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Wimbledon Tidbits: Tomic Wants Father Back on Tour, Odesnik Denies Involvement with Clinic, Rus Ties an Undesirable WTA Record

Bernard Tomic_600_1

(June 25, 2013) Despite plenty of on-court action at the All England Club on Tuesday at Wimbledon, several stories were making quite a stir off the courts as well.

Bernard Tomic Calls Out ATP’s Handling of Father’s Case

It has been more than seven weeks since John Tomic’s physical attack of son Bernard’s practice partner in Madrid, but the issue is still a topic of debate.

According to the ATP, John has been banned from the ATP Tour for a 12-month period both in accreditation rights and in accessing grounds via a paying ticket. The ITF and the recent Grand Slam tournaments have followed suit, including Wimbledon this week.

After his first round win over Sam Querrey, the younger Tomic spend most of his post-match press conference defending his father and instead pointing the finger at the ATP’s mishandling of the situation.

“Growing up with your father is a good thing for me because this is how I became good at tennis at a young age,” Bernard said. “I was there with my dad. We worked hard. We were on the court together. Now, all of a sudden, there’s a change. There’s always a change in life, a decision that was made. I’m going to blame the ATP a lot for this. They have a lot of bad decisions, a few good ones, but I’m saying this is a very bad one.”

Bernard then commented on how Wimbledon upheld the ATP’s decision to ban his father, “so at the end of the day, it’s the ATP I’ve got to be talking to” to fix anything, he stated. He also said that he would ask Wimbledon officials to reconsider the ban before his second round match against James Blake, but as of Tuesday evening local time, no such appeal had been filed.

Just as we thought the younger Tomic would be somewhat freed of his father’s antics on the court at least, it seems to not have really helped all that much. If anything, it’s alarming to think what Bernard’s home life may be like now that his father is not able to vent his frustrations at his son during practice. John is still apparently traveling with his son, so that must still weigh heavily into how Bernard acts and what he says publicly. Despite all of Tennis Australia’s and past Australian tennis legend’s willingness to help Bernard, no real progress can really be made until Bernard actively separates himself from his father in all aspects of his life. It’s simply a poisonous relationship that he has become too comfortable playing the victim in.

Wayne Odesnik Again Denies Involvement with Florida Clinic

It’s not easy being the target of discussion any time a reference to doping in tennis comes up. It’s also not easy when two of the top Google searches of your name include the words “snitch” and “rat.” But this is exactly what American Wayne Odesnik deals with week in and week out on the ATP Tour.

Odesnik was issued a two-year ban when he was found in possession of eight vials of the performance-enhancing drug HGH upon trying to enter Australia in 2010. His suspension was eventually halved  when he cooperated with officials.

The American is now again being questioned about his involvement with a Florida clinic that is under investigation for reportedly selling performance-enhancing drugs to Major League Baseball players such as Alex Rodriguez, who has admitted to using PEDs in his past. Odesnik’s name was apparently found among handwritten notes kept at the clinic, and the American simply calls this “erroneous.”

“None of that’s true,” Odesnik continued. “I don’t have any connection to it.”

In a March 2013 New York Times article, Odesnik recounted his involvement with the clinic a little differently.

“I have no idea what that was about,” Odesnik said. “They had called me, and I said I had no idea what that was about. They probably saw my name from three years ago and thought that they’d put my name in something. And yeah, I had nothing to do with it.”

Tuesday’s comments from Odesnik leave his connection to the clinic murky, and it doesn’t help that he initially admitted to having been a part of the clinic years earlier, then calling his name on the clinic’s records “erroneous.”

The judgement is out on Odesnik, and as much as he tries, he seems to only dig himself into a bigger hole when answering questions about his doping case.

Arantxa Rus Ties Record for Most Consecutive Losses

There are many records that tennis players would be happy to hold, but most consecutive tour-level match losses is not one of them.

With her first round exit from Wimbledon on Tuesday, Dutch player Arantxa Rus has extended her losing streak to 17 — tying the WTA record that Sally Collins set in the 1980s. On the men’s side, American Vince Spadea holds the ATP record, with 21 consecutive matches lost from 1999 to 2000.

“I lost a lot of matches,” Rus said on Tuesday. “Yeah, it’s hard, but I try to keep working hard. That’s the only thing you can do.”

