Friday, February 28, 2014

Roger Federer sets up semi-final clash with Novak Djokovic in Dubai

While top-seeded Novak Djokovic had a rest day when opponent Mikhail Youzhny became ill and withdrew from their quarterfinal on Thursday, Roger Federer had to play his way into their semifinal date at the Dubai Championships.

The fourth-seeded Federer, who has won this title five times, won his 40th match at the Dubai Championships with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic.

Federer made a slow start, falling behind 2-0 but quickly rebounded by winning the next six games. In the second set, Federer broke serve in the third and fifth games.

"When you play someone for the first time, you never quite know what his best level is or his normal level is," Federer said. "That's why you kind of keep pushing on, and that's also why I guess the score came out the way it did, because I never let go."

Federer holds a slim 16-15 winning record over Djokovic. The Serbian, however, has beaten Federer in their last three matches, and nine of their last 12 meetings.

"He is in the semis, he's already played two matches, he's been here long enough for preparing, and he's fit enough for anything anyway," Federer said of Djokovic having a quarterfinal walkover. "Every match you can get away from is a good one.

"For me, it was important also probably not to be out there for three hours. Then it would have been a disadvantage. But I think we're back on even terms for tomorrow."

The other semifinal will feature third-seeded Tomas Berdych against seventh-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.

Playing in his fourth quarterfinal of the season, Kohlschreiber's 6-2, 6-3 win over Tunisian wild card Malik Jazirivictory was his 300th match-win on the ATP Tour.

Berdych holds a 7-1 winning record over Kohlschreiber.

"The record is one thing, but then always the match is going to start from zero," Berdych said. "I have seen Philipp play here and he's playing really well.

"He's playing very aggressive, very confident, too."

Berdych, who was a finalist last year, fought past fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-3.

Berdych was on a 10-match winning streak, which includes his win at the Rotterdam tournament two weeks ago.

The first set stayed on serve until Tsonga dropped his at love in the 10th game.

The second set was even more tightly contested. In the fifth game, Berdych faced four break points but held on. Tsonga surrendered his serve in the eighth game when he double-faulted on break point.

"It was very close," Berdych said. "I faced many break points which was very tough, but that was really the key of today's game, that I managed to save them."

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Roger Federer in the quarters of Dubai after 3 sets

Roger Federer had to come back from a 2-0 deficit in the deciding set to beat Radek Stepanek 6-2 6-7(4) 6-3 and advance to the quarter-final of the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Federer impressively took the opening set in 33 minutes after establishing his advantage with 10 winners in 12 shots and committing only four unforced errors.

Stepanek broke serve early in the second but Federer recovered when his opponent was serving for the set at 5-4. However, a 6-2 lead in the tie-break helped Stepanek claim his first set over Federer since 2008.

The momentum shifted the Czech's way as he broke early again in the decider and was close to taking a three-game lead. However, five games on the bounce helped Federer restore the advantage as he completed victory in just over two hours on court.

Federer will now play Lukas Rosol in the last eight after the world No.49 enjoyed a 6-4 7-6(4) victory over eighth seed Dmitry Tursunov.

Top seed Novak Djokovic needed less than an hour on court to record a 6-1 6-3 win over Roberto Bautista Agut and keep hopes of a semi-final clash with Federer alive.

Djokovic raced through the opening set in 23 minutes and, despite being broken when 5-2 up in the second, easily saw out the match.

Elsewhere, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga gained a free passage to the quarter-final after opponent Nikolay Davydenko retired. Tsonga will now face Tomas Berdych after the third seed saw off Sergiy Stakhovskiy with a 6-2 6-1 win in just under an hour on court.

