Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Happy 35th Birthday Martina Hingis!

It's Martina Hingis' birthday - Happy Birthday Martina! For the Swiss Miss' special day we thought we'd take a look back at her 20 Grand Slam titles. Let's turn back the clock!

WUHAN, China - Martina Hingis has been one of the most successful tennis players in the world over the last two decades, amassing an incredible 20 Grand Slam titles across all three disciplines - five in singles, 11 in women's doubles and four in mixed doubles. She's just the third active player to have more than 20 Grand Slam titles to her name - the other two are, of course, the Williams sisters.

But this one's all about the birthday girl - we're turning back the clock and looking at her 20 majors, starting with those five singles titles. The first of those five - the Australian Open in 1997 - made Hingis, just 16 years old at the time, the youngest player to win a Grand Slam title in the Open Era.

Grand Slam Singles Title No.1: 1997 Australian Open
(d. Mary Pierce in the final, 6-2, 6-2)

Grand Slam Singles Title No.2: 1997 Wimbledon
(d. Jana Novotna in the final, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3)

Grand Slam Singles Title No.3: 1997 US Open
(d. Venus Williams in the final, 6-0, 6-4)

Grand Slam Singles Title No.4: 1998 Australian Open
(d. Conchita Martínez in the final, 6-3, 6-3)

Grand Slam Singles Title No.5: 1999 Australian Open
(d. Amélie Mauresmo in the final, 6-2, 6-3)

And now, Hingis' 11 Grand Slam women's doubles titles. The first of those 11 was even more historic than her singles triumph at the 1997 Australian Open - at age 15, her doubles victory at Wimbledon in 1996 made Hingis the youngest player ever to win a Grand Slam title in any of the three disciplines.

Grand Slam Doubles Title No.1: 1996 Wimbledon (w/Helena Sukova)

Grand Slam Doubles Title No.2: 1997 Australian Open (w/Natasha Zvereva)

Grand Slam Doubles Title No.3: 1998 Australian Open (w/Mirjana Lucic-Baroni)

Grand Slam Doubles Title No.4: 1998 French Open (w/Jana Novotna)

Grand Slam Doubles Title No.5: 1998 Wimbledon (w/Jana Novotna)

Grand Slam Doubles Title No.6: 1998 US Open (w/Jana Novotna)

Grand Slam Doubles Title No.7: 1999 Australian Open (w/Anna Kournikova)

Grand Slam Doubles Title No.8: 2000 French Open (w/Mary Pierce)

Grand Slam Doubles Title No.9: 2002 Australian Open (w/Anna Kournikova)

Grand Slam Doubles Title No.10: 2015 Wimbledon (w/Sania Mirza)

Grand Slam Doubles Title No.11: 2015 US Open (w/Sania Mirza)

And finally, Hingis' four Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. She won the first of the four during her second career in 2006, and the other three during her self-titled third career - all this season.

Grand Slam Mixed Doubles Title No.1: 2006 Australian Open (w/Mahesh Bhupathi)

Grand Slam Mixed Doubles Title No.2: 2015 Australian Open (w/Leander Paes)

Grand Slam Mixed Doubles Title No.3: 2015 Wimbledon (w/Leander Paes)

Grand Slam Mixed Doubles Title No.4: 2015 US Open (w/Leander Paes)

Martina Hingis & Li Na tour Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan China

WUHAN China - Former World No.2 Li Na may have left the sport last year, but she has been more than happy to reunite with her tennis family when the WTA tour stops in her home town for the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open. Aside from the thrilling tennis, there is plenty to explore in the capital of the Hubei province, but few sights are more breathtaking than one of the Four Great Towers of China known as the Yellow Crane Tower.

Accompanied by former No.1 Martina Hingis - who is top seed in the doubles draw with co-Wimbledon and US Open champion Sania Mirza - Li took a tour of the landmark famous for its views of the Yangtze River with a history that mirrors the Swiss Miss herself.

The Yellow Crane Tower was first built around 223 AD, and despite disappearing multiple times from the Wuhan skyline, the tower has been rebuilt multiple times; the current incarnation was completed in 1985.

Hingis too has enjoyed the view from the top of women's tennis many times since arriving on tour in 1994; now in the midst of a third, doubles-only career, the 20-time Grand Slam champion won five major titles in 2015 alone, two in women's doubles, and three in mixed alongside Mylan World TeamTennis teammate, Leander Paes.

"I think she's amazing," Li said of her travel companion, who came armed with a GoPro camera to capture the experience, on Monday. "I don't know how many years she's already stayed on the tour but she still can win the tournaments."

The admiration was mutual, as Hingis expressed her awe of the impact Li Na has had on tennis in China.

"It's incredible. She is such a heroine for her hometown and giving hope to so many little girls from here."

Accompanied throughout by a large group of her fans, Hingis noted that Li's hometown reception was far greater than anything she experienced in Switzerland.

"I got a welcome at the airport but I think China has a bit of a bigger population. For Li Na to come from Wuhan and make it so big in a global sport has given hope for so many people here."

