Archive for March, 2009
Seeing as this is a tennis blog with a focus on the majors, I thought today I’d begin a short series on these four tennis events – Grand Slam 101 I guess you’d call it. With the French Open being the next event on the calendar, I decided that made it as good a place to start as any.
French Open Originally Very Patriotic
The French Open began in 1891 as a national tournament, and remained closed to foreign players until 1925. It was originally known as Championat de France International de Tennis, or The French Championship. It changed its name to The French Open in 1968 when it became the first Grand Slam tournament to go open, accepting both amateurs and professionals.
French men’s tennis in the late 20′s and early 30′s was very strong, with ‘The Four Musketeers’ as their top quartet of players were known, claiming 20 singles majors and 23 doubles titles over this period.
After these legends of French tennis claimed the Davis Cup in 1927, a decision was made to build a new stadium that could play host to their defense of the Cup. Tennis authorities were provided with three acres of land on which to build their new facility, on the proviso that it be named after World War 1 pilot, Roland Garros. The tournament has been held here ever since and is now played on clay, with grass being the original surface of the stadium.
The Clay Produces Some Unusual Champions
Being played on a different surface to the rest of the more »
A week or so ago, the Chairman of the IPL announced that the tournament would not be played in India. Security was the main issue; what with the Sri Lankan cricket team being so viciously attacked in Lahore earlier this month, India felt they would not be able to provide the right level of security needed for the high profile tournament to take place in the country. So it’s happening in South Africa – I have to say England were a tad put out; we’re the first to admit that our weather is rubbish, but still…
Anyway, the same seems to be happening for India’s tennis. Yesterday Tennis Australia claimed that it wanted the Davis Cup tie match with India to be moved away from India and held elsewhere. The International Tennis Federation is doing its own security report to make sure that it’s either safe or unsafe, and until then there won’t even begin to look at any other possibilities.
You can understand why Australia has some concerns. On top of the cricket incident, a violent attack in Mumbai at the beginning of the year killed around one hundred people at two luxury hotels in the city. There’s also the fact that – once again this year – tennis more »
Sunday saw the conclusion of the combined ATP, WTA tour events held in Indian Wells, California and the two tournaments could not have been more different. The usual suspects progressed through the men’s draw and deep into the second week, while on the women’s side it was a tournament of upsets as little known youngsters took down their more established rivals, announcing to the tennis world that it may not be too long before they themselves are part of the game’s elite.
Nadal Nabs Another Title
In a bit of an anti-climax Rafael Nadal destroyed Andy Murray in the final 6-1, 6-2 in blustery conditions to claim his second title here after his victory in 2007. The toughest opponent for Nadal on the day was the wind – and even that he handled with his usual gritty determination.
With a sandstorm brewing outside the stadium and gusts of up to 45mph measured, Nadal put in place a game plan that reigned in the aggressive shots targeted at the sidelines, and forced his opponent into making the mistakes.
“My strategy was to move all the time.” Nadal said “When there is a lot of wind, the important thing is you don’t have to find the shots close to the line. Put balls in play”
He executed to perfection and Murray was left to ponder the possibility that the Spaniard’s game is still improving.
“He moves around so well and he has improved his game by using more slice, coming to the net better, and his backhand is better. He’s doing everything better.”
A scary pro more »
I hate to harp on about it, but once again I’m here to give an update on the progress of the Great Britain team. After some puzzling, I managed to narrow down my impression of their performance to a single verb: struggling. The GB team limped its way through the play-off against Ukraine in the fashion of a group of people who do not quite know what’s going on. Not only did they lose, they lost with very little style. Where this source of confusion comes from is unknown.
Is it the coach? Does he in fact know what to do with a Davis Cup team to push them on? It appeared that John Lloyd knew exactly what he wanted at the very beginning, but with an X-Factor style selection process for Andy Murray and Ross Hutchins’ team mates, it seems a little unsure. There’s no doubt he’s a great tennis player and he is capable of making this team work on some level. But personally I can’t help wishing we could dispense with the nationality issue and just get John McEnroe instead…
Is it Andy Murray? Murray is the most experienced and talented of the players on the GB team. Is he really encouraging his less ex more »
The men’s and women’s events have both kicked off at Indian Wells in California, and while in the early rounds the men have performed as their rankings would suggest they should, two big name losses on the women’s side, combined with the absence of both Williams sisters have left this tournament wide open for the taking.
Coming into the tournament both Serena and Venus Williams had continued their boycott of the event, leaving a fairly even field with four women in particular rated as having the greatest chance. Two of those women – Elena Dementieva and Jelena Jankovic have been bundled out in the first round, leaving Dinara Safina as a slight favourite ahead of Vera Zvonareva.
While Jankovic has struggled to find form early in the year, the loss of Dementieva was much more surprising, having been one of the form players at some of the big events played earlier in the year. Her form has dipped slightly in the past month and she fought hard for the first two sets here but ran out of steam and lost the third 6-1 against Petra Cetkovska from the Czech Republic.
The Russian has had a very busy start to the year with back to back wins in the Southern Hemisphere followed by a narrow semi-final defeat at the Australian Open.
“I think I should not have come here” she said “because I did not have enough time to recover after playing so many matches at the beginning of the year. I needed a much longer break to get ready to play at my more »