2011 Year in Review 1
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WHAT’S INSIDE LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
p.12 ROGER, RAFA: WHY SO BLUE?
p.13 THE FRÄULEN FIVE
DUNCING WITH THE STARS
RAFAEL NADAL KING OF CLAY
p.22-23 THE MAGNIFICENT AND MERCURIAL MARION BARTOLI
p.24-25 ORDER ON THE COURT
ROAD TO ROLAND GARROS
Theodore L. LePak firstname.lastname@example.org
Nick Georgandis Erik Gudris Robert Martin Chris Oddo
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Letter from the Editor Ladies and gentleman itâ€™s time to wake up and smell the clay! The season has started in Charleston and now we are on the road to Roland Garros.
Our photographers Mark Howard and Tony Chang did a great job tag teaming Miami this year. We got some really good stuff. Thank you both for your hard work and good eyes!
In this edition, Rafael Nadal was the obvious cover choice. Who better to put on the cover of our clay court edition than the king of clay? If he lives up to his title over the next couple of weeks we may see him on the cover of Roland Garros. On the other cover we pay tribute to Agnieszka Radwanska, winner of the 2012 Sony Ericsson.
A word of gratitude to Erwin Ong, Erik Gudris, Chris Oddo, Elena Scuro, Rob Martin, and Nick Georgandis for writing, and helping manage the content of Tennis Now.
Taking a peek inside this edition, we have player gear guides from Nadal and Maria Sharapova, features on Nadal and Marion Bartoli, a look at the tournaments leading to Roland Garros, an opinion of who should represent tennis on Dancing With The Stars, a triple threat piece on the top three ATP players, and we take a look at the top German WTA players as they head to conquer the French Open.
To my graphics team, these past few magazines have been fantastic, and Iâ€™m thankful that you guys were able to help me produce three quality magazines over such a short period of time. Enjoy a few weeks of rest before the madness of Roland Garros! We hope you tennis fans out there enjoy this issue and we look forward to bringing you more tennis coverage in the future!
Theodore LePak Editor, Tennis Now Magazine Ted@tennisnow.com
Gear Guide Rafael Nadal 2011 Record on Clay: 24-2
Nicknamed “The King of Clay” for a reason, Nadal holds an absolutely ridiculous 231-18 career record on the dirt with only two losses to Novak Djokovic since the beginning of 2010. Despite winning three titles last year, including his sixth at Roland Garros, Nadal will enter this season hoping to repeat his unbeaten 2010 campaign.
Nike Air Max Court Ballistec 4.3 You can’t scramble like Rafa without the right shoes, and the stability of the Court Ballistec 4.3 answers the call. Air Max cushioning in the heel and Lunarlon in the forefoot gives Nadal that explosive speed to grind out points for hours on the dirt.
Racquet: Babolat Aeropro Drive GT
Nike Rafa French Crew
The newest version of a frame developed exclusively for Rafa, the Aeropro Drive GT takes advantage of aerodynamic geometry for greater racquet head speed. The result is a tweener racquet that helps Nadal generate even more spin for his heavy topspin game to command the clay.
Fashion meets performance in the Rafa French Crew in Peach Cream. A geometric design on the front and back is combined with a contrast overlay at the shoulders to look good on court. In addition to Dri-Fit technology, Rafa’s top includes micro-perforated mesh panels at the side and shoulders for maximum ventilation.
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TRIPLE THREAT photo: Natasha Peterson/Corleve
NUMBER CRUNCH: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic are still re-writing the record books of tennis, with the Swiss bagging the most Slams (in singles), Nadal dominating the Roland Garros clay, and Djokovic impressing the tour with his winning record in 2011. As they go about their own achievements, something to consider about this exciting time in men’s tennis: the three of them together might just be the most dominant concurrent trio in Open Era history. Since the 2005 French Open, Federer, Djokovic and Nadal have combined to win 27 of the 28 (96%) Grand Slam titles, the lone exception being Juan Martin Del Potro’s triumph over Federer at the 2009 US Open -- that’s 12 titles for Federer, 10 for Nadal and five for Djokovic. No three men have ever dominated the ATP like these in the Open Era. The closest by comparison came from 1974-1979 when Sweden’s Bjorn Borg, ArgeNtina’s Guillermo Vilas and the US’ Jimmy Connors racked up 17 out of the 25 (68%) Slams during that span (two Australian Opens in one year makes for the odd number). Borg’s haul tallied eight, Connors five, and Vilas four. Also impressive is the achievement of Aussie trio Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall and John Newcombe between 1969-1973. Of the 20 Slams held in that timeframe, Laver and Newcombe each won four and Rosewall notched three for a total of 11 (55%). From 1978-1984, the dominant trio was Borg, Connors and John McEnroe. McEnroe and Borg each won seven Slams, and Connors added four for a total of 18 out of 28 possible - 64%. From 1984-1990, it was a different posse, but almost as dominant: Ivan Lendl (eight), Mats Wilander (four) and Boris Becker (four) combined for 17 out of 28 - 61%. In the 1990s, it was an American trio that took control Pete Sampras (11), Andre Agassi (five) and Jim Courier (three) racked up 19 crowns out of a possible 32 (59%). This is the most
