Play is already in full swing as qualifiers took to the courts for their matches, and top players like Juan Martin del Potro, Andrea Petkovic and Tommy Haas hit the practice courts on a hot weekend in Washington, D.C. to kick off the Citi Open.
Check out the full gallery from opening weekend, including other players like Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori, Irina Falconi, Jessica Pegula, Rhyne Williams, Donald Young, Christian Harrison, Caroline Garcia, Matt Ebden, and Sloane Stephens.
Gallery by Tennis Grandstand photographer Christopher Levy.
(June 11, 2013) In celebration of the release of Athletic DNA‘s new Summer 2013 line, Tennis Grandstand has teamed up with the tennis brand to give away THREE tops from the new line to lucky fans, while getting to know one of their top tennis pros, Tim Smyczek!
Tim Smyczek, nickname “Smee,” is knocking on the doors of the top 100 as he reached his career-high ranking of 101 just earlier this year. He defeated world No. 24 Fernando Verdasco in straight sets in February and even took a set off of world No. 4 David Ferrer during the second round of this year’s Australian Open. He holds two Challenger titles.
Have a fun question you have always wanted to ask a tennis pro, or ever wondered what life is like on the ATP Tour? Well, this is your chance to ask Tim your most creative, intriguing and fun questions about him, tennis or the pro tour!
All you have to do to win an Athletic DNA top is comment below with the question you would most like to ask Tim! Only questions (and not comments) for Tim will qualify you to win a top, and please submit no more than two questions per person. The three winning questions will be chosen and Tim will answer them on video which will be posted at a later date. Winners may choose their favorite top from either the Summer 2013 Men’s or Women’s line.
The contest is open now and will run until Wednesday, June 19th at 6PM EST. Kindly remember to provide a contact email address with your comment as we will notify the three winners by email.
Get the word out and get thinking on what you most want to ask Tim!
In celebration of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s ascension to the top five in the ATP World Tour rankings for the first time in his career, Tennis Grandstand has teamed up with adidas to give away TWO signed Tsonga adidas shirts to lucky fans!
Are you the ultimate Tsonga fan and want a piece of tennis royalty? Well, this is your chance! Tsonga will take part in an adidas photoshoot at the start of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California next week where he’ll have the opportunity to answer two questions from Tennis Grandstand fans! Questions will be chosen from the comments section below and he’ll answer your questions on video! We’ll then post the video after the photoshoot for all of you to enjoy.
All you have to do to win a signed shirt is comment below with the question you would most like to ask Jo! Only questions (and not comments) for Jo will qualify you to win a signed shirt, and please submit no more than two questions per person. Be creative, be funny, be intriguing!
The contest is open now and will run until Monday, March 5th at 7PM EST. Kindly remember to provide a contact email address with your comment as we will notify the two winners by email.
Get the word out and get thinking on what you would want to ask Jo!
With the opening round of the Davis Cup wrapping up on Sunday, the ATP World Tour will now shift back into form with three tournaments in Rotterdam, San Jose and Sao Paulo. Here’s a closer look at the draws from all three events and some analysis on who stands the best chance of making it to the final weekend.
The largest of the three being played this week, the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament is a level 500 event. An indoor hard-court event, Roger Federer will be looking for the surface to bring him some much needed success. A disastrous Davis Cup showing at home on clay has left Federer clearly confused about the status of his game. Rather than admit he played poorly, Federer instead shifted the blame onto country-man Stan Wawrinka. It was a rare moment of bad judgement from Federer. He opens with Nicolas Mahut from France and then could potentially face a dangerous opponent in Mikhail Youzhny who won the title recently in Zagreb.
The always tricky Alexandr Dolgopolov is also in the same quarter as Federer. The two have only played once, with Federer winning in Basel two years ago. Dolgopolov has come a long way since then and with the way Roger played this past week, you’d have to think this could be a great QF match.
Richard Gasquet, Feliciano Lopez and former top-ten presence Nikolay Davydenko are in the following quarter of the draw. I’d give a well-rested Gasquet (he did not travel to Canada for Davis Cup) the best shot of emerging here.
Juan Martin Del Potro is the third seed and should be able to navigate his way through the third quarter of the draw. He opens against Michael Llodra of France who has to get all the way from Vancouver, Canada to Rotterdam in the next twenty-four hours.
At the bottom of the draw is second seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic who has had some success lately with a big win in Montpellier over Gael Monfils. Berdych had a very solid 2011 where he won one event and reached eight tournament semi-finals and seven tournament quarter-finals. He is really starting to find that consistency that will make him a mainstay in the top-ten. A meeting in the second round with Marcos Baghdatis looms, but otherwise Berdych should be able to set-up a semi-final encounter with Del Potro that would be highly entertaining.
