Roger Federer

Alexander Zverev and Elina Svitolina Win Canada Titles Heading Into US Open

Canada saw a glimpse of the bright future of men’s and women’s tennis on Sunday, as 20-year old German Alexander Zverev and 22-year old Ukrainian Elina Svitolina won their inaugural Rogers Cup titles.

 

Zverev took down Roger Federer, 6-3, 6-4, in Montreal, to become the youngest Rogers Cup men’s champion since Novak Djokovic in 2007. Zverev continued his peak summer hard-court form — he’s won 10 straight matches after winning the title in Washington, D.C., last week — to capture his second ATP Masters 1000 title of 2017 (Rome) and first at a US Open Series event. Zverev has now won five ATP titles in 2017, which is tied with Federer for the most on tour.

 

Svitolina beat Caroline Wozniacki, 6-4, 6-0, in Toronto to win her ninth career WTA title and her tour-leading fifth this year. Svitolina’s first victory at a US Open Series event was earned by defeating four straight Top 10-ranked players in Venus Williams, Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep and Wozniacki, and it will propel her to a career-high No. 4 in the world on Monday.

 

The US Open Series crescendos this week with the Western & Southern Open, as many of the top men’s and women’s players converge on Cincinnati. For the first time since 2009, Rafael Nadal and Federer will be the tournament’s No. 1 and No. 2 men’s seeds, respectively, and will battle each other to claim the No. 1 ranking. Cincinnati will also see a women’s field featuring every active player in the Top 20 (minus Serena Williams) and five different players battling to claim the No. 1 ranking.

 

ESPN2 picks up its coverage from Cincinnati on Thursday, beginning at 1 p.m., and will carry matches through Sunday’s finals, beginning with the women at 2 p.m. ET. Tennis Channel begins its weeklong coverage with Monday’s first round. See the full summer TV schedule here.

 

Fans can join the conversation by using hashtag #USOpenSeries and by following @usopen. Fans can share their experiences at US Open Series tournaments using hashtag #MyUSOpenSeries.

 

About the US Open Series

Now in its 14th season, the world’s best players on the WTA and ATP World Tour are coming together for the US Open Series. Linking seven summer WTA and ATP World Tour tournaments to the US Open, the US Open Series serves as a true “regular season” of hard court tennis.  Featuring a cohesive schedule, the Series centralizes the way tennis is viewed in North America, across multiple television and digital platforms. Fans will see today’s top champions go head-to-head with tomorrow’s emerging stars, as storylines develop throughout the summer season. Each tournament also engages its local community with a variety of outreach initiatives, including grass-roots youth tennis clinics and activities.

 

About the WTA

The WTA is the global leader in women’s professional sport with more than 2,500 players representing nearly 100 nations competing for a record $139 million in prize money. The 2017 WTA competitive season includes 55 events and four Grand Slams in 32 countries.

 

About the ATP World Tour

The ATP World Tour, with 63 tournaments in 31 countries, showcases the finest male athletes competing in the world’s most exciting venues. From Australia to Europe and the Americas to Asia, the stars of the 2017 ATP World Tour will battle for prestigious titles and Emirates ATP Rankings points at ATP World Tour Masters 1000, 500 and 250 events, as well as Grand Slams (non ATP events).

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal Favorites For The US Open

by Michael Lemort

The US Open starts in late August and the favorites are Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal without a doubt. Not really a surprise as we know how huge those two champions are, but more than a year ago, who would have thought that the balance inside the Big Four would be so different than it is today!

Novak Djokovic was the invincible number one for several years and he had just won majors in a row in between two years after winning the French Open. But five months later, he gave up his throne to Andy Murray. The British player won Wimbledon, the Olympics and the Masters Cup in London and became the last member of the Big Four to be number one at the ATP rankings. Nadal and Federer, injured and obviously getting older, had withdrawn for the end of the season.

Today the Serbian has lost his four majors crowns, he hasn’t won a Masters 1000 this year and he is ranked number 4. Moreover he has just announced this week that he will withdraw for the rest of the season to heal an elbow injury and get some time off to take care of his family and get ready for next year!

Andy Murray, like Djokovic, hasn’t won a Major neither a Masters 1000 in 2017. Exhausted by his achievements of last year and also weakened (hip injury), he is about to lose his supremacy. Federer and Nadal, fresher than ever, are just behind him and have almost no ATP points to defend until the end of the season. Aged 36, the Swiss is more aggressive than he has ever been. He looks more impressive than he was back 10 years ago when he was at his top. He won the Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami, Halle and Wimbledon (without dropping a set!) and he beat Nadal three times in a row for the first time of his career. The Spaniard won his tenth French Open (a record) after triumphing in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid. Both of them have shared the big trophies this year and they will probably race against each other for the number one ATP ranking until the end of the season. Who would have thought about that a year ago?

Everybody also thought that, besides Murray or Djokovic, a new member of the next generation would hold some big trophies in 2017. But except Alexander Zverev in Roma (the only big tournament that Nadal and Federer haven’t won so far this year), they will have to wait some more as «  the old Roger and Rafa » still hunger for success and are not retired yet. Dominic Thiem, Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov represent the best chances but after Nadal crushed the Austrian at Roland Garros and Federer did the same with the Canadian and the Bulgarian in London, on their favorite surface, the way to the top doesn’t seem that close. Kei Nishikori and Nick Kyrgios have been injured too much and their body seems fragile. Also Borna Coric, Frances Tiafoe and Andrey Rublev, all members of the teen « Next Gen », are getting better and tougher each year but they will probably need some more time to compete with the Top 10.

So Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal seem to have the best chances to hold the trophy at Flushing Meadows. But as we saw the turnover that happened between last year and this year, some more surprises, comebacks and upsets can happen very soon. And don’t forget that the defending champion hasn’t been mentioned yet ! Only player to have won several Majors besides the Big Four in the last 15 years, the other Swiss player, Stanislas Wawrinka, even though he is quite inconstant, could perfectly win two US Open back to back!

 

Who Has Most Motivation To Win Wimbledon Among The Big Four?

Most observers will conclude that, in all likelihood, the men’s singles champion at Wimbledon in 2017 will come from “The Big Four” – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

There isn’t much that separates these four titans of tennis, but the slimiest of margins separates victory from defeat. It could be a moment of hesitation, a slight lack of confidence in executing a shot in a crucial stage. Extra desire, belief, confidence and having that extra step could decide the championship.

Let’s look at each of “The Big Four” and discuss their motivations and intangibles that could help them and hurt them as they approach the final weekend. If you are looking for Wimbledon betting tips, these insights will prove helpful.

Roger Federer – The Swiss maestro may be believing that this could be his last shot to win what would be a record eighth men’s singles title at the All England Club. Striving for that record is a major goal of Federer’s that would further his legacy in the sport, if that is even possible for a player who has won a record 18 major singles titles. He has taken the entire clay-court season off – ceding that ground to Nadal – but this has kept Federer fresh and hungry which can serve him well in the later rounds.

Rafael Nadal – The Spaniards is a competitor full stop all the time and one of the most physically fit players in the history of tennis. Could a slight bit of energy drain from the long-drawn out clay-court season be the difference between winning and losing for the Spaniard. For the last three years, Nadal has been primarily focused on winning his unprecedented 10th French Open men’s singles titles. Having achieved that goal last month, is a title on the Wimbledon grass too much too soon for the Nadal to refocus on entirely in every corner of his mind? The grass courts at Wimbledon are playing slower than usual, which helps him, and, like any other Spaniard, he relishes in “suffering” on a tennis court.

Novak Djokovic – The Serbian has been out-of-sorts in the last 12 months since he entered Wimbledon last year having won the previous four major championships. He seems the most vulnerable of “The Big Four” but the “X” factor with Djokovic is his new relationship with new coach Andre Agassi. The new voice from the Hall of Famer, who also turned around a much more steep career nose-dive in his career, could resurrect Djokovic. Playing for Agassi and wanting the validate the relationship and “please” the all-time great could provide extra motivation and intangibles that could help Djokovic return to the Grand Slam winner’s circle.

Andy Murray – Wimbledon is just the place for Murray to recalibrate after his sensational 2016 season where he won his second title at Wimbledon and the Olympics. His year was capped with an exhaustive effort to win the year-end ATP World Tour Championships in London to finish as the year-end No. 1. The end-of-the-year push hurt Murray at the start of the 2017 season and he started to find his top form again at the French Open, where he was a tie-breaker away from reaching the singles final. Now on the comfortable environs on the hometown courts at Wimbledon, with his adoring fans supporting him full-tilt, the top-seed will be tough to beat.  However, Murray hasn’t won a tournament since the year-end event in London last year and he has suffered many early-round upset losses this year, which could hurt his inner confidence in the big points with the title on the line.

Roger Federer, Petra Kvitova Show Strength For Wimbledon – Mondays With Bob Greene

The following is the Monday column from www.WorldTennisMagazine.com called “Mondays with Bob Greene” that features a review from the past week in tennis, written by former Associated Press tennis writer Bob Greene. This column is featured here this week on TennisGrandstand.com due to maintenance work on WorldTennisMagazine.com.

 

26 June 2017

 

STARS

Roger Federer beat Alexander Zverev 6-1 6-3 to win the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany

Feliciano Lopez beat Marin Cilic 4-6 7-6 (2) 7-6 (8) to win the Aegon Championships in London, Great Britain

Petra Kvitova beat Ashleigh Barty 4-6 6-3 6-2 to win the Aegon Classic in Birmingham, Great Britain

Anastasija Sevastova beat Julia Goerges 6-4 3-6 6-3 to win the Mallorca Open in Mallorca, Spain

Marton Fucsovics beat Alex Bolt 6-1 6-4 to win the Aegon Ilkley Trophy men’s singles in Ilkley, Great Britain’

Magdalena Rybarikova beat Alison Van Uytvanck 7-5 7-6 (3) to win the Aegon Ilkley Trophy women’s singles in Ilkley, Great Britain

 

SAYING

“My goal was to keep myself 100 percent for the grass season.” – Roger Federer, who easily beat Alexander Zverev to win the Halle, Germany, tournament for the ninth time.

“I came to play, to improve my game, I didn’t really have any expectation. I wanted to play my best, which I showed today, and I hope I can keep doing that.” – Petra Kvitova, after winning the Aegon Classic.

“It’s the best week of my career, which is crazy when you’re 35.” – Feliciano Lopez, after beating four players ranked in the Top 15 to win Queen’s Club.

“I was pretty pumped. Beating the world number one and a Grand Slam champion, on grass at Queen’s, it’s definitely number one for me.” – Jordan Thompson, a first-round winner over top-ranked Andy Murray at Queen’s Club.

“I know Azarenka is coming back, but it’s always tough to play against her.” – Ana Konjuh, who handed Victoria Azarenka her first loss since returning to the women’s tour following the birth of her child.

“The season is very long and I must look at the bigger picture.” – Elina Svitolina, saying there’s a possibility her injured heel could keep her out of Wimbledon.

“My earnings are well publicized and it was clear that I have the means to repay this debt.” – Boris Becker, after a London court declared the former tennis star bankrupt for failure to pay a debt that dates to 2015.

