Roger Federer

Surprises, Comebacks Highlight Start of Australian Open

The first Grand Slam is already underway in the beautiful city of Melbourne, Australia. Since the 10th of January with the start of qualifying, we have seen great action and endurance from some of the emerging talents in the world of tennis as they battle Down Under.

This is not just a great time for the players themselves but for fantasy players as well as they try to win big in the first Grand Slam of the year and lay down the marker for future success. If you want to become a tennis fantasy player, you need to keep in mind that it’s less than football fantasy betting and more of the lottery. At the start of the year, you need to bank on chance that your fantasy players will play to their potential rather than base your choices on player’s current form. Even if it’s more of a game of chance, you still possess the ability to win just like when you play the Powerball lottery online.

Below is a recap of some the early highlights so so far at the Australian Open.

Three of the four women’s semifinalists from the previous Grand Slam, the US Open, lost in the first round! Sloane Stephens, the 2017 US Open, was defeated in the opening round to China’s Zhang Shuai 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2. She is now 0-8 in matches since her US Open triumph last September. Coco Vandeweghe, an Australian and U.S. Open semifinalist last year, couldn’t fight through her flu and lost in the first round to Timea Babos 7-6, 6-2. Venus Williams, last year’s finalist at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and a semifinalist at the U.S. Open lost 6-3, 7-5 to Belinda Bencic, who is still on an inspiring high after pairing with Roger Federer to win the Hopman Cup for Switzerland.

Six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic played his first tournament match since Wimbledon, with a new service motion, a sleeve on his right arm to protect his injured elbow, and new coach Radek Stepanek in the coaching box alongside Andre Agassi. He had little trouble in the first round with American Donald Young, who played helped Djokovic into the second round with poor play in a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 decision.

Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 Australian Open champion, also played his first tournament match since Wimbledon and sported a nasty looking scar on his right knee from his summer surgery. The Swiss man only dropped a set in his first round win over Ricardas Berankis. Wawrinka’s fellow Swiss Roger Federer, the defending champion and No. 2 seed, had little trouble with Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene winning in three sets.

 

 

Expect The Unexpected At The 2018 Australian Open

The Australian Open has a history of producing unpredictable results with healthy helping of long-shot champions, finalists and semifinalists. A primary reason for this is because the event is played in the third week of the tennis season and a players off-season training – or lack thereof – showcases itself.

Injuries and comebacks are the major theme heading into the 2018 Australian Open. On the men’s side, five-time finalist Andy Murray is out of the event after undergoing hip surgery. Former top 10 star Kei Nishikori of Japan is also not competing due to injury. Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka are expected to post in their returns to tournament tennis. Djokovic has not played since last summer with a right elbow injury. Wawrinka has also not played since the summer after undergoing  knee surgery.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal had a much shorter injury layoff, not playing an official tournament since having to withdraw from the ATP World Tour Finals at the end of the 2017 season with a hampered knee.

The Australian Open has a long history of long-shots advancing deep into the tournament and also claiming the men’s and women’s singles titles. On the men’s side,  some most recent surprise performances have been champions Petr Korda (1999), Thomas Johannsson (2002) and also Marcos Baghdatis, Fernando Gonzalez and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who made their only major singles final appearances in 2006, 2007 and 2008 respectively. Since then, winners and runners-up have been among the elite of the elite – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray – with the lone exception being Stan Wawrinka, who was ranked No. 9 when he won his first major title in Melbourne in 2014.

In 2017, Grigor Dimitrov had another breakthrough major tournament by reaching the semifinals, where he lost in an epic five-set thriller to Nadal. After his victory at the year-end ATP World Tour Finals in London to end 2017, Dimitrov is the top choice to win the title in Melbourne this year other than No. 1 Nadal and No. 2 seed and defending champion Roger Federer. Austria’s Dominic Thiem, ranked No. 5, and Germany’s Alexander Zverev, ranked No. 4, are also poised for greatness and could begin this next generation of champions with an Australian Open win. Australia’s immensely talented Nick Kyrgios, ranked No. 17, could put his temperament aside and rise the tide of local support to fulfill his massive potential. His title in Brisbane leading into the event have buoyed his tennis betting odds.

On the women’s side, the Australian Open has also crowned unheralded champions such as Kerry Reid in 1977, Chris O’Neil in 1978 and Barbara Jordan in 1979. Angelique Kerber was the Australian Open surprise in 2016, winning her first major title with a final-round upset of world No. 1 Serena Williams.  Kerber and 2008 champion Maria Sharapova are the only two former Australian Open winners in the 2018 women’s singles field. Defending champion Serena Williams has pulled out of the event, not feeling her post-pregnancy comeback has progressed fast enough for her liking. Vika Azarenka, the 2012 and 2013 Australian Open champion, also pulled out of the event since she is not able to travel overseas in a custody battle of her son.