Regardless of the results, the tournament is guaranteed a new winner this year as Robin Soderling is not yet healthy enough to defend the title which he has held for the past two years. I’m gonna give the nod to Berdych in this one and I have a feeling that Federer’s recent troubles might continue with an early exit this week.
Played on clay, the Brasil Open attracts some of the usual dirt-ballers one might expect to see. Nicolas Almagro is the defending champion and also won this event in 2008. He has played some pretty decent ball on hard-courts so far this year so we’ll see if that continues on his favourite surface. Almagro is seeded first and gets a bye into the second round. His quarter is pretty sparse which should help him get his clay-court wheels going.
Fernando Verdasco is the third seed and has a nice section in his quarter as well. Take a look at veteran Fernando Gonzalez from Chile if possible as he has already announced his retirement to take place in Miami this coming March. Injuries have really taken away Gonzo’s physical and mental endurance but hopefully he has a little magic left in him before he says goodbye.
In the bottom-half of the draw, aging Juan Carlos Ferrero the eighth seed and Thomaz Bellucci the fourth seed will likely fight it out for a spot in the quarter, while the bottom quarter is the most interesting with David Nalbandian who is unseeded, Albert Montanes and second seeded Gilles Simon.
Almagro gets my vote of confidence to take this one based on his clay-court prowess and success at this venue in previous years.
A year ago the ATP World Tour took notice of fast-rising Canadian sensation Milos Raonic when he won his first-ever event here in San Jose. Unfortunately for Canadian tennis fans, a repeat will be very difficult to achieve for several reasons.
Firstly, Raonic was forced to pull-out of the Davis Cup tie against France on Sunday with pain in his knee that had been already taped throughout the event. Will he even be healthy enough to play in San Jose?
Beyond the injury debate, Milos has a tough draw that sets him up with first-seeded Gael Monfils in a possible semi-final match-up. He will also have to contend with having the entire draw gunning for him as the defending champ. Coming into an event as the title-holder is quite different from what he experienced a year ago.
In the bottom-half things will be pretty wide-open with Andy Roddick returning from an injury he suffered at the Australian Open and occupying the second seed. Who knows what kind of game the former American No. 1 will bring with him but his lack of match play will hinder his changes.
Underachieving Sam Querrey, aging Radek Stepanek and vet Julien Benneteau round-out the bottom half in terms of potential contenders. I’d look for one of them rather than Roddick to make their way to the finals against Monfils who appears to be over the knee problems that he was dealing with upon his arrival to Canada for the Davis Cup.
Robin Soderling used to be one of the most misunderstood players on the the ATP World Tour. Nowadays, however, he’s just one of the most missed.
Earlier this week Soderling, who has been off of the tour since July fighting mononucleosis, withdrew from the Australian Open. He tweeted that he was hoping to be able to return to the tour in February. It was heartbreaking news for myself and the rest of the tennis community. Though we haven’t always fully embraced and appreciated the shy but unyielding Swede, the thought of a Soderling-less January just seems completely wrong. Something’s missing, and it hurts.
How did we get here? Did absence make our hearts grow fonder? Did we not know what we had until it was gone? Are we just feeling sympathy for an ailing athlete, or is this group heartache a symptom of something else? Is it possible that, without even realizing it, we all fell a bit in love with Robin Bo Carl Soderling?
The Early Years
What did we know about Robin Soderling the morning of May 31, 2009? Dedicated tennis fans knew him primarily as an indoor-tennis-specialist, a rare breed of player who’s only significant results came when the stadium was closed off from the outside world. He had been in nine finals and won three titles, all indoors on either hard-court or carpet. Unfortunately outside where the rest of the tennis players lived he was seen as an underachiever, another in the endless parade of players who seem destined to never live up to their potential.
He also had a reputation as a, well, to put it nicely- a brat. In a 2007 Wimbledon five-set match against Rafael Nadal he made waves by mocking the French Open Champion and playing mind games (seen in the video below). This ruffled the Spaniard so much that in his post-match interview Nadal made some uncharacteristically harsh comments about his opponent, calling Soderling “strange”, and saying that he had a hard time finding anyone in the locker room with nice things to say about him. Those comments would follow him around for years to come.
