Monica Seles

Page 1 of 41234

The Best Backhands of All-Time

"The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time"

 

Who has the greatest backhand in the history of tennis? Tennis historian and author Steve Flink throws out his thoughts on the debate ranking the top five men’s and women’s backhands of all time in his new book THE GREATEST TENNIS MATCHES OF ALL TIME, available on Amazon.com here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Greatest-Tennis-Matches-Time/dp/0942257936/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354551927&sr=8-1&keywords=greatest+tennis+matches+of+all+time The except of the best backhands is excerpted below.

 

Men

1. DON BUDGE When he captured the Grand Slam in 1938—the first player ever to realize that feat—Budge had it all, but the single biggest strength in his game was his majestic backhand. Most of those players who preceded Budge at the top of tennis were better off the forehand, but his backhand was the first of its kind. His aggressiveness off that side was ground breaking in many ways. He drove the backhand essentially flat and all students of the game marveled at its magical simplicity.

2. KEN ROSEWALL The diminutive Australian’s backhand was legendary. He prepared early, turned his shoulders unfailingly, kept his eyes glued to the ball, but, most significantly, Rosewall’s backhand was a slice. Across the history of tennis, many slice backhands have been used primarily for defensive purposes, but not Rosewall’s. His slice backhand worked in every way: as a rally shot, as a passing shot, for the lob, and on the return of serve. It was multi-faceted. It was incredibly versatile. And above all else, it was unmistakably elegant.

3. JIMMY CONNORS Watching Connors launch into one of his two-handed backhand drives was one of the great joys for all erudite observers from the early seventies until the outset of the 1990’s. Connors retained the old fashioned flavor of a flat, one-handed backhand, producing flat and penetrating two-handers of unrelenting depth and immense power, yet gaining stability with his right hand. His backhand was the picture of purity. It was his signature shot.

4. NOVAK DJOKOVIC A mesmerizing athlete, Djokovic can be forced well off the court by wide balls to his two-handed backhand and still recover in time to play the shot with assertiveness and astounding control. He returns with unswerving authority off that side, and in long rallies from the baseline, his two-hander is rock solid. Djokovic finds just the right blend of flat and topspin shots with his two-handed backhand. This shot made him the great champion he became.

5. LEW HOAD and GUSTAVO KUERTEN One match away from winning the Grand Slam in 1956, Hoad at the height of his powers was impenetrable. The gifted Australian had every shot in the book, could perform brilliantly on any surface and was universally admired for his immense talent. Off the ground, his one-handed backhand was widely appreciated. He drove through the ball with an essentially flat stroke and was lethal off that side. To be sure, he was a streaky player, but when he was on, there was nothing he could not do on a tennis court, including cracking the backhand mightily. Kuerten’s one-handed backhand was the cornerstone of his game—a majestic, sweepingly beautiful, fluid, one handed stroke that carried him to three French Open crowns. Kuerten sparkled off that side, hitting winners at will, driving the ball both crosscourt and down the line with extraordinary pace and minimal topspin. His backhand was singularly inspiring in its time.

 

Women

1. CHRIS EVERT While both Connors and Borg made substantial contributions toward the cause of the two-handed backhand, it is safe to say that Evert’s impact was larger. Her success charted a new course for women’s tennis and the two-hander became a staple. But that did not mean it was easy to replicate the geometric precision of her backhand. The daughter of an outstanding teaching professional named Jimmy Evert, she worked diligently on her two-hander. It was the shot that never deserted her across the years. In rallies, her depth was unmatchable and she seldom missed. Her returns were crisp and solid and her passing shots were unimaginably precise and unerring. Meanwhile, the topspin lob was always at her disposal. In my book,  the Evert backhand was the best in the history of women’s tennis and the precursor for so many great two-handers to replicate.

2. MONICA SELES Just as Djokovic broke new ground by taming the Rafael Nadal forehand with his backhand, Seles did essentially the same thing with her lefty two-handed backhand against Graf. The German always was more comfortable running around her backhand to play the inside-out forehand, but if you could keep her pinned deep in her forehand corner, she was not able to control rallies in the same manner. Seles forced Graf to do that by virtue of the depth and speed of her two-handed backhand crosscourt, forcing Graf back on her heels. That was no mean feat. The Seles backhand was immaculately executed.

3. JUSTINE HENIN The Belgian brought an awful lot to the table of competition. She was a complete player with all of the tools to succeed in her trade. Yet her one-handed topspin backhand was her trademark. Henin’s backhand was sweepingly beautiful, a spectator’s dream, an opponent’s nightmare. She was willing to miss off that side because her goal was to make things happen off the backhand, and, if that meant making some aggressive errors, so be it. But she more than balanced the scales by sprinkling the court with clusters of topspin backhand winners, going down the line or crosscourt, long or short.

4. LINDSAY DAVENPORT At nearly 6’3,” Davenport was an imposing physical presence on a tennis court. Over the years, she became decidedly better as a tennis player and athlete by losing weight, gaining momentum in the process. Across time, her two-handed backhand was strikingly effective, particularly crosscourt. She kept it uncomplicated, going for one deep, penetrating and flat shot after another until she could break down the defenses of her adversaries.

