wimbledons

FEDERER’S EXPANDING TROPHY CABINET: TENNIS PEOPLE

* Roger Federer has been boasting about his expansive trophy cabinet as he goes looking for a record-equaling seventh Wimbledon title alongside Pete Sampras and W.G. Renshaw. “All the US Opens, all the Wimbledons, they’re all lined up next to each other,” he beamed. “They almost go in a circle, so it’s nice. I’m lucky enough to have won that many.” Does he think about that record? “Maybe obviously a little bit because I’m aware of the great things he [Sampras] achieved, being one title away from it, you’re obviously aware of it,” he continued. “But then again, you have to break it down and make it simple for yourself, trying to win the first round, being here, trying to defend the title before everything.”

* This week’s Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings have seen former No.1 Jelena Jankovic re-enter the top 3 for the first time in over a year despite not playing a warm-up tournament on grass this year. She swaps with the Dane Caroline Wozniacki who failed to defend her title at Eastbourne last week. Sam Stosur now finds herself a career-high No. 6 while the returning Belgians Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters find themselves ranked at No. 16 and No. 8 respectively, the highest slots since they returned to the tour.

* The South African Airways ATP World Rankings were a bit quieter this week. There was no movement in the top 36, Michael Llodra climbing nine places to No. 37 in a big leap following recent performances. Janko Tipsarevic enters the top 50 at 45 while Sergiy Stakhovsky jumps 24 places to a career-best No. 47 following his victory over Tipsarevic at the UNICEF Open in Holland last week.

* The Lawn Tennis Association has hit back at claims by Aussie former Wimbledon Champ Pat Cash that Roger Draper’s “shocking” tenure at the governing body has seriously jeopardised Britain’s chances of rearing future Champions, according to the Press Association. An LTA spokesman said: “Investment in grass roots is our priority. We are spending over £40million over five years in improving facilities. We have more than half a million people playing tennis in England alone. That number is growing and we are looking to increase that number further.” The spokesman laid out future objectives by saying: “We are four years into a 10-year project, so yes, this will take time, but we are already starting to see encouraging signs both in performance tennis and at grass roots level. The accusation is that we are not getting kids playing tennis but club membership among children has grown by 16% in the last three years.” You can see the full war of words here.

* Russian Nikolay Davydenko is adamant he will face Argentina for Russia in the crucial forthcoming Davis Cup quarterfinal next month. “Yeah, I will play,” he said in a post-match interview following on from his gritty five-set win over American Kevin Anderson at Wimbledon on Monday. There had been fears over his fitness. You can see the interview in full on the Davis Cup website. This comes after the No. 7 seed claimed he was playing through the pain against Anderson. “My wrist is okay but the rest of my body? I don’t know. I will need treatment now,” reported the British newspaper The Sun.

* Kim Clijsters has spoken of her frustration at missing most of the clay-court season with a damaged foot following such an impressive performance at Miami earlier in the year. “It was frustrating because I felt that I was playing well,” she said in an interview published on the FOX Sports website. “I was finally in a routine where I started to play more tournaments. After Miami, as well, I was looking forward to play the Fed Cup and then to play the clay-court season.”

* Serena Williams says she can’t wait to have the chance to make it three Olympic Gold Medals in her trophy cabinet when the 2012 competition takes place at the All England Club. “I think it’s great as an Olympic venue,” she said. “It’s probably the best venue in the world.”

* A couple of players gave interesting verdicts following shock exits in the early days of Wimbledon 2010. Aussie Sam Stosur was gracious following her shock exit to Estonian qualifier Kaia Kanepi. “She’s a quality opponent.” said the 26-year-old French Open finalist. “She has been ranked a lot higher than what she is. For whatever reason, she slipped back. She’s definitely played a lot of matches recently as well. She qualified at the French as well as here and has been playing well, so it wasn’t an easy first round by any means. The last couple of days I practiced quite well, tried to prepare for the match as best I could…I just didn’t play my best.” Former world No. 4 James Blake was far more damning of his performance following his shock defeat to Dutchman Robin Haase in straight sets. “To be honest, it’s almost embarrassing to go out and play a Grand Slam match like that,” said the former US and Aussie Open quarterfinalist. “Maybe it says to me that I came back too soon [from a recent knee injury], or maybe I’m just too far away from where I think I need to be. The knee is not great. If it doesn’t get better soon, I’m not sure how much longer I want to play in pain. Something like this, and overuse injury, it’s a tough balance to have to find,” he said. “I want to be out there hitting, but I might be doing more harm than good.” Fans of Blake will hope that talk of retirement is just a knee-jerk reaction to a disappointing day. Sam Querrey, who saw opponent Sergiy Stakhovsky retire through illness while trailing by two sets and 2-1 down in the third, has revealed an almost McEnroe-like approach to his recent improvement. “My coach, David Nainkin, said if you’re gonna get angry, yell something out and smash the racquet and move on to the next point. Don’t carry it with you,” Querrey said. “Occasionally in practice (I do it). I guess this year, I’ve probably broken two or three in practice. I can’t really remember the specific moments. Sometimes it just needs to be done.”

