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Posts from the ‘Analysis’ Category

Daily Dispatch: New Tennis Season Gets Underway Down Under

Happy New Year! The new tennis season is upon us as action gets going in Brisbane, Auckland, Doha, Chennai, and Shenzhen.

Before we get down to 2013, here’s a great compilation by Lindsay Gibbs of the best tennis writing of 2012.

Steve Tignor wants to discard these five tennis phrases in 2013:

2. “David Ferrer doesn’t get enough respect.”

The Second Spaniard isn’t on many, or maybe any, magazine covers, which is too bad. And he’s rarely mentioned among the contenders for Grand Slam titles, which is slightly unfair considering that he’s the fifth best player in the world. But the man known as the Little Beast does get his props these days. This pro’s pro is universally lauded for making the most of what he has, and for not being a jerk about it. The trouble may come if and when Ferrer ever begins to beat the Top 3 on a regular basis—that’s when the lack of respect, from their fans, might kick in.

Alarming stat of the day: The slumping John Isner has won just four tennis matches since Winston-Salem (August) last year.

Daft reporter question of the day:

Q to Serena Williams: “We saw Caroline Wozniacki do a great impression of you several weeks ago. Who can you do a great impression of?”

The players participating in Hopman Cup, including Novak Djokovic, Ana Ivanovic, Tommy Haas, Venus Williams, John Isner, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Fernando Verdasco, and more, got dressed up for a New Year’s Eve ball in Perth.

Maria Sharapova spoke to the press about withdrawing from Brisbane with a collarbone injury:

Tweet of the day:

Daily Dispatch: Taylor Townsend to Skip Australian Open Qualifying Due to Lack of Funding

As per Tennis Alternative, although she was offered a wildcard as last year’s junior champion, American Taylor Townsend will not travel to the Australian Open to play senior qualifying because she lacks funding to do so.

Someone from GQ mentioned Andy Murray in an article called “Beefcake of the Year” for some reason.

Greg Daniels, creator of NBC’s “The Office,” has sold a comedy show about a tennis pro to Fox. Per Hollywood Reporter:

The untitled single-camera comedy revolves around Richie, a mediocre professional tennis player who returns to his college town — the scene of his greatness — in order to reboot his life. There, he’s caught between a lifestyle he never got to live — embodied by his carefree, bar owning younger brother Tom — and Kristen, the love of his life whom he’ll have to grow up for in order to get.

Swiss No. 2 Stan Wawrinka talked to Svenja Mastroberardino of about his preparation and goals for 2013, along with some other topics. (In German.)

The ATP released a statement stating their disapproval of the new US Open schedule changes for 2013, which move the men’s final to Monday.

Aussie Casey Dellacqua, who was set to pair up with Bernard Tomic to play Hopman Cup, is out of the tournament due to a foot injury. Her replacement has not yet been announced.

The events in Connecticut hit close to home for Andy Murray, who was a pupil at Dunblane Primary School in 1996 when a gunman entered the school and shot 16 children and one adult. Via Courtney Nguyen, here’s a video of ESPN’s documentary on Andy Murray and the tragic events in his hometown:

Among French tennis players and coaches, there is concern that the injured Gael Monfils is privately struggling.

Tweet of the day:

Daily Dispatch: Venus Williams Says Bernard Tomic is One of Her Favorite Players

As per Venus Williams’ new WTA profile: “Favorite players now include Serena WilliamsRoger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Gael Monfils and Bernard Tomic.”

Over at The Tennis Space, Taylor Townsend talked about Serena Williams:

Honestly I can’t even express how amazing it has been to have Serena’s support. She is such a powerful advocate and her speaking up for me just gave me more fuel to keep things rolling! She has been and still is such an inspiration in my life. Her determination, mental toughness, and feistiness are all things that admire in her and try to incorporate in my own game as well!

Ricky Dimon shared top players’ Facebook reactions to Rafael Nadal’s imminent return to the ATP Tour.

