wimbledon championships

Juan Martin Del Potro Looks to Further Improve on his Best Wimbledon Ever

Juan Martin del Potro in Wimbledon semifinals png

(July 3, 2013) For years now, I have dismissed Juan Martin Del Potro on grass. And it wasn’t without reason. He is very tall and has long legs, and the low bounce on grass makes it difficult for him to get down to hit balls comfortably. His movement on the surface has never been great. Most of all, though, even when he played his best tennis, the results just weren’t there on the green stuff.

I should have started paying attention last summer, when a great run at the London Olympics took Del Potro to the a victory over Novak Djokovic and the Bronze Medal. I should have noticed in the earlier rounds of this tournament, when his level of play was higher than it has ever been on grass.

Well, I finally noticed when he hit David Ferrer off the court.

This is the Juan Martin Del Potro that a terrible wrist injury has deprived us from seeing for 4 years. Sure, he’s shown flashes of his old self the past 2-3 seasons or so. But there has been no consistency at that level and no reason for us to think that he could sustain it again.

Del Potro is moving very well around the grass courts, getting to balls with enough time, and just absolutely hitting the stuffing out of them. Del Potro has shown us a level of grit and determination this tournament that we haven’t seen from him since the US Open final in 2009.

2013 has not been a great year so far for Del Potro but he is really beginning to heat up now. The American hard courts are by far his best surface and he is primed for a great summer as long as he is healthy. He has looked lethal on the grass so far this year and there is really no reason that his grass season has to end this match.

Of course, his opponent might have something to say about that. Novak Djokovic is on a mission to win his second Wimbledon and he doesn’t want to let the last player to beat him on grass stop him now. Djokovic has been monstrous on defense all tournament and those elastic defensive skills will be tested against Del Potro’s power.

Djokovic is clearly the best player in the game right now. That being said, he has not been as dominant this year as in the past few and is nowhere near the untouchable level that he was back in the spring of 2011. He has no real weaknesses, but another talented player playing his best game for 2 or more hours can definitely beat him.

Obviously, even though there is never any shame in losing to the best player in the world, this match would be disappointing for Del Potro if he loses. He has played through nasty spills and terrible knee pain and it would be sad for him to lose. But this has been the best Wimbledon of his young career so far and it is a tremendous step moving forward to try and once again find the levels that won him a Slam already in his career. The Tower of Tandil is standing tall—and he will go as far in this tournament as his body lets him.

Jerzy Janowicz Ready to Rise Above the Rest

(June 30, 2013) Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic, and Bernard Tomic have been commonly touted as being the next generation of great champions. If the ATP World Tour was a movie, these three men are believed to be its future leads.

While I do agree these three players have voluminous potential, I believe one young man—Jerzy Janowicz—is ready to rise above them all.

Let’s take a closer look at the 22-year-old Pole’s game to see what separates him not only from the young stars of the ATP World Tour but also from the other giants of tennis.

The most glaring aspect of Janowicz’s game is his imposing serve, which he unloads with herculean strikes and in the process prevents his opponents from grasping even the slightest glimpse of the ball. Janowicz delivers his devastating, heat-sinking missile of a serve from a soaring height. At 6”8’, the Pole is not only one of the tallest players on tour but is actually one of the few players that is able to look over the net and see his opponent’s baseline (you must be 6”7’ to do so).

Janowicz’s serve of course comes with much power but it also possesses ample variation. On the deuce side, as was demonstrated in the Paris Indoor Masters last fall, Janowicz is able to slide his racket head across the outside-edge of the ball producing a side-spin serve that not only moves out and away from his opponents but also lands short in the box making it nearly unreturnable. In terms of his second-serve, Janowicz is able to torpedo up the back of the ball and produce uncanny amounts of topspin making it more of a weapon than a starting shot.

Many big men on tour such as John Isner, Milos Raonic, and Kevin Anderson can absolutely crank their serves and are able to hold quickly and often. This is all fine and dandy until you realize that winning every set in a tiebreaker is not only an unrealistic expectation but really the last thing anybody wants to be doing. Unfortunately enough, this is what a lot of tall guys on tour end up having to do because they simply cannot break serve.

No shortage of individuals have correctly pointed out that big men on tour often find themselves retreating and backtracking on second serves to give themselves more time to set up and execute the return. This puts them into highly defensive positions and exploits their poor movement.

