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2013 Year In Review

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2013 Year In Review


WHAT’S INSIDE LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

5 BEST AND WORST OF 2013

8 ONE WOMAN SHOW

16 TENNIS INSTRUCTION

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10 BEST MATCHES OF 2013

20 NOTABLE RETIREMENTS

32 THE FILA FACTOR

38 TENNIS IQ QUIZ

42 CLOSING SHOTS

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2013 Year In Review

Blogs


Editors

Lana Maciel Blair Henley

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To advertise with us ads@tennisnow.com General comments or questions media@tennisnow.com

Writers

Erik Gudris

Chris Oddo

Letter from the Editor Now that the 2013 tennis season has come to a close, we have a high anticipation for what’s to come in 2014. But it’s going to be pretty tough to top all the rollercoaster events of the past 12 months, which set a new bar for some of the most exciting and unexpected moments our sport has seen in a while. A year ago, who would have guessed that Roger Federer would come so close to not qualifying for the year-end championships? Or that Serena Williams wouldn’t even last to the second week of Wimbledon to defend her title? Looking back at all the events of the year, we realize that we’re watching history unfold right before our eyes. All the big stars of tennis had their moments this year, with new champions rising and former champs being pushed to the brink by the next generation. To recap the season, we’ve put together what we think are the 10 best matches (page 20), as well as a list of 20 highlights and lowlights of 2013 (page 8). It’s been a pretty amazing year, with the caliber of tennis being taken to a completely new level. And that’s something we can all appreciate as tennis fans. Until next year, I hope you enjoy this issue!

Blair Henley

blair@tennisnow.com

Lana Maciel Editor, Tennis Now Magazine lana@tennisnow.com

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Alberto Capetillo Juan Esparza

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Rob Newell/CameraSport Stephen White/CameraSport Ray Giubilo/Fila Getty Images

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THE BEST AND WORST OF 2013 The 2013 season had its share of ups and downs. Here’s our take on some of the highlights and lowlights, in no particular order and for no particular reason other than to reminisce on all the glory of what was another wild, wacky tennis season.

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Highlight: Novak Djokovic’s Fantastic Finish Most card-carrying members of the tennis cognoscenti had Novak Djokovic ticketed for double-digit Grand Slams after he ripped through the field at the 2013 Australian Open, grinding past Andy Murray in a four-set final. With his Grand Slam total at six and Rafael Nadal’s future very much in doubt due to injury concerns, everything was on the table—a first French Open title and the calendar-year Grand Slam included—for the soaring Serb. Then Nadal’s comeback took full flight, along with Murray’s Wimbledon ascension, and Djokovic was relegated to the runner-up circle and second fiddle for the remainder of the Grand Slam season. He could have hung his head and felt sorry for himself, but rather than do that, Djokovic embarked on a 22-match post-U.S. Open odyssey that took him from Belgrade to China to Paris to London (he’ll go back to Belgrade to finish his season at the Davis Cup final), re-energizing

tennis’ most vibrant rally by demonstrating to Nadal and the rest of the tour that he is not the type of player to take a few hard losses lying down. After a whirlwind week in London that saw the Serb defend his ATP World Tour Finals title by going undefeated and charging past Nadal in the final, Djokovic has piqued the imagination of the tennis world once again. Not only did he display tremendous courage and fortitude to bounce back from a season’s worth of tough losses to finish with a flourish, he also set the table for what is sure to be a massive battle for tennis supremacy in the years to come. With Nadal back to his usual, indomitable self, there is really only one player who has a chance to disrupt Nadal’s dominion in 2014. His name? Novak Djokovic.

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Highlight: Rafael Nadal’s Sublime Season Words fail. Numbers do no justice. In 2013, you simply had to see Rafael Nadal to believe him. In a year that started with doom, gloom and a true, tangible fear that the end could be near for Nadal, the king of clay has emerged as the new king of hard courts and the only player to have ever won eight titles at a single Grand Slam. The player

that puts the sizzle in the game like nobody else returned to tennis with a vengeance in 2013, and he reintroduced himself as a candidate for GOAT status in the process. Is Rafael Nadal the greatest that ever was? Don’t answer just yet, but know that it’s a very legitimate question to be asking after what he accomplished in 2013.

Lowlight: Bernard Tomic’s Father, John With news of John Tomic’s assault of Bernard’s hitting partner, Thomas Drouet, which shook the tennis world at its core last spring, one couldn’t help but think: How remarkable is it that Bernard has come this far with a madman like his father at the helm? Let’s hope that this is the worst we’ll see from this tandem. Credit to John for whatever role he played in his son’s development, but he simply took it too far this year, and he needs to step back and let his son benefit from a calmer, cooler environment.

Highlight/Lowlight: Marion’s Rise and Disappearance So, Marion Bartoli wins Wimbledon and we can’t wait to see how she will play with the newfound confidence that comes with having her maiden Grand Slam under her belt. Will she crack the top five? Will she win multiple Grand Slams? No, she will promptly retire. C’est la vie. That is just so Marion.

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Highlight: Andy’s Murray’s Wimbledon Triumph Oh, dear God, it feels so long ago. Andy Murray won Wimbledon, he really did, and he did it in style, absolutely crushing Novak Djokovic in the final, capping off a mad and wonderful year that also saw him win the Olympic gold medal and the U.S. Open. It almost seems surreal that he’s cracked the 77-year-old Fred Perry curse. What are we going to talk about when Wimbledon rolls around next year?


