utterly in command.

The second match came on Tuesday against a Kei Nishikori fresh off a fairly strong win against Murray, and most anticipated a tougher test for Federer. Betfair odds analyst and tipster Sean Calvert suggested Nishikori was a decent bet for the upset. Calvert wrote that it ought to be a “keenly contested affair,” citing Nishikori’s 2-2 career record against Federer, as well as his growing confidence. And frankly, after the young Japanese star’s recent run to the US Open final, it’s hard to doubt him on big stages. But Federer had other ideas. On Tuesday, he ended up dispatching Nishikori with undeniable ease, 6-3, 6-2, and the Swiss maestro now stands firmly atop his group standings. He still has to play Murray, but it’s looking like a near certainty that Federer will advance.

Federer’s form has been so strong through his first two matches in London that ESPN went as far as to say there’s no one around to stop him. In an article titled “Federer Reminds Us Why We Need Rafa,” Peter Bodo actually named Djokovic the favourite, but in the process basically established that Federer’s resurgence has left a considerable gap between the top two and the rest of the field. Indeed, we all long for a healthy Rafa’s return, as the sport is just more fun with more top competitors. But in the meantime, this is looking increasingly like an eventual showdown between Federer and Djokovic.

We’re not there yet. Djokovic got off to a strong start in his own group, which also includes Stanislas Wawrinka, Marin Cilic, and Tomas Berdych. However, Wawrinka has given him trouble on numerous occasions, and he could be a legitimate threat to top the group after his own strong start. Both will likely advance to the semi-finals, but at that point they may face Federer’s very best and most concentrated effort. The Swiss star has made it a personal goal, if not obsession, to regain #1, and he’s within a few wins of doing so and at the top of his game. It’s difficult to not view him as the favourite in London.

John McEnroe and Jim Courier Kick Off New Tennis Offerings at Casa de Campo

LA ROMANA, Dominican Republic — Tennis legends John McEnroe and Jim Courier kicked off the new tennis offerings at the Casa de Campo Resort by competing a special exhibition match November 7. The appearance by the two tennis Hall of Famers was part of the resort’s effort to raise the profile of its tennis offerings at its 16-court tennis center.

Expertly deemed “Wimbledon of the Caribbean” by Travel + Leisure and “Best Tennis Facility” by USPTR (United States Professional Tennis Registry), Casa de Campo’s La Terraza Tennis Center is an integral component to Casa de Campo’s Sporting Life experience. The 12-acre facility boasts personal ball boys for every player and 16 fast-dry, Har-Tru courts – 10 of which are lighted for night play. The facility will soon begin to offer more organized tennis programming, including Cardio Tennis classes, game arranging, tennis socials, clinics and intense training for advanced players.

“We established this resort as a golf resort with 90 holes of golf designed by Pete Dye and the legendary “Teeth of the Dog” but when I came here three years ago, I recognized that tennis was an asset that was underutilized,” said Peter Bonell, Chief Marketing Officer for Casa de Campo. “We have 16 great Har-Tru courts and a beautiful facility but we were lucky if we were doing ten players a day. We united our ideas and put together this event with the help of InsideOut Sports & Entertainment to invigorate the local players and invigorate this country to get into tennis like it is golf. We see this as a take-off point where we will be able to put more capital into it, develop more packaging, get more partnerships and hopefully do bigger events like this.”

Courier, a two-time French Open champion, hung on for a 8-7 (7-1) win over McEnroe in the exhibition in front of an intimate and enthusiastic crowd of several hundred, including James Brewster, the U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic. Prior to the singles match, Courier and McEnroe played doubles with two young junior players from the club, with a special appearance by former top-ranked Dominican player and current Dominican Fed Cup captain Joelle Schad.

“It is really a privilege to get a chance to come to a place as beautiful as this,” said Courier. “I have never been to Casa to Campo but I have heard a lot about it from friends who have spent time here. It is every bit as beautiful as they say. It’s wonderful to be here to promote tennis at Casa de Campo and in the Dominican Republic.” (Expanded quotes from both players can be found at the end of this release.)

Both tennis stars were visiting the world famous resort for the first time and it was McEnroe’s first ever visit to the Dominican Republic. McEnroe’s wife Patty Smyth performed at the resort’s 5,000-seat stone amphitheater years ago when she was a member of the rock band “Scandal.”

Known for the Sporting Life, Casa de Campo offers an unmatched array of sport experiences including 90 holes of Pete Dye golf (including Teeth of the Dog, ranked No. 1 in Latin America), Polo & Equestrian Center, La Marina & Yacht Club and a Skeet/Trap Shooting Center. Additional amenities range from fine dining at The Beach Club by Le Cirque and six other resort restaurants, to private beaches, The Casa de Campo Spa, and Altos de Chavon, an artist’s village with a 5,000-seat Grecian style amphitheater.