* Dustin Brown, the first Jamaican to play at Wimbledon for 40 years, has placed the LTA on standby by claiming he would like to defect to play Davis Cup for Great Britain, according to The Sun newspaper. He crashed 3-6, 6-4, 2-6, 3-6 to Austrian Jurgen Melzer on Monday but won over fans with his flowing dreadlocks and stylish play. “I last played for Jamaica in 2002 and I’m pretty sure the cooling-off period is three years,” said the 25-year-old. “The Jamaican authorities are not giving me any funds, no coaching and no help. They are not doing their job. They even sent an email to me two days ago [Saturday] saying ‘Congratulations on your wild-card’ – I got in with a direct entry and didn’t have to qualify. If the president doesn’t know what the No.1 player is doing, he doesn’t care.” Brown qualifies for GB through his grandfather but says he will wait for the LTA to make the first move. “Something also has to happen from the Lawn Tennis Association. If they are interested, then they have to step towards me.”

* The first-round exits of Sam Stosur and Francesca Schiavone at Wimbledon this week means this is the first Championships where both Roland Garros finalists have fallen at the first hurdle.

* Serena Williams’ first-round victory over Portuguese teenager Michelle Larcher de Brito on Tuesday means her career record for Grand Slam openers reads 43-0, an outstanding achievement.

* Rafa Nadal took time out from his Wimbledon preparations by splashing out £130 for himself and three pals to play a round of golf at the Coombe Wood Golf Club. He applauded the presentation ceremony for Charlie Coleman, son of former Brit tennis star Annabel Croft, who became the club’s youngest Champion in its 106-year history at just 14-years-old.

* American Andy Roddick showed his disgust at the recent refereeing gaff which cost the USA a third goal in what would have been a thrilling second-half comeback against Slovenia at the FIFA football World Cup. The match ended 2-2 after midfielder Maurice Edu had what looked like a seemingly good goal wrongly chalked off. Roddick, asked if he understands the rules of football, said: “I understand the rules of football so well that apparently when two Slovenian guys mug an American guy the American guy gets called for a foul. That’s how well I understand the rules.”

CHAMPIONING THE TRUTH

Phew! After the monumental flopping of a majority of the Spanish players I had talked up in my pre-Aussie Open blog what a relief it was to see Sam Querrey and John Isner performing so well at Memphis last week following on from my next big American blog.

My thinking has been on great champions once more this week and how they become what they are.

One topic receiving a lot of discussion in my workplace this week is baby names. We were talking about heroes and the naming of your child after them. For example: ITV1’s superb new drama “Married, Single, Other” saw Ralph Little playing a character named ‘Clint’ as his father “loved spaghetti westerns” and I attended university with a girl whose father loved Portsmouth FC so much that he gave his daughter the middle name Pompey (the club’s nickname).

But if your favourite pastime is with a racket and ball what is the best way to ensure your child has what it takes to be the next Federer? Well, name him Roger of course. Or perhaps your daughter a Serena or a Justine? Hmmmmm.

If you read my column regularly (hopefully somebody does) you will know I have a not-so-secret penchant for random facts and trivia. So, looking down the annals of singles play, let us look at the most successful names in tennis history.

By painstakingly counting all the names etched on to Grand Slam singles trophies I have compiled a list of names you should think about for your child if the whole name game does work. See if you can guess what they are before reading on.

Personally, I thought that William or Bill would be most popular after the exploits of Tilden and Johnston etc. But it appears that the name John has appeared on more Grand Slam singles titles than any other thanks in no small part to its Spanish and French variants.

Jean Borotra was one of the four French musketeers playing in the 1920s and 30s and his haul of 1 Aussie Open, 2 French Opens and 2 Wimbledons has been added to over the years by the likes of John McEnroe, Juan Carlos Ferrero and John Newcombe to amass a total of 35 titles.

William/Bill came in second with 26 while Jimmy Connors and the lesser-known Aussie James Anderson among others have helped the James family amass 19 Grand Slam singles titles apiece.

Roger Federer is the only male player to get his name in the list by himself.

In terms of surnames it boils down to the players who have amassed the most titles themselves. So, ladies, better be on the lookout for a Federer or Sampras to marry.

The female names become slightly more interesting. Only 77 different Christian names have been etched on to the four Grand Slam trophies over the course of their history.

Of these, Margaret is the most popular. If you check the female surnames then this is largely down to the 22 Slams picked up by the Aussie Margaret Court. Yet the 2 French Opens, 3 US Opens and Wimbledon title lifted by American Margaret Osborne DuPont also helped greatly.

