Maria Sharapova Denied French Open Wildcard

By Mike McIntyre

The French Tennis Federation announced on Tuesday that Maria Sharapova would not be the recipient of a wildcard at the upcoming French Open. After serving a 15 month ban for using a prohibited substance, the two-time Roland Garros champion did not yet have a ranking that was high enough to gain direct entry to the tournament. Tennis fans and media alike have been buzzing for the past few weeks wondering if the Russian would receive special treatment based on her previous success in Paris. Today that possibility was put to rest and Sharapova will have to sit this one out.

While the WTA Tour has welcomed Sharapova back with open arms and wildcards into events in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome, the decision in Paris rested solely with the French Tennis Federation. Their chief Bernard Giudicelli did not pull any punches when he explained that, "There can be a wildcard for the return from injuries - there cannot be a wildcard for the return from doping."

Sharapova has gone 4-3 since her comeback, making the semi-finals in Stuttgart and then the second round in Madrid. She retired from her second round match in Rome on Tuesday while leading 2-1 in the third set with an apparent thigh injury. Despite her moderate success in the past two weeks the 30 year-old would have been considered among the favourites to win the French Open due to her prior victories there and the fact that her most dangerous opponent (and everyone else's for that matter) Serena Williams, will not be competing as she prepares to give birth to her first child later this year. With Sharapova now joining her on the sidelines, the draw will be as wide open as it has ever been in Paris. Only three former champions will be playing in the field this year: Svetlana Kuznetsova (2009), Francesca Shiavone (2010) and Garbine Muguruza who is the defending champ from a year ago.

Personally I agree wholeheartedly with the stance taken by Giudicelli. While it is true that Sharapova has served her time for her infraction, I don't believe that she should be the recipient of any special consideration. There are plenty of other players who have been working hard over the past year to have the opportunity to compete in this Grand Slam and it would be unfair for them to have their position taken by someone based on their name alone. I am certain we will see Maria Sharapova back at Roland Garros again in 2018 and with her talent level and competitive drive I am sure she will be contending for a title there once again.

May 16, 2017 in Maria Sharapova | Permalink | Comments (0)

Life After Retirement for Boris Becker

 

B6db0a86f9de85d24640bf50ddeee043
 

In his prime, Boris Becker was the best tennis player in the world, and the distinctively blonde-haired German was the youngest man ever to win Wimbledon at just 17. Though surely this was the crowning moment of his career, Becker also won an Olympic gold medal, 13 Masters series titles and five elite indoor titles.  

 

 

He said of retirement, in a 2012 interview, “I had won so much by 22, a number of Wimbledon titles, US Open, Davis Cup, World number one. You look for the next big thing and that isn't in tennis."  

 Since leaving the world of professional tennis, it would be an understatement to say that Becker has diversified his interests. Not only does he own a tennis clothing and accessories brand, but he is a skilled poker player, appears often on TV as a commentator, has written an autobiography, can be booked through his London booking agency for personal appearances and in 2013, began coaching Novak Djokovic

Boris-becker-novak-djokovic_2t3h03ubi606z7sw308lmyu6

 

This last endeavour took up much of his time, with Becker acting as coach to Djokovic for three years, during which time he contributed to six Grand Slam titles and 14 Masters titles for the Serbian. 

 

 London Agents 

 The Boris Becker agent in London is MN2S, where he’s available to book for personal appearances and speaking engagements - he’s sure to be an appealing entertainment option for any crowd with an interest in tennis. 

May 5, 2017 in Boris Becker | Permalink | Comments (0)

Enjoying Tennis via Online Slots

Casino software providers understand how seriously sports fans take their games. Tennis fans have many opportunities to follow the game with major tournaments run throughout the year. Whether you prefer playing on grass or clay, your favourite players can be seen in action around the world with the year opening in Australia with the Australian Open in January, followed by the French Open in May-June, Wimbledon in the UK in June-July and the US Open in August-September. While tennis fans can enjoy these games being played live or can watch them streamed on TV, there is also another option for fans of the game.

Casino software providers have created many tennis slots and other exciting games that can be played at top online casinos. The tennis-themed games are fun, fast-paced video slots games with impressive graphics, animations and sounds to get you right into the action that is taking place at the casino. Players can enjoy the graphics of the courts, the crowds, the players, the gear and the trophies that are associated with the big tournaments.

While you are enjoying the imagery of the game, you will be able to enjoy many chances to win from the symbol combinations and bonus features that are available. This blending of gambling, together with major sports appeals to a wide audience. As long as sports fans exist, they will be looking for more opportunities to enjoy their favourite game, as well as gambling opportunities that include that game. Tennis-themed slots games are the perfect option for tennis fans.

Now you can enjoy your favourite game at any time of the year. No need to wait for one of the major tournaments - place a bet and enjoy the action and excitement of tennis online at your favourite casino whenever you feel like it.

May 5, 2017 in French Open | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Week Ahead on the ATP World Tour: Estoril, Istanbul and Munich

By Mike McIntyre

With the resurgent Rafael Nadal taking the week off to prepare for the Madrid Masters 1000 that begins on May 7th, the rest of the ATP World Tour will have an opportunity to show what they can do on the red clay of Europe. Here are the draws to all three events with a quick synopsis of who to keep an eye on.

Millennium Estoril Open

Pablo Carreno Busta is the top seed while Richard Gasquet and Juan Martin Del Potro are other big names and are seeded second and fifth respectively. Clay court names such as the aging David Ferrer, Tommy Robredo and Nicolas Almagro are also entered. So is the only man to defeat Roger Federer in 2017 - Evgeny Donskoy.

TEB BNP Paribas in Istanbul

The oft-injured Milos Raonic is seeded first in Istanbul and will be looking to get through a tournament in one piece. Ranked third behind Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic to start the season, Raonic has fallen to sixth in the rankings thanks to his injury woes. Marin Cilic is the second seed while other names of note include Borna Coric who has yet to build on his promise, Diego Schwartzman, Viktor Troicki and Bernie Tomic. In other words, this is an event that Raonic could use to re-start his year if his body can keep it together.

BMW Open by FWU in Munich

Gael Monfils takes the top spot in Munich and is playing on clay for the first time in 2017. A modest 8-4 record with no results past the quarter-finals of any event this season will have the thirty year-old Monfils looking to register a breakthrough. Roberto Bautista-Agut, Alexander Zverev and Fabio Fognini round out the top-four seeds while 39 year-old Tommy Haas will play the sixth event of his comeback in what is undoubtedly the final season of his stellar career.

April 30, 2017 in BMW Open, Estoril Open, Milos Raonic, TEB BNP Paribas, Tommy Haas | Permalink | Comments (0)

How Roger Federer Will Return to Glory in 2017

By Adam Hayes

When trying to name the best male tennis play of all time, there are bound to be a lot of lists. One player who has frequently made these lists is Roger Federer. Born in Basel, Switzerland in 1981, Federer turned professional in 1998. Since making his professional debut Federer has won numerous accolades. From winning over 88 career titles including 17 Grand Slam Singles wins with 27 Grand Slam final appearances, Federer's achievement list right now is greater than what many players have achieved over all of their careers. It is important to note that as great as Federer's career has been, it is not over. The same player who held the #1 ranked spot for 237 consecutive weeks in a row, now at the age of 35 has still been playing competitively. However, despite starting 2016 strongly by participating in the Australian Open, Federer sustained a knee injury in early February that plagued him for the rest of the year and limited his playing time significantly. Given a significant amount of time to recover, this article will detail exactly how successful Feder will be on his return, which is on track for January 2017.

Recap of Last Season:

Aiming to understand how deadly Roger Federer will be once he returns is tough without knowing how he played in his limited time the previous season. At just 34 years of age, Federer was ranked #3 in the world on the 25th of July, just a day before he withdrew from the Summer Olympics and rest of the season due to his injuries. In 2016, Federer showed many signs of his old self. The Swede started the year by making the semi-finals of the Australian Open where he lost to the eventual champion Novak Djokovic. Next, he sustained a knee injury requiring arthroscopic surgery which substantially limited his production for the whole year. After a series of injury laden performances in various tournaments, Federer ended his playing time this year after a five-set Wimbledon semi-final defeat to Canadian Milos Raonic. During the game, Federer required treatment from a trainer twice and finally realized that he needed to recover before he entered the court again . Roger Federer's 18th season was over, ending the year as the ninth ranked male tennis player in the world.

Return to the Top in 2017

For Roger Federer. Age has always been a number. Although nearing his retirement, 2017 might be the best time for Roger to add another Grand Slam title to his resume. With one of Federer's top competitors, Novak Djokovic taking a seat back from the #1 ranking for the first time in years to Andy Murray, Federer's path to the top is much clearer than before. Historically, Djokovic has been a thorn in Federer's career success with over 23 head to head wins. Seeing a weaker Djokovic in tournament play will allow Federer to make one last run towards securing another title before retirement. Overall, despite increasingly difficult competition in the singles scene, with Djokovic's coming back to earth, 2017 is the best year for Roger Federer to make a title run and return to glory.

