James Crabtree is currently in Melbourne Park covering the Australian Open for Tennis Grandstand and is giving you all the scoop directly from the grounds.
By James Crabtree
MELBOURNE – During a Jacobs Creek Promotion whilst being hydrated by a seriously good glass of rosé I had the opportunity to sit down with Mark Woodforde, 12 time grand slam doubles champion, winner of four singles titles and the surprise, and often forgotten, 1996 Australian Open semi-finalist.
Q- Mark, tell us a little behind your Snauwaert racquet with the famous 12×14 pattern as opposed to the traditional 18×20?
I first started using the racquet early on in an effort to control the ball and gain more spin. I was on a trip to the European clay and one of eight in a team using that pattern. My progression was more accelerated than the others and that turned some heads. There were matches where my opponents called over the referee wondering if that string pattern was legal, because of the results I started to have.
I knew it didn’t give me an overwhelming advantage. I know when anyone improves their form or improves their ranking people are always asking why and how are they doing that? People just pointed out the racquet issue because it was different.
The last few years I have been trying to develop a racquet with a string pattern that looks more conventional but still attain the same level of spin.
Q. What would be the advantage for a singles player to play more doubles matches?
I think we would see more natural volleying skills and more varied matchups. Players are just hoping for the easy put away and never learn the confidence in how to play the volley from the service line.
I think it would be great to have the top singles players sign a contract and agree to play doubles at one of the four slams and a few of the 1000 events. On the flip side of that it would be great to see a doubles specialist do the reverse at a singles event.
You look back at the older generations and the players who played both singles and doubles had the all court game, and never looked out of sorts at the net.
Q. Tell us something we don’t know about Todd Woodbridge
(Laughs) Todd fancies himself on the dance floor, on the tennis court and as a chef. There were times he would cook for all of us and he is pretty good. Sometimes you would get back to the apartment and he would be preparing food for all of us, our partners included.
Todd was a lot more strict about food during our playing days. I was the guy at Davis Cup who would throw down four courses, leaving our trainer to scratch his head, although I do have to watch the portions now. Lucky my wife is the master-chef in our house.
Todd has been talking of his personal trainer, who works wonders and how he has been seeing him four nights a week, but I am yet to see the effects and I suspect he could be some sort of phantom. (laughs)
Q.Tell us about your role in Aussie player development
I started working with (Matthew)Ebden and (Marinko) Matosevic. I worked with them for twelve months to help get them out of the Challenger mentality and playing more aggressive tennis.
The last few seasons I’ve been working with the juniors and their transition to seniors.
I’m more opinionated about Australian tennis players staying true to be more attacking all court players. That’s how we have always been and I don’t want to see that erased. I love watching guys like (James) Duckworth, guys who are willing to roll the dice and cause headaches for their opponents.
Mark Woodforde continues to work with Australian junior players, assisting in developing the next wave of Australian champions.
By Melissa Boyd
Tennis Canada has announced the four players nominated for selection to the Canadian Olympic Team for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Daniel Nestor, Vasek Pospisil, Milos Raonic, and Aleksandra Wozniak will represent Canada in London. Raonic and Wozniak will play singles while Nestor and Pospisil will team up for doubles.
In singles, the Top 56 players in the world as of the June 11 rankings deadline receive direct entry into the tennis event provided they meet all other requirements set out for qualification. Raonic sits at No. 21 in the world while Wozniak’s third round appearance at the French Open lifted her to the exact cut-off point of No. 56. It will be the first Olympic Games for both.
“It’s something I’ve been dreaming since I’m a little girl, and my dream came true today,” Wozniak said. “It’s definitely a different atmosphere than playing in the Grand Slams and on the WTA Tour, something where you’ll be with the best athletes around the world in all different sports”.
For the doubles event, each of the Top 10 players receives direct entry with a compatriot of their choice. As the No. 1 doubles player in the world, Nestor has elected to play with first-time Olympic hopeful Pospisil. The duo holds a 2-0 Davis Cup record, including a pivotal win against Grand Slam champions Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram during Canada’s World Group play-off versus Israel last September.
London will represent the fifth consecutive time Nestor has represented Canada at the Olympic Games. At the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, he won gold with partner Sebastien Lareau marking the first, and only, tennis medal in Canadian history.
“I’m very proud to be in a position where I can represent my country and hopefully bring back another medal,” said Nestor. “It was quite a special feat winning Olympic gold in Sydney in 2000 and with the growth of tennis in our country, we all can have a chance to make Canada proud.”
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) will announce the full official list of entries on June 28 which will include the ITF places in singles and doubles. Additional nominations for players who did not make the rankings cut-off can be submitted to the ITF to be considered for ITF places.
“Congratulations to these four tennis players on joining the 2012 Canadian Olympic Team,” said 2012 Team Chef de Mission Mark Tewksbury. “I know you will give your everything to make Canadian fans proud in London.”
