Sunday, June 29, 2014

Martina Hingis ready for more World Team Tennis

Teams in the Mylan World TeamTennis league were salivating last summer when Martina Hingis’s name was among those available in the 2013 roster draft. After having played the previous six seasons for the now-defunct New York Sportimes, the star was suddenly within reach.

After all, she is a tennis legend. Hingis spent 209 weeks at No. 1 during her professional career, sadly cut short when ligament injuries in both ankles forced her to withdraw temporarily from professional tennis in 2002 at the young age of 22. In her career, the now-33-year-old won five Grand Slam singles titles (three Australian Opens, one Wimbledon, and one U.S. Open), nine Grand Slam women’s doubles titles, and a host of other championships.

The Washington Kastles acquired her rights and in her first season with the team, Hingis continued being a popular and powerful force in World TeamTennis. It’s a league she is happy she joined.

“When you play for a team, it’s a lot easier,” Hingis says. “You travel together, train together and there’s always a lot of energy. It’s kind of like the Musketeers—we are all for one and one for all, and I have played with some great individuals on my teams.”

In her first season with the Kastles, Hingis had a record of 42-18 in singles play, 47-39 in women’s doubles, and 47-32 in mixed-doubles, helping the Kastles to a first-place finish with a team record of 14-2 and a threepeat as WTT champions and King Trophy winners.

“Being on a winning team is always cool, and I am looking forward to getting back and playing with pretty much the same team as last year; now that I know everyone, I think things can only get better,” she says. “I always want to win wherever I am playing.”

Hingis understands that she is not just playing for herself and her team, but for all those who come out to support her.

“Being in DC has been wonderful, the fans are great and every night we are playing in front of a full house,” she says. “When I play, I play for the people of the city and they welcomed me with open arms.”

For her dynamic 2013 play, Hingis was named Mylan WTT Female MVP of the league for the second straight year.

“I’m proud about being able to last and play so well with the Kastles,” she says. “This year I hope to do even more.”

The Kastles play their first home game on July 9 against the Boston Lobsters. Hingis is expected to partner with Leander Paes, who she teamed up with for part of 2013 for doubles play.

“I want to play more double matches and help the team out there, too,” Hingis says about her upcoming season. “I think this year Leander and I know each other’s strengths and weaknesses much better. He is a dream partner to have and play with. You could see us get better throughout last season and that should continue as we play more.”

Hingis calls Washington Kastles coach Murphy Jensen a “great motivator” who delivers a new, creative speech every night to get the team pumped.

“He’s a great strategist as well,” she says. “If someone doesn’t feel that great one night, we still have three other people to push you out of the hole, and lift you up again. [Coach Jensen] has all of us fighting for each other, which I love.”

When not playing for the Kastles, Hingis is playing doubles with Sabine Lisicki, whom she is also coaching. Together, the pair has a record of 6-3 at major events this year, including winning the Sony Open doubles title in Miami this March, Hingis’ first championship since 2007.

“With coaching, I don’t have as much time to play myself, so I am playing more now to prepare for the upcoming season so I am at 100 percent,” Hingis says. “Sabine will be playing Madrid and Rome soon and I will have some days to practice in between. I know I’ll be ready.”

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Roger Federer is back in the 2nd week of Wimbledon as he cruises into the 4th round

Roger Federer wasted no time in booking his fourth-round spot on Saturday at Wimbledon, blasting past Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 in 81 minutes under the Centre Court roof on a rain-hit day at The Championships. The Basel native is yet to drop a set in reaching the second week at SW19.

"It's great," Federer told BBC television. "I'm very pleased. It's always good to keep moving on. Last year I lost in the second round (against Sergiy Stakhovsky), so I'm aware of tough draws. I'm always worried about the first week, getting to the second one; then the grass plays quite differently.

“[Next week] it's really about maintaining a good level of play. Physically I'm in good shape. I've got to keep playing aggressively and serving well. You've got to do that on this surface, and keep the points short."

Federer won 84 per cent of his first serve points and converted five of his nine break point chances as he recorded his second win in two meetings with the No. 35-ranked Giraldo. The 26-year-old Giraldo, working with Fernando Gonzalez as his coach, was playing the third round at Wimbledon for the first time.

The Swiss is bidding to win an unprecedented eighth Wimbledon crown and claimed his 70th match win at the All England Club with victory over Giraldo. His 70-8 match record at The Championships is the third best in the Open Era. Boris Becker is in second place with a 71-12 mark. The 32-year-old Federer lifted the Wimbledon trophy in 2003-’07, ’09 and ’12.

The fourth-seeded Federer is on a six-match winning streak, having come into Wimbledon on the back of capturing his 79th tour-level title at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle (d. Falla). It was his second ATP World Tour trophy of the season, following victory in Dubai in February (d. Berdych).

For a place in the quarter-finals, Federer will face either 2013 semi-finalist Jerzy Janowicz or Tommy Robredo.

Next one could be very tricky, let's hope the Federer of previous match with the awesome serving (of 25 aces) shows up.

But for the moment let's all just celebrate the return of Roger into the second week of a major. Well done Swiss man, well done! :).

Friday, June 27, 2014

Roger Federer out aces his opponent to reach Wimbledon 3rd round :)

 That roof really is beautiful looking, money well spent :)

In a match that finished under the Centre Court roof on Thursday evening, Roger Federer defeated Gilles Muller 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 to reach the third round at The Championships.

Play was suspended temporarily at 4-3 in the second set as a persistent drizzle forced organisers to close the roof. At the resumption, Federer wrapped up victory in one hour and 34 minutes. The Swiss fired 25 aces and committed just five unforced errors. In a near-faultless serving display, he won 91 per cent of points on his first serve and did not face a break point.

On each occasion that he has beaten Muller during a tournament, Federer has gone on to win the title. They were facing each other for the first time since the 2008 US Open quarter-finals, with Federer improving to a 4-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head record over Muller.

The 32-year-old Federer is bidding to win an unprecedented eighth title at the All England Club. The Swiss has a 69-8 tournament record, winning the title in 2003-’07, ’09 and ’12. His 17th and most recent Grand Slam championship came two years ago on the lawns of Wimbledon, with victory over Andy Murray.

Play on the outside courts was suspended for the day in the early evening due to rain. Last year’s semi-finalist Jerzy Janowicz was leading 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt 7-5, 4-4, while the match between Marcel Granollers and Santiago Giraldo was suspended three games into the fifth set. The match between Feliciano Lopez and Ante Pavic did not make.

And now all the fans can breathe a small sigh of relief no surprise exit for Federer this year :).

In fact there haven't been any big upsets at all, pretty routine for almost all seeded players. A more standard Wimbledon if you will.

Which is a relief. I would love for Genie Bouchard to knock out Serena Williams though, boy would that make an awesome headline the next day. Go Canada! :).

But back to this match for a moment, 25 aces! can this Fedeerer show up to play at every match please?.

With serving like that he would definitely give himself a decent shot at the title.