Situated among 7,000 acres in La Romana, Casa de Campo is easily accessible through La Romana International Airport operating direct flights from JFK and South Florida, or the nearby major cities — like Punta Cana International Airport and Las Americas International Airport — servicing hundreds of nonstop flights daily from all major U.S. airports.

For more information on vacation packages, visit http://www.casadecampo.com.do/. Tennis enthusiasts can also book tennis packages via Mason’s Tennis in New York City at http://masonstennis.com/casa-decampo/. Mason’s Tennis serves as a tennis consultant for the resort and assisted in putting together the McEnroe-Courier exhibition match.

The McEnroe – Courier exhibition was produced by Casa de Campo in conjunction with InsideOut Sports & Entertainment, the independent 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, charity events and corporate outings. Since inception, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment has have raised over $4 million for charity. For more information, please log on towww.InsideOutSE.com  or www.powersharesseries.com or follow on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

 

Select Quotes from the Press Availability are found below:

 

John McEnroe on playing the world famous “Teeth of the Dog” golf course, where, as a 20-handicapper, he shot a 92:

“We don’t want to talk too much about that… This is my first time ever being in the Dominican Republic… Hopefully I will be invited back.”

 

Jim Courier on Victor Estrella, the 34-year-old player from the Dominican Republic who broke into the top 100 this year, the first Dominican to do so:

“I enjoyed seeing Victor play this summer. To see him get into the top 100 for the first time at 34 years of age was pretty special…Being where he is, I am sure it is really inspiring for all of the young players in this country to see that a player from the Dominican Republic can make it into the big time. He is a hard working guy who loves the game.”

 

McEnroe on Estrella:

“He is also inspiring to older players since he made it at such a late age.”

 

Courier on the PowerShares Series coming to Casa de Campo:

“I think there absolutely is a chance for a PowerShares Series event to come here….This would be a great location at Casa de Campo with players like John, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, Ivan Lendl. This (exhibition) event is kind of a truncated version of that.”

 

McEnroe on his competitiveness, even in exhibition matches:

“I don’t think our competitive juices ever go away, it’s just different levels. When you play in the finals of a major event, that is what you dream about. It’s the pinnacle of the sport, but in certain ways I appreciate that I am out there doing what I am doing at this age. While I know I can’t do what I used to do, I appreciate it more. People come out and press come out and ask us questions and our opinions. It is pretty darn nice.”

 

Courier on McEnroe’s competitiveness:

“I think you will notice that with John’s competitive juices, the way that they flow, we may need some extra towels on court.”

 

Courier on Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer battling for No. 1 ranking:

“It’s been an impressive year for Roger. He has his back “back” to full health which has made a big difference in his movement.  The new racquet seems to be helping. He has been very consistent but the one the he hasn’t done – and he has been very close – is win a major and Novak has. Novak has a pretty healthy lead and I think Roger will have a difficult time to catch him for year-end No. 1. That doesn’t diminish the type of comeback year for Roger, I don’t think we can call it a comeback year because of his high unbelievable standards. He’s in a great spot right now. He can challenge for No. 1 also in Australia. There are a lot of points to offer between the London Masters and in Australia. It’s not inconceivable that Roger could get back to No. 1,  which would be something.”

 

Courier on Latin American players and their development in the last 20 years:

“Traditionally the Latin American players in my day, they preferred clay which was the surface got this far on when they were younger. The American players tended to be more hard court players, by virtue of that is what we played on for most of our junior tournaments. It feels like that has changed. It certainly changed over the course of the end of my ATP career, where Spanish players like Emilio Sanchez and Sergi Bruguera started to play pretty darn well on hard courts. And you saw players like Gustavo Kuerten, who was obviously a great clay court player who also won the Masters in Portugal. I see players be more comfortable on hard courts and clay courts from Latin America in the last 20 to 25 years. That is what I have seen.”

 

McEnroe on Latin American players and their development in the last 20 years:

“(Juan Martin) Del Potro and (David) Nalbandian – two Argentines talked about growing up talking about playing quite a bit on hard courts. I think around the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, the Spanish Federation decided to build some hard courts and wanted to prove that their players could play on all surfaces. That sort of opened up the doors for other countries. It sort of like what we need to do more of and I think people are aware of in America. We need to prove ourselves on clay so that we can be more well-rounded. It would help us if we were better on clay even our hard court games down the road, give us more variety. The opposite is true for other countries. They realized that they needed to play on more than just clay courts. If they learned how to serve, it was like a huge advantage on other surfaces, for example.”

 

McEnroe on if there was any player he feared playing:

“No one who we would want to name publicity…If you don’t mind. There was one guy I didn’t want to play on clay and that is him (pointing to Jim Courier)…If you are afraid to play someone, I think you have already lost.”