The explanation I find more revealing of the poor returning of big men is much grimmer: These guys have inadequate reactionary prowess and will probably never be anything more than average returners because they need more time than is allotted to hit meaningful returns. If you examine a player like John Isner, you’ll find out quickly that he loves running around his backhand and taking massive cuts on his forehands—granted he has time. Milos Raonic is much the same in that while he may be a big ball striker, he thrives when given time and often crumbles when rushed. This necessity for time during rallies extends to the return of serve.

Janowicz, unlike several of his towering contemporaries, takes a fearless and aggressive stance when returning serve. Against Andy Murray in Paris last year, Janowicz was almost standing on top of the baseline for first serve returns and was inside the baseline on countless second serve returns. Needless to say, Andy Murray’s serve is no pushover. Janowicz is able to establish such a proactive return stance for multiple reasons. One, Janowicz has speedy reactions and is able to anticipate and pick up on where his opponents are serving. Secondly, Janowicz’s forehand and backhand do not have protracted swing paths thus when returning, he is used to producing the abbreviated swings needed to deflect back powerful serves.

Speaking of Janowicz groundstrokes, the Pole’s forehand and backhand are undoubtedly some of the flattest strokes on tour. Janowicz drives through the ball with low-margin, enterprising and authoritative linear strikes. Janowicz’s forehand grip is also one of the most extreme on tour. He uses a full eastern grip approaching a continental grip which helps to explain the flat nature of his groundstrokes. Despite Janowicz’s groundstrokes being very high-risk, he is able to stay in elongated rallies because his swings are short and simple thus he is not going to be breaking down mechanically when under pressure.

The commanding power Janowicz possesses is beautifully contrasted by his out of world feel. The tennis world was shocked when the big man started pulling out the most deft and well-timed of drop shots in Paris last fall. This feel is translated to his net play which is assisted by his extremely long wingspan.

I would also be remiss to exclude the fact that Janowicz possesses absolutely shocking movement for a guy of his height. His court coverage and all-around speed are unbelievable and frankly unprecedented for a guy of his stature.

Ultimately, if you compare Janowicz’s game to the other young phenoms on tour, it becomes evident the Pole’s game has more dimensions. He has more weapons on court than any of the other young talents and certainly can do more than almost all of the big guys. I could go on and on praising the ability of this guy, but I think he’d prefer to prove how good he is on court.

As we head into the second week of Wimbledon, Janowicz is two matches away from a likely semifinal encounter with Andy Murray. If Janowicz does end up facing Murray, expect the Pole to display his full repertoire of shot making backed by a supreme level of confidence for Centre Court on Friday.

Don’t look now, but a week from today, we could very well be watching Jerzy Janowicz step on to Centre Court as a Wimbledon finalist.

Rafael Nadal stunned by world No. 100 Lukas Rosol in second round of Wimbledon Championships

By Romi Cvitkovic

Spanish tennis player and world No. 2 Rafael Nadal has equaled his worse ever defeat at the Wimbledon Championships as he lost to world No. 100, Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic, in the second round of the Wimbledon Championships, 6-7(11), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.

From the first game of the match, it was clear that Rosol would not be intimidated by two-time Wimbledon champion Nadal, as he fired an ace and two back-to-back forehand winners to open play and hold serve. Nadal responded by winning the next game with two aces. Rosol then held serve at love, but was broken in the fourth game, giving Nadal the slight edge which he usually runs with. But not today.

The Spaniard sprayed a few forehands long giving Rosol the opportunity to break back which he did and it was back on serve at 3-all. The rallies continued into a tiebreak with Rosol serving like a magician and Nadal struggling to find balance in his forehand, until Nadal finally broke free at 9-all to take the first set tiebreak at 11-9.

Nadal instantly dropped his serve with a double-fault at the start of the second set and that is all Rosol needed to secure a 6-4 comeback. All of a sudden, it was the Czech player dictating play and forcing Nadal into errors with his depth of hitting.

The third game was much of the same, with Rosol breaking Nadal to go up 3-1. Nadal became visibly frustrated complaining to the chair umpire about Rosol’s pre-serve movements and noises, which manifested itself in a shoulder dip between the two players during the following changeover. A few small hiccups for Rosol that have him stretching for balls and sending them long could have easily derailed his momentum, but he held strong to take the third set, 6-4.

With many watching stunned, it became difficult to decipher between who was world No. 2 and world No. 100, but Nadal quieted the questioning — at least temporarily in the fourth set. Nadal finally took hold of the rallies, winning two break points, while Rosol became tentative and a bit bewildered. The Czech still held his own, but didn’t force his serve as much and quickly went down 2-6 to force a deciding fifth set.