Following a tour of the Yellow Crane Tower, the two engaged in an exhibition on the nearby grounds; though the Chinese star has retained the clean precision on her groundstrokes, Li admitted that she wouldn't change how things unfolded for anything.

"It's totally different. When I was an athlete I always had practice, and then match. Now I just enjoy the family life.

"This is my dream life."

For her part, Hingis is still very excited to be competing for titles, and with the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global in her sights, the top seed enjoyed having some fun before the serious week in Wuhan began.

"It is nice winning in the US and then Guangzhou, then coming back here. I really feel good here. The courts are nice, beautiful new stadium so everything is perfect."

Hingis and Mirza open against Klaudia Jans-Ignacik and Anastasia Rodionova on Court 1 on Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Roger Federer to play in Singapore in December

SINGAPORE: Tennis world number two Roger Federer will make his first appearance in Singapore in December, the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) announced in a press release on Friday (Sep 25).

Federer, who is also the winner of 17 Grand Slam titles, is set to represent the UAE Royals at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in the 2015 IPTL, from Dec 18 to 20.

The three-day league in Singapore will also feature the Singapore Slammers, Indian Aces, Philippine Mavericks and newest addition to the season, the Japan Warriors.

Playing for the Singapore Slammers in this year’s edition is world number one, Novak Djokovic, who recently cemented his position as one of the greatest players of all time with his 10th Grand Slam victory, beating Roger Federer at US Open 2015.

“I love playing in countries where I have never played before,” said Federer of his upcoming visit to Singapore. “I know Singapore has embraced tennis in the past few years, so coming here to play is very exciting.”

The 34-year-old added: “It is going to be a very special experience for me. I don’t often get to play in new countries and I hope that they are excited.”

The 2015 IPTL will run from Dec 2 to 20, with Singapore being the final stop.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza win Guangzhou Open in China, their 6th title of 2015

GUANGZHOU, China - Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza continued right where they left off at the US Open this week, winning their second straight WTA doubles title together - and their sixth of the year - at the Guangzhou International Women's Open, not even dropping a set en route to the title.

After a first round bye, the No.1-seeded Hingis and Mirza beat Anna-Lena Friedsam and Monica Niculescu in the quarters, 6-2, 6-3, and then Julia Glushko and Rebecca Peterson in the semis, 6-3, 6-4, before their most dominant performance against Xu Shilin and You Xiaodi in the final, 6-3, 6-1.

They've now won six of 13 events they've played since joining forces in March - Indian Wells, Miami, Charleston, Wimbledon, the US Open and now Guangzhou. They're an incredible 42-7 together.

Xu and You had taken out two seeded teams en route to the final - No.3 seeds Liang Chen and Wang Yafan in the quarters and No.2 seeds Klaudia Jans-Ignacik and Anastasia Rodionova in the semis.

Hingis talked about the secret of their success against the young Chinese team in the final.

"Thankfully we watched them play last night so we knew the way they played, how they won, and we were very well prepared to play them today. There were definitely no surprises out there," Hingis said.

"But they had a great tournament. They play very well, very smart, and they have a bright future."

Mirza was asked how she felt about the tournament - the city, the stadium and so on.

"The first time I played here was 2010, when I won the doubles here, but it was in a different venue. It wasn't this one. It was a smaller venue," Mirza recalled. "But I played the Asian Games here in 2010. I won two medals and it was really good here - I liked the courts, I really liked how they played.

"It's really hot, but I'm Indian, so I have to be used to it! It's always great to come back here."

This week coming up they're the No.1 seeds at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open in Wuhan, China.

After a first round bye there, they could play either the aforementioned Jans-Ignacik and Rodionova or Chan Chin-Wei and Arina Rodionova - that's younger sister of Anastasia Rodionova, of course.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza enter Guangzhou Open final in China

GUANGZHOU, China - Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza captured another straightforward win in Guangzhou, moving past Julia Glushko and Rebecca Peterson, 6-3, 6-4.

"It's very hot today and a tough game, but we play well," Mirza said after the match.

The reigning Wimbledon and US Open champions broke serve five times to clinch the match in just over an hour. Up next for the dynamic duo will be a pair of hometown favorites as former top-ranked junior Xu Shilin and partner You Xiaodi upset No.2 seeds Anatasia Rodionova and Klaudia Jans-Ignacik, 7-6(5), 6-3. Xu and You thrilled the Centre Court crowd as they saved all four break points faced in the second set to take the match in straight sets.

Hingis and Mirza were first into the final, but were feeling optimistic that they could capture a sixth title of the season, putting themselves in even better stead ahead of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.

"We don't know who will be our opponent yet, but we'll prepare everything," Hingis said. "I am so happy to go to the final in my first time in Guangzhou. Look forward to tomorrow's final."

With one team bringing star power and another national pride, it should be quite an exciting coda to the doubles tournament, which will take place following the singles final between WTA Rising Star Denisa Allertova and No.4 seed Jelena Jankovic.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza reach Guangzhou Open semis

Guangzhou: Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis stormed into the semi-finals of the women's doubles of the Guangzhou Open tennis tournament with a straight-set victory over their rivals here on Thursday.