 

December 29, 2016 in Roger Federer | Permalink | Comments (0)

Milos Raonic Selects Richard Krajicek as Next Coach

By Mike McIntyre

World No. 3 Milos Raonic continues his selection of former Grand Slam champions to his team as it was revealed on Tuesday that Richard Krajicek would be his next coach. The Wimbledon champion from 1996 will try to help Raonic attain the first Grand Slam title over the course of 2017.

The move should come as no surprise as the two previously worked together for a brief stint at the beginning of last season and Raonic asked Krajicek to come on-board following last year's French Open. At the time Krajicek had already committed to working with Stan Wawrinka in a partership that was short-lived. At the time Krajicek had the following to say about his coaching ambitions, "My goal is to after the US Open, work with a player for about 18 or 20 weeks, I don’t know which player that is going to be yet. Maybe with Stan for a few more weeks, but I have no idea.”

Krajicek has maintained an active presence on the ATP Tour since he retired in 2004. He has been the tournament director at the ABN Amro tennis tournament since that time. Similar to Raonic, he also has his own charitable foundation that seeks to engage youth in sports. That mutual interest displays another similarity between the two that goes beyond the tennis court. 

On paper, the pairing of Raonic and Krajicek seems like a smart fit. Like Milos, Krajicek was known for his big serve and penchant for coming to the net which helped him to the only Slam title of his career twenty years ago. 

Despite a successful 2016 that saw the Canadian reach a career-high in the rankings as well as making the first major final of his career at Wimbledon, Raonic parted ways with his coach Carlos Moya. It is evident that his strong desire to improve even further has prevented Raonic from becoming stagnant in terms of his development. He is constantly seeking ways to expedite his success at the Grand Slam level and clearly he feels that bringing Krajicek into the fold is a part of that process. 

December 20, 2016 in Milos Raonic, Richard Krajicek | Permalink | Comments (0)

U.S. Open Review

Now that the US Open has finished for another year, all four of the major tennis tournaments have passed – effectively bringing the professional tennis season to a close. Let's look back at the 2016 US Open, detailing how the tournament panned out and who eventually came out on top.

This year’s tournament marked the 136th time that the US Open has been played and the men’s tournament sprang a surprise right from the beginning with the absence of Roger Federer – due to injury. Among the top seeded men’s players, the number 1 and number 3 seeded players – Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka – went on to contest the final. However, several of the other high seeded players suffered surprising early exits, with Marin Cilic, Milos Raonic and Rafael Nadal all out of the tournament by the end of the fourth round. In the case of the former it was the latest in a series of setbacks, as he lost out to Lucas Pouille at the end of a five-set match. Britain’s biggest hope Andy Murray made it to the quarter finals before exiting, while another big name – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – was forced to withdraw thanks to injury at the same stage of the tournament. When it came to the women’s singles, we also witnessed surprising early exits for several top seeds. Madison Keys and Venus Williams of the United States, Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland and Garbine Muguruza of Spain had all departed by the time the quarterfinals came along.

With defending women’s champion Flavia Pennetta having announced her retirement at the end of the previous season, most expected Serena Williams to at least reach the final. The defeat of the world number 1 by Karolina Pliskova was one of the more surprising moments in the tournament. This singled out the number 10 ranked player in the world as a Slam up-and-comer. The player who defeated her in the final – Angelique Kerber – has also staked her claim as a genuine challenger to Williams’ dominance.

In the men’s final, Wawrinka came out on top against Djokovic, with the latter’s defeat coming hot on the heels of early Olympics and Wimbledon exits. Djokovic clearly struggled with a wrist injury throughout the tournament but Wawrinka never lost focus during those injury delays and was a worthy winner. Djokovic was the defending champion and put up a valiant display despite his injury, but neither the men’s nor the women’s tournament saw the trophy retained. With Djokovic having been a dominant force in the men’s game for some time, there is growing evidence that injury may be set to bring this to an end. Thus it is possible that this year’s US Open marked the end of an era for both the men’s and women’s game, although it would be unwise to bet on Djokovic or Williams being finished. It would be far more sensible to bet on a tennis themed slot game like Centre Court available at mobile casino instead, as this gives you a great chance of winning a payout – or even the big jackpot – and is not dissimilar to normal tennis betting.

It will be interesting to see how the stars of this year’s US Open, like Wawrinka, Pliskova and Kerber, do in January’s Australian Open.

October 3, 2016 in U.S. Open | Permalink | Comments (0)

Make the Most of the Fall Swing on the ATP World Tour

With the final Grand Slam of 2016, the US Open, now complete, the ATP World Tour continues with its fall swing. Europe and Asia become the main attraction for the final leg of the season and there are still plenty of big tournaments to enjoy. The year will culminate with the Barclay's ATP World Tour finals from November 13-20th in London, England. Prior to that there are a variety of other tournaments including the Masters 1000 in Shanghai and Paris. Here are three ways in which you can really make this year’s Fall tennis swing one to remember. 

  1. Partake in online Tennis betting

One really good way to get into the spirit is to get involved in some fun and exciting online tennis betting. Today’s betting offers give you a huge variety of betting offers of which to make use. These include enhanced odds, as well as new customer welcome bonuses that you are eligible for when you sign up and register and account with Freebets. With the Tennis free bets they offer, you are able to bet on both women’s and men’s tennis matches; the prize money is equal for both. There are various options for tennis betting; such as betting for who will win the entire tournament, who will win each games, as well as specific bets for each set in every game. There are also other aspects on which bets can be placed; such as betting for who will have the most aces, as well as most double faults. This means that you really have a huge variety when it comes to the nature of the bets you wish to place.  In addition, Freebets also offers some great Tennis betting tips for certain tournaments.  

  1. Host a tennis viewing party

If your friends are as excited about professional tennis as you are, why not host a fun tennis viewing party? Gather all your tennis-obsessed friends and family and invite them over. Making some Tennis themed decorations and snacks is a cool way to keep in theme. Maybe even ask people to come dressed in Tennis attire in spirit of the theme! Some good ideas for snacks include frosting round cookies to look like tennis balls, and making punch with small melon –tennis balls in it. Tennis ball cake pops are a winner too!  

  1. Show your support 

Show your support to your favorite players by taking to social media. Find your best Tennis stars on Twitter, to wish them luck personally. Or some may have a verified fan page on Facebook, on which you can write your encouraging messages. Many sporting stars frequently do read their social media messages, and knowing that their fans are showing their full support can be a really encouraging thing for them to see.  

Hopefully these three ideas have inspired you to get out there and really make the most of the remaining months on the ATP World Tour, while it is still in play. Have some fun hosting a viewing party and betting with your friends on Freebets. And do not forget to tweet your good luck messages to your favorite players!  

September 18, 2016 in Tennis betting | Permalink | Comments (2)

Men's 2016 U.S. Open Preview

 By Mike McIntyre

The final Grand Slam of the year is upon us in New York and 127 players on the ATP World Tour will be trying to wrestle the U.S. Open title away from Novak Djokovic. For the first time in over a year, Djokovic is likely not being considered the favorite at this event as he has struggled since winning his maiden French Open title at the beginning of June. With his health uncertain - a wrist issue has been bothering him in recent weeks - Djokovic will have his work cut out for him in order to take home his third U.S. Open championship.

IMG_7621

First Quarter

First of all let me say that if Djokovic is playing 100% healthy, then he is still (along with Andy Murray) a very strong candidate for the title. It is the fact that we don't exactly know the full extent of his injury, coupled with an up-and-down summer that makes me feel he is going to be pushed really hard to repeat as the champ. Djokovic faces an underrated Jerzy Janowicz in the opening round. Janowicz is currently ranked 228th in the world but only recently returned to the court after an injury layoff (knee) that began after the Australian Open and ended but a month ago. Janowicz has not won a Grand Slam match since winning one round at the 2015 French Open. The 25 year old from Poland is best known for his 2013 run to the semi-finals of Wimbledon. He has never faced Djokovic before.

Djokovic could face Jiri Vessely in the second round, Mikhail Youzhny in the third and then American John Isner in the fourth round. These matches should give Novak some much needed confidence after his opening round loss to Juan Martin Del Potro at the Rio Olympics. An in-form Marin Cilic could be waiting in the quarter-finals.

Cilic just won the first Masters 1000 title of his career in Cincinnati a week ago and opens against Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil. Jack Sock is his likely third round match-up and a struggling Jo-Wilfried Tsonga looms in the fourth round. Cilic, let's not forget, won the Open in 2014 and has already proved he has what it takes to win here.