I had flashbacks to Wimbledon final of '09 with Federer playing against Roddick and hitting something close to 50 aces :)

Both him and Murray have been more impressive then Djokovic and Nadal thus far. Keep it up Swiss man, keep it up!.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wimbledon welcomes back Martina Hingis in doubles

Welcome back Martina Hingis! On a day when Tracy Austin was urging tennis fans to embrace Venus Williams while she is still playing hungrily at Wimbledon aged 34, it is fitting that we should applaud the return of the so-called Swiss Miss whose cerebral play and clever shot repertoire created such intriguing match-ups with the power-blasters in the mid to late 1990s.

Hingis, who will also be 34 this year, was ladies’ singles champion in 1997 and a doubles champion here too, with Helena Sukova in 1996 and Jana Novotna in 1998. Who can forget that brief but intense era when she was queen of the drop shot followed by the cannily placed lob?

After that run of three trophy-winning years, Hingis had a hideous 1999 on the grass courts in London SW19 – shockingly humiliated in the first round by Jelena Dokic just weeks after a bizarre meltdown in the French Open final (when a set and a break up against Steffi Graf, she crossed the net to query a call, met with derision from the Parisian crowd and went into emotional freefall).

After that, the Czech-born star – named after a certain other distinguished Martina – never reached another Grand Slam final. She has had several retirements and comebacks, due to injury and even a two-year drug ban, so let’s salute her first appearance in a Wimbledon main draw since 2007, when she lost to Laura Granville in the third round of the singles.

Granted a wild card by the All England Club for the women's doubles, things could get nicely, er, theatrical, as well as technically appealing, as Hingis’s partner is the famously emotional Vera Zvonareva. This is a new partnership. Hingis had been playing doubles this year with Sabine Lisicki.

The pair won in Miami, giving Hingis her first title since 2007. With the German now concentrating on singles, she has turned to Zvonareva, who certainly has pedigree, winning the Wimbledon doubles title with Elena Vesnina in 2010, as well as surviving her own injury, illness, comeback scenario.

The pairing bodes well for entertainment – though they will have to beat No. 4 seeds Cara Black and Sania Mirza to thrill crowds beyond today. During her previous nine Wimbledon visits, Hingis provided many a cameo for tennis fans.

She made her debut in 2005, a cute girl with a huge smile to match a precocious talent. Over the next few years, she and her coach/mother, Melanie Molitor, became photographers’ favourites as they warmed up on Courts 4, 5 or 6.

With her metronomic, practically error-free two-handed backhand and clever tactical play, Hingis’s presence on court was often a catalyst for a mesmerising match at a time when the power game threatened to remove nuance and subtlety.

Go Martina!

Sadly the visit was short lived, she lost the match :(. I'm not sure Zvonareva is as good a partner as Lisicki was, but we'll wait and see.

I'm sure she'll stick around to watch and support the men's & women's matches.

Roger Federer easily through 1st round at Wimbledon

Few players embrace the traditions of Wimbledon with more gusto than Roger Federer, from the white clothing rule to the hushed quiet between points. At the age of 32, Federer has seen Wimbledon evolve from a haven for serve-and-volleyers to a place where baseliners rule. But the art of the serve and volley and net play, at least in moderation, may not be dead quite yet.

The seven-times champion crushed Italy’s world No83 Paolo Lorenzi 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 to reach the second round, the 10th time in 11 years he has won his opener here in straight sets. But the victory was most notable for how often he made his way to the net, sometimes through serve and volley, other times through approaches by stealth and occasionally even through the old-fashioned chip-charge.

When he shot to fame here in 2001 with a fourth-round victory over Pete Sampras in 2001, Federer served and volleyed almost exclusively on first serve and half the time on his second serve. As the surface has slowed and as string technology has enabled players to hit with extra zip and dip on their passes, serve and volley has almost entirely disappeared. But Federer believes it’s still possible to play the net-rushing game, if done correctly.

“I think it could be that little extra piece to the puzzle that could bring me through, to have that extra option,” said Federer, who next plays Gilles Müller of Luxembourg or Frenchman Julien Benneteau. “I think it is helpful. I’m going to still see against who I can do it and who I can’t. If I can’t, I’ll have to rely more on my baseline game, on the first shots; serve, returns, first strike, which almost everybody plays nowadays.

It’s nothing new for Federer, who is more accomplished at the net than most. But in the past, he has often struggled to accept being passed, almost as if it’s an affront to his skills, and so he has stopped doing it. The addition of Stefan Edberg to his coaching team, since last December, has reminded him that serve and volleying, and attacking the net in general is also about putting doubt in his opponent’s mind.

“A traditional serve‑and‑volley player, which I’m not clearly anymore, is used to taking return winners, passing shots,” said Federer, who also said his larger-headed racket is giving him more power and consistency on serve. “It’s the overall picture you have to be able to see, that it’s worth it, it’s putting the pressure on the opponent, knowing that any short ball will be attacked, there will be not too much rhythm out there.

“It’s not just trying to serve and volley some more. It’s really the bigger picture. You have to take some passing shots, you have to be willing to dig deep on the volleys. I think there’s a way to do it here. You need to be able to serve well, move well at net, anticipate well, come in on the right shots in the right way. Many things need to work well, but it definitely is still worth it.”

It is only two years since Federer won his 17th grand slam title and he believes he can win another. If he does it by going back to the future, so be it, but winning remains the only goal.

“I’ll still have to see how it’s going to go from here on, because at the end I’d rather not serve and volley and win my matches than go out in style serving and volleying. I’m here to win the tournament”

Next match will be the one to watch for all who went out early during 2nd round last year including Nadal. Nail biting time!.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sabine Lisicki parts ways with Martina Hingis as coach

Sabine Lisicki announced that she’ll no longer be working with Martina Hingis on her Facebook page this weekend, though she did leave the door open for future collaboration on the doubles court.

“Martina and I have parted ways on a mutual agreement,” Lisicki wrote. “After winning the doubles title in Miami she found the desire to play doubles again. I wish her much luck and maybe we play a few doubles here and there!”

The split was confirmed by Lisicki’s agent via email. Lisicki will continue working with her father, Dr. Richard Lisicki, as her coach.

Lisicki, a Wimbledon finalist in 2013, will play Julia Glushko in the first-round at Wimbledon in Tuesday’s first match on Centre Court. The tournament’s organizers have chosen her to fill the spot usually reserved for the previous year’s defending champion in Marion Bartoli’s absence.

Hingis began coaching Lisicki at the Australian Open, and started playing doubles with her at Indian Wells. The tandem played four events in total, winning the Miami title, while going 1-3 combined at Indian Wells, Madrid and Rome.

Hingis, eager to keep pursuing her doubles comeback, elected to partner with Vera Zvonareva after being granted a doubles wild card into Wimbledon, while Lisicki decided to concentrate solely on singles.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Roger Federer stepping down as President of ATP Player Council

Having served as the President of the ATP's Player Council since 2008, Roger Federer has elected not to run for a fourth consecutive term. - See more at:

The 17-time Grand Slam champion, who has helped usher in a new era of financial success for professional tennis, says he needs to taper down his responsibilities in order to spend time with his wife and four children.

"It gets quite busy and I think that's one of the reasons now I think it's a good time for me to let it run its course and have somebody else lead the council from here on,” Federer told “I really enjoyed it and I'll still be involved in some shape or form. If I do it, I want to do it at 100 per cent and I feel like my life now, with my family and my tennis, that's a difficult part right now.”