The top seeded Indo-Swiss pair beat unseeded German-Romanian duo of Anna-Lena Friedsam and Monica Niculescu 6-2 6-3 in the quarter-finals in just an hour and five minutes at the Guangzhou International Tennis Center.

Sania and Martina, who recently won the US Open doubles title, will take on Israeli-Swedish combination of Julia Glushko and Rebecca Peterson in the semi-finals of the USD 226,750 hard court event on Friday.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Martina Hingis brand ambassador for QNET

(MENAFN Press) Tennis ace to be the new inspirational face of QNET

DUBAI, UAE, 20th September 2015: Former women's world number one tennis star, Martina Hingis has become the new Brand Ambassador of Asian Direct Selling Company, QNET. She was officially introduced to thousands of jubilant QNET members at the annual V-Convention UAE 2015 held at the Hamdan Sports Complex here.

Martina will also be representing QNET brand in India and will be participating in certain sporting activities, during the time she will be playing for Champions Tennis League, later this year in India.

As a brand ambassador, Martina, 35 will play a leading role in enhancing QNET's brand aspiration value through her ambassadorship in presenting the brand, products and promotional activities. She will be wearing the QNET logo on her attire during all her tennis tournaments as well as endorsing various products marketed by QNET.

The partnership marks yet another important step in QNET's sports marketing efforts, linking hard-work and determination with network marketing. The company strongly believes that the drive, passion, teamwork and individual skills of sports mirrors that of its business and one which is also vital to the progression of people and organizations.

Martina said "it's a great honor to be associated with a global brand like QNET whose presence in more than 100 countries speaks volumes of its strength and popularity. I am very excited to be a partner in this journey."

"I always believed in winning and becoming a champion. Without that inspiration, you can't come out and play and compete at a higher level. I always felt like I had one of the best volleys in the world, one of the best backhands in the world, so you got to believe in something if you want to win," she said to thunderous applause and standing ovation from the QNET family.

With Martina donning QNET colors, the company is confident it will be inspirational for the younger generation globally as she is considered as one of the star icons among the world tennis fraternity and the sports world in general.

Mr. J.R Mayer, Managing Director of QNET said "QNET stands for its commitment towards the highest quality products to its customers and firmly believes in innovation, excellence and consistent quality. We are glad to associate with Martina Hingis who epitomizes quality and depth of work, thus personifying the QNET brand. We are indeed very proud and privileged to have such a globally admired and respected personality as our Brand Ambassador."

QNET has partnered with several prominent sporting names; of them being its current partnership with the Manchester City Football Club (MCFC) as the Official Direct Selling Partner and a similar partnership previously with the Marussia F1 Team. QNET, over the last 17 years has offered a dynamic product portfolio, well conforming to its product positioning of 'Start Living with QNET products'.



Martina is the winner of two US Open Grand Slams titles, 2015. These are four in mixed doubles in total and eleven in women doubles). It is a historic win with both mix and doubles in Wimbledon and US open in the same year. In 2015, Martina also became the first Global Ambassador for the International Tennis Hall of Fame."

Martina was born in Kosice, Slovakia. Brought up in Switzerland, she began playing tennis at an early age and made her professional debut just after turning 14. She was 15 years and nine months old when she won the 1996 Wimbledon doubles title with Helena Sukova, making her the youngest Grand Slam champion of all time. The following year, she became the youngest singles Grand Slam tournament winner of the 20th century after her victory in the Australian Open, and the youngest-ever world No. 1 when she replaced the injured Steffi Graf.

Martina went on to win the Wimbledon and U.S. Open singles championships that year, and defended her Australian singles crown in 1998 and 1999. She also starred in doubles, notching four championships at the Australian Open, two at the French Open and Wimbledon, and one at the U.S. Open. Altogether, she spent 209 weeks in the top spot of the WTA rankings.

Injuries forced her retirement in 2003, but she returned to competitive tennis at the start of 2006 and won the Australian Open mixed doubles title (with Mahesh Bhupathi of India) and the Italian Open. She received the Laureus World Sports award for comeback of the year in 2006.

After retiring again in 2007, Hingis returned to professional competition once again in 2013, this time strictly as a doubles player. She won the 2014 Miami Open alongside Sabine Lisicki, and reached the final of the U.S. Open that year with Flavia Pennetta. In early 2015, she teamed with Leander Paes to claim the mixed doubles championship at the Australian Open.

The Swiss star returned to tennis in recent years as a coach and now is back playing, perhaps with an eye to competing at next year's Rio Olympics.

Already a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame on the merits of her "first" career in the sport, Martina teamed with Sania Mirza of India to win the Wimbledon women's doubles final at the All England Club in July this year. She went to capture a double after partnering India's Leander Paes to mixed doubles success.