Highlight/Lowlight: Wimblegeddon on Day 3 at Wimbledon Slippery grass? Check. Federer shocked? Check. Azarenka screaming and writhing in pain? Check. Tsonga’s knee a mess? Check. Sharapova falling like humpty-dumpty? Check. What carnage, what atrocity! In total, seven former No. 1s were sent packing, and both the men’s and women’s singles draws were left in rubble. One of the main culprits: the slick grass. As if someone had replaced the fertilizer with melted

butter, players slipped and tumbled like felled trees onto the shiny green courts with scary regularity. Federer’s second-round loss to Sergiy Stakhovsky was probably the biggest shock, but tremors kept coming long after the defending champ went down. This was easily the craziest day of Grand Slam tennis in recent memory, maybe ever.

Lowlight: Jimmy Connors’ Lovechild Revelation Connors released his delectable tell-all, titled “The Outsider,” this May. It was a fantastic read, but most agree that we could have done without the very personal intimate details of his relationship with Chris Evert. It didn’t make the book any better, and it undoubtedly caused a lot of hurt to Evert, who handled the whole seedy episode with a lot of grace.

Lowlight: Totally Unnecessary Doping Scandals

Highlight: Robredo’s Five-Set Magic at Roland Garros

Maybe they got longer suspensions than they deserved, but Viktor Troicki and Marin Cilic—shame on you both for not taking ownership of your careers when it comes to knowing and complying with antidoping protocols. Cilic and Troicki may not be dopers, but in fumbling and bumbling with the fine print of what is really a very clear set of rules and regulations, they each cast a shadow over their own careers and introduced skepticism about the cleanliness of tennis. Who can we trust now? It’s hard to say.

In a magnificent year for 30-somethings, Tommy Robredo pulled the crowning 30-something achievement, becoming the first man since 1927 to win three consecutive five-set matches in a Grand Slam after trailing two sets to love. With each successive victory, the excitement grew around Robredo, and the Spaniard wasn’t the only one breaking down in tears when he finally defeated Nicolas Almagro to finish off one of the most remarkable runs to the quarterfinals that the game has ever seen.

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Lowlight: Nicolas Almagro Still Hasn’t Beaten David Ferrer Almagro is 0-14 and counting, and he lost in the most excruciating of ways when he met Ferrer at the Australian Open in the beginning of the year. After serving for the match in the third set and twice in the fourth, he slowly wilted, thanks in part to a groin injury that enabled Ferrer to edge him in five. “I don’t know if it was or not,” Almagro said when asked if this was the closest he’d ever come to defeating the indefatigable Ferrer. “But today was a big opportunity for me. Well, I’m going to be ready for the next.” He may have been ready, but Almagro still got crushed by Ferrer in their next meeting, 6-2, 6-3 in the Valencia semis.

Highlight: Ernests Gulbis’ New Level of Commitment Gulbis, a former world No. 21, called his shot early in the season in Rotterdam, saying, “I think I’m gonna make it this season—back to top 20 for sure. I prepared well, and I quit a lot of stuff in my life.” As it turns out, the 25-year-old Latvian fell four spots short, but considering he was No. 132 at the time of the quote, it was a pretty good call by Gulbis. He was, in many ways, a new man in 2013, and it was a pleasure to watch him consistently perform at a higher level.

Lowlight: Federer’s Season Who would have thought that Roger’s disappointing five-set loss to Andy Murray at the Australian Open semifinals would have been the highlight of his season? It was.

Highlight: The Rise of Canadian Tennis We aren’t talking puck, we’re talking tennis. We aren’t talking Stanley Cup, we’re talking Davis Cup. Yes, Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil helped lead Team Canada to its first Davis Cup semifinal, and while they were making noise on the men’s side, Eugenie Bouchard was rising up the ranks and causing quite a stir on the women’s side. Canada is most certainly a tennis country on the rise.

Highlight: Alisa Kleybanova’s Return to the Court Russia’s Alisa Kleybanova is not a megastar (in fact she’s quite the antithesis with her laid back, down-to-earth personality), so the buzz surrounding her inspirational comeback from Hodgkins Lymphoma, a disease that she was first diagnosed with in 2011, hasn’t been the headline generator that Venus Williams’ bout with Sjogren’s Syndrome has. But that doesn’t make Kleybanova’s comeback any less heroic. Kleybanova dipped her toes in the water by winning the Landisville Challenger in Maryland this May, which enabled her to crack the top 1,000, and by the end of the season she already had a top 20 win under her belt and a ranking inside the top 200. Kleybanova’s impressive rise could be setting her up for the WTA’s comeback player of the year in 2014 (if she doesn’t get it this year)― stay tuned.

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Highlight: Serena Williams’ Dominance Williams played more matches (and with more focus and gusto) than she ever has in her career, going 80-4 with two Grand Slam titles, and became the oldest woman to ever hold the WTA’s No. 1 ranking. At 32, Williams is better―and more inspirational―than she ever has been. And she’s at the place in her career when every additional Grand Slam makes the argument for Serena as GOAT stronger.

Lowlight: Vika’s Medical Timeout Against Sloane Stephens at the Australian Open What else is there to say about this incident except that Victoria Azarenka completely gamed the system? She would have taken less flak if she hadn’t admitted in her post-match interview to Pam Shriver that she took the timeout because she felt like she was choking. Later, after some coaching from her agent, she was more clear about the real cause of her visit with the trainer in her press conference. A rib injury had left Azarenka short of breath. But by then, the tennis world had united against Azarenka, calling her methods unfair and her excuses disingenuous. The bottom line? The rules are there to protect the player, and sometimes they will get abused, with no ramifications. But the backlash that Azarenka faced from the media and fans let her know that the public didn’t appreciate her actions. Hopefully it will be enough to curtail her and others from similar gamesmanship in the future.

