2011 Year in Review 1
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WHAT’S INSIDE LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
SERENA WILLIAMS SERVES UP AN EPIC WIMBLEDON
IS GRASS-COURT TENNIS DEAD?
RETURN OF THE KING
ANDY MURRAY: GETTING CLOSER
OVERCOMING MENTAL HURDLES IN THE HEAT OF A MATCH
DAY BY DAY WIMBLEDON 2012
WIN MURRAY’S SHIRT! CLICK HERE!
Letter from the Editor
Theodore L. LePak firstname.lastname@example.org Erwin Ong Blair Hemley
To advertise with us email@example.com General comments or questions firstname.lastname@example.org
Though I cheered for Roger Federer, my heart goes out to Andy Murray. I couldn’t think of a more poetic ending to this year’s Wimbledon. Federer rises to the top of the rankings again, and though he didn’t win, Murray has more love and support from the world than ever before. Now with Wimbledon behind us, players and fans can focus on the Olympics. Once again the world will unite many different cultures together, as they seek to bring home the gold!
Alberto Capetillo Juan Esparza
In this edition we put Roger Federer and Serena Williams on the covers. We wrote feature articles highlighting their success at Wimbledon, praised Murray on how close he is to winning a major, and questioned the changing of the most traditional surface in tennis. Thanks to our other editors Blair Henley and Erwin Ong for their investments in the future of Tennis Now and their positive energy and hard work. More thanks to the thought provoking writing of Chris Oddo and Erik Gudris, and also to our visionary graphics guys. We hope you enjoy revisiting all the glory and wonder of this year’s Wimbledon, and we look forward to bringing you many more down the road!
200 West 39th Street, Suite No. 11 New York, NY 10018 914-595-4211
Theodore LePak Editor, Tennis Now Magazine Ted@tennisnow.com
t r u o C s s a r G Is ? d a e D s i n n e T
The dumbing down of tennis surfaces so that they all play eerily similar to one another—and the extinction of so-called “surface specialists” that thrive on each particular surface—has been a hot topic of debate in tennis circles of late. Grass, tennis’s original, most traditional surface has been at the center of this discussion for the last 10 years. Since 2001 significant change has occurred to grass-court tennis, some of it welcome and some of it fervently resented. What used to be an extremely fast, low-bouncing surface now—much to the chagrin of purists—plays
more like a hardcourt. The bounces are higher and truer than ever before, making it possible for baseline players to find success on the courts they used to loathe. But is it good for the game? And can players with skills suited to the grass still gain an advantage at Wimbledon? In the past, grass was always the surface that favored serve-andvolley players, because the condition of the courts made it risky to take the ball off the bounce. It wasn’t so much preference as it was necessity. “In my day, the reason I was taught the way I was taught,
was because three of the four Slams were on grass,” says John McEnroe. “The grasses were bad, so you had to have short back swings and take the ball in the air as much as possible.” But grass-court tennis has changed significantly over the years, as more specialized seeds and other technological advances have made it possible to create a truer-bouncing surface. “It’s not the same as your daddy’s grass court,” says ESPN’s Cliff Drysdale, a former Wimbledon quarterfinalist, when speaking about the way Wimbledon’s grass plays these days. “When we played, the ball hardly got up at all.” In the last ten years particularly, after Wimbledon famously switched to a 100 percent perennial ryegrass seed, the grass has become a slower-playing, higher-bouncing version of what it used to be. The idea behind the switch, which was ushered in by Wimbledon’s head grounsdman Eddie Seaward in 2001, was to combat the excessive wear that modern baseline players were causing. But the side effect was drier, thinner soil, which led to a higher bounce, and what Seaward calls a “perceived slowness.” “I think it’s the bounce that gives that perception, yes,” Seaward told me last year. “If you’ve got a ball that’s coming at you at 120 mph, and it’s around your ankles, you’ve got no time to return it but if you’ve got a ball that’s coming at you at that sort of speed, around your chest, with the players of today, their reaction is so quick, they’ve got all the time in the world to play it back again.” Whether inadvertently or not, the change to Wimbledon’s grass has paralleled tennis’s wide-sweeping shift to a more baseline-centric game that features longer rallies, heavy topspin and less and less net play. It wouldn’t have been possible ten to twenty years ago, when hard servers and grass-court gurus like Pete Sampras and Steffi Graf ruled Wimbledon, but today you can play any style you want to play at Wimbledon and be successful. “I feel like I was in the wrong era,” said Chris Evert before this year’s Wimbledon. “I played against the serve and volleyer Martina when the grass was really fast.”