Federer says he’s proud of what he’s accomplished during his six-year tenure as President of the Council. “Leading by example, being there, putting in the time, showing the other players that you actually can find time for the council and for the tour,” said Federer. “We achieved prize money increases. I hope I was able to make more players understand that this is a 50/50 organization with the tournaments. That's very important to understand.” Others agree that Federer’s contribution was noteworthy.

"What Roger's done is remarkable because after generations of our very best tennis players not being involved in the sport from a governing standpoint, he took the bull by the horns and decided he was going to lead," Todd Martin, long-serving President in the late '90s, told

“The ATP World Tour is in terrific health today, not only as a result of the performance of our top players on the court, but also due to their considerable efforts off it,” added ATP executive chairman Chris Kermode. “Generous with his time and always willing to invest his energy away from the court for the greater good of the game, Roger and his leadership in the Player Council will be missed.”

Federer’s replacement will be named later in the season, when the newly elected player council meets in New York prior to the U.S. Open. Stan Wawrinka will join the council for the first time this year. Other members are:

Kevin Anderson, Gilles Simon, John Isner, Jurgen Melzer and Sergiy Stakhovsky for singles, Raven Klaasen and Bruno Soares for doubles, Yves Allegro for alumni, and Claudio Pistolesi as coach. “It’s a very interesting time in our sport,” Wawrinka said, “and I’m looking forward to being able to contribute my time and energy to the Player Council in our efforts to continue to grow the ATP World Tour in years ahead.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Roger Federer feeling relaxed ahead of his Wimbledon start

Roger Federer represents something of a paradox at Wimbledon in 2014.

No player since Ken Rosewall more than 40 years ago has won a major title this close to their 33rd birthday. Yet Federer, just six weeks away from turning 33, enters this year’s Championships in arguably his strongest form for years.

A combination of factors have established the Swiss superstar in such a healthy position. One is that his chief rivals – fellow “Big Four” members Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray – all arrive with question marks surrounding their form, fitness and mentality.

Nadal, who has fallen early at Wimbledon for the past two years, talked openly at Roland Garros about his struggles to adjust to the lawns and the pressure the courts place on his ailing body, and then lost in the opening round in Halle.

Djokovic’s struggles at the sharp end of Grand Slams – he has lost five of his past six major finals – will not be helped by a recurrence of a wrist injury that prompted his withdrawal from a recent grass-court exhibition. Murray, yet to reach a final since returning from back surgery, is in unfamiliar territory, defending a Wimbledon title and with a new coach at the helm.

Federer, meanwhile, finds himself in a better place, both physically and mentally, than he was 12 months ago. Then, he slumped to a shock four-set defeat to then 116th-ranked Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round, his earliest exit in 11 years.

“I feel I have a very good chance again this year. I hope to utilise my fitness, the amount of matches I've played this year. So I'm really coming in with a much better feeling than maybe in the last year,” he said.

“This year I feel all the options are there. Return, serve, serve and volley, come in, my backhand – everything is working to my liking. For that reason, I feel I'm a bit more relaxed mentally because I know it is there.”

In fact, almost everything has been there for Federer since the beginning of the season. After suffering through a disappointing 2013 marred by a chronic back injury, he declared himself healthy at the ATP World Tour Finals in November and since then has reasserted himself at the top of the game.

An 11th consecutive Australian Open semi-final appearance was followed by trips to the finals at Masters events in Indian Wells and Monte Carlo, with a title in Dubai thrown in for good measure. In the past three months alone he has vaulted from No.8 to No.4 in the rankings.

And his momentum certainly has not slowed. With the tour’s move to grass, Federer was immediately in his comfort zone, romping to his seventh title in Halle and adding a flourish to his Wimbledon preparations.

“(Winning) Halle I think helped me in the sense that I know that things are good on grass. I'm not coming in from a bad Halle, a bad Wimbledon last year, (otherwise) then I would have more question marks,” he explained.

“I think Halle was able to settle things a bit down for me.”

It’s generally a more settled Federer regardless, these days. He is enjoying “super exciting” times with the recent addition of twin boys to his family and spending quality time with them, and says he appreciates even more his opportunities to play his favourite event on the calendar at this stage of his storied career.

Poised to embark on his 16th Championships, his desire remains undiminished, 11 years after his first triumph at the All England Club. It is an intimidating thought for everyone else in the draw.

“I always enjoy coming back here,” he said. “It's a pleasure being healthy and really fit and eager to give it a go again.”

Friday, June 20, 2014

Wimbledon draw out Roger Federer & Rafa Nadal to meet in semis

One of tennis’ most celebrated rivalries could be reignited in the semi-finals at The Championships, Wimbledon, as seven-time champion Roger Federer and second seed Rafael Nadal find themselves on a collision course in the bottom half of the 2014 draw.

The draw, which was made at the All England Club on Friday morning, pits defending champion Andy Murray in the top half with No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic.

Looking to win his eighth Wimbledon crown, Federer is set to open his campaign against Paolo Lorenzi, with the prospect of Julien Benneteau or Gilles Muller in the second round. The Swiss, who suffered a shock second-round exit at the hands of Sergiy Stakhovsky last year, is projected to meet No. 30 seed Marcel Granollers in the third round.

The 32-year-old Federer could meet old foe Lleyton Hewitt in the fourth round. The 2002 Wimbledon champion opens against Michal Przysiezny, with the likelihood of 2013 semi-finalist Jerzy Janowicz in the second round, though the Pole has won just two matches since February.

In what would be an all-Swiss quarter-final, Federer is seeded to meet Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka in the last eight. Wawrinka, who has endured first-round exits in three of the past four years at Wimbledon, opens against Joao Sousa. His first seeded opponent would be Dmitry Tursunov in the third round, while the in-form Feliciano Lopez or Wimbledon marathon man John Isner are likely fourth-round challengers.

Nadal, the champion at Wimbledon in 2008 and ’10, has tricky opposition from the start. The Spaniard faces Martin Klizan in the first round and could meet Lukas Rosol, who famously beat the Spaniard in the 2012 second round, once again in the second round. He is seeded to meet the towering Ivo Karlovic in the third round and could face the returning Richard Gasquet, into the Eastbourne semi-finals, or Gael Monfils in the fourth round. Nadal is bidding to win the Roland Garros-Wimbledon double for the third time.

Eighth seed Milos Raonic looks to make an impact at Wimbledon for the first time, following his first major quarter-final at Roland Garros (l. to Djokovic), and is projected to meet Nadal in the quarter-finals. The Canadian begins against Australia’s Matthew Ebden and could potentially face fellow rising star Kei Nishikori in the fourth round. Japanese history maker, Nishikori has a testing opener in the form of Kenny De Schepper, the Frenchman who made a surprise run to the fourth round last year.

Murray, who became the first British man in 77 years to lift the Wimbledon singles trophy last year with victory over Djokovic, opens his title defence against Belgium’s David Goffin. The Scot would then face either Pablo Andujar or Blaz Rola, with a seeded third round against Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut. Lurking as potential fourth-round opponents for Murray are No. 20 seed Kevin Anderson or No. 16 Fabio Fognini.

