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A TOP TIER TAKEOVER
NOVEMBER 2012 VOL 37 No. 11
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Novak Djokovic: Top priorities If Novak Djokovic’s Grand Slam tally has steadied, his trademark ambition has not – and his No. 1 priority is reclaiming top spot.
What’s next for Wozniacki? Ranked No. 1 a year ago, Caroline Wozniacki now sits outside the world’s top 10. Does the Dane have the determination to return to the top?
Juan Monaco’s hard work wins matches but it was early struggles that shaped his competitive spirit.
Player Pay Rise Australian Open competitors will become the best-paid players in tennis history, after organisers announced a record $AUD 30 million prize pool.
The Hunger Games
Bernard Tomic: Turning points After some tough lessons in 2012, BernardTomic will welcome a fresh start in the season ahead.
Postcards from the tour Sporting careers are often described as a “journey”; for international umpire John Blom that’s literally true.
Leaps and Bounds Known for his sudden successes and effervescent celebrations, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is working hard for a top tier breakthrough.
AustrAliAn tennis MAgAzine | November 2012
NOVEMBER 2012 REGULARS 7
Aces & Places
FROM THE EDITOR
nd Slam nothing new to 17-time Gra tandout achievements are ply needs to – at times it seems he sim champion Roger Federer one stunning new records in a career of take to the court to am ass r. achievement after anothe gazine went to print, ticularly special. As this ma par His longevity, though, is an achievement no 300th week as world No. 1, Federer had just entered his in the near future. tched or is likely to match other man has previously ma r has had on other bers is the impact Federe num ring gge sta the ond Bey rd while striving to as the y attain a new standa pla yers of his generation emulate his achievements. ma jor opportunities pite being denied several Andy Murra y says that des era. Novak Djokovic’s nt to compete in any other by Federer, he wouldn’t wa a stellar late-season king in 2012 has resulted in ran top the laim rec to st que Shanghai Masters, titles in Beijing and at the run, including consecutive Murra y. points in the final against where he saved five match become a sport ally n’s tennis has practic Targeting the top tier of me top four is a admits that infiltrating the in itself; Jo-Wilfried Tsonga season 2013. s bigger achievements in motivating factor as he eye gs fluctuations but kin ped by contrasting ran The women’s game is sha t’s been par ticularl y succes s phenomenon. Tha a similar succes s-breedsally-competitive d Victoria Azarenka and equ true in 2012 as the spirite t hard for suprem acy. Serena Williams each figh ys. As President hile, is also felt in other wa Federer’s infl uence, me anw pla yer prize money s been a leading voice in he’ il, unc Co yer Pla ATP of the as Tennis Australia attracted much attention discus sions – a topic that tralian Open 2013. 30 million prize pool for Aus announced a record $AUD ble career option in making tennis a more via It’s a significant first step med at many levels. yers and thus warmly welco for a bro ader base of pla s can make their erer, but other competitor Fed be can yer pla ry eve Not own impact.
VIVIENNE CHRISTIE, Editor
EDITOR CONSULTING EDITOR ASSISTANT EDITOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER ADVERTISING MANAGER ADMINISTRATION & SUBSCRIPTIONS MANAGER PHOTOGRAPHS COVER PHOTO
Vivienne Christie Alan Trengove Daniela Toleski Andrea Williamson Breanna Kray Daniel Heathcote Getty Images, John Anthony (All photographs by Getty Images unless specified) Getty Images
Australian Tennis Magazine is published monthly by TENNIS AUSTRALIA LTD, Private Bag 6060, Richmond, Vic 3121. Ph: (03) 9914 4200 Email: email@example.com 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.