The 22-year-old last won a tour-level match on August 19, 2012 – that’s more than ten months ago. Rus has had some notable wins on tour, including over Kim Clijsters at the 2011 French Open and Sam Stosur at last year’s Wimbledon. She was also a No. 1 ranked junior and won the Junior Australian Open title in 2008. Clearly, the Dutch player is no slacker on the court, but just going through a rough patch.

Despite having fallen 90 ranking spots since last August to world No. 151, Rus may want to look to Jelena Jankovic for encouragement.

The Serb went through a similar streak between October 2005 and May 2006, where she held a 2-15 losing record. She admitted to seriously considering quitting tennis at that time, but just over two years later, Jankovic went on to climb to world No. 1. How’s that for inspiration?

And Rus seems to understand the transient nature of her current predicament, saying it hasn’t changed who she is.

“I’m still the same person,” she said. “You have … life (apart from) tennis.”

Which Juan is the Fifth Slam?

5019f55f22JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO TAPA DEPORTES 44

Outside of the US Open, the back-to-back two-week hard court events in Indian Wells and Miami are the biggest tennis events in the United States. As a result, every year around this time, the same tedious debate arises between fans and pundits alike; is tennis ready for a “fifth slam” and if it is, where should it be held? Everyone has their own opinions about which tournament could be upgraded to the “fifth slam.” Is it Indian Wells because it has Hawkeye on every court? Or is it Miami because the presence of the Williams sisters completes the women’s field?

(For the record, I think that they should hold it in Bogota. I mean, Jelena Jankovic won there and it had live streams from two courts from the first day! Bogota sees your bet and raises you, Miami.)

This year, Miami’s status as the “fifth slam” has taken a hit, as the men’s event has been decimated by withdrawals; Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are the marquee names skipping the event, along with notable top 50 names Radek Stepanek, Stanislas Wawrinka and Mardy Fish.

While that isn’t great, let’s focus on the players that are actually in Miami. One of those players in Juan Martin del Potro.

Del Potro was the only player not named Federer, Nadal or Djokovic to win a major title on the men’s side in the past six years until Andy Murray joined the club at the US Open in 2012. As Murray’s pushed his way to the top and expanded the “Big Three” to the “Big Four,” Del Potro has taken up the reigns as the most accomplished, and probably most dangerous, of the supporting cast of relevant characters on the ATP tour.

Despite being troubled by his wrist last week in Indian Wells, Del Potro put together one of his best runs since being sidelined for almost a year by that very wrist after winning the US Open. He defeated Murray in the quarterfinals and Novak Djokovic in the semifinals to reach the final against Nadal. Despite leading by a set and a break, Del Potro couldn’t seal the deal and Nadal won his third event out of the four he’s played since returning from injury. If anything, Indian Wells was a testament to the vice grip that the so-called “Big Four” have on the ATP; an accomplished player can beat two of them, only to run into another and come home with the runner-up plate.

In his post-final press conference, Del Potro said that despite the amount of tennis he played in Indian Wells, he would be going to Miami; despite the fast turnaround, he was “excited to play there.” Del Potro’s excitement, which he later elaborated on, stems from how many of his Argentinian fans, friends and family come to watch him in Miami.

Thus, we return to this illusive idea of the “fifth slam.” Butch Buchholz founded the Miami Masters in 1985 and helped develop it into what it is today; while he had hoped to turn the event into the fifth major, Miami has instead settled for title of “the grand slam of Latin America.” Latin American and Spanish-speaking players receive immense support in Key Biscayne, as it lies south of Miami Beach and east of Miami itself. It came as no surprise that Fernando Gonzalez, one of the biggest tennis stars from that part of the world, chose the Miami Masters as his farewell tournament when he retired in 2012.

With Gonzalez now out of the game, the pressure is squarely on the (very broad) shoulders of Juan Martin del Potro to be the big name of Latin American tennis. Having only been past the fourth round once in Miami, Del Potro appears to be rounding in to form, even showing glimpses of what made him the last man standing at Flushing Meadows in 2009, just in time for his “home slam.”

5 ATP Players Ready To Make an Impact in 2013

Grigor Dimitrov

By Evan Valeri

Summer has arrived in Australia and the first ATP tournaments of the year are underway. This means it’s time to start making some hot predictions for the 2013 season. The ATP tour has been dominated by the big four in recent years, Federer, Djokovic, Nadal and Murray. But for 2013, change is in the air. Many young players have infiltrated the top 60 in the world and you can count on the five below to make their mark in 2013.