After defeating #4 doubles’ seeds Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi with partner Mark Knowles at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, I was able to sit down with world #42 singles’ player Xavier Malisse and discuss his busy summer as well as plans to double up with Knowles for the U.S. Open.
Malisse had a breakthrough run here last year in the singles draw, reaching the semifinals, and followed that up with final appearances in Chennai later in the year and reaching the 4th round of Wimbledon this year. On the doubles’ tour, he’s excelled as well, winning the 2004 French Open with countryman Olivier Rochus, and just last week winning Los Angeles with Mark Knowles.
He informed me that he decided to officially pull out of Montreal, but will still play Cincinnati in two weeks and then the U.S. Open in September. Malisse retired in his singles’ match yesterday due to a sore right arm saying “it hurts a little, [with pain] going up and down,” but was back on court today in doubles. He felt “lucky that we got cancelled last night [due to weather] because I couldn’t have played. I got some treatment, tried to work it out.” He went on to say that “the muscle is just hurting” and cited nothing more severe. “I’ve been playing so much. I’ve played 7 out of 8 weeks and I’ve never done that, so I need a rest.” He commented that he feels as if he’s a “half-a-step slow on all the balls in singles.” However, he stated that “he played well today actually. It was a fun match to play.”
“Fun” is also the word he used when talking about his doubles’ partnership with Alexandr Dolgopolov, with whom he won Indian Wells with back in March. “I had a lot of fun, and we’re still good friends. But Mark [Knowles] has been asking [for me to play with him] and we’ve been trying to hook up for almost a year, I think. So we finally worked it out.”
Fellow Belgian Dick Norman, whose doubles partner recently retired, has expressed the possibility of him and Malisse teaming up as a permanent doubles tandem. Malisse mentioned that “it’s on the verge. We’ve talked about it for [this past] French Open but then we couldn’t get in. And then we had the US Open … [which] I was going to play with Dick, but now I’m playing with Knowles [since Los Angeles], so I’ll have to talk with Dick about it.”
Malisse stated that “I’ll play Cincinnati with Knowles and also the U.S. Open .”
In 2009, Xavier Malisse failed to provide three mandatory “whereabouts” within an 18-month period to the World Anti-Doping Angency, by two “filling failures” and one missed test. He appealed and his one year ban was lifted pending the appeals’ outcome. According to the Belgian news site Clint, Malisse’s court date is set for September 12, 2011. When asked about the details, he nonchalantly commented “Oh, yea” as if it were distant history. He then went on to elaborate: “Well, to be honest, I try to let the lawyers do their work. It’s gotten so complicated … I don’t know too much about it. They do their thing, I focus on tennis. Hopefully, we’ll get a good result out of it.”
When I asked him if he’s thought about how the verdict might affect his career, he responded with “Not yet. I’ll try to see how it works out … I tried filling my whereabouts and that’s all I do for that. And they do their job and I try to do my job on the court.”
Follow me on twitter as I cover the Legg Mason Tennis Classic all week! @TennisRomi
Yves Allegro, the Swiss doubles specialist, grew up in the small town of Grone, Switzerland. His father built a tennis club, and that’s where Allegro was introduced to the sport as a toddler. His father never coached him; instead, they had a very healthy relationaship and Allegro worked with another of his father’s club’s teaching pros. He stayed in Grone until the age of fifteen when he moved to Lausanne to train at the Swiss Federation Tennis School. He would go to school from 8am until 2pm, then he would train in the afternoons. His roommate for two years at the academy was none other than Roger Federer. Upon graduating at the age of 19, the Swiss Tennis Federation abandoned Allegro because they felt his tennis potential was not good enough.
He was forced to move to Halle, Germany, where he played German club tennis and joined the Breakpoint Team, which supported his tennis playing aspirations. Playing as a professional, he started to have success on the doubles tour and has won three ATP tiles, two with Federer
and one with Germany’s Michael Kohlmann.
In 2004, he was picked to play Davis Cup for Switzerland and has been a member of the team since then. He played doubles at the 2004 Athens Olympics. His highest doubles ranking has been No. 31, and he attributes much of his success to his Spanish coach, Juan Barcelo.
His favorite tournaments are Wimbledon and Munich.
In his downtime away the tour, he is pursuing a degree in sports management from a school in Switzerland over the internet.
One of the highlights of the year for him is when he runs a junior tennis camp in Verbier, Switzerland in mid-July. “I love working with kids, and it’s nice to help out some of my country’s youngsters,” says Allegro. He plans on starting a partnership soon with the Romanian upstart Davis Cup player Horia Tecau soon. At the moment, you can catch the Swiss player playing with Paul-Henri Mathieu at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.
Until next week, enjoy your tennis!