Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hingis/Kournikova winning team at Wimbledon Legends

Goofing off as usual it's as if they never left *LOL*

All pics courtesy of

It was rather telling that there were only a couple of seats left in the press area of Court No.2 this afternoon.

Traditionally, a Ladies' Invitation doubles match played on the second Tuesday of The Championships does not generate colossal press attention. But then Anna Kournikova and Martina Hingis are not usually playing in the event.

Today the two women, who won two Grand Slam doubles titles together and reached No.1 in the WTA Tour doubles rankings, took on British duo Sam Smith and Anne Hobbs in a match played in a carnival party atmosphere.

The Russian/Swiss pair were obviously delighted to be back on the All England lawns. They smiled, whispered, and high-fived throughout their contest and had every reason to seem jolly. Just five minutes into the match they were 3-0 up.

But the spectators were here to see a closer contest, so they decided to rouse the underdogs. Shouting out "come on you grannies" was perhaps not the most gracious manner in which to go about it, but that is what one member of the crowd decided to do, prompting much laughter and furious clapping.

It worked. Smith and Hobbs managed to string a few points together and were soon in charge of a couple break points on Kournikova's serve; cue the next crowd interjection "Come on England". The crowd went wild and repeated the din a couple of games later when Hobbs smashed a winning overhead hit from the baseline past Hingis, and promptly took a couple of bows.

Drama unfolded at 5-3 in the second set, when Kournikova suffered a bleeding blister on the palm of her hand.A medical time-out was called, much to her amusement, and she received treatment. They lost the game but Hingis closed out the following one with an ace and the women polished off the match 6-2, 6-4.

Speaking after the match Kournikova said: "For me personally it's an amazing opportunity to be back at Wimbledon, my favourite grass courts. I haven't been here since 2002...Playing with Martina, I think we just picked it up today where we left off eight years ago...I had so much fun today. Kind of jittery a little bit. You don't know how everything is going to go. But I had an amazing time."

Hingis added: "I was very much looking forward to this."

Yep the 'Spice Girls' were back in fine fashion. Clearly having loads of fun. :D.

It's so nice seeing Hingis at Grand Slams again even if it's at events like these.

I'll take this over not seeing her at all any day of the week.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A day of upsets at Wimbledon Venus and Kim Clijsters out

The news of Venus Williams's dramatic defeat was greeted with gasps by the Centre Court crowd when it flashed up on the scoreboard but it was too late to spur Kim Clijsters to a recovery against Vera Zvonareva.

If anything, it only deepened her frustration. The Belgian eighth seed was by then 5-2 down in the third set after a bright opening had given way to a string of unforced errors and, minutes later, she was joining Williams through the exit door.

Appropriately, the match ended with yet another mistake by Clijsters as she netted a simple forehand to go down 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

"Disappointed," was how she described her feelings after missing out not just on her third semi-final appearance at Wimbledon but, with last year's runner-up out of the equation, her best chance of making it to the final.

"It's too bad I wasn't able to come up with my best at the important time in the match," said Clijsters. "She [Zvonareva] did. She was very consistent and didn't give me any easy mistakes. I gave her a few too many."

Zvonareva, the 21st seed, now advances to only the second Grand Slam semi-final of her career after making the last four at last year's Australian Open. She had never previously made it past the fourth round at Wimbledon.

The 25-year-old Russian's victory was a reward for her constant hard-hitting, making Clijsters work for her points throughout, though this was a match that was lost rather than won.

Clijsters looked in complete control in the opening set and even the tennis gods appeared to be on her side when two lucky net cords in the ninth game of the second set helped her cancel out Zvonareva's earlier break of serve.

But, serving to stay in the set, the nerves got the better of her as a missed forehand was compounded by two double-faults, allowing Zvonareva to square the match.

Thereafter, Clijsters was in mental meltdown, succumbing to mistake after mistake while her opponent stood firm. The statistics said it all – 14 unforced errors by Clijsters in the third set compared to her opponents' five.

It leaves Zvonareva just one match away from the final, though she will not be taking Tsvetana Pironkova lightly, having lost to her in Moscow last year.

"She's an all-over-the-court player," said the Russian. "It's hard to predict what she's doing."

Yet another disappointing performance. I think that's why I've always liked Martina Hingis better over the years she was always more consistent.

This match was definitely winable, but Clijsters suffered another one of her famous mental lapses, that coupled with plenty of unforced errors was a recipe for disaster.

It's too bad really with Venus out Kim had a real shot at the title.

Another opportunity lost. Another slam, another women's final I have no interest, or desire to watch.

Even if somehow one of the inexperienced young girls left gets lucky and actually beats Serena Williams I just don't care.

*Sigh*. I miss the days when women's finals were anticipated events (with plenty of exciting top ten players).

Oh, well. Once again on to the men I go.

Martina Hingis & Anna Kournikova talk Wimbledon Legends

Earlier this week, I met with Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova, who are playing doubles together in the Wimbledon legends tournament. I won't make you wait for the (probably unwelcome) news: Hingis isn't planning a singles comeback, as some have suggested. As for the state of Hingis and Kournikova's tennis, let's just say I wouldn't want to be one of the other legends.

Why are you two playing the legends event?

It just came naturally. It's a great occasion playing at Wimbledon, playing together. Obviously you have great memories from coming here.

Kournikova: We were talking about summer plans, where are you going to be, what are you going to do. That's how we decided to team up. For me personally, this is such a great opportunity to be back on the grass courts of Wimbledon. Us playing singles here many, many years ago, Martina winning the singles title: Some of my best tennis in my career was at Wimbledon.

Hingis: This time around it's a really different approach. When you're on the tour, you're playing week in and week out, you just focus on your practice and your matches.

So there's no guilt now?

I still feel guilty and I still practice. I still go to the gym. I'm kind of OCD in that way.

Martina, what does this lead to? Are you considering a singles comeback?

[Laughs] I haven't been thinking about that, all these rumors. We'll just play here and see where it takes us. We're going to both play TeamTennis in the States after this.

What about doubles with Lindsay Davenport?

We've had some talks, but that's also a little bit in the maybe [category]. Lindsay, even after her first child she came back and played on the tour, it's quite a miracle.

What are your assessments of the next generation? Why isn't anyone really young winning big events?

It's gotten more physical and in juniors, I don't think the level—because they don't really get to play the seniors [age eligibility rules limit players under age 18]. I was really pretty much full time on tour at 15. You learn more when you're 15 than when you're 18. It's just more difficult, the older you get. At 15, you have nothing to lose, you go out there, you're fearless. Still, the level is different [today]. I think it's still possible, but you have to be quite special.