dominant performance from any one country on the tour. What has been a relative statistical anomaly for the men over 40 years of the Open Era has been vastly more commonplace for the women of the WTA. Beginning with the 1969 Australian Open and stretching through to the same event in 1974, Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, and Billie Jean King combined to win 19 of 21 Slams - with only Britain’s Anny Haydon Jones (1969 Wimbledon) and Virginia Wade (1972 Australian Open) interrupting the streak. Court was the heavy hitter of the era, with 11 wins, followed by King with five and Cawley with three - totalling 90%. Beginning midway through 1978, the WTA tour became the near-exclusive home of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. From Wimbledon in 1978 through the US Open in 1987 - a span of 37 Slams - Navratilova and Evert won a combined 28: 17 for the Czech and 11 for the American. Add in the four titles won by Hana Mandilkova, and this trio took 21 of 28 crowns (75%). From the beginning of 1988 until just after the 1994 Australian Open, it was another two-woman wrecking crew demolishting the ladies’ tour. Of the 25 Slams played, Steffi Graf and Monica Seles took 14 and 8 titles respectively - 88% of the Slams. For a shorter period, and with four players in the mix, a bloc of American women thoroughly dominated the Slams. Beginning with Lindsay Davenport’s triumph at the 1998 US Open and lasting through to Serena Williams’ victory at Wimbledon in 2003, Davenport, Serena, Venus, and a resurgent Jennifer Capriati racked up 16 of the 19 possible Slams (84%), including a stunning 11 straight from Serena’s 1999 US Open crown (her first Slam) to her win at the Australian Open in 2003. The current WTA women haven’t formed their alliances; in recent years, the winners’ list has included four straight firsttime winners beginning with the French Open last spring.
– Nick Georgandis 12
Roger, Rafa: Why So Blue? The 2012 edition of the Mutua Madrid Open will be the first time in history that a clay tournament has been sanctioned to hold matches on blue courts. Event owner Ion Tiriac dreamt up the color switch to make tennis balls more visible on the court for fans, thus making for a more interactive spectator experience. In order to win over skeptics, the coloring process gets its own section on the tournament website. The blue clay is derived from the same process as and is installed on the court in the same manner as red clay; the dye is added in the early stages in order to retain the integrity of the dirt used to surface the courts. (Fun fact: each court’s clay starts off as 3.5 tons of sand!) The WTA and ATP have given their blessings for this new court color after years of discussion. Once the event announced the possibility of a 2012 switch, Rafael Nadal expressed dismay about this seeming insult to tennis tradition (i.e., abandoning the red of the terre batue for this new blue). Roger Federer backed Nadal on this gripe. This court innovation comes as no surprise to sports business insiders, who have seen the Mutua Madrid Open create buzz-worthy
initiatives throughout the years: using scantily clad fashion models as ballkids in 2004 and 2005; switching the surface from hard courts to clay in 2009 and opening a new facility, La Caja Magica, that same year; partnering with Italian brand Ellesse for clothing sponsorship in 2011; and creating a logo identity that is one of the strongest and most distinct of all the Masters Series events on the tour. “The Mutua Madrid Open is a tournament that is continuing to work on its own personality and that wants to reinforce its identity,” director Manolo Santana shared on the event website. If this blue clay sticks, it will go a long way in helping Madrid further break away from the pack. For 2012, Ellesse, the event’s clothing sponsor, has teamed up with acclaimed French design house Surface 2 Air to create the ballkids uniforms. The Mutua Madrid Open, one of three ATP Masters Series warm-ups for the French Open, will be held April 4-13, 2012. Novak Djokovic is the defending champion.
– Erwin Ong
A New Generation of German Women Are Set to Conquer Roland Garros
At the Sony Ericsson Open last year, Andrea Petkovic had a breakthrough event that eventually propelled her into the top ten, marking the first time a German woman had achieved that feat since Anke Huber back in 2000. But since then, Petkovic has been followed by a group of rising German stars that have all posted career-high rankings in 2012.
With the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix set to take place this month in Stuttgart--the only WTA event held in Germany--there’s a good chance one of these fantastic fräuleins will not only capture the title there, but go on to be a major factor at Roland Garros later in the spring, following in the footsteps of tennis legend Steffi Graf who raised the trophy there six times.