Last week’s Aegon Championships winner Grigor Dimitrov is looking to reach his second Grand Slam quarter-final, potentially against Murray. The Bulgarian opens against American qualifier Ryan Harrison and, in a section packed with some of the ATP World Tour’s most promising young guns, could challenge Dominic Thiem in the second round and Alexandr Dolgopolov in the third round.

Dimitrov is projected to meet seventh seed David Ferrer in the fourth round. The Spaniard, who comes into The Championships lacking grass-court match practice after withdrawing from the Topshelf Open due to illness, faces his talented countryman Pablo Carreno Busta in the first round. Marcos Baghdatis and Dustin Brown clash in the pick of the first rounds, with the winner a possible third-round opponent for Ferrer should they overcome No. 25 seed Andreas Seppi in the second round.

Djokovic is looking to add to his 2011 Wimbledon triumph and opens his bid against Andrey Golubev. The Serbian, who was runner-up at Roland Garros two weeks ago, would meet either in-form Radek Stepanek – conqueror of Murray at The Queen’s Club – or Pablo Cuevas in the second round and is seeded to take on No. 31 Vasek Pospisil in the third round. No. 14 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is a likely fourth-round opponent for Djokovic. Tsonga, who was a semi-finalist in 2011 and ’12, facesJurgen Melzer in the first round, with the winner of an all-American clash between Sam Querrey and Bradley Klahn in the second round.

Sixth seed Tomas Berdych is on course for a quarter-final duel with Djokovic. The Czech, who was runner-up to Nadal in his first major final at Wimbledon in 2010, faces Victor Hanescu in the first round and potentially 2011 quarter-finalist Bernard Tomic in the second round. In a tough section of the draw, Berdych is seeded to meet Marin Cilic in the third round and Ernests Gulbis in the fourth round.

Murray will open The 2014 Championships at 1pm on Centre Court on Monday, with the top half of the draw in action. Federer, Nadal and the rest of the bottom half will play Tuesday.

That's all well and good, but let's just cross that bridge when/if we actually get to it.  Based on last year's weird Wimbledon anything could happen.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Martina Hingis is taking her doubles seriously as she gets ready for Wimbledon

Martina Hingis is ready to play at Wimbledon, where she will be competing for the first time since 2007, thanks to the Wild Card the organizers awarded her for the doubles tournament (check whom Martina is playing with here).

"I play in doubles not just for fun, I really want to achieve serious results. Tennis has become a very physical game, different than what it was when I was playing. Already then physical strength wasn't my forte, so now that I am even older it would very hard to compete in singles. But in doubles all of that doesn't exist, and it really doesn't take time away from my career as a coach. If any of the girls, from Lisicki to Pavlyuchenkova, can be helped by my experience, I am always more than happy to help. To be a parent-coach though, is a different thing. You have to constantly motivate the player, without ever forgetting that you are dealing with your son or daughter. Despite that, I keep a great relationship with my mother" revealed the Swiss.

No.1 of the World when only 16 years old, in her career Martina has won 5 Grand Slam titles, but never the French Open, despite two Runner-up finishes in 1997 and 1999. Only 10 women managed to win at least once all the Slam titles, reaching a Career Grand Slam. Reaching the feat most recently, two years ago, was Maria Sharapova.

"I am a little jealous of Maria's Career Slam" admits Martina, "she is an incredible player, and I told her about my jealousy some time ago. It really seems weird, considering her first years on the surface, but we can officially say that she has become the Queen of Red Clay".

A little jealousy also towards Serena Williams (recently seen with Usain Bolt), only 1 year younger and still competing at the top?

"No, I am not jealous about Serena. Each one of us has his/her own talent. I gave all I had early on, she is such a great talent, but each one of us has its own story, and I like mine" revealed the Swiss.

What would the new Martina then change about the "older"-younger Martina of more than 15 years ago? "I would be more selfish if I could go back in time. When I reached the top I was just a teenager and tennis was my whole life. I knew nothing about real life, and it was very hard for me to keep human relationships" concluded the former World No.1.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Martina Hingis & other ATP/WTA stars 'Rally for Bally'

Fifteen time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis, double Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka and British No.1 Heather Watson will join a host of stars taking part in the Rally For Bally on Sunday as some of the biggest names in tennis join together for three star-studded exhibition matches in London, Birmingham and Eastbourne.

The Rally for Bally is a national fundraising effort in memory of former British No.1 Elena Baltacha, known as Bally, who died of liver cancer on 4th May. All funds raised will be split equally between the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and the Elena Baltacha Foundation, the charity attached to the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis which Bally set up to help children from all backgrounds play tennis.

Hingis, who was ranked No.1 in the world and won five Grand Slam singles titles as well as nine in doubles and one in mixed doubles, joins an incredible line-up at The Queen’s Club, where Andy Murray and Aegon Championships Tournament Director Ross Hutchins will lead ‘Team Andy’ and ‘Team Ross’. Hingis, Azarenka and Watson will be joined by Murray’s fellow Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli who has already been announced. Laura Robson, Watson’s Fed Cup team-mate, is injured and unable to play but will be on court helping to MC the match.

“I am so happy to be involved in the Rally For Bally because I think it’s going to be a very special day for everyone in tennis,” said Hingis. “The loss of Elena was very sad and it touched everyone inside and outside of tennis but it’s great that everyone in her sport is pulling together like this. It’s the perfect way to remember her and also to raise money for causes that mattered to her.”

Victoria Azarenka added: “Elena was one of us. I will always remember our matches, what a fighter she was and how much she loved tennis. We will always miss her. The whole of the tennis world is together in the Rally For Bally, to try to raise as much money as possible for the Academy that she was so passionate about, and to fund the on-going fight against cancer.”

The Aegon Classic in Birmingham and the Aegon International in Eastbourne also boast dazzling line-ups of past and current players. Martina Navratilova, winner of a staggering 59 Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles, will be joined by former British No.1s Tim Henman and Anne Keothavong and former Wimbledon mixed doubles champion Jamie Murray.

Former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and fellow WTA player Agnieszka Radwanska – who will be seeded one and two for the Aegon International will be joined on court in Eastbourne by former British No.1 Greg Rusedski and current British No. 1 in doubles Colin Fleming.

Players involved in the Rally For Bally on Sunday, across all three venues:

The Queen’s Club, London:

· Andy Murray

· Ross Hutchins

· Martina Hingis

· Marion Bartoli

· Victoria Azarenka

· Heather Watson

· Laura Robson

Edgbaston Priory Club, Birmingham:

· Martina Navratilova

· Tim Henman

· Jamie Murray

· Anne Keothavong

Devonshire Park, Eastbourne:

· Petra Kvitova

· Agnieszka Radwanksa

· Greg Rusedski

· Colin Fleming

Rally for Bally match start times:

· Queen’s: 2nd on after 2pm start (singles final first)

· Birmingham: 3rd on after 11am start

· Eastbourne: 3rd on after 11am start

Monday, June 16, 2014

Martina Hingis ready to serve up a storm

A glittering early career saw a youthful and charismatic 16-year-old Martina Hingis set records as the 20th century’s youngest Grand Slam winner when she won the Australian Open in 1997, beating former French champion Mary Pierce.