Kournikova: I think it's very, very individual. It depends on your development, how fast you can develop your skills, how fast you mature in your head. It depends on the player, it depends on the game, it depends on what country you're from. There are a bunch of factors that affect what time you'll peak. Jana Navotna won her Grand Slam…

Hingis: At 30!

Kournikova: And Schiavone won hers two weeks ago. She was on the tour when I was on the tour.

Hingis: I played her in the French Open quarters in 2001.

When Schiavone won the French Open, did you say, "Maybe I'll try this again?"
Hingis: My life on the tour was very busy. It's just different once you're No. 1. I played like 90 matches a season, five, six, seven matches a week.

What if the U.S. Open offered you a wild card to play singles?

It's a choice you have to make. I've been away for three years, so it's not like you come out of nowhere. You see people like Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin coming back, but there's still a lot of work behind it. You need the support, you need the background. It's not like you choose to come back and you're going to be winning. I mean, I've had my comeback and it was successful and I'm proud of it. Doubles is a different story, but not full time. If I could play in my back yard, maybe.

Anna, how was your recent visit with the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq?

This was my third tour and I've been to…

Hingis: I'm sure the soldiers loved it [laughs].

Kournikova: In eight days in Afghanistan and Iraq we visited two bases a day. It was an incredible opportunity to give back to the troops. Most of them are kids. We did a million meet-and-greets; we wouldn't stop until we said hi to every soldier. It was awesome, awesome, awesome. It was the most incredible experience.

Martina, is it strange to return to Wimbledon because your suspension started with a test here [Hingis was banned in 2007 for testing positive for a metabolite of cocaine, which she has denied using]?

No, not at all. That's the past. This place has nothing to do with it. I'm just really happy to be back playing.

Do you think about fighting the suspension more?
Hingis: Well I did [fight it], but it was a no-win situation. It's really the past and I'm not looking back.

What do you two expect from fans here?

First and foremost, we're doing it for ourselves. If we show that we're enjoying it, then people will enjoy it. You have to love what you're doing.

Is tennis essentially a way to stay in shape?
Kournikova: No, I train to play tennis. You can't stay in shape by playing tennis.

Hingis: Exactly.

Kournikova: It's a way of life.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Kim Clijsters wins the battle of the Belgians moves into quarters at Wimbledon

Of all the clues that had been available as to who would win this time – they started the match level on 12 victories each – perhaps the one to which we should have been paying most attention was their marital status.

For the first time since Wimbledon ditched the tradition of putting 'Miss' or 'Mrs' in front of the women's names on the scoreboard, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin were playing here and against each other, and it was left to the umpire's announcements to remind the spectators on Court No 1 which of the Belgians was married and which was not.

Clijsters, who has married American basketball player Brian Lynch since her last appearance, dropped the first set, yet she improved as the match continued for her 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory.

Next month, just for a bit of fun, Clijsters and Henin are to play an exhibition match to celebrate their country's six-month presidency of the European Union – how very Belgian – yet there was nothing carefree about this, and there was some nervous tennis from both sides of the net.

It is partly thanks to Wimbledon that Henin and Clijsters decided to return for second careers. Clijsters received an invitation to appear in the exhibition last May to celebrate the installation of the retractable roof over Centre Court, and it was as she worked her way back into fitness on the practice court that she decided that she wanted to have another go at being a professional tennis player. Henin would like to win a first Wimbledon title and so complete her set of grand slam titles.

Clijsters, who had a baby during her 'retirement', returned to the grand slam scene last summer to win the US Open title, and Henin came within one victory of doing the same at her first slam back as she finished as the runner-up at January's Australian Open to Serena Williams.

Yet since then Henin has not found life so easy. She has described this as a "transition year". She has now lost all three of her matches with Clijsters this season. All of them have been close. In both the Brisbane final and the Miami semi-finals, Clijsters won by taking a final-set tie-break 8-6.

No tie-break was necessary this time. For the first half an hour Clijsters struggled with her nerves and serve, and it was because of her double-faults that Henin broke her a couple of times in the opening set. Midway through that first set, Henin lost her footing and hurt her elbow, and that injury clearly bothered her, both mentally and physically. She took a medical time-out, and had more treatment during the next change-overs. In the next two sets, Clijsters' serve picked up, and so did the rest of her game. She will today play Russia's Vera Zvonareva, a winner yesterday over Jelena Jankovic, the fourth seed from Serbia.

I'm glad the Miss, Mrs. thing has finally been brought to attention I've actually been wondering about that. It's a little strange I'm so used to always hearing Miss for both players.

In a post last week I give Kim the edge over Justine. Based on past performances between these 2 this year.

And I am so happy to be right for once. It wasn't easy, and I think Justine took Kim by surprise a little bit when she came out firing from all cylinders from the get go.

And obviously nerves played a part in it as well. But despite losing the first set Kim kept her cool and won the 2nd set.

I'm sure Justine's injured arm effected her play somewhat in the second and 3rd set, but still full credit to Clijsters for keeping it together.

Kim now edges Justine 13-12 in their head to head. I expect her to pull through against Zvonareva.

And despite what Mary Carillo thinks I don't think there's going to be an all Williams final because if anyone can win with those two it's Kim.

So I say go Kim and kick some Williams booty!.

Also a notable mention to Maria Sharapova for putting up a fight against Serena especially in the 1st set. She's definitely on the road to recovery.

On the men's side Roger Federer moved through easily in straight sets over Jurgen Melzer.

The big shock today was Andy Roddick going out in 5 sets to 82nd ranked Yen Hsun Lu of Taiwan making things interesting for the remaining guys in the draw.

Rafael Nadal will now face Robin Soderling in the quarters that's definitely not going to be an easy one and I'm giving the edge to Soderling on this one.

Although I'm split on who I would rather have Federer face since both these guys have beaten him.

Martina Hingis winner of Manchester Masters

Swiss tennis legend Martina Hingis has won the 2010 Manchester Masters Women's title after an impressive comeback to defeat Liverpool's Chloe Murphy.

The former world number one trailed 4-1 in the opening set before winning eight games in a row on her way to registering her fourth straight sets victory at the Northern Club this week.

"We've played for the second time now, today we had some really great points, some great rallies and she's got some potential."

Today’s final was a repeat of yesterday’s impressive display from Murphy, who pushed Hingis all the way in the Swiss’ most competitive match-up of the week. The 17-year-old excelled in a wonderfully endearing performance, wooing the crowd with her ‘nothing to lose’ attitude and winning a set of new fans in the process.

Hingis was made to work hard early on as the youngster from Aintree broke serve twice to take a 4-1 lead in the first set. Murphy later admitted that she put too much pressure on herself after a disappointing performance in her hometown of Liverpool last week. But with no expectations here today the 17-year-old was set free, sportingly encouraged by her legendary opponent as she turned heads in the biggest match of her career.