AustrAliAn tennis MAgAzine | October 2012
tennis talk CREDIT AT THE TOP
“I think I can speak for all the players when I say that we’ll be in Melbourne in January with smiles on our faces.” – ATP Players Council Vice-President Eric Butorac welcomes the Australian Open’s move to increase player prize money. “Not losing her cool and going crazy and getting thrown out: I think it was more important than winning because how many times has it happened here? It’s much more important that she has a stable mind.” – Oracene Williams, mother and coach of Serena, tells Sports Illustrated that the significance of her daughter’s recent US Open success extended beyond the actual victory. “Britain has been breaking quite a few records recently so I’m happy I could break another one. I’m proud to do this for my country.” – Heather Watson after claiming her first career title in Osaka, becoming the first British woman in 24 years to achieve that feat. “I’m partying tonight … I’d thought the Gods were against me at this event in the past. To win the title is amazing. I’m overwhelmed.” – Kei Nishikori, who received a year’s worth of Corona beer as part of his prize in becoming the first man from his country to claim the Japan Open. “Age is nothing. Right now I am feeling healthy. I can still run on the court. I’m still top in the world. Why I should stop? I should continue my dream and just keep going.” – The 30-year-old Li Na, who qualified for the prestigious season-ending WTA Championships for a second consecutive year, insists age is no barrier to ongoing success. “I was hoping to regain the No. 1 spot in 2012. Now, I’m happy to return at the Australian Open and be 100 percent competitive.” – Rafael Nadal re-assesses career priorities as he continues recovery from a serious knee injury, but insists he’ll start next season in Australia. 12
AustrAliAn tennis MAgAzine | October 2012
While Caroline Wozniacki attracted intense scrutiny for holding the world No. 1 ranking without a Grand Slam title, Victoria Azarenka’s long stint at the top – which started with her victory at Australian Open 2012 – seems to be passing without significant notice. After pushing Serena Williams in the US Open final the Belarusian added to her record in Beijing and Linz, winning every match she contested without dropping a set. It’s true that Azarenka is yet to add to the major she collected in Australia but considering her rapidly-rising standard that’s a situation that should change in the near future. Observers are quick to criticise those they consider undeserving; they should be equally speedy in giving credit where credit is due. SANDRA CHIQUE, via email
PRIZE POINT Congratulations to Australian Open organisers in averting a potential crisis with a boost to player prize money. As we wait to see how that increased remuneration will be allocated we can only hope other events will also find a way to make professional tennis more sustainable to more players. We all love our Rogers, Rafas, Serenas and the like but behind those big name players are another group who provide an important foundation to the sport. C. LUCASSE, Bentleigh, Vic.
SUCCESS IN ANY LANGUAGE October’s Australian Tennis Magazine was another interesting edition that was read from the first sentence to the last full stop. The stand out highlights for me included the resilience and inspiration of the “grand oldies” as typified by “grand dame” Serena Williams, and “grand master” Roger Federer. What else can you say about these two amazing athletes who continue to defy the record books and the pundits? Tennis is the richer for the gravitas that they bring to the sports. Andy Murray’s achievements were also scintillatingly sweet. The monkey on his back has finally taken a hike! At the same time, the cluster of countries now enjoying a renaissance in tennis – the UK, Italy, Czech Republic and France to mention but a few – is extremely encouraging The spread of tennis has never been better and hopefully can continue to widen and open up new avenues and reveal new talents. Who knows where the next Federer or Serena will come from; Liechtenstein or dare I dream, Sao Tome and Principe (yep it is a country!). DEBORAH SAMBO, via email
CONGRATULATIONS: To recent winners of Australian Tennis Magazine competitions: Wilson K Surge racquet: Mia Savio, South Yarra, Vic.; Aveda sun care giveaway: Rhonda Elizabeth Knight, Toowoomba, Qld; Fila Skele-toes: Kylie Martin, Bunbury, WA; Mary Hill, Sunbury, Vic.; Sharon Burden, Cobargo, NSW; Josh Goodsall, Rockyview, Qld; Anita Alderson, Balnarring, Vic.
“I never thought of something like this when I was a little kid, that’s for sure. I was just hoping one day my dream was going to come true to play on the regular tour, play Wimbledon, maybe become world No. 1 at some stage. So here I am at 300 weeks. It’s pretty incredible. Probably one of my biggest accomplishments.” – Roger Federer, on becoming the first player to be ranked world No. 1 for 300 weeks.