 

Courier on his top 3 tennis players of all time:

“I would say Roger, Rafa…For me it would hard not to put Rod Laver in there since he won the Grand Slam twice. For me, that would rude not to mention Rod.”

IPTL Tennis To Air Live on Pay-Per-View In United States Via Integrated Sports Media

The International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), the inaugural international city-based professional tennis league featuring legendary players such as Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova, will be available for live viewing via TV and on-line pay-per-view in the United States by Integrated Sports Media beginning November 28th through the conclusion of the season on December 13. All 24 matches of the highly anticipated inaugural season will be available on both cable and satellite pay-per-view – live and for replay – via iN DEMAND, DirecTV, DISH and Vubiquity and online at www.GFL.TV starting at $9.95 per match and $69.95 for packages.

The International Premier Tennis League (www.iptlworld.com) is the first international city-based professional tennis league played across four countries. Created to for fill the increasing demand for top-level tennis in Asia, the IPTL features teams based in India, Singapore, the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates featuring current champions, tennis legends and up-coming talent in a unique format of team matches to determine a team champion. Seventeen-time-major tournament champion Federer, 18-time major winner and current world No. 1 Serena Williams, current world No. 1 and seven-time major champion Djokovic and five-time major champion and former world No. 1 Sharapova headline the players competing in the inaugural season of the IPTL. The league also features past champions such as 14-time major champion Pete Sampras and career Golden Grand Slam winner Andre Agassi and other top current players including 2013 Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, 2014 Wimbledon finalist Genie Bouchard, 2010 Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych, and former world No. 1s Ana Ivanovic and Lleyton Hewitt among others. In all, the league will feature 21 Grand Slam tournament champions and 14 current or former world No. 1 players competing in 24 team matches from November 28th through December 13.

“There has been a lot of anticipation and curiosity about the inaugural season of the IPTL and we are thrilled to provide it for American audiences to view via pay-per-view on TV along with access online,” said ISM President Doug Jacobs. “The IPTL is going to showcase a very unique and never seen before brand of professional tennis, with players like Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Andre Agassi, Maria Sharapova, Novak Djokovic and many other legendary tennis champions all competing on co-ed teams representing Asia in fast-growing emerging tennis markets. These are events that no tennis fan is going to want to miss.”

Team rosters are as follows:

 

Manila Mavericks – Maria Sharapova, Andy Murray, Joe Wilfried Tsonga, Kristen Flipkens, Daniel Nestor, Carlos Moya, Treat Huey

Singapore Slammers - Serena Williams, Andre Agassi, Thomas Berdych, Lleyton Hewitt, Nick Krygios, Daniela Hantuchova, Patrick Rafter, Bruno Soares

Micromax Indian Aces – Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, Gael Monfils, Ana Ivanovic, Sania Mirza, Rohan Bopanna, Fabrice Santoro

UAE Royals - Novak Djokovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Goran Ivanisevic, Genie Bouchard, Malek Jaziri, Nenad Zimonjic

 

Each IPTL match will consist of five sets played by different players that will include men’s singles,  women’s singles, men’s doubles, mixed doubles and former champions singles. Each game won counts as one point for the team points total and the team that wins the most games overall across the five sets wins the match. The IPTL matches will feature live entertainment, a running shot clock and many more features to ’Break the Code’ of the traditional etiquette of tennis to attract a new audience to the sport across the world. The team with the most accumulated points during the season are declared league champions and are awarded the IPTL Challenge Trophy in Dubai on December 13.

The IPTL season begins November 28 in Manila, Philippines. The November 28-30 matches will be played in Manila, Philippines. The December 2-4 matches will be played in Singapore. The December 6-8 matches will be played in New Delhi, India and the December 11-13 matches will be played in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The full schedule of matches are as follows:

 

Dates and times from Manila, Philippines

November 28th

Aces vs. Slammers (3:00 am ET/12:00 Midnight PT)

Mavericks vs. Royals (6:30 am ET/3:00 am PT)

 

November 29th

Royals v Slammers (3:00 am ET/12:00 Midnight PT)

Mavericks vs. Aces (6:30 am ET/3:00 am PT)

 

November 30th

Royals vs. Aces (3:00 am ET/12:00 Midnight PT)

Mavericks vs. Slammers (6:30 am ET/3:00 am PT)

 

 

Dates and times from Singapore

December 2nd

Aces v Royals (3:00 am ET/12:00 Midnight PT)

Slammers v Mavericks (6:30 am ET/3:30 am PT)

 

December 3rd

Mavericks v Royals (3:00 am ET/12:00 Midnight PT)

Slammers v Aces (6:30 am ET/3:30 am PT)

 

December 4th

Mavericks v Aces (3:00 am ET/12:00 Midnight PT)

Slammers v Royals (6:30 am ET/3:30 am PT)

 

Dates and times from India

December 6th

Royals v Slammers (5:30 am ET/2:30 am PT)