Wildcard James Ward was beaten 6-1 7-6(3) by sixth seed Mikhail Youzhny , Philipp Kohlschreiber enjoyed a 6-3 6-3 win over Andreas Seppi and wildcard Malek Jaziri reached the final eight with a 6-3 7-5 triumph over Somdev Devverman.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Roger Federer happy for Sampras support

Pete Sampras recently said he could see Roger Federer adding to his record haul of 17 Grand Slam championships, with Wimbledon the most likely stage for another major triumph. Another victory at the All England Club would see Federer surpass Sampras’ record of seven Wimbledon titles, but the Swiss also feels it is in reach.

Speaking after his first-round win at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Monday, Federer said, “I'm happy he's being positive about my game. I think it does say something. It counts. It gives me extra confidence to know that someone like him believes in me, is in my corner, and I can always call him up and ask him for any advice. I don't want to break his records necessarily. That's not what I'm playing for. I'm playing for myself, for my team, for my country, you name it.

“I'm happy things are going better now again this year.”

Watch Federer Interview

Indeed, one of the reasons Federer has enjoyed so much success at the start of 2014 – reaching the Brisbane final and the Australian Open semi-finals – is credited with his new racquet. Federer began playing with the new frame at the start of the season and is reaping the rewards.

“I did have times [in the past] where maybe I didn't serve so well or I struggled with my backhand, with the timing and so forth. Now, I feel like even on a bad day, I have the power on the serve, and I do hit my backhand easier. It's just important that I can do it consistently at the most important stages of the match in the biggest matches and that my forehand is clutch when I need it. I think that's really what I expect from the racquet, and so far it's been very good.”

Confidence in his body and the new racquet have also delivered to Federer a new-found freedom on the tennis court. Travelling the world with his family, Federer revealed he is enjoying his tennis more than ever.

“In the beginning it's kind of nice being the outsider,” reflected the Swiss, when asked about the pressure of playing as favourite in nearly every match he approaches. “Then it's nice being the guy everybody is sort of chasing. Now my situation is comfortable too. I feel like I am enjoying myself out on the court. I don't get too carried away or too nervous necessarily every single match. I don't get stomach cramps like I used to when I was younger. It's a bit more enjoyable now these days.”

Monday, February 24, 2014

Roger Federer wins Dubai opener

Roger Federer began his campaign for a record sixth Dubai championships title with a 6-1, 6-4, win over Benjamin Becker of Germany on Monday in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

"I'm extremely happy with today's match," Federer said. "Coming out and playing free tennis like that right off the bat is a good feeling."

The eighth-ranked Federer has never dropped a set to the 93rd-ranked Becker in four matches.

Federer and top-seeded Novak Djokovic, who will play his first match on Tuesday, have won nine of the last 11 titles here in Dubai.

Federer won the trophy in 2003, '04, '05, '07 and '12. Djokovic, the defending champion, won four times, with Rafael Nadal winning in 2006 and Andy Roddick in 2008.

Federer raced through the first set against Becker in 22 minutes.

"Things can run away very quickly here," Federer said. "If you look at the winner list from here, it's guys who play well on (fast) grass courts.

"It's worth it to go for your shots and you feel like risky tennis will be rewarded."

In the second set, Becker challenged better by playing himself into points.

Federer faced a break point in the final game, which went to deuce twice, but managed to close it out.

Seventh-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany won his opening match 6-3, 6-3 over Dutch qualifier Thiemo De Bakker.

Kohlscreiber led 6-3, 5-0 when he lost three game in a row before serving out.

Eighth-seeded Dmitry Tursunov of Russia was a 7-5, 6-1 winner over 101st-ranked qualifier Lukas Lacko of Slovakia.

Andreas Seppi of Italy beat Florian Mayer of Germany 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 from 4-1 down in the third set.

"I just tried to keep fighting," Seppi said. "I didn't have so many matches under my belt this year. He gave me some chances to come back."

The victory was only the second for Seppi this year. His only other match win was beating Lleyton Hewitt in five sets in the Australian Open first round.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Roger Federer confident ahead of Dubai tournament

Roger Federer is in a confident mood ahead of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, where he is hoping to win his sixth title in 11 visits. The Swiss has a 37-5 record at this ATP World Tour 500 hard court tennis tournament, winning the title most recently in 2012 (d. Murray).