Stan Wawrinka is now on Instagram. Hopefully his Instagram account will be as entertaining as his Twitter account.

Babolat produced a new video of Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga playing tennis in the dark. They captured some cool visuals.

Meanwhile, the Federerdel Potro bromance tour continued in Argentina:





Tweet of the day:

Daily Dispatch: WTA Launches New, Improved Website

Kudos to the WTA for their new website makeover. There are a couple bugs (better to fix them during the offseason), but the new and improved player profiles showcase serve and return stats, rankings breakdowns, Grand Slam history, and more.

Over at Let, Second Serve, Anna has put together a Google Calendar for all the 2013 ATP Tour events. You can add them all to your own calendar.

Nadal News has a translation of an interesting Diaria de Mallorca interview with Rafael Nadal:

Q. Which defeat hurt you more, that against Lukas Rosol or the one to Soderling at Roland Garros 2009?

A. They have no point of comparison. Both have in common that I was bothered by the knee, but in Roland Garros I could compete. In Wimbledon, no. The defeat to Rosol was a foretold death for me.

Per Tennis Panorama, on Thursday Maria Sharapova will be a guest on the Tonight Show.

Over at Tennis Grandstand, David Kane had a nice perspective on the infamous Caroline Wozniacki impersonation of Serena Williams.

Jerzy Janowicz is sponsor-less no more. The 22-year-old Pole signed an endorsement deal with Peugeot.

Per Simon Cambers, the Tennis Integrity Unit has hired Nigel Willerton to be their new director.

Quote of the Day:

Roger Federer: “I know athletes are usually seen as superheroes. It’s fun, but I’m a normal person, I’m a terrestrial being.”

Federer greeted the press with Juan Martin del Potro in advance of their exhibition matches in Argentina.


Daily Dispatch: Quick Hits from the World Tour Finals

World No. 7 Juan Martin del Potro earned his second win of the year against Roger Federer today to qualify for the World Tour Finals semis, dropping a grand total of two points on serve in the deciding set.

With that result, he brings his win total against the Big Four to three wins in 2012 (two vs. Federer, one vs. Djokovic at the Olympics.) In comparison, this year against the Big Four, Tomas Berdych had two wins, David Ferrer one, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga zero.

Win-loss total in 2012: Djokovic: 73-12, Federer: 70-11, Murray: 56-15, Ferrer: 74-15, del Potro: 65-16.

Just three players have managed to beat Federer twice this year. Del Potro, Djokovic, and Murray all picked up a pair of wins against the World No. 2.

Tomorrow’s semifinals in London feature all the participating players who have won Grand Slams. Not a bad line-up, even though the round robin matches were dreadfully uneventful.

As for del Potro, he now has a chance to overtake Tomas Berdych to become World No. 6 if he wins his semifinal match against Djokovic.

Over at The Changeover, Lindsay Gibbs explored the many hairstyles of Rafael Nadal. Also over there, we debated the format of the World Tour Finals, and whether it needs to be changed.

Tweets of the Day:

McEnroe, Courier, and Rafter Discuss Anti-Doping Efforts in Tennis

Since the release of the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s report on how Lance Armstrong gamed the system to avoid testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, many have questioned whether something similar could happen in tennis.

Indeed, one of the doctors implicated in the Armstrong case for orchestrating a doping regime for the entire United States Postal Service cycling team also treated tennis players, including Sara Errani and Dinara Safina.

When asked about doping in tennis at a PowerShares Series event in Philadelphia, John McEnroe expressed confidence in the International Tennis Federation’s anti-doping program.

“I think you can take any sport, but I think it’s as rigorously tested as any sport other than the Olympics that I’m aware of,” McEnroe said. “Maybe more so than any other sport, whether it’s football, basketball. I’ll bet you there’s way more testing and way more stringent testing in tennis than in any of those team sports.”

Jim Courier also backed the ITF’s anti-doping program.