The talented Swiss tennis sensation went on to win five Grand Slam singles titles (three Australian Opens, one Wimbledon and one US Open) and nine Grand Slam doubles titles in her stellar career, with the French Open being the only tournament to escape her grasp, despite being a finalist in 1997 and 1999.

And now on the eve of her ninth French Open, where she plays with Sabine Lisicki in the doubles event, whom she coaches, a wiser Martina reflects on the wins of her career, which saw her spend 209 weeks as world No 1.

“They were all unique in their own way, but I think the one you win the first time is always very special. I felt like I really proved to everyone I could win a grand final at such a young age in Australia in 1997. People had their doubts that I would go all the way, but I proved them wrong,” says Hingis, who is now coaching future tennis stars at a new tennis centre in Barcelona.

“Winning is always special, but you don’t have a lot of time to celebrate as there is always another tournament coming up, you only have the time to think about it now, when you are not playing at that level anymore, so it’s different. You have time to reflect only at the end of the career.”

Coached for much of her career by her mum, Melanie Molitor, who is said to have named her daughter after another tennis great, Martina Navratilova, the racket champion feels very privileged to have learned the game from her mother. A professional tennis player who was once ranked 10th among women in Czechoslovakia, Melanie was determined to develop her beloved daughter into a top player even before she was born.

“My mother had a delight for tennis, she was a professional, the hunger and willpower she had she would definitely have been in the top 50 in the world, if not much better. I was very grateful that she taught me how to play as I have been able to live the life that I have today.”

Back in her professional days on the tour, the Swiss star would enjoy a weekly training regime which consisted of four hours of tennis a day, an hour of fitness and then an hour recovery.

“It was like a six-hour day, my relaxation was part of it, as after lunch you would lie down and relax before a practice, the whole day was planned.”

Things were very different in those days.

‘I didn’t have a nutritionist, it was up and down with food but you find your own rhythm. My mum would try little things at home. When travelling it wasn’t always easy to have everything you need, but they make it a lot easier now for the players.

“They have gluten free pasta and bread which didn’t exist in my time, 10 years back we didn’t even know that people were allergic to gluten foods.

“We tried to eat healthy, salads, a lot of fish and then pasta for energy before games and, of course, we cut down on those pizzas.”

One thing, however, that irks the 33-year-old is the fact one has to be 18 years of age before they are eligible to play on the tour.

Whereas Martina, who has won 528 career matches and is well known by her fans for her trademark smile with her sparkling white teeth, made her professional debut in October 1994, two weeks after her 14th birthday.

“It’s great having set these records, but with all the rules they have today, it’s really hard, or almost impossible to play to set records which I have done and am very proud of.

“I don’t agree with the idea that girls are only free at 18 years of age to play because most of them have the skill or the potential to be out there playing at 16 years of age, like myself. I was able to start to play on the tour and become a professional at 14 years of age.

“At 16 years of age I was free and I didn’t have to wait until I was 18 years as this way they are losing three years because they have to continue to play juniors and then it takes longer to get adjusted.

“So that’s why you don’t see many youngsters, even if they have the potential, making the jump from juniors tennis to women’s tennis. They might be better tennis players sometimes, but they don’t last, the concentration is a bit different.”

Ligament injuries in both ankles forced the Czechoslovakian-born player to withdraw temporarily from professional tennis in 2002 at the age of 22. After several surgeries and long recuperations, Hingis returned to the WTA tour in 2006, climbing to world No 6 and winning three singles titles.

“Both times I came back after injury. The first time was probably easier to come back and make the finals of the mixed doubles at the Australian Open and have a good year, but the second time was a bit harder. During injury I tested new waters with some commentary and things like that.

“The first time I came back and beat Maria Sharapova and made it to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, that was definitely a satisfaction and then becoming No 6 in the world made it a good year.”

Hingis retired for a second time at the end of 2007, but in April 2013 she agreed to coach Russian athlete Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. But after a disagreement about how to prepare for tournaments they parted company two months later.

As well as coaching for the last three years, in July 2013 Hingis announced that she was coming out of retirement to play a doubles tournament with Daniela Hantuchová as her partner. As of late, last year’s finalist in Wimbledon, Lisicki, is her playing partner.

“Now I play with Sabine, I coach her and help her. Her dad is her coach and I have known her since she was 10 years of age, she trained with my mother before so I knew her from then. We will meet in Paris to play Roland Garros. I’m mainly helping her and that’s my full-time job. We started the mentoring in Australia.”

Praising her game, Hingis adds: “Sabine is a very reliable player, the big points she can perform, she is really there and I’m looking forward to Paris now. I like playing on clay and love playing in Paris, I’ve never had a disappointing French Open, so I’m looking forward to it.”

With a doubles ranking of 57 in the world, Hingis gave a dazzling display in March 2014 when she played doubles at the Sony Open Tennis in Miami. She and Lisicki defeated Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in the final in straight sets, marking Hingis’ first title since she won the Qatar Ladies Open in 2007 and her first Premier Mandatory doubles title since winning the 2001 title in Moscow, where she was partnered by Anna Kournikova.

“I was coaching and helping Russian player Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who was top 20 in the world, and helping Sabine, so with all the practice I was hitting them okay.

“I could definitely not play singles, but I still found I could play doubles and cover half the court and I proved that in Miami by winning the tournament, my first title in seven years, I proved this. It was a huge satisfaction as I didn’t expect to win.”

So, how is she getting on as a coach? “It is a new experience learning as a coach. I am still grateful to still have my mum and ask her advice. She still has so much more experience than I do.”

Speaking about the new tennis centre in Barcelona where she coaches and mentors an elite group of pros four hours a day she says: “I wish I owned it, but it’s a big club, one of the oldest in Europe and it’s a polo club. It has 25 tennis courts, hockey fields, 200 horses, paddle tennis, squash, fitness centre, it has everything.

“I wanted Sabine to come and train here, but she is German so she wanted to stay at home, but there are other girls such as Lourdes Dominguez Lino and Tommy Robredo who are training with me today.”

Also a horse enthusiast and accomplished rider, Hingis feels right at home in what was once the equestrian capital of the world when it was used for dressage, jumping and the eventing finals.

“I go riding a lot and I own a horse in Barcelona called Ragana and I’ve had him for five years. I really like to ride on the beach, I’ve been doing it since I was 11 and it’s nice to switch off.”

A sponsor of Nelsons Arnicare Arnica Cooling Gel, Martina uses the products to help relieve her aching muscles after playing tennis: “At the end of the day I rub it on my feet and legs to cool down the system. My players see me using it and they all ask about it so I recommend it. It used to be used in the horse medicine, so was very common to rub it on the horses’ legs after competition. I knew Arnica from the past in the horsey days.”

Playing an exhibition match in Moscow this month, Hingis will also play the US tournaments this year, but if she could coach any player on the tour who would it be?

“It’s difficult who I would coach now, I would need more time to think about that. I enjoy working with Sabine as she has great potential but there is always the combination where you wish you could mix the power of one player with the skills of someone else, the more talented the players, the more you have to push them.”

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Roger Federer 7-time champion in Halle!

