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Janko Tipsarevic on Davis Cup, his DJing career, and His Serbian Teammates


Current world #9 Janko Tipsarevic is a force to be reckoned with on the tennis court, having finally won his first two titles on the ATP Tour last year. The Serb helped his country win the Davis Cup last year and credits his teammates as his best friends. I had the chance to chat with him about his time in Miami, the start of his DJing career and his Davis Cup win.

Knowing you enjoy house music, have you had a chance to catch to catch any of the Ultra Music Festival going on in downtown Miami?

I didn’t have a chance to go out to Ultra.

Is it on the schedule?

I think today is the last day, right?

Yes.

So, no. Luckily, it’s not on the schedule, so that means I’m performing well.  I went out on Saturday to “Mansion” and it was overcrowded because it was the beginning of Winter Music Conference.

I am starting my DJ career. Last week, I was DJing with Bob Sinclair [at the player’s party] and picked up a few tricks. I was really happy about that.

What is your most memorable moment on court?

Winning the Davis Cup.

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

I would probably invite the Serbian Davis Cup team because they are my closest friends, and I feel most relaxed when I am around them. We can talk literally about anything. Novak [Djokovic], Viktor [Troicki] would be my first picks.

What are two things you can’t live without?

Two things? People are not counted so I do not have to say my wife, right? (Jokes and laughs). I would say cell phone and internet.

If you could invite any three people to dinner, living or dead, who would they be and why?

Living or dead? Hmmm. (Long pause). I would invite probably Swedish House Mafia.

DJ a little with them, maybe join them?

Pfff. That would be good!

SERENA’S “MINI-RETIREMENTS” HELP HER LONGEVITY

By Blair Henley

It’s been almost three months since Serena Williams last played a tennis match.

Since her victory at the Australian Open, she has visited Kenya to open a secondary school in her name, appeared on the Home Shopping Network to sell her Signature Line and even enrolled in courses to become a nail technician. Her interests outside of tennis have raised eyebrows regarding her dedication to the game, but perhaps her frequent layoffs, injury related or not, are actually what have enabled her reign atop the women’s tour for so long.

It’s easy to root for the grinder who eats, sleeps and breathes tennis. Society says that hard work pays off, and we love seeing proof. When Ana Ivanovic won the French Open in 2008, fans cheered her gritty style of play and analysts seemed to think there were big things in store for the marketable Serb. Her ranking now sits at No. 57 and she has not come close to replicating her Grand Slam success. The same could be said for Nicole Vaidisova, who went from the world top 10 in 2007 to the top 200 in 2010. She recently announced her retirement at the ripe old age of 20. Jelena Dokic is another young and promising baseliner who reached the top 5 in 2002 before slowly sliding out of the spotlight.

These are just a few examples of players who have clawed their way to the top only to have trouble staying there. On the other hand, Serena has proved herself against the best in the world for over ten years and doesn’t seem fazed by the pressure of heightened expectations that has knocked many would-be stars off their short-lived pedestals.

Despite her incredibly successful career, critics are quick to say that she has failed to make the most of her talent and athleticism. They wonder what she could achieve if she completely immersed herself in the game, but I’ve yet to hear anyone laud Serena’s unusual approach as a contributing factor in her unparalleled longevity in tennis’ modern era.

There’s no denying that tennis is a training intensive sport, and any top tour competitor has paid her dues. For some, however, tennis becomes all-consuming – and not in a good way. There is pressure to train constantly and play as many tour events as possible at the expense of a well-rounded existence.

Serena seems to shrug off what people think she should be doing and as a result comes into events with a rested body and a fresh outlook. If all her spare time were spent on the court and at the gym, perhaps her career would have fizzled a long time ago like so many of her peers.

Tennis fans were amazed at Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters’ recent comeback success, but their dominance was simply a result of a renewed perspective. The intermittent breaks from competition that we are used to seeing from Serena are, in a sense, mini retirements. Like Henin and Clijsters, she returns refreshed and hungry after having pursued other passions.

While it may not be in every player’s best interest to step away from the game to develop a new line of merchandise, I do think there is value in Serena’s approach. Taking time to remember that there is more to life than wins and losses on a tennis court could be a good thing.

JELLY ROLLS – JANKOVIC RETURNS TO TOP FORM AT INDIAN WELLS

By Chris Oddo

It was a wild week in the California Desert – conditions were so balmy that I felt like imitating that BNP Paribas commercial where the fans grab the player’s racquets and make a mockery of the match by running onto the court and taking wild amateurish swings at the ball.

Fortunately I didn’t act on any of these feelings – the tennis being played on the courts was so spectacular that I wouldn’t have dared.