Andrea Petkovic Quick Facts: First gained recognition for the “Petko Dance” started at the 2010 U.S. Open, a dance move that made Petkovic a social media darling. A lower back injury has kept Petkovic off the courts so far this year, but she hopes to come back in time for Stuttgart. Highest WTA Ranking: 9 Career Titles: 2 (Strasbourg, Bad Gastein) 2012 Record: 3-2
Sabine Lisicki Quick Facts: After recovering from a near career-ending ankle injury, Lisicki shot back to prominence by reaching the semifinals of Wimbledon in 2011. Lisicki was also the winner of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Hotshots social media contest. Highest WTA Ranking: 13 Career Titles: 3 (Charleston, Birmingham, Dallas) 2012 Record: 8-8
Julia Goerges Quick Facts: When Goerges won Stuttgart to earn her second title, the 23-year-old became the first German to do so since Anke Huber won the title in 1994. Julia has two wins over a reigning No.1 (d. Wozniacki at Stuttgart and Madrid in 2011). Highest WTA Ranking: 15 Career Titles: 2 (Stuttgart, Bad Gastein) 2012 Record: 13-9
Angelique Kerber Quick Facts: As an unseeded player, Kerber was a surprise semifinalist at the 2011 U.S. Open. She defeated Maria Sharapova and Marion Bartoli en route to winning her first WTA title at the Paris Indoors this past February. Highest WTA Ranking: 14 Career Titles: 1 (Paris Indoors) 2012 Record: 18-6
Mona Barthel Quick Facts: After coming out of qualifying to win her maiden WTA title at Hobart this year, Barthel has climbed up the rankings with wins over Jelena Jankovic and Yanina Wickmayer. She also matched Victoria Azarenka stroke for stroke in a three hour battle in the second round of last monthâ€™s BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Barthel lost in the third-set tiebreak. Highest WTA Ranking: 36 Career Titles: 1 (Hobart) 2012 Record: 22-7
RAFAEL “EL UNICO“ NADAL [SPA] AEROPRO DRIVE RACQUET RPM BLAST STRING
[USA] ANDY “ACE-ROD“ RODDICK
T DDICK RACQUEING S PURE DRIVEMRO AST + VS STR HYBRID RP 3 BL S OE SH PROPULSE
IJSTERS [BEL] KIM “THE ROCK“ CL PURE DRIVE RACQUET VS NATURAL GUT STRING
OFFICIAL RACQUET, TENNIS BALL AND STRINGER OF THE FRENCH OPEN
“Duncing” with the stars: Which tennis player should compete? photo: ABC via Getty Images
Martina Navratilova’s train wreck first-round exit from ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” last Tuesday was hardly a surprise. She was the second-oldest competitor, the least feminine in a competition that embraces such, and despite her name recognition in sports being the foil to Chrissie Evert in tennis for most of the 1980s - has very little to offer the average American. Navratilova is the second former player to compete on the show, following Monica Seles, who bombed out after two weeks in 2008’s Season 6, behind only magician Penn Jillette. Like Navratilova after her, Seles had the lowest scores of the first two weeks - recording 15s on her first two dances for a meager total of 30 (Navratilova scored a 21 and a 17 in her first two dances). It’s a bit embarassing to have former tennis stars crash and burn twice now on the popular show, mainly because so many former athletes do so well. In the show’s 13 seasons, six athletes have won the title, four have finished second, and another has taken third. Tennis’ main problem might be that with a virtually non-existent off-season, no current player could ever compete on the show, unless they were taking time off for other purposes. That leaves
only retired players, and Seles appeared on the show five years after her last pro match, Navratilova a full 13 after her singles career ended. There are plenty of eligible female former players who could make waves on the show, chief among them Evert, who appeared in the studio audience to root on Navratilova during the show’s premiere. An American male player would also present fans with someone to root for, although the inherent problem might be that relatively recent retirees like Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi have little need for the kind of exposure that many who participate in shows like “DWTS” are looking for. Both men are millionaires several times over and are constantly involved in charity work and other endeavors. The dark horse for tennis might be its biggest fan (of himself) yes, I’m talking about John McEnroe. Even at age 53, McEnroe is in tremendous shape, is a very well-known face, and perhaps most importantly, he would take the competition seriously because if we’ve learned anything from him over the years, it’s that he can’t stand losing.
– Nick Georgandis 17
Road to Roland Garros Out of the 22 tournaments that lead up to Roland Garros’ terre bateau in Paris, there are eight events -- four Master Series ATP tournaments and four WTA Premier tournaments -- which showcase top-level talent competing for some of the largest prizes on the tours’ schedules. It is these tournaments that weed out those who have not made the transition from the hardcourts to the slippery clay. While the men’s side has been dominated by the Spaniard, World No. 2 Rafael Nadal, the women have been without a clay queen since the retirement of Justine Henin in 2011. With that in mind, we discuss what it is that make each tournament so special. Monte-Carlo (ATP) World No. 1 Novak Djokovic may reside in Monte Carlo during his off-season, but this clay event has ruled by the Rafael Nadal, who is the seven-time defending champion. The Spaniard has lost only one match here, in 2003 to Guillermo Coria. Since that day, Nadal has held a perfect 37-0 record with only six sets lost. His 2011 campaign looked easy aside from a second set hiccup in the semifinals against Andy Murray. Aided by Djokovic’s absence, Nadal went on to clinch his seventh straight crown with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over compatriot David Ferrer.
Barcelona (ATP) Held in a stadium commonly referred to as “The Bullring,” Fans have watched for nine years as Nadal’s gored his way through the field. With six titles and a 30-1 career record at the tournament, one has to go back nine years to find Rafa’s last blemish -- a loss at age 17 against Alex Corrtja. After skipping the event in 2010, Nadal returned to his throne in 2011 by beating the same man he had defeated in 2008 and 2009 for the Barecelona title, David Ferrer.
Madrid (ATP) Madrid tournament director Manolo Santana is one of the ATP’s most buzzworthy, and the 2012 edition of the Muata Madrid Masters will be no different. For the first time ever on the tour, players will be playing on blue clay. Claimed to help both players and viewers to track the ball during play, the blue clay has been a hot topic with both Nadal and Roger Federer speaking out against the radical color change. Whether they like it or not, both will be trying to improve their results from last year where they watched Djokovic take yet another title, this time with a straightforward victory over Nadal on the Spaniard’s dominate surface.