is a home team to have to worry about. So, if we can get the right sort of players, the clay-court players, the Agassis and the Nadals to come here, then it’s going to be better for tennis and much better for the spectators because they’re seeing all the stars.” But the question remains: can you still play traditional grass-court tennis at Wimbledon? McEnroe thinks so. “I still think the ball will react in a different way,” he says. “It’s going to go through the grass and hit a knife slice.” At the same time, McEnroe realizes that the skillset is limited to a select few. “People don’t seem to get the nuances,” he says. Pam Shriver concurs with McEnroe. “The old way of playing on a grass court was tactically so much fun to watch,” she says. “I miss that a little bit now. I still say a grass court is wide open to certain set plays, certain aggressive moves, approaches down the line, midcourt volleys. I still feel it’s all there to be taken advantage of on a grass court, it’s just that people don’t know how to do it as well as they did.” When it comes to winning on a grass court, perhaps nobody embodies the skills that Shriver longs to see in a player better than Roger Federer. Federer, and a fistful of other players with games well-suited for grass have used the slick surface to their advantage at this year’s Wimbledon. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Mikhail Youzhny, Tamira Paszek and Agneiszka Radwanska are other players that seem to have mastered the art of playing on grass. “On grass I think it’s worth it to go closer to the lines, use a lot of the down the line shots, which aren’t easy to pull off on other surfaces,” says Federer. “It’s a question of confidence and a question of playing a lot of tennis on grass over the years for me. I think I’ve played over 100 matches on grass now, so I know how it works.” But Federer agrees that the changes have brought about a more subtle, nuanced style of grass court play. “It is obviously slowing down,” he says. “But I still believe the aggressive player can be rewarded if he plays the right way.”
– Chris Oddo
While Seaward matter of factly denies making a concerted effort to slow the surface down, he doesn’t deny that the changes have been good for tennis. “Most players are liking the courts the way they are,” he says. “And you just have to look at the overall picture as far as I’m concerned, because one of the big things that we’ve not got
Getting Closer Andy Murrayâ€™s Wimbledon run proves heâ€™s closing in on his first Major title.
“I’m getting closer.” That’s all Andy Murray could say at first to Sue Barker of the BBC during the trophy ceremony after losing to Roger Federer in the men’s final. The disappointment of just coming up short to winning not only his elusive first Major title but the coveted Wimbledon championship that was last won by England’s Fred Perry 76 years ago proved too much for the oft-described stoic Scot as he broke down several times while speaking to not only the crowd on Centre Court but his entire nation watching him. Murray showing emotion on the sport’s biggest stages is nothing new. Murray’s last loss to Federer in a Major came in the finals of the Australian Open in 2010. Murray feeling the moment then gave his now famous line after composing himself, “I can cry like Roger it’s just a shame I can’t play like him.” But while we can’t expect anyone to play tennis like Federer except for the Swiss Maestro himself, Murray proved without a doubt he is closing in to that first Major title. His performance on Sunday was his best yet, not only because he won a set for the first time in his fourth appearance in a Grand Slam final, but also because it was him playing the match and not the other way around as we’ve seen before once in New York and twice in Melbourne. Murray admitted after losing his first Major final to Federer in the U.S. Open back in 2008 that the occasion got to him. “That first final I played against Federer, I didn’t know what was going on. It just went by really quickly,” Murray recalled. And while his two losing efforts in Melbourne to Federer in 2010 and Novak Djokovic in 2011 had some wondering about Murray’s shot selection and even his mental state (who could forget Murray barking out at his friends box when he played Djokovic) there was none of that in the Wimbledon final. This was a performance by a man who was ready to win but was defeated in the end because his opponent was just too good, nothing more. “I’d say that’s the best I’ve played in a slam final,” Murray said after losing to Federer at Wimbledon. “You know, I created chances. Obviously went up a set. You know, it was a long match. You know, even the last two sets, I still had chances the game where I got broken in the third set. It was a very, very long game. I had a lot of game points. It wasn’t like I gave away bad games or stupid games and stuff. I played a good match. I made pretty good decisions for the most part, so I’m happy with that.” Murray can also be happy with his overall results from the fortnight that saw him hit the second most amount of aces of any man with 90, be among the fastest servers recorded (his best was 134mph) and was also only behind Federer in terms of break point conversions and first serve return points won.
But statistics don’t always win titles as proven this weekend and once again it will more than likely come down to how strongly Murray believes he can win a Major as opposed to how hard hit can hit his forehand or his serve. “Almost every time you step on the court you’re trying to prove something to yourself,” Murray said after his win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semis. “I think that’s kind of what motivates you to get better. Also the players that are around me, as well. They would be the two things that I think you can’t stay at the top of, you know, any sport, especially one as competitive as tennis, if you don’t have very good self‑motivation.” Murray had more support than ever from the British public during his final and his emotional speech after losing probably earned him even more fans worldwide after seeing just how much winning and unfortunately losing meant to him. But after the last cheers died down from “Henman Hill” that will likely be now known as “Murray’s Mound” after this year and the somber but still supportive headlines Murray will receive from the notoriously fickle British media, once again Murray will be left alone on the practice courts to get back to the hard work it will take to once again get another chance to add his name to tennis history. And it will be his self-motivation that he will ultimately have to rely on to get through this defeat. “The disappointment will linger for as long as it needs to, it’s not a process I’ll rush,” Murray told the BBC after the loss. “Sometimes getting back on the court quickly might work, but it can also have completely the opposite effect. I have to take the right amount of time off, let my body and mind fully recover. This tournament, the public and my family and friends all mean a great deal. I’m more determined than ever to make sure I’m the guy lifting the trophy next time round.” “If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same…” reads the famous line from Rudyard Kipling’s “If” that is written over the doors leading out to Centre Court. If Murray glanced up at the words before he walked out to compete in his first Wimbledon final is unclear, but it is clear he certainly dealt with Federer’s triumph and what seems at the moment for Murray like a disaster in not having the day be his. What Murray takes away from his best performance at his home Major remains to be seen, but instead of dwelling on what might have been, Murray and his nation should perhaps remind themselves of another famous British phrase written during a moment of crisis in the country’s history and perhaps repeat it every so often over the next few weeks as they dwell on what Murray’s future holds. “Keep calm and carry on.”