 

SOLID PERFORMANCE

The king of grass appears ready to regain his throne. Roger Federer won his ninth Gerry Weber Open title by stopping Alexander Zverev in the final of the Wimbledon warm-up event. The victory – his 92nd ATP Tour level title, putting him just two behind Ivan Lendl on the all-time list – contrasted with his loss to Tommy Haas the week before in Stuttgart, Germany. “It was by far my best match of the week,” Federer said of his thrashing of the 12th-ranked Zverev. “After my long break, I’m feeling excellent and it’s a pleasure to be back and I’m fit for Wimbledon.” That might scare a lot of players: Federer will be going for a record eighth Wimbledon title. The 35-year-old Swiss skipped the entire clay-court season, yet still has lost only two matches this year. He won the Australian Open – his record 18th Grand Slam tournament singles crown – and hard-court titles in Indian Wells and Miami before the clay-court break. Until Halle, every time Zverev reached a final, he came away with the trophy. But Federer was ready for revenge, having lost a semifinal to Zverev last year at Halle. Zverev was on court for just 53 minutes as Federer was spectacularly sharp. The eventual winner began the day by winning the first four games. “I now hope that I’ll stay healthy in this second part of the season and we’ll see what happens,” Federer said. A scary thought for everyone else.

 

SHE’S BACK

Petra Kvitova has two Wimbledon trophies and appears ready to add another. The Czech left-hander won the Aegon Classic in just her second tournament back being slashed with a knife during a home invasion. The December attack left her with a damaged left hand. But it didn’t seem to bother her one bit as she beat Australian Ashleigh Barty in three sets. “It was an amazing week, an amazing tournament,” Kvitova said. “From my first hits on the grass I felt great. It was encouraging to get into the grass season.” The last time she was in a grass-court final was in 2014 when she won her second Wimbledon title, three years after her first. At Birmingham, Barty held her own to begin the match, losing just one point in her first four service games. But Kvitova found her rhythm and raced to a 5-1 lead before leveling the match at one set apiece. After they traded service breaks in the decisive third set, Kvitova broke her opponent one more time, then finished off the victory with her 13th match of the day. “I like to play finals on grass,” Kvitova said. “I wish I could have more. I won’t be sad if it is in a couple of weeks (at Wimbledon), but there is still a lot of work to be done.”

 

SPANISH TINGE

Three years ago, Feliciano Lopez had a match point in the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club, only to lose to Grigor Dimitrov. This time, the Spanish veteran needed three match points, but finally came away with the biggest title of his long career as he defeated Marin Cilic. “I can’t believe that I finally won it,” Lopez said. “I’ve been waiting for 15 or 16 years to hold this trophy.” At 35, Lopez is the oldest player to win Queen’s Club in the Open Era. And it wasn’t an easy path to the title. He defeated Stan Wawrinka, Tomas Berdych, Grigor Dimitrov and Cilic, four players ranked in the top 14 in the world. Cilic reached match point in the final-set tiebreak, but Lopez saved it with a stretching volley. Then the Spaniard had a match point, only for Cilic to slam his 22nd ace of the day. A Cilic volley staved off a second Lopez match point. But his 19th ace gave the Spaniard a third match point, and they time he came away with the title. “I thought that at the end of the tiebreak, after losing match points, I wouldn’t make it, but I managed to do it,” Lopez said. “It was tough to put that (match point in 2014) out of my mind, so it was difficult to handle my nerves. But I managed it.”

 

SHORT STAY

Now a mother, Victoria Azarenka returned to the tennis tour at the Mallorca Open. Her stay was cut short by seventh-seeded Ana Konjuh of Croatia 6-1 6-3 in a second-round match. “She’s one of the best players in the world,” Konjuh said of Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open champion who once was ranked number one in the world. “I was motivated, for sure, and I’m really glad that I could play so well today and win.” Azarenka also had problems in her first-round match. She saved match points in her win over Japan’s Risa Ozaki.

 

SICK BAY

A heel injury could keep fifth-ranked Elina Svitolina out of Wimbledon. The injury hampered the 22-year-old Ukrainian as she suffered a 6-4 4-6 6-2 second-round loss to qualifier Camila Giorgi in the Aegon Classic in Birmingham. “The heel feels painful and is very sensitive,” Svitolina said. “I am disappointed I am out of the tournament, but I am not disappointed with my performance because I could not show even 50 percent. Also, the court was slippery, which is bad for the foot.” Svitolina’s best results have come on clay. She won the Italian Open this spring and reached the French Open quarterfinals, losing to eventual runner-up Simona Halep. And the weather didn’t help. One day it was extremely hot. The next day there was drizzle and dampness. Giorgi adapted to the slick surface, while Svitolina didn’t.

 

STRAIGHT IN

Tommy Haas, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2009, 2016 junior champion Denis Shapovalov and three British women – Laura Robson, Heather Watson and Naomi Broady – have been given wild card entries into the main draw of the year’s third Grand Slam tournament. At 39, Haas is playing his final season on the ATP World Tour and beat Roger Federer at a grass-court tournament in Stuttgart, Germany, this month. Other men receiving wild cards into the main men’s singles draw were British players Brydan Klein, Cameron Norrie and James Ward. Other women wild-card entries are Britain’s Katie Boulter and Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.

 

SIMONA AT EASTBOURNE

After losing the French Open women’s singles final, Simona Halep pulled out of the Aegon Classic in Birmingham, Great Britain, with an ankle injury. But the Romanian is feeling better and received a wild card entry into the Aegon International this week in Eastbourne, Great Britain. “The quality of the draw is very high so I’m hoping for some great matches to give me the best possible preparation ahead of Wimbledon,” Halep said.