Rome (ATP) Much like the back-to-back effect created by Indian Wells and Miami, a masters even in Rome immediately following Madrid makes for a long four weeks of tennis. In 2011, Nadal’s loss in Madrid came as a surprise to fans, but upon closer inspection it makes sense: the thinner air allows the ball to travel faster on the court. Many expected the slower courts of Rome to show Nadal’s true clay talents, but Rafa appeared still mentally off-kilter as Djokovic claimed yet another title, continuing an impressive run that included four straight victories over Nadal -- all in the finals -including two on clay. Nadal has only lost 18 matches on clay in his career.
Charleston (WTA) The first stop for the ladies, and the only one in the US, Charleston is contested the week after Miami on green clay. With a 2012 draw packed with stars including Serena and Venus Williams, Samantha Stosur and others, the tournament was dealt a blow when Caroline Wozniacki opted not to defend her title. As the first big test for the clay movement of many WTA stars, there are sure to be some stumbles and upsets at this event.
Stuttgart (WTA) Voted by the WTA players as their favorite tournament worldwide, the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix has been held on clay since 2009. The only WTA event in Germany will likely feature a number of the young German stars including Julia Goerges who nabbed this title -- her second -- in 2011 during a breakout performance that saw her string together several impressive victories over Azeranka, Stosur, and Wozniacki. Her take-home prize? Over $100,000 in cash and a Porshe sports car!
Madrid (WTA) The ladies might also express their thoughts on the blue clay at this WTA-ATP combined event, but by the first weeks end it will be all about the tennis. Last year the highlight was Petra Kvitova showing off her power; blasting 40 winners past Azarenka in the final for what was the biggest title of her career. With Kvitova struggling slightly on the American hard courts and Azarenka’s aura of invincibility finally broken, the 2012 field at this premier-level event will be wide open.
Rome (WTA) As the final Premier-level stop before Roland Garros, Rome tends to bring a few surprises along with being one of the best indicators of who will be the favorites going into the French Open. Last year it was Maria Sharapova who scored her biggest clay-court title, taking out three Top 10 players while losing only one set. Fighting through rain delays Sharapova easily dispatched the reigning Roland Garros finalist, Samantha Stosur, giving her the confidence to match her previous best at the French Open two weeks later when she ran into eventual champion Li Na in the semifinal round.
– Rob Martin
Maria Sharapova 2011 Record on Clay: 12-2
Not exactly known for prowess on the clay, Sharapova put together a solid 2011 campaign that included the title in Rome where she took out three fellow Top 10 players. It was only her third career title on clay and it would take a spirited run by nemesis Li Na at Roland Garros to knock her out in semifinals.
Nike MS Tank Always keeping up with fashion, Maria will be sporting her MS Tank in Scarlet Fire for the European clay court season. Dri-Fit fabric is accented with a strappy racerback silhouette for a functional and fashionable look designed for performance. To give this top that something special, Nike added reverse tucks at the chest to give it additional style.
Nike Lunar Speed 3 Known for blistering ground strokes, Sharapova has improved her movement in recent years, and she will need to keep up that trend to have success on the clay where the speed of her shots is slowed. Her answer is the Nike Lunar Speed 3 with its Lunarlon technology to provide faster propulsion along with Flywire to keep the foot stable.
Head Youtek IG Instinct MP A significant change from the Instinct of old, the Youtek IG Instinct MP offers more spin and comfort. After undergoing shoulder surgery, Sharapova looks to the Innegra fibers to provide shock reduction and strength to keep her injuries to a minimum and power at a maximum.
Rafael Nadal King of Clay With the clay-court season fast approaching, an air of uncertainty surrounds Rafael Nadal’s prospects on the surface for the first time. Long known as the unconquerable king of the red dirt, Nadal will face not one but two stiff opponents in the lead-up to the 2012 French Open: his ailing knees and Novak Djokovic. How he responds to these two opponents will no doubt go a long way in determining how Nadal’s body of work is interpreted at the end of his career. For Nadal, the knee issues are nothing new. But the recent rise of Djokovic, one of only two men in history to own two consecutive wins against Nadal on clay, is cause for alarm. The Knees: A Familiar Problem Nadal’s pullout in Miami due to what he called “a problem that kept getting worse” raises new concerns that Nadal’s longstanding clay monarchy may be in jeopardy. But is this really the end of the line for the clay guru? After all, Nadal has dealt with knee problems (and foot problems) since the beginning of his professional career. As a result, he’s learned to better manage his ailments so that he can be at peak fitness for the biggest events. Before you pencil in somebody other than Nadal as the new king of clay, realize that the 25-year-old’s decision to withdraw from Miami might actually have been nothing more than mere precaution. In other words, it’s likely that Nadal pulled the plug in Miami because he is fully committed to success on the clay this spring, not because he’s suffering from some unmanageable problem that is going to derail his career. Yes, his knees were hurting, but the six-time French Open champion’s maniacal insistence on not doing anything that might leave him at less than one-hundred percent for the clay season was probably the real reason he left the points on the table in Miami. Rafa made his feelings clear about what winning the French Open means to him after he tied Bjorn Borg by winning his sixth Roland Garros title last year, saying “It’s the tournament where I feel that I have more chances to win if we’re talking about the Grand Slams. This is my biggest chance of the year. In general this is probably the most important tournament of the year for me.” With that in mind, and knowing what Rafa knows about how
hard-courts can damage his knees, it makes sense that he would shy away from two possible marathons with Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic on the surface in Miami. Timing his physical peak with the apex of the clay-court season is clearly more important for Nadal than trying to win his first Miami title. He might not say so with a microphone and television cameras pointing in his face, but if you read between the lines, it’s what he seems to be saying.