"Physically I'm really fit, which is very encouraging,” said Federer, who opened his 2014 campaign with a runner-up finish at the Brisbane International (l. to Hewitt) and a semi-final showing at the Australian Open (l. to Nadal). “I must say, I'm very confident about how I'm feeling. I can run for every ball. I'm waking up in the morning with no pain. I think this is as good as I've felt in probably a year. That's good a good sign looking ahead and now I just have to stay injury free.

"It's always been an important tournament because usually when I've played well in Dubai, I've played well the rest of the year,” Federer told Dave Luddy for the DTC Radio Show. “Clearly it's not always that way, and I don't want to become crazy superstitious about it. It's a tough draw here, so there's pressure trying to win this and play well here.

"The conditions are rather quick, so it's hard to control the ball well. So when you can play good tennis here, it feels like you can play good tennis anywhere else. I've struggled in the early rounds here in previous years sometimes, but overall it's been a very successful hunting ground for me and I hope for another good run this year.”

The 32-year-old Federer is one of five Top 10 players competing in Dubai. Defending champion Novak Djokovic is looking to lift the trophy for the fifth time, while Tomas Berdych, Juan Martin del Potro and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are also in the hunt. Seeded fourth, Federer would need to go through Djokovic to reach the final.

"It's going to be tough,” said Federer. “I think Berdych is playing really well. Jo-Willy is always very dangerous. Clearly the favourite for me is Novak. He had a great end to last year, and then had a solid start to this year. Could have won against Stan at the Australian Open and who knows, maybe gone on to win the tournament there. I see him as the favourite for this tournament, plus he's played really well here. The victor is going to go through him at this tournament.”

Friday, February 21, 2014

Pete Sampras says Roger Federer will win more grand slams

Tennis legend Pete Sampras says Roger Federer could go on and play for another four years and add to his already impressive tally of 17 Grand Slam titles.

Speaking ahead of an exhibition match against Andre Agassi in London on March 3, Sampras said on a conference call Wednesday that he is impressed by Federer's longevity.

"I'm amazed that he is up for more tennis," Sampras said. "He has done everything in the game and he could walk away tomorrow feeling great about it. But he still wants to travel and compete and I'm in awe of it. He is a true lover of the sport."

Following a disappointing 2013 season marred by back problems, Federer started this year on a high.

Now working with new coach Stefan Edberg, he reached the final of his first tournament, at Brisbane, and then made the semifinals of the Australian Open for the 11th consecutive year. His run at Melbourne included wins over 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Wimbledon champion Andy Murray.

Sampras, who retired after winning his 14th Grand Slam title at the 2002 U.S. Open, said Federer should be comforted by a streak that finally ended with a defeat to Rafael Nadal.

"I thought his level was quite good," Sampras said. "When you're playing against Rafa and if you're not quite on your game then it can seem like you're struggling. Rafa is a rock. But I do see Roger building from that, I think he's going to do well this year."

Asked if Federer could win another Grand Slam title, Sampras said the Swiss "can do it" if he plays his best tennis.

"That's why he's playing, I don't think he's playing for anything else but to win some more majors," said Sampras, adding that Federer's best chance would be on his favorite grass surface, at Wimbledon.

Sampras was 31 when he decided to hang up his racket for good, while the 32-year-old Federer has hinted he could keep playing until the Rio Olympics in 2016.

"As long as Roger is enjoying it and he's healthy, I can see him playing for another two, three, four more years," Sampras said.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sabine Lisicki happy with Martina Hingis as coach

Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki has been trying out a coaching arrangement with Martina Hingis though the new grouping did not work particularly well at the WTA Dubai event. Lisicki went out in the first round in three sets to Caroline Wozniacki, with Hingis dutifully trotting down from the stands to the player bench during changeover to give some strategic advice.