Lowlight: American Men’s Tennis No American men reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open for the first time, and fans clearly didn’t care, as they cheered their hearts out for Gael Monfils against John Isner as the two tangoed in the third round on Louis Armstrong Stadium. Need we say more?

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Highlight: The Rise of Stan Wawrinka and Richard Gasquet Two brilliant and effusive one-handed backhands and two vastly improved players. It was fun to watch each reach their true potential in 2013.

Lowlight: The Tunisian Tennis Federation Bringing politics into tennis is a big no-no, and the Tunisian Tennis Federation got what it deserved when it was punished for ordering Malek Jaziri to withdraw from a tournament rather than face Israeli Amir Weintraub at the Tashkent Challenger. But, sadly, the punishment does not help Jaziri, who gets the raw end of this deal twice. First, he had to withdraw from his challenger or face ramifications from his federation. Second, he now can’t play Davis Cup, since the ITF has suspended Tunisia for 2014.

Lowlight: Martina Hingis’ Comeback It was great to see the Swiss Miss back on court, but the fact that her return to WTA action didn’t materialize into a singles comeback was a bit of a downer.

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Highlight: Agnieszka Radwanska’s Trick Shot in Miami More than 3 million views and counting on YouTube, and yes, it is that good.


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2013 US Open Preview

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2013 US Open Preview


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Woman Show by Erik Gudris

Serena Williams proved in 2013 that she was the best female tennis player on the planet. But could her overwhelming success be a plus and a problem for the WTA next year? Dominated. Owned. Ruled.

These are some of the words used to describe Serena Williams and her standout 2013 season. Not only did she return to world No. 1, she won 11 titles including the French Open, the US Open and the WTA Championships. With a 78-4 record, Williams completed one of the best winning percentages of any female player since 1990. To sum it up, she rocked.

At age 32, the only person who appears capable of stopping Williams for achieving even more glory next year is Serena Williams herself. And therein lies the paradox. On the one hand, we are fortunate to be able to watch one of the greatest athletes ever, in her prime, compete at her very best. But on the other hand, is the WTA about to become unofficially known by the acronym of the “Williams Tennis Association,” if it isn’t already? Heading into 2014, the biggest question facing women’s tennis is if a true rival to Williams will not only emerge, but also challenge

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Williams throughout the season. And not just once or twice during the course of the year. It certainly is possible. But will it actually come to pass? Victoria Azarenka, who beat Williams twice this year and tested her in the US Open finals, is viewed by many as the American’s toughest rival. But will she be next year? Especially after the way Azarenka flamed out at the end of this season, having won only one more match post New York, along with suffering from self-admitted burnout after her last two successful yet grueling years. While Azarenka has the game and will to battle Williams on the biggest stages, she has yet to knock out Williams when it really matters at a Grand Slam. If fans of women’s tennis are hoping for a true rivalry, Azarenka has to land the proverbial knockout punch at one of the majors to live up to that expectation. Behind Azarenka in the rankings are Li Na, Agnieszka Radwanska, Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova. Again, all talented players, but none has yet to beat Williams in the last five years combined (Li did so in 2008). Hope springs eternal, especially during a new season, but it is hard to view these women as the elite of the WTA when they can’t figure out a way to beat the woman who continues to prove herself to be the very best. Each of them has gotten close before, but will any of them secure a precious “W” by their name in 2014? Or will we see one of the younger stars like Sloane Stephens (who defeated Williams in Melbourne) or Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard rise to the occasion?

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It wasn’t that long ago that the WTA was criticized for not having a “legit” No. 1 player. Williams is certainly legit in that department. But it’s almost as if the tour has come full circle. From a period of appearing in disarray and lacking a leading star to now having one woman not only be the star, but leaving little room for anyone else to shine. Rivalries are the lifeblood of any sport. But the WTA is in danger of losing viewers if Williams always proves to be better than anyone else. Throughout 2013, certain players were hyped as being a “real threat” to Williams, only to see her withstand them, or in many cases, wipe them off of the court. Where’s the intrigue in that? Before the start of the WTA Championships in October, Williams said that she had no intention of retiring any time soon and could not imagine life without a tennis racquet in her hand. While that is great news for the WTA as it looks forward to many more years of seeing one of its greatest stars continue to compete, one has to think that the other players on tour were not exactly so thrilled to hear such news. Ultimately, it will likely be up to them to decide if they continue being just a supporting cast to the historic and ongoing narrative that is Serena Williams and her legendary career. But unless something dramatic happens, expect 2014 to be another year where Williams takes yet another bow as the best female player in the world.


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2013 US Open Preview

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Ye a r i n Re v i e w

10 of 2013

Best Matches

The 2013 tennis season was certainly one for the record books. As tennis fans, we were treated to a lot of memorable, classic moments that had us talking all year long. On the men’s side, the “Big Four” not only amplified their rivalries and produced some thrilling tennis between them, but a few of the up-and-comers also crept into the picture and gave them a good scare. And although Serena Williams’ domination was the prevailing theme of 2013, a few other stars had their shining moments on some of the biggest stages. Looking back on the past 12 months, we’ve compiled our list of the 10 best matches of 2013. And what a year it was.