Second Quarter

Canadian Milos Raonic is seeded fifth in New York but many consider the Wimbledon finalist as the third most likely to win the Open behind Djokovic and Murray. Since falling to Murray on grass, Raonic made the quarter-finals in Toronto and the semi-finals in Cincy. He has a 42-11 record on the year and has John McEnroe back in his squad as he gets ever closer to the first Grand Slam title of his career. Milos opens against Dustin Brown of Germany and then has a favorable draw until a Rogers Cup re-match against Gael Monfils that looms for the round of sixteen. Monfils beat Milos in TO and was on a real hot streak this summer. For his part, Raonic did beat him in a best-of-five hardcourt match at the Aussie Open at the start of the year as well as at Indian Wells a couple of months later.

Rafael Nadal is in this section of the draw but it is hard to know what he will be able to bring to the table if the matches go into a fourth or fifth set. He made an incredible return to tennis at the Olympics where he won gold in doubles and lost the bronze medal singles match to Kei Nishikori. He doesn't sound too optimistic when talking about his current health status and lost last week in Cincinnati in his third round match to Borna Coric by a quick score of 6-1, 6-3.

Third Quarter

The most entertaining quarter of the draw in my opinion is right here with third seed Stan Warinka leading the charge. This is Stan's last chance to win a Slam in three straight years but he'll have his hands full if he is to accomplish that. Wawrinka has gone 5-4 on Tour since his semi-final result at Roland Garros. He opens against veteran Fernando Verdasco who defeated him at Queen's Club in June. He could get youngster Alexander Zverev in the third round and then Nick Kyrgios in the fourth. I think Kyrgios is due for a breakthrough at the Slam level and after putting his you-know-what together in Atlanta earlier this month, he could very well have that moment here in New York.

An admittedly tired Dominic Thiem is in this section as the eighth seed and so is Olympic silver medalist Del Potro. Whoever makes it out of this section is either going to be incredibly tired or on one heck of a roll moving towards the semi-finals.

Fourth Quarter

Andy Murray is the favorite this year at the U.S. Open and I don't think that can really be disputed one bit. In 2016 he can boast of being the runner-up at the Aussie Open, the French Open and the Master events in Madrid and Cincinnati. He was champion in Rome, Queen's Club, Wimbledon and the Rio Olympics. He is looking as good as he could possibly hope in his bid for a second U.S. Open title. Murray opens against Lukas Rosol, could see Gilles Simon in the third round followed by a reinvigorated Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth. Kei Nishikori is in this section and would be the likely quarter-final opponent for Murray here. That would be a repeat of the Olympic semi-finals where Murray routinely won 6-1, 6-4.

Nishikori faces Benjamin Becker in the opening round. It was ten years ago (wow!) since Becker knocked Andre Agassi out of the last tournament of his career at Flushing Meadows. He could see David Goffin in the fourth round. Add Goffin to the next wave of potential Grand Slam champions who are trying to unseat the usual suspects.

Check back with us throughout the next two weeks as we focus on the Grand Slam action in New York. You can also follow us on Twitter for regular updates.

August 28, 2016 in U.S. Open | Permalink | Comments (2)

Olympic Tennis Highlights Day 2

By Mike McIntyre

If tennis fans thought that day one was exciting at the Olympic Tennis event on Saturday, they must have been absolutely blown away by the shocking results from day two on Sunday. Here are some of the key matches - including the stunning upset of a certain Serbian World No. 1.

Juan Martin Del Potro d Novak Djokovic 7-6(4), 7-6(2)

When the singles draw was released everyone in the tennis world locked eyes on the match between the World No. 1 Djokovic and the often injured Del Potro. The pair faced-off in the 2012 London Olympic Games with the Argentinian denying Djokovic a bronze medal. While Djokovic enjoyed an 11-3 head-to-head advantage coming into the match, the pair had not faced each other since 2013. Now ranked a lowly 141st in the ATP World Tour rankings due to ongoing injury struggles, Del Potro should be top 20, likely even top 10 if healthy and playing consistently. This was an epic battle that unfortunately could not be saved for later in the draw. On Sunday, Del Potro's forehand was lethal and he played with the confidence of a champion. His win makes it very difficult to assess where Djokovic's game is at the moment. A third round loss at Wimbledon followed by a tournament victory at the Rogers Cup in Toronto and now an opening round loss at the Olympics provide Novak with a real up and down summer so far. He walked off the court Sunday night with tears flowing freely to indicate just how much the Olympics meant to him. It will be very interesting to see how he bounces back in Cincinnati and at the U.S. Open later this summer. As for Del Potro, it sure looks like a trip to the semi-finals is a realistic prospect with how he just broke the draw wide open.

Thomasz Bellucci and Andre Sa d Andy Murray and Jamie Murray 7-6(6), 7-6(14)

Djokovic's loss clearly makes Andy Murray the favorite to win Olympic Gold in singles and I'm sure the folks at Bet Bind would agree on that one. In doubles however the second seeded Murray brothers surprisingly went out in the first round to Brazilians Bellucci and Sa. While Andy is not a doubles player of the same calibre of Jamie, it is a surprise that he and his brother have struggled so much as partners in the Olympic Games. They lost in the first round in London in 2012 and in the second round in Beijing back in 2008. Andy had not played a doubles match since April and had only teamed up once with his brother in 2016, back in February in Davis Cup play against Japan. The lack of practice together and overall absence of any real doubles preparation made the Murray brothers an overrated second seed in the draw, but a first round exit is clearly a disappointment. Andy is still alive in singles of course and Jamie will undoubtedly get another crack in doubles where I expect he will be playing in the mixed draw.

Rafael Nadal d Federico Delbonis 6-2, 6-1

Back in action for the first time since the French Open in May, Rafael Nadal wasted little time with his thrashing of Federico Delbonis. Having won their two previous career encounters, it was not a surprise that Nadal won. That being said, I'm not sure I expected such a run-away scoreline after two and a half months away from competition. The scary thing is that Nadal admitted after the match that he was still not playing at full capacity. “If there is not Olympic Games I will not be here competing, because the wrist needs a little bit more time to be 100 per cent recovered.” Hopefully he is not doing further damage to it by playing in Rio. Nadal gets Andreas Seppi from Italy in his next match whom he leads 6-1 in previous matches played.

Barbora Strycova and Lucie Safarova d Serena Williams and Venus Williams 6-3, 6-4

In three previous Olympic Games together, the Williams sisters had three gold medals to show for it. They won't be adding to that total in Rio after a straight set loss at the hands of the Czech Republic. Venus had been dealing with a virus that hindered her during her singles loss on Saturday to Kirsten Flipkens and that was no-doubt still holding her back from playing at 100% in doubles with her sister. Only Serena commented to the press after the loss and said, “I wouldn't say it's devastating. We had a chance to compete for our country and we did the best that we can. We had a blast out there. It was a lot of fun and we'll always remember these moments and these matches, and I think that's what matters most. We've had so many Olympic doubles golds, so many grand slam championships. It's been unbelievable." Unbelievable is exactly the word I would use to describe their opening round flop.

Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil d Marcus Daniell and Michael Venus 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(6)

Gotta mention some Canadian content here and that falls on the doubles duo of Nestor and Pospisil who represent Canada's best chance at a medal in Olympic tennis in Rio. The Canucks were surprisingly tested by the duo of Daniell and Venus from New Zealand and pushed to a third set tiebreak to win the match. With the Murray brothers ousted, Nestor and Pospisil have a good draw and an excellent shot at a medal if they play up to their potential together. As we have seen thus far in the doubles draw however, anything can, and will happen here in Rio.

August 8, 2016 in Andy Murray, Juan Martin Del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Vasek Pospisil | Permalink | Comments (0)

Olympic Tennis Highlights Day 1

By Mike McIntyre

It was a crazy day for tennis at the Olympic Games in Rio on Saturday. With the opening ceremonies still fresh in everyone's mind, 62 tennis players saw themselves ousted from competition in either singles or doubles. For some like 36 year old Venus Williams, it was likely her last time competing in singles at the Olympics. For others, like 19 year old Borna Coric, they will likely still have several opportunities to win at the Olympic level. Here are the five matches that for one reason or another, grabbed our attention in the tennis world on the first day of action in Rio.

John Millman d Ricardas Berankis 6-0. 6-0

A much tighter contest would have been expected between the 71st ranked Berankis and the 75th ranked Millman in the first round of play. Instead, the Australian crushed the Olympic dreams of his Lithuanian opponent in a mere 50 minutes. When you only win 11% of points on your second serve, you know you're likely getting beat bad, but a double bagel is a tennis player's worst nightmare. Apparently this was the first time in Olympic tennis competition that such a scoreline has been delivered. You've got to be heartless to not feel any compassion for Berankis and the end result of his first ever Olympic Games.