5. EVONNE GOOLAGONG The Australian often looked like a ballerina on tennis court, but never more so than on the backhand side. She was very flexible, using the slice backhand to keep herself in rallies, raising the tempo whenever she saw an opening to release her glorious topspin backhand. She did not have to think when she hit a backhand— it was all flowing and instinctive. The Goolagong backhand remains frozen in the minds of tennis fans everywhere.

Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic and More Glam Up for WTA 40 Love Celebration in London

Championships+Wimbledon+2013+Middle+Sunday+4bA3W_cvClvx (1)

(June 30, 2013) Current and former WTA world No. 1s gathered together on Sunday in London to celebrate “40 Love” – the 40th anniversary of the WTA, founded by trailblazer Billie Jean King.

The WTA and its leaders have strived to bring equality, recognition and respect to the tour over the years. The organization is now the global leader in women’s professional sport, and proudly counts many pioneering accomplishments, including the successful campaign for equal prize money.

Seventeen of the 21 WTA No. 1s were in attendance, including three of the original nine, displaying elegance and beauty. Can you name each one in the photo below?

Emcees Pam Shriver and Mary Carillo introduced each of the No. 1s in style, referencing the “sassy sour” Maria Sharapova to the ever elegant Monica Seles. Each lady then had the chance with the mic, and afterward, it was time to mingle and celebrate.

Championships+Wimbledon+2013+Middle+Sunday+ihDaBePiZMOx
Championships+Wimbledon+2013+Middle+Sunday+6pFQe5QR83Hx
Championships+Wimbledon+2013+Middle+Sunday+f7S1YVQD2ttx
Championships+Wimbledon+2013+Middle+Sunday+mJ3mSM9Lr9Hx
Championships+Wimbledon+2013+Middle+Sunday+h02Xw8mNkgzx
Championships+Wimbledon+2013+Middle+Sunday+sHQmJlk12Olx
Championships+Wimbledon+2013+Middle+Sunday+qunxpr_r-TEx
Championships+Wimbledon+2013+Middle+Sunday+dQSI3fCqp-cx

The “pink” carpet arrivals were no less stunning.

Teenagers Eugenie Bouchard and Madison Keys were also invited guests, with the WTA calling them “potential future world No. 1s.” Quite an honor.

Eugenie Bouchard and Madison Keys

Watch all the pink carpet interviews with the World No.1s, gala speeches from the legends and much more with a full replay of all the Sunday celebrations. (Begins around the 24 minute mark.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jT_OVo2FC0c

Spotlight: Flavia Pennetta on her 2009 U.S. Open Run, Monica Seles and Angelina Jolie

Flavia Pennetta at the Sony Ericsson Open (Neal Trousdale)

Flavia Pennetta has been a force on the WTA Tour for over ten years, but she only broke through the top echelons of women’s tennis back in 2009 when she became Italy’s first top 10 singles player in history. I had a chance to chat with the bubbly, pleasant, and smiling Flavia during the Sony Ericsson Open as she shared insights about her unforgettable 2009 U.S. Open match against Vera Zvonareva, dancing, beach volleyball, Monica Seles and Angelina Jolie.

What is your most memorable moment on court?

U.S. Open against Vera Zvonareva in 2009. Was a really nice match. I won 6-0 in the third set with 7, or 6, match points.

Is that the one in which Vera was ripping the tape off her knees?

Yes.

How was that experience in the moment?

It was intense. It was good for me because I won, but not for her. (Laughs)

What is the best part of being a tennis player?

To have the chance to travel and see different places and meet different people, so that when you stop playing, you have friends everywhere. (Laughs)

If you weren’t a tennis player, what would you be?

I always like different sports. Maybe I would play volleyball or horse (be an equestrian).

Do you like to cross-train with volleyball?

I love to play beach volleyball when I’m at the beach. (Laughs)

If you could play against any player in history, who would it be and why?

(Long pause) Maybe … I never played against Monica Seles. I met her because I was at the tour during the last two years she was playing. She was my idol when I was young, and I never played against her, so maybe against her.

She did that show, like “Dancing with the Stars.”

I didn’t see her! But they told me she was really good.

Would you ever want to do that?

Ooof! (Laughs) Maybe one single time, I can do that. But if it’s every Saturday like it is in Italy, would be tough. But one time? Would be fun.

If you are hosting a party, what three tennis players would you invite and why?

My friends. Gisela [Dulko] for sure! (Thinking) Gisela … Gisela …….. Gisela! Doubles partners are the best. Of course, Francesca. I like to spend time with different people, but most of the time I like to be with my friends because it would be the most beautiful party.

Do you have any superstitions on court?

No. Well, on court? (Pause) No. I’m not …. No. (Laughs)

If you could have dinner with any three people, who would it be and why?

Brad Pitt. And also Angelina [Jolie]. She’s nice, really nice. I like her a lot.

Did you meet her ever?

No, but I have one friend who is a friend of Angelina’s and she told me Angelina is a really nice person. I really like her when I watch her on TV because I think she is a really good actress, but I’ve never met her. So maybe when you meet someone … they maybe will disappoint. Most of the time it’s like this, because when you feel so much respect for someone, you just think ‘They are going to be perfect’ and then when you meet them, it’s not like this. So you get disappointed.