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Novak Djokovic d. Stan Wawrinka Australian Open Fourth Round 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7(5), 12-10

This 5:02 epic captivated the imagination of fans perhaps more than any other match in 2013, and both Djokovic, who won the epic nail biter and tore open his shirt when it was all over, and Wawrinka, who claimed he “fought like a dog,” seemed to benefit from the highquality, back-and-forth battle. Djokovic’s benefit would be realized in the short term, as the Serb would win his sixth Grand Slam title and his fourth in Australia a week later. For Wawrinka, the heartbreak would eventually amalgamate into fortitude, and the Swiss would stay the path and turn in his best season to date in 2013. “I think it’s by far the best match I ever play, especially in five sets against the No. 1 player,” Wawrinka said. “We were both tired, but I really fight like a dog.”

After serving to take a two-sets-to-love lead, Wawrinka found himself down two sets to one before rallying to take the fourth in a tiebreaker. In the 104-minute fifth set, tension and drama peaked. Playing out of his mind, Wawrinka had four break points while up 4-3 in the final set; Djokovic had two match points in the 22nd game. All went by the wayside, until the Serb was finally able to close it out after a breathtaking match point, when he slipped a backhand passing shot past an exhausted Wawrinka to clinch it. “Well, it definitely ranks right at the top,” Djokovic would say of the match. “It was one of the longest, most interesting, and most exciting matches I played in my career. What a match point. Unbelievable.”

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Rafael Nadal d. Novak Djokovic Roland Garros Semifinals 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7(3), 9-7

In this French Open final masquerading as a semifinal, all the ingredients were there for a titanic clash. With Djokovic seeking to become the first male to win the first two Grand Slams of a calendar year in over 20 years, and Nadal questing for a record eighth Roland Garros title, anticipation was at a fever pitch in the lead-up to this semifinal. Each player had scored a decisive blow against the other on the road to Roland Garros, setting up a rubber match for the ages between two heated rivals on the terre battue in Paris.

The Serb would jump out to a lead in the fifth set as well, only to be derailed by the net touch heard round the world and, of course, the indomitable will and spirit of Nadal.

The tennis did not disappoint, as Nadal and Djokovic went toe-to-toe for nearly five hours in a see-saw battle that John McEnroe would later call the best clay-court match he’d ever seen. With Nadal looking like he was safely in control of the match, Djokovic engineered a stirring rally and took the fourth set in a perfectly played tiebreaker.

Djokovic’s heartfelt emotion in the pressroom summed up the heavy emotional toll that this match took on both players. “It’s still very fresh,” he said. “It’s been an unbelievable match to be a part of, but all I can feel now is disappointment. That’s it.”

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The Spaniard would take advantage of Djokovic’s fateful error at 4-3, deuce, and eventually he would close out Djokovic 9-7 in the fifth set. It was a beautifully played and intensely emotional match, one that felt big from the onset and loomed even larger at the finish.


Sabine Lisicki d. Agnieszka Radwanska Wimbledon Semifinals 6-4, 2-6, 9-7

Thanks to Sabine Lisicki and some other Wimbleggedon chaos, the Wimbledon Ladies’ Singles draw was cracked wide open in the second week. Opportunity was knocking, both for Lisicki, who knocked off Serena Williams in one of the most thrilling Wimbledon upsets of all-time in the fourth round, and for Radwanska, who as the highestseeded player remaining in the draw found herself one win away from reaching the final for a second consecutive year.

usual craftiness, pinpoint precision and tactical awareness, had done everything she could to battle past Lisicki, but in the end there was a certain magical element to Lisicki’s game that simply could not be overcome.

Who would answer the door?

At one point Radwanska had taken nine of 10 games, but with the Pole on the precipice of victory, the magic of Lisicki took hold. “I thought, ‘Okay, you’ve done it against Serena so you can do it today as well, just hang in there,’” Lisicki told the BBC after the match.

That wouldn’t be clear until the bitter end. True to form, hot-and-cold Lisicki got hot at the right time, rallying back from a 3-0 deficit in the final set to stun Radwanska with a sublime performance that at times seemed to be guided by a higher power. Radwanska, with her

Lisicki would need two chances to serve for the match against the determined Radwanska, and when she finally ripped her last forehand winner to clinch a trip to her first Grand Slam final, she fell to the grass and let the moment wash all over her.

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Serena Williams d. Victoria Azarenka U.S. Open Final 7-5, 6-7(6), 6-1

The 2013 season, as it turns out, was all about Serena Williams, but the second set of her U.S. Open final with Victoria Azarenka showcased the trademark grittiness of the Belarusian and turned what could have been a blowout into a highly dramatic, highly memorable encounter. Williams and Azarenka were playing in the final for the second consecutive year, and while Serena had dominated pretty much everything and everybody she faced in 2013, Azarenka actually entered the match leading their head-to-head for the season 2-1. Impressive to say the least, but looming larger was the fact that Azarenka had never defeated Williams at a Grand Slam in seven tries. Williams would jump out in front, and looked to be racing to the finish, but the always obstinate Azarenka wouldn’t allow her to serve out the match at 5-4 and again at 6-5, and the feisty Belarusian eventually

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took the set in a tiebreaker to force a winner-take-all set with Williams for a second straight year at the U.S. Open. On display in that second set was Azarenka’s courage and fighting spirit, as time and time again she has proven to be the only player on the WTA Tour that actually relishes the opportunity to punch holes in Williams’ greatness. It was impressive to see, but in the end, Williams, though flustered by the wind and her rallying opponent, stormed back to dominate the third set and clinch her fifth U.S. Open title and 17th Career Grand Slam. What was nearly a monumental victory for Azarenka ended up being what many predicted it would be: a coronation for one of the greatest female players to ever carry a racquet. But the circuitous and highly dramatic path that Williams was forced to take to get through this final made it one to truly remember.