“”

SHOCKER

It was supposed to be an easy workout for top-ranked Andy Murray. Instead, it turned into a shocking defeat as he fell to Australia’s Jordan Thompson, a “lucky loser,” in a first-round match at Queen’s Club. It was the first grass-court match win in the Thompson’s career. “I signed in for the ‘Lucky Loser’ spot,” said Thompson, who lost in the qualifying. “I hung around. If someone was going to pull out, I was always going to be there. Then this morning I just got my transport, planning on doing the same thing, signing in, waiting around. Pretty much when I got here, someone pulled out. When I heard I was playing Andy, I was pretty nervous. I just wanted to go out there and enjoy it.” Thompson did enjoy the day; Murray didn’t. Murray had won Queen’s Club a record five times, including three times in the last four years. Thompson hit 12 aces and saved all three break points against Murray.

 

SET FOR EXHIBITION

The world’s two top-ranked players – Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal – will play two exhibition matches in Hurlingham, Great Britain, this week to get extra match play on grass before Wimbledon. Murray signed up for the Aspall Tennis Classic event after suffering a shocking loss at Queen’s Club. Nadal has not played since winning a record 10th French Open title. He has not played a tournament on grass since 2015. Speaking with the Spanish media, Nadal said the “level I have today is not sufficient for me to compete the way I would like at Wimbledon.” Each player is guaranteed to play two matches.

 

SHARAPOVA SET

Maria Sharapova will return to competitive tennis next month when she plays World Team Tennis. The Russian will play for the Orange County Breakers, a team she has played with for seven years. She recently returned to the WTA Tour after a 15-month doping ban. She pulled out of the Wimbledon qualifying because of an injured left thigh.

 

“SURPRISED AND DISAPPOINTED”

Boris Becker says he was “surprised and disappointed” when a court in London declared him bankrupt for failing to pay a long-standing debt. Lawyers for the three-time Wimbledon champion pleaded with a Bankruptcy Court registrar to allow Becker a “last chance” to pay off the debt, which dates back to 2015. But Registrar Christine Derrett ruled there was a lack of credible evidence that the outstanding payment would be made. Becker’s lawyers had argued there was sufficient evidence to show that the former player would be able to pay the debt soon through a refinancing arrangement involving remortgaging property in Mallorca. He said Becker was not likely to benefit from bankruptcy and it could have an adverse effect on his image., But the judge replied: “One has the impression of a man with his head in the sand.”

 

SETTLES

Former tennis star James Blake and the City of New York have reached an agreement that will set up a police watchdog agency. In exchange, Blake has agreed to drop his right to sue the city after he was mistakenly tackled by police and arrested. In exchange, a legal fellowship will be created in Blake’s name, with the fellow to serve two-year terms at the Civilian Complaint Review Board. The city will fund the fellow for six years with the salary to be commensurate with other staff there and will be no less than USD $65,00 a year. The fellow’s job will be to help navigate the system for people making complaints against police and to push for strong investigations. Blake was tackled and handcuffed outside a Manhattan hotel on Sept. 9, 2015. He had been ranked as high as fourth in the world before retiring after the 2013 US Open. In a statement, Blake thanked the city of New York. “It has been my intention since Day One to turn a negative into a positive, and I think this fellowship accomplishes that goal,” he said.

 

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Birmingham: Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua beat Chan Hao-Ching and Zhang Shuai 6-1 2-6 10-8 (match tiebreak)

Halle: Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo beat Alexander Zverev and Misha Zverev 5-7 6-3 10-8 (match tiebreak)

Ilkley (men): Leander Paes and Adil Shamasdin beat Brydan Klein and Joe Salisbury 2-6 6-2 10-8 (match tiebreak)

Ilkley (women): Anna Blinkova and Alla Kudryavtseva beat Paula Kania and Maryna Zanevska 6-1 6-4

London: Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares beat Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-2 6-3

Mallorca: Chan Yung-Jan and Martina Hingis beat Jelena Jankovic and Anastasija Sevastova by walkover.

 

SURFING

Antalya: www.antalyaopen.com/

Eastbourne: www.lta.org.uk/major-events/Aegon-International-Eastbourne

Wimbledon: www.wimbledon.com/index.html

 

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

MEN

$719,080 Aegon International, Eastbourne, Great Britain, grass

$555,305 Antalya Open, Antalya, Turkey, grass

 

WOMEN

$731,000 Aegon International, Eastbourne, Great Britain, grass

 

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

MEN and WOMEN

Wimbledon, London, Great Britain, grass (first week)

 

Rafael Nadal – A Perfect “10” French Open Victory With No Sets Lost

by Randy Walker

@TennisPublisher

 

It was “Perfect 10.”

Rafael Nadal won his incredible 10th men’s singles title at Roland Garros, without losing a set, capped with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 demolition of Stan Wawrinka in the final.

The win marked Nadal’s 15th major title, moving him out of a second-place tie with Pete Sampras for most major singles titles won in a career.

Nadal lost only 35 games en route to the title – his best run to the championship in his 10 victory laps – and the fewest games lost by a major champion since Bjorn Borg lost only 32 en route to winning the 1978 French Open.

No man in the history of tennis has won more titles at a single major championship, Margaret Court being the only player to win double-digit titles at a major when she won 11 Australian singles titles.

It is interesting to note and remember that Nadal led Roger Federer by a service break in the fifth set of their Australian Open final earlier this year. Had Nadal held on to win that match and win the title Down Under, coupled with his win at Roland Garros, he would have only trailed Federer by one major singles title in the career haul 17-16. However, Federer’s comeback win gave him his 18th major singles win and he now leads Nadal 18-15 as the resting Federer prepares to make an assault on an eighth Wimbledon title – and a 19th major – on the grass.