The prospect of a shock was soon on the cards but Hingis was not about to be outdone on finals day. The ‘Swiss Miss’ went on the aggressive, developing good depth in rally and forcing the youngster into errors as she came into the net. Hingis played her way back into the match and, with the momentum behind her, took the next five games to win the first set 6-4.

The 29-year-old continued to impose herself in the second, despite some fantastic variety from Murphy which won plaudits from her opponent and the Centre Court crowd. Murphy seemed to thrive on the relaxed atmosphere but the match was slipping away from her as Hingis tightened her grip on the title.

The Swiss had won eight games in a row before Murphy got on the scoreboard once again at 3-1. But her resistance only appeared to drive Hingis on as the competitive juices began to flow.

Murphy failed to win another game after that, as Hingis broke once more to go 5-1 ahead before serving out with an overhead smash to the win 6-4, 6-1.

However the 17-year-old remained positive after the match, despite failing to build on her early advantage: “I think the net changed after the first five games because nothing went over it after that! Hopefully I’ll be in Junior Wimbledon next year.”

Meanwhile, Hingis was full of praise for her opponent, and the Northern Club, in victory: “Definitely she’s picking up quickly on some of the shots; she’s got great hands and great feel.”

“It’s a beautiful place to be at, the court plays wonderful and every time we play here it’s a great experience. Thanks for coming out because we had a great time playing in front of you and hopefully this helps bring tennis into the clubs so the public can see some tennis outside of Wimbledon.”

Apparently she steam rolled over her first two opponents to win this. Things are looking very good for the doubles exhibitions and World Team Tennis :).

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Roger Federer back on track at Wimbledon

The star gunfighters just will not leave town. For all the fleeting concern about Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal they are still standing, still shooting from the hip, still dangerous.

And, speaking of hips, even Lleyton Hewitt, just a few months after having his spliced and braced, is moving like a young colt and has revived memories of his 2002 triumph here. Given he is the last man to beat Federer, on grass in Halle two weekends ago, it would be folly to dismiss the 29-year-old Australian.

Nadal, who started well then dropped two sets to the precocious Dutchman Robin Haase yesterday, gets the third examination of his tennis here on Centre Court tomorrow, against the German Philipp Petzschner, whom he has beaten easily twice, on hard court and clay. Federer passed his test today in a match he might have ordered personally.

The No1 seed roared back to something like his best with a thoroughly convincing performance against the 32-year-old Frenchman, Arnaud Clément, who these days talks a better shoot-out than he delivers. "I knew Clément was going to allow me to play a bit more" was Federer's diplomatic take on a match he won in straight sets with barely a challenge to his dominance.

As if by some alchemy the ball left his strings on command again, full of menace in all directions, so unlike the near inexplicable shambles of his first-round flirtation with an early exit against Alejandro Falla, a five-set nightmare that seems as surreal in retrospect as it did at the time.

Then there was a blip against the flamboyant Serbian Ilija Bozoljac but now, with the freedom to express himself against an opponent he knows finds consistency a problem, the deftness returned as crisp, deceptively gentle shots flew into just the right spaces, parts of the court Clement could only dream of reaching.

Federer was detained a mere 28 minutes in polishing off Clément in the first set; the second took him 10 minutes longer; by the third inevitability crowded out expectation and went by in a twinkling, the Frenchman going home with eight games to his name. It was a decent hit-up. Federer faces a stiffer test on Monday against the Austrian Jürgen Melzer, who beat Spain's Feliciano Lopez in four sets.

Melzer and Federer have not met in serious competition since the juniors but the Swiss remembers him well enough. "We played doubles back at the Orange Bowl, probably in '97 or '96. So we go way back," Federer said. "It's funny because I've practised with him, chat with him every day in the locker rooms. Usually we always play the same tournaments as well because he's Austrian, I'm Swiss."

"We tend to have similar schedules, but we never met. Kind of cool we finally get a chance to play each other, especially here at Wimbledon, which I think is one of his best surfaces on grass, and he's coming off of a great French Open." The idea that Melzer think it is kind of cool to get a public thrashing from Federer is an interesting one.

When Hewitt looks across the net at Novak Djokovic on Monday, he will see not just a player he has lost to three times out of four but one of the faces of the future. This is recent past v recent present, as Djokovic has yet to convince he can move on from being a threat to a kingpin. It makes for a classic encounter and form dictates it will not disappoint. Djokovic will start favourite, having overcome a slow start to move impressively through the gears to swipe away Albert Montanes in 101 minutes on Court One.

But a win for Hewitt is less preposterous than it might have seemed a few months ago, given the hell the Australian has gone through since being bounced out of his own Open in Melbourne in January and then having his hip and knee sliced and patched up so he can carry on what has been a career of many highs and lows.

Hewitt does not look like a crippled old pro; rather, on the evidence of his dismissal of France's faltering young talent, Gaël Monfils, 6-3, 7-6, 6-4 on Centre Court, he is a man reborn, an opponent to fear again – as Federer learned to his cost in Halle.

Djokovic will be in a state of heightened preparation for him, and not just on the back of that result, Hewitt's first win over the world's best grass-court player in 16 attempts. Although Djokovic beat Hewitt here in four sets three years ago and far more easily in the Australian Open the following year, as well as putting him away at Queen's the same year, he knows there is class in those worn bones.

Djokovic felt the power of Hewitt near its peak when he could take only six games off him in the first round at Flushing Meadows in 2006. He was a pup of 19 then. He is a hungry wolf of 23 now.

They have other scores to settle, given Australia beat Serbia 2-1 in the World Cup. "If we had the draw," said Djokovic, "we would go through." There will be no draw on Monday, no second chance, no way home but the quick way.

Andy Roddick, so near here so many times with no joy, fights on, beating the German Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-5, 6-7, 6-3, 6-3.

That's more like it!. A straight set win (6-2, 6-4,6,2). Finally some normalcy has been restored to the craziness that has been the first week of Wimbledon.

On the women's side things are finally getting exciting.

Both Belgians Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin made it through their respective 3rd rounds setting up what is sure to be a highly entertaining 4th round match on Monday. So looking forward to that!.

At the moment I'm very split about who to root for since I like them both. But I will give Kim the edge.

In a way I almost wish those 2 were on the opposite sides of the draw so that I wouldn't be forced to choose.

Equally as exciting will be the possible potential meeting between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.

Assuming they both make it through tomorrow. I'm rooting for Maria to kick some major booty.

Next week is going to be jam packed. The tennis geek in me is doing a happy dance just at the prospect of all the good stuff to come. Is it Monday yet?!.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Remembering the 'King of Pop'

Today marks the one year anniversary of Michael Jackson's death. Hard to believe a whole year has passed already.