Germany’s Lisicki said her new deal came together quickly. “Unfortunately we didn’t have too much time to practice with each other yet, but it’s good, it’s fun, we enjoy it. We’re looking forward to being able to now continue to practice.

Lisicki said that the pair decided one day to work together: “I have known her for years, I used to practice with her mother when I was a little girl, and I actually practiced with her when she was still a player and I was a little girl and I was looking up to her.

“It was very exciting. Martina knows me as well since I’m a little girl. So I think it’s a good connection, because she also understands how it is to be in a situation where some other people might not.”

Hingis is a part of the trend on the men’s and women’s sides for former start to return as coaches or advisers for the game’s current elites. On the WTA, ex-pros now include former grand slam winner Amelie Mauresmo as head of the French Fed Cup team with former French Open winner Anastasia Myskina also on site in Dubai, working with Ekaterina Makarova.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The generation game of Tennis has new contenders

Women’s tennis is ageing. The world No 1 and reigning French and US Open champion is 32-year-old Serena Williams, while the Australian Open champion, Li Na, will turn 32 in two weeks.

Marion Bartoli was 28 when she won Wimbledon last July.

Women’s tennis is greying and it is not a recent phenomenon.

Over the past 14 years, there have been only three winners under the age of 20 at the 57 grand slams staged – Maria Sharapova at the 2004 Wimbledon (age 17) and 2006 US Open, and Svetlana Kuznetsova (age 19) at the 2004 US Open. Over that same span, only two other teens reached a major final – Ana Ivanovic (2007 French Open) and Caroline Wozniacki (2009 US Open).

Jennifer Capriati broke into the top 10 at age 14 and won the 1992 Olympic gold at 16.

The youngest woman in the top 10 at the moment is Romanian Simona Halep (age 22) at No 10 and there is only one other teen in the top 20: 19th-ranked Eugenie Bouchard, who is 19.

Only four other players under 20 feature in the top 100: Madison Keys (No 37), Elina Svitolina (No 39), Annika Beck (No 55) and Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (No 73).

In recent times, the list of grand slam champions has been dominated by mums and senior pros.

Kim Clijsters came back to the tour after raising a child to win three majors.

Francisca Schiavone triumphed at the 2010 French Open, 18 days short of her 30th birthday.

Li Na was 29 when she took the French Open title in 2011, while Samantha Stosur was 27 when she beat Williams for the 2011 US Open crown.

Williams has won four of her 17 grand slams titles after turning 30.

Not long ago, players approaching 30 would have been considered over the hill. But the times are changing and two of the game’s veterans, who will be in action this week at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, believe better planning has helped extend careers.

“People are more smart about their schedule,” said Venus Williams, 33, Serena’s sister. “People try to play a little bit less, so they can play longer in their career.

“I think the current champions that are playing now, we all have played longer. So everyone else is thinking, ‘Yes, I can play as well’. So I think that’s great for tennis, just in general, to be able to keep the stars in the sport, and keep the game interesting.”

Experience is not necessarily a bad thing, either.

“There are lots of very, very good players who are now in the 30s or older,” said Stosur, 29. “So it’s very tough for the young teenagers now to come out here and play. They can’t dominate this sport like maybe 10 or 15 years ago.

“I think the experience plays a big part and I think as the years have gone on, all the players have got better at understanding at how to do a good schedule and look after themselves so that they are healthy and can play for a very long career.”

Graded WTA restrictions on teenagers, to stop early burnouts, have played a part in halting the tide of teenage prodigies. At age 14, players can appear in only eight pro tournaments a year, while a 15 year old cannot enter more than 10. At 16, players can enter a maximum of 17 events, and no more than 21 at age 17. The age restrictions end at 18.

The WTA’s ploy seems to be working and the emergence of the likes of Bouchard, Halep and Sloane Stephens over the past two years have sent pulses rising again.

Two of them – Halep and Stephens – have earned a place in the main draw of the Dubai Tennis Championships, while Bouchard is trying to make it through the qualifiers.

