exhibition

Federer v Nadal – An Old Rivalry

By James A. Crabtree

Before, it was Laver and Rosewall, McEnroe and Borg, Agassi and Sampras.

For the past year it’s been more about Djokovic and Murray.

One hundred years from now the beginning of this millennium will be remembered for clashes shared by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

The biggest headline in tennis once again took centre stage at Indian Wells in the men’s quarterfinal.

Federer will undoubtedly be remembered as the greatest player of all time. What will perhaps be forgotten is that Federer has been consistently owned by the man who chased him in the rankings for so long, Rafael Nadal. Nadal leads the Federer/Nadal conflicts with 19 wins to 10, and significantly by 8 wins to 2 in grand slams.

The most recent encounter between these two at Indian Wells had the build-up.

Federer has not won a title since August last year and in many ways is playing a match in a more timid style than that of which we are accustomed to seeing.

Nadal, as we all know, is back after a very lengthy absence and has a point to prove on hard courts and in a tournament in which he lost to Federer last year.

When Federer beat Nadal in the Indian Wells 2012 semi-final it was his first victory against the Spaniard on an outside hard court since Miami in 2005. The 2013 display went back to the script of old whilst Federer and his army of fans searched for answers with no more imaginative excuses than his age and injury.

Nadal’s display of aggression after a lengthy layoff from injury was significant although Federer’s lack of hostility on court, faltering serve and inconsistency was disheartening. Federer’s main hard court weapons, the flatter forehand and faster serve have all but eluded him so far this year.

These players know each other’s games inside and out and new strategy is almost impossible. Like a childhood sibling fight all tactics have been used before, only a heightened level of spite could prove a difference.

A spite that was missing for Federer resulting in the 28th encounter being an epic anticlimax.

Nadal’s biography ‘RAFA’ is as much about Federer as it is about Nadal, with detailed schemes of how the Spaniard would overcome the Swiss inundating the text. More than simply a great matchup Nadal treats the issue with obsession, a mountain he must climb. In contrast for Federer to play Nadal seems like an exhausting chore and whether he admits it or not, one he would rather avoid.

Indeed, in their most recent battle, Federer seemed more fatigued by an opponent that has always troubled him. For some reason Nadal always thinks of himself as the underdog. And these may have been the prevailing issues rather than any of the subplots leading up. Federer struggles against Nadal, always has, and perhaps, always will.

This rivalry has been going on a long bloody time, nine years to be exact. They have met 29 times, have played seven exhibitions of which Nadal has won five, will meet a few more times before they retire and then will undoubtedly play each other a further absurd amount of times more on the Champions tour.

If the current game plan remains the same, it would be hard to imagine a reversal of fortune for the greatest player of all time.

Star tennis quartet face-off in Toronto

TORONTO (November 17, 2012) — Agnieszka Radwanska, Milos Raonic, Andy Roddick and Serena Williams didn’t disappoint the fans who went through the turnstiles on Friday night at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto to watch the second edition of the Sportchek Face-Off.

The exhibition event began with a fun celebrity doubles match pitting Team Canada – Raonic and Radwanska – against Team USA’s Roddick and Williams. The superstar quartet were joined on court by Canadian TV personality George Stroumboulopoulos, Bachelor Canada’s Brad Smith, CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon, and Adrian Grenier of Entourage fame. The recently retired Roddick joked about finally getting the chance to play alongside his compatriot after many years of campaigning.

“I couldn’t convince Serena (Williams) to play with me when I was actually good, but now that I suck she’s all about it,” Roddick said.

Next up was a rematch of this year’s Wimbledon women’s final between Radwanska and Williams. The Pole, who referred to Williams as a “grass tennis killer”, was able to impose her crafty game on the Canadian indoor hard court, en route to a 6-4, 6-4 win. This was a rare defeat for Williams, who has lost just one Tour match since falling in the opening round at Roland-Garros this spring. Despite winning Wimbledon, an Olympic gold medal, the U.S. Open and the WTA Championships in Istanbul, the 31-year-old is focused on looking forward instead of back.

“I’m not a big reflector,” said Williams. “I always feel like I want to do more, I want to improve. Once you start reflecting … you can become really satisfied. For me, I’m always trying to do a bit better. I’ll have more time to reflect after my career.”

The evening concluded with the main event, a confrontation between two of the game’s biggest servers in Raonic and Roddick, who was making his first visit north of the border since 2009.  The former World No. 1 put his trademark humor and candor on full display in his return to Canada. He gave the crowd fits of laughter in the second set with his imitations of Maria Sharapova, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and John McEnroe. In addition to his talents as an entertainer, Roddick, who played his last professional match at the U.S. Open, showed that his tennis skills are still very much in tact defeating Raonic 6-4, 4-6, 10-7. The two players met once on the ATP World Tour, in the final at Memphis in 2011 which Roddick won in three tough sets. The American was full of praise for Canada’s highest-ranked singles player of all time.

