Outside of the US Open, the back-to-back two-week hard court events in Indian Wells and Miami are the biggest tennis events in the United States. As a result, every year around this time, the same tedious debate arises between fans and pundits alike; is tennis ready for a “fifth slam” and if it is, where should it be held? Everyone has their own opinions about which tournament could be upgraded to the “fifth slam.” Is it Indian Wells because it has Hawkeye on every court? Or is it Miami because the presence of the Williams sisters completes the women’s field?
(For the record, I think that they should hold it in Bogota. I mean, Jelena Jankovic won there and it had live streams from two courts from the first day! Bogota sees your bet and raises you, Miami.)
This year, Miami’s status as the “fifth slam” has taken a hit, as the men’s event has been decimated by withdrawals; Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are the marquee names skipping the event, along with notable top 50 names Radek Stepanek, Stanislas Wawrinka and Mardy Fish.
While that isn’t great, let’s focus on the players that are actually in Miami. One of those players in Juan Martin del Potro.
Del Potro was the only player not named Federer, Nadal or Djokovic to win a major title on the men’s side in the past six years until Andy Murray joined the club at the US Open in 2012. As Murray’s pushed his way to the top and expanded the “Big Three” to the “Big Four,” Del Potro has taken up the reigns as the most accomplished, and probably most dangerous, of the supporting cast of relevant characters on the ATP tour.
Despite being troubled by his wrist last week in Indian Wells, Del Potro put together one of his best runs since being sidelined for almost a year by that very wrist after winning the US Open. He defeated Murray in the quarterfinals and Novak Djokovic in the semifinals to reach the final against Nadal. Despite leading by a set and a break, Del Potro couldn’t seal the deal and Nadal won his third event out of the four he’s played since returning from injury. If anything, Indian Wells was a testament to the vice grip that the so-called “Big Four” have on the ATP; an accomplished player can beat two of them, only to run into another and come home with the runner-up plate.
In his post-final press conference, Del Potro said that despite the amount of tennis he played in Indian Wells, he would be going to Miami; despite the fast turnaround, he was “excited to play there.” Del Potro’s excitement, which he later elaborated on, stems from how many of his Argentinian fans, friends and family come to watch him in Miami.
Thus, we return to this illusive idea of the “fifth slam.” Butch Buchholz founded the Miami Masters in 1985 and helped develop it into what it is today; while he had hoped to turn the event into the fifth major, Miami has instead settled for title of “the grand slam of Latin America.” Latin American and Spanish-speaking players receive immense support in Key Biscayne, as it lies south of Miami Beach and east of Miami itself. It came as no surprise that Fernando Gonzalez, one of the biggest tennis stars from that part of the world, chose the Miami Masters as his farewell tournament when he retired in 2012.
With Gonzalez now out of the game, the pressure is squarely on the (very broad) shoulders of Juan Martin del Potro to be the big name of Latin American tennis. Having only been past the fourth round once in Miami, Del Potro appears to be rounding in to form, even showing glimpses of what made him the last man standing at Flushing Meadows in 2009, just in time for his “home slam.”
ATP Tour News
By Evan Valeri
Summer has arrived in Australia and the first ATP tournaments of the year are underway. This means it’s time to start making some hot predictions for the 2013 season. The ATP tour has been dominated by the big four in recent years, Federer, Djokovic, Nadal and Murray. But for 2013, change is in the air. Many young players have infiltrated the top 60 in the world and you can count on the five below to make their mark in 2013.
The Canadian youngster, nicknamed “The Missile”, has already made waves with his cannon of a serve and fierce forehand. Not only can he hit serves upwards of 140 mph, he has one of the nastiest kick serves I have seen in years. This is a serious threat on any surface, especially the faster ones. Milos is a good mover and prefers to run around his backhand to hit devastating inside out forehands whenever he gets a chance.
Having won two titles and making two more finals in 2012 proves that Milos is a legitimate threat in 2013. Raonic went 6-6 against the top ten last year, including two wins over Andy Murray. He has a more well-rounded game than other huge servers such as Isner and Karlovic. I expect Milos to make his first Grand Slam quarterfinal this season and finish the year in the top ten.
Jerzy Janowicz was an unknown player to most fans until the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in Paris. The number one ranked Pole tore through the field all the way to the final, which he lost to David Ferrer in straight sets. Along the way, he beat three top twenty and two top ten players.