I think I would also like to eat with Valentino Rossi because he is one of my best friends. So, I love to spend with him. And another one? Wait, I said three.

Well, and my mom. (Laughs)

Speaking of winning streaks in tennis…

novak-djokovic-37-0

The tennis world is abuzz about Novak Djokovic’s current 37-match win streak as the French Open approaches. Today, May 20, marks the 21st anniversary of a win streak coming to an end, as documented below in this excerpt from Randy Walker’s book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.TennisHistoryBook.com).

1990 – Monica Seles ends Steffi Graf’s 66-match winning streak, defeating the German 6-4, 6-3 in the singles final of the German Open in Berlin. Says Seles, “I’m much more experienced now and I wasn’t afraid of Graf as much as before. This is just one match. I’m just happy that I’m playing well.” Says Graf, “I was so far away from playing my best tennis, it was difficult to get into it. If I play like that I can’t expect to win.”

2007 – Roger Federer ends Rafael Nadal’s 81-match winning streak on clay, defeating the Spaniard 2-6, 6-2, 6-0 in the final of the Hamburg Masters in Germany. “It was an incredible performance from my side,” says the world No. 1. “I had a great day, it’s nice to be playing well again. It’s my first title on clay in a couple of years.” Says Nadal, who had not lost to Federer on clay in five previous matches, “If I have to lose against anyone, then he is the man. I am not sad to lose to the best in the world.”

1990 – One year after attending the Italian Open on crutches recovering from torn knee ligaments suffering from being hit by a car, Thomas Muster of Austria wins the Italian Open for the first time in his career, defeating Andrei Chesnokov of Russia 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 in the singles final. Says Muster, “When I said then (last year) that I would be back to win this tournament, it was more like a wish. But I worked very hard since then, and it paid off. This is my biggest tournament victory.”

2001 – Albert Portas becomes one of the most unlikely champions of a Tennis Masters Series event when he upsets fellow Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero 4-6, 6-2, 0-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5 to win the Tennis Master Series – Hamburg for his first – and only – career ATP singles title. Portas, a qualifier in the tournament, ends Ferrero’s 16-match winning streak with the final-round victory. “It was unbelievable, the most incredible experience in my life,” Portas says. “It was a beautiful match. Hamburg will be forever in my heart now. It was the best day in my life.”

1984 – Andres Gomez of Ecuador fends off the challenge of 16-year-old Aaron Krickstein, defeating the American 2-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in the final of the Italian Open in Rome. Krickstein becomes the youngest men’s finalist in the history of the Italian Championships.

2007 – Jelena Jankovic defeats Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 6-1 to win the Italian Open in Rome. Says Kuznetsova, “It’s just a bit sad because I felt like I was playing so well. I was fighting a lot against myself. I didn’t play the game I could have played. I had so many balls and I didn’t finish, that was the key.”

New Coaches for Robin Soderling and Maria Sharapova – The Friday Five

Robin Soderling

By Maud Watson

First Taste of Victory

In a dramatic, boisterous tie that came down to the wire, the nation of Serbia claimed its first Davis Cup title by defeating France 3-2. The win was particularly impressive as all of the momentum appeared to be on the side of France going into the final Sunday, with the French duo of Michael Llodra and Arnaud Clement coming back from two sets down to win the doubles and give France the 2-1 lead. Respect and praise has to be given to Novak Djokovic, however, who shouldered the pressure and came through for his country to push it to the fifth rubber, not to mention his crucial win on the opening day of the tie to level things at 1-1. Finally, it was great to see Viktor Troicki come through in the deciding match, and in such dominating fashion. Sometimes Davis Cup success proves a propellant to bigger and better things for an individual player, so keep an eye on Troicki in 2011 to see if the Davis Cup success doesn’t propel him to new heights.

New Coaches

As expected, it didn’t take long for big-hitting Swede Robin Soderling to find a new coach, as he announced that he’ll be working with Italian Claudio Pistolesi. Pistolesi was not his first choice. He reportedly tried to obtain another Swedish coach but to no avail. Even so, both Soderling’s prior coach Magnus Norman and veteran Swede Thomas Johansson have both given high praise to Pistolesi. He has previously coached Monica Seles, Anna Smashnova, Ai Sugiyama, Davide Sanguinetti, Simone Bolelli and Michael Berrer, so he’s not lacking for experience. Barring Seles, however, (whom he only briefly coached), Soderling would be his biggest client. This new partnership has the potential to pay off for both in the long run. In addition to this coaching change, it was also announced that Maria Sharapova has begun working with Swedish coach Thomas Hogstedt, a man whom Soderling is said to have approached. Hogstedt will not be replacing Sharapova’s longtime coach, Michael Joyce, but will instead be working in conjunction with him. Hogstedt has previously worked with Na Li and Tommy Haas, so he has as proven track record. Hopefully the fresh set of eyes and voice in her ear will help Sharapova regain the form that took her to the winner’s circle of majors.