“I like his (Raonic) game and I equally like the way he goes about his business,” complimented Roddick. “He’s very diligent and he has the hunger to get better and not be satisfied, which will serve him well.”

For Raonic, being able to host tennis royalty in his hometown for an event like the Face-off is an opportunity to grow tennis in Canada.

“There’s a lot of support, a lot of appreciation and interest in Canadian players, especially during Davis Cup,” Raonic said. “I think the kind of support we’re getting there is really amazing. It’s something we want to keep building up.”

In the first edition of the Face-Off held last November in Toronto, Raonic took on his tennis hero Pete Sampras.

Tennis With a Twist

Around 11:30 PM at Madison Square Garden a tan Rory McIlroy, the newly crowned #1 golfer in the world, stood quietly and practically unnoticed in the back of a crowded press room.  All eyes were on his girlfriend, Caroline Wozniacki, as she talked about dragging McIlroy onto the tennis court earlier that evening to play a point against Maria Sharapova. “He was not too pleased with me but at least he can say he played tennis at Madison Square Garden. Not a lot of people can say that.,” she laughed.  Later in the same press conference Roger Federer and Andy Roddick were asked what they thought of the breakout New York Knicks player Jeremy Lin.  Federer, who has been overseas the past month, was well aware of “Linsanity”, and said he hoped to watch (Lin) play at the Garden one day. Roddick had actually used Lin’s locker before the exhibition that night and said he might have to “send (Lin) a thank-you note” after his victory.

Tennis, meet pop culture. Pop culture, meet tennis.

Amidst all of the scheduling, length-of-season, and injury dramas in the WTA and ATP these days, exhibition matches are often frowned upon.  But last night’s 5th Annual BNP Paribas Showdown’s Tennis Night in America showed exactly why they’re an integral part of the game.  Andy Roddick put it best when he said, “I’m not sure how 18,000 (spectators) in the most famous venue in the world watching our sport can be a bad thing. I think it’s a great thing. There are a lot of people (in the media center) who don’t cover tennis on a regular basis and it will be out there tomorrow. I think it’s a huge positive for our sport.”

The evening started at 7:30 when world #2 Sharapova and world #4 Wozniacki stood (under spotlights) on opposing ends of the court on top of blue light-boxes as sparklers flew behind them and Katy Perry’s “Firework” blasted from the stadium speakers. This was not going to be your average night of tennis.  However, during the first set Wozniacki and Sharapova battled like the match was taking place a few miles east and a few months later at Flushing Meadows. They were laser-focused, engaging in sharp rallies, and playing very aggressive tennis (yes, even Wozniacki). There was barely even the hint of a smile.

Things changed in the second set. In the break between sets Sharapova, Wozniacki, and the chair umpire talked and giggled (yes, even Sharapova). Later, after the girls exchanged leads, Wozniacki decided to kick things up a notch.  During a changeover she took a young girl from the audience and began dancing with her. Never one to be outdone, Sharapova then took an older man from the audience and danced with him. When the music stopped and it was time for tennis again the boisterous New York crowd made it known they weren’t ready for the fun to stop. Wozniacki- an expert at milking a moment of fun-  knew exactly what to do. She went into the crowd and fetched McIlroy. At first it seemed like the couple were just going to dance, but then she put the tennis racket in his hand and created a blockbuster moment- he actually played a point against Maria Sharapova.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTGOOB0z_-Q

After losing the point to McIlroy (“He won more points (against me) than Caroline did!” Maria joked), Sharapova would go on to serve out the match and fairly easily defeat Wozniacki 6-3 6-4.

Then, around 9:00PM, it was time for the men (professional tennis players, not golfers) to take over. Andy Roddick and Roger Federer are clearly no strangers to each other, New York, or the big stage. The two have played twenty-three times- seven times in the semis or later of a Grand Slam-  with Federer holding the infamous 21-2 lead in their head-to-head.  But this time was different. It’s Roddick’s home country and Roddick was born to comically entertain a large crowd.  In the first set alone Roddick got Ben Stiller’s autograph, tossed a racket after a failed tweener, reacted mockingly to a foot-fault call from the crowd, and did a spot-on impersonation of Rafael Nadal.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59qgmchvbL8

Impersonations and jokes aside, Roddick played some crafty, powerful tennis, and most importantly looked healthier and moved better than he has in months.  Federer, fresh of a victory and a plane-ride from Dubai, also played some brilliant points but the American was just a tad looser and sharper than his adversary this night. With the near-capacity crowd hanging onto every point Roddick upset the Swiss Legend 7-5 7-6 (7).