Halep had not won a WTA title until last June and started 2013 at No 47 in the world. The Romanian has won seven over the past nine months, however, and was voted WTA’s most-improved player last season. Last night, she defeated Angelique Kerber to win the title in Doha.

Stephens, 20, has yet to win a Tour title, though she is strongly fancied to become a major player, given her sporting heritage.

Stephens’s mother, Sybil Smith, was an All-American swimmer at Boston University, while her late father, John Stephens, was the offensive Rookie of the Year for the New England Patriots in 1988 and played six seasons in the NFL.

Bouchard, a Quebec native, is also seen as having a bright future after her run to the semi-finals at last month’s Australian Open.

“Eugenie Bouchard – a star is born!!” tweeted legend Martina Navratilova during the Australian Open, and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, a former men’s world No 1, got excited as well. “It’s a lethal combination! She is very good looking and attractive, and she plays fantastic tennis! Genie Bouchard!” the Russian tweeted.

Bouchard has collected a legion of fans since, including a supporters’ group calling itself the Genie Army, and given her looks, Bouchard’s agent claims she could be more marketable than Sharapova. Beyond those three, there are plenty of other names being mentioned as future stars. Keys, Svitolina, Beck and Schmiedlova feature regularly among them, as do Donna Vekic, 17, and Belinda Bencic, 16.

Victoria Azarenka and Radwanska are 24, Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova are 23, and Ivanovic (26) still has time to add to her 2008 French Open triumph.

So, while the reigning grand slam champions, Serena and Li Na, might not have too many years ahead of them, there are plenty of others in the talent pipeline.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

ATP World Tour to extend grass season in 2015

After years of lobbying the grass season will finally come into its own in 2015, with a six-week ATP season to be played on the lawns. The men will get a true run-up to Wimbledon, with three weeks now separating the end of the French Open and the start of Wimbledon. Those weeks, plus the grand slam fortnight and the Newport event in the US will stretch the season to a respectable length.

Filling the space will be tournaments in Germany, the Netherlands and Britain, with the west London date at Queen’s Club and Halle in Germany getting upgrades in points and prize money to 500-level events.

The 2015 grass season will start June 8, 2015, the day after the French Open final in s’Hertogenbosch and Stuttgart which is already converting from clay. The second week will feature the Queen’s and Halle events while the week before Wimbledon will host men’s ATP competition shifted from Eastbourne to Nottingham in England plus women at Eastbourne, their third week of play on grass.

The 2015 ATP calendar will feature 62 tournaments in 31 countries across six continents. “The ATP World Tour is a truly global sports property, and demand for tournaments around the world is high, which reflects the strength of our product and the growing popularity of our sport,” said ATP boss Chris Kermode, who formerly ran Queen’s and the year-end championships in London.

“The extended grass-court season, with additional rankings points at stake, is a positive step forward. “One of our assets as a sport is to provide for variance across playing surfaces throughout the season, so the strengthening of the grass-court season is a significant enhancement for the overall calendar.”

China continues to grow in marketing stature, with the country now hosting ATP event at all three Tour levels – 250, 500 and Masters 1000, comprising Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai. The new Rio event being played for the first time this month, begins a new four-week South American swing.

Despite continual complaints of a crowded schedule, the ATP will shoehorn in another clay tournament into a busy May week, adding an as-yet-unknown venue to the week already occupied by Oeiras, Portugal and Munich.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Awesome 3-D printed guitars

It's been a long long while since I've posted something fun, and being a big fan of guitars in general I thought this was perfect and needed to be shared.

3-D printers just amaze me (even with the multitude of technological advancements we have today).

Check out some info on the making process @

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Roger Federer commits to Davis Cup quarters in April

Roger Federer has confirmed he will play for Switzerland in their Davis Cup quarter-final clash with Kazakhstan in early April.
The 32-year-old was part of the Swiss team that beat last year's finalists Serbia 3-2 at the weekend to book their spot in the last eight.