I’m not sure that “breakthrough” is a strong enough word for Soderling’s 6–2, 6–7(2), 6–4, 7–6(2) defeat over Rafael Nadal on May 31, 2009 in the fourth round of the French Open. In fact, I’m quite certain it’s not . That match is the tennis world’s “Where were you when…” moment. I’ll never forget the surreal, uncomfortable, queasy feeling I had sitting on my couch that morning watching the upset unfold. Some things in life were certain- death, taxes, and Rafael Nadal winning the French Open. Robin Soderling and his monster forehand knocked the entire tennis world off it’s axis that day. It was as exhilarating as it was terrifying.
As we all tried to gather our breath and find our footing again in this strange new world, Soderling steamrolled through Nikolay Davydenko in the quarterfinals and survived an epic five-setter against Fernando Gonzales in the semifinals to make it all the way to the French Open final. The man who had never been past the Third Round of a Major and who had never made a Final outdoors on any surface was now facing Roger Federer in the French Open Finals.
Though Soderling lost rather meekly to Federer that day, he shocked the tennis world again during the trophy presentation. His speech was one of the most memorable runner-up speeches ever- sincere, funny, and incredibly endearing. He “yoked” his way into our hearts that afternoon, and showed that his personality was just as complex and surprising as his game had become. (His speech starts at 7:20 in the clip, everything before that is crying Federer.)
So many players are defined by their breakthroughs that the word has become rather transparent. Not Robin Soderling. After the 2009 French Open he was not intimidated by his new-found fame or astronomically increased expectations. He finished 2009 ranked number eight in the world, his first Top Ten finish ever, and powered his way to the Top Five in 2010. He showed no fear going into the 2010 French Open where he had the bulk of his points to defend. He made it all the way back to the final and he did it in style, defeating a guy named Roger Federer in the quarterfinals. Rafael Nadal got the best of him in the final that year, but one thing was for sure- Robin Soderling 2.0 was not a fluke. He was here to stay, and it was time for the rest of us to get used to it.
Things came full circle in he fall of 2010 when he went back to his beloved indoor courts to win the biggest title of his career, the Paris Masters, by defeating hometown favorite Gael Monfils in the Final.
Despite only playing for seven months and battling nagging injuries and illness for most of the spring, Soderling still managed to win four titles this year. Four!
Tennis is a scarier place when Robin Soderling is around. He has the potential to beat any player on any surface at any time, and he’s proven that he’s not too scared or intimated to do it. Tennis needs that. We as fans need that. This sport is at it’s best when it’s knocked off balance, when it feels like anything is possible, when there are dynamites in the draw.
Let’s face it, we didn’t fall in love with tennis because of the security it provided. That’s not who tennis fans are. We love the heart-attacks, the unpredictability, the nauseating knowledge that nothing is a given. We love the underachievers, the floaters, and especially the villains.
Get well soon, Robin. We can’t wait to have you back.
(Thanks to my twitter followers for sharing their favorite Soderling moments with me this week, especially @A_Gallivant and @ptenisnet for the links to the videos above.)
by Maud Watson
Another Title, Another Record
Last Sunday, Roger Federer became the first male player to win six season-ending championships, surpassing the previous record of five held jointly by Sampras and Lendl. It also marked his 70th tournament win in 100 finals. It was a great effort by Federer that showcased his fitness and resiliency. When others were tired and running on fumes, he stood tall. And rather than crumbling after a disappointing summer that included two devastating losses in the semis of both Wimbledon and the US Open, the man from Switzerland went a perfect 17-0 to collect three titles and regain the No. 3 ranking to close out 2011. The ATP World Tour Finals may have also marked a psychological turning point for Federer. He candidly admitted to being mentally fragile at some key moments earlier in the season, and after finding a way to close out Tsonga in a match that looked like it might yet again prove to be a dramatic comeback from the Frenchman, Federer may finally be putting some of those demons to rest. This win by no means that he is a guaranteed major winner in 2012 – he finished 2010 with the title in London, too. But it is a strong reminder that Federer still has more than enough game and motivation to add to his Slam tally before he calls it a career.
Often overshadowed by singles, there was some spectacular doubles on hand in London, and the team that took the cake was that of Daniel Nestor and Max Mirnyi. It takes two to lift the title, and Mirnyi certainly did his part, but what an achievement for Daniel Nestor. At age 39, he’s still one of the greatest doubles players in the game. As a testament to just how good he is, he’s won the calendar year Grand Slam, Olympic gold, and has now won the season-ending championships four times with three different partners. Unless he just decides he’s tired of the grind, there’s no reason why Nestor can’t continue to add to his doubles legacy. Pencil him in as a future Hall of Famer.