Saisai Zheng d Aga Radwanska 6-4, 7-5

The fourth seeded Radwanska suffers her second consecutive first round exit from the Olympic Games. In 2012 it was Julia Goerges who beat her 7-5, 6-7, 6-4 in London. This time Radwanska could not even take the match to a deciding set. Radwanska had never before played the 64th ranked Zheng, but the ranking differential was misleading considering some of the Chinese player's results on the WTA Tour this year. Wins over Angelique Kerber, Genie Bouchard and Alize Cornet reveal some serious potential from the 22 year old. Zheng's win really opens up the draw in that section and offers Madison Keys an easier path to the quarterfinals.

Novak Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic d Marin Cilic and Marin Draganja 6-2, 6-2

Perhaps the lopsided loss was because Marin Cilic had already played his singles match earlier in the day, or perhaps it was because he's ranked 197th in the world in doubles and his partner, Draganja, is ranked 136th (unranked in singles). Still the win must have been a welcome relief for Djokovic and Zimonjic who had not won a doubles match together since March of 2015. Djokovic will now be heavily tested in his opening singles match on Sunday where he will face the man who denied him a bronze medal four years ago in London - Juan Martin Del Potro.

Misaki Doi and Eri Hozumi d Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic 6-0, 0-6, 6-4

This match makes our top five not only because the second seeded doubles tandem from France was eliminated, but due to the Twitter rant that Mladenovic went on afterwards. In it, she blamed her loss on the French Tennis Federation for failing to advise her and Garcia that they needed to be dressed in matching attire. Garcia had to wear one of Mladenovic's outfits turned inside-out to hide the Adidas logo as she is sponsored by Nike. Citing the stress of the pre-match ordeal, Mladenovic refused to give her opponents any credit for the way they played. Sounds like a lot of sour grapes from the Frenchwoman and I'll be interested to see if the French Federation has any comment to make in the aftermath of this strange situation.

Kirsten Flipkens d Venus Williams 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5)

With four gold medals in previous Olympic Games (one in singles and three in doubles) Venus Williams has had more than her share of success at the biggest international competition of them all. That success will not be continuing in singles this year as the fifth seeded American fell to the 62nd ranked Flipkens who used a variety of shots and tactics to throw Williams off her game. I watched Flipkens come back from a 0-6 deficit against Venus at the Rogers Cup in Toronto in 2013 to win that match 0-6, 6-4, 6-2 and knew that she had the ability to cause an upset today. Still, she was 1-2 in career head-to-head matches against the much higher ranked Williams and her reaction after the match proved the magnitude of this upset as she had tears of joy in her eyes and knelt down to kiss the Olympic logo on court.

With Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray all making their singles draw debut at the 2016 Olympic Games on Sunday, there will be plenty of excitement coming up on Day 2 in Rio. Stick with us as we examine the action each day and discuss the moments that stand out on (and perhaps off) the tennis court.

August 6, 2016 in Agnieszka Radwanska, Ricardas Berankis, Rio Olympics, Saisai Zheng, Venus Williams | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bryan Brothers the Latest in Tennis to Withdraw from Rio Olympics

By Mike McIntyre

008

There will be new gold medalists in men's Olympic doubles tennis at the upcoming Rio Games. A day after being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Mike and Bob Bryan, the most illustrious doubles tandem of all time, have announced their withdrawal from the Olympic Games.

As several other tennis players have already done, the Bryan brothers have cited health concerns as their primary reason for pulling out of Rio.

In a story broken by The Washington Post on Saturday, Bob Bryan said, “After countless hours of deliberation, Mike and I have decided to forego the Rio Olympics." He added,  "Though we’d love to compete again, as husbands and fathers, our family’s health is now our top priority."

At the age of 38 years old, the Bryan Brothers are currently ranked No. 3 and 4 in the ATP World Tour. They have collected three tournament victories thus far in 2016 but are without a Grand Slam title up to this point of the season.

Already having won everything of consequence in the tennis world, the Bryan's can proudly say they already have an Olympic Bronze medal from Beijing in 2008 as well as the previously mentioned gold medal from the London Games in 2012.

July 30, 2016 in Bob Bryan, Bryan Bros, Bryan Brothers, Mike Bryan | Permalink | Comments (0)

Donaldson Stays Positive Despite Loss to Raonic at the Rogers Cup

By Mike McIntyre

027

It was undeniably a week to remember at the Rogers Cup in Toronto for 19 year old Providence native Jared Donaldson. With many of the top players in the world skipping the event to prepare for the Rio Olympics, Donaldson was one of a handful of players who seized the opportunity to step-up and go deeper in a tournament of this magnitude than they normally might.

Making his way first through the qualifying draw, Donaldson then won two rounds at a Masters level event for the first time in his career. As the next generation of American tennis players attempt to make their mark on tour, it was Donaldson, the second youngest among them in the top 150, who served notice this week that he is ready to achieve more.   

Reality set in however during his Thursday night match on Center Court against heavy favorite and hometown hero Milos Raonic, the tournament’s fourth seed. A player like Raonic was clearly a notch above John Millman, who Donaldson beat in the first round, as well as clay court specialist and notorious headcase Fabio Fognini who he took down in round two.

Donaldson was in trouble from the onset against the Canadian and quickly found himself down 3-0. His first serve in particular failed him early and he was unable to put one into play until his fifteenth service attempt of the match. With a second serve speed averaging a mere 88 miles per hour, there was no way Donaldson would be able to trouble a player of Raonic’s caliber.

Raonic meanwhile was his usual lethal self from the service line and ended the match with fifteen aces to Donaldson’s three. Donaldson never got a look at a break point on the Canadian’s serve and later alluded to the fact that he was out of his element against such a top level opponent. “It was really just a different pace and a different level of tennis that I wasn’t used to,” Donaldson admitted. “His serve compared to mine was just in a different universe pretty much.”

The Canadian was on the offensive the entire match and managed to neutralize Donaldson’s weapons throughout the encounter. Raonic would go on to win the match in routine fashion by a score of 6-2, 6-3.

024

Overall the week was a memorable one for Donaldson that he hopes will continue to help propel his young career in the right direction. Going three rounds in a Masters 1000 event gives him a nice bump of 90 points in the ATP World Tour rankings that should see him move closer to the top 130 in the world from his current spot at 147. That would represent a career-high for the young talent.

Donaldson now has plans for a heavy schedule to take him to the U.S. Open at the end of August including a stop in Atlanta next week followed by the inaugural tournament in Los Cabos and then the Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati if his ranking will allow him into qualifying.

With a renewed confidence from his week here in Canada, Donaldson exuded positivity even after his one-sided loss to Raonic. When asked about his outlook on the remainder of the season he reflected, “I had the biggest win of my career till this point beating Fognini in the second round so I think there are a lot of positives to take away from this week even though tonight didn’t go my way. But you know I’m on to the next tournament and hopefully I can carry on my good performance.”

022

 

July 29, 2016 in Jared Donaldson, Milos Raonic, Rogers Cup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Third Round Action Set for the Rogers Cup in Toronto

By Mike McIntyre

The Rogers Cup nears the halfway mark and despite some high profile withdrawals has enjoyed a successful debut thanks to homegrown Canadian talent making some early noise and from other star players who have performed to their abilities thus far.

On Wednesday the draw was narrowed down to the final 16 players who conquered their opponents under hot and sticky conditions in Toronto. Here's a look at some of the major matches from the day.

 Novak Djokovic played his first singles match since a shocking third round loss at Wimbledon and showed some rust in his return to hardcourts. Always favored in the LeoVegas Tennis odds, the world No. 1 defeated a tough Gilles Muller 7-5, 7-6(3). Djokovic displayed no discomfort with his right arm as he had earlier in the week in practice at the Rogers Cup and is the favorite to come away with the title by the end of the week. He advances to face Radek Stepanek in the evening session Thursday.

001

5th seeded Tomas Berdych fought off upstart 19 year old Borna Coric 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. Berdych has yet to win a title in 2016 and will be on a collision course to meet Djokovic in the quarter-finals in Toronto. First however, Berdych must get past American Ryan Harrison who upset John Isner in three close sets.

006

In the evening matches Canadian Milos Raonic advanced as expected with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Yen-Hsun Lu before his hometown crowd. Milos seems to be playing much more comfortably in front of his partisan fans and admits to working on his on-court demeanor in recent months with coaches Carlos Moya and John McEnroe. Raonic moves on to face American qualifier Jared Donaldson who defeated the ever-elusive Fabio Fognini in the second round.

006

Canada's hopes for a second Canuck joining Milos in the third round fell-through in the final match of the night Wednesday as 17 year old Denis Shapovalov's Cinderella story ended at the hands of former top-ten player Grigor Dimitrov. Despite going up an early break to 3-1 in the opening set, Shapovalov didn't have enough answers for the adaptable game of Dimitrov. He stayed positive throughout the match however and fought hard until the end. Shapovalov certainly has a bright future ahead of him and will not soon be forgotten after his Wimbledon Junior title and upset round one victory over Nick Kyrgios here in Toronto.