Milos Raonic

The Canadian youngster, nicknamed “The Missile”, has already made waves with his cannon of a serve and fierce forehand. Not only can he hit serves upwards of 140 mph, he has one of the nastiest kick serves I have seen in years. This is a serious threat on any surface, especially the faster ones. Milos is a good mover and prefers to run around his backhand to hit devastating inside out forehands whenever he gets a chance.

Having won two titles and making two more finals in 2012 proves that Milos is a legitimate threat in 2013. Raonic went 6-6 against the top ten last year, including two wins over Andy Murray. He has a more well-rounded game than other huge servers such as Isner and Karlovic. I expect Milos to make his first Grand Slam quarterfinal this season and finish the year in the top ten.

Jerzy Janowicz

Jerzy Janowicz was an unknown player to most fans until the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in Paris. The number one ranked Pole tore through the field all the way to the final, which he lost to David Ferrer in straight sets. Along the way, he beat three top twenty and two top ten players.

The 6 foot 8 inch monster of a 22 year old has a modern game with the tools to be successful at the highest level. He moves well for a big man, reminiscent of a 2009 U.S. Open Del Potro. His serves appear to be shot down from the sky, he can end the point with big flat winners on both ground stroke wings, and he isn’t afraid to follow his big shots into the net with solid volleys. Besides the physical tools, the kid has something hard to teach, heart. Saving a match point against Murray in Paris and coming back to win proves this. Look for Jerzy to break into the top twenty this season with more consistent results.

Martin Klizan

The top ranked player from Slovakia had a great 2012 season, winning his first ATP title in St. Petersburg and finishing ranked inside the top 50 for the first time in his career. Some people will recognize Klizan’s name because of his run to the round of 16 at the U.S Open, where he lost to Cilic. Along the way he took down number six seed Tsonga in four lopsided sets.

Klizan has a big game and when he is on, opponents better look out. Martin can blast forehand winners from anywhere on the court and if he is having a good day, he is capable of beating anyone. If Klizan can tame his heavy southpaw groundstrokes and reduce his unforced errors, look for him to make a run to the quarterfinals of a major and break into the top 20.

Grigor Dimitrov

Baby Fed. This kid has been touted for years as the next Roger Federer. He moves gracefully around the court like a gazelle, and has one of the best looking one handed backhands in today’s game. Grigor is also one of the most pure shot-makers around. If you haven’t seen his behind the back, half volley, drop shot winner against Victor Troicki, its worth a look, as it was one of the best shots of the 2012 season.

Dimitrov reminds me of a young Federer at times, in that he can get too creative on court. He will go for shots that are totally unnecessary, almost out of pure boredom with working the point any further. In 2013, we will see a smarter Dimitrov on court. A guy who instead of going for the flashy crowd pleasing shot, learns to play the percentages and wins more matches. Expect him to make a final in 2013, improving on his three semifinal appearances during 2012.

Bernard Tomic

Australian Bernard Tomic had a rough finish to 2012, after a good start which included a semifinal in Brisbane and a round of 16 result at the Aussie Open. These results catapulted him to a career high ranking of 27. Pressure from the Australian media may be of some blame for Tomic’s lack of results thus far. He had a very promising junior career and is the youngest player ranked in the top 100 for the second straight year. As Tomic matures and spends another year on tour, look for him to relax and embrace his role as heir to the Australian tennis throne.

Tomic has a very smooth, effortless counter punching game. Bernard is a player who possesses a great arsenal of shots. Often luring opponents into a consistent crosscourt rally, just to run around his backhand and slap a forehand winner. With a solid serve, modern two handed backhand, biting slice backhand, deft touch, and an unorthodox but effective forehand, he’s got the game to become a top player. With a nice 6-4, 6-4 win over Novak Djokovic at the Hopman Cup this week, Tomic will roll with his newfound confidence in 2013, making his first final appearance.

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2013 is bound to bring dark horses, upsets, surprises and lots of excitement. Be sure to keep an eye on these five youngsters. They all feature games with the potential to rise in the rankings, shaking things up at the top, and taking down the big four at any time.

Evan Valeri is a USPTA P2 tennis teaching professional and has a USTA Sports Science Level 1 certification. He graduated from Ferris State University with a degree in Professional Tennis Management/Marketing and enjoys the technical and coaching side of tennis. You can view his website here: www.totaltennisplayer.com.