Djokovic’s Rise: An Unexpected Challenge After seven straight losses to Djokovic in 2011 and 2012, each more heartbreaking than the last, Nadal now knows that priority No. 1 for him is to find a way to fend off the scintillating Serb on the red clay. He failed in that regard last year, losing in consecutive weeks in Madrid and Rome (in straight sets, no less) to Djokovic. A year later, Nadal will benefit from the fact that the pressure has shifted to Djokovic’s shoulders to some extent. Last year it was Rafa—who finally had his 37-match winning streak on clay snapped by Djokovic—who felt the pressure. This year it will be the Serb who is carrying the expectations, the No. 1 ranking, and the target on his back. For Djokovic, there will also be the pressure of trying to continue his remarkable streak against Nadal—on clay. If there was ever a surface where Nadal could finally wrestle some power back from Djokovic, it is on the red clay of Europe. If it is true that success breeds confidence, then Nadal has plenty of belief in his abilities on clay, even in spite of having lost two in a row to Djokovic. His ethereal lifetime record of 231-18
photo: Tony Chang/Chang Photography
on the surface is remarkably belittled by the fact that Nadal has gone 206-8 since 2005 on clay. He’s had two undefeated seasons on the red stuff, going 26-0 in 2006, and more impressively, going 22-0 in 2010 during a season that saw him rebound from careerthreatening knee problems that he was suffering from in 2009. Even the man who is trying to claim the clay-court throne in 2012 agrees that Nadal is second-to-none on clay. “Down the years, as Nadal kept ripping apart everything in front of him on red clay, we always thought there was no room left for improvement in his game, and he kept surprising us,” said Djokovic, in an interview during last year’s clay-court season. Tellingly, after his second win against Nadal on clay in Rome, Djokovic still had more praise for Nadal’s prowess on the dirt. “Let us be clear,” he said. “He is the king of clay and he is the best player ever to play on this surface.” Djokovic may have said it to stroke his ego for having defeated Nadal twice in a row, but the fact remains: he said it, and when the
dust settled in Paris last season, Nadal was biting into the trophy while Djokovic’s 43-match winning streak was up in smoke.
Let the Madness Begin With Djokovic playing in Monte Carlo this year, a place where Nadal owns a record seven titles, expect plenty of battles for supremacy between the two top-ranked players in the world. In two weeks time, Nadal should be well-rested, with nothing on his mind but emphatically announcing his forceful presence to the tennis world. Djokovic will also be hungry to cement his growing legacy. He proved last year that Rafa will have to work harder than ever to keep his crown. This year Rafa is out to prove that he is still the king, bar none. For Nadal, it’s the challenge of a lifetime. For Djokovic, too. And let’s not forget the man they call Federer. For tennis fans, it’s popcorn time. Let the madness begin.
– Chris Oddo 23
photo: Tony Chang/Chang Photography
The Magnificent and Mercurial Marion Bartoli Will France’s No. 1 “Allez” All the Way at Her Nation’s Grand Slam? Despite having been on the pro tour now for 12 years and becoming an almost permanent fixture in the WTA’s top ten rankings, France’s Marion Bartoli continues to surprise, delight, and confound with her unique brand of tennis and a personality that can make you laugh and shake your head all at the same time. After all, this is the same woman whose pre-serve routine full of bouncing calisthenics could be considered a workout in itself and who confidently told the world last year that she has an I.Q. of 175. Bartoli, with her unconventional two-handed groundstrokes on both wings that continue to earn her comparisons with the great Monica Seles, first gained headlines when she shocked the tennis world by beating then-No. 1 Justine Henin in the Wimbledon semifinals back in 2007. Though she lost to Venus Williams in the finals, Bartoli continued to remain a presence in the top 20 until last year when she won two titles at Eastbourne and Osaka and finished runner-up at three more events to finish in the top ten. But it was Bartoli’s semifinal run on the red clay of Roland Garros that remains the highlight of Bartoli’s 2011 season, mainly due to her past dismal results at her nation’s Grand Slam. Since 2000, Bartoli had lost in the opening round five times with her best finish being the round of 16 in 2007. Like many of her compatriots, playing for the honor of France in Paris was more of burden than a blessing for Bartoli. “The past years I really felt the pressure here,” said Bartoli last year after reaching the semifinals. “I’ve been in a bad way. I was really going to the court without any confidence to be honest. I was not feeling well on the court. I was not feeling well outside the court. I was scared about what the press would say when I’m going to lose the match. The pressure was on me and I was thinking it’s going to be awful. I’m going to lose quickly and people are going to say things about me.” Adding to Bartoli’s pressure while playing at the French Open was her and her father/coach Dr. Walter Bartoli’s uneasy