Victoria Azarenka d. Li Na Australian Open Final 4-6, 6-4, 6-3

With all the drama surrounding Victoria Azarenka after her controversial medical timeout during her semifinal against Sloane Stephens in Melbourne, it must have felt like some kind of weird cosmic karma was working against her when Li Na ended up taking two prolonged medical timeouts during the final. Li took the first set with some sizzling tennis, and when Azarenka went up a break in the second, Li promptly tweaked her ankle and needed some time to get it taped before she could begin play again. But the distractions—and the lack of crowd support—only seemed to steel Azarenka’s will. “I was expecting worse, to be honest,” Azarenka would say of the crowd’s support of Li. Unfazed, she took the second set, but the weirdness would reach a peak in the third, when after a nine-minute break for fireworks, Li tumbled again, this time hitting her head and needing further medical evaluation. It was a strange set of circumstances, and Azarenka would have been excused for

becoming distracted and letting her level drop, but she didn’t. In a match that featured 16 breaks of serve and some of the weirdest circumstances a Grand Slam final has ever seen, it would be Azarenka who would display a champion’s fortitude down the stretch. Li did all she could to overcome her misfortunes, but on this night of patchy play and devilish drama, she didn’t have the wits to match Azarenka. “Maybe if I’m not falling down, it’s another story,” Li said of her defeat. “You never know. But the truth: I was falling down, so nothing can change.” The victory would leave Azarenka as one of only five active players to have won multiple Grand Slams, and it also solidified her status—at least for the time being—as the world No. 1.

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Tomas Berdych/Lukas Rosol d. Marco Chiudinelli/Stan Wawrinka Davis Cup 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-7(3), 24-22

This doubles meeting back in February during the tie between Czech Republic and Switzerland made our list not just because it became the longest Davis Cup rubber (singles or doubles) ever contested in the event’s history. It also made the list simply because it remained a fascinating, nail-biting contest from start to finish. The seven-hour battle was filled with attacking net flourishes, ripped return winners, and blaring horns from the stands, and it was a match that kept every single person watching in their seats. Especially after the Swiss team saved 12 match points. But a final double fault from

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Chiudinelli sealed the mind-boggling 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-7(3), 24-22 win for the Czechs. “I have never played tennis that long,” Berdych said after he broke the hearts of the Swiss fans watching in attendance. The Czech Republic team proved that every win in Davis Cup is important, no matter how long it takes, after they clinched the tie 3-2.


Novak Djokovic d. Juan Martin del Potro Wimbledon Semifinals 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-7(6), 6-3

Two of the ATP’s toughest competitors locked horns in a five-set thriller that offered enough drama and even some comedy to make it a worthy show for London’s West End theater district. Djokovic found himself literally stretched to the limit as he tried to retrieve del Potro’s thundering forehands in a match that became the longest men’s semifinal in the All England Club’s history. Despite falling to the ground on countless occasions trying to retrieve yet another whizzing del Potro forehand, Djokovic took hold of a two-sets-to-one lead. But before we knew it, del Potro roared back to life in the fourth set. Of course, the Argentine didn’t let the tense

atmosphere dull his sense of humor, as he engaged in a playful exchange with the Serbian over a line call. After taking the fourth set tiebreak, del Potro looked poised to pull off the massive win. But it was Djokovic who soon sealed the marathon victory in a match that at first left the Centre Court crowd silent in awe but then soon applauded both men with a roaring standing ovation. “It was one of the best matches that I’ve been a part of. One of the most exciting, definitely,” Djokovic said afterwards. We certainly agree.

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Richard Gasquet d. Milos Raonic US Open Fourth Round 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 2-6, 7-6(9), 7-5

While most attention was focused on Roger Federer’s shocking fourth-round exit to Tommy Robredo on Armstrong Stadium, a good old-fashioned night match battle royale was just starting on Court 17, and it proved one of the event’s best contests. France’s Richard Gasquet faced off against Canada’s Milos Raonic with a coveted quarterfinal spot on the line. After dropping the opening set in a tense tiebreak, the normally calm Gasquet broke character and stunned viewers worldwide by tossing his socks in an angry fit onto the court. That display of emotion from Gasquet proved how much he wanted this match, especially given his recent history of wilting in tight matches. As the battle progressed into a fourth set on a humid

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night, the players were boosted by a rowdy crowd that desperately wanted to see a fifth set. They got their wish after Raonic, up two sets to one, failed to close out Gasquet after holding a match point. With Raonic’s serve unable to inflict as much damage as before, Gasquet pounced and soon took the lead for 6-5 in the final set. The Frenchman didn’t let go and, after Raonic struck a final backhand long, Gasquet could finally celebrate the five-set win. It proved to be a confidence-boosting victory for Gasquet, who used that momentum to reach the semifinals of the US Open for the first time in his career.