– Erik Gudris 11
Gear Guide Roger Federer
Roger Federer had a plan all the way through Wimbledon. He knew what he needed to do to beat Murray and Djokovic. By sticking to his plan he gave himself the mental edge and dressed head to toe in his Nike Wimbledon apparel, he won the title and reclaimed the number one spot.
Wilson Pro Staff Six.One 90BLX The Wilson Pro Staff Six. One 90 BLX is designed for enchanced feel and maximum control, featuring a legendary construction and a modern handle system. Amplifeel technology delivers a pure feel by replacing sections of the traditional foam in the handle pallet with graphite and basalt plates.
Nike Zoom Vapor 9 Tour SL Featuring new Adaptive Fit technology and a running inspired design, the Nike Menâ€™s Zoom Vapor 9 Tour SL is equipped with the latest technologies designed to deliver speed and stability. The Zoom Vapor 9 Tour SL provides optimal lightweight performance.
Nike RF Smash Lawn Tennis Polo The Nike RF Smash Lawn Tennis Polo is the peRFect example of classic style mixed with modern technology. The no-sewn armholes, shoulder seams and sides lay against the skin without any chafing. Purple and green stripes, colors of the classic British Lawn Tournament, are printed on the collar and on the stretch line tape at side seams.
Day by Day – Blair Hemley
DAY ONE: ISNER TOPPLED Before play began at the All England Club, world No. 10 John Isner was the American man to watch. John McEnroe picked Milos Raonic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Isner as the most likely men to upset one or more of the Big Four throughout the course of the tournament. Veteran commentator Cliff Drysdale announced he was “very high” on Isner, while Chris Evert said she felt the 27-yearold’s serve would be “scary” to watch on the grass. Isner proceeded to wilt under those sky-high expectations, losing an embarrassing first round five-setter to a man from a veritable hotbed of grass court tennis – 73rd-ranked Alejandro Falla of Colombia. “I’m trying not to feel the outside pressure,” he said after the match. “There are some good things expected of me, and I’m glad
I’m in that position, but I’m just not performing right now.” Let’s hope Isner has a chance to see his sports psychologist before the Olympics start in a couple of weeks.
DAY TWO: DIMITROV BEATS THE RAIN – AND KEVIN ANDERSON Day two was a quiet day on the Wimbledon grounds with most matches being held over until the next day due to rain. But newcomer Grigor Dimitrov found time to take out big-serving Kevin Anderson of South Africa 7-5 7-6(3) 6-7(4) 6-3 with some stellar serving of his own. Seeded 32nd, Anderson was seen by many as a dark horse in Andy Murray’s section of the draw, but the 21-year-old Bulgarian got to him first, serving 24 aces and a whopping 71 winners in the four set
match. Dimitrov, or “Baby Fed” as he’s sometimes called, would go on to retire due to sickness in the second set of his next match against Marcos Baghdatis.
things under control, but the 37th- ranked Austrian would not relent. With bulldog-like tenacity, Paszek fought back after facing two match points in the second set.
Elsewhere, fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga took out sentimental favorite and 2002 Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. It was the Australian’s 14th straight Wimbledon – his first as a wildcard entry. The first round departure was the earliest for the 31-year-old since 2003.
When she received a match point of her own at 5-4 in the third set, Paszek ripped a blazing forehand winner down the line, handing Wozniacki her walking papers. It was her earliest Grand Slam departure since the 2007 French Open.
DAY THREE: PASZEK UNDER PRESSURE Tamira Paszek’s first round defeat of former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki may have been the highest-quality match in the first three days of play. Up a set and a break, Wozniacki looked to have
Wozniacki blamed the loss on bad luck, and she may be right. Her 21-year-old opponent was something of a grass court specialist, coming off her first career title at Eastbourne the week before. After her upset win over the Dane, Paszek went on to reach the quarterfinals of Wimbledon for the second straight year. Fifth-seeded Samantha Stosur also added her name to the list of upsets with an ugly 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 loss to Arantxa Rus. Despite
playing a brilliant second set, Stosur contributed to her abysmal 5-9 record at Wimbledon with another early-round departure.