Due to poor lighting at two sets a piece, play was halted for 45 minutes in order to close the roof on Centre Court, with Nadal scowling at the tournament officials presumably disappointed at breaking his momentum.

Serving to start the final set, Nadal shanked a backhand on the first point and was broken when he failed to put away an overhead. Not overcome with emotion from this impending career-defining victory, Rosol fired 20 winners in the final game. Nothing could have prepared the Czech for what was about to happen. Up 5-4 in the decider, Rosol not only fired three aces, but sealed the match with an ace, instantly falling to his knees, arms outstretched in warrior mode.

Getting to know Lukas Rosol

At 26-years-old, Rosol is a relative unknown in tennis, mostly playing at the ATP Challenger level and in only his 6th Grand Slam appearance. His best Slam performance was at 2011 Roland Garros where he reached the third round as a qualifier by beating his first Top 10 ranked player, Jurgen Melzer in the second round. By beating Nadal today, it is not only his second Top 10 victory, but also the 4th time he has beaten a left-handed player out of five attempts.

Rosol’s win today marks only the second time he has won back-to-back Tour-level matches on grass after reaching the third round at Queen’s Club two weeks ago.

Rosol is also still alive in men’s doubles with partner Mikhail Kukushkin as they defeated No. 13 seed Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins in the first round on Wednesday.

Incidentally, Nadal will have to continue to wait for his next non-clay title, as he has not won a title on a surface other than clay since October 2010, when he won in Tokyo.

7 reasons why Novak Djokovic will win Wimbledon

Novak Djokovic lost out on completing the Grand Slam of Grand Slams when losing in the final of the French Open to Rafael Nadal but Bettingpro.com writer Neil Roarty explains why the Serb can bounce back at Wimbledon.

The French Open final was a thrilling tennis match between not only the two best players in the world but arguably two of the all-time greats in the men’s game. Rafael Nadal’s victory over Novak Djokovic has some people believing that the tide has turned back in favour of the Spaniard but that is not the case and here are seven reasons why Djokovic will be claiming instant revenge at Wimbledon:

1 – Djokovic is still world number one

Despite the hype over Rafael Nadal’s impressive win over Novak Djokovic in Paris it is still the Serb who sits atop the world rankings and he will head to Wimbledon as the top seed. This has to be respected and it must be remembered that other than on clay (for a three tournament spell) Djokovic has been the best player on the ATP Tour this season. He still holds three of the four major titles and the challenge remains for other players to knock him off his perch, not for him to beat them.

2 – Djokovic is the reigning Wimbledon champion

Last year’s victory at the All England Club was a huge step forward in the career of Novak Djokovic. Not only did it lift him to world number one but it also proved to supporters, opponents and himself that he had the game to win on grass. Nadal lost twice in the final at SW19 before he claimed his first Wimbledon title and then went unbeaten for two years (he did not play in 2010) before Djokovic halted him last year. The confidence of knowing you can win on a new surface cannot be underestimaed and at the moment it is Djokovic who knows that he is the best player on grass.

3 – The Big Four is now only a Big Two

For the last three or four years there has been talk of a ‘Big Four’ in tennis but the past 12 months has shown that to be wrong. Each of the last four Grand Slam finals have now been contested by Djokovic and Nadal and it is now clear that there are only two top players in the men’s game. Roger Federer and Andy Murray lag some way behind the ‘Big Two’ and if any of those players beat Djokovic at Wimbledon it would rank as a major upset.

4 –Djokovic 11 Nadal 6

Djokovic holds an almost 2:1 head-to-head lead against Nadal on any courts other than clay. This includes the last five meetings between the pair on either hard or grass courts and also takes in the last three Grand Slam finals on those surfaces. Nadal may be the King of Clay but Djokovic rules on all other courts.

5 – Djokovic is the fittest player on the ATP Tour

Djokovic’s fitness levels are incredible. He may adopt a hangdog look at times during matches but he is never out of energy. He is often susceptible to bursts of inspiration from opponents but he always manages to ride these out to go on and win matches. The likes of Andy Murray or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga can play at 100% for one or maybe even two sets before falling to half pace but Djokovic can play at 90-99% for as long as a match lasts. This means that the longer a match lasts, the more chance the Serb has of emerging victorious, as indicated by his five sets wins over Andreas Seppi and Tsonga in Paris and his epic five set victory over Nadal in last year’s US Open final.