005

July 28, 2016 in Denis Shapovalov, Rogers Cup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gear Up For Upcoming Tennis-related Events In And Around Las Vegas

Las Vegas is known for high stakes games. Gambling is the most famous of all and this spirit is captured well by the Royal Vegas casino. There are also a lot of sporting events held here including the biggest boxing matches, mixed martial arts, and even tennis events. People are fascinated by head-to-head competition at all levels. It is always intriguing to see how athletes take the pressure and stare down their opponents. Close matches with long rallies are particularly exciting as anything can happen. If you are looking for an event to attend in the next few months, then here are a few suggestions:

2016 Las Vegas Tennis Open

This is part of the ATP Challenger Tour. The Frank and Vicki Fertitta Tennis Complex will serve as the venue. It is already home to the city's intercollegiate tennis programs. The LVTO is held every year around late October and features some of the biggest names in the sport. Players from all over the world will come to Sin City to test their skills against each other. Locals are sure to be in the mix as well. Last year, the men's finals match was contested by players from the Netherlands and Slovakia. The men's doubles winners were from Australia and Germany. They defeated a pair from South Africa.

Dessert Palm Jr. Summer Smash

If you like to see the up-and-coming players, then head over to the Summer Smash. This is set to run from July 21-24. This tournament welcomes all USTA members with every registered player set for outright selection. Perhaps you have children who might be interested to join in this event. The skill level should be either intermediate or advanced. It is a Level 7 Boys and Girls competition for 10 and under. There are singles and double categories. There are already a lot of applicants and approved competitors for this event which is sure to be a great experience for the players.

10th Annual Darling Tennis Center Santa Claus Classic

The Darling Memorial Tennis Center is the biggest public outdoor facility of this type in Las Vegas. It is part of the Kellogg-Zaher Sports Complex with 23 lighted hard courts and a center stadium with enough seats for 3,000 spectators. It offers programs that aim to develop players from the grassroots level. Every December, there is a Christmas-themed tournament held here on the hard surface. Don't be fooled by the name, though, because the level of competition is high and players take the games seriously. There are single and doubles categories for both genders, as well as a mixed doubles category.

WTT Smash Hits

Sometimes being involved with tennis can be about joining community projects for a great cause. The WTT Smash Hits, for example, is an all star charity event in October at Caesar's Palace. It will be co-hosted by iconic singer Sir Elton John and the legendary tennis star Billie Jean King. This is your chance to see superstars like Andy Roddick, John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova play on a court. Ticket sales and donations will go to the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

July 26, 2016 in Andy Roddick | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rogers Cup Main Draw Announced in Toronto

By Mike McIntyre

The Rogers Cup draw was held Friday afternoon at - of all places - the Rogers Centre in downtown Toronto. World No. 5 Stan Wawrinka was on-hand to help with the ceremony and posed for a few pictures with the Toronto Blue Jays beforehand. While the draw is sparse due to the upcoming Rio Olympics, there are still many quality first round matches for fans to catch. With Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal all missing in action, the opportunity presents itself for fans to expand their knowledge of the next wave of players who will one day dominate the ATP World Tour. Here is a quick look at how the draw looks.

First Quarter

Thanks goodness that World No. 1 Novak Djokovic showed up as the tournament would have been left without one of the "big four" and in serious danger of losing respectability as a Masters 1000 level event. You can't fault tournament director Karl Hale though, as the timing of the tournament always presents challenges in an Olympic year. Despite there being two weeks until the Olympic tennis event begins, many players are not looking for a grueling daily event like the Rogers Cup to drain them ahead of the biggest international sports competition of them all.

Djokovic will get a first round bye and fans will be looking to see how he bounces back from his strange third round Wimbledon loss at the hands of Sam Querrey. Novak will face either the powerful serve Gilles Muller or veteran Dmitry Tursunov in his first match which likely won't come until Tuesday evening or Wednesday daytime at the Aviva Centre. Tomas Berdych, the sixth seed, is also in this quarter of the draw and could face up-and-coming teenage sensation Borna Coric in his first match of the the event. Big serving John Isner is a potential third round match for Berdych and always performs well during the summer hardcourt swing.

Canadian Content: Peter Polansky has played superbly this summer in Futures events and draws a qualifier in his first match.

Second Quarter

Milos Raonic will be basking in the glow of his thrilling run to the finals of Wimbledon from two weeks ago and the hometown crowd will be happy to show their affection for the fourth seed. He, along with the top eight, gets an opening round bye and will see either Yen-Hsun Lu or Alexander Zverev in the second round. At 19, Zverev represents the next wave after the Milos generation and is already ranked 27th in the world. David Goffin is the seventh seed and it would be great for fans to witness a Wimbledon re-match against Milos in the quarter-finals. Their fourth round match at the All-England Club was the first time Raonic had ever come back from two sets down in a best-of-five set match. Gael Monfils also lurks in this section and is a must-see match (in every match) if you're at the event.

Canadian Content: Both Vasek Pospisil (vs Jeremy Chardy) and Frank Dancevic (vs Querrey) are also in this part of the draw. Tough matches for both but certainly not impossible, especially with a pro-Canadian crowd to back them both.

Third Quarter

2014 U.S. Open champ Marin Cilic is the eighth seed and should face Kei Nishikori the third seed if the draw holds true in this section. Cilic recently parted ways with coach and former pro Goran Ivanisevic while Nishikori had to retire at Wimbledon with a painful rib injury that had not properly healed. Big serving Ivo Karlovic and American teenager Taylor Fritz face each other in the opening round. At the Citi Open in Washington this week Karlovic was asked what it feels like at the age of 37 to play against so many teenagers. He replied, "I could be their daddy. And, who knows, maybe I am!" This guy's booming serve is matched only by his over-the-top sense of humour. Grigor Dimitrov is also in this section and unseeded after a fall from the top of the ATP rankings that started about a year ago. Maybe with a somewhat weaker field this will be the perfect event for him to get things going again. He has a 20-15 record so far in 2016.

Canadian Content: Junior Wimbledon winner Denis Shapovalov will make his main draw Rogers Cup debut at the age of 17 against Nick Kyrgios from Australia. The pair will take Centre Court Monday night to kick things off at 7pm ET. Welcome to the big leagues kid.

Fourth Quarter

Stan Wawrinka, the second seed, has yet to win a Grand Slam thus far in 2016 (he won the Aussie Open in 2014 and the French Open in 2015) and will be looking to ramp things up in advance of the U.S. Open later in August. He will face either veteran Russian Mikhail Youzhny who is on the downward slide of his career or Stephan Robert of France in his opening match. Talented young American Jack Sock and the enigmatic Australian Bernard Tomic are also in the last section of the draw and either one is capable of causing problems here. Dominic Thiem who made the semis at Roland Garros is the sixth seed although he has struggled with consistency of late.

Canadian Content: Steven Diez is the third ranked Canadian in the world and plays Great Britain's Kyle Edmund in his opening match.

Check back with us later this weekend once the qualifiers have been placed in the draw. You can Follow Pro Tennis Fan on Twitter as well for pictures, analysis and more throughout the entire event.

July 22, 2016 in Rogers Cup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Murray withdraws from Rogers Cup ahead of Olympics

Wimbledon champion Andy Murray has pulled out of the upcoming Rogers Cup in order to aid his preparations for the Rio Olympics. Having won his third Rogers Cup last year, Murray had been expected to take to the courts in Toronto once again. However, the Brit has instead decided to rest as he aims to successfully defend his singles title from London 2012. Murray’s absence in Canada will be his first since his inaugural appearance back in 2006, and having already missed Great Britain’s recent Davis Cup clash with Serbia, is clearly feeling the effects of a demanding season to date.

Murray was in Belgrade to cheer on his team mates as they successfully saw off the threat of a Serbian side without world number one Novak Djokovic, and with the Olympics and US Open just a matter of weeks away, he faces a rigorous schedule over the coming months. For all the latest on Andy Murray as he steps up preparations for upcoming tournaments, check out bookmakers Coral, who offer the three time Grand Slam champion as the 11/4 second favourite for the US Open in the tennis odds.

A resurgent Djokovic could well stand in Murray’s way in both tournaments, with the Serbian still reeling from his early exit at Wimbledon. In Djokovic’s absence, Murray claimed his second title in South-West London with a straight sets win over Milos Raonic, banishing the memories of two Grand Slam final defeats already in 2016. Despite his third round exit, Djokovic remains the 11/10 favourite with Coral to claim glory at Flushing Meadows in New York.

Despite losing a fifth Australian Open final at the start of 2016, a first appearance in the final at Rolland Garros, as well as a triumphant two weeks at Wimbledon will undoubtedly have Murray in confident mood heading into the latter stages of the tennis season. The fact that the Rio Olympic tennis will be played on a fast hard court will also be music to Murray’s ears, with the 29-year-old having already achieved vast amounts of success on such courts in the past.