Janko Tipsarevic on Davis Cup, his DJing career, and His Serbian Teammates

Janko Tipsarevic at the Sony Ericsson Open (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)


Current world #9 Janko Tipsarevic is a force to be reckoned with on the tennis court, having finally won his first two titles on the ATP Tour last year. The Serb helped his country win the Davis Cup last year and credits his teammates as his best friends. I had the chance to chat with him about his time in Miami, the start of his DJing career and his Davis Cup win.

Knowing you enjoy house music, have you had a chance to catch to catch any of the Ultra Music Festival going on in downtown Miami?

I didn’t have a chance to go out to Ultra.

Is it on the schedule?

I think today is the last day, right?

Yes.

So, no. Luckily, it’s not on the schedule, so that means I’m performing well.  I went out on Saturday to “Mansion” and it was overcrowded because it was the beginning of Winter Music Conference.

I am starting my DJ career. Last week, I was DJing with Bob Sinclair [at the player’s party] and picked up a few tricks. I was really happy about that.

What is your most memorable moment on court?

Winning the Davis Cup.

If you are hosting a party, what three tennis players do you invite and why?

I would probably invite the Serbian Davis Cup team because they are my closest friends, and I feel most relaxed when I am around them. We can talk literally about anything. Novak [Djokovic], Viktor [Troicki] would be my first picks.

What are two things you can’t live without?

Two things? People are not counted so I do not have to say my wife, right? (Jokes and laughs). I would say cell phone and internet.

If you could invite any three people to dinner, living or dead, who would they be and why?

Living or dead? Hmmm. (Long pause). I would invite probably Swedish House Mafia.

DJ a little with them, maybe join them?

Pfff. That would be good!

John Isner: The Emergence of a True Contender

John Isner waves to the crowd at the 2011 Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, D.C. He was the recepient of the tournament's sportsmanship award.

Most people know his story by now.

He attended the University of Georgia, where he led the Bulldogs to a national championship in 2007. He won the longest match in the history of professional tennis at the 2010 Wimbledon. And he owns one of the most vicious serves on the ATP Tour, a weapon that can be credited to his 6’9’’ stature.

And now the 26-year-old John Isner is poised to crack the top 10 in the world.

Isner turned pro in 2007 and left school as a four-time All-American honoree, finishing his career as the program’s leader in singles and doubles victories. He was 12 credits shy of earning his degree in speech communications, but quickly made an impact on the pro tour, advancing to the final in just his second ATP event, the 2007 Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, D.C. Isner lost to then top-ranked American Andy Roddick in the championship, but earned victories over former top-five players Tim Henman and Tommy Haas.

And just a few months removed from celebrating winning the NCAAs with his Georgia teammates, Isner was on Arthur Ashe Stadium playing against eventual champion Roger Federer in the third round of the U.S. Open. Isner delighted the American crowd by taking the first set off Federer before falling in four sets.

It became clear those wins in Washington were no fluke.

Since then, the soft-spoken Isner has won fans over with his powerful game and friendly demeanor. He picked up the 2009 ATP Most Improved Player award and has earned several sportsmanship awards along the way.

When Isner reached the quarterfinals at the 2011 U.S Open, fellow American Mardy Fish made a bold declaration. “I think he can win the tournament,” he said. Isner didn’t win, but he showed that the best was yet to come.

Although not young in tennis terms, Isner, currently ranked a career-high No. 13 in the world, has the most upside among the top ranking Americans. Roddick’s career faces a downward trajectory and the 30-year-old Fish has struggled on the Grand Slam stage. Isner’s recent four-set victory over Federer at the 2012 Davis Cup rubber between the United States and Switzerland was further proof of his emergence as a contender for tennis’ big prizes – the Grand Slams.

As young Americans continue to turn pro at a young age, (19-year-old Ryan Harrison, the latest promising U.S. prospect, went pro when he was 15), Isner remains a rare breed. His modest junior career coupled with four years of collegiate tennis experience would make him an unlikely Grand Slam champion. But if his improvements in the past few years are any indication, Isner is perhaps America’s best hope to win a major championship in the near future.

He is currently the top seed at the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis, TN and will play compatriot Donald Young in the second round.

Immediately after beating Nicolas Mahut in the record-shattering 11 hour, five minute marathon match, Isner embraced the attention but emphasized that he wanted to be remembered for more than just a Guinness World Record.

That may or may not end up being the case, but in a career that has already been full of expectation-exceeding surprises, Isner does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

Correction: The original article stated that Isner graduated from the University of Georgia. He turned pro with 12 credits left to complete in his Speech Communications degree.