6 – Djokovic should have won the French Open final

The French Open final was a strange match. There were a lot of breaks of serve but there was also a clear momentum shift on Sunday afternoon. Nadal took the first two sets after some blistering tennis but Djokovic, as noted in point 5, simply hung in against the Spaniard and seemed to have ridden out the storm. He rattled off eight consecutive games and but for a rain delay would have gone on and won the title at Roland Garros. It wasn’t to be and Nadal was allowed to regroup, recuperate and he came back out and took the fourth set on Monday. A clear day at Wimbledon, however, would no doubt see the Serb get the better of his rival over five sets.

7 – Djokovic has the most motivation

The defeat at Roland Garros will have stung Djokovic far more than any recent defeat has hurt Nadal. The loss prevented the world number one from achieving an historic Grand Slam of Grand Slam titles, which is something that neither Nadal nor Federer has achieved. The 25-year-old will be keen to avenge the defeat and show that losing in Paris was simply a blip. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Serb went on to win Wimbledon and then both the US Open and Australian Open titles before returning to Paris in 2013 to finally crack Nadal.

Article provided by Neil Roarty from Wimbledon-Live.com

Wimbledon: Who is Hassan Ndayishimiye?

By Cynthia Lum

You say you’ve never heard of Burundi? Well neither had I until this week when I heard about Hassan Ndayishimiye, a 16 year old playing in the juniors to be the first tennis player to represent the East African country of Burundi in the Wimbledon Championships.

 

 

My curiosity was immediately sparked and I started researching this country that I knew nothing about. One of the world poorest countries, approximately 80% of the Burundi population lives in poverty. According to the World Food Program, 56% of children under age five suffer from chronic malnutrition. Life expectancy at birth is estimated at 48.5 years.

Officially known as the Republic of Burundi, located in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa, the country is landlocked but it’s southwestern border is adjacent to Lake Tanganyika.

So how did this young man who was raised in Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, and grew up in a shantytown, make it to the Wimbledon Championships?

His tennis pro father encouraged is son even though Hassan was often reluctant, saying that his father actually forced him to play, but then when he started winning he liked tennis, because like any kid in the world he liked winning.

The young player progressed and won a few tournaments. Ndayishimiye has been training at the ITF Training Center in Pretoria, South Africa since 2009. The ITF and the Grand Slam Development Fund offers young players from developing nations an opportunity to advance their training.

The International Tennis Federation requested a wild card from the All England Club into the qualifying and he won his two matches to reach the main draw.

Hassan won his first round match yesterday but lost a hard-fought 3 set second round match to Frederico Ferre Silva of Portugal today. However, the young Burundian looks like a player. He’s quick around the court, has a big forehand, and gives his all on every point. His father has also apparently taught him good manners. I noticed on a call that he didn’t agree with, he didn’t make a fuss, just shook it off and continued to play his best. You can’t help but cheer for this teen and hope he makes it in tennis.

Ndayishimiye is obviously having the time of his life just being at Wimbledon, and rubbing shoulders with some of the top players in the world. He was quoted on the ITF website as saying, “I just have to thank the ITF and the Development Fund for giving me this chance and believing in me. I just want to take this opportunity to play as hard as I can. My goal is to just take each match at a time.”

I’ll be watching for him at the US Open and will be sending out more reports on his progress. and I want to say thank you Hassan for this feel good story, and for putting a smile on my face today.

Wimbledon traditions – From purple and green to strawberries and white apparel

By Cynthia Lum

If anyone remembers Fiddler On the Roof with Zero Mostel up on the roof  belting out  TRADITION! TRADIIIIITTTTIIIIOOOON!  That’s the tune that keeps running through my brain while here at the Wimbledon Championships, or to be correct ” The Championships” which is what this tournament  is traditionally called, as if this were the one and only event worthy of the name “Championships”.

The traditions here are deeply rooted, and stubbornly held.  Change comes in tiny increments. We jest and some rebel against these time-honored conventions, but they have preserved a sort of old world charm on the lush lawns of the AELTC. You get a feeling that the clock has stopped, there is still time for tea at 4PM,  or a leisurely picnic on the grass at Henman Hill.

Purple and Green

These have been the clubs official colors since 1909. Until 2006 all officials, umpires, lines and ball people were dressed in conservative green uniforms.  This is one tradition that  photographers wish hadn’t changed.  We hate the Ralph Lauren designed outfits on the Linesmen and women.