DAY FOUR: LUKAS WHO? Looking at the menâ€™s draw prior to the start of play at the All England Club, one might have assumed Rafael Nadal had an easy run to the quarterfinals at the very least. But Czech unknown Lukas Rosol shocked the newly crowned French Open champion and the world with one of the most unlikely upsets in tennis history. Despite his rank of 100 in the world and the fact that he had won just 19 tour-level matches in his career, Rosol played like a man possessed. After losing the first set in a tiebreak, Rosol proceeded to win the next two sets, rattling Nadal by jumping around on the baseline as the Spaniard prepared to serve. In fact, the world No. 2 offered Rosol a body check on a changeover in the third set, sending the rookie a loud and clear message. As it turns out, Rosol never got it. Nadal may have won the fourth set, but when it took 45 minutes to close the roof before the start of the fifth set, it was Rosol who emerged from the locker room ready
to play. The 26-year-old Czech got an early break in the fifth and the rest was history. After acing Nadal on match point, sealing a 6-7(9) 6-4 6-4 2-6 6-4 victory, Rosol said he felt like he was in a dream. We couldnâ€™t agree more.
DAY FIVE: VINTAGE FEDERER, CLIJSTERS When Roger Federer found himself on the brink of defeat less than 24 hours after the unlikely second round demise of Rafael Nadal, the tennis world worked itself into a frenzy. What was going on? Was it something in the water? But Federer proved once again why he is one of the greatest to ever play the game, coming back from two sets down to beat Julien Benneteau, seeded 29th, 4-6, 6-7(3), 6-2, 7-6(6), 6-1. With the win, Federer surpassed Andre Agassi for the most games won in Grand Slam history. Fans also got to see some vintage tennis from Kim Clijsters as she took apart former world No. 2 Vera Zvonareva before the Russian retired at 4-3 in the second set. The four time Grand Slam champion
was playing in her last Wimbledon before she retires after the U.S. Open in September.
He may have lost to Marin Cilic 7-6(6), 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-7(3), 17-15 in a five-and-a- half hour marathon, but for Querrey fans everywhere, his match was an encouraging step in the right direction.
DAY SIX: HISTORY MADE Yaroslava Shvedova made history in her third round match against French Open finalist Sara Errani, and the 24-year-old from Kazakhstan didn’t even know it. In an astonishing 15 minutes, Shvedova won 24 out of 24 points in the first set, making her the first woman to win a “Golden Set” in the Open Era and the only player, male or female, to do it in a Grand Slam. Shvedova, a quarterfinalist at this year’s French Open, won the match 6-0, 6-4, but didn’t learn of her accomplishment until her coach told her in the tournament gym following the match. Talk about focus! Former top 20 American Sam Querrey made some history of his own on Day Six. After elbow surgery last year, the 24-year-old American dropped out of the professional tennis spotlight. Coming into Wimbledon ranked No. 65, no one expected him to make it to the third round, much less compete in the second longest match in Wimbledon history.
DAY SEVEN: SHARAPOVA SHATTERED After her French Open win just weeks earlier, Maria Sharapova was the odds-on favorite to take home her second Wimbledon trophy. Apparently Sabine Lisicki didn’t get the memo. As a Wimbledon wildcard semifinalist last year, 15th- seeded Lisicki had proven her worth on grass. But no one expected her to win nearly 50 percent of her return points on a day where Sharapova held a 71 percent first serve percentage. Lisicki looked unfazed by the fact that she had lost to Sharapova in their three previous meetings, including last year’s semifinal. She crushed ball after ball to the delight of the Wimbledon crowd and Dallas Maverick Dirk Nowitzki who sat in her box. The 22-year-old’s fearlessness was perhaps most evident on match point where she clinched the 6-4, 6-3 victory with a rare second serve ace.
DAY EIGHT: GERMAN SHOWDOWN With her 6-3, 6-7(7), 7-5 win over Sabine Lisicki in the Wimbledon quarterfinals, eighth-seeded Angelique Kerber showed us why she
has more victories than any other woman on tour this year with 45. She also showed us that her mental game may need more work than her tennis game. Lisicki got off to a rough start in the match against her fellow German and Olympic doubles partner, going down a set and 3-0. But she charged back, winning the second set in a tiebreak. Feeling the pressure in the third set, 24-year-old Kerber repeatedly whined to her box and sprayed balls haphazardly. Lisicki did the same, causing several momentum shifts throughout the third set. In fact, Kerber looked like she might give up after falling into a 5-3 hole in the third set. She blew four match points before eventually closing out the match, perhaps drawing from her rather unpleasant experience in the Eastbourne final the week before. There she squandered five championship points en route to her loss to Tamira Paszek. Clearly she wasn’t interested in a repeat performance. Kerber’s win put her in a Grand Slam semifinal for the second time in her career.
DAY NINE: MURRAY LIVES!