ATP Rotterdam Day One Roundup & Photos: Lopez, Gasquet, Mathieu, Dolgopolov

Lopez r32_1

Catch all the action this week and follow professional tennis photographer Rick Gleijm as he covers ATP Tour’s ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. The gallery below includes day one action.

Three top players were surprised to find themselves on the losing end of their first-round matches.

  • Paul-Henri Mathieu came to Rotterdam as a wildcard into the qualifying draw only to find himself in the second round of the main draw, after stunning Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4.
  • Jesse Huta Galung dispensed of former world number 3 Ivan Ljubicic 7-6(6), 6-3.
  • Sixth-seed Alexandr Dolgopolov also saw his time in Rotterdam come to a premature end as he was defeated by Lukasz Kubot 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2.
  • Richard Gasquet also came through in three sets beating Flavio Cipolla 6-3, 1-6, 6-1.

For a full recap of Roger Federer‘s and Juan Martin Del Potro‘s press conferences from earlier today, go here.

Full Tuesday schedule below.

SCHEDULE – TUESDAY, 14 FEBRUARY, 2012

CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
[Q] R De Voest (RSA) vs A Seppi (ITA)
[WC] I Sijsling (NED) vs J Nieminen (FIN)

Not Before 1:30 PM
[7] V Troicki (SRB) vs [WC] T de Bakker (NED)
F Cermak (CZE) / F Polasek (SVK) vs J Del Potro (ARG) / P Petzschner (GER)

Not Before 7:30 PM
R Haase (NED) vs N Davydenko (RUS)
M Youzhny (RUS) vs I Kunitsyn (RUS)

COURT 1 start 2:00 pm
A Bogomolov Jr. (RUS) / D Norman (BEL) vs [4] M Bhupathi (IND) / R Bopanna (IND)

Not Before 3:30 PM
[8] M Granollers (ESP) vs P Kohlschreiber (GER)

Sony Ericsson highlights: Ana Ivanovic dances the Petkovic

petkovic-dance

So how is everyone’s first week of the Sony Ericsson Open coming along? Are your favorites still in or are they already out of the singles tournament? I hope for many of you that it is an enjoyable ride so far.  It has been for me and it is not because of the news that Roger Federer tied with Pete Sampras’ 7th place with 762 victories each.  Or that Kim Clijsters is feeding daughter Jada extra jodium to counteract radioactive radiation that hit the atmosphere after the tsunami in Japan two weeks ago.  Because of that disaster Clijsters has said to the press that she will not play in Japan or Beijing for this year. In  a statement released by the WTA Tour, Clijsters had the following to say:

“Most importantly, my thoughts and sympathies are with the people in Japan,” Kim Clijsters said in the statement. “It’s heart-wrenching to see what they’re going through right now. Of course the health and safety of anyone traveling to a potentially impacted area is my top priority as well as the WTA’s, and I know that the WTA will continue to monitor the situation.”

It is very understandable that you don’t want to go play there but I also think that a tennis tournament could be the furthest thing on their mind. Ofcourse we are very greatful for the great message that Kim Clijsters and other WTA tour and ATP Tour players have sent to Japan. From benefit soccer matches to Caroline Wozniacki & Victoria Azarenka creating a huge ad. It is great to see that tennis players are so involved with the world and are politically aware . They raised money for Haiti in 2010, Australia in 2011 and now Japan.It is a great gesture.

To complete my ongoing list of  remarkable things that happened this week in the world of international tennis, the racy ad that featured a very sexy Serena Williams in a Topspin 4 commercial. Now I don’t have a problem with that advertisement but then again I am from the Netherlands. I don’t know if that makes a difference with whereever you are but it does, apparently, in other parts of the world. But then again I can understand 2K Sports for not running it. They are selling a tennis game and not subscriptions to Playboy.

Ofcourse one of the biggest the surprises this week was Andy Roddick’s demise. He didn’t give up without a fight though. He admirably finished his lost match versus Paraguay’s Pablo Cuevas 6-4, 7-6. After three visits from his trainer in the second set and his  trouble breathing because of chest congestion Roddick admitted to the press that he has sustained an injury but would not ellaborate any further.Roddick has struggled with a bronchial infection since last month and plans to see a doctor when he gets back to Texas.

More exciting news was  LeBron James and Dwayne Wade came to watch Rafael Nadal’s match. And they didn’t just watch the game but they were also part of the coin toss.