The winner of the Roger that? caption competition is: Lleyton Hewitt: “Hey Roger, how many Grand Slams is that now?” Roger Federer: “I’ve lost count!” BELLA NICHOLLS, BOx HILL, VIC.
What’s next for
Ranked No. 1 as recently as 10 months ago, Caroline Wozniacki now finds herself languishing outside the world’s top 10. But if there are challenges in her professional life, her personal one has never been better. MATT TROLLOPE considers whether the Dane has the drive to return to the top.
hen Caroline Wozniacki limped to a 6-2, 6-2 first round defeat at the US Open to little-known Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu, she maintained a positive outlook despite her worst ever showing in New York. “The year’s not done yet. Definitely the Grand Slams this year haven’t been great. After the year’s finished you can evaluate, you can see what was good and wasn’t so good, work from there. I still have plenty of years in me. Hopefully I can just turn it around and play even better,” she said. Granted, Wozniacki was hampered by a knee injury she sustained in New Haven the week prior, and required heavy strapping during the loss. With her signature court movement limited, it was always going to be a tough assignment. But that only masks the alarming slide in both Wozniacki’s results and her position in the game during 2012. The Dane entered the Australian Open in January as the world No. 1, yet a straightsets quarter-final defeat to Kim Clijsters saw her surrender the top ranking – following 11 straight months at the
Despite a 67-week stint at world No.1, Caroline Wozniacki faltered against other top five opponents.
summit – to eventual champion Victoria Azarenka. After winning six titles in 2011, she had reached just one tournament final, in Copenhagen, before breaking a 13-month title drought with victory in a minor event in Seoul in late September. Wozniacki’s Grand Slam performances went decidedly south after Australia – a third round defeat at Roland Garros was followed by a first round exit to unseeded Tamira Paszek at Wimbledon, a contest in which she held match points. Her opening round loss at Flushing Meadows saw her drop outside the top 10 for the first time since May 2009. Reflecting on the Clijsters match in Melbourne, in which the Belgian frequently wrong-footed her and beat her with greater heft of shot, Wozniacki said she would take some lessons away from the result. “You can learn a lot from Kim, and Serena as well. They have done a lot for their careers, and they have played tennis on a high level. And Kim, you know, taking the ball early, putting the pressure on you from the beginning … You can definitely learn something from them,” she said. The trouble is, it does not appear that she has changed her game plan. Her 18
AustrAliAn tennis MAgAzine | November 2012
game – built around great conditioning, safe, consistent ground strokes and retrieving everything until her opponent misses – remains much the same as it did when she first emerged on tour. In her last truly impressive victory, against Serena Williams in the Miami quarter-finals in March, Wozniacki did appear to have some extra pop on her serve, and went after her backhand a little more than usual. But her forehand continued to lack penetration and frequently fell short in the court – she was fortunate that the American had an off night. When they played again at the
What would she be working on at the tournament, with the US Open looming? “We’ll see, I’m just going to take one match at a time first of all, and see what happens and see how I feel.” What did she learn from her third round loss in Cincinnati to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova? “You can always take a few things out of the match, but most of all just keep working on the things you do, and keep practising, and that’s basically it.” Did she draw some much-needed confidence from her semi-final finish in Montreal?
“I always look at it in a positive way – there are so many people in the world who are in a much worse position.” London Olympics in the midst of Serena’s sizzling summer, those balls were being dealt with firmly. Williams won 6-0, 6-3. It’s not exactly clear what the Dane is doing to shore up these weaknesses in her game, or arrest the slide. Speaking at the WTA All Access Hour at New Haven, the following exchanges took place.
“Well to be honest I feel like I’ve been playing some good tennis for a while. It’s another good result and another nice tournament, just think you take one match at a time, and you just play.” Is her fall in the rankings perhaps a result of the improved standard of the WTA Tour in 2012?