The club prides itself on lack of advertising, but those uniforms are the most blatant RL advertisement you can imagine.  Navy blazers, trimmed in white, cream trousers, and blue and white striped shirts, with diagonally stripped purple and green ties. They are more prominent than the players.  I have to always be careful not to shoot a player with cream legs poking out from behind making the player look as though he had 4 legs.  Horrible.  In my humble opinion, the linespeople should be in the background.  They should blend in and not be noticed.

However, the purple and green color scheme is still carried out everywhere else.  Huge hanging baskets of Purple Petunia’s with their green leaves adorn buildings and seating areas.  Signage, awnings, benches, and official apparel all have the official colors.

Grass Courts

Wimbledon is the only tournament still played on what they like to refer to as a “natural surface”.  Originally, all four of the slams, Wimbledon, the French, US Open and the Australian were played on grass, but the French is now played on the famous red clay of Roland Garros, and Australia and the US are hard courts.

Dress Code

Everyone knows about the famous “predominately white” dress code for players.  Colorful rebel Andre Agassi boycotted the tournament for several years because he didn’t want to conform to this ruling, and both John McEnroe and Anna Kournikova were ask to leave the court for wearing black shorts.  However I have to add that even though the players adhere to this dictum, that doesn’t keep them from still wearing some outrageous outfits.  The sisters always manage to make their own personal fashion statement, and Sharapova’s “swan” dress a couple of years ago was really …um.. well.. awful.

Reference to the players

The men’s events are politely refered to as “Gentlemen’s singles,  or doubles, and the women’s, as the “ladies singles or doubles”.  Unfortunately the term “gentleman” or “lady” does not always describe behavior.

Strawberries and Cream

Grade 1 Kentish strawberries are the only berries deemed of high enough quality to be consumed at The Championships, and it’s been reported that around 28,000 kilos or 61,729.43 pounds are sold during the fortnight along with 7,000 liters of cream, or about 1850 gallons.  And that is not low-fat cream … it is thick and  yummy.

Pims

Pimm’s Spritzer is to Wimbledon is what the Mint Julep is to the Kentucky Derby.  Pimm’s , a gin-based liquor is mixed with ginger ale and garnished with fresh fruit.  I don’t have the figures on how much is imbibed here, but I promise.. it’s a lot.  Warning!  This is a dangerous drink, very easy to drink as thought it was lemonade, but believe me, it packs a wallop.

Weather

This is not an officially recognized tradition, but face it, rain and Wimbledon go together like ham and cheese, bacon and eggs.  The covers go on an off on a regular basis.  This first week has been carrying on the tradition with vigor.  I never go anywhere without an umbrella, and let me tell you, it’s not easy to balance two heavy cameras, a bag, and an open umbrella at the same time.

And speaking of weather, its cold and raining right now so I’m going to honour a tradition of my own, and go to the bar for a cappuccino.

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Nadal to Play Queens, Davis Cup Semifinal Debrief, del Potro Back

*World No. 1 Rafa Nadal has confirmed he will warm up for the 2011 Wimbledon Championships by returning to Queens Club. Nadal played at the 2010 Aegon Championships where he lost to compatriot Feliciano Lopez at the quarterfinal stage. “I love playing at Queen’s Club because it is a traditional club,” he said. “Every time I have played there I have felt very welcome because of the British people and their support, and because of the tournament organisers who are so good at their job. After the French Open, it is very important for me to feel the grass under my feet as soon as possible. I tried my best in every match this year (at The Queen’s Club) and was disappointed that I could not win the tournament, but I reached the quarter-finals and it definitely helped me to feel ready for Wimbledon.” Nadal has reached the final at Wimbledon every time he has preceded it by playing at Queens.

*Both Serbia and France have understandably expressed their delight at reaching the final of the 2010 Davis Cup. But it is perhaps the Serbs, in their first final, who are looking forward to the occasion more. “This was a fairytale end to the tie, I have to thank the crowd for their fantastic support because they brought us back from the dead,” said Janko Tipsarevic, whose win over Radek Stepanek handed the young country victory over the Czech Republic. “Finally, it was my turn to shine for the national team after the others, mostly [Novak] Djokovic, proved to be instrumental so many times. I am glad I saved my best tennis for the national team in a match of this magnitude. I had to finish it in three sets today because I was getting tired towards the end and Stepanek was getting back into the match.” France coach Guy Forget was also delighted at his team’s achievements but is wary of the threat posed by the Djokovic-led Serbs. “We’ve been lucky enough to just play at home so far,” said Forget, after Serbia were given home advantage. “The final was already very hard and now it will be even harder because Djokovic and Tipsarevic are very talented. They will probably have 20,000 people behind them. It will be tough. Novak is in great form at the moment after his final at the US Open. Whenever they needed him, he responded. When he plays for his country, he surpasses himself every time. There’s also Tipsarevic, who saved his team against the Czech Republic. But we beat the Australians at their place a few years ago [in the final in 2001], so why not repeat the feat?”