“There’s certain things in Miami that guys should experience,” Wade said. “So I had to drag LeBron out here, but I think this is something he’ll probably come back to next year and come back for years after that. This is a good experience. It’s something different and it’s a great day off, getting over here with the kids.”

Now that is interesting. Last year we had Kim Kardashian and this year we have two major basketball stars. I wonder who they will get for next year’s edition. And to be honest all this makes me wonder why Europe does not have such a pre  event. A coin toss with soccer players or former soccer players like Zinedine Zidane or Lionel Messi would be great. We did have Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos and others watch the Madrid Open of last year. That was pretty cool but no coin toss.

My highlight of the week was Ana Ivanovic dancing the Petkovic!  I was just as baffled when I first saw it as you who is going to hit play in just a moment. Even Petkovic was baffled by the fact that she managed to pull it off to have Ana dance her dance.

 

And here is the video:

And I found another funny video of Ana Ivanovic. She won the official bomb competition in Australia. Bomb competition? Yah, just watch the video and you will see what I mean!

Mario Ancic: The heartfelt goodbye to tennis

(FILES) A picture taken on December 5, 2

Split, Croatia’s premier clay court Tennis Club in Firule is hugged by a scenic marina on one side and a pebble beach on the other. It’s a quiet setting away from the center of the city encapsulated by Diocletian’s Palace, but contains possibly even more magic than that found within the former Roman Emperor’s walls. Legends such as Goran Ivanisevic and Nikola Pilic have practiced on the clay courts there, and last week another Croat who called Firule home added his name to the ATP Tour’s retirement roll, 26-year-old Mario Ancic.

 

 

Ancic is best known for his rise to World Number 7 back in 2006, but what gives his game strength is that he was the only player to beat Roger Federer — and at Wimbledon, no less — between 2002 and 2008. Having nicknames like “Baby Goran” reflecting his game’s likeness to his mentor Ivanisevic, or “Super Mario” after his missile-like serves, it was hard not to enjoy watching Ancic succeed on-court. He helped Croatia win its sole Davis Cup title in 2005 and teamed up with friend Ivan Ljubicic to take home a bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Over the span of his professional career which lasted ten years, Ancic pocketed nearly $4 million dollars.

 

 

Sadly though, after a freak knee injury while jet skiing followed by a separate back injury in 2006, his career never rebounded. At the beginning of 2007 and 2008, he was stricken with mononucleosis which kept him more off the court than on it. The back injury continued to plague him for several years before it forced him to call it quits.

On February 23, 2011, Ancic came full circle as he made the teary announcement about his retirement at the very courts where he hit his first fuzzy yellow tennis ball nearly twenty years ago.

“For the last few years, I have been fighting against all kinds of illnesses. The last back injury was the last straw, it was the product of not playing due to mononucleosis from Krefeld in 2007, frequent breaks and numerous returns. After consulting with experts from Germany, France, the U.S. and Croatia, I came to the realization that my body could no longer follow the rhythm of today’s tennis game. There was no other solution. I have always fought, fallen and risen up, but I’ve always been honest with myself.”

 

 

Speaking to a private newspaper earlier in the week, Ancic also confessed that “it would not be me out there anymore. I knew I would never be 100% fit again, and there was no real answer to it. It would have required a pretty serious operation ever for me to have a chance to recover and I would never have been guaranteed a full motion again … I had to be fair with myself. My mind was fine but my body couldn’t compete.”

Ivan Ljubicic, in a press conference after his first-round match in Dubai last week, expressed his admiration for Ancic.

“Together we achieved so much at such early stages in our careers. It was just incredibly unfortunate to kind of finish it that way. I saw him in Zagreb just a couple of weeks ago. We are in touch all the time. I didn’t bother asking him too much how he was, because I knew the answer. It was not good, not good for the last three years.”

As difficult as it was for Ancic to speak, he praised the people who helped him achieve his greatness.

“I am grateful to God for the talent he gave me, but without the people in Tennis Club Split there would be no ‘me’. I am tremendously grateful to my family, my brother Ivica who was the main reason for my entry into tennis, all my trainers who worked with me from beginning to end, all those who prepared me and cared about my health. I also want to thank my fellow players. I honestly and proudly wore the Croatian representation from the time I was 15 to the last moment that I could play.”

But, fear not, Ancic has prepared for this moment. During his time away from tennis, he was able to finish his law degree from the University of Split in April of 2008 and has already been interning at a law office in Zagreb. His thesis was entitled “ATP Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” where he dealt with the legal foundation and organization of the ATP Tour. It seems that no matter how far he was from tennis, his heart was always craving it.