Helen Wills Moody and Helen Jacobs combined Team America style to help their name towards its total of 27 titles while Hingis and Navratilova made a superb doubles partnership for their moniker, Navratilova amassing 18 of their 23 Slams.

The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, could not combine to overhaul the alpha females Steffi Graff or Margaret Court in the battle of the surnames while anybody with the surnames Wills, Moody, Connolly or Brinker will also be hopeful, the latter two courtesy of early dominatrix “Little Mo.”

Of course training, luck, sporting ability etc. etc. are more important in the making of a star but with so many people willing to name their child after their heroes in the modern era we can have a little fun here.

Besides, if you love tennis enough to name your child after your favourite player, who’s to say you aren’t as obsessed with the sport and driven enough to be the next Richard Williams?

Most Popular Male Names:Most Popular Male Surnames:Most Popular Female Names:Most Popular Female Surnames:
John/Jean/Juan/Johan/Jan – 35Federer – 16Margaret/Marguerite – 34Court – 22

Or

Graf – 22

William/Bill – 26Sampras – 14Helene/Helen – 27Williams – 19

Or

Wills Moody – 19

Andre/Andres/Andy-17Emerson – 12Martina – 23Navratilova – 18

Or

Evert – 18

James/Jim/Jimmy – 16
Or
Roger – 16
Laver – 11

Or

Borg – 11

Steffi – 22Lenglen – 12

Or

King – 12

Pete/Petr – 15Doherty – 10Joan/Jean/Billie Jean/Jana – 20

Or

Chris/Christine – 20

Connolly Brinker – 9

JIM COURIER BLOG: FEDERER SAFELY BEST IN OPEN ERA; COMPARISON TOUGH TO OTHER ERAS

NEW YORK, N.Y., June 8 – Tennis Hall of Famer Jim Courier, writing on his blog on www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com, has labeled 2009 French Open champion Roger Federer as safely the player with the best record in the Open era of tennis (since 1968), but says it is impossible to make comparisons with champions of other eras of tennis.

“I think you can safely say that Roger has the best record of any player in the Open era but it is really impossible to compare it with any of the players prior to 1968,” wrote Courier on the official website of the Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players over the age of 30 that he co-founded in 2005. “By winning the French and equaling Pete’s record of 14 majors and joining Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Andre Agassi in an exclusive club of men to win all four major singles titles in a career, Roger’s record is right up there against any of the all-time greats.

“He still has plenty of runway left to add to his record if he stays healthy. Looking at Open era achievements, you have to look at Laver’s 1969 Grand Slam, Pete’s 14 majors, Pete finishing the year ranked No. 1 for six straight years, Lendl reaching eight straight US Open finals, Roger’s five straight Wimbledons and five straight US Opens (and still counting in Flushing) and Roger’s semifinal or better streak at a major (also still counting).”

Courier won two French Open titles in 1991 and 1992 and also won a pair of Australian Open titles in 1992 and 1993. He is one of 15 men in tennis history to play in all four major singles finals, losing the 1993 Wimbledon final to Pete Sampras and the 1991 US Open final to Stefan Edberg. Courier is now the co-founding partner of InsideOut Sports & Entertainment, the New York-based sports marketing and event company that runs the Outback Champions Series. Courier can also be followed via his Twitter account at www.twitter.com/jimcourier.

Courier is currently the top-ranked player on the 2009 Outback Champions Series after winning his eighth career title in April in the Cayman Islands. Courier leads the field at the next event of the series – the Hall of Fame Champions Cup held on the grass courts at the International Tennis Hall of Fame August 20-23 in Newport, R.I.

Founded in 2005, the Outback Champions Series features some of the biggest names in tennis over the last 25 years, including Agassi, Sampras, John McEnroe, Courier and others. To be eligible to compete on the Outback Champions Series, players must have reached at least a major singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team. The Outback Champions Series features eight events on its 2009 schedule with each event featuring $150,000 in prize money as well as Champions Series ranking points that will determine the year-end No. 1.

Sampras won the opening event on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, defeating McEnroe in the final of the Champions Cup Boston in February. McEnroe won the second event of the year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, defeating Courier in the final. Sampras won his second title of the year at the Del Mar Development Champions Cup in Los Cabos, Mexico, defeating Patrick Rafter in the final. Courier defeated Jimmy Arias in the final if Grand Cayman in April. Outback Champions Series events will next be played in Newport, R.I. (August 20-23), Charlotte (Sept. 24-27), Surprise, Ariz. (Oct. 8-11) and Dubai, U.A.E. (Nov. 18-21).

InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a New York City-based independent producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Outback Champions Series, a collection of tennis events featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including “Legendary Night” exhibitions, charity events and tennis fantasy camps such as the annual “Ultimate Fantasy Camp”. Through 2008, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment events have raised over $4 million for charity. For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.