Extended Layoff

It was already known that American Serena Williams would be sidelined with injury for the Aussie Open, but the former World No. 1 has reportedly told the New York Post that she expects to be out of commission for the entire winter season and looks to return in the spring. No word yet on when exactly she plans to return in the spring. Assuming she returns completely healthy when the cast finally does come off, her chances are still good to make a decent run at the French, a chance at the Wimbledon title, and you can bet her ranking will quickly climb back towards the top.

Back in the Game

One player who thankfully is on the opposite end of the spectrum from Serena is Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro. He has been granted a wildcard into the Sydney International . It will take some time to brush the rust off his game, but it’s hard to imagine the hard-hitting Del Potro will see his ranking linger in the 200s or even 100s for long. And while it’s hard to see him winning his second major this coming season (especially given the form of Nadal in 2010), expect to see him in the thick of it.

History Lost

In one of the most unfortunate stories of not just the week, but the year, it was learned that someone broke into a West Los Angeles public storage facility, and virtually all items chronicling the career of “Pistol” Pete Sampras were stolen. While Sampras has not been completely devastated by the loss, it is understandable the sadness he feels at not having it available to show his children, both of whom never saw him play in his prime. It is unclear if the thief was aware of the nature of the cargo he was stealing, as it will be difficult to turn a profit on these stolen goods without raising too many eyebrows. There is also always the slight hope that the thief will be caught and the items recovered. After all, Sampras’ loss is undoubtedly a large personal blow, but it is also a loss to the tennis world, as those items belonged to one of the greatest players to have ever picked up a racquet.

Wozniacki year-end No. 1, Courier new US Davis Cup Captain, Cash backing Rafter

Caroline Wozniacki

*Caroline Wozniacki has capped a fantastic 2010 by ending the year as the world’s No. 1 star after she defeated Franchesca Schiavone to qualify for the semifinals in Doha. Her 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 victory ensures she will stay ahead of Vera Zvonareva in the rankings no matter what happens from hereon in. She will be disappointed not to have broken her major duck and the old debate about “worthy” number ones has re-arisen, but she can’t have too much to complain about from this calendar year. She becomes the 10th woman to finish the year as No. 1 since the rankings began in 1975 and is the fourth youngest, behind Martina Hingis, Steffi Graf and Monica Seles, to do so. She had some words for her “worthy” doubters too: “It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little girl and I’m really happy and really proud about what I’ve achieved this year,” she said. “To be honest, there will be always sceptics. There are always people saying you’ll never reach the top 10, never reach the top five and you’ll never win a big tournament. If you win a Grand Slam, people will say it was a lucky shot or an easy draw. For me, the most important thing is that I know I had a great season.” Zvonereva has also become the fifth Russian, after Anastasia Myskina, Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Dinara Safina, to crack the Top 2.

*Jim Courier has been named the new US Davis Cup captain. The 2005 Hall of Fame inductee follows Patrick McEnroe who stepped down in September after ten years in the hotseat. “I definitely thought that being the captain would be something that I’d enjoy and now I get to see if I will,” said the two-time winner as a player. He also lifted both the French and Australian Opens twice. “There’s been a great camaraderie amongst the guys playing for Patrick over the past decade, and if we can keep that same spirit, I think we’ll have a great chance to win,” he continued. “There’s a lot of diversity in the squad. You’ve got veteran players, with Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish, the Bryans, and hopefully James Blake can get back in the conversation.”

*1987 Wimbledon winner Pat Cash has given his full backing to the appointment of Pat Rafter as the Aussie Davis Cup captain in his bid to lead Australia back to the World Group. “It came as a surprise to me because I didn’t even know Fitzy was moving on,” Cash told the AAP in an interview from China. “It’s always been Fitzy’s job, but I’m sure Pat will do a great job. I’m sure he’ll get the best out of his players. He played a lot of great Davis Cup matches and put his heart and soul into it and it’s always been a great Australian tradition to have great Davis Cup players as captains.” For the full interview, including his views on Australia’s reliance on Lleyton Hewitt, visit The Sydney Morning Herald website. Rafter also gives his views on the challenges facing him at Tennis.com.

*Roger Federer is now tied with Pete Sampras at fourth in the all-time ATP titles list after beating Germany’s Florian Meyer to lift the Stockholm Open. The world No. 2 said: “It’s amazing that I’m there where Pete’s ended his career.” He still has some way to go to be the best ever though. Jimmy Connors holds the record with 109 titles ahead of Ivan Lendl (94) and John McEnroe (77). That was also his 50th win of the year, making him the fifth man since the Open Era began in 1968 to achieve this feat in at least nine straight years. “Early on, I think that feeling of wanting to prove yourself to the world and all the doubters is a very strong one,” the Swiss continued. “So you’re very aggressive in your ways of winning and not enjoying them. Today it’s much more of the enjoyment part because I don’t need to prove myself to anyone anymore, except to myself.”

