by Michael Lemort
After his success in Rome and Monte-Carlo a month ago, two of the three clay-court Masters 1000 of the season, Novak Djokovic has confirmed that he was the favorite for the French Open coming up next week and that he was invincible in the big events since last fall.
He started the 2015 season with a success at the Australian Open, first major of the year, against Andy Murray. It was his fifth crown in Melbourne and his eighth victory in a Grand Slam tournament. Then he won back to back Indian Wells and Miami, the first two Masters 1000 of the season (achieving the double for the third time), beating Roger Federer and Andy Murray in the final.
After his success in Monte-Carlo last April, he became the first player to win the opening three Masters 1000 of the year and also the first one to win the first four big events of the season. Even though he had to withdraw from Madrid’s Masters 1000 two weeks ago, he came back in Rome last week and extended his winning streak to 22 matches after his victory over Federer in the final. That was his 24th success in a Masters 1000 tournament, one more than Roger Federer and only three behind the leader Rafael Nadal (27).
With a 147th week at the top, he has now passed Nadal (141) and only Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe have done better in the tennis history. Novak Djokovic is more than ever the number one at the ATP rankings with 13845 points (a new record). Roger Federer, the number two, is 4610 points behind.
This year, he only lost against Ivo Karlovic in Doha (an ATP 250) and against Roger Federer in Dubai (an ATP 500) which leads him to a 35 wins/2 losses record so far in 2015. Knowing that he also won the ATP World Tour Finals in London and the Paris Masters 1000 last November, his last defeat in a big event (Grand Slams and Masters 1000) took place last October against Roger Federer in the semi-final of Shanghai (Masters 1000).
With all those records and that confidence, no wonder that he will be the favorite for the French Open next week, the only Grand Slam missing in his already huge career.
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With Wimbledon 2015 just around the corner, all eyes are on the form of the world’s top tennis players. Britain, in particular, will be watching the progress of 2013 Wimbledon champion Andy Murray.
A number of near misses—and the tantalising promise of things to come, when he won gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games—led to his 2013 performance where the Scot became the first British player to win the men’s singles championship at Wimbledon for 77 years.
Those lucky enough to have secured Centre Court tickets for the Wimbledon Men’s Final 2015 will be hoping for a repeat performance—if only to sample the magical atmosphere that is generated at SW19.
Doubtless, in 2013, the shouts and cheers of encouragement for Murray in the final will have been slightly louder and more raucous thanks to his nationality. However, such adulation is not the sole preserve of a “home-grown” player on Centre Court. The likes of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are all supported by their own massive army of fans who add much colour to proceedings.
Outside Centre Court large, and altogether more partisan, crowds gather on Henman Hill— or Murray Mound —as it has now been dubbed. Wimbledon needs home-grown talent to shine and, when it does, it is here that the place really comes alive.
Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski’s performances paved the way for mass celebrations by local crowds on Henman Hill in the nineties—Andy Murray has taken it to a whole new level. And there is still more to come from him.
In early May, Murray recorded a victory over Rafa Nadal in the final of this year’s Madrid Open. Although on clay, it is a clear sign that the Scot is still a force in world tennis. Murray showed a great degree of control against Nadal, who is rightly lauded as the greatest clay-court tennis player of all time, to win the title in two sets.
Legendary US tennis coach Nick Bolletieri believes that Murray has never played better “I would say that this is the best I have seen Murray play, right now, and I include when he won the big ones,” he told Wimbledon.com.
Murray will now head into the Roland Garros French Open—another title held on clay—in great form and high spirits. He will also know that the green, green grass of (almost) home will be waiting for him just a few weeks later.
With just a few weeks to go until the beginning of one of the most prestigious events on the Grand Slam Calendar, Wimbledon, we’re all thinking about booking tickets to go and get a glimpse at our favourite stars taking to the courts.
For many of these events, the location is as exciting as the tournament itself. If you can only afford to hit one tennis venue in your lifetime, make sure it is one of these, which offer world class hospitality and entertainment like no other.
Up until 2011, the South African Tennis Open would take place every February at the Montecasino Entertainment Complex in Johannesburg. It’s something of an interesting choice of venue for sports fans, but when we consider the betting element involved in many of today’s sports, it makes perfect sense that spectators would want to go and be a little frivolous in the casino on site. Of course, times have changed since 2011 – with cashback offers available from online competitors, many people are now turning away from the humble brick and mortar casino. This could be just one of the many reasons that the SA Tennis Open ended, but nevertheless, its stunning location will be remembered.
Court Central, Monte Carlo Country Club
Nothing quite says luxury like the Court Central at the Monte Carlo Country Club. As another region which offers a number of decadent pursuits including gambling, Monte Carlo attracts a certain kind of clientele – so anyone wishing to rub shoulders with the elite would be advised to brush up on their Ps and Qs first. Home to the Monte Carlo Masters, this gorgeous location offers a backdrop of rocky Provence hills and stunning views of the Mediterranean.
Foro Italico, Rome
For those who want to take a step back in time, look no further than Rome’s Foro Italico. Home to the Italian Open, this venue takes spectators away from the run of the mill modern tennis stadiums and replaces it with authentic Roman architecture. Viewers will feel as if they are in a real gladiator stadium, surrounded by a plethora of marble statues of naked athletes. With seating for 12,500, this amphitheatre is impressive beyond belief.
Royal Albert Hall, London
This is one venue that we would not usually associate with sports, but the Royal Albert Hall, usually home to concerts, ballets and operas, has also played host to many prestigious tennis events in the past. Located in the museum quarter of central London, it witnessed its first tennis match back in 1970 and today sees tennis stars from around the world coming to compete in the ATP Champions Tour Masters.
Qizhong Forest Sports City Arena, Shanghai
Head over to China’s Shanghai if you are less interested in tennis and are keener on stunning architecture. To mark the city’s official flower, the Qizhong Forest Sports City Arena in Shanghai features a steel roof which has eight sliding petal-shaped pieces, mimicking a magnolia in full bloom. Of course, this 15,000 seat stadium offers more than just a beautiful bird’s eye view – not only is it the hosting place of the Shanghai Masters, but also a variety of basketball, volleyball, ping pong and gymnastics events.
NEW YORK – “The Days of Roger Federer” – a book that documents matches, life events and facts on tennis legend Roger Federer with unique day-by-day summaries – is now available for sale in hard and electronic formats.
The book is available for $19.95 where books are sold, including here on
The book is also available in electronic formats, including on Kindle for $7.99 here:
The book is published by New Chapter Press and was compiled and written by Randy Walker.
“The Days of Roger Federer” chronicles the trophy-laden career of Federer, one of the world’s most well-known, popular and respected athletes, regarded by many as the greatest tennis player of all time. The book is unique for its day-by-day format: every day of the calendar year is presented with a corresponding anniversary or a bit of fact or trivia, including hallmark victories, statistics, quirky happenings and quotations.
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, “Court Confidential: Inside The World Of Tennis” by Neil Harman, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer (www.RogerFedererBook.com), “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, “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.
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.”
“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.
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.
“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 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.