relationship with the French Tennis Federation (FTF) that continues to this day. Dr. Bartoli, who left his medical practice to coach his daughter full-time, has been praised and ridiculed for his unorthodox training methods that despite having created a worldclass tennis player has at the same caused rifts with many in France. Because Marion will not allow herself to be coached by anyone else except her father, it has prevented her from participating on France’s Fed Cup team. Her absences during Fed Cup will very likely keep her off of France’s Olympic team later this summer in London. It’s a situation that Bartoli would like to fight, but she appears resigned to accepting it as she admitted last month at Indian Wells. “I’m strong but I do feel like I do not have the strength to handle all of that,” Bartoli told SI.com. “It’s a huge process and it takes so long to do your appeal and everything. I don’t feel I have the time and the strength. I’m fully committed to my hard work and training and I just can’t commit myself to another thing.” Disappointment over the Olympics may actually fuel Bartoli to achieve greater success at Roland Garros. If Bartoli can go one round better than she did last year and reach the finals, she would give herself a chance to become only the third Frenchwoman in the modern era to win the title, joining Françoise Dürr (1967) and Mary Pierce (2000). Bartoli may still be on the outs with the FTF, but she has earned more fans than ever in her native country as many have decided to forget the past and instead root for the highest ranked female player that they have had in over a decade. It was that support that Bartoli credited. When Bartoli defeated World No.1 Victoria Azarenka in Miami last month, snapping Azarenka’s then unbroken record of 26 wins for the year, it was seen as a surprise by some since so many other women with higher rankings and more impressive tennis resumes had failed to do so. But considering Bartoli’s whole career has been something of an anomaly, seeing Bartoli compete this year on the final Saturday in Paris wouldn’t be a “quelle surprise” moment at all.
– Erik Gudris 25
ORDER ON THE COURT Pointers from the Pro
by Ian Westerman USPTA Tennis Professional
EXCUSES: JUST SAY NO What a crippling habit making excuses can be! Essentially what they are is a “get out of jail free” card for not performing in such a way that we know is possible if we just put our minds to it. I’d like to take a few minutes to outline some of the most common excuses that I hear on the tennis court. Along the way I will hopefully also encourage you to start using less of them and empower you to increase the level of your game at the same time. Around two years ago I actually started keeping track of all the excuses that I hear on and off the tennis court that people give regarding a match, stroke, or ability to execute something tennis specific. I had an idea to create a funny/satirical gift book with cartoon drawings illustrating each tennis excuse taking place with the player giving their cop-out of choice. Once I started listening for them specifically it really amazed me how often excuses were used during the course of just an hour of play and my list quickly grew. I put that project on the wayside, however by the time I stopped working on it I had three main categories of excuses and over 80 of them that I had recorded. Alright, without further adieu here’s my top 3 excuses:
1. “The shot was was too easy.” Wow, do I hate this excuse! If you’ve used it before I apologize but come on! I understand the premise perfectly well but it’s just not legitimate. What this comes down to is focus; the easier the shot, the less excuse there should be to miss it.
If you commonly find yourself setting up a long point and finally get to the pay off where you have the open court and an easy ball only to dump it on a regular basis into the net it’s time you start buckling down and really focusing on only two things: the ball and your target. That’s it. Do not allow any worries or negative thoughts into your head like “What if I miss this? I’ll look like an idiot!”. Conversely don’t take this easy shot too lightly and lose concentration by saying “Yes, I’ve got them!” only to look away from the ball and shank it off your frame.
2. “You jinxed me!” In my teaching I hear this one constantly and it drives me crazy as well. The scenario typically goes somewhere along these lines: Player hits great shot or is participating in a good rally. Pro or other player compliments said player on their accomplishment. Player misses badly on the very next shot and proclaims “Thanks a lot! You jinxed me!” Once again this comes down to concentration and focus. Perhaps it’s human nature to hear a compliment and immediately think “Wow I’m really doing it, don’t screw up now!” but you have to start building up your tolerance for outside distractions and mental weakness. Next time somebody compliments you on a great shot or rally instead of expecting the worst say to yourself “Darn right! I’m going to keep it up!” and focus on continuing your excellence as long as possible rather than assuming something bad is around the corner. Basically whatever we dwell on is going to have a strong possibility of actually occurring. What do you allow your mind to dwell on?
3. “I didn’t think it was coming over.” or “I didn’t think it was going in.” Again low focus and concentration. Make a commitment to yourself every time that you step onto the practice or competitive court that you will hustle 100% for every ball. Did I say hustle after every ball that you “think” will be going in play? No, I didn’t. Hustle after every single ball no matter what the circumstance. One of my coaches during my competitive career used to always say “There are no subjective decisions” when it came to going for a tennis ball. When one of my teammates or myself would stand and watch a ball travel out by 6 inches without having moved for it he would become livid. Seem a little harsh? After all, the ball was actually out, we had won the point! But what if we were wrong? I know that just like myself you’ve literally stood there and watched as a ball landed on the line that you had assumed was going out or was going to hit the net, often times these are balls that we could have easily reached had we not been mentally and physically lazy. So don’t make any subjective decisions on the tennis court, there’s only one response when the tennis ball is hit by your opponent: you WILL move towards the ball. Don’t hesitate or think it over, just move every single time. Not only will you start building better habits but more than likely your reaction time and physical speed will increase as well.
