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SERENAWILLIAMS An Epic Odyssey

Create your ten n is journey

ANDY MURRAY “My best

OFF THE BEATEN TRACK The lowerlevel tours

is ahead”

ROGER &RAFA What’s next? TEAM SPIRIT Olympics watch

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contents AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2016 VOL.41 NO.9

26

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS Showcasing professionalism and resilience as he surged to a second Wimbledon title, Andy Murray also showed how his business-like best could become even better.

FEATURES 20 SW22

72 BARTY 2.0

38 GOLDEN DREAMS

74 A CRITICAL JUNCTURE

With her 22nd Grand Slam title at last secured, Serena Williams strengthened her place among the all-time greats. The opportunity to participate only once every four years makes the Olympic tennis event a golden highlight of many players' careers.

46 TALES FROM THE TOUR

Aisle or window? Movie or sleep? Early or just on time? The travel habits of players reveal some fascinating quirks.

50 WELL TRAVELLED

How well travelled is a tennis star? An analysis of the hours spent and many nations visited in a year on tour.

52 OFF THE BEATEN TRACK

Taking in more than 150 tournaments across over 30 nations, the ATP Challenger Tour is where many players make the most important journeys in their careers.

Mentally refreshed and physically stronger, Ash Barty has made a quick impact on her return. Jordan Thompson relied on a renewed focus and sheer hard work to achieve a critical top-100 breakthrough.

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SCHEDULE MANAGEMENT

Living out of a suitcase is not as easy as you’d expect. Pro players rely on some fine-tuned techniques to manage their nomadic lives. AUSTRALIAN TENNIS MAGAZINE

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AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2016 VOL.41 NO.9

34

WHAT NEXT FOR ROGER AND RAFA? WIth Roger Federer calling time on the 2016 season and Rafael Nadal also absent from recent events, the much-loved champions are facing a confronting new reality around their respective futures in the game.

REGULARS 10 12 16 18 58 60 61 63 71 77 80 82

FAN ZONE BREAKPOINTS ONES TO WATCH 20 QUESTIONS FROM THE COACH FITNESS NUTRITION INJURY WATCH AUSSIES IN FOCUS SCOREBOARD RANKINGS LAST WORD

64

THE FEMALE FOCUS Australian Fed Cup coach Nicole Pratt explains some finer points of guiding female players. 8

AUSTRALIAN TENNIS MAGAZINE

EDITOR Vivienne Christie ASSISTANT EDITORS Leigh Rogers Daniela Toleski FOUNDING EDITOR Alan Trengove GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Andrea Williamson Dominica Glass

ADVERTISING MANAGER Nicole Hearnden ADMINISTRATION & SUBSCRIPTIONS MANAGER Camille Green PHOTOGRAPHS Getty Images, John Anthony COVER PHOTO Getty Images COVER DESIGN & PHOTO EDITING Andrew Hutchison, Rebekka Johnson

Australian Tennis Magazine is published by TENNIS AUSTRALIA LTD, Private Bag 6060, Richmond, Vic 3121. Ph: (03) 9914 4200 Email: editor@tennismag.com.au Distributed by Network Distribution Company Printed in Australia by Webstar The views expressed in Australian Tennis Magazine are not necessarily those held by Tennis Australia. While the utmost care is taken in compiling the information contained in this publication, Tennis Australia is not responsible for any loss or injury occurring as a result of any omissions in either the editorial or advertising appearing herein.


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ANDY MURRA Y “My best

Create yyour tennis is journey

is ahead”

OFF THE BEATEN TRACK The lower-

ROGER &RAF A What’s next? TEAM SPIRIT Olympics

level tours

watch

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THE TOUR / TENNIS TRIPPING

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1 26/07/2016 5:23 pm


FIRST SERVE

CELEBRATING CHAMPIONS underestimated. “One thing I learned about last year is to enjoy the moment,” said Serena, who’d fi nally drawn level with Steffi Graf’s tally. “I'm defi nitely going to enjoy this.” So too was Andy Murray, who required even more persistence to add to his Slam collection. With only two wins in the Scot’s 10 fi nals until then, a second Wimbledon title came three years after his fi rst. “Last time it was just pure relief, and I didn't really enjoy the moment as much, whereas I'm going to make sure I enjoy this one more than the others,” said Murray. “I feel happier this time. I feel, yeah, more content.” To do it once, as Murray added, was remarkable enough: "I’m just really proud that I managed to do it again after a lot of tough losses in the latter stages of the Slams.” It was an important point from the re-crowned champion: while it’s the wins that are celebrated, it’s the losses that show how such victories are not to be taken for granted. Djokovic, among others, would no doubt agree.