*The injury nightmare looks like it’s finally over. According to his Twitter page, Juan Martin del Potro will finally return to the courts in Bangkok next week at the PTT Thailand Open. “I am extremely happy to tell you: I WILL PLAY AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!” exclaimed the man who has not featured since the Australian Open back in January. “Will be in the BANGKOK tournament next Monday. Thanks so much for everything!” Also on the draw will be new US Open Champion Rafa Nadal and French Open semifinalist Jurgen Melzer.

*David Nalbandian has denied any friction between himself and Argentine Davis Cup captain Tito Vasquez following their annihilation at the hands of France in last weekend’s Davis Cup semifinal. After losing the opening singles rubber to Gael Monfils it was reported that Nalbandian was unhappy that he was not selected as the top singles player which would have meant facing Michael Llodra instead. That task befell Juan Monaco. “It was a valid decision” he said. “It was all uncertain [who would play singles for France]… we did not know what would happen. Tito decided like this, sometimes can be good and other times not. If you want to win the Davis Cup, you have to beat Monfils Monday, Tuesday or Thursday.”

*As previously reported by Tennis People, Pakistani US Open men’s and mixed doubles finalist Aisam-Ul-Haq Quareshi has been awarded for his humanitarian work in a ceremony in Lahore last week. The doubles specialist has won worldwide praise for promoting harmony between his own country and India and has recently been raising money for the flood victims left homeless by recent events in Pakistan. “All my life I’ve tried to do something to make my country and my parents proud,” he said. “It’s been a long, tough journey. I want to thank my relatives, friends and family for being with me through my ups and downs. One should never give up on dreams.”

*The 2010 edition may not have reached its conclusion yet but the draw has already been made for Davis Cup play throughout 2011. India and Kazakhstan (for the first time ever) can look forward to World Group play and what will the likes of Italy and Switzerland have to overcome to re-enter the prestigious section? Head over to the ITF Website to check out the full draws.

*Chilean Fernando Gonzalez faces a long injury layoff after he announced he will undergo hip and possibly knee surgery next month. The world No. 44, his lowest ranking since 2002, was forced to retire from his first round US Open match against Ivan Dodig and could be out for eight or nine months which would place his return, possibly, at midway through the European clay-court season.

*It’s always quiet in the rankings at this stage of the season but there are a couple of significant changes in the South African Airways ATP World Rankings. American No. 1 Andy Roddick has re-entered the Top 10 at the expense of Spain’s David Ferrer. Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas has leapt 17 spots to No. 70 while Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq (No. 98) and the Russian Igor Andreev (No. 99) are in to the Top 100.

*Two women in particular are celebrating in the Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings this week. Jarmila Groth picked up her first tour title in Guangzhou last week which sees her at a career-high No. 41. 19-year-old Tamira Paszek won in Quebec City and she has leapt from No. 151 to No. 92.

*Interested in the whole ‘interfering parent’ row surrounding young tennis prodigies? American tennis writer Greg Couch had an interesting run-in with the parents of 21-year-old Donald Young at the US Open regarding comments former US Davis Cup Captain Patrick McEnroe had made in his recent book about dealing with them. It opens up a huge can of worms on the lack of communication and name calling that sometimes goes on between the coach and the parent. It’s an excellent read. Check it out at the Fanhouse website.

*One story that really caught my eye this week was that of Iraqi tennis hopeful Zainab Khadim Alwan. She used to skip school as a youngster to watch Venus and Serena Williams playing in the hope that she could one day emulate them. Losing both legs in a rocket blast four years ago, a lot of youngsters would give up on the dream there and then. Not Alwan. Now she hopes to star on the wheelchair tennis circuit. “I choose tennis because it’s a difficult game,” she said. “I wanted to prove despite losing my legs, I haven’t lost my mind.” “Tennis relieved Zainab’s suffering,” said her father, Khadim Alwan Jassim. This touching tale can be read at the News Sports Today website.

*Former Andy Murray coach Miles Maclagan has returned to work quickly as the coach of the German world No. 21 Philipp Kohlschreiber.

*Brit teenage star Laura Robson has announced that her and coach Martijn Bok will part ways at the end of the season. It is believed Bok did not wish to increase travelling commitments as Laura looked to push on further with her WTA tour next year.