Roger Federer captured his seventh Gerry Weber Open title on Sunday. 
The second seed picked up his 14th grass-court crown with a 7-6(2), 7-6(3) victory over Alejandro Falla, who had been attempting to capture his first ATP World Tour trophy. The match lasted 89 minutes. 
Federer, who improved to a 46-5 record in Halle, received $128,860 in prize money and earned 250 Emirates ATP Rankings points. 
The 32-year-old Federer has now won 79 tour-level titles. He has also lifted the Wimbledon crown seven times. 
Federer had an opportunity to serve for the set at 5-3, having converted his second break point opportunity on Falla’s serve at 30/40, 3-4. But Falla responded with his own break, to 15, en route to a first-set tie-break. 
Federer broke clear at 2-2 in the tie-break, winning five straight points to wrap up the 42-minute opener. He had lost two of his first service points in the opener.
Federer broke Falla to 30 in the first game of the second set, but once again Falla responded by clinching his third of three break point chances for 1-1. 
Without any further chances to break, Federer took a 3-0 lead in the tie-break and went on to maintain his perfect 7-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Falla. 
Falla had been bidding to become the second Colombian to win an ATP World Tour title, after Mauricio Hadad at 1995 Bermuda. Falla also finished runner-up to Ivo Karlovic in last year’s Bogota final. 
“It’s always tough losing a match, especially a final,” said Falla. “I wanted to win the title so badly. But when you play Roger in a final, it is always tough. It was a close match. I tried my best and fought for every point. I am happy with the way I played today and the tournament overall. I enjoy playing on the grass. This tournament gave me a lot of confidence, having won some tough matches.”
World No. 69 Falla picked up $67,865 and 150 Emirates ATP Rankings points.
Federer's Most Titles Won At A Tournament
Now go for #8 at Wimbledon!. If he keeps playing like this he just might :).

Happy Father's Day Rog! :)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Roger Federer through to the finals of Gerry Webber Open in Halle

Roger Federer soared into his ninth final at the Gerry Weber Open with a 6-3, 7-6(4) victory over Kei Nishikori on Saturday.

Federer will vie for his 14th grass title and 79th overall after improving to 45-5 on the lawns of Halle. The six-time champion (2003-06, ‘08, ‘13) fired 10 aces and was a perfect 2/2 on break point opportunities, dismissing the Japanese in 73 minutes.

Nishikori rallied from behind in the second set, forcing a tie-break and earning an early mini-break at 4-2, but two consecutive forehand errors would hand the advantage back to Federer. The second seed would convert on his first match point, levelling the FedEx ATP Head2Head at two apiece.

The Swiss will face Alejandro Falla in the final after he became the second Colombian to reach an ATP World Tour final in 2014, rallying to upset home favourite Philipp Kohlschreiber in the first semi-final. Santiago Giraldo recently advanced to the final in Barcelona (l. to Nishikori).

Falla emerged victorious 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-4 in two hours and 22 minutes, fighting back from a break deficit in the third set to deny the 2011 champion a third appearance in the Halle title match. He will face the winner of the second semi-final between Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori.

"It’s an amazing feeling," said Falla. "I’m very happy for my second final. It’s a goal that I had. It’s been a great week for me. I fought in every match, I was down many times...The only thing I could do was fight because I wasn’t playing that great today in the first set. I think he was playing a little better but I was fighting and then I found my way out."

The 30 year old, who won his 100th tour-level match with a first-round victory over Lukasz Kubot, will attempt to become the second Colombian-born champion on the ATP World Tour in the Open Era. Mauricio Hadad previously won in Bermuda in 1995.

Falla is the first South American to reach the final in the 22-year history of the Gerry Weber Open and the first left-hander since Petr Korda in 1997. The Cali native is seeking to become the second first-time winner on the ATP World Tour this season after Federico Delbonis prevailed in Sao Paulo (d. Lorenzi).

Kohlschreiber, meanwhile, was eyeing his second consecutive three-set win in as many days after saving five match points in a thrilling victory over Dustin Brown in Friday's quarter-finals.

Roger Federer more relaxed with age & experience

With age comes experience, and with experience, Roger Federer has found enjoyment travelling the ATP World Tour.
The 32-year-old Swiss, who will contest the singles and doubles semi-finals Saturday at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, reflected on the different stages of his career when asked whether he’d come to the phase of his life where he really enjoyed playing tournaments.
“You have enough money, all titles…?” the reporter prefaced.
“Enough children, right?” Federer responded, with a laugh.
“No, it really is the case that you see things much more relaxed. That's normal,” said Federer, as he elaborated on the transition from wide-eyed rookie to seasoned champion.
“It is a very cool period at the beginning when you start playing the players you know from the TV. It’s a very special phase for a player.
“Then you need to hold your ground. That’s also cool because you win a lot but you're up to your ears with work. You also need to say, ‘No, can't be everywhere,’ a photo shoot here and there somebody needs you for a cover shoot and you can't say ‘No’ again. So, it's a bit of both.
“And later you know there are others who will do that and you can concentrate on playing tennis again; of course also on the family.”
Federer made his Gerry Weber Open debut 14 years ago as a promising teenager. On his 12th appearance this week, Federer returns as a winner of 78 titles - including six in Halle - and family man, joined by his wife and four young children.
“I know everything so well now,” he said. “Wherever I go I'm a returning guest. That's also nice that everybody knows me. Over the years, I was able to make friends, which wasn't the case at the beginning.
“I went to New York for the first time only travelling with my coach, that's it. And later you're happy to get 20 or 30 tickets so your friends, pals or colleagues travelling with you or who have moved to New York in the meantime can come and watch you play.
“Things have changed tremendously. Therefore, I'm much more relaxed because I know my way on the Tour, know all the players. There are hardly any new things, which is exciting at the beginning but also a bit stressful.”

Friday, June 13, 2014

Roger Federer gets walkover into semis in Halle

HALLE, Germany -- Roger Federer progressed to the semifinals of the grass-court Gerry Weber Open without playing after Yen-Hsun Lu of Taiwan pulled out of their quarterfinal with back problems on Friday.

Federer, who began his preparations for Wimbledon by defeating Portugal's Joao Sousa on Thursday, compensated by playing an exhibition against Christopher Kas.

Former champion Philipp Kohlschreiber booked his semifinal place with a hard-fought 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (16) victory over German compatriot Dustin Brown. Brown ousted world No. 1 Rafael Nadal on Thursday.

Kohlschreiber, who won the tournament in 2011, will next face Alejandro Falla of Colombia, who defeated German wild card Peter Gojowczyk 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2).

American Steve Johnson was playing the fourth-seeded Kei Nishikori in the last quarterfinal.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Roger Federer battles back in first grass match at Halle

HALLE, Germany—Rafael Nadal was knocked out in the second round of the grass-court Gerry Weber Open on Thursday, losing 6-4, 6-1 to German wild card Dustin Brown.

The world No. 85 broke Nadal's serve at the fifth attempt to win the first set, and he pulled off two audacious lobs in succession to break the Spaniard again early in the second.

Nothing Nadal tried seemed to work in his first match since winning his ninth French Open title. He had a first-round bye at Halle.

Brown raced ahead to win in just under an hour, and will next face compatriot Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarterfinals.