*Britain’s top doubles pair, Colin Fleming and Ken Skupski, have announced they are splitting to “freshen things up” following a disappointing end to 2010. They entered the world’s Top 50 earlier in the year after reaching the final at Eastbourne but things have not gone so well since. However they have not ruled out playing doubles for Great Britain in Davis Cup. Fleming said: “We’ll always be friends but it will be best for both of us to freshen things up. We came through Futures and then Challengers to win two ATP titles, play all four Grand Slams and represent Great Britain in Davis Cup.” Skupski added: “Colin and I decided it was best if we got a fresh start with someone new in 2011. We have had a lot of success over our time together and we really have enjoyed it. Things have been tough for us over the past few months and we thought it was the best move for both our careers.” For reaction to the news check out the Lawn Tennis Association website.

*Juan Martin del Potro, Tommy Haas and James Blake have added their names to the list of confirmed stars for the 2011 SAP Open in Northern California. World No. 7 Fernando Verdasco, No. 15 Gael Monfils and current US sweetheart Mardy Fish are already confirmed as are Aussie pantomime villain Lleyton Hewitt, Sam Querrey and Japanese No. 1 Kei Nishikori. It has also been confirmed that two-time SAP Open winner Pete Sampras will return to play a special one-off singles exhibition against Monfils. “We are thrilled to welcome James Blake, Tommy Haas, Juan Martin del Potro and Pete Sampras back to the 2011 SAP Open,” said Tournament Director Bill Rapp. “Each of these players has had a tremendous amount of success here in San Jose and we look forward to having them back in the Bay Area.”

*Russian pinup Maria Sharapova and Sasha Vujacic of the LA Lakers have announced their engagement. It was confirmed by Sharapova’s agent; Max Eisenbud.

*Strange injury alert. Andy Murray has strained a tendon in his hand playing Playstation, according to the Daily Express. “I just lost 1 match to dani [Vallerdu] at the new pro evolution and I think I broke my hand!” Murray wrote on his Twitter account. “Icing the hand… over playstation [-] time to grow up andy!” Murray was at home in Dunblane where he was acting as best man at older brother Jamie’s wedding to his fiancée, Alejandra Gutierrez.

*Roger Federer has revamped and re-launched his official website with clearer images and a more user-friendly interface. www.rogerfederer.com is hugely popular with over 310,000 registered members and almost 3.5m visitors so far during 2010. “It is fantastic to have such a great fan following in the ‘real’ world as well as on the web,” said Federer. “It is because of this that I decided that it would be important for me to give my loyal fans something new and exciting,”

*Austrian former world No. 1 Thomas Muster’s return to the ATP Tour after 11 years was short, but certainly not very sweet. The 43-year-old French Open winner (1995) went down 2-6, 6-7(5) to by the world No. 157 and party pooper Andreas Haider-Maurer. “I don’t want to define my goals,” he said afterwards. “There is no pressure of getting into the top 10. It’s about enjoying tennis. In ’99, I hated tennis, now I love it.” He seemed to struggle at times on the hard court having achieved most of his success on clay but he added: “There was more in it if I could have played more aggressively in the first set. In the second, I managed to dictate the pace of the game sometimes.”

*Readers of AskMen.com have voted Rafa Nadal the second most influential athlete in the world. More than 16 million readers visit the website monthly and Nadal was voted 15th in their Top 49 Most Influential Men poll for 2010. Only New Orleans’ Superbowl-winning Quaterback Drew Brees (6th) was higher. Nadal finished above actors George Clooney (18th) and Leonardo DiCaprio (43rd) as well as even the US President Barack Obama (21st). The complete roster and nominee profiles can be found at www.askmen.com.

SERBIA LOOKING FOR MORE RECOGNITION ON WORLD STAGE

Earlier this year I blogged on how players like Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis can help their home countries in terms of finances, profile and inspiration with top performances on the professional sports circuit.

In countries where money isn’t the largest commodity players have to fight tooth and nail and really aim high to make it in sport. With the Serbian Open taking place in Belgrade this week the spotlight now returns to Novak Djokovic, who helped found the competition before its inception last year.

Born on 22 May 1987, Novak was the eldest of three brothers who all set their sights on the professional game. He was spotted at eight years old by the Yugoslavian tennis legend Jelena Gencic who declared: “This is the greatest talent I have seen since Monica Seles.”

He won his first professional tournament in 2006, not dropping a set on his way to lifting the Dutch Open in Amersfoort with a win over Nicolas Massu in the final. He then took the Open de Moselle in Metz which saw him enter the world’s Top 20 for the first time.

Since then he has continued to grow and mature and his final appearance at the 2007 US Open before beginning 2008 by lifting the Australian Open shows the levels Novak can rise to.

There have been questions about his temperament, his drive and his personality but Novak has put all that behind him and as of this year he is looking to shut a lot of critics up and prove he can match the best of the best tournament to tournament.

The Serbian Open debuted in 2009 as an ATP 250 tournament offering the winner the prize of €373, 200. It was a resounding success with over 100,000 attending the showpiece that were treated to stars like Djokovic, compatriot Janko Tipsarevic, Croatian Ivan Ljubicic and Russian Igor Andreev.

“This tournament means a lot to me because I play in my country and my hometown,” said Djokovic in a statement on his official website. “I always give maximum, I’m not one of those players who can go on court and lose, even though they’re favourites,”

“I’m hoping for a full stadium, not only on my matches, but also on matches of the rest of our players. This tournament makes me proud, because it shows the most beautiful face of Serbia to the world.”