Growing up you always hear people say that they remember exactly where they were when something major happened, or when so and so died.

I never fully understood that until that exact thing happened to me last year. The memories of that day are still quite vivid.

I was on vacation in Poland. My mom, niece, sister and I decided to head to the beach that day.

We got up really early around 5:30 am.

We spent more time traveling to the destination then we did on the actual beach, which was a total of about 2 hours.

It was a warm day but not hot enough to go swimming which is why we cut it short.

I remember having no problem with that since I was quite tired from spending so much time out in the sun, and all the walking we had to do just to get there.

We finally arrived home late in the evening and I decided to go on the net to check my email. I found my in box flooded with R.I.P M.J. messages.

For the first 2 minutes I just sat there thinking someone was playing a really cruel joke. After some further searching I found out it was indeed true.

I spent the next few hours watching various news outlets (mainly U.S. ones) report on the event.

I was surprised how much coverage it was receiving since Micheal always seemed more popular in Europe then in North America.

And although we did cover it, it was nowhere near as extensive as in the U.S. I was also surprised at the positiveness of the whole thing.

For years the U.S. media had painted him in such a negative light. Calling him 'Whacko Jacko'.

Always pointing out the strange things he did never any of the good humanitarian things he was quite famous for.

It seemed like as soon as they learned of his death they all of a sudden did a complete 180 and painted him as the hero instead of the 'whacko' they so often highlighted him to be.

I watched the funeral footage the following day on Youtube. And got more and more emotional as it went on.

When his daughter Paris got up to the microphone to speak that's when it really hit me. And I shed quite few tears. I remember feeling such intense sadness.

A feeling that stayed with me for a good couple of weeks afterwards.

I think the sadness was a combination of sorrow for the kids he left behind, and the realization that I would never be able to see this musical icon in concert.

Even though I knew there was very little chance of that ever happening. As long as he was alive the hope was always there. Having that hope so suddenly dashed was extremely difficult to fathom.

The saddest thing of all though was watching all that news coverage, and thinking how unfair it was that he was finally getting the respect he deserved but never really got when he was alive.

I guess that's how it always is though, you never truly appreciate a person until they're no longer there.

R.I.P. Michael. Hope you have the peace and harmony you fought so hard for all your life.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Federer survives another tough test at Wimbledon

Two days after dropping two sets to the unheralded Alejandro Falla, Roger Federer, a champion defending not just his Wimbledon title but his pedigree, gave up another on the way to edging past a fun-loving Serbian qualifier happy to be known as Bozo.

And, while there was plenty of the clown in the smiling and mildly eccentric but utterly likeable Ilija Bozoljac, he did not play like a man who had wandered in from the Challenger circuit, rated 152nd in the world. Nor, it has to be said, did the No1 seed play like someone convinced he could win this tournament for a seventh time. Federer declared himself relieved and satisfied afterwards, not so much with a scoreline that read 6-3, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, but with the fact that he had survived a demanding examination of his composure.

While some were worried that the Falla match might have at least scratched his psyche, there seemed little cause for concern in the first set, as Bozoljac seemed to be living up to his stereotype of tennis arriviste, just happy to be here. But, when he saved break point in the third game, and three times in the fifth, there seemed to be a bit of fight in the lad. Then the Serb shocked the champion, hitting harder, staying in rallies longer and gritting his teeth to take the second set in a disciplined tie-break.

Federer struggled thereafter to impose his will on Bozoljac, and might have been overturned had his opponent not come so wildly to the net when excited by the prospect of the biggest upset of his life. "He was playing really well," the Swiss said, looking more exasperated than weary afterwards. "I had never played him before. I thought he served incredibly well at key moments. It could have gone [to] five, so I am happy."

He paid tribute to both his tormentors in this tournament, as well he might. "They played great matches, but I came through them. I have to make sure I can raise my level. There were many more rallies today. I wish it was straight sets, obviously, but, as long as I'm moving on at Wimbledon, I'm a happy man. It just shows how deep the game is at the moment."

Federer, of course, would not countenance any cracks in his game or demeanour, but others – most pointedly his opponent in the next round, Arnaud Clément – will take comfort from further evidence of his vulnerability, not just here but for a worryingly long time this year.

Clément beat the Australian Peter Luczak 6-7, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. The Frenchman, ranked 86th, has three wins in 10 meetings with Federer, but all of them a long time ago. Nevertheless, he will tell himself there might never be a better time to be playing the great man in a grand slam.

Federer, in unfamiliar territory on Court One, closed it out in the second tie-break of a match that lasted two hours and 46 minutes – a mere bat of an eyelid by current Wimbledon standards but a lot longer than anyone expected.

The perception that Federer is close to unbeatable, on grass at least, is one conjured not just from his peerless record – he wins eight matches in 10 and has lost only twice on the surface in 75 outings – but by his aura. He walks through his sport as if untouched by anxiety, a master of all crises – and there have been a few of them, in case anyone has forgotten.

However much he refuses to perspire, even he cannot hold at bay forever the strains of time and his calling. He does not float across the turf so often or so convincingly now; he even tumbled when lobbed yesterday, a rare image of a god brought to ground.

We held our breath, of course. There was hardly a spectator there who did not want him to get up, go on and prove his greatness again – however much they admired the fleeting pluck of another entertaining interloper. Bozo had his day and, as they walked from the court together, he will contemplate that his tennis life may never be so garlanded again.

Federer, meanwhile, must draw strength from his past, which could hardly be more impressive. As recently as January, Igor Andreev, another big-hitter, gave him hell for three sets in the opening round of the Australian Open, then Nikolay Davydenko had him hanging on well into the second set of their match. But he emerged stronger, thrashing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets before putting away Lleyton Hewitt, then producing the most sublime form to wreck Andy Murray's final.

This time, though, the challenge to come back looks greater, the fault lines more obvious. He has time now to regroup. He needs every second of it.

I gotta say this was one entertaining match despite the frustrations (of the guy taking one set off Roger, and constantly saving break points with great serves).

I also have to give the guy full credit he played really well and came up with some amazing shots.

Forcing Federer to do the same. Still I think a lot of fans would have been mighty upset if Roger got beat by a guy who's name starts with Bozo.

I'm all for challenges before the final, but I will be very happy if Roger gets through his next match in straight sets.

So here's hoping for an easier 3rd round. There's enough drama in Wimbledon already Roger save some of it for week 2.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Martina Hingis blast from the past from ESPN Classic

Awww, look at the fresh faced Martina Hingis :). I don't think I've ever seen this special.