The top two women’s seeds, Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki respectively, have never won a major singles title, which may place No. 3 seed Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 French Open and 2017 Wimbledon champion, as the favorite. Elina Svitolina, the No. 4 seed, has also never won a major singles title but appears as though she is a future candidate for that role and Australia would be an appropriate stage for this kind of breakthrough.

Johanna Konta of Britain, born in Australia and ranked No. 9, may be a surprise pick to win the title. She was a surprise semifinalist Down Under in 2016 and also at Wimbledon in 2017 so she could make a move to a later round.

“The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” Makes For Great Holiday Gift

Having trouble thinking of the proper holiday gift for the tennis player in your life? Consider the book “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” by 2017 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Steve Flink

“The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” features profiles and rankings of the greatest matches of all time dating from the1920s 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 book is published by New Chapter Press, the premier global publisher of tennis books.

The hard-cover book, that makes for a centerpiece of a coffee table or at your local tennis club, retails for $28.95, and can be purchased here on Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/dp/0942257936/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_Qj-rybVBRK7ZW or 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 in her career, 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 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.”

Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is also the publisher of “The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players of All Time” by Sandra Harwitt, “The Secrets of Spanish Tennis” by Chris Lewit, “Sport of a Lifetime” by Judy Aydelott, “Absolute Tennis: The Best and Next Way To Play The Game” by Marty Smith, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer, “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins (a new third edition published in late 2016), “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was” by Sidney Wood, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “Your Playbook for Beating Depression” by Cliff Richey and Mary Garrison, “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, “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, “People’s Choice Guide Cancun” by Eric Rabinowitz, “Lessons from the Wild” by Shayamal Vallabhjee among others.

Rafael Nadal Seeks Missing Link On Career Resume at Nitto ATP World Tour Finals

Rafael Nadal is extra motivated to win the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals in London. Why? Because it is the one big tennis tournament that is missing from his incredible career. Resume

This week in London provides a great opportunity for Nadal, the world No. 1, to nab the missing link in his career with two of his chief rivals, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, not in the field due to injuries. However, Nadal is also nursing a tender knee that has some question whether he will be able to finally break-through and win the prestigious year-end championships. Roger Federer has won the ATP World Tour Finals six times and, as the best indoor court player in the world, is the tennis betting odds favorite to win the title once again.

In seven previous appearances at the ATP World Tour Finals, Nadal has only reached the final twice, losing to Roger Federer in 2010 and Novak Djokovic in 2013. He also lost in the semifinals three times, losing to Federer in 2006 and 2007 and Djokovic in 2015, the last time Nadal played the year-end championships. In 2009 and 2011, Nadal failed to emerge from round-robin play. Incredibly, Nadal has been injured and not able to participate in the event five times, including last year.

Also missing from the Nadal career resume is the Miami Open. Nadal has been a runner-up there on five occasions – in 2005, 2008, 2011, 2014 and 2017 – being points away from the title twice.

Nadal has won ten French Championships, as has been so well documented, as well as two Wimbledon titles, three U.S. Open titles and one Australian Open title. He won Olympic gold in singles in 2008 (and gold in doubles in 2016!) and led Spain to the Davis Cup title four times.

And then there are the ATP 1000 level events, in the past referred to as the “Super 9” of which some have long and storied histories and others that are starting traditions and are only prestigious now due to ATP points and prize money offered. At these events, Nadal has won in Indian Wells three times (2007, 2009 and 2013), Monte Carlo ten times, Rome seven times and also in Madrid in its two incarnations as an indoor hard event in the Fall in 2005 and as a clay event in the Spring in 2010, 2014 and 2017.

During the summer hard court season, Nadal has won in Canada three times (2005, 2008 and 2013) and also in Cincinnati in 2013.

Nadal has not won in Shanghai and at the Paris Indoors, two of the more recent additions to this elite level of events, without as much of the history and tradition as the others. Nadal, however, did also win at the German Championships in Hamburg when it was a “Super 9” event in 2008.

By comparison, the only missing titles on Federer’s resume are Monte Carlo and Rome, but has also has won all four major titles, the Davis Cup for Switzerland, Olympic gold in doubles (silver in singles) and the ATP World Tour Finals six times. For Novak Djokovic, Cincinnati remains the missing link on his career resume, in addition to an Olympic gold medal, although the Serbian did win a bronze medal in singles in 2008.

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.