The final hurrah of 2011 gets underway today, as Spain plays host to Argentina in the Davis Cup final. Both sides have played down their chances, with Argentina calling Spain the favorites, especially since they have Nadal – albeit a Nadal who is suffering from fatigue – playing at home on clay. Spain meanwhile has said that Argentina is fielding a dangerous team that will be feeling extra motivation, having not won the title in three tries, the most recent final loss coming at the hands of Spain in Argentina in 2008. One Spaniard who isn’t afraid to proclaim Spain’s status as the favorite, however, is Manolo Santan, who stated that the Spanish team could beat the Argentines on roller skates. This sentiment was perhaps a bit too cocky (and unwise to give the Argentines extra incentive to make him eat his words), but he is correct in that Spain is undoubtedly the team to beat in this one. But it should hopefully prove an entertaining matchup, and an upset that would see Argentina win its first Davis Cup title could happen. Sit back and enjoy!
Changing It Up
The man just named 2011’s Most Improved Player, Alex Bogomolov, Jr., has been granted his wish. He will now represent Russia instead of the United States. While it’s understandable that some in the USTA were unhappy with the move given the time and money that has been invested in Bogomolov, it’s not like he’s the first player to benefit from American money and play for another nation (albeit those others did not benefit from USTA-funding). This move also provides a great opportunity to Bogomolov, who was born in Moscow, as he will be able to represent Russia in the upcoming Davis Cup tie as their currently top-ranked player. If still representing the United States, he would only be the fourth highest ranked American. Here’s to hoping he finds the switch of allegiance well worth it. The second more puzzling changeup concerns Donald Young. According to TENNIS.com, Donald Young has gone back to being coached by his mother. Under the guidance of the USTA’s coaching staff, Young enjoyed the most successful period of his professional career, starting at the end of the summer and through the Asian swing. At the time of writing, few details are known regarding the switch, but a source has told TENNIS that Young was asked to train and practice at one of their facilities during the off season and Young refused. Hopefully this will not prove another step backwards, but if TENNIS.com’s source is reliable, a frustrating history may be about to be repeated.
Still Plugging Away
Despite multiple surgeries, a major dip in the rankings, and an extended absence from the tour, Lleyton Hewitt insists that he has no retirement plans. In some ways, he seems up there in age, but in reality, he’s less than a year older than Federer. Unfortunately for the Aussie, he doesn’t possess Federer’s game, but it’s great to hear that he’s planning to stick around. He’ll never get near the upper most echelons of the game again, but a healthy Hewitt has the tenacity, smarts, and experience to cause some upsets and maybe add the occasional piece of hardware to his own collection. You’d be hard pressed to find many players that have more of a fighting spirit than the man from Adelaide, and thanks to being awarded a wildcard into the Australian Open, his legion of fans will be keen to see him hopefully get his 2012 campaign off with a flier.
It wasn’t so long ago that players from Argentina dominated the ATP rankings, with Guillermo Canas, Guillermo Coria, Gaston Gaudio, Mariano Puerta and David Nalbandian all spending time in the top 10.
The only one of those players still active today is Nalbandian, and he’s going for something again that he and his compatriots weren’t able to achieve, a Davis Cup title. But the final obstacle to achieving that goal is a longtime tennis powerhouse in its own right: Spain, led by top-five players Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer.
Pulling off the upset against the host nation will be a difficult task for Argentina, but there are some things that could work to their advantage:
A Top 10-Caliber Player of Their Own
Juan Martin del Potro will be leading the singles effort for Argentina. This has been a year to remember for the 23-year-old as he rebounded back from wrist surgery, returning his ranking to the top 15. He’s a force on all surfaces, particularly clay, which the players will be doing battle on this week.
A Top 15-Caliber Player, Too
The likely second singles spot will go to Juan Monaco. “Pico” has been ranked as high as 14 in the world and has a winning record against Ferrer. All three of Monaco’s career singles titles have come on clay, so surface shouldn’t be a factor. He’s also on one of his best stretches in years: reaching the round of 16 at the U.S. Open, the finals in Valencia and the quarterfinals at the Paris Indoors event.
While Nadal and Ferrer were facing the best of the best at the ATP World Tour Finals in London, the Argentine players were able to start preparing for the year’s final event a little earlier. Ferrer was able to win two of his round-robin matches relatively easy, but did have a battle against Tomas Berdych at the 02 Arena. Nadal didn’t advance out of group play, but did go three sets with Mardy Fish and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. With the way Nadal and Ferrer play, any extended matches add more wear-and-tear on their bodies.