Just one of the many I missed over the years I guess. Lovely little bio piece.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Roger Federer survives Wimbledon scare

Only twice in 133 Wimbledons have defending champions suffered a first-round exit. But Roger Federer came so close to sharing that ignominy at the hands of the little-known Alejandro Falla today that doubts about his rarely questioned dominance here are starting to grow.

That was unthinkable – blasphemous even – no more than a day ago but not any more.

The leaders among the chasing pack will fancy their chances of unseating the man who owns six Wimbledon titles and had every expectation of going past Pete Sampras's tally of seven, maybe even getting to double figures if his legs and ambition held out.

Rafael Nadal, who beat him on clay in Madrid this year (and bested him here in 2008 in one of the truly memorable finals), looms most ominously. Lleyton Hewitt, who defeated him on grass in Halle the weekend before last, will have hope. Robin Soderling, who blasted Federer off the clay at Roland Garros, will look at yesterday's match and wonder if he can do it again.

Andy Murray, too. That is how significant this performance was. On both sides of the draw the wolves are baring their fangs.

For at least an hour and a half on Centre Court yesterday, the finest player ever to grace a grass court looked as if he might join Manuel Santana (loser to Charlie Pasarell in 1967) and Hewitt (blasted out by Ivo Karlovic's thunderous serve seven years ago) as title-holders to leave town at the first time of asking.

Federer came through 5-7, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-0 in three hours and 18 minutes but could so easily have lost the match when Falla, a struggling Colombian clay-courter ranked 60th in the world, had him by the throat at 4-4 in the third, three break points in the bag with history his to be made.

Falla, who had played with wit and courage until that point, destroying Federer's backhand with all the subtlety of a street mugger, went to pieces in the presence of the great man. Federer held serve and blitzed Falla in the tie-break.

From that point on it was pretty much business as usual. He dropped serve at the start of the fourth but gradually gathered his composure and, by the end of the fifth, he had his man on the ropes, ragged and dispirited. He was hitting crisply again, moving commandingly at the net and floating across the baseline like the balletic wizard he is.

Federer at the start, though, was unrecognizable from Federer at the finish. It was as if he had sleep-walked into his favourite tournament, comfortable in the assumption that someone he had put away twice in the past month would provide no more than a warm-up for tougher challengers to come.

How wrong can a giant of the game be?

He started as if desperate to get the match out of the way so he could watch Switzerland and Chile in the World Cup, a match due to start two hours later. In that time, however, he peppered the net with a welter of wobbly ground strokes, mostly off the backhand, and volleyed unconvincingly.

At 5-5 in the first, the umpire interrupted Federer mid-serve when a ball-boy moved behind his arm; he double-faulted and went on to drop serve – although he later struggled to recall the distraction.

Federer hit a forehand wide to hand the set to Falla, who continued to work him over in the second set. Falla broke him in the seventh game and held his nerve to close it out, although he was now in a bit of a dogfight.

When he failed to nail his man in the 11th game of the third set, Falla knew, deep down, his moment had passed. It was a sad sight, the denouement.

The grafting left-hander can never have played a better match, nor been so crushed by coming so close to what even he must have imagined was beyond him. His biggest achievement in the game to date was reaching a semi-final in Lyons three years ago.

This was Falla's third contest in a row against Federer. He lost in straight sets in Paris and Halle in the past month. Six years ago Federer brushed him away with ease here in the first round in 55 minutes on Court One. Nobody thought today's encounter would be any different.

Had Federer lost, we would today be discussing the biggest upset in tennis history, no question. It would have been a shock bigger than that inflicted on Sampras here in 2001 by Federer's compatriot George Basti, who was ranked 145 in the world at the time and was hardly heard of again.

Thereafter Sampras went into gradual decline before retiring from the game in 2003 and handing over the mantle of the world's premier grass-court player to Federer. Nobody is suggesting Federer has reached that tipping point but he needs to turn his game around quickly to hold on to his title and his aura.

Federer is almost exactly 10 years younger than Sampras. It is not inconceivable that he will soon reach the same conclusion the American did once he became vulnerable to the attacks of lesser players.

Fatherhood and a quiet life might suddenly look more attractive than putting his golden reputation on the line – because he knows those circling wolves will not go away and lately they have been snapping at his heels with worrying regularity.

Ok, I'm all for a little bit of drama on the first day of Wimbledon and all, but this was overkill!.

Now the rumor mill is all abuzz once again that Roger has lost his touch. Every time the man has a little hic up the pessimists come out in full force.

Let's wait and see how he does in his second round shall we?.

Note to Roger: a little less drama in your second round would be much appreciated.

Thank you, your devoted but emotionally exhausted fan.

In other news on the women's side of things where thankfully there was no drama to be had.

Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin comfortably moved on to their respective second round matches.

Kim seemed the more comfortable of the two winning her match 6-0 6-3. While Justine Henin won hers 6-4 6-3.

Though to be fair I did not see Justine play, on the count of being way too wrapped up in the Federer 5 setter.

If both women survive into the quarters we could have another clash of the Belgians.

If today is anything to go by something tells me we're in for a rocky unpredictable ride at this year's Wimbledon.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Martina Hingis partners with John McEnroe in Liverpool

THE Liverpool International is playing the numbers game this week.

More than 2,000 litres of Pimms will be drunk during the five-day tennis festival which opened yesterday in blazing sunshine.

At least 10,000 punnets of strawberries and cream will be devoured.

Groundstaff will walk an estimated 850 miles mowing, preparing and looking after the Calderstones Park courts.

And most crucially there are barely a handful of tickets left for the weekend matches.

The appeal is clear.

Superbrat turned commentary box sage John McEnroe is in town from tomorrow to play exhibition doubles alongside the equally charismatic Martina Hingis.

The pair will make a compelling double act.

Hingis is the Swiss Miss with the beaming neon smile. McEnroe, even at 51, is still capable of scowling for America.

And the pair can clearly still play.

“You don't want to have John on the other side of the net,” smiled Hingis yesterday. “Although I'd probably make him run for his money these days!

“He's a demanding partner, but I can play my part. We've played doubles tennis together before and I didn't disappoint; we were a good team.

“We won each time so we have an unbeaten record to defend.”

McEnroe will be returning to Merseyside for the first time since his 1980s hey-day when he featured in the short-lived West Kirby tournament.

Hingis is back in Liverpool – and showed off a little local knowledge alongside French ATP player Paul-Henri Matthieu at yesterday's lunchtime media conference.

“You'll have to go The Beatles museum. I did that last time I was here,” she told Matthieu. “And The Cavern where they played.

“I loved it when I was here two years ago and I kept in touch with Anders Borg, the tournament organiser.

“He's persuaded me to play in a few more tournaments this time round – I was in Nottingham last week, I'm due to play in Manchester after this, so it's kind of a road trip going on. I like the structure of the Liverpool event and it's almost like giving a bit back by supporting tennis and bringing it to people by playing in this public park here. I had a great time last year.”