Nadal’s win came 39 years to the day when Borg completed his devastating run to the French title in 1978, with a 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 victory over Guillermo Vilas, according to the book, ebook, audio book and mobile app “This Day In Tennis History.”

It is interesting to read the words of Vilas after being pummeled by Borg and it sounds like Wawrinka talking about Nadal. “He played so well, he didn’t give me any chances at all,” said Vilas. “I knew if I was going to play from the baseline all the time, I was going to win more games but not the match. So I tried different tactics, but it did not work. Nothing worked.”

The Greatest Forehands In Tennis History – Ranked!

The forehand is perhaps the most the most destructive weapon in the sport of tennis. Who in the history of the game had – or has – the best forehand of all time? Steve Flink, newly-nominated International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee, tennis historian, journalist and author of the book THE GREATEST TENNIS MATCHES OF ALL TIME (available here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Greatest-Tennis-Matches-Time/dp/0942257936/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346763283&sr=8-1&keywords=Greatest+tennis+matches+of+all+time) ranks the top five forehands of all time as part of his book. The list is found below.

Top Five Forehands of All Time – Men

1.ROGER FEDERER Some hit the ball more mightily off the forehand side, and others were flashier, but Federer’s forehand is the best I have ever seen. His capacity to station himself inside the baseline and shorten the court for his opponent has surpassed all others. Once he is inside the court, he can go either way—inside-in or inside-out—and hit winners at will. In top form, he clips more lines with his majestic forehand than anyone and yet he makes very few mistakes for someone so adventuresome.

2. RAFAEL NADAL The Spaniard’s forehand has always been his trademark shot. Nadal tortures his rivals with his rhythmic precision off the forehand. The hop he gets on the forehand with the heaviest and most penetrating topspin of all time is almost mind boggling. He can go full tilt for hours on end and hardly miss a forehand, but it is not as if he is pushing his shots back into play; he is pulverizing the ball and weakening his opponent’s will simultaneously. He sends his adversaries into submission with a barrage of heavy forehands, weakening their resolve in the process. His ball control off the forehand is amazing. I give Federer the edge over Nadal for the best forehand ever, but it is a very close call.

3. IVAN LENDL The former Czech who became an American citizen transformed the world of tennis with his playing style, most importantly with his signature inside-out forehand. There were an abundance of serve-and-volley competitors along with more conventional baseline practitioners during his era, but Lendl changed it all, serving with impressive power to set up his magnificent semi-western, inside-out forehand—the shot that carried him to eight major titles. Lendl’s power and accuracy with that forehand had never been witnessed before.

4. BILL TILDEN Over the course of the 1920’s, when Tilden ruled tennis and studied the technique of the sport with all-consuming interest, the American influenced the sport immensely. He had an estimable first serve and he improved his backhand markedly, but the forehand was Tilden’s finest shot. He drove through the ball classically and confidently and it was a stroke that would not break down under pressure. The Tilden forehand was a shot made for the ages.

5. BJORN BORG, PETE SAMPRAS and JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO Although many observers took more notice of the Swede’s two-handed backhand because he joined Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert to popularize that shot in the 1970’s, his forehand was in many ways superior. Borg ushered in a brand of heavy topspin that was unprecedented and the forehand took him to the top of the sport. He passed particularly well off the backhand and disguised his two-hander adeptly, but the Borg forehand defined his greatness more than anything else. Sampras had the most explosive running forehand of all time and he could do quite a bit of damage from the middle of the court off that side as well. His magnificent forehand was relatively flat and it was awesome when he was on. Del Potro is changing the face of the modern game with his explosive flat forehand, the biggest in the sport today. It is a prodigious weapon, released with blinding speed. More than anything else, his sizzling forehand was the reason he halted Federer in a five-set final at the 2009 U.S. Open.

 

Top Five Forehands of All Time – Women

1 . STEFFI GRAF This was among the easiest selections to make among the best strokes ever produced. Considering how much pace she got on this explosive shot, it was made all the more remarkable by her grip—essentially a continental, on the border of an eastern. She would get into position early and with supreme racket head acceleration she would sweep through the ball and strike countless outright winners with her flat stroke. She had little margin for error, yet the forehand seldom let her down. In my view, it stands in a class by itself as the best ever.

2. MAUREEN CONNOLLY A natural left-hander who played tennis right-handed, Connolly had a beautifully produced one-handed backhand that was a shot which came more easily to her. The fact remains that Connolly’s forehand paved the way for her to win the Grand Slam in 1953. She placed the same value on fast footwork as Graf. Her inexhaustible attention to detail and sound mechanics gave Connolly a magnificent forehand.

3. HELEN WILLS MOODY Brought up on the hard courts of California, taught to play the game from the baseline with steadfast conviction, realizing the importance of controlling the climate of her matches, Wills Moody was not called “Little Miss Poker Face” without good reason. She was relentlessly disciplined in her court craft, making the backcourt her home, refusing to make mistakes yet hitting her ground strokes hard. Her flat forehand—hit unfailingly deep and close to the lines—was far and away the best of her era and one of the finest ever.

4. MONICA SELES Authorities often debated whether Seles was better off the forehand or the backhand. Both were left-handed, two-fisted strokes. Each was taken early. She could explore the most acute crosscourt angles or direct her shots within inches of the baseline off either side. Unlike most of her peers, Seles’s forehand was not one dimensional.

5. SERENA WILLIAMS On her finest afternoons, when her timing is on and her concentration is sharp, Williams can be uncontainable off the forehand. She covers the ball with just enough topspin and takes it early, often from an open stance. It is the shot she uses to open up the court, to either release winners or advance to the net. She can be breathtaking off that side at her best, but her ranking is not higher because her brilliance off that side can be sporadic.