JOHN ANTHONY / ISPA

L

ong before a champion is the American his due?), there was crowned, there are literally another pertinent question: dozens of match wins Have we come to take the success celebrated at a Grand Slam of our superstars for granted? singles event. Some of It’s an easy thing to do in an era those wins occur routinely shaped by such record-breaking and others inspirationally – but all champions. With winning streaks them will progressively impact on a extending for Slams at a time, player’s career. astonishing milestones are created. Often, though, it’s the losses that But to simply assume that stars are a bigger talking point. will add to their impressive Novak Djokovic’s third numbers is also an unfair round Wimbledon – and often crippling – exit to the relatively expectation. HAVE WE COME unheralded Sam We learned as TO TAKE OUR Querrey was a much when Serena prominent example. Williams was SUPERSTARS A three-time dramatically stopped FOR GRANTED? champion at the All in her quest for a England Club, and the calendar-year Grand holder of all four Grand Slam and recordSlams titles – Djokovic equalling 22nd major at having historically completed his the 2015 US Open. A further collection at the recent French reminder of the hard work, good Open – few of us imagined that the fortune and sheer guile it takes to world No.1 could lose to an opponent add to a major record came as she ranked No.41. finished runner-up in the recent As we paused to consider what Australian and French Opens. went wrong for the Serb in that And thus, while Serena’s seventh rain-soaked fi rst week of the 2016 title at Wimbledon was arguably Championships (an injury? Personal an expected course, it was also stresses? Were we simply not giving an accomplishment not to be

Vivienne Christie editor@tennismag.com.au

WHAT TO WATCH …

SERENA’S SLAMS

NOVAK’S RESPONSE

NEXT GEN MEN

MORE MILESTONES

With her 22nd major now secure, will Serena secure a new Slam record at the US Open?

How the Serb responds to his Wimbledon shock could be the true measure of his champion qualities.

The breakout star at Wimbledon, will Milos Raonic become the first Next Gen man to win a major?

In a bumper year, players can add more major milestones at the Olympics and US Open. AUSTRALIAN TENNIS MAGAZINE

9


WIMBLEDON

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AUSTRALIAN TENNIS MAGAZINE


Time and time again in her storied career, Serena Williams has appeared down and out only to prove doubters wrong. But in ending a year-long Grand Slam title drought at Wimbledon, this victory took on a greater significance – it cemented her as perhaps the best we’ve ever seen. MATT TROLLOPE reports.

T

here was arguably more riding on the Wimbledon women’s fi nal for Serena Williams than perhaps any other match of her career. Some may scoff at that – each and every match she played at last year’s US Open, her shot at an incredibly rare calendar Grand Slam, had history on the line. Yet nobody doubted for a second, even after her stunning semifinal loss to the unheralded Roberta Vinci, that Serena was still the indomitable world No.1 with a claim to “greatest of all time” status. But a loss to Angelique Kerber in the fi nal at the All England Club would have been a major dent in her largely unscathed armour, for it would have continued a worrying trend. Serena’s capitulation to Vinci in New York was perhaps the fi rst instance in her career that the magnitude of a moment could overwhelm even the sport’s most mentally-tough champion. A loss to Kerber in January in the Australian Open fi nal was also uncharacteristic, as was her defeat to Garbine Muguruza in the Roland Garros fi nal, the fi rst

time she’d ever lost consecutive major fi nals. Had Kerber beaten her at Wimbledon, it would have been the first time ever that a player – excluding Serena’s sister Venus – had overcome the youngest Williams twice in a Grand Slam decider. And it would have handed Serena the inglorious distinction of being a slamless No.1 – she would have retained the top ranking without holding a major title in the preceding 12 months. As for losing the fi rst three major fi nals of the year? It was something Serena could not accept. “I think for anyone else in this whole planet, it would be a wonderful accomplishment. For me, it's not enough. But I think that's what makes me different,” she explained. “That's what makes me Serena.” Journalists have for years now been writing “is Serena finished?” pieces. They began as early as 2004, when injuries contributed to a Grand Slam drought of 18 months. She bounced back to win Australian Open 2005. Ditto the ensuing two years, when injuries and depression limited her schedule and denied her further success. But she returned to win Australian Open 2007

as the world No.81. Then she suffered serious health troubles in early 2011, struck down by blood clots in her lungs and a haematoma. She came back to win Wimbledon 2012. In 2016, similar narratives were emerging. Was Serena, now 34, fi nally feeling the effects of her relatively advanced age? Was a new generation of hungry, talented stars ready to cast her aside? The answer was a resounding “no”. Shrugging off the patchy form that had characterised her season as well as the nerves that had recently beset her in big matches, Serena defeated Kerber in a high-quality fi nal, sealing a 7-5 6-3 victory with a volley into the open court and collapsing onto her back in celebration. This Wimbledon title delivered her an incredible 22nd major singles title, drawing her level with Open-era leader Steffi Graf. Title number seven at the All England Club put her on equal terms with the legendary Graf, Roger Federer and Pete Sampras, two shy of Martina Navratilova’s all-time record of nine singles trophies. The context surrounding the fi nal, as well as the milestones she achieved in winning it,

made Serena’s largely nerveless performance all the more special. By no means did Kerber hand her victory – the two women produced an enthralling display of all-court tennis, highlighted by athletic, intense rallies, that drew praise from media and fans. Serena and Kerber were inseparable for much of the match. The German scored her one and only break point in the seventh game; tellingly, Serena erased it with a 188 km/h ace and followed it up with a 200 km/h thunderbolt. In the eighth game, a couple of sloppy errors from Kerber were all Serena needed to break for a 5-3 lead. A contest that had been so tight all day was suddenly over in a blink – with more stellar serving, the world No.1 closed out the final game to love. “More than anything I think it was a really good and exciting win for me today. I have definitely had some sleepless nights, if I’m just honest, with a lot of stuff (about achieving history). Coming so close. Feeling it, not being able to quite get there. My goal is to win always at least a Slam a year. It was getting down to the pressure,” Serena said. AUSTRALIAN TENNIS MAGAZINE