Zheng Jie d. Venus Williams US Open Second Round 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(5)

After a rain delay halted play for several hours, Venus Williams and Zheng Jie engaged in a spirited, hard-hitting tilt that left US Open fans gasping for air. Early on, the second-round match appeared to be a one-sided contest. Williams, affected by the delay, couldn’t get her game going, allowing Zheng to secure the first set 6-3. But Williams found her “A” game soon enough in the second set, as she took control by unleashing the big serving, freewheeling style that helped her win seven major titles. Withstanding Zheng’s sizzling return winners, Williams served out the set to force a decider. Once both women raised their levels in the final set, the match suddenly took flight. With their shots coming back to each other

with even more intensity, the baseline rallies proved sublime. Zheng served for the match at 5-3, but Williams refused to give in. The veteran struck a volley winner to level things at 5-all, sending the proAmerican crowd into a frenzy. A back-and-forth final set tiebreak saw both women trade leads. Williams won a 22-shot rally and looked poised to finally close out the win. But it was Zheng who hung tough in the last moments to sneak out the 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(5) victory. “Sorry guys,” Zheng said to the crowd afterwards as the Chinese star understood that the locals wanted Williams to win. But for the veteran American, despite entering the tournament with question marks on how long she would keep playing, her vintage display proved she plans on sticking around.

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Dominika Cibulkova d. Agnieszka Radwanska Stanford Final 3-6, 6-4, 6-4

After enduring a humiliating double-bagel thrashing at the hands of Agnieszka Radwanska in the Sydney final in January, hopes were not very high for Dominika Cibulkova as she prepared to face Radwanska in July’s Stanford final. The diminutive Slovakian had been bageled in four of nine previous sets against Radwanska, and had an 0-4 record against the Pole, so when she dropped the first set 6-3, who would have blamed her for just being happy to be on the scoreboard?

But in the final set, nerves interrupted as Cibulkova nervously doublefaulted to hand Radwanska two breaks of serve. With her back against the wall, Cibulkova began to fire away on any ball she could get her racquet on. Playing out of her mind, she would overwhelm Radwanska in the next three games to lead 5-4, and after Radwanska saved four match points with Cibulkova serving, the Slovakian ripped a crosscourt backhand winner to seal the title.

But Cibulkova had other plans. Reaching into her bag of tricks to pull out her no-holds-barred, aggressive game, the 5-foot-3 fireplug suddenly found herself in the groove. It would take a while, but after knocking on the door for much of the first and second set, Cibulkova scorched one of her 39 winners on the day to claim the first break of serve in the second set, eventually forcing a decisive third.

It was a valiant effort from Cibulkova, who reached deep within herself to finally overcome an opponent who had owned her in the past, and it’s the type of courageous tennis that leads one to believe that Cibulkova might one day find herself playing that type of tennis on an even bigger stage.

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GAME, SET, CAREER: NOTABLE RETIREMENTS IN 2013

by Erik Gudris

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2013 Year In Review


ANNA CHAKVETADZE

Before Andy Murray became the UK’s most famous tennis player, Anne Keothavong represented the Union Jack starting as a junior back in 1996. The winner of 20 ITF titles, Keothavong achieved a career high ranking of No. 48 in 2009, making her the first British woman to be inside the top 50 in over 16 years. Overcoming two knee surgeries, Keothavong continued to persevere as she reached a career-best third round at the US Open in 2008. Known for her strong forehand, she represented the United Kingdom at the Summer Olympics in 2012. In the summer of 2013, Keothavong decided to end her tennis career and pursue a new one in television broadcasting.

Perhaps known best for her very long ponytail, Chakvetadze was part of the Russian wave of breakout stars in the early 2000s. Chakvetadze won eight singles titles and reached a career high ranking of No. 5 upon reaching the US Open semifinals in 2007. But when she experienced an armed robbery at her parents’ home in Russia, Chakvetadze was never the same. After several comeback attempts, a bad back finally proved too much for the Russian affectionately known as “Anna Chak.”

ANNE KEOTHAVONG

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JILL CRAYBAS

The bouncing wonder of Le Puy-en-Velay with a selfprofessed IQ of 175, Marion Bartoli enjoyed a standout career that defied all expectations. She first rose to prominence by beating Justine Henin en route to reaching the 2007 Wimbledon finals. Guided by her father as her coach, Bartoli possessed an unorthodox playing style in which she struck the ball with both hands on both wings, a technique that excited and mystified many tennis watchers. Often a fixture within the WTA’s top 10, few predicted Bartoli’s surprise run to the Wimbledon title this year, and even less predictable was her subsequent and abrupt retirement only a month later in Cincinnati. But no one can deny the impact Bartoli had on the sport during her 13-year career. Bonne chance, Marion!

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Simply put, Jill Craybas was in it for the long haul. After turning pro in 1996, Craybas enjoyed a lengthy 15-year career that included winning one WTA title in Tokyo. Perhaps her best known victory was an upset over Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 2005 en route to reaching the fourth round there that year. While many players might have stopped after realizing that they might not contest for the biggest titles anymore, Craybas chose to play on. She enjoyed the competition and pushed herself to be the best athlete she could be – on her terms. Before retiring at this year’s US Open at the age of 39, Craybas proved that tennis is indeed the sport of a lifetime.

MARION BARTOLI


XAVIER MALISSE

Perhaps one of the most talented yet turbulent players ever to play the sport, David Nalbandian will long be remembered for his impeccable groundstrokes and his prickly personality. Reaching a career high No. 3 in the world, Nalbandian first gained worldwide attention after reaching the Wimbledon finals in 2002. Often a thorn in the side of the world’s elite players, Nalbandian won 11 career ATP titles, including the year-end championships in 2005. But despite all of his achievements, perhaps Nalbandian’s true love was Davis Cup. A proud member of Argentina’s team for many years, Nalbandian tried his best to bring the Davis Cup title home. Boasting a 39-11 record in the event, he helped Argentina finish as runner-up in 2006, 2008 and 2011.