The 6 foot 8 inch monster of a 22 year old has a modern game with the tools to be successful at the highest level. He moves well for a big man, reminiscent of a 2009 U.S. Open Del Potro. His serves appear to be shot down from the sky, he can end the point with big flat winners on both ground stroke wings, and he isn’t afraid to follow his big shots into the net with solid volleys. Besides the physical tools, the kid has something hard to teach, heart. Saving a match point against Murray in Paris and coming back to win proves this. Look for Jerzy to break into the top twenty this season with more consistent results.
The top ranked player from Slovakia had a great 2012 season, winning his first ATP title in St. Petersburg and finishing ranked inside the top 50 for the first time in his career. Some people will recognize Klizan’s name because of his run to the round of 16 at the U.S Open, where he lost to Cilic. Along the way he took down number six seed Tsonga in four lopsided sets.
Klizan has a big game and when he is on, opponents better look out. Martin can blast forehand winners from anywhere on the court and if he is having a good day, he is capable of beating anyone. If Klizan can tame his heavy southpaw groundstrokes and reduce his unforced errors, look for him to make a run to the quarterfinals of a major and break into the top 20.
Baby Fed. This kid has been touted for years as the next Roger Federer. He moves gracefully around the court like a gazelle, and has one of the best looking one handed backhands in today’s game. Grigor is also one of the most pure shot-makers around. If you haven’t seen his behind the back, half volley, drop shot winner against Victor Troicki, its worth a look, as it was one of the best shots of the 2012 season.
Dimitrov reminds me of a young Federer at times, in that he can get too creative on court. He will go for shots that are totally unnecessary, almost out of pure boredom with working the point any further. In 2013, we will see a smarter Dimitrov on court. A guy who instead of going for the flashy crowd pleasing shot, learns to play the percentages and wins more matches. Expect him to make a final in 2013, improving on his three semifinal appearances during 2012.
Australian Bernard Tomic had a rough finish to 2012, after a good start which included a semifinal in Brisbane and a round of 16 result at the Aussie Open. These results catapulted him to a career high ranking of 27. Pressure from the Australian media may be of some blame for Tomic’s lack of results thus far. He had a very promising junior career and is the youngest player ranked in the top 100 for the second straight year. As Tomic matures and spends another year on tour, look for him to relax and embrace his role as heir to the Australian tennis throne.
Tomic has a very smooth, effortless counter punching game. Bernard is a player who possesses a great arsenal of shots. Often luring opponents into a consistent crosscourt rally, just to run around his backhand and slap a forehand winner. With a solid serve, modern two handed backhand, biting slice backhand, deft touch, and an unorthodox but effective forehand, he’s got the game to become a top player. With a nice 6-4, 6-4 win over Novak Djokovic at the Hopman Cup this week, Tomic will roll with his newfound confidence in 2013, making his first final appearance.
2013 is bound to bring dark horses, upsets, surprises and lots of excitement. Be sure to keep an eye on these five youngsters. They all feature games with the potential to rise in the rankings, shaking things up at the top, and taking down the big four at any time.
Evan Valeri is a USPTA P2 tennis teaching professional and has a USTA Sports Science Level 1 certification. He graduated from Ferris State University with a degree in Professional Tennis Management/Marketing and enjoys the technical and coaching side of tennis. You can view his website here: www.totaltennisplayer.com.
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?
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!
Most people know his story by now.
He attended the University of Georgia, where he led the Bulldogs to a national championship in 2007. He won the longest match in the history of professional tennis at the 2010 Wimbledon. And he owns one of the most vicious serves on the ATP Tour, a weapon that can be credited to his 6’9’’ stature.
And now the 26-year-old John Isner is poised to crack the top 10 in the world.
Isner turned pro in 2007 and left school as a four-time All-American honoree, finishing his career as the program’s leader in singles and doubles victories. He was 12 credits shy of earning his degree in speech communications, but quickly made an impact on the pro tour, advancing to the final in just his second ATP event, the 2007 Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, D.C. Isner lost to then top-ranked American Andy Roddick in the championship, but earned victories over former top-five players Tim Henman and Tommy Haas.
And just a few months removed from celebrating winning the NCAAs with his Georgia teammates, Isner was on Arthur Ashe Stadium playing against eventual champion Roger Federer in the third round of the U.S. Open. Isner delighted the American crowd by taking the first set off Federer before falling in four sets.
It became clear those wins in Washington were no fluke.
Since then, the soft-spoken Isner has won fans over with his powerful game and friendly demeanor. He picked up the 2009 ATP Most Improved Player award and has earned several sportsmanship awards along the way.