The team event is one of the only titles to elude the 17-time Grand Slam winner to date and he clearly sees this year as a chance to put that right.

Compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka has now taken his game to a new level with victory in the Australian Open and, together, they have an excellent chance of taking care of Kazakhstan to advance to the semi-finals.

The Swiss need Federer in the ranks to challenge at the very highest level and he gave the news that the team wanted to hear on Monday when tweeting: "I will line up with my friends, captain Seve (Severin Luthi) and STAN against KazakhSTAN in April."

Federer has not been a regular member of the Switzerland Davis Cup team in recent years but, now ranked eighth in the world and with Wawrinka third, he has committed to the event to try to land the prestigious title. (HA! I love the name of this site :D)

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Djokovic's Dilemma

It was a tough assignment to command the spotlight at the Australian Open this year, what with Stanislas Wawrinka belting his way to his first Grand Slam title, Rafael Nadal staggering out of Melbourne with a bad back, a spate of stirring upsets on the women’s side—including Serena Williams’ shocking defeat—and yet another Roger vs. Rafa clash.

Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic got lost in the shuffle. Oh, the world No. 2 collected a measure of headlines and interviews—how could he not? But much of the attention centered less on Djokovic than on his new coach, media magnet Boris Becker. In some ways, Djokovic seemed like the forgotten man at this major. He was the guy everybody took for granted, but not necessarily in a good way.

It was weird, given what Djokovic and the tournament had meant to each other. He was not just the defending champ, he was gunning for his fourth consecutive title and riding a 28-match win streak that was finally halted by Wawrinka in the quarterfinals, in reprisal of their epic clash in 2013, the one that Djokovic won

The frustrating end to Djokovic’s defense also highlighted, for anyone who cared to look, a larger and perhaps more puzzling dilemma: Djokovic has now lost at seven of the last eight majors.

It would be one thing if those seven defeats ended with Djokovic outplayed by a peer whose game he was hard put to solve, or unexpectedly upset in a fourth round here, a quarterfinal there. But the astonishing thing is that Djokovic, the pile-driving baseliner who has won 15 of his 31 matches with Federer and who as recently as 2012 had a seven-match winning streak against Nadal, has been looking, acting, and playing like a champ. The only thing he hasn’t done is win.

Djokovic is a truly great player; the most convincing proof of it is his record against his cohorts in the “Big Four.” Has there ever been a player so good, whose failures over the course of about two years are so difficult to explain?

One thing we know for sure: Whatever is going on with Djokovic, it has little to do with forehands and backhands. He doesn’t have a nemesis, or some extra-technical weakness, like poor mobility or sub-par stamina or focus. This guy does everything exceptionally well, until he doesn’t. And that “doesn’t” tends to kick in when it could just as easily go the other way.

It’s hard to say that Djokovic was out-played in many of those seven losses. The other guy often won because of a hiccup. A moment’s inattention. He won because somebody must, just like plucking petals in the “she loves me, she loves me not” game always leaves the love-struck hero with one answer or the other.

How do you explain that alarminglyuncharacteristic and mangled overhead that probably cost Djokovic an epic win over Nadal in last year’s French Open semifinals? How about those two woeful errors he made on the final two points of his recent loss to Wawrinka? It would be one thing of Djokovic just choked once in a while, interspersed with his majestic performances. But it’s become a bit of a trend, and when you look at it that way, it’s a lot easier to understand why Djokovic chose to ally with Becker.

Becker was known for his free-swinging, embrace-the-pressure mentality. In fact, Djokovic’s mini-collapse against Wawrinka was like a clarification for all those who scratched their heads over the alliance: See here, this is why I hired the great Boris Becker! To help me get over the hump at moments like the one you just witnessed.