After the match it was all jokes and respect between the two. Roddick quipped that he “must be in Federer’s head,” and said that the 16-time Grand Slam Champion “clearly isn’t very good under pressure”. Federer seemed pleased that Roddick is playing well again, saying “it is good to see (Roddick) play so well and hopefully he can make another run at the top-10.”

There’s no telling what the tour-level significance of these matches will be. Is Wozniacki going to actually employ the more aggressive techniques she displayed tonight at Indian Wells? Will Sharapova stay loose and serve-quip free from now on? Can Roddick build on this momentum and make another run at the Top 10? Will Federer ever survive the humiliation?  Only time will tell.  But last night 18,079 people in person and countless others on sketchy streams around the world got to say they saw Andy Roddick beat Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova laugh and dance, and the best golfer in the world play tennis.  Tennis has had many memorable Monday nights, but none quite like this one.

Caroline Wozniacki is a little Buddha

First of all a Happy New Year from all of us at TennisGrandstand.com and we hope that everyone is in good health and ofcourse are looking forward to an exciting season of tennis, tennis and more tennis. And ofcourse with the tennis come the tennis babes.

To start off 2011 I am posting pics of Caroline Wozniacki and Kim Clijsters in Thailand.

On Facebook Caro had the following to say about her visits:

This is from this morning in Hua Hin Thailand. We fed the monks in the early morning on the beach at the Intercontinental Resort.

Kim and I visited the hospital in Bangkok where the King of Thailand is staying. He has been in the hospital for almost a year. While we did not see the King, Kim and I presented gifts and wish him best of health at a ceremony outside the hospital.
Happy New Years to everyone, I hope you all have a great and healthy 2011!

Kim Clijsters beat Caroline Wozniacki 6-3 4-6 12-10 (champions tiebreak) to win the 84 World Tennis Invitation exhibition at Hua Hin, Thailand. But that’s just for reference…the real stuff you are waiting for is ofcourse here:

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ANA IVANOVIC BEATS SCARY SPICE IN MIAMI

Ana Ivanovic participated in the Sony Ericsson  Glam Slam Match 2010 that featured Jay Sean, Novak Djokovic and  Mel “Scary Spice” B. Ivanovic, who recently dropped out of the top 50 of the WTA Tour, won the match in the closing minute of the match.

“Sony Ericsson always come up with such imaginative ideas to promote the tournament here in Miami and it was a lot of fun taking part in this event. Miami is an exciting tournament, with lots going on both on and off the court, and I think that both the fans and players really appreciate that.”

More good news for Ana is that she survived the first round in Key Biscane beating qualifier Pauline Parmentier 6-4, 6-3 in her opening match at the Sony Ericsson Open.

Enjoy the photos and videos of the exhibition match:

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JUSTINE HENIN MAKES TRIUMPHANT RETURN

Justine Henin made a triumphant return to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour in Brisbane on Monday with a 7-5, 7-5 win over second seeded Nadia Petrova.

In her first competitive match since retiring eighteen months ago, Henin showed no signs of rust as she advanced against an opponent she has dominated 11-2 in their career head-to-head meetings.

Henin also defeated Petrova last month in an exhibition match in Cairo by a score of 7-5, 6-2, so the result should come as no surprise.

The crafty Henin only lost five points on her first serve in the opening set and broke Petrova at 5-5. She would later close out the frame with an ace.

In the second set Petrova staked an early 2-0 lead before Henin fought back and again broke at 5-5 to march towards victory.

Petrova seemed to take the defeat in stride and had nothing but praise for Henin in her post-match press conference.

“I think she is a better player than before she retired. She’s more aggressive,” Petrova said. “Previously, she was more of a clay court player, but now I see her a hardcourt player as well. She’s certainly playing high level of tennis.”

Personally, I would be embarrassed as a professional tennis player to lose to someone who has been away from the game for a year and a half. Henin however is not just any returning player. The Belgian has won 7 Grand Slams, an Olympic Gold as well as 41 other WTA titles in her career. At only 27 years old, there is still plenty left in the tank both physically and emotionally for Henin.

“I feel better today than when I retired, that’s for sure,” Henin said. “Better emotionally, mentally, better with myself—and that makes a big difference that I will enjoy being on the tour again.”

Under normal circumstances, a win over a top-twenty player like Petrova after such a sustained absence from the game would garner more attention and praise. While many eyes are on Henin, the bar has been set high by her compatriot Kim Clijsters. Winning a couple of rounds will not suffice and anything short of a title in the near future may be deemed a disappointment by some – a fact that would have seemed ridiculous before Clijsters’ incredible run at Flushing Meadows in August.