“The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” book features profiles and rankings of the greatest matches of all time dating from the 1920s featuring Bill Tilden and Suzanne Lenglen up through the modern era of tennis featuring contemporary stars Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. Flink breaks down, analyzes and puts into historical context the sport’s most memorable matches, providing readers with a courtside seat at these most celebrated and significant duels. Flink also includes a fascinating “greatest strokes of all time” section where he ranks and describes the players who best executed all the important shots in the game through the years. Other champions featured in the book include Don Budge, Maureen Connolly, Rod Laver, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf among many others.

“The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time,” a hard-cover book that retails for $28.95, can be purchased via this link http://m1e.net/c?110071729-mFSTVX3uyJ5zw%407612075-hqIGItXY8SJAw at www.NewChapterMedia.com and where ever books are sold.

Flink, one of the most respected writers and observers in the game, is currently a columnist for TennisChannel.com. A resident of Katonah, N.Y., he is the former editor of World Tennis magazine and a former senior columnist at Tennis Week.

The book has received high praise from some of the most respected names in the sport, including Chris Evert, a winner of 18 major singles titles, who wrote the foreword to the book.

Said seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras, “Steve Flink was there reporting on almost every big match I played in my career. He has seen all of the great players for the last 45 years. I encourage you to read this book because Steve is one of the most insightful writers on the game that I have known and he really knows his tennis.”

Said former U.S. Davis Cup captain and player Patrick McEnroe, “As a writer and a fan, Steve Flink’s knowledge of tennis history and his love of the sport are second to none, which is why you should read his new book.”

Said ESPN’s Cliff Drysdale, “To see tennis through the eyes of Steve Flink is to wander through a wonderland. These are not fantasies because Steve captures the essence of tennis matches in graphic detail. There is no one more passionate or caring about his subject. In this absorbing book, I can relive matches that I have called on television.”

Said CBS, NBC and Tennis Channel commentator Mary Carillo, “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time is a masterful tennis epic. Its pages are brimming with insight, hindsight. And as always with Steve Flink, the 20/20 vision of the subtleties and complexities of a match. From Budge to Nadal and “Little Mo” to Serena Williams, Steve will guide you through the greatest matches you ever saw, or never saw. The game’s finest players and brightest moments will come alive and play again, right before your eyes. This book is a tennis treasure.”

Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is also the publisher of “The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players of All Time” by Sand Harwitt, “The Secrets of Spanish Tennis” by Chris Lewit, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer, “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins, “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was” by Sidney Wood, “The Days of Roger Federer” by Randy Walker, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “Titanic: The Tennis Story” by Lindsay Gibbs, “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes with Peter Kolar, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “On This Day In Tennis History” by Randy Walker (www.TennisHistoryApp.com) “A Player’s Guide To USTA League Tennis” by Tony Serksnis, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli (www.Boycott1980.com), “The Lennon Prophecy” by Joe Niezgoda (www.TheLennonProphecy.com), “Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Susan Anson, “How To Sell Your Screenplay” by Carl Sautter, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According To Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin, “How To Permanently Erase Negative Self Talk” by Emily Filloramo, “Lessons from the Wild” by Shayamal Vallabhjee among others.

Roger Federer Claims “Milestone” Victory At 2017 Australian Open

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Roger Federer claimed his 18th major title on Sunday at the Australian Open as he and Rafael Nadal turned back the clock. Federer grabbed the win in an intense five-setter, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

“This one is definitely a milestone in my career, there’s no doubt about it,” Federer said. “Rafa definitely has been very particular in my career. I think he made me a better player. It remains for me the ultimate challenge to play against him.”

With the two men alternating sets, it was never really clear who was going to come out on top until the last point of the match. In the fifth set alone, Nadal was up a break at 3-1 and looked poised to finish the deal, but Federer rattled off the last five games of the match to steal the title from his long-time friend and opponent, earning his fifth Australian Open title.

“I’d like to congratulate Rafa on an amazing comeback,” said Federer, who made an incredible comeback of his own at this year’s Australian Open. “I don’t think either of us believed we’d be in the final of the Australian Open when we were at your academy four or five months ago. But here we stand.”

A straightforward first set saw zero break points in nine out of the 10 games. The one exception to that came in the 3-3 game, as Federer opened up a 15-40 lead on Nadal’s serve and took advantage of his first break point. From there, the Suisse would drop just one break point in his last two service games to take the lead.

In the second set, both players started to get more comfortable in the match. Nadal was able to go up a double break lead early in the set, but Federer fought back to get one of the breaks back, making the score 4-2. Nadal locked it down on his serve after that break, though, holding at love twice to close out the set and even up the match.

Federer bounced back very strongly in the third as he was the one taking a double break lead this time, and he even had chances to win the set 6-0. Nadal did create his opportunities as well, seeing five break points total in the first and last games of the set, but he was unable to convert on any of them, allowing the Suisse to regain the lead.

In the fourth, Nadal settled down and really found his rhythm. He broke early for a 4-1 lead, and didn’t face a break point in the entire set. Just like in the second set, Nadal held at love twice to close out the set and even up the match, forcing a decisive fifth set.

That fifth set saw Nadal jump out to an early 3-1 lead, fighting off four break points in his first two service games. Federer wouldn’t go down that easily, though, as he was finally able to break Nadal and get back on serve at 4-3. In the eighth game of the set, Federer opened up a 0-40 lead with three break points to set himself up to serve for the title.

Nadal incredibly won three points in a row to get back to deuce before Federer would create two more break chances. On the second one, Federer was finally able to convert for the 5-3 lead. There, he fell into a 15-40 hole and it looked like Nadal was going to make a run of his own. That wasn’t the case, though, as Federer won five of the last six points, including the final one on a challenge which gave him the title.