Speaking of spectacular, nobody on the women’s side was more spectacular than the 25-year-old Serbian Sensation known as “JJ” to her fans.  I prefer Jelly, but that’s another story for another day.  Whatever you call her, the Serb put together her strongest effort of the young season, staging a Houdini of a comeback against Sara Errani in the 3rd round, then riding the momentum to four straight set victories, and her 12th career title on Sunday.

The win comes on the heels of a parting of ways with former coach, Ricardo Sanchez, and the formation of a temporary no-strings-attached agreement with Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy Director of Tennis, Chip Brooks.

Jankovic, who hasn’t been beyond the 4th round of a Slam since her 2008 U.S. Open final appearance, played at such a high level in this tournament that it’s hard not to consider the possibility of another run up the tennis ladder and into the top-5 again.  The former No. 1 reached the semifinals or better in three of four majors in ’08, but success has not come so easily since.

Part of her success, and perhaps part of what has been missing since she has slipped, has been her ability to aggressively dictate play to her opponents.  Perhaps Jankovic has tended to lean on her defensive prowess too much over the years – but not here at Indian Wells.  She is content no more.  Jankovic seemed to forget to put the pedal to the metal at times in ’09 when the situation called for it.  She didn’t take advantage of her ability to hit very heavy balls and put very significant pressure on her adversaries.  Brooks took notice of this and started coaching her to embrace her aggressive nature.

It’s some of the strategical terrain that Chip Brooks, Jelena’s coach at the moment, mentioned to me in our conversation today, and it was the stuff that was obviously crucial to her success this week.  When Jankovic started to get some wind in her sails with a very decisive win against Israeli Shahar Peer in the 4th round, Brooks said he knew they had a shot.  As a witness to that match, I must admit, it was pretty impressive.  Routinely stepping inside the baseline and scorching winners from both wings against Peer, Jelly was getting on a roll that she was destined to never get off.

Could this be the real deal, or were we simply remembering with fondness a Jankovic that we would more than likely never see again?   Were we seeing ghosts in the machine?

Apparently not.

Suddenly, with a juggernaut of a run to a very prestigious title, Jankovic has worked her way into that category of players that just might do some damage come springtime.

Could she be coming of age for a second time?

It was hard not to notice the ease with which she closed out matches against the likes of Sam Stosur (new to the top-10 this week) and Caroline Wozniacki (now No. 2 in the world).  Not only did she consistently make the first strike against her opponents, taking them out of crucial points, but Jankovic displayed some of the best serving she’s ever produced.  Surrendering three breaks in the final three matches pretty much tells the story.  And what was perhaps even more impressive is that she didn’t face a break point throughout the very tense 2nd set that decided the final against Wozniacki.

“I just have to stay focused and do what I do best,” Jankovic told the press as she spoke to them after her semifinal victory over stosur.  It was a telling statement, and it is indeed good news that Jankovic appears to finally remember what she does best.  Chip Brooks deserves some credit for the turnaround, but, as he told me himself “this isn’t about me, she’s the one out there hitting the ball.”

Indeed she is.

Azarenka, Ivanovic soar into second round in Cincinnati

In their first appearances at the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open in Cincinnati, Ninth-seeded Victoria Azarenka and No. 11 Ana Ivanovic advanced to the second round.

Azarenka, who has won three singles titles this season, held off Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi, 6-3, 7-6(2), in the opening match of the tournament. Ivanovic, a former world No. 1, rallied from a first set hiccup to bounce American qualifier Melanie Oudin, 2-6, 6-1, 6-1, in 88 minutes.

The 20-year-old Belarusian was solid throughout the one hour and 29-minute match, committing only 15 unforced errors compared to 36 by Kanepi. Azarenka won 75 percent of first serve points, while breaking serve on three of seven occasions. Azarenka has now won both meetings against Kanepi and will next face Russian Anna Chakvetadze, who defeated Elena Vesnina, 7-5, 6-3.

After looking like another early round exit was in store for the former Roland Garros champion, Ivanovic quickly turned things around as the 17-year-old Oudin began to fade.

Ivanovic struggled a great deal with her ball toss, hitting six double faults, but insisted afterwards that she has had more pace on her serve and her shoulder problems are gone. The 21-year-old Serb was very consistent from the baseline in the final two sets, breaking serve five times.

Play was suspended in the third set due to heavy thunderstorms with Ivanovic leading 4-1. But after play resumed following a lengthy delay, Ivanovic lost just three points en route to victory.

Ivanovic next faces Melinda Czink of Hungary, who defeated Alize Cornet, 6-3, 6-2. Ivanovic has won all three previous meetings against Czink, winning most recently at Wimbledon in 2007.