Djokovic added that he hopes the tournament will attract some of the world’s top players over the coming years which will help with attendances and in promoting Serbia to the rest of Europe. The country has produced the likes of Djokovic, Tipsarevic, Viktor Troicki and Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic and Nenad Zimonjic over recent years and with top tennis inspiring the country this group will only expand and add to the previous success of Monika Seles and Jelena Dokic.

However Novak realises the scheduling problems for the tournament: “The tournament is held between two ATP World Tour Masters events, and most of the players save their energy for Madrid and Roland Garros. That’s why it is difficult to attract ‘stronger’ names at the moment,” he bemoans.

But the Open is a step in the right direction for one of Europe’s newest entities. The Republic of Serbia only became an Independent Republic in 2006 in yet another shifting of the former Yugoslavian states. Famous more for its wars than its sport, the players have a lot of PR work to do with the world’s media.

In an interview with The Guardian newspaper back in January 2008 Novak acknowledged how the success of the likes of himself and Ivanovic was helping tennis become one of Serbia’s largest exports. Following Novak taking the 2008 Serbian Sports Personality of the Year (his only real competition was Ivanovic and Jankovic) his mother, Dijan, part of the Djokovic sporting dynasty now working in Serbia, spoke of her wish to set up a tennis academy in her son’s name to help the Serbs of the future.

“The important thing is that the idols for young Serbs now are very good kids,” she said in the same interview. “They are people who really worked hard to get where they are now. They didn’t steal, cheat, or kill somebody to get there. For 10 years it was so bad. The role models were gangsters, or drug dealers. Everything is changing.”

It shows how the war-torn state is moving forward and beginning to think like a developed country.

Ana Ivanovic was the first player from Serbia to top the WTA rankings back in 2008. “We have all witnessed the dramatic rise in Serbian tennis during the last few years and on Monday [09/06/2008] that will reach a new pinnacle when Ana Ivanovic is recognised as the WTA Tour’s new number one player,” WTA Tour chief Larry Scott said in a statement at the time.

She has taken part in the new “Me, Myself” advertising campaign by sports giants Adidas and appears in their star-studded advert campaigns blazing across television screens throughout Europe. A popular figure at home, Serbian actress Katarina Radivojevic has even asked Ana to star in a film with her.

Yet she has remained true to her Serbian roots and always remembers where she started. An insightful interview with British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph back in 2007 opened up her thoughts on the rest of the world and their attitude towards her as a Serbian.

“It was very upsetting, especially when I went abroad,” she said. “People were very suspicious when they talked to you, they wouldn’t really trust you. And we would have trouble getting visas and getting through customs. It drove me a little bit crazy. Maybe somewhere deep inside me it helped.”

She bemoaned the facilities available to players and the lack of help provided by the authorities: “Our tennis federation didn’t really help us much at all,” she complained. “I think they did a little bit more for the men, but for the women they didn’t really do anything – they almost abandoned us. It’s really sad. They should appreciate it [having three players in the top 10] because who knows when it’s going to happen again.”

Three years on, hosting their own ATP250 tournament looks like a huge step in the right direction for Serbia and can only serve to improve the country’s standing in the eyes of the sporting and media world.

With players like Djokovic, Jankovic and Ivanovic; lovely people who you never see in the papers for the wrong reasons, the future generations of Serbians can only pick good role models to idolise and forget the war-torn past. With their football side also participating at this year’s FIFA World Cup in South Africa the future certainly looks promising.

GET WELL SOON MARTINA

Martina Navratilova

I am sure I am joining millions of tennis fans worldwide in showing my utmost sympathies for Martina Navratilova following her recent revelations in that now infamous People Magazine interview.

In February, she was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) which is confined to the milk ducts so has luckily not spread to the surrounding tissue.

As reported, Martina has revealed that the prospects look good as it was caught at such an early stage.

She has described that fateful day as “my own personal 9/11,” and that receiving the news brought her to tears. She also says that this battle has been severely harder than any she faced on-court against the likes of Chris Evert, Steffi Graf or Monica Seles.

One who has not gone through such a meeting with their physician can only imagine what must have been going through her head on receiving the news but as somebody related to so many sufferers over the years I have seen the struggles first hand.

While there is no circumstance in which you would wish such an affliction on any human being this has proved to be another case where somebody who doesn’t deserve to face such trauma has been dealt an awful hand.

I had the great fortune of meeting Martina last summer and she came across as a tremendously graceful individual who didn’t make you feel a lesser person in any way stood next to her hugely talented self.

My heart sank at discovering the news earlier today as she unfortunately joins a long list of sportsmen over the past few years who have suffered from similar setbacks.

“I feel so in control of my life and my body,” said Martina. “And then this comes and it’s completely out of my hands.”

That statement makes a lot of sense considering the amount of time sportsmen and women spend over their lives fine tuning and perfecting their physiques. To then be faced with a problem they can do nothing to prevent or cure must be a worrying scenario for somebody who is used to a brisk treatment from the physio and hard training.

However she must take relief from her physical conditioning when undergoing the radiology she is due to start in May. A couple of lower league footballers playing in England who have recently undergone similar treatment for their fights with cancer both agreed their peak physical condition helped with the speed of progress.