Aces v. Mavericks (9:00 am ET/6:00 am PT)

 

December 7th

Aces v Slammers (5:30 am ET/2:30 am PT)

Mavericks v. Royals (9:00 am ET/6:00 am PT)

 

December 8th

Mavericks v. Slammers (5:30 am ET/2:30 am PT)

Aces v. Royals (9:00 am ET/6:00 am PT)

 

Dates and times from UAE

December 11th

Aces v Slammers (7:00 am ET/4:00 am PT)

Royals v Mavericks (10:30 am ET/7:30 am PT)

 

December 12th

Mavericks v Slammers (7:00 am ET/4:00 am PT)

Royals v Aces (10:30 am ET/7:30 am PT)

December 13th

Mavericks v Aces (7:00 am ET/4:00 am PT)

Royals v Slammers (10:30 am ET/7:30 am PT)

 

About Integrated Sports Media:

Integrated Sports Media: North America’s leading distributor of International Pay-Per-View and Closed Circuit sports events has presented World Championship and world-class mixed martial arts shows featuring Fedor Emelianenko, Tim Sylvia, Bobby Lashley, Mirko Filipovic, Bob Sapp, Jeff Monson and Roy Nelson, in addition to World Championship and world-class boxing matches featuring Gennady Golovkin, Erik Morales, Vitali Klitschko, Ricky Hatton, Cristian Mijares, Evander Holyfield, Roy Jones, Jr., Tomasz Adamek, Paulie Malignaggi, Ivan Calderon, Rocky Martinez, Nicolai Valuev, Amir Khan, Marco Antonio Barrera, Arthur Abraham, David Haye, John Ruiz, Wilfredo Vasquez, Jr., Brian Viloria, Giovani Segura and Ruslan Chagaev. In addition, Integrated Sports Media has distributed numerous International soccer matches featuring teams like Real Madrid, Club America of Mexico and the National Teams of Argentina, Honduras, El Salvador and the USA. For more information on upcoming Integrated Sports events visit www.integratedsportsnet.com or follow on Twitter @IntegratedPPV.

 

“The Secrets of Spanish Tennis” Book Released By New Chapter Press

“The Secrets of Spanish Tennis,” the book that features the key Spanish methods and philosophies that have propelled Spain to the pinnacle of professional tennis, is now available for sale from New Chapter Press.

The book is written by elite New York-based high performance tennis coach Chris Lewit, who spent the last seven years visiting many of the top Spanish academies and studying their teaching methods. The book features results of Lewit’s interviews with some of the leading Spanish coaches, explaining their unique and special training methodology, while also sharing many of their “secret” Spanish tennis drills.

“I am very excited to share the results of my extensive studies of the Spanish approach towards tennis and the training methods of Spain’s most famous coaches in this book,” said  Lewit. “This is a very valuable and practical tool for any player, parent, or coach who is curious about how a small country like Spain has become a world superpower in tennis, and would like to learn and adopt some of the methods used to achieve this unprecedented success. The advice, methods, and drills shared in this book are presented in a clear and simple way that is easy for the reader to understand.”

All featured drills in the book from famous Spanish coaches are also demonstrated visually on Lewit’s www.secretsofspanishtennis.com website to aid the understanding of the reader. The book can be purchased where books are sold, including here on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1937559491/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_Oatpub01M072B

Lluis Bruguera, the respected Spanish tennis coach and the father of two-time French Open champion Sergi Bruguera, contributed the foreword to the book. Bruguera, the former Spanish Davis Cup captain and technical director of the Real Federacion Espanola de Tennis, is the founder and current director of the Bruguera Tennis Academy in Spain.

“Chris is in love with the Spanish system and a fervent follower because he believes in the advantages of what this system offers,” said Bruguera in the foreword. “It’s obvious that one country so small and without many practitioners must have something hidden that supports the success. I highly recommend The Secrets of Spanish Tennis to all parents, coaches, and players who are interested in learning the Spanish methods.”

Said Valencia, Spain-based International Tennis Federation Development Research Officer Miguel Crespo in endorsing the book, “The Secrets of Spanish Tennis provides an excellent overview of the main characteristics and reasons why tennis in Spain has been so successful. By the appropriate combination of theory and practice, the book helps to understand the factors that may help a nation in the development of high performance players. A must read for those interested in the insights of some of the best players and coaches in the history of the game.”