In Conclusion What do all three of these excuses have in common? They’re mental errors and the player using them has refused to take personal responsibility for them. As long as you continue to let yourself off the hook with these excuses and others like them your game won’t advance as far as it possibly could. Start taking responsibility for your actions and mistakes --our game and mental toughness will be better for it!
“Do not allow
any worries or negative thoughts
into your head “
Don’T jusT ReTuRn. ResponD. The explosive Gel-ResoluTion ® 4.
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RACQUET REVIEWS Every few years (and sometimes more often) we see our favorite racquet being discontinued and replaced by something new. Despite this trend, there are some lines that continue to be modified and resurrected with each new series. We are going to cover just a few of those popular families, with some that are able to trace their lineage more than two decades in the making. As the sport continues to evolve, racquets have changed a great deal from being made of graphite and fiberglass, to frames
that include anything from nanoscopic cellulose to volcanic rock. Years of progress have created a combination of nostalgia and innovation that is clearly evident in these classic-turnedmodern racquets. Whether you are a traditionalist looking to move into the net and take advantage of court positioning, or a new-school player blasting forehands from the baseline, these racquets offer the ideal framework for current-day success.
Wilson Tour BLX Pros: Solid Feel, Good Control, Versatility Cons: 95” Head Size, Lower Power Rundown: It’s about a year late in capitalizing on its height of popularity. This particular cosmetic scheme was seen in the hands of Kei Nishikori from April until near the end of 2011, but was not released until March of 2012. It’s still the same good racquet that the blue and orange Tour BLX was, providing good control without a ton of weight. The 95 square inch head size and 22mm beam width are really paired better with some additional weight, so advanced player, be ready to add some lead.
Wilson Six-One 95 BLX 16x18 Pros: Solid Feel, Surprising Power, Spin Cons: Muted Feel, No Significant Change Rundown: There is a reason that the Six-One family is popular on the tour and has won more titles than possibly any other racquet family, not that Roger Federer had anything to do with that right? This newest version takes what everyone loved about the previous BLX version, and added Amplifeel, which is Wilson’s way of saying they cut down on unwanted vibration. The result is a more comfortable, but slightly more disconnected feeling racquet, a move towards becoming more player friendly.
Head Youtek IG Radical Oversize Pros: High Control, Forgiving, Good Spin Cons: Not as Maneuverable as MP, Lower Power Rundown: A stick for the baseliner, this one provides an incredible amount of forgiveness thanks to the larger head without becoming too powerful. In fact, itâ€™s actually a bit on the underpowered side. Itâ€™s still easy to rip winners off both sides and the addition of Innegra fibers provides two noticeable benefits, stability and comfort. A significant improvement over the Youtek version, itâ€™s a shame that Head had to go with the cosmetic abomination of that clear bumper guard.
Volkl Organix V1 Midplus Pros: Comfort, Control, Power Cons: Not the V1 Classic, Thicker beam not for everyone Rundown: Another frame that has been in existence, in one variation or another, for well over a decade, the V1 has had a reputation for being the versatile offering from Volkl. This one does not disappoint with its moderate weight, near even balance, and solid blend of power and control. Known primarily for comfort, this one is a touch stiffer than the V1 Classic, but provides a significant boost to the pop on ground strokes. It may not be your well-known brand, but this comes from the heritage of the original tweener, before Babolat even entered the
Babolat Pure Drive Lite Pros: Power, Spin, Maneuverable Cons: Could have better Control, Firmer Feel Rundown: A lighter version of the Pure Drive, this one is designed to appeal to the transitioning junior as well as the player than simply prefer a quicker frame. Whether hitting heavy topspin from the baseline or taking advantage of the maneuverability, this frame has the potential to do it all for the lighter swinging crowd. Initially the abandonment of the standard blue cosmetic was a worry, but the black has begun to grow on us.
SHOE REVIEWS Whether you are looking for the latest shoe, or just the right shoe for you, the search can be daunting. Even though nothing can match the feel of trying on a shoe for yourself, we can at least help narrow the list down based on what you are looking for, whether it be ultra light weight or maximum durability. We’re taking a look at five shoes that offer a variety of options whether you are an occasional or hardcore player.
Price does not always mean performance as we show with offerings from Prince and K-Swiss that provide a cushioned feel with an easier to stomach price tag. Other options from Babolat, adidas, and Yonex all provide something special, but as each player is different and each foot type has a different requirement, we hand off the final decision to the player.
Babolat Propulse 3 Pros: Ventilation, Durability, Traction Cons: Fit Not for Everyone Rundown: Not exactly a new shoe, but it still warrants a review in this age where shoes are lucky to last six months. In its second year, the Propulse 3 is still the most popular as Babolat has improved on previous models by making them more breathable without sacrificing stability. It’s hard to beat Michelin treads for traction, and that’s exactly what the Propulse has. The cushioned heel and low forefoot give the shoe a unique fit that is not for everyone, so be sure to try these on first.