DAY TEN: AZARENKA OUT
After a heartbreaking loss to David Ferrer at Roland Garros just weeks earlier, the world waited with bated breath to see whether Andy Murray could shoulder the expectations of a nation and avenge his loss to the Spaniard in the Wimbledon quarterfinals.
After crashing out in the first round at the French Open, tennis pundits and fans weren’t quite sure what to expect from Serena Williams at the All England Club. A shaky first round match followed by third set nail-biters in the third and fourth rounds didn’t exactly instill confidence in the 30-year-old’s chances to hoist the Wimbledon trophy.
Murray found himself in a 2-5 hole in the first set, but fought his way back before losing in a tiebreak. On a blustery day at the All England Club, Ferrer seemed to have an answer for everything Murray threw at him. The writers at Wimbledon.com said it best, calling the Spaniard a human metronome. But credit goes to the world No. 4 who, perhaps uncharacteristically, failed to get flustered by Ferrer’s backboard-like play. Despite a rather ill-timed rain delay at 5-5 in the fourth set, Murray closed out the match for a 6-7(5), 7-6(6), 6-4, 7-6(4) win. With Rafael Nadal home after his second round loss, Murray’s chances of taking home the Wimbledon title looked about as bright as they ever have.
But after a masterful quarterfinal against defending champion, Petra Kvitova, Serena sent a clear message to world No. 2 Victoria Azarenka, her semifinal foe. Azarenka faced little resistance throughout the tournament, but that would all change on a day when Serena smashed a tournament record 24 aces. Azarenka hit one. Despite tightening up in the second set, Williams closed out the match 6-3, 7-6(6) and celebrated by doing her signature tuck jumps on Centre Court. Perhaps those close matches early on were all part of Serena’s master plan to peak at just the right moment.
DAY ELEVEN: SEMIFINAL MAGIC
DAY TWELVE: SERENA’S TRIUMPH
Roger Federer extended his record in the Wimbledon semifinals to an impressive 8-0 after taking down an uncharacteristically sluggish Novak Djokovic 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 under a closed roof on day 11. Perhaps the most telling statistic was the 72 percent of points Federer won on his second serve, indicating the trouble Djokovic experienced with his trademark return.
In the two years and four days since she last held up the Wimbledon dish, Serena Williams endured a streak of physical misfortunes. She had several surgeries to repair a severed toe tendon then found herself in surgery again thanks to a life threatening pulmonary embolism. She even admitted to a nasty bike accident during her time off.
With the roof open for the second semi, Andy Murray basked in the sunny conditions as he extended his record against Frenchman JoWilfried Tsonga to 6-1 with a 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 win. Murray played an airtight match with only 12 unforced errors to Tsonga’s 42.
And though there were traces of tightness in her 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 win over third seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the final, Serena deserves credit for withstanding the pressure and finishing off her Polish opponent. Radwanska reportedly struggled with a respiratory infection prior to the match, but her ability to come back after a 36-minute first set thrashing was indicative of the 23-year-old’s potential.
After clinching match point on a forehand return that was initially called out, an emotional Murray pointed heavenward. The Scot was not lost on the enormity of the occasion. With the win, he became the first Brit to make it to the Wimbledon final since Bunny Austin did it 74 years ago. Murray’s coach, eight-time Grand Slam champion Ivan Lendl, was not so moved by the win. He looked on stoically throughout the match, perhaps saving his energy for the gargantuan task of taking down Roger Federer in the final.
Throughout the match, Serena continued her service dominance finishing the match with 17 aces. At 1-2 in the third set, she hit four aces in a row, bringing her tournament total to an astounding 100. She would hit two more before all was said and done, setting a tournament record and cementing her place as the best female server in tennis history.
With the win, she became the first woman over 30 to win a Grand Slam title since Martina Navratilova did it 22 years ago. We have no doubt thereâ€™s more where that came from.
DAY THIRTEEN: KING ROGER The turning point came at 2-3 with Andy Murray serving in the third set. Murray raced out to a 40-0 lead, but his opponent fought back. Twenty minutes and eight deuces later, Federer broke Murrayâ€™s serve. Up until that point, there was no hint of how the highly anticipated final match would end. Murray won the first set, managing his nerves unbelievably well given the circumstances. But Federer came
charging back, nearly closing out the second set before, inevitably, the rain came. With the roof closed, the Swiss finished off the second set, and the match stayed on serve until that fateful 20-minute game in the third. Murray slid and dove for balls, doing anything he could to hold his service game. Federer wasnâ€™t having it, and broke to gain a 4-2 lead. The crowd could sense the shift in momentum, and Federer used it to his advantage, finishing off the next two sets with just 14 unforced errors and 32 winners. The win gave the Swiss his seventh Wimbledon title and allowed him to reclaim the world No. 1 ranking.