21


WIMBLEDON

TAKING CARE OF

BUSINESS F

Showcasing unwavering professionalism and remarkable persistence as he surged to a second title at Wimbledon, the deserving Andy Murray also showed that his business-like best could become even better … By VIVIENNE CHRISTIE

rom his painstaking preparation to his intense on-court demeanor and careful post-match recovery, tennis is never less than a business to Andy Murray. And understandably so. For it’s serious business being a pro player in the unparalleled era that the Scot had the unfortunate timing to enter. The clear No.4 among the renowned “Big Four” and later dwarfed by Novak Djokovic at world No.1, there was also a sense of unfi nished business as Murray entered The Championships for the 11th time. The 29-year-old had two Grand Slam titles but had contested 10 fi nals. With a pair of those second-place fi nishes coming at the past two major events, success was long overdue. Murray’s last milestone victory had occurred at Wimbledon three years earlier, when he memorably became the first local man to win at the All England Club in 77 years. Much had changed in his life since then – after marriage to Kim Sears, he’d become a father to baby daughter Sophia – but the intense desire to lift the Challenge Cup remained the same. 26

AUSTRALIAN TENNIS MAGAZINE

And so did the businesslike way in which the everprofessional Murray set about achieving his goal. Following a much-publicised split with coach Amelie Mauresmo in May, there’d been the reappointment of Ivan Lendl to that high-profi le role. Repeating the pattern he’d achieved in 2013, it was a move that helped him claim a lead-in title at Queen’s. While that record-making victory – Murray became the

first five-time champion in the 126-year history of the prestigious event – required a series of three-set wins, the No.2 seed’s All England Club progression seemed a contrastingly simple affair. Through four rounds, the Scot was near flawless, wins against Kyle Edmund, Yen-Hsun Lu, John Millman and Nick Kyrgios occurring without the loss of a set. A scare came in the quarterfinal as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga staged a five-set challenge, but surviving it simply provided a boost: a semifinal win against the dangerous Tomas Berdych also occurred in straight sets. While an 11th Grand Slam fi nal was a familiar setting for Murray it came with an important difference too. On every other occasion he’d faced Djokovic or Roger Federer for major title honours; this time he met Milos Raonic, a debutant. That fi rst meant another, with Murray at last entering a fi nal as favourite. Clearly there was pressure, but the strategic Scot might have played the smartest match of his career. Withstanding the potentially crippling expectation, Murray also withstood the thunderous weapons that had powered Raonic into the fi rst major fi nal. Neutralising the Canadian’s

big serve was a fi rst priority. Milos fi red one 236 km/h missile – the fastest of the 2016 event – but Murray returned it and limited Raonic to a comparatively meagre eight aces, 12 less than his match-average until then. Tellingly, Murray undermined Raonic’s attacking style in the most emphatic way. Under the guidance of specially appointed super coach, John McEnroe, the Canadian had notably employed successful old-school net play in his best career run; against Murray he managed only a 62 per cent success rate at the net. More damaging still were the errors that occurred there at some of the most important stages of the match. With only a single break of serve – Murray securing it in the 42-minute first set – the tiebreaks were most revealing of all. The Scot raced to a 6-1 lead in the second set tiebreak, barely wavering as he secured it 7-3. The absence of nerves was even more pronounced as Murray allowed Raonic just two points in the third set tiebreak to secure the final 6-4 7-6(3) 7-6(2) in two hours and 48 minutes. “This is the most important tournament for me every year,” he told Sue Barker during the trophy presentation. “I've had some great moments here and also some tough losses. The wins


AUSTRALIAN TENNIS MAGAZINE

27


FEATURE

TALES FROM THE TOUR Aisle or window? Movie or sleep? Arrive just on time or hours early? We all travel now and then, but the best players in the world do it for a living. And their travel tales reveal some fascinating quirks. By NICK McCARVEL

N

ick Kyrgios doesn’t like to travel. Yes, he does so around the world, week in and week out for his job as a professional tennis player, but that doesn’t mean it has to be his favourite thing. “I’ve been told, ‘How are you going to be a tennis player if you don’t like traveling?’” Kyrgios said recently, smiling. “So for me, I try to bring my family when I can. Having the people

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AUSTRALIAN TENNIS MAGAZINE

that are important to me around me when I travel, that helps a lot.” The best tennis players in the world spend most of their lives packing and unpacking suitcases. From Australia to the United States, to Europe and Asia, the tours and Grand Slams pull them from one tip of the globe to the other, year after year after year. With all of that travel means the development of quirks, habits and must-haves on the road, the sort of survival mechanisms that keep life


Australian Tennis Magazine - August/September 2016  

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