Prince T-14 Pros: Wider Toebox, Attractive Price Cons: No Durability Guarantee, Ventilation Could be Better Rundown: An economical alternative to the new T-24, this one offers a slightly less durable sole and more mesh to lighten the shoe a bit. By placing most of the mesh along the inside of the foot, stability towards the outer part of the foot is not compromised. Many will either love or hate the graphics of the shoe, but the wider toebox makes it an excellent fit for players with a bit wider foot who want more options than just New Balance.
adidas adizero Tempaia Pros: Lightweight, Cushioning Cons: No Durability Guarantee, Narrow Fit Rundown: The women’s version of the adiZero Feather, this one has a unique fit that you simply must try on before buying. A raised heel offers plenty of cushioning in this lightweight shoe, but stability is certainly not on par with the barricade family. The adiWear 6 and adiTuff materials give the sole good durability, but this is more of a match-day shoe designed for speed. Frequent players will wear the sole down fairly quickly.
K-Swiss Ultrascendor II Pros: Lightweight, Versatile Outsole, Cushioning Cons: No Durability Guarantee, Rather Plain Looking Rundown: When you go about replacing a shoe as popular as the Ultrascendor, you have to make absolutely sure you get it right. This one is a little lighter without sacrificing the comfort thanks to a unique two-piece skeletized outsole. The shoe takes advantage of what they call a wavebone tread pattern, which makes it a solid choice for hard courts as well as clay courts. This is a good lightweight shoe, but it’s obviously not going to be the most durable thing out there.
Yonex SHT-308 Pros: Lightweight, Superior Cushioning, Great Traction Cons: No Durability Guarantee, Love or Hate Looks Rundown: The SHT-307 was one of the best all-around shoes we’ve ever tried, and Yonex actually made it better. The lateral stability was improved with an external TPU heel cradle, and the Y-Strap is now integrated inside the shoe rather than being on the outside. Not wanting to mess too much with a good thing, the Power Cushion remains for a comfortable and responsive ride. With everything that is good about this shoe, it definitely has a distinctive look, one which some players may not appreciate.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
Novak Djokovic Rafael Nadal Roger Federer Andy Murray David Ferrer Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Tomas Berdych Janko Tipsarevic Mardy Fish Juan Martin Del Potro John Isner Nicolas Almagro Gilles Simon Gael Monfils Feliciano Lopez Juan Monaco Kei Nishikori Richard Gasquet Fernando Verdasco Florian Mayer Jurgen Melzer Alexander Dolgopolov Marin Cilic Radek Stepanek Milos Raonic
SRB ESP SUI GBR ESP FRA CZE SRB USA ARG USA ESP FRA FRA ESP ARG SUI FRA ESP GER AUT UKR CRO CZE CAN
12,670 9,935 9,035 8,040 4,700 4,670 3,750 2,820 2,730 2,660 2,630 2,250 2,050 2,015 1,855 1,810 1,750 1,640 1,565 1,540 1,507 1,495 1,435 1,385 1,380
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25
Azarenka, Victoria Sharapova, Maria Kvitova, Petra Radwanska, Agnieszka Stosur, Samantha Caroline Wozniacki Bartoli, Marion Li, Na Zvonareva, Vera Williams, Serena Petkovic, Andrea Schiavone, Francesca Lisicki, Sabine Ivanovic, Ana Goerges, Julia Kerber, Angelique Jankovic, Jelena Cibulkova, Dominika Vinci, Roberta Hantuchova, Daniela Kirilenko, Maria Pavlyuchenkova, Anastasia Peng, Shuai Penneta, Flavia Kuznetsova, Svetlana
BLR RUS CZE POL AUS DEN FRA CHN RUS USA GER ITA GER SRB GER GER SRB SVK ITA SVK RUS RUS CHN ITA RUS
8,980 7,930 7,095 6,710 5,825 5,720 5,020 4,880 3,895 3,830 3,410 3,380 3,201 2,785 2,785 2,775 2,570 2,545 2,470 2,450 2,410 2,246 2,180 2,155 2,031
CLOSING SHOTS The sunsets over the beautiful Tennis Center at Crandon Park in Key Biscyane as Novak Djokovic and Juan Monaco play a stellar second set in the Sony Ericsson Open semi-finals.
Andy Murray expresses his frustration after hitting an error in his match against Janko Tipsarevic.
Roger Federer congratulates Andy Roddick after Roddickâ€™s surprising win. Roddick advanced to lose to Juan Monaco in the next round.
Maria Sharapova sulks after losing a crucial point in the finals match against Agnieszka Radwanska.
Argentina fans look on as the watch Juan Martin Del Potro fall to David Ferrer 6-3, 6-3.
Novak Djokovic smiles as he holds the Sony Ericsson trophy at the ceremony following his win over Andy Murray in the finals.
In this edition, Rafael Nadal was the obvious cover choice. Who better to put on the cover of our clay court edition than the king of clay?...
Published on Apr 6, 2012
In this edition, Rafael Nadal was the obvious cover choice. Who better to put on the cover of our clay court edition than the king of clay?...