“We use WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency), and we’re on the Olympic Code, which is a pretty stringent code. Players do out-of-competition testing that’s unannounced. They have to give their whereabouts for one hour of the day, every day of the year. If they’re not where they say they are, that counts as a positive test against them. We have the rules in place. We have, I think, the best drug testing system around that I’m aware of.”

“No idea [if it’s a problem in tennis]. I hope to think there’s not,” Patrick Rafter said. “I think there’s always a case here and there, but I don’t think it’s a big problem like cycling was. I hope there’s not an issue, but there’s always the potential.”

Though Courier put his support behind the ITF’s testing program, he acknowledged that there was opportunity for players to take advantage of the system.

“I think that given the great rewards that are out there in tennis, and given human nature, people will cut corners where you give them leeway to do so. I think you have to put your head in the sand to think that people wouldn’t try and cut corners given what’s on the line if you do well in our sport. Look at Wall Street. People cut corners there because there are great monetary rewards. Anywhere you go in the world, this is human nature. We’re not immune to that. I don’t think we have a problem, but we’re not immune to that.”

“Everyone wants to see a situation where there’s a level playing field,” McEnroe said. “So it continues to be something that would be an issue for all sports, I would think.”

This article originally appeared on Tennis Panorama.

McEnroe, Courier and Rafter Weigh in on Big Four Debate

Ever since 2003 when Roger Federer burst onto the tennis scene and began an era of domination, which now extends to the so-called “Big Four” of Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, and Novak Djokovic, the tennis world has questioned how long it can go on.

As the 2012 tennis season wraps up, with just the World Tour Finals left, that question remains unanswered. Each of the Big Four captured one Slam title apiece this year.

“At some stage, things will change. It’s not a question of if, it’s when,” John McEnroe said at a Philadelphia stop on the PowerShares Series Tour. “But it’s hard to say when exactly that will be. Obviously Nadal’s health is an issue, and Roger’s not getting any younger. I suspect that you’ll see these guys hopefully around for a couple more years.”

Jim Courier expressed admiration for the way the Big Four have sustained their success, winning an astonishing 30 of the last 31 Majors.

“I think what the top four have done has been unprecedented as far as the level of consistency they’ve shown, and the level of dominance they’ve shown over the field,” Courier said.

“I just don’t know how they can keep it up. Honestly, the physical taxation that the game takes from them, the mental toll it takes, all the sponsorship requirements, all the pressure that’s on them to perform every week. I’m in awe of their consistency.”

The second tier of players stands separated from the top four by a Grand Canyon-like gulf. The three strongest contenders, Juan Martin del Potro (the only non-Big Four man to win a Slam since 2005), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Tomas Berdych, struggle to earn wins over the Big Four. In 2012 against Federer, Djokovic, Nadal, and Murray, Tsonga was 0-7, del Potro was 2-8, and Berdych was 2-7.

“You’ve got guys like del Potro, Tsonga, Berdych, Ferrer,” Patrick Rafter said. “Roger’s not playing like he was five years ago, that’s just a simple fact. He’s still putting himself in contention to win Grand Slams, but he’s not going to be as dominant as he was. And Nadal is having problems as well. You can see Djokovic and Murray certainly hanging around, but Nadal’s a big question mark, and Roger’s slowing down, but I think he’ll still be around in the mix. There’s definitely room for the new guys coming up.”

But Courier was reluctant to write off a few more years of Big Four domination.

“We haven’t seen any cracks in that façade, really,” Courier said. “It’s been again a year where the Big Four won all the Majors, and this year it’s been a true split. So I think it’s even more interesting from that standpoint. Who’s going to wrestle control the way Novak did in 2011? This year was more up for grabs, and Murray certainly has become a bigger part of the competition.”

McEnroe feels that del Potro is the most promising non-Big Four contender to win a Major in 2013.

“If I had to pick one guy that would win a Major if he remains healthy, it would probably be del Potro,” McEnroe said. “He’s won one, so it wouldn’t be a total shock. He’s put himself back in the position to do that. There’s a handful of guys who could do it, and someone’s going to do it, but he’d be the one guy I’d have to pick over anyone else.”