When Isner reached the quarterfinals at the 2011 U.S Open, fellow American Mardy Fish made a bold declaration. “I think he can win the tournament,” he said. Isner didn’t win, but he showed that the best was yet to come.
Although not young in tennis terms, Isner, currently ranked a career-high No. 13 in the world, has the most upside among the top ranking Americans. Roddick’s career faces a downward trajectory and the 30-year-old Fish has struggled on the Grand Slam stage. Isner’s recent four-set victory over Federer at the 2012 Davis Cup rubber between the United States and Switzerland was further proof of his emergence as a contender for tennis’ big prizes – the Grand Slams.
As young Americans continue to turn pro at a young age, (19-year-old Ryan Harrison, the latest promising U.S. prospect, went pro when he was 15), Isner remains a rare breed. His modest junior career coupled with four years of collegiate tennis experience would make him an unlikely Grand Slam champion. But if his improvements in the past few years are any indication, Isner is perhaps America’s best hope to win a major championship in the near future.
He is currently the top seed at the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis, TN and will play compatriot Donald Young in the second round.
Immediately after beating Nicolas Mahut in the record-shattering 11 hour, five minute marathon match, Isner embraced the attention but emphasized that he wanted to be remembered for more than just a Guinness World Record.
That may or may not end up being the case, but in a career that has already been full of expectation-exceeding surprises, Isner does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
Correction: The original article stated that Isner graduated from the University of Georgia. He turned pro with 12 credits left to complete in his Speech Communications degree.
Catch all the action this week and follow professional tennis photographer Rick Gleijm as he covers ATP Tour’s ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. The gallery below includes day one action.
Three top players were surprised to find themselves on the losing end of their first-round matches.
- Paul-Henri Mathieu came to Rotterdam as a wildcard into the qualifying draw only to find himself in the second round of the main draw, after stunning Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4.
- Jesse Huta Galung dispensed of former world number 3 Ivan Ljubicic 7-6(6), 6-3.
- Sixth-seed Alexandr Dolgopolov also saw his time in Rotterdam come to a premature end as he was defeated by Lukasz Kubot 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2.
- Richard Gasquet also came through in three sets beating Flavio Cipolla 6-3, 1-6, 6-1.
For a full recap of Roger Federer‘s and Juan Martin Del Potro‘s press conferences from earlier today, go here.
Full Tuesday schedule below.
SCHEDULE – TUESDAY, 14 FEBRUARY, 2012
CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
[Q] R De Voest (RSA) vs A Seppi (ITA)
[WC] I Sijsling (NED) vs J Nieminen (FIN)
Not Before 1:30 PM
 V Troicki (SRB) vs [WC] T de Bakker (NED)
F Cermak (CZE) / F Polasek (SVK) vs J Del Potro (ARG) / P Petzschner (GER)
Not Before 7:30 PM
R Haase (NED) vs N Davydenko (RUS)
M Youzhny (RUS) vs I Kunitsyn (RUS)
COURT 1 start 2:00 pm
A Bogomolov Jr. (RUS) / D Norman (BEL) vs  M Bhupathi (IND) / R Bopanna (IND)
Not Before 3:30 PM
 M Granollers (ESP) vs P Kohlschreiber (GER)
Happy New Year!
That’s another way of saying, “Yes! The 2009 ATP season is just days, hours, minutes away!” So let’s the kick off the new year by taking a look at some of the men’s new year’s resolutions. Well, these are at least what their resolutions SHOULD be.
Rafael Nadal – Play a lighter schedule to preserve his body for the fall indoor season and the Masters Cup. (Note: there is not much Nadal can do about this due to mandatory tournaments, but limiting his clay-court events to the Masters Series and French Open and nothing else would be a good start).
Roger Federer – Take back Wimbledon. Take back the No. 1 ranking.
Novak Djokovic – Win back the U.S. Open crowd. (Note: borderline impossible).
Andy Roddick – Get back his mojo.
Gilles Simon – 1) Get in the weight room. 2) Come up big, for once, in the Slams. 3) Other than that, do exactly what he did in 2008.
Juan Martin Del Potro – See Simon (especially part 3).
Andy Murray – Win a Slam. Other than that, do exactly what he did in 2008.
Ernests Gulbis – Get a brain. Or–if he has one–use it.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – Stay away from the infirmary.
Mario Ancic – See Tsonga.
Tommy Haas – See Ancic.
Marcos Baghdatis – See Haas.
Lleyton Hewitt – See Baghdatis.
Robin Söderling – Do something of significance at a tournament that’s not indoors.
Nicolas Almgaro – Do something of significance at a tournament that’s not on clay.