Roger Federer began his grass-court preparations for Wimbledon by coming from behind to beat Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-7 (8), 6-4, 6-2 earlier.

Sousa saved all five break points he faced before taking the first set in a tiebreaker, but the second-seeded Federer raised his level in the next two sets to win the second-round match and move into the quarterfinals.

"It was important to stay calm, and actually it gives me more confidence winning this way than maybe just 6-4, 6-4, and you don't quite know what is going on," said Federer, who acknowledged he was worried after losing the first set.

It was the seven-time Wimbledon winner's first match since losing in the fourth round at the French Open to Ernests Gulbis. He also had a first-round bye in Halle, where he is a six-time champion.

"The first day when I came here to practice it was bit so-so, and everyday after that was very good," Federer said.

He will next play Taiwan's Yen-Hsun Lu, who defeated Croatia's Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3).

"I will have to adjust in the sense that there will be more baseline duels," said Federer, who was also playing a doubles match later. "We'll see. But I think it's positive that I spent more time on the court today."

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Martina Hingis to play doubles at Wimbledon

LONDON -- Martina Hingis is returning to play at Wimbledon for the first time in seven years.

The former singles and doubles champion from Switzerland was granted a wild card by the All England Club on Wednesday for the women's doubles tournament. Her partner is Russia's Vera Zvonareva, a former doubles winner and singles runner-up.

In addition to her singles title in 1997, the 33-year-old Hingis is a two-time doubles winner at Wimbledon, with Helena Sukova in 1996 and Jana Novotna in 1998.

After a second retirement in 2007, Hingis returned to the game in July 2013, but has restricted her outings to doubles.

She last played at Wimbledon in 2007, losing in the third round of the singles. Her last doubles appearance at Wimbledon dates back to 2000, when she went out in the second round.

Hingis has been playing doubles this year with Germany's Sabine Lisicki. They won in Miami, giving Hingis her first title since 2007.

With Lisicki now concentrating on singles, Hingis turned to Zvonareva, who won the Wimbledon doubles title with Elena Vesnina in 2010 and lost to Serena Williams in the singles final in 2010.

However, the 29-year-old Zvonareva has barely competed since 2012 because of illness and injury.

Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2006, was granted a wild card for the men's singles tournament. His ATP ranking has slipped to No. 118. Five British players also received wild cards.

Among the women, Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic and three British players were given wild card singles entries.

More wild cards will be announced before play begins on June 23.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Roger Federer ready for grass at Halle Germany

Roger Federer is no stranger to playing on grass, but this year’s swing has a decidedly different feel for the 32-year-old Swiss.
Federer admitted on Monday that he felt more pressure competing this week at the Gerry Weber Open than in two weeks' time at Wimbledon. Last year, he claimed his lone title of the season in Halle before suffering a surprising second-round exit at the All England Club, his earliest loss at SW19 since 2002.
“It’s an interesting period because I have my title to defend here, and actually at Wimbledon, I don’t have anything to defend," he said. "But I have to prove myself somehow. So, actually it’s the kind of the wrong way round for me, because usually the pressure in Wimbledon is much bigger because of the points and because you want to play well.
“But this year, I might go to Wimbledon a bit more relaxed. The pressure here is quite big, because I want to play well. The draw at the Gerry Weber Open is tough. Therefore it's not easy to target the title. But to me it’s obvious why I’m here. I want to capture the title and play well. So, that’s absolutely my priority.”
Following his fourth-round loss to Ernests Gulbis at Roland Garros, Federer returned to Switzerland for a few days, where he worked on fitness training and back exercises. He stepped onto a grass-court on Saturday, upon his arrival in Halle. Despite leading the FedEx ATP Win-Loss Index for career grass-court matches with a 122-18 mark and 13 titles, he admitted the transition wasn't seamless.

“The first time on Saturday wasn’t that easy,” he admitted. “I enjoyed it, but I didn’t have the feeling I played that well. I was a bit disappointed after the practice. Yesterday, things went better. Therefore, I’m curious how it will go today.
“But I do have the feeling that I’ve found my rhythm. It’s important to keep on playing points and you need to be sharp and make quick decisions because there isn't a lot of time. You need to adapt properly and be creative. Therefore, usually practice is a lot of fun, although it can be frustrating at times.”
The father of four, who has been joined in Halle by his family, also stressed the importance of rest to his success.
“Today, I had to catch up on some sleep,” he said. “I was still a little tired from the practice and, also, the change to grass is always challenging. It’s a different kind of tiredness. You need to be more explosive, sharper, that’s very important on grass.
“Therefore, Mirka and I will have to make sure to get well organised for this week. Of course it’s important that my family is here and why I’m here, in order to play tennis.”
Federer will have a couple more days to prepare for his singles opener against Portugal’s Joao Sousa, and will get his first taste of match play this week when he teams up with fellow Basel native Marco Chiudinelli in doubles.
Top seed Rafael Nadalwho arrived in Halle 24 hours after winning his ninth Roland Garros title, will begin his grass-court campaign on Thursday against Dustin Brown. Federer watched part of the Sunday’s final and applauded his rival’s success.
“I was very happy for him because it’s tremendous what he proves on clay every year,” he said. “You have to raise your hat to him. For me, it was clear before that he is the favourite. Now, everybody says that it was evident that he’ll win. But before it was said that he can’t play tennis anymore because he had lost on clay twice. Therefore, I think it’s nice that he proved them otherwise.”

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Why I want Novak Djokovic to win on Sunday

Before you say anything, I would just like to make one thing clear. I love Rafael Nadal, I have great respect for the player and the man, because he is without question the most polite world no.1 we have ever seen. For each of his six matches this year at Roland Garros, I was delighted that he won. And I’m sorry to annoy the countless Rafa fans among you, but I can’t help hoping that Novak Djokovic wins the title.

Why? Well, quite simply because Nole deserves it, for a start. Like Andre Agassi and Roger Federer before him, he could complete his Grand Slam collection at Roland Garros and enter the hallowed halls of those who have won them all. Let’s be honest: the Serb would have done it long ago if he hasn’t been born into a generation with two exceptional champions – Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, competing for the title of the greatest player in the history of tennis. Djokovic isn’t quite at their level, but his talent, his style of play and the work he has put in to get to where he is make him worthy of raising the Coupe des Mousquetaires.

Djokovic is the only one to have caused Nadal to stumble at Roland Garros. He was even a break ahead in the fifth set of their incredible semi-final last year. Though I have no intention of taking anything away from Soderling’s victory in 2009, don’t forget that at that time, Rafa’s knees were not at their best. Djokovic has also beat Nadal four times on clay, a feat which no one else can claim. And Djokovic is good for tennis. A win for the Serb at the French would be a win for tennis.

I’m not saying that a ninth victory for Nadal would be bad for tennis, but a first for Djokovic at Roland Garros would have a greater impact. It would be seen by tennis fans as a major achievement, and rightly so. As he said himself, Nole is facing his greatest challenge: attempting to defeat Nadal on clay, over five sets. If he does it, it could be a match for the history books. He could succeed where Federer has failed.

Djokovic also has a very appealing personality. Some say he overdoes it, but I am certain that his words come naturally. He makes an effort to speak in French, he is expressive on the court, he is good-natured in front of the microphone, and he is a natural entertainer.

The video of him chatting with a ball boy during a rain break has been seen all around the world. I really think that Nole is a nice guy. He’s a great tennis player and a battle-hardened champion who has not shied away from self-criticism. He is always trying to progress, even after he became world No.1, opting for a gluten-free diet for example or with his interesting choice of hiring Boris Becker. 

So sorry, Rafa, but if you lose on Sunday for the second time in your career at Roland Garros, I’m afraid I won’t be shedding any tears!

I couldn't have said it better myself!.  Go Nole!.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Tennis Now asks: Is Gulbis right should women avoid pro tennis careers?

Following his third round victory at the French Open, a reporter asked world No. 17 Ernests Gulbis whether his two younger sisters are also on track to play professional tennis. He replied without hesitation, saying he hopes they choose a different career.

“A woman needs to enjoy life a little bit more,” he explained. “She needs to think about family, needs to think about kids. What kids you can think about until age of 27 if you're playing professional tennis, you know? That's tough for a woman, I think.” Let’s keep in mind that Ernests Gulbis makes controversial statements as consistently as he angrily demolishes his racquet on the court, which is to say, almost daily.

Like many others, Maria Sharapova was quick to discount his view, considering the source. “I don't think we can take everything serious when he speaks,” she said, laughing. “I mean, let's be honest with that.” But it’s hard to deny that Gulbis has a point. While the idea that women should be out “enjoying life” while men pursue meaningful careers is laughably archaic, the opposing forces of career and family are often more difficult to manage as a woman. When starting a family could mean the end of your career as a tennis player, it becomes ever more difficult to find a balance.

For female players who find themselves in a new hotel room in a new city nearly every week for 10 or 11 months of the year, even engaging in a healthy romantic relationship is challenging. Former No. 1 Martina Hingis struggled with this during her career. “Sometimes when you travel a lot, you always want that private life to be part of it, and it’s very difficult to have a relationship,” Hingis said. “On the men’s side, it’s much easier. They just travel with their girlfriends.”

She’s right, of course. Male players seem to have no trouble finding WAGs willing to come along for the ride. While there can be value in playing a supporting role, it is a far more socially acceptable position for a woman. It’s not often you see match cameras panning to the player box to focus on a concerned-looking boyfriend or husband.

Thanks to Roger Federer’s wife Mirka, who was once a professional tennis player herself, Federer now has four children in addition to his record-breaking achievements on the court. Current world No. 2 Novak Djokovic, 27, is expecting a child later this year with his fiancée Jelena Ristic. Players on the men’s tour aren’t torn between career and family. They can have both, simultaneously. There is currently just one married player in the top 50 on the WTA Tour: world No. 2 Li Na.

Caroline Wozniacki was due to become the second this fall until her golfer fiancé Rory McIlroy very publicly broke their engagement. For a man, marrying a WTA player usually means accepting an almost exclusively long-distance relationship or giving up a traditional career to travel along with his wife.

There aren’t many takers. Then, assuming a female player can find her Prince Charming mid-career, her chosen sport will inevitably put children on hold. Just weeks before Wozniacki’s breakup, she expressed a desire to be a “relatively young mother.”

Would the 23-year-old have retired early to pursue outside interests? We’ll likely never know. Resuming a tennis career after birthing a child has happened just three times in the Open Era. Evonne Goolagong Cawley had a daughter at age 26 and won Wimbledon three years later in 1980. American Lindsay Davenport won four titles after returning to the tour following the birth of her first child. Former No. 1 Kim Clijsters retired in 2007, birthed a baby girl and came back in 2009, winning two more Grand Slams before retiring again in 2012 at the age of 29.

While some female tennis players may want to compete for as long as possible – former No. 4 Kimiko Date-Krumm is still on tour at age 43 – others, like Wozniacki, are interested in a different route. And with no extended off-seasons or four-year windows between Olympic appearances, the options for women in tennis are limited. Making matters worse, the average age on tour has risen to 26.25 from 23.70 two decades ago.

Current No. 31, Daniela Hantuchova, 31, has expressed a desire to start a family, but she knows it will have to wait. “I always said that while I enjoy what I’m doing, I’ll keep going,” she said. “I gave all my life to this, so it would be a shame not to use it the best I can. There’s a time for everything.” Though not all female tennis players are set on finding a partner and starting a family, those who are must consider factors foreign to their male counterparts. Women can have it all, too – just not at the same time. That, as Gulbis said, is tough.

All very valid points, doesn't make me dislike Gulbis' comments any less though.

The article repeatedly points out one very important detail, the fact that the men should really count their lucky stars, if it weren't for the women in their lives they wouldn't be able to have it all either.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Kim Clijsters posting selfies with some tennis legends in Paris

Tennis - Former world no. 1 Kim Clijsters, now a mother-of-two, is back in Paris this fortnight where she will be competing in the Legends event alongside Martina Navratilova. Clijsters has also been working with Belgian no. 1 Yanina Wickmayer in recent months.

Clijster has been posting several pictures on her social media accounts from Paris and here we bring you some of the best ones!!

Rain or no rain! #hardwork photobomb by @samverslegers1

Here it is

Greatest dubbelspartner ever! Tomorrow on 1st on court two!

He is so cool!

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Roger Federer ready to move on to grass after Roland Garros loss

As Roger Federer bid adieu to the Parisian faithful in his earliest exit at Roland Garros since 2004, the Swiss maestro already stated his eagerness to begin his grass-court campaign.
Federer succumbed to a free-swinging Ernests Gulbis on Sunday, suffering his first five-set defeat in seven such matches in the French capital. Following the loss, the father of four expressed his desire to hit the lawns of Halle, for the Gerry Weber Open, next week.
“Mentally I have already switched to the grass, to be quite honest,” said Federer. “For me, it's like, ‘the clay-court season was fun, but we are moving on.’ Clay doesn't need me anymore, I got flushed out here.
“Clearly first the focus is on Halle, try to defend my title there. It's nice going back to a place where I have to defend something. Hasn't been like this for a while, so that's something I'm looking forward to. I think when I'm healthy, like I have been now for the last six to nine months, I think I can also decide the outcome of the matches more than I could last year. I’m very excited about my chances for Wimbledon now this time.”
Federer, a six-time champion in Halle and seven-time Wimbledon titlist, owns the highest FedEx ATP Win/Loss percentage on grass in the Open Era at .871 and sits atop the all-time titles list on the surface with 13.
For the 32 year old, transitioning to grass is nothing new and he believes it is actually the long clay season that better prepares him for the faster conditions ahead.
“Things are going to change with the grass season,” added Federer. “It's going to be different. I have to shorten the back-swing.
“Usually one plays well on grass because one has to do so much on clay to put pressure on the ball that it's necessary to hit hard. I feel the same for myself. When you move on the quick ground, it's difficult to take the speed from the opponent. On clay it's different, and that's probably the reason I play rather well on grass after the clay season.”
Federer will be joined by fellow Top 10 competitors Rafael Nadal and Milos Raonic in Halle, with the pristine lawns of the All England Club beckoning soon after.

Nice to know Roger and I are of like-mind :D.  Onward to the grass! :).