Martina Hingis and Leander Paes have continued along their winnings ways, picking up their third Grand Slam title of the year with victory in the mixed doubles final of the US Open 2015.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Roger Federer helps Switzerland qualify for 2016 world group in Davis Cup

Roger Federer won his 41st Davis Cup singles rubber, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in 1:44 over Thiemo De Bakker, to qualify the Swiss for the 2016 Davis Cup World Group. The victory ensures that the 2014 Davis Cup champions will be a part of the 16-team World Group in 2016.

Things started okay for De Bakker in set one. The Dutchman had two game points from 40-15, 3-4 to keep the set level, but Federer would win eight of the last nine points of the set, claiming the first break then holding at love to take the opener. Federer came through a three-deuce game to break for 2-1 in the second set, then added an insurance break for 4-1 before taking the set, 6-2. 

The Swiss maestro would break in the first game of the final set and hold the rest of the way to finish off De Bakker without any fuss. 

Federer did not face a break point all day and broke four times on 11 opportunites. “I felt pretty good today, almost the best I’ve felt all week,” Federer said. “Obviously the doubles was kind of tough, but for some reason mentally I was in a good place, and at the end I had enough to go five sets no problem.” 

The Swiss opened by taking a 2-0 lead over the Netherlands on Day 1, with Stan Wawrinka defeating De Bakker and Federer defeating Jesse Huta Gulang. But the Netherlands threw a wrench in Switzerland’s celebration plans on Saturday by taking the doubles rubber.

After the match Federer declined to commit to next year’s Davis Cup, saying that he’d have to look at the draw first. The World Group draw will be released next Wednesday evening from Santiago, Chile.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Martina Hingis still waiting on word from Roger Federer or Stan Wawrinka over Rio Olympics Mixed Doubles

Switzerland’s ace tennis player, Martina Hingis, has still not corroborated with either of her two compatriots – Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka – on representing their country at the prestigious Rio Olympics 2016.

The 34-year-old, who recently enjoyed double success at the US Open 2015 after pulling off both the women’s doubles (with Sania Mirza) and mixed doubles (with Leander Paes), said that she’s spoken to both Federer and Wawrinka for the Olympics but continues to await a final call from the duo.

“I would be very happy to play the Olympics, and I asked Roger. I asked Stan. I think we still have time, but I feel like I’m in a very luxury position to have that opportunity to play with either Roger or Stan,” Hingis was quoted as per saying by NBC Sports.


As per the report, Hingis first went up to Federer – a 17-time Grand Slam champion. But, he expressed concerns over playing across all the three events at the sport’s mega event, and in order to prioritize his goals, he still perhaps continues to ponder upon the potential partnership.

Hingis, then, approached Wawrinka – winner of 2 Grand Slam titles – who took interest in the offer made but insisted upon taking a call only after Federer’s confirmation.

So, who do you think should partner Hingis – Federer or Wawrinka?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Martina Hingis eyes more trophies in 2016

Martina Hingis is already in the International Tennis Hall of Fame. But that's not good enough for her. She's going to keep winning championships until they build a new wing in her honor.

The 34-year-old Swiss has reached top form after coming out of retirement late in 2013. For starters, she and Leander Paes won three mixed-doubles major titles this year -- something that hasn't been done since 1969.

"The understanding we have for the game and each other is amazing," she said after they triumphed in the U.S. Open final last week. "Even if one thing doesn't work, we come up with a plan B or C, like we did today. I just feel like we're almost invincible going on court."

Hingis could say the same thing about her connection with Sania Mirza, with whom she won the Wimbledon and the U.S. Open women's doubles titles this year.

The player who was not so affectionately nicknamed Chucky, after the creepy horror-movie doll, initially retired from tennis following the 2002 season, citing chronic injuries. She was 22. But she returned to the game not long thereafter in World Team Tennis, the U.S. league where broken-down pros and former college players go for a low-key reminder of their salad days. But while hitting and giggling, Hingis realized something: she still loved competing. She has helped lead the Washington Kastles to five straight WTT championships.

Hingis was the best women's player in the world for a couple years in the late 1990s. She won three of the four major singles titles in 1997, when she was all of 16. She also won the Australian Open in 1998 and '99. She was not a humble champion, once referring to herself as "The Queen" and dismissing 1998 Wimbledon champ Jana Novotna as "old and slow."

And, let's face it, she got a little lucky in her singles career. The great Steffi Graf, 11 years her senior, was beset my injuries in '97, losing early in Melbourne and Roland Garros, and missing Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. (Hingis was 0-4 against Graf in Grand Slam tournaments in her career, including a memorable clash in the 1999 French Open final. The French Open is the one Grand Slam singles title Hingis failed to secure.)

Then, of course, Venus and Serena Williams showed up, and Hingis' luck ended altogether. Hingis relied on guile, and that just wasn't enough against the Williams' athleticism and power.

In 2013, after an aborted comeback in singles and a stint as a coach, Hingis decided to return to the tour solely as a doubles player. And it is here, in the team discipline, that she needs no luck at all. Her smart, precise, tactical game is perfectly suited to doubles. She won the women's doubles Grand Slam -- all four major tournaments in one season -- in 1998, partnering with Mirjana Lucic and Novotna. With the two women's doubles majors she's scored this year, she now has 11 total. (She also has four mixed-doubles majors, which is nice, but some players -- and a lot of fans -- view the mixed game as barely a step up from exhibition play.)