One never knew what to expect from the volatile yet always entertaining Xavier Malisse. Reaching a career high ranking of No. 19, Malisse was as known for his turbulent personality as he was for his exciting brand of tennis. A Wimbledon semifinalist in 2002, Malisse earned three career ATP titles. “I liked the pressure of the game but I’m also relieved,” Malisse said after losing to Sergiy Stakhovsky in straight sets in the first round of the Mons Challenger, his final career tournament. “Now I’m going to relax with my family and friends. It is hard to leave but we have to stop one day.”

DAVID NALBANDIAN

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NICOLAS MASSU

Boasting lightning-fast speed and some of the most potent groundstrokes ever, James Blake became a fan favorite during his 14-year career. Despite suffering a neck injury and shingles and also dealing with the death of his father in 2004, Blake roared back to reach a career high No. 4 ranking in 2006. Blake won 10 ATP titles and was a proud member of the U.S. Davis Cup team. One of the most well-liked players on and off the court, Blake announced his retirement at this year’s US Open and played his final match in a five-set loss to Ivo Karlovic in the first round. “That ovation makes me realize that everything I did, that every bit of hard work was worth it to play in front of you guys, and to do this for 14 years. If I’d just been playing in my backyard, it wouldn’t have meant anything, but to do it in front of you guys, I have so many highs and lows in front of you. It’ll never be forgotten. I’m going to take in every memory I’ve had here,” Blake said after receiving a standing ovation during his last match at the US Open.

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Though he had been out of the tennis spotlight for some time, Chile’s Nicolas Massu finally announced his departure from the sport after 17 years in August of this year. The winner of six career titles, Massu’s greatest achievement was winning two Olympic gold medals in both singles and doubles in 2004, the same year he reached a career high ranking of No. 9. “My country can be sure that I hit each ball with all my soul and I tried to represent Chile to the fullest,” Massu said during his retirement announcement. “I will miss the adrenaline of the Davis Cup, the ‘chi, chi, chi,’ and the ‘Let’s go Nico!’ chants.”

JAMES BLAKE


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T h e F i l a F a c t o r Given its presence in the tennis world today, it’s hard to believe Fila started as Italian underwear manufacturer more than a century ago. Thanks in part to Bjorn Borg’s dedication to the brand during his brief but awe-inspiring career, Fila’s classic aesthetic quickly became synonymous with the golden age of the game. Today the company is consistently looking to push the tennis fashion boundaries while staying true to the clean, simple formula that put it on the map. In fact, Fila was named to the shortlist for the prestigious WGSN Global Fashion Awards in the Sports/Activewear Design Team Category. While they have some tricks up their sleeve for 2014 (including French Open designs by Ginny Hilfiger!), Fila had a buzz-worthy run this season as well. Who could forget the “Carwash” skirts worn by the doubles duo of Julia Goerges and Jaroslava Shvedova at Indian Wells? Inspired by the runway as well as the 20s flapper dresses, the Fila team took inspiration from their design archives in Biella, Italy. The result was a brightlyhued, eye-catching kit that gave new meaning to the term “movement.” Goerges debuted a more subtle look at Wimbledon with the crisp, classic Collezione collection, pairing a feminine skirt with an ultra-sporty top. 2013 Year In Review

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Fila’s roll-out for 2013 was nearly as impressive as Jelena Jankovic’s comeback season that saw her ranking move from outside the top 20 to inside the elite eight. As a partnership, Jankovic and Fila make perfect sense, her lithe figure seemingly tailor-made for its streamlined dress designs. Fila even got a little help with Jankovic’s look for the Sony Open in Miami. Her pink dress was designed by Samantha Swank – a junior at East Stroudsberg University and the winner of Fila USA’s Facebook design contest. Fans (and photographers) seemed to love the piece. And, of course, we can’t forget about the men. Fila’s Heritage line is represented by colorful character Janko Tipsarevic. Despite struggling throughout most of the 2013 season, the Serb reached the fourth round of the US Open while donning the Heritage printed crew neck top. Fila paired the unique ombre honeycomb print of the shirt with the Heritage short, which featured a geometric contrast side panel and white piping. Looking to capitalize on its 2013 momentum, Fila will look to make a strong return in 2014 according to the company’s VP of Apparel, Danny Lieberman. “We’ve had great success over the last few seasons, but the response to our spring 2014 line has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “Fila’s offering for spring combines our understated and elegant design aesthetic with our most technical fabrics to date.” 2013 Year In Review

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1. 42-year-old Kimiko Date Krumm became the oldest player to ever win an Australian Open match in 2013 when she reached the third round. Martina Navratilova holds the record as the oldest player to ever win a Grand Slam match, when she defeated Catalina Castano at Wimbledon 2004. How old was she then? a) 44 b) 45 c) 47 d) 49 2. In men’s tennis, Roland Garros has seen the most first-time Grand Slam winners than any other Grand Slam with 21. Wimbledon has seen the least first-time Grand Slam winners. How many first-time male Grand Slam winners has it seen? a) 7 b) 9 c) 10 d) 12 3. In 2013, Petra Kvitova broke the record for most three-set matches played (37). The last woman to hold that record set it in 2005 with 36 three-setters. Who was it? a) Elena Dementieva b) Ai Sugiyama c) Anastasia Myskina d) Patty Schnyder 4. How many aces did Serena Williams finish the year with in 2013? a) 236 b) 302 c) 480 d) 550 5. Billie Jean King won 12 Grand Slam singles titles in her career, but how many Grand Slam doubles titles did she take home (including mixed)? a) 27 b) 19 c) 36 d) 15