Oddly, though, Becker himself was a flawed champion prone to rebel against the very pressures created by his success. That is often forgotten. Becker had many dark moods, and he actually lost a pile of big matches because the pressure got to him. His tantrums at those times often proved self-destructive. Becker won six Grand Slam titles, the same number that Djokovic has already collected, but he suffered many more puzzling losses than Djokovic has. And while Becker reached the No. 1 ranking, he spent just 12 weeks there—far less time than Djokovic has logged so recently.

It’s certainly too early to tell how this relationship will work out. You can be skeptical about Becker’s credentials, and put this down as a case of the blind leading the blind. But Becker also is the type of man who can inspire a fellow traveler, especially if his protégé isn’t as subject as he was to inner turmoil and emotional vacillations. Or perhaps Becker can impress upon Djokovic the lessons he painfully learned about the need to remain positive, and to control his emotions.

Perhaps we’re onto something here. Apart from those ferocious, shirt-ripping episodes, Djokovic has managed his emotions far better, day-in, day-out, than Becker ever did. He doesn’t look like a guy who’s being torn up inside. But that doesn’t mean that behind that stoic bearing Djokovic isn’t feeling deeply conflicted, negative, or self-sabotaging. Perhaps Becker can help him get in touch with those feelings, sort them out, and convince him that at the end of the day, all he needs to do is relax and give the ball a good rip every chance he gets, the way Boom Boom at his best often did.

It’s hard to dispute that Djokovic’s struggles began almost immediately after he reached his high-water mark, the five-set, nearly six-hour win over Nadal in the 2012 Australian Open final. My own theory has been that after his career year of 2011, where Djokovic went 70-6, he took his foot off the gas. He wanted to relax, and bask in his ascendancy. He wanted to enjoy being a personage, a player on the world state. He pretty clearly wanted to be regarded in that light. Is it possible that somewhere along the way he just forgot that staple of the tennis’ commandments: Until the day you retire, it’s never about what you did yesterday, it’s about what you’ll do tomorrow.

I can see how a player would want to rebel against that reality. I can see how he could get stubborn, and unconsciously test the mandate. I can also see how even a great champion can get tired of feeling like he must win.

Here’s another thing: Consider the support Wawrinka received among the Australian public in contrast to the relatively tepid cheers Djokovic enjoyed. Given the way the folks in Melbourne embraced “Aussie Kim” Clijsters, who dated Lleyton Hewitt but won in Melbourne just once, you’d think the locals would have found a way to adopt Djokovic after he won his third straight title. Crocodile Nole, anyone?

That never really happened, and you have to wonder if that didn’t play into Djokovic’s frame of mind last week. He wants to be liked, and he does all sorts of things to be liked (not all of them successfully). By and large, these are secondary issues, but they contribute to Djokovic’s dilemma.

I’m not sure that Djokovic will ever become Mr. Popularity like his Big Four counterpart Federer, but he certainly could regain his lost position as a worthy and admirable No. 1. Nobody, but nobody, has a more seamless and well-balanced game. Yet in the past eight majors, Djokovic has been a winner once, a beaten finalist four times, a semifinalist twice and, most recently, a quarterfinalist.

Whatever is ailing Djokovic, it’s not the superiority of his rivals, nor the condition of his strokes. Perhaps Crocodile Nole just needs to grow back some teeth.

All good points, and all things I've been wondering myself since the start of this year. But I wouldn't count Djokovic out just yet. 

Something tells me he'll sort it out by the spring (Wimbledon at the latest).

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Kim Clijsters one-on-one interview with Ana Ivanovic

With the Australian Open recently crowning a new champion in Li Na, I can’t help but think back to the player who defeated Li Na three years ago in the final, Kim Clijsters. As an all-time favorite of mine, Kim is second only to Monica Seles. 

I loved her game on court, her power, speed and flexibility. That game carried Clijsters to #1 in singles and doubles. She is a 41-time winner, including 4 Majors, in singles. She also has 11 doubles victories, including 2 Majors. 

Her awards are numerous as well; 2-time Player of the Year, 2-time Comeback Player of the Year, 3-time Player Service Award, 8-time winner of the Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award, 1999 Newcomer of the Year and 2006 Humanitarian of the Year. Having only been retired since the end of the US Open in 2012, she hasn’t yet been away long enough to be voted into the Hall of Fame. When she is eligible, she’s a lock for Newport.

At the 2013 Kim Clijsters Invitational, an off-season exhibition in Antwerp, Belgium last December, Ana Ivanovic sat down with Kim to talk to one another about life on and off the tennis court. The two former #1s share a friendship as well as perspectives about the game and what is important beyond the court. 

It’s always a joy to hear from Kim, even in retirement. She now is a mother of two, a daughter (Jada) and son (Jack). Jada will be 6 on February 24th, while Jack is new to the world, born just a few months ago on September 18, 2013.

The video is private follow the link to see it:

Sunday, February 02, 2014

10 years ago today...Roger Federer #1

Today marks the 10th anniversary of Roger Federer first becoming No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on 2 February 2004.

The abiding memory is of Roger Federer dropping to his knees and raising his arms in celebration. It was 9:30 p.m. in Melbourne, on 30 January 2004, and he had just beaten his rival for No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, Juan Carlos Ferrero, in the Australian Open semi-finals.

The victory proved to be enough for Federer to become the world’s premier player for the first time. Federer confessed, “I wanted to enjoy this moment. You only get to be No. 1 once.”

Three days later, after outclassing a resurgent Marat Safin for his second Grand Slam championship title, the ranking was official and his place in tennis history was assured.

Remarkably, seven years earlier, as a 15 year old at the Swiss National Tennis Centre at Ecublens, Federer had written down his sporting goals: to break into the Top 10 and then become No. 1.

Federer soon carried the weight of expectation as a member of the ATP World Tour’s ‘New Balls Please’ campaign — launched in August 2000 — that also featured Gustavo Kuerten, Lleyton Hewitt, Jan-Michael Gambill,Tommy Haas, Nicolas Lapentti, Mariano Zabaleta and Ferrero.

But his rise to the summit of men’s professional tennis was as a result of hard work and dedication. Between 2001 and 1 February 2004, he compiled a 192-60 match record (.733), which included 12 titles.

Once at World No. 1, Federer established a dictatorship and exerted a relentless hunger and consistency. In the first of his three stints at No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, he held No. 1 continuously for a record 237 weeks until 16 August 2008.

His supporters became legion, readily complimenting his fluidity, economy of movement and gracefulness, but also his manner and diplomacy that evoked memories of a player from the amateur era.

He regained the No. 1 crown on two further occasions in 2010 and 2012, for a further 65 weeks, before closing out his 302nd week — 16 more weeks than Pete Sampras’ mark — on 4 November 2012. That year, Federer won his 17th Grand Slam title.

Federer won 421 matches and lost just 53 times (.888) as the world’s best. He went 50-18 in finals, which included 11 Grand Slam titles and 15 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophies. In comparison to the two players who followed him to No. 1, Rafael Nadal — another all-time great who is about to start his 120th week at No. 1 – currently has a 161-26 match record (.861) and a 45-5 finals record. Novak Djokovic went 125-21 (.856) and 9-6 in championship matches in his 101 weeks at No. 1.

As we celebrate the anniversary of Federer first becoming World No. 1, his legacy is that he will forever be ranked among the greatest tennis players in the history of the sport.

For ever since 2 February 2004, Federer has been the standard-bearer for a generation of players and, one decade on, remains a key protagonist in the age of superstar tennis.

Federer completed 2013 in the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the 12th year in a row. Now at No. 8, Federer hunts down his rivals with his new coach, Stefan Edberg, another ATP World Tour aristocrat, in search of further joy (and silverware) from a sport he transcended long ago.

Roger Federer sumo wrestling in new Gillette ad

Ha ha ha!. This is by far my fave Roger Gillette commercial. Great ad (and weirdly appropriate this being Superbowl Sunday & all about the commercials).

Saturday, February 01, 2014