Marat Safin – Either play or retire. No more playing like he would rather be retired.
Fernando Gonzalez – Admit when balls hit his racket before going out.
James Blake – Get over the Gonzalez Olympic controversy.
Fernando Verdasco – Be as successful on the court as he was off the court in 2008.
Tomas Berdych – Beat someone ranked ahead of him.
Mikhail Youzhny – Refrain from self-inflicted harm.
Well, there’s the new year’s resolution list. If any applicable player was left off, let’s hear who it is and what his–or her–resolution should be (in the comments section below). With the 2009 season just days away, it won’t be long before we find out which players are prepared to make the necessary changes.
Happy New Year to all tennis fans and here’s to another great season on the ATP Tour!
Greetings Everyone, Now that Thanksgiving is over, the relatives are gone, and there are no more leftovers or alcholol, it is time to get back to work! I am sure this goes for pretty much everyone in the tennis world. It is crazy to thing that in less than a month, many of the world’s top pros will be getting on Kwantas airlines and heading Down Under to start the 09 season. In my opinion, the season is way too long. Most of the pros finish up in end of November, take a few weeks off and start training on Dec 1, which is appropriate for today’s blog!
Like last week, I would like to have two components to the blog. The focus switches now to a new kid on the block, not the old veteran…Enter: Andre Begeman
I first met Andre on my first trip out to Pepperdine over a year and a half ago. He was just finishing up his senior year and I was just beginning to start Pepperdine’s strength and conditioning program. Within a couple hours, I had Andre labeled, “My Boy” because of his passion, charm, and over all off the charts physical talent.
I had an email from him a few weeks ago, asking if I could coach him. Although I still help out some of the top Americans periodically, I have not been traveling and working with any professionals since pretty much last year and I have been getting the itch to compete again at the highest level. In order to beat the best, you have to train smarter and more effectively than the competition, and also have the goods to deliver and execute. Let me tell you this right now, with the right combination of things to come together, Andre will be a household name on the pro tennis circuit in no time. Like Somdev Devvarman, Andre has shown early signs of greatness on the ATP Tour.
I, like most of you reading this, probably look at other sites on the web like tennisnews, atptennis, and stevegtennis to look up what is happening on the tour. After checking the profile of Andre’s activity this morning, I noticed that he had lost 7-6 in the third last week in the semis of a future. After 7 future events, Andre had won 5 of them and this semis brings him now to 450. This is important because now Andre will be able to play the Challenger circuit in 09 and right around the corner of that are the Tour events…look out Rafa!!!! 🙂
Before switching Part 2 of why I have always compared Cycling to Tennis, I would like to talk about one other intangilble that I feel will help Andre out in his quest to win titles on the Tour, and that is; heart and compassion (or passion). When I first started hanging out with “Dre” I was taken a back about how many questions and comments he would make to me about my daughter Isabella. To me that was interesting because I really didn’t know him that well, yet , here was this college kid, that could tell I had a situation with my daughter, and he was very eager to help lend support in an area that is was outside of tennis, and most importantly, outside of HIS world.
In last years Round of 16 clash with Stanford, Pepperdine had to play a higher ranked team with the number 1 player in the country, Alex Clayton. I had met Alex a couple of years ago in DC when I was with Ginepri, and knew he had huge game. It was no surprise to me that he was doing so well in college and had his Stanford team on track to win a National Championship. If Pepperdine was to win another National title, they would have to take out Stanford to do so.
So, after beating Hawaii in the round of 32 on Saturday afternoon, Andre got a call from back home in Germany. His mother had passed away from a long bought with cancer. His long time supporter, the one that cared more about his tennis than anyone else, was gone.
Like a true champion, Andre laced his shoes up for 1 more college match on the hills of Malibu, CA and proceeded to put on an all out clinic on focus and destruction, beating Alex, 6-1, 6-2. Afterwards, Andre boarded the plane to go back home to say goodbye. My point is here, when Andre walks out on the court, he won’t be alone, and his competition will have to face two Begeman’s , not one! So folks, sit back and watch this great story unravel before our eyes. With Somdev and Andre, we will be witnessing one hell of ascent up the rankings!
Part 2: Comparison of Cycling to Tennis – Short Sprints and Accelerations
When looking at tennis fitness, you need to have quick, speedy movement to get to the ball in a well balanced manner as quickly as possible. In other words, you need to get to point A,then to point B, on to point C, and so on….If you are a step slow, you may miss the shot, or not be able to get your feet in position to hit it with authority or direction. This is what makes guys like Roger and Rafa so good; they move better and QUICKER than anyone else.