Courier agreed with McEnroe’s sentiment on the Argentinian.

“I love del Potro’s game,” Courier said. “I think he’s one of the few guys who really has the weaponry to stand up against those top four guys on a consistent basis. He needs some good fortune with his health, that’s been a problem for him. If he can stay healthy, I think he certainly has the tools to be in that conversation.”

This article originally appeared at Tennis Panorama.

Daily Dispatch: Murray, Djokovic Win World Tour Finals Openers

The 2012 ATP award winners were announced today. Roger Federer continued his ATP award dominance in the Fan Favorite and the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award categories, while Novak Djokovic took home the World No. 1 award and the Humanitarian of the Year award. Tommy Haas took home Comeback Player of the Year honors, and Martin Klizan was selected as Newcomer of the Year. Marinko Matosevic earned the Most Improved Player award.

Quotes of the Day:

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, describing how he got from Paris to London: “I can come by swim, but I choose the train.”

Juan Martin del Potro, on returning to London for the first time since 2009: “Just be here is like a gift after tough works, after my wrist injury.”

Tomas Berdych on Facebook after losing to Andy Murray in three sets: “So, Andy won today…I know …don’t tell me anything.”

I talked to John McEnroe, Jim Courier, and Patrick Rafter about the Big Four era of dominance for Tennis Panorama. McEnroe and Courier backed del Potro as the player most likely to break the Big Four monopoly on Majors in 2013:

“If I had to pick one guy that would win a Major if he remains healthy, it would probably be del Potro,” McEnroe said. “He’s won one, so it wouldn’t be a total shock. He’s put himself back in the position to do that. There’s a handful of guys who could do it, and someone’s going to do it, but he’d be the one guy I’d have to pick over anyone else.”

Courier agreed with McEnroe’s sentiment on the Argentinian.

“I love del Potro’s game,” Courier said. “I think he’s one of the few guys who really has the weaponry to stand up against those top four guys on a consistent basis. He needs some good fortune with his health, that’s been a problem for him. If he can stay healthy, I think he certainly has the tools to be in that conversation.”

Here’s the WTA’s year-end top 10, now that their final event in Sofia has concluded: 1. Azarenka, 2. Sharapova, 3. Williams, 4. Radwanska, 5. Kerber, 6. Errani, 7. Li, 8. Kvitova, 9. Stosur, 10. Wozniacki.

Bernard Tomic resolved his traffic charges in Australia, and hopes to get his tennis career back on track in 2013.

Over at the Changeover, I liveblogged an eventful Day One of the World Tour Finals. As Andy Murray beat Tomas Berdych and Novak Djokovic beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, I couldn’t help but think that today’s matches demonstrated why it’s so hard for the second tier players to beat the Big Four.

Djokovic, badly outplayed in the first set, managed heroics on the big points, and pulled out the set in a tiebreak. Murray was also far from his best, but he stayed calm after dropping the first set to BerdychTsonga and Berdych are now a combined 2-16 against the Big Four in 2012.

After Federer’s comments from yesterday that he feels he hasn’t gotten tested enough under tennis’s anti-doping program, I got a response from the ITF, disputing his claims.

Today’s moment of hilarity from the World Tour Finals, brought to you by Tomas Berdych:

Tweet of the Day: Apparently Federer has little memory of beating Rafael Nadal, 6-3, 6-0 last year in London:

Daily Dispatch: Ferrer Holds off Janowicz to win Paris Masters Title

An eventful tennis week in France wrapped up today with the Paris Masters final between Polish qualifier Jerzy Janowicz and World No. 5 David Ferrer. Ferrer won in straight sets, capturing the largest title of his career. The last time a non-Big Four tennis player won a Masters 1000 event was then-World No. 5 Robin Soderling in 2010 at the same event.