The (Good and Bad) Experience Factor
While Argentina has yet to win the Davis Cup, the team has advanced to the finals twice since 2006. Nalbandian and Juan Ignacio Chela were both members of those squads, and have played during years where the team was the odds-on favorite to win the whole tournament. Those two are entering the latter stages of their careers, and more than likely will end them without Grand Slam glory. But they’ve seen almost everything the tour has to offer, and could be a steadying hand when the pressure is on in the final tie of 2011.
Roger Federer is a man of many talents both on- and off-the-court, but how long can his career really last? As he is no longer winning tournaments every month, many have called an end to his tennis career. But, in fact, he is more in control than ever, and his renewed focus this year will last him well into the end of 2011 and beginning of 2012.
Federer began the year in promising fashion taking the season-opening title in Doha, but faltered, allowing ten months to pass before winning a follow-up tournament in his hometown of Basel, Switzerland last week. Although he qualified for the 2011 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals back in September for a tenth straight time, it will be the first time in his career that he hasn’t won at least three tournaments going into the Finals.
With his recent confidence-surge in Basel, Federer is poised to defend his title in London, but not without a hungry pack of Europeans clawing their own way to the top of the rankings. If Federer is to make a repeat trip to the winner’s circle in London several pieces need to fall into place. He claimed the month-long pause he took prior to Basel really “paid off” in terms of his “mind, body, family, and fitness,” and he’ll have at least a week break before the London Finals to rest up. The only problem is that so does every other player in the field.
While top contender Novak Djokovic continues to struggle with his right shoulder injury, an in-form Andy Murray and a well-rested Rafael Nadal may be Federer’s biggest threats. Nadal even pulled the plug on the Paris Masters this week to focus on London. David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych could also vie for the London title as Ferrer reached the finals of Shangai and Berdych won Beijing, but neither is consistent or level-headed enough to pull off the feat. A first-time winner for London will just have to wait.
Federer has emerged as the dangerous contender as his priorities have shifted slightly since his twin girls were born two years ago, and he acknowledges that his goals might be slightly different from his younger compatriots. The effortless movement and shot-making skills on-court that defined Federer at his prime have taken a backseat to his family, where he now uses that same effortless care to look after his family. As the girls mature, they have become increasingly more present in the media, and we have seen a different side to one of the greatest champions in tennis.
The last time a top ten player was a father, was Gilles Simon exactly two years ago, but he has wavered in his rankings even falling out of the top 50 at one point. The last real champion in Federer’s similar position was Lleyton Hewitt back in 2005 when he had his first child and was ranked two in the world. Clearly, it’s a unique position to behold in tennis and shows an incredible energy to balance family and a grueling professional life. But it’s to Federer’s advantage. When Tommy Haas became a father last year, he expressed how it opened his eyes to seeing the tennis and real world in a different way. Much like Federer, he found a new focus beyond the “right now” and quickly learned that every moment with his family was precious. Haas worked doubly hard on-court in half the amount of time just to be with his family more. Although this path has not paid off professionally for Haas due to recurrent injuries, Federer seems to have taken to this principle and is molding his tennis and family life together for now.
With his renewed mind, rested body, and relaxed demeanor, Federer has entered into a new phase in his life this year, and it just may be enough to drive him to win the ATP World Tour Finals later this month and contend for the Australian Open Championships next January. Only time will tell if his resolve will once again guide him back into his winning ways.
Have you ever wanted to meet tennis legend Roger Federer? Here is your chance. All you have to do is go to the Credit Suisse Facebook page and vote for the best ending of the Roger Federer, Relaxed video. There are four different endings, so watch all of them and vote!
The commercial – in which the tennis player relaxes at the pool – was shot last February for the bank’s global image campaign in Dubai, Roger Federer’s second home. Four different endings were shot, but so far only one has been used. Credit Suisse now wants to know which of the four fans like the most. During the ATP World Tour Finals in London (November 20 to 27) the commercial will be shown with the ending that receives the most votes.
Attractive Main Prize
The competition prize will make the heart of every Roger Federer fan beat faster: The winner will fly by business class to London on November 19 and spend three nights there in a top-class hotel at Canary Wharf. The highlight of the stay will be a meeting with Roger Federer. Depending on his match schedule, the meeting will take place on Sunday, November 20 or Monday, November 21. The return flight will then be on November 22, once again in business class. So that the winner does not have to travel alone they can take along a person of their choice for whom the same conditions apply.
In addition to the meet and greet with Roger Federer, the following runner-up prizes are also available:
• 2nd to 6th prize: A signed Roger Federer cap.
• 7th to 26th prize: A Nike Roger Federer cap (without autograph)
The competition starts on Thursday, October 13 and lasts until midnight (GMT) on Sunday, November 6. It will take place globally. The winner will be picked on Monday, November 7 and notified by email.