Usually taking routine mammograms Martina admits she had “let it slide” by leaving a four year gap between her last two. She readily admits another year’s delay could have spelt serious trouble.

Being a fitness spokesperson for AARP she has spoken about the utmost importance for people to keep up regular checks in a bid to prevent themselves from receiving such terrible news.

Good news for Martina has come from British cancer charity Cancer Research UK who say anybody treated for DCIS is almost certainly cured of the disease. We hope that this is again the case.

So with deepest sympathies and a rallying cry for Martina to keep fighting I would like to take this opportunity to wish her the best of luck from everybody here at TennisGrandstand and that we one day wish to see her take her rightful place on court once more.

Get well soon Martina.

The Greatest Match of All-Time?

There has been much talk about the greatest match of all-time. The last two Wimbledon finals (Rafael Nadal defeating Roger Federer 9-7 in the fifth set in the 2008 final and Federer edging Andy Roddick 16-14 in the fifth  set in 2009) certainly are integral part of this conversion. One match that deserves consideration is the 1996 final of the year-end ATP Tour World Championship between Pete Sampras and Boris Becker. The summary of this match, as well as other events that also happened on November 24, are documented below in this book excerpt from ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.TennisHistoryBook.com).

November 24

1996 – Pete Sampras and Boris Becker play what many say is one of the greatest matches of all-time, with Sampras fending off Becker and a raucous pro-German crowd 3-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), 6-7 (11), 6-4 to win the year-end ATP Tour World Championship in Hannover, Germany. Sampras says the match is perhaps the most dramatic of his career. “This is one of the best matches I have ever been part of,” says Sampras. “This is what the game is all about. It’s not the money, it’s not all that, it’s the great matches.’

1996 – Steffi Graf needs five sets to defeat 16-year-old Martina Hingis 6-3, 4-6, 6-0, 4-6, 6-0 to capture the year-end Chase Championships at Madison Square Garden in New York. Graf wins despite twisting her knee in the seventh game of the fourth set. Hingis, herself, considered quitting the match after pulling her left thigh muscle in the fourth set.

1991 – Seventeen-year-old Monica Seles wins the year-end Virginia Slims Championships, defeating Martina Navratilova 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, 6-0 in a rematch of the U.S. Open women’s singles final. The win ends one of the most lucrative years in the history of women’s tennis as Seles wins three major singles titles – the Australian Open, the French Open and the U.S. Open – as well as 10 tournament titles. She reaches the final of all16 tournament she enters and earns $2.457 million in prize money, a record at the time.

1999 – Andre Agassi defeats top rival Pete Sampras 6-2, 6-2 in round robin play at the year-end ATP Tour World Championships in Hannover, Germany. Playing only his third match after recovering from hip and back injuries, Sampras gives much of the credit to Agassi for his victory, ”I was a touch rusty, but it had a lot to do with Andre,” Sampras says. ”It’s not an excuse, he clearly outplayed me.” Says Agassi, “On my best day, I couldn’t beat Pete 2 and 2 if he’s playing what he’s capable of. I could have everything go well for me and I am not going to beat him 2 and 2.” Says Sampras of his rivalry with Agassi, “When we are both playing well, on top of our game, there’s a good chance we’ll get through these tough matches and meet in the finals or semis of the Slams. If that happens, we can definitely take this game to a whole new level, especially in the United States.”

1969 – Neale Fraser, the retired Australian tennis standout and current insurance salesman, is named captain of the Australian Davis Cup team. The 36-year-old Fraser replaces Australia’s legendary Harry Hopman, who steers the Australian Davis Cup team for 22 years – and 16 titles – since 1939. Fraser goes on to captain the Aussie Davis Cuppers for one more year than Hopman – a record 23 years – and guides Australia to four titles.

Tennis great Jack Kramer dies at 88: This Week in Tennis Business

Justine Henin

From tennis legend Jack Kramer passing away at the age of 88 to a possible Justine Henin press conference this week to announce her comeback to US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro earning a winner’s paycheck of $1.6 million plus an additional $250,000 for finishing third in the Olympus US Open Series to Serena Williams being fined $10,500 for her outburst during her semifinal loss to Kim Clijsters at the US Open, these stories caught the attention of tennis fans and insiders this week.

  • Tennis legend and the first executive director of the ATP Tour, Jack Kramer passed away at the age of 88 on Saturday at his Los Angeles home. Kramer, who won Wimbledon in 1947 and the U.S. Championships in 1946 and 1947, was the top ranked player in the world for most of the late 1940’s. “Jack Kramer was truly one of the greats of the game and was instrumental in the growth and development of the sport in so many ways, both on and off the court,” said ATP Executive Chairman and President Adam Helfant. “He was like a father figure to so many in tennis and his wisdom, enthusiasm and advice will be sadly missed. On behalf of everybody at the ATP, I would like to pass on our sincere condolences to his family.”

  • According to Belgian television station RTBF, former world No. 1 Justine Henin has ordered 14 racquets and may hold a press conference as early as this week to announce her return to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.