She has no chance at catching the all-time doubles leaders. The legendary Martina Navratilova, after whom Hingis was named, won 31 women's doubles majors. But Hingis is padding an already impressive C.V., and -- now more mature and enjoying herself on court -- she's winning over new fans.

Hingis has proved something no one thought possible: there can be a second act in tennis. And she's making the most of it. The way she and Mirza have melded their talents on court, you have to like Hingis' chances at winning a second doubles Grand Slam. Even the great Navratilova never did that.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Roger Federer & Stan Wawrinka enjoy Davis Cup in Geneva Switzerland

Roger Federer Tumblr tag

Geneva, Switzerland - Hard (Indoors)

Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka combined on Friday to give defending champion Switzerland a commanding lead. Wawrinka scraped through in a fifth set to win Switzerland's first point Friday against the Netherlands. 

The World No. 4 fought hard to beat No. 144-ranked Thiemo de Bakker 2-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 in three hours and nine minutes. De Bakker led 3-0 in the fourth set, but lost the next nine games. He then recovered to 3-3 in the fifth set before a tense conclusion. Federer moved to 39-8 in singles rubbers by sweeping past Jesse Huta Galung 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 42 minutes.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

What will become of pro-doubles after Martina Hingis & Bryan Brothers retire?

Look at the following tennis names and see how many of them you recognize.

Marcelo Melo, Ivan Dodig, Horia Tecau, Jean-Julien Rojer, Bob and Mike Bryan. Elena Vesnina, Ekaterina Makarova, Martina Hingis, Sania Mirza.

If you're like me and follow tennis to a decent degree, you'll probably come away only with knowing Martina Hingis and Bob and Mike Bryan - which is a bit scary for the promotion and ticket selling for professional doubles.

The Bryan brothers (37) have won every doubles title in the world (with over 100 total titles to their names) many of them twice or more. Martina Hingis, who has retired and been inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, is now back playing doubles and winning women's and mixed major events at the age of 35.

The point in bringing up all the very good players you don't really know is that when the ones you would go to see retire, who will pick up the slack? Who will sell the game to the public and headline doubles in a manner that Bob and Mike Bryan have - or even Serena and Venus Williams, who haven't played much doubles together lately.

It hasn't been all that long ago that professional doubles in tournaments was about to be terminated. The directors of many different events were feeling the strain of coming up with the extra expense it took to pay, house, feed, and promote the exciting doubles events that just didn't pull the crowds in.

So the players (especially the Bryan brothers and their father Wayne) got together with the tournament event holders and put together a new doubles format using shortened sets, no-ad scoring and third-set, 10-point tie-breaks.

The idea was that with a shortened version some of the top singles players would give consideration to also playing doubles - due to the fact it wouldn't take all that much out of them, and that the shortened version was exciting because each and every point counted that much more.

Over the past 10 years the changes to doubles has helped; unfortunately, each tournament throughout the tennis world has not brought in the top-ranked and well-known singles players as often as was hoped, and the crowds still are much less in attendance than at singles matches.

There are still questions as to the differences of quality of tennis between the top singles and doubles players. When Roger Federer paired up with Stan Wawrinka and won the 2012 Olympic doubles gold medal, did that once again prove that if singles players paired up and played doubles they would monopolize doubles as well as singles? Prior to 1968, many of the top players would sign up for singles, doubles and mixed events, and John McEnroe was one of the last singles professionals who was also ranked No. 1 in doubles. Thus the quote, "Who is the best men's doubles team in the world, John McEnroe and whoever he plays with?"

A committee got together and made the following recommendations in hopes of revitalizing the professional game of doubles.

Start doubles on Wednesday to encourage first- and second-round singles losers to enter.

Televise all doubles finals after the singles.

Assign an ATP and WTA communications director to doubles only, and publicize leading teams with a major promotional campaign. "Now you can show up at a tournament and have no idea doubles is going on because there is nothing in the program, nothing up on the walls, no draws posted," Knowles said.

Immediately follow the 7 p.m. singles match with a doubles match - or start the doubles at 6:30 p.m., followed by a singles at approximately 8 or 8:30 p.m.

Require matching shirts and shorts for doubles teams.

Have doubles teams appear together in autograph sessions.

Have doubles teams conduct "Kids Days" so that doubles is explained and showcased.

Nearly double the measly 17 percent of Tennis Master Series total prize money (and 20 percent overall) that doubles receives to 30 percent.

The season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Houston - where doubles-only sessions are consistently sold out - should be studied as the "doubles model" by the tour's 63 other tournament directors and their staffs.

Scintillating doubles points, especially spectacular net duels that elicit "Wow! Did you see that?" reactions from spectators, should be regularly featured on ESPN's top highlights and other "Points of the Day" segments.