The relaxed nature of the exhibition events explains why, at only 30 years old, Hingis is still resisting calls to make a competitive comeback.

“Schiavone won the French Open at 29 so I suppose it's a bit odd to be labelled a 'senior’,” she admitted. (Hingis will compete in the Wimbledon Senior Doubles alongside Anna Kournikova).

“But I remember the match I had against her which was in 2001, so it's nine years back. It's not like it was yesterday.

“And yes, I did beat her! But it's her time this time around.

“Obviously the Williams sisters are still going strong too. And they've all had breaks. I didn't have that many breaks in my career. I love to play tennis but now I don't have to train every day for six hours, there's not the same intensity.

“It's less stressful and you're not on the road 35-40 weeks a year. I enjoy being home with family and friends. The girls now are big and powerful and it's a gruelling schedule. It's very pounding on the body.

“We play 80 per cent on hard courts as well which isn't the healthiest surface in the world so on tour it's not as easy as it looks just picking up the prize money.”

On the more forgiving grass of Calderstones Park yesterday Hingis looked in rude health, outgunning Norwegian Ulrikke Eikeri 6-1 in the opening set,

Eikeri hit back in the second set but was only ever holding on.

Hingis broke in the seventh game of the second set, held her serve to 15 and then broke the outclassed Norwegian's serve to 15 to secure a victory which was every bit as comfortable as the 6-1, 6-3 scoreline suggested.

Another statistic trotted out yesterday was Hingis' age. Gallantly introduced as “29 years of age” by tournament organiser Anders Borg, she instantly replied: “No, I'm 30 now."

But she still looks capable of making serious inroads into the women's ATP rankings.


Friday, June 18, 2010

'The Smurfs' teaser trailer

Well, I've been talking about this quite a bit over the past 4 years or so. But it looks like The Smurfs will finally indeed be hitting a theatre near you next summer.

The teaser trailer doesn't reveal much does it?. I guess that's why they call them teasers lol. The Smurfs don't look half bad though I must say. I just hope there's a good story.

Also why did they have to make it 3-D that was cool when I was 12 now I could really do without it. CGI by itself is cool enough in my opinion.

And I was also hoping they would make it fully animated not live action as the trailer seems to indicate again it's not like CGI couldn't have created a perfectly realistic Central Park.

This could turn out to be another Alvin and the Chipmunks but I'll remain optimistic until it's actual release.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Martina Hingis random Liverpool pics

Martina with Paul-Henri-Mathieu

Martina and a fresh face from Norway Ulrikke Eikeri Hingis won it 6-1 6-3

Pictures belong to jimmy62, pv uk from

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Martina Hingis WTT media conference

ROSIE CREWS: Thanks for taking the time to join us for today's conference call with Martina Hingis, who is here to talk about her return to World TeamTennis this July.

I speak for all of us at World TeamTennis, how thrilled we are to have Martina back playing for the first time in World TeamTennis since 2006.

She's going to play the entire 2010 season for the New York Buzz, which are based in Albany, New York. She starts on July 5th in Albany and during the course of the season will play some of the best names in the game right now with matches against Venus and Serena during the first week, and Kim Clijsters later on.

She will be playing six home matches in Albany and one in Glens Falls, New York; and road matches in Philadelphia, Boston, St. Louis, Springfield, Missouri, New York City and D.C.

Martina first played World TeamTennis in 2005 for half a season and only dropped one set the entire summer, and led her then team the New York Sportimes to the WTT title. So I don't know that opponents are going to be excited to have her back, but I know we are, fans are.

Actually this week on we're counting down the top 35 impact players, in World TeamTennis to celebrate our 35th season. We're down to the final three. Fans are selecting that. The final three are somebody we all know named Billie Jean and two people named Martina. That's pretty good company.

Martina joins us from England today where she's playing in some exhibitions and will play in legends doubles at Wimbledon with another WTT player Anna Kournikova of the St. Louis Aces.
With that introduction, let's go to the first question for Martina.

Q. Martina, have you been to Albany at all? What are your plans for the summer? Have you seen Albany yet?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, I have been to Albany. I think I played in my 2005 season. That season was very good for me, so I think I had quite a successful match over there. You know, I really like playing there.
You know, I have good memories in general from the World TeamTennis. It's a great team I'm joining. They won in 2008. They won the title. I know they've been very solid over the last year. So I'm looking forward to be on the team.

Q. How fit are you? You haven't played in a while. How fit are you to take on some of the best players in the world this summer?

MARTINA HINGIS: I don't have that easy of a schedule, do I (laughter)? It's like the Eastern Conference, playing the Williams sisters, Kim Clijsters. I'm glad that I get a little bit of preparation playing over here in England some exhibition matches and playing Wimbledon with Anna Kournikova in the legends doubles.
As much as I can do. I haven't played in three years a player in the top five. That's the No. 1 and 2 in the world, so I just have to bring my best tennis, I guess.

Q. For those who aren't familiar with the WTT, how competitive of a match will the people of Glens Falls expect between you and Serena?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well ...they're going to be playing Wimbledon. I mean, of course for me, since I haven't been playing in the last three years, it will be quite interesting to be playing the No. 1 player in the world. We've played a lot of matches in the past, but I'm sure it's going to be different this time.

But, you know, I love the competition, I love the challenge. We'll see. I'll definitely have to come out with really good tennis if I want to do something.

Q. What kind of atmosphere do you expect to have at this event?

MARTINA HINGIS: I mean, it's always great atmosphere because you have the teammates rooting for you. It's totally different when you play tournaments, it's mostly quiet. Here you have the music playing, the team, everyone is rooting for you, you have the coach on the court. I really loved when I played the season 2005 and 2006.

So I'm returning back to TeamTennis because I loved it. I liked the team spirit, as well.

Q. You've been talking about it's been a few years you've been away from professional tennis. How have you been preparing for legends doubles and for World TeamTennis?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, I'm playing now some exhibitions in England. I played last week at Nottingham. I'll be playing also in Liverpool and Manchester just before Wimbledon, before I'm going to play with Anna at the legends at Wimbledon. This is pretty much the preparation I've had. I've been hitting balls.
Obviously I played some matches against Savchukand Krajicek, who are ranked around 100 in the world. Definitely going to be different when I have to play the Williams sisters. I haven't been playing in the last three years that much. It will be definitely a great experience to have again, you know, playing the top in the world.

Q. What made you decide to have this comeback now? What made you decide to come back now?

MARTINA HINGIS: Because I love the game. That's like the first thing. And then I've had great memories when I played in 2005 and 2006. I played almost half of the season. We ended up winning for the Sportimes. It was a great time. I loved the team spirit. I liked just going out there and having a challenge, playing some tennis.

