lucrative deal

The Elected Representative: Caroline Wozniacki – The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

Hanging it Up

After previously stating that he might give it a go in 2011 and see how both his body and ranking held up, American Taylor Dent has decided to officially call it a day on his career. An exciting serve-and-volleyer who reached a career high ranking of No. 21, his career was unfortunately hampered by multiple back injuries. With his wife and young son Declan, Dent will have plenty to keep him busy in retirement, but he’s already expressed interest in staying connected with the tennis world. No doubt that with his charming disposition, he could make a great addition to Tennis Channel’s commentary booth. Another retirement, albeit less publicized, was that of Czech doubles specialist, Martin Damm. You can expect to see him back on the tennis scene right away, however, as he has already announced that he will be coaching American sensation Ryan Harrison. Harrison wowed audiences at the US Open this past summer, and he’ll be looking to utilize Damm’s expertise to take the next step in his budding career.

Prayers Answered

Maybe it was the numerous complaints from fans across the country. Maybe it was a more lucrative deal. Whatever the reasoning behind the switch, American tennis fans will be thrilled to note that the Indian Wells and Miami Masters, two of the largest events in tennis, will be broadcast on ESPN2 and ABC in 2011. This is welcomed news after the two tournaments had previously been aired on the affiliates of Fox Sports, which meant poor, haphazard coverage that led to plenty of hate mail and angry postings. Hopefully the change in carriers will also lead to an increase in viewership, participation, and popularity of the sport in the United States

Repeat Champs

This past weekend, Italy defeated the United States in a repeat of the 2009 final. The title marked Italy’s third championship in just four years. Granted, the United States was fielding a relatively young team that included teenage Fed Cup rookie Coco Vandeweghe, but much credit has to be given to the veteran Italian squad that included both Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone. The victory in particular had to be the icing on the cake for Schiavone, who enjoyed her best season as a professional. Perhaps both of the Italians will be able to channel the positive boost from the Fed Cup title into their play in 2011, much the same way Schiavone did this past year.

London Calling

Tournament organizers and Parisian fans were disappointed when current World No. 1 Rafael Nadal was forced to pull out of the final Masters event of the season, having cited tendinitis in his shoulder. Hopefully the injury is not a result of the tweaks he has made to improve his serve, and Nadal and his camp will be praying it doesn’t become nearly as problematic as his knees. At the very least, Nadal will be doing all in his power to ensure that he is ready for the final tournament of his season, the ATP World Tour Championships in London. He’s yet to add that impressive title to his long list of accomplishments, and after a poor showing at the same event last year, he’ll be looking to make amends at the end of what has been the best season of his young career.

Elected Representative

While much of the United States was focused on its national elections, the WTA had its own election earlier this month. Newly-crowned year-end No. 1 Caroline Wozniaki will be joining the WTA Player Council, replacing Patty Schnyder. In addition to Akgul Amanmuradova and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Wozniaki will be joining Schiavone and both Venus and Serena Williams. As Wozniaki’s star has only continued to shine brighter with each tournament she enters, it’s safe to say that hers will be a voice that carries some weight as the Player Council works to continually shape policy and life on the WTA.

JOVIAL ANDY MURRAY ADVANCES DOWN UNDER

By Melina Harris

Andy Murray has made his name, often consistently camped three feet behind the baseline, counter punching his opponents with his wicked consistency and variety of shot over the past few years, helping him to rise to the giddy heights of No. 3 in the world, yet the Grand Slams have remained stubbornly elusive. Since the beginning of 2010, it’s not just his image that’s had a radical revolution (he recently signed a lucrative deal with Adidas replacing his often mismatched Fred Perry wear), his approach has changed too.

Far too often Murray has played the waiting game, drawing his opponents into long grueling rallies and reacting to shots with his exquisite intuition to sucker punch his way to victory. But, as Pat Cash rightly noted of Murray in his article for the Sunday Times from January 17th, ‘he is a potential Grand Slam champion but too often he has fallen short because he preferred to be reactive rather than proactive.’ However, like me, Cash has noticed a distinct change of direction in Murray’s game, noting his movement forward onto the baseline and sometimes even stepping aggressively inside the baseline during his devastating demolition of Andreev in the Hopman Cup competition. Cash congratulated Murray after the game, saying ‘Good on you, mate. You have finally played the way I want to see you playing and if you keep going that way, I am sure you will be a Grand Slam Champion’.

Murray opened his account at the Australian Open Monday with an emphatic victory over the 6’8” South African qualifier, Kevin Anderson, 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 in a swift hour and 37 minutes. Although the first week of a Grand Slam is all about playing within yourself and conserving energy, while the storm raged impressively on the outside courts, I was pleased to see Murray continuing his ‘cat and mouse’ approach, with Murray as the cat, toying with his lanky and often awkward opponent with ease – his vibrant blue and yellow Adidas shirt hardly displaying a hint of sweat throughout the three sets. Interestingly, Murray had been criticized for his decision to play the Hopman Cup as his preparation for the Open, but shrewd as ever, ironically the indoor conditions in his first round match at the Open were almost identical to those at the Hopman Cup, not even allowing his opponent the weather on his side.

His opponent hadn’t dropped a service game in the three qualifying matches he had won en route to his match up with Murray, nevertheless after a convincing game to love in the opening service game, Murray ruthlessly ruined Anderson’s unbeaten record, breaking him in the second game with his instinctive returning and aggressive play. There were very few of the long rallies for the Australian crowd to get their teeth into, which we have long learnt to associate with Murray, but they must have been impressed with the way he controlled the pace of the match with skill like a puppeteer, he had us all on a string.

The only low point being his first serve percentage, which disappointingly stood around the mid thirties and the lack of velocity and bite on his second serve averaging around 80-85mph which could cause him problems against a more challenging opponent. However, on the plus side, it was fantastic to see his more relaxed and jovial manner from the Hopman Cup continue in his post match interview, with the crowd reacting accordingly.

In the second round, he will meet either Marc Gicquel of France or Simone Bolelli of Italy and it remains to be seen whether Murray will be brave enough to continue his offensive play further into the tournament.