The amateur game of tennis is primarily made up of doubles, so we know there are a horde of spectators who would possibly buy tickets if it's promoted properly - so ATP and WTA, let's get with the program!

Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 40 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at or 928-642-677

Friday, September 18, 2015

Martina Hingis celebrates her 20th Grand Slam title at U.S. Open

Nineteen years ago, Swiss tennis star Martina Hingis became the youngest champion in Grand Slam tennis when she won the women's doubles title at Wimbledon. When she hoisted that trophy in the air, she was 15 years old.

And this week, she became one of the most experienced, winning her 19th and 20th Grand Slam titles at the US Open, first a mixed doubles title with India's Leander Paes on Friday and on Sunday a doubles title with Sania Mirza, also of India.

In a swift 70 minutes Sunday, Hingis and Mirza, who were the top seeds coming into the women's doubles competition, defeated fourth-ranked Casey Dellacqua of Australia and Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakstan, 6-3, 6-3. All told, Hingis, who turns 35 later this month, won five Grand Slam titles this year, a significant collection of hardware for a player who at several points in her career had assumed her life as a tennis player was over.

"It feels like it's doing it all over again," Hingis said after her match Sunday, a US Open towel draped over her shoulders. "It's like I don't think about, OK, last time it was 18 years ago. It's what counts for me is right now, today in this moment. I know I have the support and the trust that I have for her shots and for her game. It's even building up every time we step out together."

As more and more women in tennis have longer careers, Hingis' successful second act in doubles may be a road more of her fellow racket-wielding professionals will take. With five Grand Slam singles titles to her credit, Hingis was also early to embrace the doubles side of the game, winning her first doubles slam in 1996 at Wimbledon, and when she won the singles title a year later at the Australian Open, she was the youngest Slam singles champion ever. However, injuries, the plague of many a tennis star, took their toll, and Hingis started and stopped her career at various points. She dabbled in coaching, then returned to tennis as a doubles specialist. Sunday, she was quick to dismiss any notion she would return to singles.

"No, thanks," Hingis said. "I was just practicing yesterday and I almost hurt myself. 'Oh, my God, it's a long season, hard-court season.' We play six weeks in a row. I have [to] still play also Team Tennis. I'm turning 35 at the end of the month, so I just keep it that way. I'd rather win alongside Sania and Leander Grand Slam titles than having to struggle with my body."

Mirza and Hingis began playing together in March and at first were befuddled by how terribly they practiced together.

"We had the worst first practice ever, ever," Mirza said. "We played, and we were like, 'Oh, my God, we cannot play together.' We won one game I think out of 12. We were like, 'Maybe not.' Then, 'Yeah.' "

Any mismatch didn't manifest in competitive play. Mirza and Hingis won the women's doubles title at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells and again at Wimbledon. They breezed through the tournament here, never losing a single set.

"They're the best team in the world," Casey Dellacqua said Sunday. She added, "Our expectations were that it was going to be a hard match."

"Separately, they were very good doubles players," Shvedova said. "And they found each other this year."

In the six months or so they've played together, Mirza and Hingis have grown from acquaintances, and sometimes singles opponents, to friends, Mirza said, a demeanor that helped them win their US Open title.

"I think we trust each other on and off the court," Mirza said. "I think that helps us through a lot of tough moments on the court. Obviously our games match, you know, kind of complement each other, so to say, you know, with her at the net and from me at the back."

It's a breeziness that allowed Hingis to smile the handful of times she floundered at the net and help Mirza shake off whenever she did the same. Although they later confessed to being nervous heading onto Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday afternoon, the last draw there before Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer played the men's singles final, it didn't show with their vibe on court mirroring the casual tone of their practices and earlier matches on the outer courts.

"The way Sania was playing the last three, four matches," Hingis said, "it was just incredible. She was hitting bombs from the baseline, and I was able to, the last two matches, pick it up and hit some good volleys to finish it off."

Hingis added, "We don't even have to, like, suffer. It was like a pretty convincing match. It works well."

After the victory hugs were exchanged, the flags of India and Switzerland paraded across the court, the smiles gleaned before cameras, Mirza and Hingis chatted in the windowless, cinder-block hallways of the underbelly of Arthur Ashe Stadium about their respective schedules of handshaking, trying to sneak time in with family, then had more tournaments together in China and Singapore. Both of their phones were exploding; Mirza noted her match would have aired in the evening in India, a prime-time event.

"We can celebrate then," Mirza said of their trip to China. "We don't really have the time right now!"

Hingis said she was planning to stay in Queens, New York, for a while longer to watch what she could of fellow Swiss star Roger Federer's battle for the men's singles title but had a flight Sunday evening to Europe and then Mirza to India.

"All of this today, I think is incredible," Hingis said. "It's a tremendous bonus in my career of tennis."

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Roger Federer after U.S. Open loss: 'I'll see you guys next year'

Heading into the US Open final with a remarkable 28-set winning streak which included a victory over Novak Djokovic in Cincinnati, Roger Federer seemed poised to grab Grand Slam title No. 18 on Sunday.