In cycling you need short quick bursts of speed for various times during a race, For instance, when an attack is made, you need to jump on the cyclists wheel as quickly as possible, otherwise you will be stuck in the wind, doing all the work while the break away is moving away from you. Or say it is the end of the race, and the cyclists have 200 meters to go. After 4 hours of hard racing, it now comes down to who is faster in the sprint. A good jump or sprint can make all the difference in the world to winning or losing.
So, when I train tennis players, I make sure that they can close the gap to that ball as quickly as possible and for hours at a time (See Part 1, Endurance). Some players can do this naturally, while others need daily attention to this vital component.
Since the tennis world is silent this week, TennisGrandstand.com will fulfill your tennis fix with an excerpt from the new tennis book “ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY.” The book, which makes an excellent holiday gift, is written by tennis historian and sports marketing guru Randy Walker, the former USTA publicity specialist. Here’s some of what happened from November 27 to November 30. For more information on the book, go to www.tennishistorybook.com.
1973 – Arthur Ashe becomes the first black player to win a title in the apartheid nation of South Africa, winning the doubles title in the South African Open with Tom Okker, defeating Lew Hoad and Bob Maud 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the final. After initially being denied a visa based on his anti-apartheid views, Ashe is permitted to play in the event by the South African government. Ashe requests to tournament officials that the bleacher seating not be segregated during the tournament, but his wishes are not granted. Says Ashe to local reporters, “You can’t integrate the place in one full sweep. It is important to recognize the progress that has been made.” Ashe loses the singles final the day before to Jimmy Connors 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-3. Chris Evert wins the women’s singles title, defeating Evonne Goolagong 6-3, 6-3.
1982 – John McEnroe clinches his fourth career Davis Cup title for the United States as he and Peter Fleming defeat Yannick Noah and Henri Leconte 6-3, 6-4, 9-7 to give the U.S. an insurmountable 3-0 lead over France in the Davis Cup final in Grenoble, France. McEnroe is also on victorious U.S. teams in 1978, 1979 and 1981 – winning the clinching singles point in the fourth rubber in 1978 against Britain and in 1981 against Argentina. Says McEnroe of his title-winning performances, “Each one is different and each one’s nice in its own way. This was one of the best, if not the best, because we beat their team in front of a large crowd and played well, and I played on my worst surface and won the matches. Argentina, when we beat them last year in Cincinnati, was probably the most exciting final I was involved in. This and Argentina were definitely the two biggest.”
1999 – Pete Sampras wins the year-end ATP Tour Championships for a fifth time, defeating world No. 1 Andre Agassi 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 in the championship match in Hannover, Germany. Agassi had defeated Sampras 6-2, 6-2 in round-robin play earlier in the tournament. Writes British journalist Stephen Bierley, “It was perhaps fitting, given that this was the last major singles tournament of the millennium, that the best player of modern times won it so emphatically.”
1985 – Wimbledon champion and No. 4 seeded Boris Becker loses to Dutchmen and No. 188th ranked Michael Schapers 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6),6-4, 6-3 in the second round of the Australian Open. “I surprised myself at how badly I can play,” says Becker of the grass court loss.
1998 – One day after clinching the year-end No. 1 ranking for a record sixth consecutive year, Pete Sampras is un-gloriously dumped in the semifinals of the ATP Tour World Championships by Alex Corretja of Spain, who defeats the world No. 1 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) after saving three match points. Fellow Spaniard Carlos Moya also advances into the championship match, defeating Tim Henman of Great Britain 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. Says Sampras, who hits 50 unforced errors in the loss, “It’s a tough way to end it. I had mixed emotions, coming so close to winning, being in the final. But the achievement of doing it six years in a row, and the fans giving me a nice ovation, it was a very good feeling. But it wasn’t the way I wanted to end the year.”
2001 – Thirty-year-old Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic begins his six-month service in the Croatian Army. Says Ivanisevic, “Now that I’m in the army, you can all sleep peacefully…I have to do basic drill, but after that they will probably send me to catch (Arab terrorist Osama) bin Laden.”
1991 – Pete Sampras makes an inauspicious Davis Cup debut, losing to Henri Leconte 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 in the Davis Cup Final in Lyon, France. The 28-year-old Leconte, the former top 10 player ranked No. 159 in the world and recovering from back surgery that threatened his career, plays perhaps the most inspirational tennis match of his career. Says Leconte, “It’s the greatest day of my life, the win of my career. I’ve proved I’m still around.” Says French captain Yannick Noah “He played like I dreamed he would.” Says Sampras, ranked No. 6 in the world of his baptismal Davis Cup appearance, “It’s certainly a different experience.” Andre Agassi’s earlier 6-7, 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Guy Forget makes the score 1-1 after the first day of play.