*Bob Bryan is the latest tennis star to get engaged this week. He proposed to girlfriend Michelle Alvarez on Tuesday. “Just got engaged… at Pfeifer Falls in Big Sur, CA,” he posted on his Twitter account. She replied: “So happy to spend the rest of my life with the most amazing person. We’re engaged!” Awwwwwwwww!

*Indian star Mahesh Bhupathi has also got engaged to former Miss Universe Lara Dutta this week. Bhupathi divorced his former wife of six years earlier this year.

Blooming in to Life Once Again

All we have been hearing over recent months is negativity surrounding British tennis.

Tales of rotten apples in the barrel, failed youngsters, squandered millions and a country lost in a downward spiral of tennis faux pas which shows no signs of halting but for the increasingly confident performances of lone star Andy Murray.

Yet this week at the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, Rhode Island, a name nobody but the staunchest statisticians of British tennis will have been following is making a name for himself in the heat and humidity of east-coast America.

Current world No. 557 Richard Bloomfield will today (Friday) face young American Ryan Harrison in the last quarterfinal with the opportunity to face either American number 5 seed Mardy Fish (remember him from Queens?) or the Canadian Frank Dancevic in the semifinals.

Hang on, a Brit in the semifinals of a tournament other than Andy Murray? Continual sob-story Alex Bogdanovic failed to reach even the main draw here, going down in the final round of qualifying. So just who is this guy?

Richard Bloomfield was born April 27, 1983 in the small village of Alpington, just outside the beautiful Norfolk city of Norwich. He won the British Junior Tennis Championships in 2001, defeating that man Bogdanovic in the final, and picked up the equivalent title in doubles with Ken Skupski, now one half of the promising Flemski partnership alongside Colin Fleming.

He began playing on the senior tour that year and his first full ATP Tournament was the 2003 Wimbledon Championships where he gained a wildcard before losing to Anthony Dupuis in the first round.

In 2006 he reached round two of Wimbledon with a win over Carlos Berlocq which was investigated by authorities over strange betting patterns but no wrong-doing was ever discovered. That year he also reached the semifinals of the ATP Challenger Event at Rennes where he lost to rising French star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

2007 saw him reach his first ATP Challenger final in Wrexham, Wales, where he lost to Michal Prysiezny which saw him rise to a career-high 176 in the South African Airways ATP World Rankings. He then partnered Jonathan Marray to the third round of the 2007 Wimbledon doubles Championships.

His ranking fell considerably over the next couple of years until he qualified for the 2009 Open 13 where he agonisingly lost 6-7, 6-7 to the Italian Simon Bolelli in the first round. Back injuries hampered him and his ranking fell further but then he surprisingly qualified for this year’s Hall of Fame Championships where he is beginning to make a name for himself again.

In reaching the quaterfinals he has recorded his first wins on the ATP Tour since that 2006 Wimbledon Championships and at 27 this will be a welcome boost for a man whose confidence must have been looking at rock bottom.

And hasn’t he done well. He is yet to drop a set. A 7-6 (1), 6-1 first-round win over Belgian Christophe Rochus, brother of Olivier, set up a second-round clash with second seed and world No. 56 Santiago Giraldo which nobody would have expected him to come out of. But this might just be his week. He won 6-3, 7-6 (5) and now marches in to this quarterfinal with Harrison with a renewed vigour and swagger he won’t have been feeling for a long while.

It is high time we had something positive to shout about for Britain and it’s always great to see somebody who looked down and out have a moment in the sun (literally as the temperature gauges out there are showing). If he overcomes Harrison and then Fish/Dancevic then he will be in his first final since 2007, and his first ever on the full ATP Tour. There either Olivier Rochus will be looking to avenge the slaying of his brother Christophe or Argentine Brian Dabul will be looking to put his own name up in lights.

So march on Richard, your country is firmly behind you!

Sam Querrey: Another Victim Of The Casino Curse – The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

Order Restored – Just a few final thoughts as the doors close on another memorable two weeks at SW19. After one of the more unpredictable Wimbledon Championships in recent memory, Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal restored some order by not only living up to their status as the heavy favorites in the finals, but doing so in emphatic fashion. For Serena, it marked her 13th major title, moving her closer to rarefied air. It may still be a big ask for her to catch Margaret Court, but Chrissie’s number of 18 is certainly looking assailable. As for Nadal, it marked his 8th major and a successful return to the hallowed grounds of the All England Club where he missed the opportunity to defend his title through injury in 2009. But the bigger payoff for Nadal in winning the title may be that between his clay and grass court seasons, he’s reestablished some of his invincible aura. He’s also coming in with a better plan for the hard court season, and he’s never been in a better position to start his campaign to take the US Open title, the lone major he has yet to add to his résumé.