Q. Could you share with us some of your memories you've had specifically playing against the Williams sisters as well as Kim Clijsters when you were on tour.

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, I was basically growing up with the Williams sisters when I was on tour. They came on tour in '94 and '95, just as I did. You know, overall we played like pretty much 20 matches, each of them, against each other.
I think we always brought out the best tennis in each other, kept us pushing. I have great memories. I think that was some of the best times in women's tennis. They brought the power game, which I tried to deal a little bit with the finesse. I think it was a great contrast every time we played each other.

Q. Were you committed to play WTT no matter who drafted you or were there only specific teams because of geography or schedule that you would have played for?

MARTINA HINGIS: No, I would have played for anybody. I really had great memories playing the season. I didn't care. I just wanted to play. I'm happy to be on a great team with some great teammates. So, you know, really looking forward to it.

Q. The last time you played World TeamTennis, you were like the (WTT Finals) MVP, had a great year, then you had a successful WTA comeback. If this goes well, would you consider playing on the WTA Tour at some point?

MARTINA HINGIS: I knew this question was gonna come up (laughter).
At this point I'm not considering a comeback. But, like I said, I love to play tennis. That was definitely a different time. It was five years ago when I decided to come back. I'm going to turn 30.
Like I said, it's a great experience to have. You know, just very much looking forward to it. Definitely see, you know, if I last the season. That's the bottom line. Since I only played half a season last time, I said, Okay, 14 matches in three weeks, that's going to be a lot of tennis, so...
Definitely working on it now, ready to be in good enough shape to survive it.

Q. What did you miss the most about playing? World TeamTennis has been innovative with coaching, the replays. The tours have picked up some of that. What other things would you like to see the tours adopt that World TeamTennis does?

MARTINA HINGIS: I don't know. It's like because when I'm growing up, I didn't really mind about having noise and this and that. I love the music part. I've always been a big fan of music. When you play the US Open, there's always noise. You have airplanes, other things, distractions. I wouldn't mind. I like to dance. That's probably one of the things at the Grand Slams that would kind of boost the people.
I mean, I don't know what else. The let calls slows down the game. In TeamTennis, you play the lets from the serve.
I don't know really. It didn't really seem that much different to me when I was playing the TeamTennis. I just like the team spirit. Tennis is individual, so it's hard to have somebody. You know, if you're not having a good day, somebody can take over. That's not happening in the real tennis world. So probably that's the biggest difference also.

Q. Martina, in the time that you've been away from the game, what is your frame of mind and attitude about tennis? Were there moments when you thought, Oh, the heck with this, I can move on, I don't need it anymore? If there were, how did you get from that point to maybe where you are now, wanting to come back?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, but I always loved tennis, so that never really stopped me from playing or anything. I always liked the challenge. I always liked the competition.
Playing TeamTennis, you know, like I did in 2005, like I said, I have great memories. To have a little bit of that competition, like the spirit back, that's what I'm looking for.

Q. When did the process start? Did somebody from World TeamTennis contact you or did you contact them about playing again?

MARTINA HINGIS: That's been like we never lost contact. I mean, ever since I played the season in 2005, and even before, you know, I was always seeing Billie Jean King at the tournaments. She's always been talking about World TeamTennis, if some year I wanted to play. Then 2005 was the season that I played.
It just happened naturally, I'd say. I always liked the team competition. Once you fall in love with it, you just always know, like, you have those memories and the excitement is different.

Q. When might you decide about a return to the WTA Tour and would it be just in doubles?

MARTINA HINGIS: I mean, we've had some talks. Not for the singles. I mean, I'm not considering a comeback. Like I said, I'm playing some exhibitions now. I'm playing the TeamTennis. I have no further plans at this point.
We've talked about doubles, yeah.

Q. There have been talks about doubles?

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, with Lindsay in January I had some conversation. I'll see her at Wimbledon, see where we take it from there.

Q. You're playing with Anna Kournikova at Wimbledon. Is she a possibility for another doubles partner like you had in the past on the tour?

MARTINA HINGIS: We're going to play the legends. It's not the real...

Q. So Anna is not considering a comeback?

MARTINA HINGIS: We've been talking. We'll see how we do. We'll see how it goes.

Q. Will you have a better sense of your game after the 14 matches that you play for World TeamTennis, especially against the top players like Venus and Serena?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, definitely. Playing now already some exhibitions over here in England, playing the TeamTennis, it always gives you an idea where you stand, where things are.

Q. I think I read somewhere that you said the women's game was kind of monotonous. Explain that. Who in today's game impresses you the most?


Q. I believe I read somewhere that you said the women's game was a little monotonous. Can you explain that? And who in today's game impresses you the most?

MARTINA HINGIS: I don't see that I said anything like that.

Q. Whose game impresses you?

MARTINA HINGIS: Well, at this point I think I was watching some of the games at Roland Garros. What a great win for Francesca Schiavone, who played the tennis of her life in the finals. Sam Stosur, they both deserve getting there.
I always like to watch the Williams sisters because, even like now at Wimbledon, they're always favored for the Grand Slams.
There are young, upcoming players who you always root for now and then. In the last three years...I don't know if I would exactly pick somebody.

Q. How confident are you with your health? I know you've had injury concerns in the past. How has that been for you?

MARTINA HINGIS: I'm good. I'm good. I hope I can say the same thing when I'm finishing the TeamTennis (laughter).

ROSIE CREWS: We'll take care of you, I promise.

Q. You said you had some discussions with Lindsay about doubles. Lindsay Davenport?

MARTINA HINGIS: That's right.

Q. Seems like you were both at the top of your game at the same time. Do you want to rehash some memories? You had a rivalry going.

MARTINA HINGIS: Yeah, I think we've been around for a long time, pretty much the same time at the top. We've had, like I said, some great matches, semis, finals at the US Open. We only played once doubles together. That was one of the great experiences, as well.
I think she's even going to play mixed doubles now, is the latest I heard. She's excited about playing.

ROSIE CREWS: Lindsay will be playing World TeamTennis this summer for the St. Louis Aces, so we'll be seeing a lot of Lindsay.

Last question, please.

Q. Martina, it's a big deal that you're coming to little Springfield, Missouri. We have lots of kids here who are aspiring tennis players. Will you look forward to interacting with fans and will you make yourself available to talk to some of these aspiring players?

MARTINA HINGIS: Absolutely. That's one thing I can give back these days. I'm a little bit older, a bit more experienced. You don't always have the opportunities like I had playing tennis. I assume there are things like that with children. Definitely I'll make myself available. I'm sure it's going to be organized to hit with the kids at some point.