1998 – Alex Corretja rallies from a two-sets-to-love deficit to win the biggest title of his career, defeating fellow Spaniard Carlos Moya 3-6, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 7-5 in four hours to win the year-end ATP Tour World Championship in Hannover, Germany. Corretja, who lost to Moya in the French Open final earlier in the year, says he used Ivan Lendl’s two-set-to-love comeback win over John McEnroe in the 1984 French Open final as inspiration for his comeback. Says Corretja, “At that time Lendl was my idol. Today I was thinking, ‘Come on, try to do like your idol’ … try to find some energy from somewhere and try to think about your tennis and try to push him to see if he is going to be able to finish in straight sets. Even when I was two sets down, I was still thinking that I could win this match. That’s why I think I won.” Says Moya, “Two sets up, maybe I relaxed a bit. I thought the match was not over. It’s never over when you play against Alex. But I had a really big advantage. I had many chances to beat him, but they went and he started to play better. It’s a big disappointment.”
1973 -Rod Laver and John Newcombe each win five-set struggles to give Australia a commanding 2-0 lead over the United States, the five-time defending Davis Cup champions, in the Davis Cup Final in Cleveland, Ohio. Twenty-nine-year-old Newcombe beats Stan Smith 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in the opening rubber, while 35-year-old Laver defeats 27-year-old Tom Gorman 8-10, 8-6, 6-8, 6-3, 6-1. The loss is Smith’s first-ever defeat in five previous Davis Cup Final appearances and only his second singles loss in 17 previous Davis Cup singles matches in all. Says Smith, “I played tougher matches under tougher conditions, but it’s the best I’ve seen Newk play.” Newcombe, the reigning U.S. Open champion, calls the win, “the toughest five-set match I have won in the last five years.” Laver, playing in his second Davis Cup series in his return to the competition for the first time since 1962, needs 3 hours, 22 minutes to outlast Gorman.
1990 – Andre Agassi wins a dramatic five-set match over Richard Fromberg, while Michael Chang is steady in a straight-set dismissal of Darren Cahill as the United States takes a 2-0 lead over Australian in the Davis Cup Final at the Florida Suncoast Dome in St. Petersburg, Fla. Agassi, the world No. 4 and a French Open finalist earlier in the year, struggles on the indoor red clay court against Fromberg, playing in his first career Davis Cup match, but barrels through to win 4-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. Chang, the 1989 French Open champion, has little difficultly with Cahill, a serve and volleyer, winning 6-2, 7-6 (4), 6-0.
2003 – Mark Philippoussis wins perhaps the most courageous and most heroic match of his career, as he clinches Australia’s 28th Davis Cup title, defeating Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 2-6, 6-0 to give Australia the 3-1 victory over Spain on a grass court at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. Philippoussis, playing in his hometown, fights through a torn pectoral muscle that inflicts him with sharp pain with every serve and groundstroke he hits. But spurred on by a screaming crowd of 14,000 supporters, Philippoussis, the losing finalist to Roger Federer earlier in the year at Wimbledon, plays the match as if his life were on the line. “The crowd was incredible,” says Philippoussis after the match. “This is what Davis Cup is all about. There is no way I could have got through without them. It gets you up and numbs the pain because they are so loud.” Eleanor Preston writing for The Guardian writes that Philippoussis “veered between triumph and disaster before fighting back nerves, fatigue and pain from an injured pectoral muscle to win.”
Just a year ago, Somdev Devarman was graduating from the University of Virginia and was claiming his second NCAA Championship. Now, still in his virgin year on the ATP Tour, Somdev finds himself the number 1 ranked player in Indian and is this weeks number 201 on the ATP Rankings.
Last week in Nashville, Deverman took out super talented and feisty, Jesse Levine. A convincing 7-6, 6-2 win showed that Somdev will certainly be a force to reckon with no matter who he plays. Using a “never miss a ball” type of strategy, the chilly Indian, can give guys on the other side of the net fits.
Winning his second Challenger in as many weeks was Robert Kendrick. Robert continues to roll and show the country that he is the best on the Challenger circuit this year and is now the 8th ranked American. “Kendo” finally took out Deverman, 7-5 , 6-2 . This was his first win against the NCAA Champ in 3 tries. One more week in Illinois and Kendrick will be training for the Australian Open in January.