“Tennis is a tough sport. There are no draws. But if there was one, I would have been happy to accept a draw with Rafa tonight,” Federer said during the trophy presentation.

The title for Federer extends his record of major title to 18 over Nadal’s and Pete Sampras’ count of 14, with Novak Djokovic lingering behind at 12. Federer came into the year hoping to win just one more major title, but now he’ll have the confidence to win one or two more throughout the rest of 2017.

Rafael Nadal Edges Grigor Dimitrov In Five-Set Epic, Roger Federer Next In Australian Open Final

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Rafael Nadal beat Grigor Dimitrov in an epic five-setter on Friday at the Australian Open to reach the final, 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-4. Nadal’s win sets up a matchup between two of the greatest athletes tennis has ever seen, the 14-time major champion Nadal and the 17-time major champion Roger Federer.

“It is amazing to be through to a final of a Grand Slam again here in Australia at the start of the year. Means a lot to me,” Nadal said. “It’s special to play with Roger again in a final of a Grand Slam.”

The final on Sunday will be the first time Nadal and Federer have faced off in a major final since the French Open in 2011, which Nadal won with ease.

The semifinal match between Nadal and Dimitrov was an instant classic as the two battled for almost five hours. Nadal came into the match as the heavy favorite, and eventually was able to reach in first major final in almost three years. Dimitrov, playing in just his second major semifinal, was almost able to withstand the constant high-energy style of play from Nadal, but just fell short in the end.

“It was a fantastic match. Very emotional. Grigor played great. I played great. So it was a great quality of tennis tonight,” Nadal said. “Both of us deserved to be in that final. It was a great fight.”

In a straight forward first set, Nadal fought off three break points in the opening game before settling down and breaking Dimitrov to take a 4-1 lead. Dominant on serve, Nadal dropped just two points in his last four service games to easily take the first set.

The second set was much crazier, as there were five breaks in total. Dimitrov got it started with a break to take a 4-1 lead, but Nadal was up to the task, breaking back a couple games later. The two exchanged breaks once more and it looked like we were headed for a tiebreak, but Dimitrov found some extra level late in the set, opening up a 15-40 lead on Nadal’s serve in the 12th game, breaking to take the set 7-5.

Once again, the two warriors exchanged breaks in the third set, but neither was able to find a late break to take the set. A tiebreak was needed to separate the two, and that was just as tight as the rest of the match had been. Nadal held leads at 3-1, 4-2, and 5-3, but Dimitrov was able to fight back each time. At 5-5, though, Nadal was able to reel off the last two points to take the tiebreak and a two sets to one lead.

Neither man faced a break point in the entire fourth set, as Dimitrov refused to back down. Another tiebreak was needed, and this time it was the Bulgarian who was taking the leads. After holding a lead at 4-2 at the change of ends, Dimitrov looked confident and stretched his lead to 6-3, holding three set points. On the second chance, Dimitrov was able to close out the set and force a deciding fifth set.

Dimitrov looked like he didn’t have the energy to pull out the win in the final set, as he four break points and was taken to deuce in three of his first four service games. With Dimitrov up 4-3, though, he had his chance. Up 15-40, the Bulgarian had two chances to break for a 5-3 lead to set himself up to serve out the match.

Nadal came up clutch, however, and impressively fought off both break points to hold for 4-4. That seemed to have finally killed off the effort from Dimitrov, as Nadal broke in the next game before holding in a 10-point game to close out the five-set win.

Nadal leads the overall head to head with Federer 23-11 overall, and 6-2 in major finals. He’ll hope to keep those trends alive as the two will battle on Sunday night in Melbourne, or very early Sunday morning on the east coast.

“For me, it’s a privilege and I think it’s a very special thing for both of us to be in the final,” Nadal said. “We are still there and we are still fighting for important events. That’s very special.”

 

In Return To Tournament Play, Roger Federer Wins Australian Open Opener

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

Roger Federer returned to professional tennis on Monday in Melbourne as he defeated qualifier Jurgen Melzer in four sets, 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.

The 17-time major champion played the last match on Rod Laver Arena on day one and gave the fans a little scare in the first two sets, but was able to settle down and find his rhythm in the end to get the win.

“I’m happy I was made to work today. It was great to be out there. I really enjoyed myself, even though it wasn’t so simple, Federer said.

Federer, who last played at Wimbledon in July of 2016, was forced to miss the second half of the season due to a back injury. The Suisse wanted to take the rest of the year to rehab and regroup in an attempt to make a run at another major in 2017, and possibly even getting back into the Top 3 or 4 spots of the ATP rankings.

“It was a long road but I’ve made it. I’m in the draw and it’s a beautiful thing. Any match is a good match. Even if I’d lost today, because I’m back on the court,” Federer said.

Melzer is no easy opponent, despite his current ranking of No. 300. The Austrian reached the semifinals of the French Open in 2010 and reached a career high ranking of No. 8 in April of 2011. After a bout with injuries over the last couple years, though, he had seen his ranking drop to outside the Top 500 just last summer.

“To play Jurgen was cool. We know each other since we were 16. We go way back,” Federer said. The two are now both 35-years old.

In Melbourne, Melzer had looked solid as he won three qualifying matches comfortably to earn his spot in the main draw, but was unlucky in getting matched up with Federer, the player who many will say is the greatest of all time.

It was a good battle for two sets as Melzer was actually the first player to make a move, breaking Federer for a 4-2 lead in the first set. The Suisse would break right back for 4-3, though, before going on to break again four games later to go up 6-5 and serve out the set at love.