With his incredible run in Paris, Janowicz will move up a whopping 43 spots in the ATP rankings to World No. 26. The 21-year-old started out 2012 ranked No. 221.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence right now,” Janowicz said. “I learned if you have big heart and you want to do something amazing and you’re going to fight for this, you have a big chance to make it.”

In 2012, Janowicz could not afford to pay for a trip to the Australian Open to play qualies. Next year, he’ll be there as a seeded player.

Bernard Tomic’s status on the Australian Davis Cup team may be in jeopardy. Aussie Davis Cup captain Rafter told Tennis Panorama he will use Marinko Matosevic in the next tie, but wouldn’t comment on whether Tomic would be playing for them next year.

The Czech Fed Cup team clinched a 3-1 win over Serbia today, Lucie Safarova winning the clinching rubber against Jelena Jankovic after Ana Ivanovic forced a fourth rubber by beating World No. 8 Petra Kvitova.

World No. 1 Roger Federer had some sharp words for the ITF’s anti-doping program ahead of the World Tour Finals in London.

“I feel I’m being less tested now than six, seven, eight years ago,” Federer said. “I don’t know the reasons we are being tested less and I agree with Andy, we don’t do a lot of blood testing during the year. I just think it’s important to have enough tests out there. I don’t like it when I’m only getting tested whatever number it is, which I don’t think is enough or sufficient during the year.”

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray also indicated support for increased tests for doping.

Caroline Wozniacki will return to the top 10 after reaching the final of the Tournament of Champions in Sofia. Though she lost to Nadia Petrova in the final, Wozniacki has had a solid post-US Open run after a trying stretch.

Tweet of the day:

Daily Dispatch: Launching The Changeover

In case you missed it, along with two fantastic tennis writers Lindsay Gibbs and Juan Jose Vallejo, I have launched a new tennis website called The Changeover. We’ll be writing some innovative things over there.

For The Changeover this week, I profiled Juan Martin del Potro, told the story of the Basel final between Roger Federer and del Potro in animated gifs, and broke down the top 3 WTA players’ ranking points by surface.

But stick around here, because Drop Shot Dispatch is going nowhere. Now, on to today’s tennis happenings …

During an eventful day in Paris, Andy Murray was upset by Jerzy Janowicz, a promising 22-year-old Polish tennis player with dazzling power. Murray’s early loss, paired with Novak Djokovic losing to Sam Querrey yesterday ensures that there will be a non-Big Four Masters 1000 winner for the first time since Paris in 2010, when Robin Soderling captured the title.

Speaking of Andy Murray, the World No. 3 has had a dismal year at Masters 1000 events. If he is prepared to challenge Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic for a spot in the top 2, he must perform better than he has in that tournament category this year.

Also in Paris, Juan Martin del Potro also fell unexpectedly to Michael Llodra. The Argentinian looked fatigued. Some rest will do him good before the World Tour Finals.

Meanwhile in Sofia, at the Tournament of Champions, Caroline Wozniacki finds herself just one win away from ending the year in the top 10. After a mediocre year by her standards, she’s gone 17-2 since the US Open. As far as I’m concerned,  reports of her demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Maria Kirilenko withdrew from Sofia with an upper respiratory issue.

In a strange incident this morning, Sergei Bubka Jr., the 186th-ranked tennis player who is dating Victoria Azarenka, fell from the third story of a building, suffering multiple fractures. According to the report, he was in serious condition upon arrival at the hospital, but his prognosis has improved. We wish him a full and speedy recovery.

World No. 8 Petra Kvitova is blogging in English for the Daily Mail during the Fed Cup final. You can read her first installment here.

GIFs of the day, both of players who lost in Paris:

Andy Murray hit a dazzling forehand on the run in his match against Janowicz to save one match point:

Murray forehand

Stan Wawrinka, owner of one of the best one-handed backhands on the ATP Tour, showed off that shot against David Ferrer:

Stan Wawrinka backhand

Tweets of the day: