Novak Djokovic

Seven Matches To Remember From 2014 U.S. Open

By Randy Walker

@TennisPublisher

 

The 2014 U.S. Open will best be remembered for Serena Williams winning her 18th major title – tying fellow American legends Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert on the all-time list – and for Marin Cilic’s surprise victory, beating another long-shot finalist Kei Nishikori in the final. However, there were other standout matches that defined the event, as outlined below and as seen in the updated mobile app “This Day In Tennis” available at www.TennisHistoryApp.com

 

August 26, 2014 – Cici Bellis, 15, becomes the youngest player to win a match at the U.S. Open since 1996, upsetting No. 12 seed and Australian Open finalist Dominka Cibulkova 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 in the first round of the U.S. Open. “Believing was the No. 1 thing that I had to do today,” says Bellis, the winner of the USTA National Girls’ 18 Championships. “That’s what my coach told me before the match also: Just go out there and believe that you can win.” Bellis becomes the youngest player to win at the U.S. Open since Anna Kournikova reached the fourth round at age 15 in 1996.

September 2, 2014 – Kei Nishikori defeats Milos Raonic 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-4 in four hours, 19 minutes in a fourth-round match at the U.S. Open that ends at 2:26 am, tying the tournament’s record for the latest finish. Nishikori and Raonic’s finish at the exact time as the 2012 match when Philipp Kohlschreiber defeated John Isner and the 1993 match when Mats Wilander defeated Mikael Pernfors. When asked by reporters if he was impressed by the late finish record, Raonic responds, “Not in the slightest bit.”

September 4, 2014 – Roger Federer saves two match points and rallies to beat Gael Monfils 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 in a dramatic U.S. Open quarterfinal that concludes just before midnight. Monfils leads 5-4 in the fourth set and holds two match points before Federer fights back to win in a comfortable fifth set, coming back from 0-2 down for the ninth time in his career. “I feel lucky to be able to do a press conference as the winner instead of the loser,” Federer tells reporters. “But I’m also proud that I fought and stayed with him. The problem was that I was just one point from the end.”

September 5, 2014 – Bob and Mike Bryan win their 100th career doubles title defeating Marcel Granoller and Marc Lopez 6-3, 6-4 for their fifth U.S. Open final. “It’s always sweet winning a Grand Slam,” Mike Bryan says after the final. “This just adds some extra whip cream and cherries and nuts on top.”

September 6, 2014 – In one of the most shocking semifinals in U.S. Open history, both the No. 1 and No. 2 men’s seeds are upset as No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic is defeated by No. 10 seed Kei Nishikori 6-4, 1-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 and No. 2 seed Roger Federer is defeated by No. 14 Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

September 7, 2014 – Serena Williams wins the U.S. Open for a sixth time and for a third year in a row defeating Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-3 in the final. At age 32, Williams becomes the oldest woman to win the U.S. Open in the Open Era and also earns her 18th major singles title, tying her for fourth place all time with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, who congratulate her on court during the post-match ceremonies and present her with a Tiffany bracelet.

September 8, 2014 – Marin Cilic of Croatia, seeded No. 14, becomes one of the most unexpected U.S. Open champions in history, winning his first major title with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 win over Kei Nishikori. Nishikori, who upset world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semifinals, becomes the first man from Asia to play in a Grand Slam final.

Roger Federer’s Win Over Novak Djokovic In Cincinnati Boosts US Open Chances

Roger Federer spelled out revenge for his Wimbledon final loss in July to world number one Novak Djokovic, as he stormed to a 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 straight sets win in the Cincinnati Masters Final on Sunday.

Federer’s path to the final involved a semi-final victory over British number one, and new world number two, Andy Murray, whilst Djokovic defeated Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov in his semi, in a two sets to one win.

Federer, who claimed his seventh Cincinnati Masters title and 87th tour-level title, claimed the ever-tight battle every time the two take to the court has heated up even more in recent times.

“We really get the best out of each other,” he said.

“We have improved a lot playing against each other over the years. It’s very special for me. I will try my best to come back for many years to come.”

The win means the 34-year-old Swiss will go into the US Open, which officially begins on August 31st, as the No. 2 seed.

The win was never going to be straightforward against one of the greatest tennis players in history – Djokovic, but Federer held serve to take the match in just one hour and thirty minutes.

Not only that, but the win also has gives Federer the edge in the twos career head-to-head tally at 21-20 to the Swiss, whilst also denying Djokovic the chance to seal all nine ATP Master titles too.

The tournament was seen as a good warm-up for players before the US Open begins on Monday.

Punters will be eager to get the best free bets offers before the tournament starts and Bookmakers.co.uk will be a popular destination for those people – with the site offering all the latest and greatest bookies offers from each and every large bookmaker. Not only that, but they also offer high quality betting previews and it will be more than worth your while to check their US Open preview when it is released.

The big tournament favourite despite his loss in Cincinnati is Djokovic, with 5/4 odds on him. Murray is fancied next with 7/2 widely offered for his successes, whilst Federer will have to settle for pre-tournament odds of 5/1.

Whilst on the Women’s side of things, Serena Williams continues her dominance on the world stage, as she will enter the tournament with odds as short 10/11 for her success. Victoria Azarenka is deemed her closest rival for the title, and can be found at 8/1.

 

PlaySight Launches New “Smart Court Live” Program

TENAFLY, N.J. — PlaySight Interactive today announced the launch of a new “SmartCourt Live” system that provides unlimited smart live streaming and recording of practice and match video on any tennis court. The program features unique features such as:

• HD quality video with embedded audio
• Unlimited viewers no need to buy data packages
• Store and watch recorded practice and matches
• Online live stream has a three hour DVR capability for the viewers to be able to go back in time
• Changeable and automatic adjustable resolutions to fit the viewer’s bandwidth
• Online control room to turn the streaming on and off anytime, anywhere
• Video player can be embedded easily on a website
• Embedded scoreboard on the live streaming video for live scoring
• Indoor and outdoor compatible

The “SmartCourt Live” offering is also applicable to other sports and has recently been implemented for squash and basketball.

PlaySight is also in the midst of a rapid expansion, installing “SmartCourts” at tennis clubs, tennis academies and private tennis courts around the world. The technology is currently being used in such facilities as Roland Garros in Paris, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York, the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California, the Midtown Athletic Club in Chicago, the Junior Tennis Champions Center (JTCC) in College Park, Maryland, the Bonita Bay club in Naples, Florida, and the Bay Club in San Francisco, Calif., among others. College tennis programs currently using PlaySight technology include the University of Georgia, Harvard, Princeton, Cal-Berkeley and Virginia Tech among others.

PlaySight’s SmartCourt technology is rapidly changing the way tennis is enjoyed and coached. The affordable and proprietary technology provides players with professional real time (and post session) match statistics, analytics, line-calling and video. The system uses six HD cameras and automatically classifies and tags all the events that take place during a session without the need for court-side operators or wearable sensors. Players can watch selected events (e.g. every backhand down the line that went long), with no need to watch the whole video or manually tag it. PlaySight is also able to record 3D tactical game management information including the height of balls over the net, speed of every shot and the depth of balls hit within the court. The SmartCourt is easily operated by players through a courtside kiosk and all video and data can be shared within seconds with coaches, friends and family at remote locations. Players can also track distance covered and calories burned during a match or practice session. Each player’s activity and motion during the entire match/training are automatically recorded, analyzed and uploaded into PlaySight.com – a social network for players/athletes where they can review their performance and share it with their coaches, friends and family. To watch a video that further explains how PlaySight works, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrp9X3K82Ek

World No. 1 and reigning Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic heads a list of impressive group of investors in the technology, also including tennis legend Billie Jean King, renowned performance coach Dr. James Loehr, Pershing Capital Management LLC Founder Bill Ackman, Entrepreneur and Washington Kastles owner Mark Ein, Former ProServ Founder Ray Benton, CourtSense owner Gordon Uehling, III and former Wall Street executive James Kern. For more information on PlaySight, go to www.PlaySight.com

French Open Tennis Picks: Sleepers on the Men’s Bracket

The best players have dominated the French Open for years, but William Hill’s Lee Phelps is looking at the bigger odds to see if anyone is worth betting on for a shock.

The Slams are usually the realm of the favourites in tennis, but we saw Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic surprise the top order last year, so could the 2015 French Open go to a player a big price?

Rafael Nadal has dominated this tournament for a decade, with only Roger Federer winning the title in the last decade. In fact only two men outside the top four seeds have contested the final. Robin Soderling twice and in 2005 Mariano Puerto lost to Nadal when he won his first French Open trophy.

Let’s look at the men outside the top four in the betting though, just in case 2015 is a year we saw one from the pack upset the odds.

Compare Tennis Betting Odds Trading for Grand Slam Events: French Open, US Open & More

Roger Federer
Federer has been a long time victim of Nadal’s at Roland Garros, but did win when Rafa was injured in 2009. The questions over his demise won’t go away, but to be fair neither will Fed.

A final appearance against Djokovic in Italy and his world ranking suggest that Federer will once again be a big player in Paris. He did pick up straight-sets wins against Tomas Berdych and Stan Wawrinka too playing his best tennis on the dirt in quite some time.

He may not have the speed of his younger days, but the clay should benefit him. It’s just whether he can hold his own on the baseline.

Stan Wawrinka
Stan had a great 2014, but he’s finding it tougher going in 15 and his best at the French is a quarter final in 2013.
He has made people sit up and take notice by beating Nadal in Rome, but he is one of four to do that already this season including Fabio Fognini. That win was his first in 13 attempts against Rafa, but I still think it says more about the Spaniard.

David Ferrer
Tennis odds makers know that the Spaniard is arguably the best players on the ATP circuit today never to have won a Grand Slam. Clay has historically been his best surface, and in 2013 he did all he could before facing Nadal in the tournament final – he did what everyone else has done and promptly lost.

I don’t see that famed fitness lasting out for another final appearance here. It quarter finals and out for Ferrer, but he will make life hard for one of the top seeds before saying Au Revoir.

Gael Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
The two home hopes will be talked about as usual in Paris, but it’s hard to see them going all the way. Monfils best is the semi-final in 2008 and Tsonga went to the last four stage in 2013.

Despite the clamour among the media and hopeful Parisian fans, I don’t see either player having the game or the consistency to make it to the last four. Tsonga is on a 5 and 4 run on clay this season and his compatriot is 7 and 3.

Tennis Pick
In truth I don’t see any of these outsiders troubling the big guns. But if I was taking one to creep into the final with my tennis picks it would be Roger Federer, just because of his pedigree and with a fortuitous draw he could find some out-of-form and less than fresh players. My pick for the final is Novak Djokovic versus Kei Nishikori, with Djokovic (-125 favorite on the French Open odds board) winning.

French Open Men’s Draw Preview – Novak Djokovic Looks To Claim First Title

This gallery contains 1 photo.

by Andrew Eichenholz

Novak Djokovic is playing the best tennis of anybody on the men’s tour, no ifs, ands or buts about it. However, as the Serbian star looks to grab his first French Open title, he faces stiff competition and an even tougher draw.

If he will lift his first Coupe des Mousquetaires after all the dust settles, he will have denied Rafael Nadal, who seeks his tenth French Open championship, Andy Murray, who pushed Djokovic to his limit in Australia and Roger Federer, who is a 17-time Grand Slam champion.

The big debate heading into the draw ceremony on Friday was whether or not the tournament supervisors should make an exception and seed Nadal higher then his No. 7 ranking, making him the sixth seed at the tournament due to the withdrawal of Milos Raonic. Would it be fair to the higher-ranked players who may have to deal with the Spaniard earlier then usual?

Djokovic was anything but the beneficiary when the tournament decided to leave Nadal at No. 6, as arguably the two best clay court players in the world ended up in the same quarter of the draw, making for what should be an entertaining fortnight in Paris.

FIRST QUARTER
So much for the top seed supposedly deserving the easiest draw. Novak Djokovic faces what really is not all that tricky of an opening week in Paris, but he may not fall for the City of Love even if he were to get through the toughest sections of the four. By the time Djokovic could face his first seeded opponent, he should be pretty fresh, with no clear threat early on, as Gilles Muller of Luxembourg is far more dangerous on a quicker surface with his lefty serve. However, a duo of Australians who will more than likely face off in the second round, No. 27 Bernard Tomic and Thanasi Kokkinakis, may pose somewhat of a challenge to the World No. 1. Even though Novak comes into the second major of the year with a 35-2 record, it is hard to believe he will come out of the gates in peak form, giving a player like Tomic, who tends to draw the worst out of his opponents, a chance to make a fight of affairs.

Nadal on the other hand is the king at Roland Garros. Nine times he has conquered the terre battue, with his only loss coming against Robin Soderling. It will take a tremendous effort to take him out, and it is hard to see it happening unless Djokovic does so. Now, their potential quarterfinal match may very well be the early final, but first, Nadal may face some of the tour’s next big stars. In the round of 16, Grigor Dimitrov is the likely opponent, one of the most naturally talented players in the world. He broke through at Wimbledon, but is he ready to do so again? Others to look out for include Borna Coric and tough veteran Tommy Robredo.

Popcorn Match-Grigor Dimitrov v. Jack Sock OR Pablo Carreno Busta v. Victor Estrella Burgos
First Seed Out- Adrian Mannarino
Quarterfinal Result- Novak Djokovic def. Rafael Nadal
SECOND QUARTER
If Andy Murray plays the type of tennis that he conjured during the first couple of sets of the Australian Open final when he looked for all the world to be the best pure ball-striker in the world, he will advance through this quarter. But, there will be a huge issue in the form of a small, but tough-as-nail man— David Ferrer. Murray tends to fall apart most when he gets frustrated, and there are few on tour who are better at scraping balls back and making an opponent work for a point than Ferrer. The “Little Beast,” as Ferrer is called, has arguably the easiest 1/16th in the draw, with Murray facing far tougher challenges along the way. Vasek Pospisil recently hurt himself playing doubles, but has the firepower to test the Scot in the second round if he does not come prepared, with the energetic Nick Kyrgios lurking in the third round for what be one of the most fun matches with two of the biggest personalities on tour. Kyrgios is scared of nobody, but if Murray is aggressive right off the bat, the Australian may not have enough experience and guile to stay in touch. David Goffin is the most improved player on tour in the last couple of seasons, but again, will not have enough to take it to Murray. But, all of the obstacles in his way may take just enough out of Murray for Ferrer to pounce.
Popcorn Match- John Isner v. Andreas Seppi
First Seed Out- Leonardo Mayer
Quarterfinal Result- David Ferrer def. Andy Murray
THIRD QUARTER
This section of the draw may have the most diverse group of players and talents in the tournament and in recent memory, with players from all over the world and court looking to advance to the semifinals. Tomas Berdych and Kei Nishikori, seeded fourth and fifth, respectively, are the most talented players of the group, both elite ball-strikers who are two of the few capable of competing from the baseline with Djokovic and Murray. There are enough lefties in this section to fill multiple courts, distinguishing themselves with many different playing styles. Feliciano Lopez is a slicing and dicing serve and volleyer who on his day can keep anyone on their heels, while Fernando Verdasco has the only lefty forehand within realms of Nadal’s. Thomaz Bellucci is one of the hottest players on tour, and the list keeps on going. But, there are also the players who bring an out-of-the-ordinary game onto the court, with the flat strokes of Roberto Bautista Agut and confusion of Florian Mayer. Then, there is the enigma that is Fabio Fognini, who can blitz anybody in the section when focused, but could lose in the first round to Tatsuma Ito if he is not ready. This is the most unpredictable section with many talents, but look for two of the more dynamic players to get through.

Popcorn Match- Roberto Bautista Agut v Florian Mayer
First Seed Out- Feliciano Lopez
Quarterfinal Result- Kei Nishikori def. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

FOURTH QUARTER
It is impossible to ignore the greatest player of all time, and that is what is happening in the lead-up to the French Open. Roger Federer may have the easiest road to the second week, yet all the talk is about whether or not Djokovic or Nadal were affected more by ending up in the same quarter. His first two opponents will be a qualifier and possibly Marcel Granollers, who does not have enough weapons to threaten Federer. Ivo Karlovic and eventually Gael Monfils could be looming, but could either really put together a solid enough block of play to take out the No. 2 seed in a five-set affair? If Roger plays well, neither can, and then comes his compatriot Stan Wawrinka. The man is one of the most talented in the sport, as he showed when he won the Australian Open last year, but his play so far this season has left much to be desired. It is never easy, but if Federer is focused from the get-go, it is his section to lose. Arguably the highlight is the potential drop that Ernests Gulbis may suffer in the rankings pending his result. The Latvian made the semifinals in Paris last year, even with his odd forehand, but losing those points combined with a lackluster start to the year can plummet him to near the boundary of the top-100.

Popcorn Match- Guillermo Garcia-Lopez v. Steve Johnson
First Seed Out- Ivo Karlovic
Quarterfinal Result- Roger Federer def. Gilles Simon
_________________________________________________________________________________________________
DARK HORSE- Dominic Thiem
MOST TO LOSE- Ernests Gulbis
FINAL RESULTS-Djokovic def. Ferrer, Federer def. Nishikori; Djokovic def. Federer

Unstoppable Djokovic

by Michael Lemort

After his success in Rome and Monte-Carlo a month ago, two of the three clay-court Masters 1000 of the season, Novak Djokovic has confirmed that he was the favorite for the French Open coming up next week and that he was invincible in the big events since last fall.

He started the 2015 season with a success at the Australian Open, first major of the year, against Andy Murray. It was his fifth crown in Melbourne and his eighth victory in a Grand Slam tournament. Then he won back to back Indian Wells and Miami, the first two Masters 1000 of the season (achieving the double for the third time), beating Roger Federer and Andy Murray in the final.

After his success in Monte-Carlo last April, he became the first player to win the opening three Masters 1000 of the year and also the first one to win the first four big events of the season. Even though he had to withdraw from Madrid’s Masters 1000 two weeks ago, he came back in Rome last week and extended his winning streak to 22 matches after his victory over Federer in the final. That was his 24th success in a Masters 1000 tournament, one more than Roger Federer and only three behind the leader Rafael Nadal (27).

With a 147th week at the top, he has now passed Nadal (141) and only Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe have done better in the tennis history. Novak Djokovic is more than ever the number one at the ATP rankings with 13845 points (a new record). Roger Federer, the number two, is 4610 points behind.
This year, he only lost against Ivo Karlovic in Doha (an ATP 250) and against Roger Federer in Dubai (an ATP 500) which leads him to a 35 wins/2 losses record so far in 2015. Knowing that he also won the ATP World Tour Finals in London and the Paris Masters 1000 last November, his last defeat in a big event (Grand Slams and Masters 1000) took place last October against Roger Federer in the semi-final of Shanghai (Masters 1000).

With all those records and that confidence, no wonder that he will be the favorite for the French Open next week, the only Grand Slam missing in his already huge career.

Roger Federer Continues To Chase Career Milestones

By Michael Lemort

 

Could Federer win the Davis Cup for the first time of his career and be No. 1 again by the end of the season?

After his success in Shanghai, his 23rd Masters 1000 title, with a victory over world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semifinal, Roger Federer became No. 2 at the race, overtaking Rafael Nadal. After a very solid year, even though he didnt win a major title, the Swiss player could manage to finish the year ranked No. 1 if he obtains better results than Djokovic in the last tournaments left this year. He is playing Basle, his home tournament (where he reached the final last year), then the Masters 1000 in Paris at Bercy and finally the Masters Cup in London – reaching the semifinals of both events last year. Novak Djokovic plans to play Paris and London, knowing that he won both titles last year, which means that he could lose lots of points if he loses early.

But being ATP No. 1 again is not a priority for Federer who already holds the record for weeks in that position. And on top of that, another challenge is coming in front of him as he’s gonna play the Davis Cup final for the first time of his career. With his partner Stanislas Wawrinka, No. 4 at the race, the Swiss team has never been so close to bring the trophy home, even though playing in France on clay against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet is not going to be an easy thing. But this is probably gonna be the priority for Federer since playing for his country has always been something important for him (especially during Olympic Games). None of the French players will qualify for the Masters Cup so they will have another extra week to practice and get used to the clay courts.

Because of that busy year-ending calendar and because switching from indoor to clay in few days time won’t be easy, Federer might have to make some choices, like not playing Bercy for example (like it already happened in the past), and giving up on the No. 1 position for now if he wants to focus on the Davis Cup.

On another hand, playing and winning matches brings confidence. Entering Basel, Federer has already played 71 matches this year (61 victories), 11 more than Djokovic, 19 more than Tsonga. And he won’t probably have those opportunities facing him every year as he will turn 34 next year. But he has to think about his body and he probably hasn’t forgotten about that back injury that ruined most of his 2013 season.

Federer is a symbol of longevity and efficiency and an example about how to manage his body and career. So no doubt that he will take the good decisions, break some new records and add some new lines to his already huge career.