Lewit directs the Chris Lewit Tennis Academy, a Spanish-inspired high performance tennis academy at the prestigious New York Tennis Club, the oldest tennis club in New York, located in the Throgs Neck area of the Bronx. The Chris Lewit Tennis Academy is the only tennis school in the Northeastern United States to offer an authentic and progressive curriculum based on the successful methods of Spain. Lewit is a certified USTA High Performance Coach, the highest coaching designation in the United States; a member of the USPTA and PTR; and he has also received the prestigious ASC certification from the Academia Sanchez-Casal, earned while studying in Barcelona, Spain. He has studied under many former top ATP players and coaches and several national federation coaches, including Bruguera and legendary Spanish coach Pato Alvarez. He played No. 1 for Cornell University in singles and doubles and still actively competes on the ITF professional circuit in his spare time. A resident of Weehawken, New Jersey, he is a long-time contributing editor for TennisPlayer.net and the author of The Tennis Technique Bible.

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 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.

Andy Murray Already Second Favorite To Win Wimbledon In 2015

This has been a very difficult season for 2013 Wimbledon champion Andy Murray as his recovery from a back injury has been a lot more difficult than initially expected. Murray looked to possibly be heading for the world number one spot with continued improvement following his second Grand Slam triumph but instead, the Scot has plummeted down the rankings and now sits in a very disappointing position of 11th in the world, having been as high and number two. Many believe that Andy Murray can show improved form in 2015 and bookmaker Betfair obviously have similar beliefs. The leading online betting exchange have put Murray in as their 7/2 second favourite for next year’s Wimbledon title, despite the fact that he went out in straight sets in 2014 at the hands of up and comer Grigor Dimitrov. Andy Murray’s first Grand Slam victory came at the US Open in 2012, and it came as little surprise when he added his second Slam in SW19 the following year. It took Andy a few attempts to make the breakthrough following a number of final appearances, but once he managed to capture that first big prize, a number of pundits suggested that he may well have a sustained run as the top player in the game. That has not proved to be the case however, and it will be very interesting to see exactly what the new season is going to bring as far as Murray is concerned.

Novak Djokovic is the current favourite to win the men’s singles title at the 2015 Wimbledon championships and that comes as little surprise following his impressive run at the tournament this year. Djokovic was able to make amends for his straight sets final defeat at the hands of Andy Murray the previous year and claim his second Wimbledon crown. There were some matches where the world number one didn’t have things all his own way, but Djokovic proved that he has a serious amount of determination and fighting spirit en route to the final, where he would face grass court maestro Roger Federer. Having lost the first set on a tie break, it would have been easy for Novak to start thinking negatively as he also lost the first set to Murray one year previous. However, the Serbian was able to dig in and win the next two sets, before Federer stepped up a gear and took the fourth. Djokovic took the decider by six games to four and captured his seventh Grand Slam title in the process. If Andy Murray is going to recapture the Wimbledon title in front of his home fans, he will likely have to overcome the defending champion somewhere along the way. Betfair go 6/1 bar this pair with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both on offer at the same price, but there is reason to oppose those men this coming year. Roger Federer will be 34 years old come the 2015 Wimbledon Championships, and Rafael Nadal has not performed well at this tournament for a number of years now.  With another decent run of games under his belt before next June, Andy Murray can make a bold bid to take the Wimbledon title once again in 2015.

The Best Backhands of All-Time

 

Who has the greatest backhand in the history of tennis? Tennis historian and author Steve Flink throws out his thoughts on the debate ranking the top five men’s and women’s backhands of all time in his new book THE GREATEST TENNIS MATCHES OF ALL TIME, available on Amazon.com here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Greatest-Tennis-Matches-Time/dp/0942257936/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354551927&sr=8-1&keywords=greatest+tennis+matches+of+all+time The except of the best backhands is excerpted below.

 

Men

1. DON BUDGE When he captured the Grand Slam in 1938—the first player ever to realize that feat—Budge had it all, but the single biggest strength in his game was his majestic backhand. Most of those players who preceded Budge at the top of tennis were better off the forehand, but his backhand was the first of its kind. His aggressiveness off that side was ground breaking in many ways. He drove the backhand essentially flat and all students of the game marveled at its magical simplicity.

2. KEN ROSEWALL The diminutive Australian’s backhand was legendary. He prepared early, turned his shoulders unfailingly, kept his eyes glued to the ball, but, most significantly, Rosewall’s backhand was a slice. Across the history of tennis, many slice backhands have been used primarily for defensive purposes, but not Rosewall’s. His slice backhand worked in every way: as a rally shot, as a passing shot, for the lob, and on the return of serve. It was multi-faceted. It was incredibly versatile. And above all else, it was unmistakably elegant.

3. JIMMY CONNORS Watching Connors launch into one of his two-handed backhand drives was one of the great joys for all erudite observers from the early seventies until the outset of the 1990’s. Connors retained the old fashioned flavor of a flat, one-handed backhand, producing flat and penetrating two-handers of unrelenting depth and immense power, yet gaining stability with his right hand. His backhand was the picture of purity. It was his signature shot.