Serena Williams Serves up an Epic Wimbledon 22
There was never any doubt that Serena Williams would need to serve big in order to become the first female player over the age of thirty to win a Grand Slam since 1990 at The Championships this year. The 14-time Grand Slam and 5-time Wimbledon champion is older now—she can’t be bothered getting into track meets with her younger, fitter competition. But serving this big? Unheard of. Defending Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova might have summed it up best after she was ousted in straight sets by the bomb-serving American. The Czech described the experience of playing against Williams as “big difficult.” Victoria Azarenka, Williams’ semifinal victim, was also blown away. “You know, the serve is just that one difference that brings her to the higher level,” she said. “I don’t see anybody else serving like this on the tour.” “I’m in awe,” gushed ESPN commentator Mary Joe Fernandez. Was there anybody out there that wasn’t? Williams served 102 aces in seven matches, 68 more than Sabine Lisicki, the next best total for a woman at Wimbledon. She also served four more aces than Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, who led all men. To put that in clearer perspective, Williams served 57 aces in her final run last year at the US Open. It was still best among all female players in New York by a good margin, but barely half of what she accomplished during the Wimbledon fortnight. “Absolutely remarkable,” commented Patrick McEnroe, after Williams broke her own record—23 aces, set in round three—by serving 24 aces against Victoria Azarenka (in two sets!) to reach her seventh career Wimbledon final. “Sampras-like,” he added. Williams won 80 percent of all her first serve points, but more importantly, she won nearly all of the important ones. In a tense third-round match against Zheng Jie, Serena swatted aside all six break points she faced on the day. It was the kind of clutch serving that enabled Williams to overcome the periodic hiccups that have characterized her performance since returning to the tour after a life-threatening pulmonary embolism and hematoma.
This Wimbledon, whenever she needed a big serve to relax her nerves a bit, she simply tossed the ball up, took her racquet back, and hit it. “You know how I do it,” joked Serena, in an interview with the BBC.
Navratilova. “She’s not the best mover out there, but she doesn’t have to be. It’s hard to get her on the run.” In the final, Serena pulled her final serving miracle just when it looked like she might be losing her grip on the title against Agnieszka Radwanska in the third set.
Now we do. Williams used six of her aces—and similarly clutch serving—to get her out of a sticky 3rd-set against Yaroslava Shvedova in the fourth round. With the Kazakh pressing for the upset, Williams kept her at bay by winning 18 of 21 first serve points and not allowing Shvedova a look at a break point in that final set. It was more of the same in the quarterfinals when Williams won 31 of 36 first-serve points against Petra Kvitova and knocked back the only break point she faced in the match to advance in straight-sets against the defending Wimbledon champ. “She has the best serve in tennis,” said six-time Wimbledon champion Billie Jean King later that day. “Technically it’s smooth, great timing, and it keeps her in the matches when she’s not playing well. It’s just beautiful. The direction, the spin, everything you dream about and you’d love to have—yeah, she’s got it all.” “She’s serving now better than I’ve ever seen her,” added Martina
After nailing four consecutive aces to hold to love in the fourth game, a much more confident Williams won the next four games on the trot to secure the Wimbledon dish. Williams tied her sister Venus’s total of five Wimbledon titles with the 17-ace performance in the final, and it’s debatable as to which sister has the more impressive Wimbledon resume. But when it comes to taking the racquet out of an opponent’s hands with a big, booming serve, nobody in history has ever done it like Serena. The subject isn’t even up for debate.
– Chris Oddo
Serena Williams Going into the tournament Serena Williams was an underdog, but you can never count someone out who dresses this good. Serena pulled out the ultimate grass court weapon with her BLX Blade Team racquet to crush 102 aces throughout Wimbledon.
Nike Lunar Speed 3 Serena’s custom Nike Women’s Air Max Mirabella 3 Tennis Shoes provide comfort, stability and durability. In addition to that, these shoes provide great traction for movement on the slippery grass.
Nike Maria Slam Statement Dress
Head Youtek IG Instinct MP
Featuring an embossed argyle print and a unique strap construction, the Nike Women’s Statement Baseline Tennis Dress offers style, comfort, and support. Dress features contrast piping at neckline for a fun pop of color, and lettuce edge ruffle at hem for a feminine touch. Dri-Fit technology wicks away moisture. Dual strap construction and a built-in definition bra provide excellent support.
Offering the same combination of power, control, and forgiveness that made its predecessor popular, the new Wilson BLX Blade Team delivers surprising controlled pop with a buttery soft feel. The BLX technology is designed to lessen unwanted frame vibration for greater feel. A comfortable racquet for a strong player.
Return of the King How Federerâ€™s Wimbledon triumph sealed what some viewed as an almost impossible return to No.1.