ROSIE CREWS: That concludes our call. Thanks again, Martina. We appreciate you calling in from England today. Good luck at Wimbledon with Anna. We'll look forward to seeing you in World TeamTennis this summer.

MARTINA HINGIS: I'm looking forward to it. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Martina Hingis to play WTA doubles with Lindsay Davenport?

Martina Hingis, five-time Grand Slam singles winner and former world No. 1, might be ready to return to the WTA Tour after a three-year hiatus.

On a conference call Tuesday to talk about World TeamTennis, Hingis said that she was not considering a comeback in singles, but that she has been having conversations about a return to doubles.

She mentioned Lindsay Davenport as a possible partner.

"I had some conversations, and I'll see her at Wimbledon, and we'll see where we take it from there," Hingis said.

Hingis will play Legends Doubles at Wimbledon with Anna Kournikova, whom she previously partnered with for two Australian Open doubles titles. When asked if Kournikova would be a potential partner for the doubles' comeback, Hingis didn't rule it out. She said they, too, have been talking.

Davenport, who has won three Grand Slam singles titles herself as well as an Olympic gold medal, would be an interesting partner for Hingis. The two have only played doubles once together, but their singles careers overlapped quite a bit. Hingis and Davenport played each other 25 times in their careers, with Davenport owning a 14-11 advantage in the rivalry.

"We've been around for a long time, pretty much the same time at the top," Hingis said. "We've had some great matches, (like the 1997) semifinals at the US Open."

Hingis also said she had heard Davenport was planning on playing mixed doubles in the near future.

Hingis tested positive for cocane at Wimbledon in 2007, and she retired for a second time, denying that she had used the drug. The two-year WTA ban has expired.

Hingis will play a full season with World TeamTennis this year. The season begins July 5.


Hmmm... Kournikova or Davenport as partners for Martina hard to say which one I would pick.

I'm gonna have to see them play first. I'm thinking Martina is probably on the same track.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Liverpool organizer believes Martina Hingis should try for full comeback

ORGANISER of the Liverpool International, Anders Borg, watched Francesca Schiavone win the French Open last weekend – and immediately urged Martina Hingis to fill in the only blank in her own Grand Slam record.

Hingis, winner of every Grand Slam crown except Paris, is returning to Merseyside next week for her second year at the Liverpool International. She will also play the Wimbledon Senior Doubles this summer alongside Anna Kournikova.

But Borg believes Hingis still has the game to shake up the WTA rankings once again.

“She’s still only 29 and every time I talk to her I say to her ‘Make a real comeback! Do it again!’

“If she did come back properly I’m convinced she could get into the top 10 and get rid of all the talk about this and that.

“You saw at the French Open a 29-year old Italian suddenly playing the best tennis of her life and Martina can do the same.

“We’ll see what we can do with her when she’s here!”

By ‘this and that’ Borg was delicately referring to the positive test for cocaine which hastened Hingis’ retirement in 2007.

She denied using the drug and after serving a two-year ban has refused to return to the Grand Slam circuit.

But she did hint earlier this year that the idea hadn’t totally been extinguished.

“There’s a spark. If it was played in the backyard,” Hingis said from her home in Switzerland, “then I’d probably think about it twice.”

The five time Major singles titlist in Australia, USA and Wimbledon, but famously not Paris, played World Team Tennis in 2005 – in preparation for her first return to tour.

Hingis originally burst onto the tennis scene by becoming the youngest woman ever to win a Wimbledon title.

And Borg believes he might highlight another precocious talent next week in 15-year-old Luke Bambridge from Nottingham.

The Liverpool International gave an early platform for stars like Novak Djokovic – a relative unknown at the time before becoming world number three, and Caroline Wozniacki – a Liverpool International winner and now world number two.

It seems everyone is on board the comeback train when it comes to Martina Hingis, more so since Francesca Schiavone won the French.

I can't say I disagree I think she could do it, but at this point I'm not too sure of her drive and motivation.

I would say let's wait and see after her matches in World Team Tennis in July.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Kim Clijsters at Gildredge Park

World number nine and current US Open champion Kim Clijsters was on hand to present Gildredge Park in Eastbourne with their beacon plaque.

Clijsters, who is in Eastbourne ahead of the AEGON International, took time out to visit the thriving park site to see for herself how Gildredge Park is enabling more people to get involved in tennis.

A group of AEGON FutureStars and some of the park’s pre-school players got the chance to have a hit with the Belgium star whilst Francis and Gemma Mackie who have developed Gildredge Park over the last five years accepted the beacon site plaque.

Tennis coach Francis said:

“It’s been absolutely brilliant to have Kim come and join us. You’d certainly never expect somebody like her to be playing on our courts so it’s been a real treat.

“We’re very proud of what we’ve been able to achieve here. Before we came along, the site was really derelict and you couldn’t even play on one of the courts. Now thanks to support from the Tennis Foundation we have re-surfaced our courts, we have floodlights and have managed to build up a real community spirit centred around our cafe and so it’s great that Kim has been able to see how we’re helping to improve community tennis.”

Louisiana Vine, one of the six AEGON FutureStars invited to meet Clijsters added:

“It was really great to meet Kim. I’ve seen her play on TV a lot and so it was really nice to actually meet her. She’s such a great role model for girls like me and I’ve always looked up to her. I’ll definitely be cheering for her at Wimbledon.”

Gildredge Park was awarded beacon site status by the Tennis Foundation in recognition of their high quality, affordable community tennis programmes. They have been selected for the accolade along with 41 other Beacon sites across the country and are one of the first community sites to achieve the status, which recognises the best community-focused facilities, as part of AEGON Parks Tennis.

Sue Mappin, Executive Director of the Tennis Foundation, said: “We were delighted to recognise the excellent work Gildredge Park is already doing by awarding them ‘Beacon’ status. To grow participation we need more quality public tennis facilities like this, offering the local community a fun, affordable tennis experience all year round.

"The Tennis Foundation is working in partnership with the City to develop community tennis, as part of its ongoing drive to enhance tennis opportunities."

“Through AEGON Parks Tennis, we are committed to improving access to tennis around the country – whether playing for fun or competing. Tennis is a fantastic lifelong sport and I strongly believe that everyone should have the opportunity to take part."

"Working with local tennis providers, this will make a real contribution to building healthier and safer communities, as well as ensuring that anyone wanting to pick up a racket can do so in a quality local environment.”

AEGON Parks Tennis aims to increase community access to tennis in parks and communities nationwide. Led by the Tennis Foundation and supported by the LTA, AEGON Parks Tennis is a key programme in British tennis’ drive to increase participation and grow tennis at all levels. The long-term aim is to have one beacon site acting as a centre of community tennis excellence in each of the 442 local authorities in Britain.