I am looking forward to working with a long time client and friend in Orlando. Some time on the bike and on the golf course will keep Robert fresh and body healthy. I plan on a solid strength training program which will incorporate a lot of cable machines and dumbells. The goal will be to get the big guy to crank out a dozen pullups in a row by the time January 1 comes along, Due to persistant knee problems, Robert will have to the agility training on level grass, and incorporate massage and stretching in his everyday routine. Kendrick has a very live arm and a tenacious fighting spirit that is a privledge to be around.
DALLAS, October 26 – Jim Courier won his sixth career Outback Champions Series event – and his third title in 2008 – with a dramatic 3-6, 6-4, 10-8 (Champions Tie-Breaker) victory over Thomas Enqvist of Sweden Sunday in the final of the $150,000 Stanford Championships at the Turpin Tennis Center on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Courier won the last four points of the decisive Champions tie-breaker, played in lieu of a third set, and won the match when Enqvist missed a sitter overhead on match point. Courier called the missed overhead, “one of the nuttiest match points I’ve ever been a part of.”
With Courier holding match point leading 9-8 in the Champions tie-breaker, the two players engaged in a cross-court backhand exchange from the baseline before Enqvist blasted a deep backhand down-the-line approach shot that Courier was able to retrieve with a desperation lob. Enqvist, standing right on top of the net, elected not to let the ball bounce and shanked the overhead straight down off the frame of his racquet.
“You could never forecast that he was going to miss that shot,” said Courier of the missed overhead. “If he lets it bounce, he could hit it with the butt cap and make it and I wouldn’t be there. That was as improbable as it gets, but that’s why we play sports. The whacky happens. You just have to be paying attention.”
Enqvist did not blame the sun for the missed shot, just being too relaxed and letting his mind wander before finishing the point.
“I think I was just too casual,” he said. “It’s what you tell an amateur when you play the pro-ams with them, that sometimes they do those mistakes. They take their eye off the ball. I think I did that. It was a changeover (on the next point), and I think I was on my way to the other side (of the net) before I finished the shot. It was a bad time, obviously, to make that kind of mistake.”
Courier won a first-prize paycheck of $54,000 for winning the singles final and all three of his round-robin singles matches during the week. Enqvist earned $32,000 for his runner-up showing and for also winning all three of his round-robin singles matches.
Enqvist was the more aggressive player at the start of the match, dictating play from the baseline and working on Courier’s weaker back-hand wing. He broke Courier’s serve in the eighth game of the first set and served out the 6-3 set victory the next game. In the second set, Courier played with more urgency and aggression and registered one service break to take the second set 6-4 and force the decisive Champions tie-breaker, the 10-point tie-breaker played in lieu of a third set. Courier trailed 8-6 in the decisive tie-breaker, but rallied to win the final four points of the match, executing a backhand passing shot at 8-8 and benefitting from Enqvist’s missed overhead at 9-8 to win the match.
“I was hanging on by my fingernails at 8-6 (in the tiebreak),” said Courier. “I was just hoping for a little bit of luck and sometimes that’s what it takes.”
Courier attributed a change of strategy to a more defensive game plan to counter-attack the hard-hitting of Enqvist to getting him into the match after losing the first set.
“I really had to make a pretty major adjustment on my return serve against him, because he was really bringing the heat much bigger than I’d seen this week,” said Courier. “It was quicker today because it was warm, so I really had to revert back to just blocking everything back and just defending, which is not my nature. I like to play offense, but the nature of tennis is that if you’re ‘A-game’ isn’t working, you have to find another way. And that’s what I did today. I hung in there.I was a little tired coming into today. It’s been a busy week. I felt like I needed to try to find some energy for the finish, which I did. I served pretty well in the tiebreak, and just hung in. And that’s the thing about this sport, you just have to be better than the other guy. I was – just by my finger nails like (Olympic swimmer Michael) Phelps winning by a hundredth of a second. That was kind of the difference out there today, like winning by a hundredth of a second.”
Said Enqvist of Courier, “He’s probably one of the toughest competitors we have in the game. It’s not the first time he pulled off this kind of victory. He always, always stays in the game, tries to find a way to win it. That’s one of his biggest strengths.”
The victory also earned Courier 800 ranking points to extend his lead in the Stanford Champions Rankings that determine the year-end champion on the Outback Champions Series circuit, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players over the age of 30. For the first time in 2008, the year-end No. 1 on the Stanford Champions Rankings earns a $100,000 bonus. Courier now leads in the rankings with 3800 points, followed by John McEnroe and Wayne Ferreira with 1800 points and Aaron Krickstein with 1650 points. Enqvist earned 600 points to move into the No. 6 ranking position.