4. NOVAK DJOKOVIC A mesmerizing athlete, Djokovic can be forced well off the court by wide balls to his two-handed backhand and still recover in time to play the shot with assertiveness and astounding control. He returns with unswerving authority off that side, and in long rallies from the baseline, his two-hander is rock solid. Djokovic finds just the right blend of flat and topspin shots with his two-handed backhand. This shot made him the great champion he became.

5. LEW HOAD and GUSTAVO KUERTEN One match away from winning the Grand Slam in 1956, Hoad at the height of his powers was impenetrable. The gifted Australian had every shot in the book, could perform brilliantly on any surface and was universally admired for his immense talent. Off the ground, his one-handed backhand was widely appreciated. He drove through the ball with an essentially flat stroke and was lethal off that side. To be sure, he was a streaky player, but when he was on, there was nothing he could not do on a tennis court, including cracking the backhand mightily. Kuerten’s one-handed backhand was the cornerstone of his game—a majestic, sweepingly beautiful, fluid, one handed stroke that carried him to three French Open crowns. Kuerten sparkled off that side, hitting winners at will, driving the ball both crosscourt and down the line with extraordinary pace and minimal topspin. His backhand was singularly inspiring in its time.

 

Women

1. CHRIS EVERT While both Connors and Borg made substantial contributions toward the cause of the two-handed backhand, it is safe to say that Evert’s impact was larger. Her success charted a new course for women’s tennis and the two-hander became a staple. But that did not mean it was easy to replicate the geometric precision of her backhand. The daughter of an outstanding teaching professional named Jimmy Evert, she worked diligently on her two-hander. It was the shot that never deserted her across the years. In rallies, her depth was unmatchable and she seldom missed. Her returns were crisp and solid and her passing shots were unimaginably precise and unerring. Meanwhile, the topspin lob was always at her disposal. In my book,  the Evert backhand was the best in the history of women’s tennis and the precursor for so many great two-handers to replicate.

2. MONICA SELES Just as Djokovic broke new ground by taming the Rafael Nadal forehand with his backhand, Seles did essentially the same thing with her lefty two-handed backhand against Graf. The German always was more comfortable running around her backhand to play the inside-out forehand, but if you could keep her pinned deep in her forehand corner, she was not able to control rallies in the same manner. Seles forced Graf to do that by virtue of the depth and speed of her two-handed backhand crosscourt, forcing Graf back on her heels. That was no mean feat. The Seles backhand was immaculately executed.

3. JUSTINE HENIN The Belgian brought an awful lot to the table of competition. She was a complete player with all of the tools to succeed in her trade. Yet her one-handed topspin backhand was her trademark. Henin’s backhand was sweepingly beautiful, a spectator’s dream, an opponent’s nightmare. She was willing to miss off that side because her goal was to make things happen off the backhand, and, if that meant making some aggressive errors, so be it. But she more than balanced the scales by sprinkling the court with clusters of topspin backhand winners, going down the line or crosscourt, long or short.

4. LINDSAY DAVENPORT At nearly 6’3,” Davenport was an imposing physical presence on a tennis court. Over the years, she became decidedly better as a tennis player and athlete by losing weight, gaining momentum in the process. Across time, her two-handed backhand was strikingly effective, particularly crosscourt. She kept it uncomplicated, going for one deep, penetrating and flat shot after another until she could break down the defenses of her adversaries.

5. EVONNE GOOLAGONG The Australian often looked like a ballerina on tennis court, but never more so than on the backhand side. She was very flexible, using the slice backhand to keep herself in rallies, raising the tempo whenever she saw an opening to release her glorious topspin backhand. She did not have to think when she hit a backhand— it was all flowing and instinctive. The Goolagong backhand remains frozen in the minds of tennis fans everywhere.

A Look Back At The Tennis Career of Li Na

“Li Na has been a fun, powerful, and wonderful player on the WTA tour and, along with her fans, I am sad to hear that she has retired,” said WTA Chairman & CEO Stacey Allaster on the announcement of the retirement of Li Na, the Chinese tennis trailblazer, winner of the 2014 Australian Open and the 2011 French Open. ”In addition to her amazing tennis abilities and her warm and humorous personality, she is a pioneer who opened doors to tennis for hundreds of millions of people throughout China and Asia.  It’s hard to be a household name in a nation with 1.4 billion people, but that’s what Li Na is.  Thanks to all she has achieved and contributed, her legacy is immense and I have no doubt that her contributions to the WTA will be seen for decades to come in China, throughout Asia and the rest of the world.  I wish her the best of luck in this next chapter in her life.  I will miss her, and I know that while she may be retired from competition, she still will play a big role in the growth of our sport around the world.”

Li Na’s 15-year professional career featured nine WTA singles titles, two doubles titles and saw her become one of the very best and most popular players in the history of women’s tennis.