July 21, 2016 in Andy Murray | Permalink | Comments (0)

Davis Cup: Can Britain Keep Keeping Up?

 Who could forget the last year’s triumphant Davis Cup? After 79 years of thirst, the Brits finally managed to win this competition in 2015 with Andy Murray leading them to this glorious achievement. Now it’s time to prove it was more than just luck – and more than just the Scotsman – as the team is facing Serbia in the quarter finals of the World group without their best man.

There‘s a whole lot on Murray‘s hands right now – winning Wimbledon was very physically and mentally demanding, and he‘s got the Olympics, the US Open, and other competitions to think of as well. Even though this is a first tie he‘s going to miss in three years, Andy will most probably come out to support his teammates, if only from the side-lines. However, his absence does leave a considerable hole – especially in the singles event.

Now according to the TonyBet bookies, the Brits are still going into this stage as the favourites, with their odds at a win being 11/20 vs the 13/10 that Serbia got. As it is rather apparent from these odds, Novak Djokovic is also sitting this one out, which is a big plus for the British team. Instead of Murray, we will see Kyle Edmund and James Ward playing singles, and the team will be also without Dan Evans who suffered an injury.

It‘s difficult to say whether the team will be able to carry through, as Murray was responsible for 11 out of the 12 total points they managed across the triumphant run a year ago. Meanwhile Serbia is a strong team on its own, and they won the Davis Cup in 2010 and were the runners-up in 2013 – so this will be a good test for the Brits.

If Britain does manage to advance to the semi-finals, it will have been a very strong claim that their team was not, in fact, solely relying on Andy Murray. Will that prove to be true? It’s not like Serbia is an easy opponent, so they will have their work cut out for them – which will make for some excellent tennis.    

July 15, 2016 in Andy Murray, Davis Cup | Permalink | Comments (0)

Round of Sixteen Lives up to the Hype at Wimbledon

By Mike McIntyre

With all men's and women's round of sixteen matches being played on Monday at Wimbledon, there was a whole lot of top-level tennis being played at the All-England Club. Here is a quick recap of what went down on the men's side of things.

Sam Querrey d. Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-4

Sam Querrey is proving that perseverance is key as a tennis professional as he reached his first ever Grand Slam quarterfinal at the age of 28. This is a guy who hadn't even reached the fourth round of a major since the U.S. Open back in 2010. Playing three grass court tune-up events coming into Wimbledon took up quite a bit of time and money for sure, but it has proven to be a grand decision for the veteran American. Knocking off Novak Djokovic has been literally impossible for the past year and yet Querrey did it and then followed that up by maintaining his composure against a much lesser (though talented on grass) opponent in Mahut. The fact that Mahut beat Querrey a couple of weeks ago in the Netherlands grass court event ended up meaning absolutely nothing as it is Querrey who lives to fight another day. Props to Mahut for making the fourth round in singles and still playing in the doubles where he partners with countryman Herbert as the No. 1 seed.

Milos Raonic d. David Goffin 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4

For a guy who has already had a pretty solid career at the age of 25, to call today's win the biggest of his career might be unfair. That being said, to get his first ever come-from-behind win from two sets down is epic for Canadian Milos Raonic. After the second set I thought to myself that this whole McEnroe-Raonic partnership might be a dud. Gotta eat my words on that one! Raonic did exactly what Nick Kyrgios admittedly is unable to do - dig deep and battle his way back into a match that appeared to be lost. Raonic now is the heavy favorite against Sam Querrey in the quarterfinals and looks to reach the semis at Wimbledon for the second time (2014). While Querrey took Milos out at the All-England Club back in 2012 (second round) the two are at very different points of their careers right now. Despite playing giant-killer against Djokovic, I don't see how Querrey is going to get this one if Milos plays his game.

Roger Federer d. Steve Johnson 6-2, 6-3, 7-5

Exactly what everyone expected in this match is what came to fruition. The greatest player to ever play on grass owned the match and is cruising thus far in his favourite tournament of the year. The only problem I see here is that Roger has yet to play a real threat and is going to have much less margin for error in his next match against Marin Cilic.

Marin Cilic d. Kei Nishikori 6-1, 5-1

Can't take much out of this victory unfortunately as Nishikori is a) normally out of his element on grass and b) not playing at 100%. Still dealing with a rib injury, his own box was adamant he withdraw from the match as they saw him struggling. The re-match of the U.S. Open final from 2014 could not live up to the hype. Even if both were healthy, I would have given Cilic a big edge in this one despite being the (slightly) lower ranked player. My darkhorse to win the tournament.

Lucas Pouille d. Bernard Tomic 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 10-8

Tough day for Aussies at Wimbledon with Tomic, Kyrgios and wildcard doubles entry Lleyton Hewitt losing on Monday. Tomic had a good draw to begin with and in my opinion should have made the quarters. Up two sets to one, Tomic could not complete his mission and though he put up a valiant fight, let this one slip away. Nice work for the Frenchman Pouille who had a career record of 2-10 at the Slams coming into this event.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga d. Richard Gasquet 4-2

Should have been a fantastic match but an injured Gasquet was forced to withdraw with a back injury before even completing the opening frame. Tsonga gets some extra rest, which he will need, to face the new tournament favorite Andy Murray.

Andy Murray d. Nick Kyrgios 7-5, 6-1, 6-4

Murray keeps his unbeaten streak alive against a very dangerous young player as he downs the always controversial Krygios in straight sets. I'm starting to come around with the Aussie as I find his brutal honesty quite refreshing. Yup, he played video games the morning of his fourth round match and he admits that he was too soft to compete like a professional after the opening set. The media asks questions and laments all the robotic answers they usually get - and then they complain when a player is honest. Poor guy can't win - on or off the court today.

To be completed Tuesday - Tomas Berdych v Jiri Vesely 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(8), 6-7(9)

The present and future of tennis in the Czech Republic will continue their clash on Tuesday as this match could not continue past the fourth set. Berdych should advance, but he also should have never found himself in this position. Vesely ranked 64th in the world has never been to the fourth round of a major. He has also never beaten Berdych, though the pair have only ever faced each other once before (2015 in Shenzhen). The 2010 finalist is not having the greatest of seasons. A fourth round loss at Wimbledon would seem to continue that trend.   

July 5, 2016 in Wimbledon | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wimbledon Preview 2016

By Mike McIntyre

Get ready for Breakfast at Wimbledon folks! The All-England Club is set to begin play Monday and in the men's draw there will be 125 players vying to win the title for the very first time. Only Roger Federer (7), Novak Djokovic (3) and Andy Murray (1) have emerged as Wimbledon champions in years past. While young players like Dominic Thiem, Milos Raonic, David Goffin and Nick Kyrgios are making big strides on the ATP World Tour, it is still almost a virtual lock that a repeat winner will emerge once again here in 2016. With that being said, let's take a closer look at the draw and the Wimbledon Odds for this year.

First Quarter

If it ain't broken, don't fix it. Such is the mentality of switching from clay to grass for world No. 1 Novak Djokovic who has not played a Wimbledon warm-up event on grass since Queen's Club in 2010. Clearly it has been working for the recent Roland Garros winner who has won the past two Wimbledon's and made the finals in 2013 as well. How will Novak transition to grass this year? His draw is pretty favorable until a potential meet-up with Federer in the semi-finals. Although with Fed being injured for much of the year how can we realistically expect the seven-time champion to endure multiple best-of-five set matches here this year? Djokovic opens with local long-shot James Ward and then plays the winner between Kyle Edmund/Adrian Mannarino. Easy start, let's be honest. Then he could face either Lukas Rosol who took out Rafa Nadal here in 2012 or Sam Querrey the American veteran. Neither  of those players inspires any fear. His first true grass court opponent would be in the round of sixteen should he face the tricky Philipp Kohlscreiber. Still, Novak has beaten the 32 year old German seven times in-a-row including last year at this very event in the first round. A quarter-final encounter with Canadian Milos Raonic would be fun although likely still routine for Novak who has beaten John McEnroe's new charge all seven times they have played and only ever lost one set to the big-serving Raonic. Djokovic has proven to be shaky in at least one match each year at Wimbledon in recent memory. Last year he recovered from being two sets down to Kevin Anderson and in 2014 he needed five sets to defeat Marin Cilic. Will someone be able to offer him that type of resistance this year?

Look for David Goffin to potentially provide some sparks in this section of the draw, although his career record at Wimbledon is a meager 5-4. He's got two potential matches against big-servers with Anderson and Raonic looking likely in the third and fourth rounds but has shown steady improvement over the past year so he could be ready to go deep here on the grass.