  • By winning the US Open men’s singles title on Monday evening, Juan Martin del Potro earned a winner’s paycheck of $1.6 million plus an additional $250,000 for finishing third in the Olympus US Open Series. Women’s champion Kim Clijsters earned a winner’s paycheck of $1.6 million. Men’s doubles champions Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy and women’s doubles champions Venus and Serena Williams each split a winner’s paycheck of $420,000. Mixed doubles champions Travis Parrott and Carly Gullickson spilt the winner’s paycheck of $150,000.

  • Serena Williams was fined the maximum $10,000 by the US Open for unsportsmanlike conduct following her tirade during her semifinal loss to Kim Clijsters. Williams was also fined $500 for racquet abuse during her loss. The Grand Slam Committee is currently looking into the incident and could force more fines and a suspension.

  • Writing on her official website, Serena Williams says, “I want to amend my press statement of yesterday, and want to make it clear as possible – I want to sincerely apologize FIRST to the lines woman, Kim Clijsters, the USTA, and tennis fans everywhere for my inappropriate outburst.” “I’m a woman of great pride, faith and integrity, and I admit when I’m wrong.  I need to make it clear to all young people that I handled myself inappropriately and it’s not the way to act — win or lose, good call or bad call in any sport, in any manner. I like to lead by example.  We all learn from experiences both good and bad, I will learn and grow from this, and be a better person as a result.”

  • US Open officials announced that they are ready to start developing plans to build a roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium but the final decision on when and if they actually will build a roof is a little bit away. The estimated cost to build a roof would be around $100 million. “We are substantially farther along the road of consideration than we were six months ago,” said Gordon Smith, Executive Director of the USTA. “It will be some time before there’s any decision made on whether or not to go forward with the roof.”

  • According to a study by Barclays and Professor Tom Cannon of the University of Liverpool, the British economy has increased by $405 million (UK) because of Andy Murray’s recent rise to No. 2 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings. With Murray’s popularity rising at a fast pace, people are spending lots of money on everything from equipment to advertising to sponsorship. Cannon also mentioned in his study that the $1 billion (UK) spending gap between tennis and golf will soon close.

  • A LeRoy Neiman watercolor painting of Serena and Venus Williams, that was expected to be sold around $60,000, received no bids during a recent US Open auction in New York. The proceeds of some of the other items benefited USTA Serves, which funds community tennis programs and college scholarships.

  • Melanie Oudin’s magical run to the quarterfinals at the US Open was a ratings winner for ESPN2. About 2,324,000 viewers tuned in during Oudin’s loss to Caroline Wozniacki. The night before during the Venus Williams vs. Flavia Pennetta match and Rafael Nadal vs. Gael Monfils match, 2,128,000 viewers tuned in to watch.

  • BackOffice Associates, LLC, has announced that Melanie Oudin has signed a multi-year promotional partnership. BackOffice Associates, LLC, is the world leader in SAP data quality.

  • The organizers of the Shanghai ATP Masters 1000 presented by Rolex are giving fans the opportunity to vote on which trophy they would like to see presented to the tournament champion. Malaysian manufacturer, Royal Selangor, has created three trophies that fans can vote for on the official tournament website. Each person who votes for the trophy will be signed up for a chance to win a trip to Malaysia to see the trophy being made.

  • At the recent Legends Ball held at the Cipriani on 42nd Street in New York City, the following awards were given:

      • Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon received the Joseph F. Cullman III award.

      • Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe accepted the Eugene L. Scott award for her husband, the late Arthur Ashe.

      • Martina Navratilova earned the Danzig award.

      • Fred Stolle received the Johnston award.

  • More than $130,000 was raised during a silent auction at the Legends Ball. $18,000 was raised for a hitting session with Monica Seles, $6,000 for a hitting session with Jim Courier and $15,000 for a men’s and women’s finals travel package to Wimbledon.

  • Roger Rasheed, coach of Gael Monfils, and Vlado Platenik, coach of Dominika Cibulkova, are spearheading a new organization called, Tour Level Tennis Coaches Association, to support coaches and trainers by offering them benefits, forms of insurance, financial services, job training and mentoring.

  • On September 11, CNN’s Tony Harris and Natalie Morales of The Today Show on NBC hosted a Breaking the Barriers reception to honor the National Junior Tennis League on the 40th anniversary of its founding by Arthur Ashe.

  • Rafael Nadal will not play Davis Cup this weekend for Spain’s semifinal tie against Israel due to an abdominal injury. Juan Carlos Ferrero will take Nadal’s spot on the roster.

  • Roger Federer is scheduled to compete for Switzerland this weekend during their World Group Playoff match against Italy.

  • Andy Murray announced that he is fit to participate this weekend in Great Britain’s Davis Cup Zonal tie against Poland.

  • ATP World Tour CEO Adam Helfant said the tour is looking into an All-Star event for the players that will happen right before the Indian Wells Masters 1000 event. “We’ve talked to our players about it and our players are excited about it and committed to it,” said Helfant.

  • According to the Melbourne Herald Sun, former Australian tennis star Mark Philippoussis has sold his family house in Australia to pay off an outstanding mortgage. Philippoussis is still being sought out by American tax authorities for $500,000.

Page 1 of 41234