 

And it seems that the current President of the Croatian Tennis Federation, Radimir Cacic, also understands the impact Ancic has had on Croatian tennis. He invited Ancic to assume the role of President when his own term ends. But Ancic left much to be desired: “I have a challenge in the legal profession, but I always want to be close to the sport. Tennis wasn’t just a sport for me, but a way of thinking. I definitely want to … help our athletes, the future tennis players.”

Ancic concluded with a heartfelt goodbye.

“It will take a long time until I can watch tennis in peace, but time heals all wounds. I knew this moment would come so I was prepared, educated. New challenges now await me. The energy, desire and will I invested in tennis I now want to invest in something new. For me, sport and tennis are a part of life and will always be close. I am leaving peaceful and fulfilled.”

Ancic will bid his final farewell to tennis during Croatia’s Davis Cup meeting against Germany this week.

Check out ATP World Tour Uncovered with Mario Ancic and a few select photos below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tennis Needs a Change

Tennis is a brutal game on the body. Whether you’re a recreational player or a professional player, today’s game is not what it used to be. In recent memory, it seems that not a week goes by before we hear of players sustaining new injuries or having to re-address past injuries. Gael Monfils has suffered innumerable ankle and knee problems. David Nalbandian, Lleyton Hewitt and Tommy Haas all underwent hip surgeries this year alone. Rafael Nadal has experienced not only severe abdominal tears, but knee injuries that kept him from defending his title in Wimbledon last year.

In contrast, take the Champions Tour. While traveling the world and earning fame beyond their grand slammin’ years, retired tennis pros take combat in friendly matches and exhibitions for viewer pleasure. The likes of John McEnroe, Goran Ivanisevic, Mats Wilander and Jim Courier have been staples of this tour and are not likely to go anywhere soon. In fact, while watching some of these players on court, it’s daunting to see that their mentality, physical strength and tennis abilities have only been slighted to a minimal degree. They are not ‘young’ anymore, but they are all still in great shape and playing tennis well into their fifties! Most of the players on the Champions Tour sustained relatively few injuries during their time on ATP Tour, with the exceptions of Jimmy Connors (hips) and Andre Agassi (back). What gives?

John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg at the Champions Cup in Boston on May 1, 2010

How did they stay away from the injury bug while Marcos Baghdatis, Juan Martin del Potro and even Roger Federer can’t? Each player achieved elite status and was pitted against the toughest opponents of their era, so why the injury overload in today’s generation?

I think a better question to ask is: What has changed since then in the game of tennis?

The answer? Plenty. From the advancement in technology affecting racquets and strings, to the increased physicality of the sport, to the never-ending calendar of tournaments and commitments. Often times players laugh when asked about what they did in their ‘off-season.’ An off-season in most sports is several months. For top ATP pros, they’re lucky if they get a couple weeks at the end of the year before hustling back onto a tennis court. Others are plagued by injuries that cut their season short.  Tennis racquet material has also gone from laminated wood to aluminum to heavier carbon fibre composites. Strings have been given a makeover and have allowed players to tighten or loosen their strings to unthinkable tensions putting strain on their wrists, elbow, arms, and shoulders.

More interestingly, the height of the tennis player has increased. During the 80s and 90s, the average height of a top player was hovering around 6′. During the Sampras-Federer era, it was about 6’1”. Now, with John Isner, Sam Querrey, Marin Cilic, Juan Martin del Potro and Tomas Berdych leading the next round of elite players, the average has risen to 6’2.5.” We are seeing the optimal height of a tennis player look more like the expected height for a volleyball or basketball team. And with height comes stronger and more angular serves with some guys consistently serving in the 120- to 130-mph range.

American ATP standout, John Isner, measures in at 6′ 9” towering over Rafael Nadal at Indian Wells this year.

This raises questions about how much more physical can tennis get and what other technological advancements could possibly occur to make this game even more harsh on the human body. It’s tough to imagine a player that can retrieve more balls than Nadal, hit faster serves than Roddick or move as quickly as Andy Murray, but the evolution of tennis continues and we’re bound to see players surpass these already-amazing feats.

David Nalbandian, Lleyton Hewitt and Tommy Haas were mentioned at the beginning of this post. What do these three players have in common? They are all long-time veterans of the game and all three required hip surgeries earlier this year. They could be a good indication of where today’s guys will end up in five or ten years: broken down and battered.