Second Quarter

Any other year and it would be a foregone conclusion that we would pick Federer to emerge out of his section of the draw. This year is not like other years however as the world No. 3 has gone 16-6 up to this point of 2016. By his own admission he is looking to turn his season around but without a lot of match play it is tough to bank on him to find his form over the grueling best-of-five set format. He says his body is ready after playing in Halle and Stuttgart but those were best-of-three matches which is an entirely different story. Hopefully Federer is able to play as well as he possibly can given the time off. There can't be too many more Wimbledon's left in him regardless of how he fares this year but his fans are desperately hoping that he can add title No. 8 here before he calls it a career. Federer will have Alexandr Dolgopolov as a potential third round foe and the always tricky Gilles Simon as the highest seed he could face in the fourth. If Marin Cilic is in-form in the quarters I'm not sure if Roger will be able to come out with the victory. A match-up with Djokovic in the semis will be tough to attain.

Kei Nishikori is another face that one would think would be a factor in this section of the draw. The fifth seed however has never gone past the fourth round at the All England Club and after pulling out of Halle a week ago due to a rib injury I wouldn't be betting on him to cause much of a stir in this event.

Third Quarter

This quarter offers up the most intrigue to me as it could very well offer someone new the chance to make the semi-finals at Wimbledon. Number four seed Stan Wawrinka has twice made the quarters at SW19 including a heartbreaking loss 11-9 in the fifth set a year ago to Richard Gasquet. He lost in his opening match at the Aegon Championships to Fernando Verdasco which doesn't exactly give me a ton of confidence about Stan's preparation on grass right now.

While it is true that Tomas Berdych has made the finals of Wimbledon before, the number ten seed has seen his play fall off somewhat this year and I'm not feeling his chances right now. He has yet to make a final in 2016 and that certainly is not going to change here at Wimbledon. Youngster Dominic Thiem meanwhile has breathed new life into things on Tour with his play this season. The 22 year old is 47-12 and won Stuttgart on grass before falling in the semis in Halle. Thiem is my pick to make the semis from this section.

Other names to follow here include another young gun in Alexander Zverev. Anyone who beats Roger Federer on grass is deserving of our respect and a third round match against the Birdman should be a good one. Bernard Tomic is also lurking and has a nice route to the fourth round if he can try to avoid being too much like his usual eccentric self out there.

Fourth Quarter

Andy Murray is the great hope for tennis fans in the UK and will try to reverse his Grand Slam finals fortune now that he is reunited with former coach Ivan Lendl. Lendl, who was never capable of capture Wimbledon during his playing career, guided Murray to his only two Slam titles in 2012 at the U.S. Open and in 2013 at Wimbledon. I expect that the psychological impact of having Lendl back in his corner will be a positive one and that Wimbledon offers Murray the best chance of defeating Djokovic should they meet in the finals. Murray could see Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round and Richard Gasquet in the quarter-finals, neither of whom will offer him an easy match. John Isner and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are also potential threats though to me if it's not Murray then it would have to be Gasquet advancing here.

I should add that there are some crazy-fun matches in this section of the draw including a first round gem between Kyrgios and the entertaining veteran Radek Stepanek. An Isner vs. Marcos Baghdatis opener would also be fun to catch. Oh and Fabio Fognini, not exactly known as a grass court guru, is also thrown in there somewhere for good measure!

Semi-Finals:

Djokovic d. Cilic and Murray d. Thiem

Finals:

Murray d. Djokovic (yeah...I just wrote that!)

June 25, 2016 in Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Wimbledon | Permalink | Comments (0)

Will Roger Federer Win Another Grand Slam?

Roger Federer's withdrawal from the French Open ended an incredible run of playing in 65 consecutive grand slams, with the future of the 34-year-old Swiss now firmly in doubt.

A back complaint has been troubling Federer for a number of years, but he has usually opted to play through the pain - after all most top tennis players are usually carrying some form of injury.

But Federer pulled out, explaining in a Facebook post that it would be an "unnecessary risk" for him to play at Roland Garros, where he has featured every year since 1998 and won in 2009.

After winning 17 Grand Slam singles titles there is no doubt that Federer's reputation as one of the finest players of all time - if not the best of the lot - is already secured.

However, the 27-time Grand Slam finalist turns 35 in August and has to face the fact he is coming towards the end of his career.

His choice now is plain: retire while he is still rightly considered one of the best players in the world; or play on for as long as possible and risk sullying his reputation with increasingly poor performances on the big stage.

Fed's glorious forehand remains a work of art, but his footwork and mobility is beginning to let him down. He was given the runaround in embarrassing fashion by talented compatriot Dominic Thiem in his last game, a round-of-16 defeat at the Rome Masters, although Federer insisted he was using the match to test his fitness.

The statement released by Federer had a bullish tone, but perhaps it was telling that he chose to speak directly to his fans on social media rather than face the media at a press conference.

"This decision was not easy to make but I took it to ensure I could play the remainder of the season and help to extend the rest of my career," Federer wrote.

"I remain as motivated and excited as ever and my plan is to achieve the highest level of fitness before returning to the ATP World Tour for the grass-court season."

Federer has made it clear that his aim is to play on and he will be determined to feature at Wimbledon in June, where he has usually produced the best tennis of his career. He intends to play in a warm-up event in Stuttgart to judge his level of preparation.

A 10-time finalist at SW19, Federer has won Wimbledon seven times, although the last of those titles came four years ago.

All the evidence now seems to suggest Federer's days as a Grand Slam champion are over. He has been beaten in three finals since that last triumph at Wimbledon, all to Novak Djokovic, who has raced past Federer to become the undisputed world number one.

While Djokovic's relentless nature and fearsome will to win marks him out as an all-time great, the artistry Federer possesses means many will be hoping he can roll back the years at Wimbledon.

Federer is best-priced at 7/1 to win Wimbledon this year, but perhaps he can take inspiration from Andy Murray.

The Scottish world number two pulled out of the French Open three years ago due to a back problem and went on to record a famous win at the All England Club.

If Federer were to match Murray's success, it would be one of the great comebacks in the history of the sport - and the Swiss will certainly have the backing of the London crowd behind him.

May 31, 2016 in French Open, Roger Federer | Permalink | Comments (0)

Would French Open Crown Confirm Serena’s Place As The Best Female Star Of The Open Era?

After the disappointment of losing in the final of the year’s first Grand Slam in Australia, US superstar Serena Williams got her French Open title defence off to the perfect start on Tuesday, dropping just two games as she dispatched Magadlena Rybarikova in quick time. And already, the 34-year-old starlet will have her eyes focused on picking up a third title in four years at Roland Garros.

As per Grandslamtournooi.nl, Serena has been considered firm favourite to defend her crown for months. Her positive start, combined with the suspension of nearest rival Maria Sharapova and the early exits of Angelique Kerber, Roberta Vinci and Victoria Azarenka, will only further enhance those feelings that the younger Williams sibling is destined for her fourth career victory in Paris.

A first Grand Slam this year would also see the Michigan-born starlet join Steffi Graf on 22 career titles. Even if she fails at Roland Garros, it seems inevitable that she will overtake the German’s record at some stage while many would back her to even surpass Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24. However, if Serena does register her first Grand Slam of 2016 on June 3rd, it would be hard to argue against her credentials as the greatest woman to ever pick up a racket.

It’s not simply a case of winning titles; it’s the manner in which she has done it. After all, Serena hasn’t had it easy. The overall standard of women’s tennis in the past 15 years has arguably been higher than any other era, and the World No.1 has had to overcome a number of rivalries to reach, and stay at, the pinnacle.

Serena’s first major challenge, around the turn of the century, was to simply prove that she was the best tennis player in her family. Four consecutive Grand Slam final victories over Venus, starting at the French Open of 2002, cemented her place at the top of the family tree. Aside from her older sister, Williams has also faced competition from the likes of Sharapova, Azarenka, Justine Henin and many others. Whilst she has encountered low moments during her her career, it’s now been the best part of 15 years at the top. That would be an incredible feat in any sport, but in tennis, it’s almost unheard of.

Even Graf only enjoyed a decade of dominance, although she did win one more Grand Slam at Roland Garros almost three years after No.21. However, the German failed to reach a single semi-final in that interluding period. Conversely, Serena has reached at least one final in 15 of the last 16 seasons. For longevity alone, especially at a time where the physical and mental demands are greater than ever, the younger Williams sister stands out on her own.

Her success has worked wonders for the game, particularly due to her authoritative power play on the court. Quite simply, Serena has been the figurehead to lead women’s tennis to the highest place it’s ever been.

There is no doubt that Serena will be regarded as one of the sport’s all-time greats. Not least because her 21 victories have been spread out over all four Grand Slam events. If she does pick up the trophy at Roland Garros, it will complete a career haul of at least four titles at each of the big tournaments, a feat that would see her match Graf.

However, given the her style and achievements for women’s tennis as a whole, it would be hard to argue that Serena doesn’t deserve to be placed on a pedestal of her own. Williams is already amongst tennis royalty. Win at Roland Garros, and she’ll have to be considered the queen.