The comparisons to Clijsters are inevitable and not simply because of their shared Belgian heritage. Both took approximately the same amount of time away from the game and both are former top level players who have enjoyed Grand Slam success. The immediate returns that Clijsters enjoyed during the summer spoke volumes about the immense talent that she possesses. As much, if not more, will be expected from Henin.

Henin now advances to the second round where she will face qualifier Sesil Karatantcheva.

FEDERER’S ABU DHABI TENNIS MATCH

fed-abu-fb

Roger Federer posted this photo on the Facebook fan page of him hitting tennis balls the Yas Race Track in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.  The Yas track is the site of Abu Dhabi’s Formula 1 race. Federer competed in the Capitala World Tennis Championships exhibition last week, losing to Robin Soderling in his first match, but defeating David Ferrer in a third-place match.

It’s Official: Justine Henin Makes Comeback To The WTA Tour

Former world No. 1 Justine Henin is returning to competitive tennis, making the announcement barely a week after Kim Clijsters capped her comeback from retirement with a second U.S. Open title.

Henin had been retired for just over a year, but at 27 says she has the fire and physical strength to compete for an eighth Grand Slam title. Her announcement on VTM television capped an about-face that went from her “definitive decision” to retire last year, to weeks of no comment to a smiling admission Tuesday that she truly missed the game too much.

She wants to play two exhibition tournaments, in Charleroi, Belgium, and Dubai, to hone her skills ahead of a competitive return next year with plans to compete in the next Grand Slam, the Australian Open.

“The fire within burns again,” Henin said. “I want to come back in January.”

Henin officially retired on May 14, 2008, initially rejecting any thought of a comeback with a dogged determination that had come to mark her play throughout a decade-long career that yielded seven Grand Slam titles and one Olympic gold medal.

At 27, it certainly is not too late for a comeback. As Clijsters proved, breaking back into the top tier at short notice is far from impossible. She won the U.S. Open in her third tournament since announcing her return.

“Subconsciously, it might have had an impact,” Henin said of Clijster’s successful comeback. “But it certainly was not the most important reason.”

Like Clijsters, Henin is still in her prime and has been able to rest her body for over a year. Throughout her retirement, during which she became a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, Henin looked fit enough to immediately step back onto a court.

As recently as May, she complained about the old injuries that still gave her pain in the mornings and the dreaded life of living in a bubble as she was shuttled around the world chasing victories.

“The last 15 months I’ve been able to recharge the batteries, emotionally as well,” Henin said.

Henin said coming face to face with the world’s misery on UNICEF trips to places like eastern Congo widened her horizons like tennis never could.

Henin has won nearly $20 million in prize money and had been ranked No. 1 for all but seven weeks since Nov. 13, 2006, until her retirement. When she retired after a string of early tournament exits just ahead of Roland Garros, she felt the fire no longer within and gave in.

It was the first time in a life totally centered around her prodigious talent for whipping backhands past hapless competitors. She became the first woman player to retire as No. 1.

Then, suddenly, this summer the craving came back.

Justine Needs To Comeback, For Her Own Sake

The Belgian media have recently been speculating that former world No. 1 Justine Henin is preparing for a return to professional tennis at the beginning of next year. Henin, who will compete in an exhibition in Dubai this December, has denied the rumors through her former coach, Carlos Rodriguez.

However, based on her recent forays into the workforce outside of tennis via acting, singing, and as a television presenter, we hope she hasn’t truly quit her day job.

Acting

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x98c22_justine-henin-dans-plus-belle-la-vi_sport

Singing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xE-wMeWqP0&feature=PlayList&p=A30ECF7B2FB157AD&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=14

Television Presenter

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5gS1i3a_hQ

Justine Henin Making A Comeback?

After Kim Clijsters, apparently Justine Henin is also on her way back to the WTA Tour, according to according Belgian newspaper Vers l’Avenir.

Wrote Vers l’Avenir based on various sources “Her decision to make a comeback is almost definitive. As of January, 2010 “Juju” will be back on the tour.”

Henin has started to train again. Officially she is preparing for the exhibition matches in Charleroi and Dubai later this year.

Carlos Rodriguez, former coach of Henin, said on the Belgian radio RTBF that he doesn’t believe the rumours.

“There is nothing that indicates a comeback. We have never talked about that. I am really surprised,” said the Argentinan coach.

He did confirm that Henin is training for the exhibition matches in Dubai and Charleroi at the end of 2009.

“She is currently training,” he said. “Two, three times a week to get back in shape. She hasn’t played tennis in a year.”