Li, 32, etched her name in the history books at Roland Garros in 2011 when she became the first Asian player to win a Grand Slam singles title, defeating Top 10 rivals in each of her last four matches. Earlier in 2011 she was the first player from the region to reach a major final, finishing runner-up to Kim Clijsters at the Australian Open. After another run to the final at the Australian Open in 2013, when she was edged by Victoria Azarenka in a dramatic three-setter, Li captured her second Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park in January this year – just the second woman aged over 30 to win the title in the Open Era, after Margaret Court. The victory helped propel Li to World No.2 on February 17, 2014 – the highest ranking ever attained by an Asian player.

Over the course of her career, particularly in later years as her success reached its crescendo, Li’s powerful game delivered against the very best. Her 21 wins over Top 5 opponents included two over reigning World No.1s – Serena Williams at Stuttgart in 2008 and Caroline Wozniacki at the 2011 Australian Open. In total she reached 21 WTA singles finals (going 9-12 in those) and in addition to her wins at the Australian Open and Roland Garros was a semifinalist at the US Open and quarterfinalist at Wimbledon.

Along the way, Li established a string of breakthroughs for Chinese tennis, alongside her Grand Slam title triumphs. She was the first to win a WTA singles title (2004 Guangzhou) and first to win a WTA Premier title (2011 Sydney); first to reach a Grand Slam singles quarterfinal (2006 Wimbledon); first to compete in singles at the WTA Finals (2011-13, finishing runner-up to S.Williams on her most recent appearance); and first to crack the singles Top 20 (August 14, 2006), Top 10 (February 1, 2010) and Top 5 (June 6, 2011). As wfaell as representing her country in Fed Cup competition in eight different years she was a three-time Olympian for China (Sydney 2000, Beijing 2008 and London 2012). She also played countrywoman Zheng Jie in the first All-Chinese WTA singles final at Estoril in 2006 (won by Zheng) and earlier this year won the second All-China final in WTA history at Shenzhen, defeating Peng Shuai for the title.

Li’s career singles win-loss record was 503-188 with prize money earnings of $16,709,074. She exited the game with a rank of No.6.

 

The Best Moments of the 2014 US Open

 

The 2014 US Open was known for many surprises. While Serena Williams lived up to her reputation and claimed yet another Grand Slam title, over on the men’s side, Marin Cilic surprised us all by going all the way to the top. At just 25 years old, he managed to beat some of the world’s best recognised tennis stars including Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray, and has now cemented himself as an up and comer to rival today’s ‘big four.’

Cilic may have surprised us all, but there were a few other golden moments which will not be forgotten in a hurry. Here’s a look back at some of the best moments of the US Open 2014.

 

Kei Nishikori breaks a personal record

While Marin Cilic was raising a few eyebrows and getting bookmakers at www.bettingsports.com talking, Kei Nishikori was another young prodigy to stun at this year’s US Open event. The 24-year-old made it all the way to the final, but while he did not take the title, he did have one extraordinary achievement. After beating Stan Wawrinka, he became the first Japanese player to reach a semi-final since Ichiya Kuamagae in 1918.

 

Andy Murray bows out once again

After his Wimbledon success in 2013, Andy Murray suffered a huge fall from grace this year as he exited Wimbledon early and failed to take the title at the US Open. While some say that he was plagued with back injuries, it could just be that world number one Novak Djokovic was too much for him. The quarter final saw Murray’s sensational exit this year as Djokovic beat him 7-6 (7-1) 6-7 (1-7) 6-2 6-4.

 

Caroline Wozniacki has a bad hair day

Recent break ups with golf champions were the least of Caroline Wozniacki’s worries as she went head to head with Aliaksandra Sasnovich on August 27th. The Danish beauty managed to get her hair caught in her racket during play, making for a memorable photo opportunity for the hundreds of spectators watching her. Thankfully, she managed to progress to the final, but was ultimately overwhelmed when it came to meeting champion Serena Williams.

 

The fall of Roger Federer

It’s becoming more and more likely that the ‘big four’ – Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, (who was out due to a wrist injury) Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are soon to be replaced by today’s younger stars. This is particularly true for Roger Federer, who, at 33, was overwhelmed by this year’s champion, Marin Cilic, in the semi finals.

 

Roger Federer Keeps On Keeping On

by Thaddeus McCarthy

 

Turning 33 earlier this month, Roger Federer passed a milestone. That milestone is that no player has won a Grand Slam at 33 or older since Ken Rosewall won the Australian at 37 in 1972. Andre Agassi won the Australian in 2003 a few months before his 33rd birthday, but other than that there is not a single player who has come within a whisker of emulating Rosewall’s Grand Slam age record. Federer has the chance to come within a four year whisker at the US Open.

Whatever happens for Federer at the US Open, he has had a good year. Perhaps though, the one disappointment he will have, is his record in finals. Before Toronto he has won 3 and lost 5. His win in Cincinnati was his best victory since Wimbledon in 2012, as although he has since won titles, they have not been Masters crowns.