The 28-year-old Serbian, though, proved too much for the 34-year-old Swiss at the end of the day with Djokovic grabbing his 10th major win in four sets.

Despite the loss, Federer did not speak of the match as a disappointment but was able to take pride in how well he played this summer while complimenting a deserving champion in Djokovic.

"The whole America trip has been fantastic," said Federer who was undefeated since dropping the Wimbledon final in July - also against Djokovic. "I'm very pleased where my game is … Playing Novak was a massive challenge."

Djokovic has now won three consecutive Grand Slam finals played between the pair dating back to last year's final at the All England Club. Sunday's match was their record-setting 14th career meeting at a Grand Slam.

"It's been a good one. Maybe not so much tonight," he said of their rivalry. "I thought it was a great match, enjoyed it, and congratulations Novak."

The Swiss had "one last thing" to tell the Flushing Meadows fans who cheered loudly throughout the match for the five-time winner at Flushing Meadows.

"I love the sport. I have a lot of passion. Last thing, I'll see you guys next year," Federer concluded to the delight of the New York crowd who watched 33-year-old Flavia Pennetta announce her retirement after winning the women's singles title Saturday.

Federer will attempt to keep up his top form through the rest of the ATP season, with hopes of reaching a third consecutive Grand Slam final at the 2016 Australian Open in January.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

U.S. Open 2015 men's final thoughts

As a  long time Federer supporter you'd think I'd be pretty used to disappointment in majors in recent years.  And yet every time it happens it doesn't make the pain any less horrible.

Maybe what makes it worse is that with Novak more than Nadal Roger actually has chances, many chances in the matches. 

I mean the rivalry itself is dead even 21-21.  Unlike Nadal where it's more one sided.

He Just can't capitalize on the chances he creates when it matters at the majors in particular for some reason. 23 for 4 on break point conversion was his stat tonight.  That's what killed him.

That's the part that hurts.  

Not that he couldn't beat Djoker yet again.  Because we all know he can (he proved that in Cincinnati), he just can't seem to grab  the chances when he has them and that is beyond frustrating. 

And yes many have said that it was in large part due to Djokovic's mental resilience during the all important break points, which of course there's no denying. 

But it was also Roger's  numerous unforced errors whether due to nerves, or often going for too much because of Djokovic's amazing defence skills.

I think at times Roger was too cautious as well, he only took more risks in the last 3 games of the 4th and final set and almost got back on serve to 5 all. 

I wish he would have used The SABR (Sneak Attack By Roger) more. It worked so well in Cincinnati and it was working in this match as well.  Just wish he had implemented more throughout.

It's so heartbreakingly sad.  Because you just can't help but wonder how many of these chances Roger has left in him (to at least grab that illusive 18th).

You also have to wonder whether the result would have been different had there not been a 3 hour rain delay, and the match played in the day as originally planned.

Some commentators have said the quicker conditions & warmer weather would have been more beneficial, and might have tipped things in Roger's favor.  

I guess we'll never know (personally I think it was the loss of the first set that sealed it).

I'm just so tired of seeing Roger with the runner up trophies at Grand Slams, I'm tired of turning off the t.v. so I don't have to hear his sad runner up speech.  

That's probably one of the hardest parts as a fan.

With all that being said I will forever be a Federer fan & will continue to cheer & cry for him & with him until the day he retires.  Even if it kills me little by little in the process.

Thanks for another memorable one Roger, still & always a privilege to watch you play.

Just wish the results were in your favor.  Valiant effort nonetheless.

Here's hoping you get more chances in 2016.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Roger Federer suffers another Grand Slam loss at the hands of Djokovic in U.S. Open

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It is not getting any easier for Novak Djokovic to beat Roger Federer. However, in their 42nd encounter, over four enthralling sets in the final of the 2015 US Open, the Swiss found it increasingly tough to unlock the best defence in tennis, despite trusting his new-found attacking zeal at the net, and lost a slam decider to the world No1 for the third time in a row.

While they now stand at 21 wins apiece in a rivalry stretching back eight years, this one – 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in three hours and 20 minutes on Sunday night for the 10th major of Djokovic’s career – emphasised that the Serbian has pulled away from the Swiss on the biggest stages. Only Stan Wawrinka, in Paris, stopped his charge at a calendar slam.

There were only two points in this one at the end, but the disparity seemed a little greater than that in the closing frame. However, what a fighting and adventurous effort it was by Federer, who advanced to the net 59 times, winning the point 39 times. Still, he had 23 chances to break, and could only convert four of them. Djokovic, so cool in those crises also took his chances with more assurance, six times in 13.

Djokovic at 28 is just seven titles short of 34-year-old Federer – who was his opponent’s age when he won the last of his five US championships here. The chances of adding to his list will slide by the year, his best opportunity since beating Andy Murray at Wimbledon in 2012 being his thrilling five-setter against Djokovic there two years ago. Djokovic needed a set fewer to inflict another defeat at the same place this year.