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a) Jimmy Connors b) Arthur Ashe c) Rod Laver d) Stan Smith 8. How many consecutive tiebreaks did Robin Haase lose before finally winning one in a first-round match versus Kenny De Schepper at Roland Garros? a) 15 b) 17 c) 19 d) 20 9. This year, Bob and Mike Bryan attempted to become only the second men’s doubles team to win a calendar Grand Slam. Who was the first team to achieve it? a) Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde b) Lew Hoad and Ken Rosewall c) John Newcombe and Tony Roche d) Ken McGregor and Frank Sedgman 10. Marion Bartoli was known for training in an unorthodox style. Which of the following methods was NOT something her father and coach, Walter, had her doing while developing her skills as a junior? a) Playing on icy and uneven court surfaces to restrict her movement b) Taping tennis balls to the heels of her shoes so she would learn to stay on her toes c) Taping both of her hands to the racquet so she could develop technique off both wings d) Hitting tennis balls of different size and color to improve hand- eye coordination

ANSWERS

6. d 7. a 8. b 9. d 10.c

How well do you know your tennis history?

7. Who is the only person to win US Open singles championships on hard, clay and grass?

c b d c a

IQ

a) Rafael Nadal b) Guillermo Vilas c) Bjorn Borg d) Ilie Nastase

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

TENNIS

6. Who is the first male player to win the French Open without dropping a set?


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Roger Federer appeared to be a shadow of his former self after his shocking fourth-round loss to Tommy Robredo at the US Open.

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Victoria Azarenka overcame Li Na and a “medical timeout� controversy to take her second straight Australian Open title in 2013.

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Andy Murray traded out serves and groundstrokes for sunscreen and sand after his win at the Sony Open in Miami.

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What knee injury? Rafael Nadal lived up to his “King of Clay” moniker with a record eighth French Open title. 50

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A shoulder injury may have sidelined Maria Sharapova late in the season, but she had plenty to celebrate early on, including a semifinal run at the Australian Open.


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Thanks to their 10 tournament wins this season, Bob and Mike Bryan’s celebratory chest bump was a familiar sight in 2013.

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In the process of becoming the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years, Andy Murray won the hearts of fans all over the world.

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It’s hard to believe Serena Williams’ fourth-round Wimbledon defeat at the hands of Sabine Lisicki was one of just four losses in her 2013 season.

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Roger Federer’s shaky play made for some disappointing losses this year, but one thing remains constant – the crowd loves him.

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He may not be heading home with the year-end No. 1 ranking, but Novak Djokovic’s consistent performance level is a testament to his focused, fighting spirit.

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This time last year, the future of Rafael Nadal’s career hung in the balance. Today he is the most dominant player in the game. Vamos, Rafa!

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RANKINGS 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

Nadal, Rafael Djokovic, Novak Ferrer, David Murray, Andy Del Potro, Juan Martin Berdych, Tomas Federer, Roger Wawrinka, Stanislas Gasquet, Richard Tsonga, Jo-Wilfried Raonic, Milos Haas, Tommy Almagro, Nicolas Isner, John Youzhny, Mikhail Fognini, Fabio Nishikori, Kei Robredo, Tommy Simon, Gilles Anderson, Kevin Janowicz, Jerzy Kohlschreiber, Philipp Dimitrov, Grigor Gulbis, Ernests Seppi, Andreas

ESP SRB ESP GBR ARG CZE SUI SUI FRA FRA CAN GER ESP USA RUS ITA JPN ESP FRA RSA POL GER BUL LAT ITA

12,030 10,610 5,800 5,790 5,055 3,980 3,805 3,330 3,300 3,065 2,860 2,435 2,290 2,150 2,145 1,930 1,915 1,810 1,790 1,685 1,615 1,525 1,520 1,393 1,360

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

Williams, Serena Azarenka, Victoria Li, Na Sharapova, Maria Radwanska, Agnieszka Kvitova, Petra Errani, Sara Jankovic, Jelena Kerber, Angelique Wozniacki, Caroline Halep, Simona Stephens, Sloane Bartoli, Marion Vinci, Roberta Lisicki, Sabine Ivanovic, Ana Suarez Navarro, Carla Stosur, Samantha Kirilenko, Maria Flipkens, Kirsten Kuznetsova, Svetlana Cirstea, Sorana Cibulkova, Dominika Makarova, Ekaterina Vesnina, Elena

USA BLR CHN RUS POL CZE ITA SRB DEU DNK ROM USA FRA ITA DEU SRB ESP AUS RUS BEL RUS ROM SVK RUS RUS

13,260 8,046 6,045 5,891 5,875 4,775 4,435 4,170 3,965 3,520 3,335 3,185 3,172 3,170 2,920 2,850 2,735 2,675 2,640 2,495 2,341 2,170 2,076 2,066 2,005 2013 French Open Review 2013 Year In Review

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Profile for Tennis Now

2013 Tennis Year in Review  

A look back at 2013 proves that this year produced some of the most exciting and unexpected moments our sport has seen in a while. The lates...

2013 Tennis Year in Review  

A look back at 2013 proves that this year produced some of the most exciting and unexpected moments our sport has seen in a while. The lates...

Profile for tennisnow