For many tennis fans, not seeing Roger Federer’s name followed by the number one felt odd, as if someone had pressed the wrong key on their calculator. But after first rising to the top spot in 2004 and holding it for four years followed by a brief return to it 2010, Federer saw himself eclipsed first by Rafael Nadal and then Novak Djokovic in the last two years. After falling to as low as No. 4 in world, the consensus was that Federer could win another Major title, but that getting back to No.1 in a tour filled with younger and younger players was simply not possible for the 30-year old. Djokovic and Nadal earned the right to be No. 1, but there’s still something about seeing Federer back as the king of his sport and in some ways once again becoming “the face of tennis” to the world. It’s a role he’s seems born to do especially considering his own regal bearing, some of it due to his personality and some of it bestowed him by an appreciative tennis audience who consider him the greatest player ever. Roger Federer’s journey to finding himself back at the sport’s elite position started last year in a familiar place - home. In Federer’s case it was the Basel Indoors event in his native Switzerland where Federer, now ranked No. 4 after making the semis of the U.S. Open, decided that things could only get better despite being unable to win a Major title for the first time since 2003. “I just had to believe that things were going to turn around for me, and not just naturally, but work at something,” Federer said while reflecting on his last nine months. “I played a lot of tennis, good tennis, but I wanted to win titles, not just lose in quarters and semis. I think when I came back to Basel, which was a home tournament, things obviously changed for me to winning ways again, I would believe. Then the confidence rose as I went to Paris and also to London. I think this is when I realized a lot is possible in 2012.” Federer won Basel and then won the Paris Indoors title, the last remaining Masters 1000 event he had never won in his career. Federer finished 2011 winning his sixth ATP World Tour Championships in London. “I couldn’t be more happy and I couldn’t be more exhausted,” said Federer who became the event’s oldest champion at 30. Though now a notch higher at No. 3, Federer was still a staggering 5,460 points behind No. 1 Novak Djokovic who had just completed the best season of his career. After reaching the semifinals of Melbourne at the start of this year, Federer returned to winning tournaments and banking more rankings points. He won Rotterdam, Dubai and Indian Wells and though Andy Roddick in Miami stopped his streak of titles, it may have been a blessing for Federer as it allowed him more time to recover and prepare for the all-important clay court season.
Federer headed back over to Europe and while Rafael Nadal was dominating the events on the red clay, it was the controversial and newly-installed blue clay of Madrid where Federer made his move. With both Djokovic and Nadal so psyched out by the surface that it caused them to lose early, Federer instead embraced the speedier dirt of the Caja Magica to claim the title over Tomas Berdych. Federer climbed to No. 2 for one week and was neck and neck with Nadal in the points race. Though he lost to Djokovic again in the semis of Rome and then again at Roland Garros, Djokovic’s inability to defend his own clay court titles from 2011 had chipped away at his ranking points lead that when Wimbledon rolled around Federer was only trailing the defending champion by 2845 points. Still, Federer needed some help not only to win his seventh Wimbledon title but also to have any hope of getting back his top ranking. He got it when unheralded Lukas Rosol shocked Nadal in the second round in the first week of the event. With his usual nemesis gone, Federer only needed to dispatch of Djokovic in the semifinals and once that was accomplished, his four set win over Andy Murray in the finals completed what seemed improbable almost a year ago Federer was No. 1 again for the 286th week in his career tying Pete Sampras’s record. Federer’s fans around the world will say that this perfect ending to Federer’s Wimbledon that includes the No. 1 ranking was destiny, but it was more due to Federer’s hard work and willingness to
grind it out at tour level events. But despite all his wins in 2012, the question of if he could win another Major still lingered. “I knew how close I was for the last few years, and some people didn’t quite see that maybe out of different reasons. But I knew and I think the belief got me to victory today, and almost two other ones in the last couple years as well.” Though Federer answered the questions on if he could win another Major and be No. 1 with another mesmerizing display on his favorite court, now more questions begin. How long can Federer stay at No. 1? How many more Majors will he win? What will drive him now aside from the knowledge that Djokovic, Nadal, and Murray will all be aiming to take him down during the hard court season? We won’t know the answers just yet, but even Federer who will have to face each one soon enough is at least taking the time to savor what has been, if not a comeback, then perhaps a hiatus to what seems to be his natural place in the sport. “I’m so happy I’m at the age I am right now, because I had such a great run and I know there’s still more possible. You know, to enjoy it right now, it’s very different than when I was 20 or 25. I’m at a much more stable place in my life. Yeah, I wouldn’t want anything to change. So this is very, very special right now.”