“I think the level has always been high … I don’t think it has changed from last year to this year.” Such opaque responses suggest an inability – or unwillingness – to ascertain exactly the reason for her nosedive in the rankings, and do something about it. They’re similar to answers she delivered after the Clijsters loss in January, which prompted Peter Bodo to write on tennis. com: “The most Wozniacki can muster in hindsight is the verbal equivalent of a big, fat shrug, and ending with the conspicuous absence of a promise to do better. Her thoughts also reflect what is by now looking like an almost pathological desire to deflect and deny the existence of anything like pressure … If you really want to win majors and be No. 1, you’ve got to embrace and address that pressure.” The flipside to all of this is that Wozniacki may not be enduring a worrying slump, but rather settling into a more appropriate position in the rankings. Her 67 weeks at No. 1 were legitimately achieved – she accrued more points than her rivals and generally beat whoever she faced. She averaged more than 60 wins and claimed six titles during both 2010 and 2011, more than any player. Yet most were unconvinced of her No. 1 credentials due to the nature of those titles and opponents defeated. Across those two years she played just six matches against top five opponents (going a lukewarm 3-3) and failed to reach a Grand Slam final, let alone win the title. Some of her more demoralising defeats – against Petra Kvitova at Wimbledon 2010, and Serena at US Open 2011 – came during the events at which, ideally, she should have peaked. Contrary to her belief, the playing standard of those A 19th career title in Seoul now above broke a 13-month Wozniacki title drought.
has rarely been better. Serena, Azarenka and Maria Sharapova are enjoying career-best form, mentally and physically stronger than ever. Kvitova, Li Na and Sam Stosur remain powerful top 10 threats with Grand Slam titles under their belt, and Agnieszka Radwanska, Angelique Kerber and Sara Errani have enjoyed remarkable improvement. World No. 11 may be where the Dane truly belongs.
“whatever happens, happens” approach in New Haven, the Dane did discuss her intense competitiveness, which even extends to card and board games. “I hate losing. I can be so upset if I lose,” she revealed. Her results have improved post-US Open. Wozniacki followed that defeat with the aforementioned Seoul title plus a solid showing in Tokyo, which included a defeat of Li – her first in four meetings with the
The appointment of Thomas Johansson as coach highlights a fresh approach.
Career challenges are tempered by a solid relationship with top golfer Rory McIlroy.
And on the surface, it seems she may be content with it. Wozniacki has been in a relationship with world No. 1 golfer Rory McIlroy since mid-2011, enjoys the support of a tight-knit family, and has plenty of friends on the tour thanks to her outgoing personality. She loves immersing herself in the design process for her on-court outfits as the face of adidas’ Stella McCartney Tennis Collection, and with multiple sponsorship deals, she’s financially secure. It seems that life right now is pretty good. “If you don’t (win tournaments) it’s not like the world is going to break down in front of you, and you always have the next week,” she said. “I always look at it in a positive way – there are so many people in the world who are in a much worse position.” But perhaps there is a little more fire burning within than what initially appears. She recently hired Australian Open 2002 champion Thomas Johansson to work with her in a consultative role, a sign she is attempting to make changes and bring in outside voices other than that of her omnipresent father. And despite her
Chinese player and first over a top 10 player from six matches in 2012. Where Wozniacki is headed from here is anyone’s guess. Will she continue to fall further, or revert to the player who regularly accrues points and titles at lesser tour events? Or might she finally take a Grand Slam tournament by the scruff of the neck and snare the major title that many have for three years now been anticipating? The Australian Open, just months away, will go some way to answering that final question. n
CAROLINE WOZNIACKI FAST FACTS Born: 11 July 1990, Odense, Denmark Lives: Monte Carlo, Monaco Height: 177 cm Titles: 19 singles, 2 doubles Career-high WTA ranking: No. 1 (October 2010) Current WTA ranking: No. 11 Career prize money: $US 12,904,097 Coach: father Piotr / Thomas Johansson At 12 October 2012
AustrAliAn tennis MAgAzine | November 2012
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