Despite the disappointment of dropping the first set after being up a break, Melzer refused to go away in the second set. He was even broken in the first game of the second set, but he battled back to break Federer in his last two service games of the set to steal it and level up the match at one set each.

“I thought my serve was on and off in the beginning, which surprised me a little bit, because in practice it’s been going pretty well,” Federer said.

After dropping the second set in shocking fashion, Federer, who hit 19 aces in the match, went back to work and gave Melzer little hope of taking another set. He would break Melzer four times in the last two sets without being broken to ease his way to the four set win and into the second round.

Federer will now take on another qualifier in the second round, and this time it will be young American Noah Rubin. He’s made the second round of the Australian Open for the second year in a row. In 2016, he received a wild card and defeated Benoit Paire in straight sets. This year, he made it through qualifying and then knocked out fellow American qualifier Bjorn Fratangelo to reach the second round.

Federer, who hit 46 winners in the match and converted on seven of his nine break points against Melzer, admitted he knows little of his next opponent, but did state that the match will be on his racquet. He’ll take on Rubin on Wednesday in Melbourne.

Five Questions In Men’s Tennis For 2017

by Michael Lemont

Five questions in tennis for 2017.

1- Murray/Djokovic : Who’s gonna take over the leadership? 

Ranked No. 1 for almost three years, Novak Djokovic has lost his throne a couple of weeks before the end of the season. After a perfect first half of the year with a sixth win at the Australian Open, another double Indian Wells/Miami, the Serb finally won the French Open, the last major missing to his trophies, achieving a Grand Slam astride two seasons. He probably needed to release some pressure afterwards and during the second half of the season, he just won one title (Toronto) while Andy Murray became almost invincible with eight titles including Wimbledon, the Olympics and the year-end ATP World Tour Finals, 78 wins in total and 24 in a row to finish the season. And no doubt that his success over Djokovic in the Masters Cup final at home in London was the best conclusion for him, knowing that he lost 13 of their last 15 meetings before that ultimate one. So what’s gonna be Novak’s reaction in 2017? Will he be able to come back to the top? Can Murray stay number one for a little while?
2- Federer/Nadal : Can the Big Four be reunited?

The Big Four fell apart this year. After two semis at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, Roger Federer withdrew for the rest of the season due to his back injury. He also had to retire from the French Open earlier one, first time since 1999 that he missed a major. And for the first time since 2002, he finished a season out of the Top 10 (16th).  Rafael Nadal was not luckier in 2016. He was victim of a wrist injury in spring and he had to retire from Roland Garros, for the first time, after the second round. He came back for the Olympics (gold in double, semi in single) but it was too premature and after a disappointing US Open, he withdrew for the rest of the season. Ranked No. 9, it is his worst ranking since 2005. It’s also the first time that none of them is in the Top 4 since 2003. However, they both claimed that they will come back stronger for the opening season. They will turn 36 and 31 years old in 2017. Will they reach the top 4 again? Will they be able to be consistent enough all over the season?

 

3- Del Potro : Can he come back to the top again ?

After 4 wrist surgery and few years off-court since his first and last success in a major (US Open 2009), Juan Martin del Potro is trying another come back. Ranked No. 1,042 in February, he finished the season No. 38. With some astonishing wins this year over some top players (Wawrinka in Wimbledon, Djokovic and Nadal at the Olympics, Murray in the Davis Cup), he proved himself that without any injuries he will be able to reach the Top 10 again and much more. Beside the Big Four, he is the only player with Stanislas Wawrinka and Marin Cilic to have won a Grand Slam in the last 12 years. Silver medalist in Rio, he just led the Argentina team to his first Davis Cup trophy, becoming a hero in his country. No doubt that he will be one the players to follow during the upcoming season.
4- The “teen generation” … What’s next?

Because the tennis becomes more and more powerful and physical, it is hard today for the players to break through at an early age. The last teenagers to be part of the Top 10 were  Rafael Nadal in 2005 and Lleyton Hewitt in 2000. Players play longer and reach their best level later than before. The top 100 and top 10 had never been so old in the last few years. But after the 85-86 generation, the 95-96 one is now ready to reverse the trend. For the first time since 2008, the Top 10 is getting younger again (mostly because Roger Federer left it in 2016). The leader of that new generation is Nick Kyrgios, 21 years old and already ranked No. 13 at the ATP. He is one of the only six players that has beaten at least six Top 10 players during the season. He might need to become more mature and professional in order to claim big victories in a very close future. Alexander Zverev (19yo, 24th, one title in St-Petersburg), Borna Coric (20yo, 48th, 2 finals in Chennai and Marrakech) and Taylor Fritz (19yo, 77th, one final in Memphis) are at least as promising. Around the Top 100, Yoshihito Nishioka,  Hyeon Chung, Jared Donaldson, Frances Tiafoe and Andrey Rublev are other names to focus on and to follow for the next seasons.
5 – What about the others?

With three wins in three different majors in the last three years, Stanislas Wawrinka will be one of the most serious contenders to the Big Four once again. However, his lack of consistency will not make him a pretender to the No. 1 status. Alongside  him, the old generation will still be there with Tomas Berdych, David Ferrer, Marin Cilic and the Frenchmen. Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet will try to become the first french players to win a Major since Yannick Noah in 1983. In the meantime the middle generation never seemed to be that strong. Milos Raonic (3rd), Key Nishikori (5th), Dominic Thiem (8th) and David Goffin (11th) looked mature enough to compete with the Big Four. Grigor Dimitrov, Bernard Tomic and Lucas Pouille can also have ambitious goals for 2017.
Hopefully all those players are gonna make this upcoming season a great one, full of records, emotions and suspense.

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