More to Come? Credit also needs to be given to the losing singles finalists at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships. Both Vera Zvonareva and Tomas Berdych are talented players who have struggled to put it together between the ears, so to see them both realize their talents and make the final stage of a Grand Slam was satisfying. And while neither played at their best in their first major final, much of that must be attributed to the fact that they took on champion opponents who never allowed them to get any kind of foothold in the match. What will be interesting to see is how both follow it up during the summer hard court season, particularly the US Open. Zvonareva, though talented, is still prone to emotional meltdowns. Berdych on the other hand, who very nearly made the finals of the French a month ago, seems to have achieved a tighter grip on his emotions, much of that probably coming courtesy of his new coach. For me, Zvonareva is still a question mark, but expect to see Berdych contesting more Grand Slam finals down the road.

Back on Track? – The Wimbledon fortnight also saw Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray put together a couple of nice runs to the semifinals. Murray’s run almost came out of nowhere and should provide some much needed confidence for the young Scot whose form since the Australian Open has been particularly dismal. Given the way both men meekly folded in their semifinal matches – each losing in straight sets – it’s difficult to determine just how much they may have righted the ship. But I prefer to put a positive spin on their lengthy Wimbledon campaigns in the hopes that they’ll be a factor in what could potentially be a highly competitive US Open Series.

Curse Continues – Despite his success in Queen’s earlier this year, American Sam Querrey was no match for the “Casino Curse,” as he fell in his second round match to Jamaican Dustin Brown in straight sets. Querrey’s loss continues the 35-year streak in which the top seed has failed to emerge as the victor on the fabled green lawns of the historic Newport Casino. Other notable early losses this week include American Taylor Dent and Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, but at least Mahut was able to get one win under his belt after his devastating 68-70 loss to Isner in “The Match” at Wimbledon.

In the Hall – This coming Saturday, seven new inductees will take their place in the International Tennis Hall of Fame. But earlier in the week, Nicolas Mahut made his own way into the Hall of Fame, generously donating a shirt and racquet worn and used during his famous battle with John Isner in the first week of Wimbledon. Mahut stated he was honored to have something of his placed alongside memorabilia from some of the game’s greatest legends. While he’s no doubt mentally still smarting from the loss to Isner, the experience of seeing his shirt and racquet placed in the galleries of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum had to help slightly soften the blow.

WIMBLEDON DAY 5: FAMILIAR FEDERER RETURNS

By Peter Nez

“This is the Federer we’ve been accustomed to seeing,” long time commentator Dick Enberg stated in the third set when Roger was serving for the match, which became his first straight sets victory at the Wimbledon Championships thus far, having “struggled” in his first two rounds. I’m not convinced it was necessarily a struggle, even though he rarely goes five sets in a major, particularly on grass, even more bizarrely at Wimbledon, but I am of the opinion that the men’s game is so vastly talented and Federer is engaged in a constant staving off of young upstarts day in and day out, being one of the oldest on tour currently, dominating multi generational huddles, and as Mahut and Isner have proved, anything can happen on any given day. And what does Alejandro Falla and Bozo the clown have to lose? Absolutely nothing. Their impetus must be to go for broke, full throttle, no hesitation, and little thought for marginal play, or else what could be the only outcome possible? ‘Fortune favors the brave,’; an aphorism that parades the sports psychologists halls and sessions frequently, and to face that mind set every time you step out on court is something only the greatest athletes can relate to. Falla was the perfect embodiment, Soderling: a vision of execution, and Bozo was an anomaly at best. Clement was the perfect opponent for Roger to get back to Swiss precision and rhythm.

Federer is renowned for stepping up his play as tournaments progress, especially majors, and today was no different. The serve and movement was intact, the energy on court apparent, and with an opponent who is devoid of any perplexing weapons, Roger showed us all why he has six Wimbledon titles and counting. Greatness comes easy to those with an abundance, but without the proof of its prowess renewed continually on the world’s grandest stages, even past accolades can seem shadowed and distant. Federer thrives on confidence maybe more now than he ever did before and a match like this, taking Clement out in three seasoned sets, could give him the boost he needs with a draw that looms with hungry contenders. If Australia 2010 has showed us anything, when Roger’s game is on, nobody has a chance.