I’m afraid one day I’ll wake up in 20 years, excited to go watch a retired pro play at a local venue, only to be disappointed that he can barely move on court because of all the beatings his body took during the pro tour. I wouldn’t be surprised to not see any of today’s top pros going into the Champions Tour or doing exhibition events like they once did.

Something needs to change in the game of tennis to preserve these players’ bodies, but what is it? Is it the scoring setup, the length of the season, technology or a combination of several things? Many players advocate for a shorter season with less necessary event commitments, others think that Davis Cup should be every four years instead of every year, yet others think that nothing needs to change and that the best win because they can balance and organize everything. What’s your take?

ATP Tidbits: Honeymoon Fever Hits ATP Tour!

Two weddings, a street-buying and twitter overload are among the happenings on the ATP Tour this week. We’ll catch you up on the lives of Radek Stepanek, Janko Tipsarevic, Juan Martin del Potro, John Isner, Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt.

Former top-10 players on their respective tours, Radek Stepanek, 31, and Nicole Vaidisova, 21 wed this past Saturday in the Czech Republic’s biggest church, St. Vitus Cathedral. The couple had reportedly been engaged since 2007, shortly after Stepanek’s engagement to Martina Hingis, a former #1 and five-time grand slam winner, had been called off in August of 2007.

In other wedding news, world number 45 Janko Tipsarevic married his long-time girlfriend Biljana Sesevic last week near Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. Tennis players and good friends Novak Djokovic, Nenad Zimonjic and Viktor Troicki were among the party guests and party they did until the early hours of the morning!

First, some obligatory wedding photos:

Janko and new wife, Biljana

Jelena Ristic, Janko, Biljana, Novak Djokovic

Viktor Troicki with model-girlfriend Suncica Travica, Novak Djokovic with girlfriend Jelena Ristic and Nenad Zimonjic with wife Mina dancing the night away.

Now onto the party photos!

Clockwise: Biljana and Djokovic dancing; Djokovic and Jelena singing to the band; Janko and Biljana; Zimonjic, Troicki, singer Lepa Brena, Janko and Djokovic dancing

In some rather unique news, Juan Martin del Potro has bought a street in his hometown of Tandil, Argentina that connects two newly purchased lands of his. In an attempt to keep tourists away from his home, del Potro purchased a street for $50,000 under the mayor’s and city council’s approval. Neighbors and preservation activists, however, are scrutinizing the deal. They are worried the heritage of Tandil may be compromised and that others may begin purchasing their own street with no justification for it. It will be interesting to see if this makes its way to the court system.

John Isner and Nicolas Mahut won an ESPY award for Best Record-Breaking Performance this past Wednesday evening in Los Angeles for their marathon battle at this year’s Wimbledon. They beat out the competition of Roger Federer, Usain Bolt, Brett Favre, and the Connecticut Women’s Basketball team.

Roddick may have more on his hands than he bargained for! Friend and Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocino challenged Roddick to a duel … on the tennis court! Via his twitter account, Ochocinco stated: “How long are you gonna keep ducking me on court, say the place, grass, clay or hard surface, don’t be scared!” To which Roddick replied: “I might just try to beat u with a frying pan.”

Ochocinco was a regional tennis champion in his youth so he is no newcomer to the sport. However, back in January when talk first arose of the two dueling it out, Ochocinco stipulated that Roddick must play with his left hand. So, can Ochocinco take on Roddick as a left-handed frying pan hitter? We can’t wait to find out!

And speaking of twitter, who’s excited for the upcoming US Open Series? Ok, it might be too soon to start thinking about the US Open which is 1.5 months away, but maybe this will lighten the spirit. Watch as Roddick and Serena Williams talk twitter. Remember, they grew up knowing each other as kids, so it’s all in good-fun. Andy’s a bit modest with his follower count, isn’t he? For a full list of tennis tweeters, check out http://www.tennistweets.com/ .

Ever wondered how Roger Federer did his ‘between-the-legs’ forehand at last year’s US Open against Novak Djokovic? Well, he explains in a step-by-step analysis below.

Former world number 1 Lleyton Hewitt lost a court battle in Australia. Don’t remember hearing about this? Neither did I, but come to find, it was about his “C’mon” fistpump. Hewitt claimed that he had originated the gesture, but an Australian court has found that it is not exclusive to him but encompasses Australian sports as a whole. Maybe it’s time to start looking for a new slogan, Lleyton.

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