May 25, 2016 in French Open, Serena Williams | Permalink | Comments (2)

Rafael Nadal Sues France’s Former Health & Sports Minister Over Doping Allegations

By Tia Ko

One day after Rafael Nadal claimed his record-tying 49th clay court title in Barcelona, news has come out that world no. 5 is suing former French government minister Roselyne Bachelot, who accused him of doping.

After Maria Sharapova’s high profile confession for testing positive meldonium, Bachelot was quoted saying on French television, “We know that Nadal’s famous seven-month injury was without a doubt due to a positive [drug test]. When you see a tennis player who stops playing for long months, it is because he has tested positive and because they are covering it up. It is not something that always happens, but, yes, it happens more than you think.”

Nadal was quick to respond to the allegation stating last month that, “This is going to be the last one, because I'm going to sue her. I am tired about these things. I let it go a few times in the past. Not any more.” 

“Through this case, I intend not only to defend my integrity and my image as an athlete but also the values I have defended all my career.” Nadal said in a statement this afternoon, “I also wish to avoid any public figure from making insulting or false allegations against an athlete using the media, without any evidence or foundation and to go unpunished.”

If Nadal wins the case, any compensation that he’s rewarded will go to a nongovernmental organization or a foundation in France.

Rafael Nadal's full statement:

I hereby make public the defamation law suit against Mrs. Roselyne Bachelot, that I have filed today April 25th 2016 before the Paris law courts. This legal proceeding was instigated after Miss Bachelot made offensive remarks last March on Le Grand 8, program of French channel D8. The lawyer in charge of the case is Maître Patrick Maisonneuve, lawyer at the Paris bar.

Through this case, I intend not only to defend my integrity and my image as an athlete but also the values I have defended all my career. I also wish to avoid any public figure from making insulting or false allegations against an athlete using the media, without any evidence or foundation and to go unpunished.

Should the tribunal consider there has been a wrong-doing and the sentence recognises the right to damages, any compensation will be paid back in full to an NGO or foundation in France.

On the other hand, I ask for total respect regarding the legal procedure just started and would like to express my complete trust in the French justice system who will be judging the legal case. I will not be making any further statement about the case.

LeoVegas

April 25, 2016 in Rafael Nadal | Permalink | Comments (0)

Can Andy Murray Win Wimbledon This Summer?

This summer, Andy Murray will look to join an elite group of tennis players as he hunts a second Wimbledon crown. The British number one has enjoyed plenty of success in recent times, none more so than during Great Britain’s Davis Cup triumph – which was their first victory for 79 years.

Murray will fancy his chances of Grand Slam success this summer, especially after pushing Novak Djokovic close in the Australian Open back in January. At the time of writing, Murray is 7/2 in Coral’s tennis betting markets and plenty of journalists and pundits will be providing their own Wimbledon tips on Murray’s chances nearer to the event.

After the birth of his first son shortly after the Australian Open, Murray took some time out to remain close with his family in the aftermath. But now, he’s back in business and on the hunt for a third Grand Slam crown. Murray is one of the best British players in recent memory and if there’s anyone who deserves another Grand Slam, it’s him.

Andy_Murray_2010_Forehand_(2)

He’s in good form too. Murray was part of the British side that beat Japan 3-1 in their opening round of the Davis Cup defence back in March and according to Coral’s tips, Andy Murray will be there or thereabouts in all three of the major tournaments in 2016. After all, he is one of the best players on the planet right now.

For Murray to achieve his ultimate goal of victory on home soil, he will have to get past arch enemy Novak Djokovic. On his day, the Serbian is more or less invincible and Murray will find it difficult to beat the world number one, particularly as Djokovic is attempting to surpass Roger Federer’s record of 17 Grand Slam titles.

As of April 15th, Djokovic has 11 but that tally could be 12 by the time Wimbledon comes around. The French Open gets underway next month and the Serbian, who has never won the event, will be desperate to enhance his legacy further with a clay-based Grand Slam title. But to be fair, it could be Murray who emerges victorious in both competitions.

Novak_Đoković_-_Roland-Garros_2013_-_028

Murray was in superb form on the clay court in 2015 and the British number one will look to exploit Djokovic’s weakness on this surface. While Wimbledon remains his number one priority, a French Open title would certainly do Murray no harm ahead of what could be a defining summer for his legacy in the sport.

Two Grand Slam titles in 2016 and Murray would be well on the way to the summit of British tennis. In a difficult era, the Scot has moved with the times and is now potentially the only man to challenge Djokovic on paper. And if Murray can maintain his current form throughout the next few months, he could well claim at least one major title this summer.

April 21, 2016 in Andy Murray, Wimbledon | Permalink | Comments (0)

Miami Rides in on the Coattails of Indian Wells

By Mike McIntyre

After a week of Masters level tennis and controversy in Indian Wells, the tennis world hopes that the focus returns to the court as the Miami Open begins first round play on Wednesday this week.

Seeded first is none other than Novak Djokovic. While Djokovic uncharacteristically made some careless comments about the prize money distribution between the men and the women his on-court performance was its usual flawless self. The only set that he lost was the opener against American qualifier Bjorn Fratangelo and he only improved as the tournament went along. Beating Rafael Nadal 7-6(5), 6-2 in the semifinals and then destroying Milos Raonic 6-2, 6-0 in the finals was an emphatic way to capture his fifth title at the event. Djokovic will begin his Miami experience against the winner between Kyle Edmund of Great Britain and Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic. A fourth round match against up and comer Dominic Thiem could test him followed by a possible encounter with seventh seed Tomas Berdych.

Also in the top half of the draw is a returning Roger Federer, the third seed, who has not played since losing the Aussie Open semifinal to Novak back in January. Sidelines with surgery on his knee, it will be interesting to see how a rusty Federer performs. Roger probably wasn't thrilled to see that he will likely open his tournament against Juan Martin Del Potro who plays the little known Guido Pella in the first round. While Del Potro has missed a ton of tennis these past few years, he has looked formidable acquiring a 4-2 record thus far in his comeback attempt. I'd put this one at 50/50 for Fed but he can't be too frustrated if it takes a little time to get back up to speed.

Also in Federer's section of the draw is Belgium's David Goffin who just made his first career Masters semifinal in Indian Wells. It is pretty cool to see the future of men's tennis starting to take shape with the successes of players like Goffin. The "big four" are not going to be at the top for an indefinite period of time and it will soon be time for the next generation to seize the moment.

Another David, Ferrer in this case, is the eight seed and also lurks in this section. Gilles Simon, who has come the closest to toppling Djokovic in 2016, (in a full match without retirement) and Marin Cilic are also among this grouping of talented players.

The bottom half is led by Andy Murray the second seed. Murray remarkably was taken out in Indian Wells by Federico Delbonis who is more known for his clay court prowess. Chalk it up to adjusting to the lack of sleep that parenthood brings with it perhaps? Murray made the finals of the Aussie Open and then took a month off to spend with his newest family member. He went undefeated in a Davis Cup tie against Japan and is now playing his next tourney after IW. Murray has a tricky draw where he will first face either the crafty Denis Istomin or the rising Borna Coric. In the third round he could face a struggling Grigor Dimitrov who you know is just waiting to turn his season around, followed potentially by the entertaining Gael Monfils in the fourth round. This is going to be a tough event for Murray and he will have to raise his game to it's highest level to make it deep in the draw here in Miami. The sixth seeded Kei Nishikori could be his quarter-final opponent and would certainly be looking to avenge his recent five set Davis Cup defeat.

The final quarter to examine has Rafael Nadal as the fifth seed and facing either Leonardo Mayer or Damir Dzumhur in his first match. An enticing third round match here has Jack Sock and Milos Raonic lined up to face one another. That is if Raonic is healthy after sustaining a leg injury in this final loss at Indian Wells against Djokovic. Raonic has been having a fantastic season so far and has been hailed by Sports Illustrated's respected Jon Wertheim as playing the "second best tennis of anyone in the world." A Raonic/Nadal fourth round match would be a juicy one for sure. Fireworks could also occur in this section of the draw if Nick Kyrgios and Stan Wawrinka make it to the fourth round where they would play one another.

Tough to imagine anyone going against Djokovic in any event he enters this year. The folks at William Hill would no doubt put the odds in his favour. The world No. 1 sits at 22-1 so far this season with only a retirement against Feliciano Lopez causing a minute blemish on his record. Look for David Goffin to continue his recent ascension with a strong tournament in Miami as well or potentially the vet David Ferrer advancing to the semis against Novak in the top half of the draw. In the bottom I would lean towards Wawrinka to make a splash and Jo-Wilfrid Tsonga as well who is in the same section as Murray.

William Hill

March 22, 2016 in Miami Open, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal | Permalink | Comments (0)