“I have to share my admiration for Roger, everything he’s still doing for tennis. It was a tough one tonight. I have a tremendous respect for Roger, an incredible record,” said Djokovic after the match. “Coming on court knowing you are playing against probably the best player in the game adds a little bit more pressure. I knew he was going to be very aggressive. It was a quite incredible evening for me.”

Federer said: “Felt great to be back in a [US] final after six years. I’ve had a wonderful two weeks, very happy with my tennis. I enjoyed it and thought it was a great match. It’s been a good rivalry, maybe not tonight. I think we walk away from it knowing more about our games and more about ourselves.”

In front of 23,000 fans in the Arthur Ashe Stadium, Djokovic kept Federer on his heels for much of the first hour, even if those tangerine-flecked shoes were rooted to the baseline, from where Federer hoped to both climb into his shots on the rise and launch his new trademark runs to the service box on his opponent’s second serve. Djokovic would not back down either, and a high proportion of strokes going in both directions were half-volleys – just like the old days.

The key reason Federer switched up a gear in attack over the past few weeks, embracing the net with the enthusiasm of a lost shark, was to prepare himself for just this challenge. It worked against Djokovic in the Cincinnati final, and he knew that, if he were to break him down again, he would have to replicate that performance.

Federer made his intentions clear with the first thwack of the match, an ace down the middle, but had to save three break points inside the first six minutes. A second ace, his 70th of the tournament, gave him game point but he was relieved when Djokovic’s loose forehand gifted him the lead.

Djokovic held to love in two minutes. He plainly was going to grind in defence and would press as hard as ever with ball in hand. He won the first real struggle of the fight, a 24-shot rally to break for 2-1.

Then the mood shifted dramatically in the space of a few moments. Switching sharply to his right in pursuit of a drop shot, Djokovic slipped heavily at 0-30 in the fourth game, leaving a substantial graze of several inches below his right elbow, with another cut on his right knee. Federer clipped the net at 30-40 and Djokovic dumped his reply into the net.

Federer held to love and, at the next break in play, Djokovic called for the trainer to patch up his wounds, returning to the fray with a rolled ankle – and a serious hit to his concentration.

The “Swiss gentleman”, as Djokovic’s coach, Boris Becker calls Federer, smelt blood, at least metaphorically, but the Serb found an ace to hold for parity – and it was the five-time champion whose focused dipped, his 10th unforced error in only 25 minutes handing Djokovic break point, which he took with a beautiful passing shot down the line.

In six matches, Federer had dropped serve just twice – and only four times all summer. Since the start of the grasscourt season, he had kept his first service success above 72%, a phenomenal streak of pinpoint accuracy. Midway through the first set, that level had dropped to an alarming 47%. In the first six service games, he doubled his tournament tally of dropped serves. Something was not working – and Djokovic had plenty to do with that.

Back in front and up at the service line, Federer saved another break point, held for 5-3, hurling the anxiety over the net again. He stayed in the set, courtesy of a kind net intervention and a loose Djokovic forehand, but he could not prevent his opponent holding to love and taking the first set in 41 minutes. It did not look as if this match, delayed by rain for three hours, would be one of the tournament’s quickest.

Nine minutes later, Federer rushed the net on his opponent’s second serve for the first time and followed it with a blistering backhand down the line. The crowd, roused from their concerned silence, acclaimed his burst back to life. He charged on serve again but butchered his subsequent volley, and Djokovic saved five break points to hold.

Twice in the fourth game of the second set, which he held, Djokovic lobbed Federer, whose moves to volley were becoming more frequent. This had become the central plank of their debate, no question. There was no chance of Federer abandoning his high-risk strategy from a set down.

Ahead in the serving cycle but behind in most of the exchanges on his opponent’s serve, Federer had two chances to level the match in the 14-minute 10th game, but Djokovic held through seven deuce points, another in a welter of extraordinary battles within wars they have had down the years. There would be another one along very soon.

While there was a sense that Federer had missed his moment, the Swiss was revived in the 12th game with another two set points on Djokovic’s serve. This time he made sure of it, a classic crosscourt backhand forcing a final error out of the Serb at full stretch, and we were going to see at least four sets.

After an hour-and-a-half of uncertainty, confidence and venom had returned to Federer’s racket, and he twice charged Djokovic’s second serve at the opening of the third set, but a careless forehand cost him his serve. He broke back, but was broken again in the ninth game, and Djokovic, turning towards Becker, stabbed at his own temple, to emphasise his mental strength.

However, on break point in the 10th game – Federer’s 17th break point of the match – Eva Asderaki-Moore, the first female chair umpire here in a men’s final, over-ruled, spotting a stray Federer backhand. Djokovic’s resolve did not crack and he was a set away from the championship.

He broke at the start of the fourth and held, his fifth straight game in a row. But the drama was not over. Djokovic needed his third ace of the match to save a 15th break point, in the sixth game. The pair traded breaks before the Serb went up to serve again. This time Djokovic saved three break points, and got to championship point at last. Federer, exhausted after a night of relentless running and retrieving, hit a forehand long and it was done.