Enqvist, 34, was competing in his first Outback Champions Series final in only his second career event on the global champions’ tennis circuit. The 1999 Australian Open finalist and former world No. 4 was, coincidentally, the last player Courier played on the ATP circuit, handing the two-time French and Australian Open a second-round defeat at the 2000 Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne, Fla. – Courier’s final ATP singles match. The championship match in Dallas was the first Outback Champions Series meeting between the two players. Courier won six of eight meetings on the ATP tour.
Courier, 38, was appearing in his ninth career Outback Champions Series final and his fourth final for the 2008 season. Courier won events earlier this year in Grand Cayman in April and Charlotte in September while he lost to Pat Cash in the final in Newport in August.
In Sunday’s third place match, Krickstein defeated Ferreira 6-2, 6-4.
Founded in 2005, the Outback Champions Series features some of the biggest names in tennis over the last 25 years, including Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Courier and many 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. Each event also has the right to choose a “wild card” entrant.
The Outback Champions Series features eight events on its 2008 schedule, with each event featuring an eight-man round-robin match format. The winner of each four-player division meets in the title match while second place finishers in each division play in the third-place match. Each event features $150,000 in prize money with an undefeated winner taking home $54,000 as well as Champions Series ranking points that will determine the year-end Stanford Champions Rankings No. 1. Beginning in 2008, the year-end champion will receive a $100,000 bonus courtesy of Stanford Financial Group, the official rankings sponsor of the Outback Champions Series.
The 2008 Outback Champions Series kicked off March 12-16 in Naples, Fla., at The Oliver Group Champions Cup where Martin defeated McEnroe in the final. Courier won the second event of the season at The Residences at The Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman Legends Championships April 16-20, defeating Ferreira in the final, while McEnroe won his first career Outback Champions Series even in Boston April 30- May 4, defeating Krickstein in the final. Pat Cash won his first Outback Champions Series title in Newport, R.I., in August, defeating Courier in the final, while Courier won his second event of the season in September in Charlotte, defeating Martin in the final. The next two events on the 2008 Outback Champions Series calendar are Surprise, Ariz., and Dubai, U.A.E. More information can be obtained by visiting www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.
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 one-night “Legendary Night” exhibitions as well as charity events and tennis fantasy camps, including the annual Ultimate Fantasy Camp. For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com
Results for the week at the Stanford Championships
Round-Robin Results from Wednesday, October 22
Aaron Krickstein, United States, def. Todd Martin, United States, 7-6 (4), 6-4
Jim Courier, United States, def. Karel Novacek, Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-1
Round-Robin Results from Thursday, October 23
Thomas Enqvist, Sweden, def. Jimmy Arias, United States, 6-3, 6-2
Wayne Ferreira, South Africa, def. Justin Gimelstob, United States, 6-2, 7-6 (4)
Round-Robin Results From Friday, October 24
Wayne Ferreira, South Africa, def. Karel Novacek, Czech Republic, 7-5, 6-2
Todd Martin, United States, def. Jimmy Arias, United States, 6-4, 6-2
Thomas Enqvist, Sweden, def. Aaron Krickstein, United States, 6-1, 6-1
Jim Courier, United States, def. Justin Gimelstob, United States, 6-2, 4-6, 11-9 (Champions Tie-Breaker)
Round-Robin Results From Saturday, October 25
Jim Courier, United States, def. Wayne Ferreira, South Africa, 6-4, 6-3
Thomas Enqvist, Sweden, def. Todd Martin, United States, 4-6, 6-4, 11-9 (Champions Tie-Breaker)
Aaron Krickstein, United States, def. Jimmy Arias, United States, 6-3, 6-4
Karel Novacek, Czech Republic, def. Justin Gimelstob, United States (walkover, back injury)
Results From Sunday, October 26
Aaron Krickstein, United States, def. Wayne Ferreira, South Africa, 6-2, 6-4.
Jim Courier, United States, def. Thomas Enqvist, Sweden, 3-6, 6-4, 10-8 (Champions Tie-breaker)
Round-Robin Group Standings
Jim Courier 3-0
Wayne Ferreira 2-1
Karel Novacek 1-2
Justin Gimelstob 0-2
Thomas Enqvist 3-0
Aaron Krickstein 2-1
Todd Martin 1-2
Jimmy Arias 0-3