Andy Murray Already Second Favorite To Win Wimbledon In 2015

This has been a very difficult season for 2013 Wimbledon champion Andy Murray as his recovery from a back injury has been a lot more difficult than initially expected. Murray looked to possibly be heading for the world number one spot with continued improvement following his second Grand Slam triumph but instead, the Scot has plummeted down the rankings and now sits in a very disappointing position of 11th in the world, having been as high and number two. Many believe that Andy Murray can show improved form in 2015 and bookmaker Betfair obviously have similar beliefs. The leading online betting exchange have put Murray in as their 7/2 second favourite for next year’s Wimbledon title, despite the fact that he went out in straight sets in 2014 at the hands of up and comer Grigor Dimitrov. Andy Murray’s first Grand Slam victory came at the US Open in 2012, and it came as little surprise when he added his second Slam in SW19 the following year. It took Andy a few attempts to make the breakthrough following a number of final appearances, but once he managed to capture that first big prize, a number of pundits suggested that he may well have a sustained run as the top player in the game. That has not proved to be the case however, and it will be very interesting to see exactly what the new season is going to bring as far as Murray is concerned.

Novak Djokovic is the current favourite to win the men’s singles title at the 2015 Wimbledon championships and that comes as little surprise following his impressive run at the tournament this year. Djokovic was able to make amends for his straight sets final defeat at the hands of Andy Murray the previous year and claim his second Wimbledon crown. There were some matches where the world number one didn’t have things all his own way, but Djokovic proved that he has a serious amount of determination and fighting spirit en route to the final, where he would face grass court maestro Roger Federer. Having lost the first set on a tie break, it would have been easy for Novak to start thinking negatively as he also lost the first set to Murray one year previous. However, the Serbian was able to dig in and win the next two sets, before Federer stepped up a gear and took the fourth. Djokovic took the decider by six games to four and captured his seventh Grand Slam title in the process. If Andy Murray is going to recapture the Wimbledon title in front of his home fans, he will likely have to overcome the defending champion somewhere along the way. Betfair go 6/1 bar this pair with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both on offer at the same price, but there is reason to oppose those men this coming year. Roger Federer will be 34 years old come the 2015 Wimbledon Championships, and Rafael Nadal has not performed well at this tournament for a number of years now.  With another decent run of games under his belt before next June, Andy Murray can make a bold bid to take the Wimbledon title once again in 2015.

The Best Backhands 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.

Novak’s “Djok-hold” on the U.S. Open

By David Cui

 

Following his thrilling Wimbledon victory over Roger Federer to clinch his seventh major singles title and return to the No. 1 ATP World Tour ranking, Novak Djokovic undoubtedly has great momentum going into the upcoming U.S. Open.

Since 2007, Djokovic has been a consistent powerhouse in the U.S. Open, qualifying for the finals in five of the past seven years and winning it all in 2011. Riding on this current streak, which is paired with his Wimbledon victory, a U.S. Open title for Djokovic seems almost imminent.

Furthermore, the U.S. Open is played on a hard surface. Out of his 14 Grand Slam finals and seven wins, Djokovic has played nine of them on hard surface, and won five of those nine. His ratio of Grand Slam titles won to Grand Slam titles played on hard surfaces exceeds that of Federer’s and even that of Nadal’s on clay, demonstrating his dominance among the world’s best players.

Djokovic is also entering the U.S. Open with one more significant advantage over one of his fiercest competitors. For this year’s tournament, many agree that Djokovic’s greatest obstacle will be Federer, who currently possesses the No. 3 ranking.

At first glance, the two appear to have equal chances of beating each other, with a tied record (13-13) on hard courts and an extremely slim overall series (Federer currently leads 18-17). However, upon closer inspection, it becomes clearer that Djokovic will enter the tournament with the upper hand.

In their last ten match-ups, Djokovic holds a 6-4 series lead, as well as a 4-2 lead in their hard court matches. This current trend, along with Djokovic’s most recent victory over Federer at Wimbledon, shows that if the two are pitted against each other in the U.S. Open, Djokovic will likely prevail.

Djokovic has once again risen to the top of the modern tennis world, and if all goes well, will exit the summer of 2014 with not one, but two additional Grand Slam titles to add to his collection.