Looking at recent past players Agassi won his final Masters title at the grand old age of 34 in 2004. In fact this title was also at Toronto. So perhaps there is some mystical happenings at work for the older players in Cincinnati. I certainly hope so. And when you consider that Pete Sampras won his final title at the US Open at 31 in 2002, to put some frosty icing on his glorious career, then maybe you could summise that the whole American summer would line up well for Federer. Certainly winning the US Open would be fantastic for Federer’s legacy, and would be a title in a similar ilk to Sampras in 2002.

 

McEnroe, Courier To Compete At Casa de Campo Resort In The Dominican Republic

John McEnroe and Jim Courier, two of the greatest American tennis champions over the last 40 years, will compete in a special exhibition match on November 7, 2014 at the Casa de Campo resort in La Romana, Dominican Republic to showcase the resort’s tennis offerings.

In addition to their exhibition match, McEnroe and Courier will also participate in special clinics and hitting sessions with patrons and attend a special Casa de Campo tennis cocktail party. Event packages for the clinics, party and exhibition match are for sale and can purchased by emailing res1@ccampo.com.do.

Expertly deemed “Wimbledon of the Caribbean” by Travel + Leisure and “Best Tennis Facility” by USPTR (United States Professional Tennis Registry), Casa de Campo’s La Terraza Tennis Center is an integral component to the Sporting Life experience. The 12-acre facility boasts personal ball boys for every player and 16 fast-dry, Har-Tru courts – 10 of which are lighted for night play.

“Perfectly aligned with the Sporting Life, Casa de Campo is honored to host this international tennis exhibition at La Terraza Tennis Center,” says Peter Bonell, Chief Marketing Officer at the resort. “All guests will have memorable experiences thanks to the resort and club staff, especially the ball boys, who are working tirelessly to make this perfect.”

Known for the Sporting Life, Casa de Campo offers an unmatched array of sport experiences including 90 holes of Pete Dye golf (including Teeth of the Dog, ranked no. 1 in Latin America), Polo & Equestrian Center, La Marina & Yacht Club and a Skeet/Trap Shooting Center. Additional amenities range from fine dining at The Beach Club by Le Cirque and six other resort restaurants, to private beaches, The Casa de Campo Spa, and Altos de Chavon, an artists village with a 5,000-seat Grecian style amphitheater.

Situated among 7,000 acres in La Romana, Casa de Campo is easily accessible through La Romana International Airport operating direct flights from JFK and South Florida, or the nearby major cities — like Punta Cana International Airport and Las Americas International Airport — servicing hundreds of nonstop flights daily from all major U.S. airports.

“Casa de Campo has such a great reputation for being one of the top resorts in the world and I’m looking forward to visiting there for the first time this November,” said Courier. “It’s always challenging and never boring playing a match against John McEnroe and will be fun to do so on the tropical courts at Casa de Campo. Equally challenging will be trying to get some birdies at the Teeth of the Dog golf course, which I am also excited about playing.”

McEnroe is regarded as one of the most talented and well-known players in tennis history.  He won seven major singles titles, including four at the US Open (1979-1981, 1984) in his hometown of New York, in addition to winning 10 other major titles in doubles and mixed doubles. He won Wimbledon three times (1981, 1983-1984), and was involved in perhaps the greatest Wimbledon final of all time, losing to Bjorn Borg in 1980, featuring the famous 18-16 fourth-set tie-breaker. McEnroe helped the United States win the Davis Cup five times and he captured 77 career singles titles and 78 career doubles titles, his last being in San Jose, California in 2006 at the age of 47. Age 55, McEnroe recently won the points title on the 2014 PowerShares Series champions tennis circuit, prompting Courier to label him as the “greatest 55-year-old tennis player to ever grace the earth.”

Courier is regarded as one of the most tenacious tennis players of all time – and with one of the biggest forehands – that led him to a pair of French Open titles in 1991 and 1992 and two Australian Open titles in 1992 and 1993. In 1992, he became the first American to reach the No. 1 ranking on the ATP World Tour since McEnroe in 1985. In 1993, Courier was the youngest player to reach all four major singles finals in a career when he reached the Wimbledon final in 1993 at age 22. He also guided the U.S. to Davis Cup titles in 1992, where he was teammates with McEnroe, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi on the described U.S. “Dream Team,” and again in 1995. He currently serves as the captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team and competes on the PowerShares Series tennis circuit.

For more information on vacation packages, visit www.casadecampo.com.do

The McEnroe – Courier exhibition is held in conjunction, with InsideOut Sports & Entertainment, the New York City-based independent 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, charity events and corporate outings. Since inception, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment has have raised over $4 million for charity. For more information, please log on towww.InsideOutSE.com  or www.powersharesseries.com or follow on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.