– Erik Gudris
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Overcoming Mental Hurdles in the Heat of a Match It’s the final set and you need to hold serve to keep the match going. To make matters worse, you lost the last three games, the wind is picking up and a line call just went against you. It would be easy to surrender to frustration and lack of energy, but this is the opportunity to showcase mental toughness. How are mentally tough players able to repeatedly overcome adversity during a match? The answer lies in a mindset established before the first ball is put in play and lasts throughout the competition. The player focuses on “playing” tennis, rather than reacting to the ever-changing score. This process-oriented attitude allows mentally tough athletes to maintain a consistent level of effort, attention and energy, regardless of the situation. It allows them to overcome opponents who get caught up in the win/loss column and other distractions. Winning is very important to tough-minded players, but they also understand a steady process leads to desired results. They believe establishing “keys to performance” provides them every opportunity to beat opponents in difficult situations. Focusing on results hinders motivation, resiliency and effort, causing many players to fold when their back is against the wall. Outcomeoriented thoughts drain limited the energy and attention resources necessary to obtain peak performance. Keys to performance serve as a reminder of how to win each point during the match. Process-oriented thoughts allow the athlete to stay in the moment and maximize potential by placing an emphasis on effort. Positive mental refreshments allow the player to prevail in all situations. Examples include: • • • • •
“Keep moving your feet” “Play in rhythm” “Be aggressive with each point” “Focus on specific targets throughout the match” “Regroup between points and stay in control”
The duration and intensity of these thoughts differentiates competitors at the highest level. Process-oriented thoughts help channel useful information to the body. Elite players feel the magnitude of the moment, but they thrive on executing a plan and being fully engaged with each shot. There is a time and place to dwell on bad breaks, difficult conditions and other excuses, but not during the heat of a match.
– Matt Cuccaro, Director of Mental Training for Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy Dr. Adam Naylor, Consulting Mental Trainer About Matt Cuccaro, Ed.M. Matt Cuccaro is the Director of Mental Training at Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy on Hilton Head Island, SC. Matt has a Master’s of Education in Counseling/Sport Psychology from Boston University and is an active member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology. Matt has worked with individuals in a number of sports from the junior level to world-class professional athletes. About Adam Naylor, Ed.D., CC-AASP Dr. Naylor, mental training consultant, brings 15 years of experience in developing tennis players to the Ivan Lendl IJTA team. Over the course of his career he has educated regional, national and international competitors – including ATP and WTA professionals, collegiate players, ITF and USTA junior competitors. He currently leads Telos Sport Psychology Coaching and is the Director of the Boston University Athletic Enhancement Center.
RANKINGS As of 07/09/12
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
Federer, Roger Djokovic, Novak Nadal, Rafael Murray, Andy Ferrer, David Tsonga, Jo-Wilfried Berdych, Tomas Tipsarevic, Janko Del Potro, Juan Martin Almagro, Nicolas Isner, John Simon, Gilles Fish, Mardy Monaco, Juan Cilic, Marin Verdasco, Fernando Monfils, Gael Nishikori, Kei Dolgopolov, Alexandr Gasquet, Richard Kohlschreiber, Philipp Mayer, Florian Raonic, Milos Granollers, Marcel Wawrinka, Stanislas
SUI SRB ESP GBR ESP FRA CZE SRB ARG ESP USA FRA USA ARG CRO ESP FRA JPN UKR FRA GER GER CAN ESP SUI
11,075 11,000 8,905 7,460 5,430 5,230 4,515 3,215 3,180 2,605 2,520 2,480 2,355 2,130 1,825 1,810 1,715 1,680 1,620 1,600 1,570 1,545 1,540 1,530 1,470
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 Radwanska, Agnieszka Sharapova, Maria Williams, Serena Stosur, Samantha Kvitova, Petra Kerber, Angelique Wozniacki, Caroline Errani, Sara Bartoli, Marion Li, Na Ivanovic, Ana Zvonareva, Vera Kirilenko, Maria Cibulkova, Dominika Kanepi, Kaia Pennetta, Flavia Lisicki, Sabine Petkovic, Andrea Jankovic, Jelena Petrova, Nadia Schiavone, Francesca Safarova, Lucie Goerges, Julia Zheng, Jie
BLR POL RUS USA AUS CZE GER DEN ITA FRA CHN SRB RUS RUS SVK EST ITA GER GER SRB RUS ITA CZE GER CHN
8800 8530 8370 7360 6195 5275 5170 4091 3410 3400 3245 3190 3160 2635 2625 2514 2305 2297 2260 2220 2105 2050 2040 1945 1910
Prince William and his wife Kate, the duke and duchess of Cambridge, look on during Roger Federerâ€™s match against Mikhail Youzhny in the quarterfinals. The royal couple would also stick around to watch Andy Murray win his match against David Ferrer.
Agnieszka Radwanska chases down a ball. Radwanska has had a tremendous year and became the first Polish player to reach a Grand Slam final since 1939 at Wimbledon. At just 23, Radwanska appears to have her best days in front of her.
Serena Williams gets pumped after scoring a big point on Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals. Williams defeated the Belarusian 6-3, 7-6(6).
Novak Djokovic uses his legendary returning skills against Ryan Harrison in the second round. Djokovic defeated Harrison 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
Andy Murray may have lost in the final, but he won the heart of Great Britain with his emotional charged run at Wimbledon.
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Roger Federer and Serena Williams pose with their trophies.
Fans cheer on Roger Federer in the background as he contemplates his next move against his opponent Novak Djokovic during a changeover.
Published on Jul 9, 2012
Published on Jul 9, 2012
In this edition we put Roger Federer and Serena Williams on the covers. We wrote feature articles highlighting their success at Wimbledon, p...