congratulations are in order

Tennis Is Well Represented At The ESPY Awards – The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

Defending Champs Out – This past weekend marked the quarterfinals of the 2010 Davis Cup competition and promised plenty of good tennis matchups. But one result few could have seen coming was France’s thrashing of defending two-time champion Spain. Spain has gotten used to dishing out some 5-0 defeats of its own, but unexpectedly found itself on the receiving end of such a defeat as it suffered its first 5-0 loss since 1957. There’s little doubt that this was a disappointing showing for Spain, irrespective of the fact that they were without their No. 1 Rafael Nadal. They have won without him before, and France certainly wasn’t able to field their star players either. It was Spain’s misfortune that they ran into the one team that could match them for depth of players, and congratulations are in order for the nation of France that may be ready to make its first run to the title since 2001.
Coach in the Corner – Peter Lundgren is going to be coaching a man from Switzerland, but this time it isn’t Roger Federer. It’s the number two man for the Swiss, Stanislas Wawrinka. This is a great move on Wawrinka’s part, whose results over the course of the past year have been up and down and have seen his ranking slip to outside of the Top 20. Lundgren has had another high profile pupil in Marat Safin, so there’s no doubt he possesses the ability to handle talented players and get their careers going in the right direction. Hopefully he will be able to do the same for Wawrinka by getting him to channel his talent and play within his own boundaries. If so, he could well be headed back to the Top 10.

Back on Track – On the historical grass courts of the Newport Casino, Mardy Fish suddenly found his game and emerged victorious. Fish has been an unfortunate victim of some serious injuries over the course of his career, and he’s also admitted to being more than a little negligent when it came to ensuring he was putting in the time on and off the court to be at his best. But they say it’s never late than never, and nearing his 29th birthday, Mardy Fish may be ready to make a run to the upper echelons of the men’s game, his ranking having jumped 30 places with his victory in the city by the sea. Last year’s Newport finalist appearance turned out to be a catalyst to a great summer for Sam Querrey, and it may bring Fish the same kind of results during the 2010 US Open Series.
Highest Honor – This past Saturday saw the induction of seven new members into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. This induction also had a different feel as it focused on some of the greatest doubles teams of all time (though not the first…see Hewitt/McMillan, Class of 1992), and saw the induction of the first wheelchair tennis player, wheelchair tennis founder and pioneer Brad Parks. Don’t expect this to become a trend at the Hall, but rightfully I think we can expect to see more stellar doubles teams and wheelchair tennis athletes behind the podium during Enshrinement Weekend in the future.
And the ESPY goes to… – Okay, not as prestigious as the Oscars or the Emmys, and personally I think there’s a bit of American bias with these awards, but it is worth noting that tennis was well-represented at the 2010 ESPY Awards. Not surprisingly, Roger Federer and Serena Williams took top honors in the sport of tennis, while Kim Clijsters was named the Comeback of the year. But what was best was seeing that John Isner vs. Nicolas Mahut took the cake for best Record-breaking Performance. Again, the quality of the tennis was not the greatest in this match, but a big thank you to those guys for gutting it out for just over 11 hours and putting tennis on the map in a multitude of ways.

CAN ROGER FEDERER WIN THE GRAND SLAM? THE FRIDAY FIVE

By Maud Watson

End to the Grand Slam Drought? – With his win in Melbourne at the Australian Open, Roger Federer became the first father since Andre Agassi to win a Grand Slam title, bringing his total up to 16. While every title he earns makes his legacy that much more impressive, the real question on everyone’s mind is, “Could he win the Grand Slam?” Rod Laver was the last man to do it back in 1969, while Steffi Graf was the last woman to do it in 1988. Federer is definitely still the man to beat. He finally got the monkey off his back at the French, loves the lawns of Wimbledon, and has a stellar record in Flushing Meadows. With Federer’s extraordinary ability to re-write the history books and shatter records, this may just be the year another player captures the elusive Grand Slam.

Showing Early Promise – So maybe Justine Henin was quite able to emulate the success of countrywoman Kim Clijsters by winning her fist major back from retirement, but it was just her second tournament in 18 months, and it was Serena Williams on the other side of the net (no offense to Caroline Wozniaki). While congratulations are in order for Serena Williams, whose 12th Grand Slam title ties her with tennis legend Billie Jean King, I was most impressed with Henin. Several times she had to grind her way through matches, including her second-round encounter with Elena Dementieva. She then takes the current No. 1 to three-sets in the final, and had she played a cleaner match, might have gone all the way. It was a little disconcerting to watch for those who remember seeing the Henin who was a human backboard, but her determination to execute a more offensive game plan is admirable. Once she hones her game and finds that balance between defense and offense, she may well go on to dominate the women’s tour yet again. And, given that she has approximately four months to prepare for the French, she has to already be considered a favorite to take the coveted clay court title.

Hewitt’s Hip Woes – In case you missed it in the entire hullabaloo at the end of the Aussie Open, local favorite Lleyton Hewitt announced that he had to undergo hip surgery on his right hip. He stated he tweaked the hip during the Hopman Cup, and after his run at the first major of the year came to an end, he had the surgery. One has to feel for the man from Adelaide who already underwent one hip surgery. That said, if ever there was a player who had the determination to bounce back from a second surgery, it’s Rusty.

He’s Gone Bollywood – Former Indian tennis star Vijay Amritraj once starred with Roger Moore in the James Bond film Octopussy, and now, once again, another leading Indian player is taking his shot at making it in the movies. Leander Paes, one of the most famous Indian players of the past decade, is going to be starring in a psychological thriller that will be released in both Hindi and Bengali. Maybe it’s not James Bond, but it’s going to give the boys something to talk about in the locker room.

She’s a Barbie Girl – Well, it’s not quite a Wheaties box, but it’s still pretty darn cool. Kim Clijsters has been made into a Barbie doll, as has her young daughter, Jada. Don’t expect to find the doll in a store near you, but for someone like Clijsters who remembers playing with Barbies as a young girl, there’s no doubt that it must be quite an honor to have been fashioned into one of the most iconic toys of all time.