A great trivia question out there that one might not find too easily with a Google search, and was touched upon briefly on American television by Cliff Drysdale and Patrick McEnroe on ESPN and Mary Carillo, Ted Robinson and John McEnroe on NBC, is the following:
“What was the last year in which there was no sitting on changeovers at Wimbledon?”
The answer is 1973, with the men’s final that year being between Jan Kodes of Czechoslovakia and Alex Metrevelli of the Soviet Union.
Writes Kodes his new coffee-table glossy book JAN KODES: A JOURNEY TO GLORY FROM BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN (New Chapter Press, available for $36.46 on www.amazon.com), “In the course of the entire Wimbledon competition we were not allowed to sit down during change-overs; that got introduced only the following year. My final with Metreveli was thus the last match when players could not rest – there were no chairs. We had thirty seconds to drink, towel off and get back to the other side of the court. It was ok with me. The matches flowed, there was nothing disturbing the continuity. But what a difference a year later, when I played against Connors in the quarter-finals and he sat down at 2:1 in the first set and stayed there for a minute and a half! That made a real difference….”
Kodes won that 1973 Wimbledon, defeating Metrevelli 6-1, 9-8 (5), 6-3.
JAN KODES: A JOURNEY TO GLORY FROM BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN was originally published in Czech and provides a narrative and illustrated history of Czech tennis through the eyes of Kodes and author Peter Kolar. The book, filled with hundreds of unique and personal photographs, documents the successful journey of Kodes from political turmoil of the Cold War to international tennis fame, detailing the early days of darkness and family persecution in communist Czechoslovakia and the complexities of becoming a professional tennis player under a totalitarian regime. Entertaining anecdotes featuring Czech tennis legends Ivan Lendl and Martina Navratilova are also featured as well as the stories behind Kodes’ victories at Wimbledon and the French Open and his two runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open. The book is available for $49.95 in bookstores and retail outlets across the United States and Canada. It is a deluxe glossy photo and text hard cover that fills 548 pages.
Kodes is considered the most under-rated tennis champion of the Open Era, reaching five major singles finals, winning the French Open in 1970 and 1971 and the men’s singles title at Wimbledon in 1973. He also reached the U.S. Open final in both 1971 and 1973, losing to Stan Smith and John Newcombe, respectively. Kodes played Davis Cup for Czechoslovakia for 15 years, leading his country to the final in 1975, where it lost to Sweden in Stockholm. His Davis Cup finale came in representing the team in 1980 when it won the championship over Italy in the final. Kodes has served as his country’s Davis Cup captain, president of the Czech Tennis Association, and tournament director of ATP Czech Open tournament.
By Leigh Sanders
Great Britain’s top star Andy Murray has reiterated his intention to break his Grand Slam duck in 2010. Speaking to BBC Scotland, he said that he feels he improved throughout 2009 and firmly believes next year will be his best yet. “I always said I’d play my best tennis between 23 and 27 and I’m 23 next year,” said Murray. “I had three tough losses in the Grand Slams. Hopefully, I can turn that round next year and draw on the experience.”
*The ATP has announced its top five matches of 2009 and three of the selections were held at Commonwealth-based tournaments. Unsurprisingly, the nail biting Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick takes the No. 1 slot. Rafael Nadal’s semifinal victory over compatriot Fernando Verdasco at the Australian Open ranks third while Nikolay Davydenko’s triumph over Roger Federer in the ATP World Finals semifinal at London, England’s o2 Arena placed fifth. Meanwhile, British No. 1 Andy Murray’s shock defeat to the Croatian Marin Cilic in the US Open fourth round ranked third in the top five upsets of the year but Murray still made the ATP’s list of the year’s top players.
*The news of former world No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo’s retirement has led to praise for the two-time Grand Slam champion from many quarters. Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak is one who will be sad to see her leave the world’s tennis arenas and with particular reason; it was Aleksandra who defeated Amelie in her last match at this year’s US Open. “She was a lot of fun to watch because not only did she do everything well, but she did it with flair at the same time,” said Wozniak. “It was an honour for me to play her in her last match, especially since we played on Arthur Ashe stadium court at the US Open – it was one of the biggest wins of my career and a very special moment for me.”
*Some of Australia’s biggest tennis names are missing from the first round of playoffs competing for wildcard berths at the 2010 Australian Open. Chris Guccione, Carsten Ball and Sam Groth are all suffering from injuries and will miss the December 14-20 event.
*The Medibank International Sydney championships in Australia have announced their strongest lineup to date with nine of the world’s top ten players in the women’s field taking to the courts. Joining the likes of Serena Williams, Dinara Safina and Caroline Wozniacki will be home favourite Samantha Stosur. The home fans can also cheer on Lleyton Hewitt in the men’s event but he will have to overcome players of the calibre of Gael Monfils, Tomas Berdych and Stanislas Wawrinka if he is to emerge victorious.
*Great Britain’s Anne Keothavong saw the third greatest decline in ranking spots on the WTA tour during 2009. She started the year at No. 60, rising to No. 54 by July but a knee injury then finished her season and she ended the year at No. 98. It is, though, her second-best year-end finish in 11 years on the tour. The biggest climber was Germany’s Andrea Petkovic (No. 379 – No. 56, 323 places) and the greatest recession was suffered by Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova (No. 44 – No. 99, 55 places).
*Australian tennis is again celebrating with the news that Russian-born Anastasia Rodionova has been granted citizenship. The current world No. 96 becomes the third-highest ranked Aussie player behind Samantha Stosur and Jelena Dokic. Jarmila Groth was also granted citizenship last month and this continues the strengthening of the sport Down Under.
*Former world No. 1 Alicia Molik of Australia continued her impressive return from retirement by taking another title, this time at the Pro Tour Event in Bendigo, Australia. Her compatriot Matt Ebden took the men’s trophy.
*Former Tennis Canada board of directors chair Harold P. Milavsky was inducted in to the Canadian Tennis Hall of Fame during a ceremony held at the Glencoe Club, Calgary, attended by much of the Alberta tennis and business worlds.
*Third seed Heather Watson of Great Britain is through to the second round of the Orange Dunlop Bowl tournament in Florida. The 17-year-old emphatically beat American Krista Hardebeck 6-2, 6-2. Watson is currently ranked No. 4 in the world for juniors and reached the last 16 in her last run out at the Eddie Herr International Junior Championships.
*Aussie serve-and-volley specialist Pat Rafter triumphed over the Swede Stefan Edberg in the final of the ATP Champions Tour Event in London, England last week.