Davis Cup. Could this be a Swiss master stroke.

20 Nov

Roger rips BHand

Roger Federer in full flight, ripping into a backhand earlier in 2014.

It will be interesting to see if the so-called spat between team mates (and good      mates) Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka has any implication for team harmony   in the Davis Cup final which starts tomorrow in Lille, France.

The tie will be played indoors on clay – a choice made by the home French team –  who probably feel they need to slow things down to negate the Stanimal and  Roger’s weapons. Should be an amazing atmosphere – a 27,000 seat indoor  stadium full of parochial French, with the 4th ranked Swiss looking to topple the  2nd ranked French team.

122 nations contested the Davis Cup in 2014, and now we are down to the final two. This will be a great clash. The French have a long and proud history in Davis Cup. Equal 3rd on the all-time tally with 9 victories, whilst Switzerland are yet to win the Davis Cup. It is one of Roger Federer’s stated remaining goals in the game. The Swiss did make the final back in 1992 – but ran into something of a USA Dream Team – Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier and John McEnroe!

The French will probably go with Tsonga and Monfils in the singles, but could surprise with either Gasquet or Simon – nice to have those selection issues.. The Swiss are a little more straight forward – Federer and Wawrinka – and hang their hopes on gaining 3 singles wins.


MC a finalist in NZ

10 Oct
For those who know me well, you’d understand that this page is not meant to be a vehicle for chest beating. However sometimes you just need to share the good news. Just got a call from Jamie Parrott Tennis (JPT) International player MC straight off the court from his ITF 18/Under singles semi final in New Zealand.

Michael, a first time semi finalist has gone one better today, beating the top seed Kirrapal Pannu – a player who beat Michael 6 weeks ago in Fiji. MC learnt a lot from that match and we have been working on his aggressiveness and ability to “finish what he started”. Today he did it. Fighting back from a set down to win 6/7, 6/4, 6/2.

Here’s hoping for a photo tomorrow night of MC holding the silverware just like Stan the Man Stanislas Wawrinka here with the 2014 Australian Open trophy.

Great job MC!

No pain. No gain.

8 Oct

Tennis has become a performance athlete sport – gone are the days when you could rely on court craft, guile and cunning. The typical tour player is a professional in all regards. And the off-court component of any training schedule is vital to your success.
When Nick Kyrgios and his team decided he was ending his 2014 campaign due to fatigue and to rest a troublesome left arm injury the key point to take from his lay off was that, yes, he is returning to Canberra to rest…And then will take a seven-week break from tournaments to focus on building more strength and fitness to help him make the next step in his career.
So do like JPT player Marcus is doing here at Bentleigh, and Nick Kyrgios is doing in Canberra – make on court gains with off court work. Set goals, measure them. Aspire. Achieve. And do your best every day. The PRO
MW court fitness

Switzerland powers past Italy to go into the Davis Cup final.

16 Sep

A great clip here of a jubilant Swiss Davis Cup captain, Severin Luthi and Swiss # 2 Stan Wawrinka chairing Roger Federer around the stadium following his win over Italy’s Fabio Fognini which clinched the semi-final tie for the Swiss team.

Federer has made the Davis Cup a priority this year, and has 5 singles straight set wins in a row to his credit. The Davis Cup has eluded Federer and Switzerland, and this year with a team that boasts the world # 3 (Federer) and # 4 Stanislas Wawrinka they stand just one really tough match away from adding the prized “salad bowl” to the trophy cabinet.

That one match is a tantalising Davis Cup final against France, in France, late November. The French, whilst not boasting the same firepower as the Swiss big guns, are still in with a real shot as they bat very deeply. The team could include any two or three of Tsonga, Gasquet, Monfils, Simon – and even down to Benneteau and Chardy – have all given both Swiss players trouble in the past. Should be a great final and one the Swiss and, in particular Federer, will not want to let slip away.

The PRO.



Omar Jasika – I kept fighting.

11 Sep

Omar Jasika US juniors 2014

Melbourne junior Omar Jasika has joined the ranks of Pat Cash and Bernard Tomic by winning the US Open Boys Singles. Omar even went one step better than those guys by also winning the doubles title with Japan’s Naoki Nakagawa. In the singles he defeated players from the USA, Germany, France, Korea and Cyprus – again a reminder of the cosmopolitan nature of the sport.

Jasika, whose whole family are members of the Melbourne suburban Bentleigh Rec. and Clarinda Tennis Clubs, went into the event unseeded and along the way to the title defeated 3 players ranked in the top 8 seeds. In the final he managed his first win over world #4 junior and European Champion, Frenchman Quentin Halys. Halys is a powerful ball striker and has plenty of big game experience, but lefty Jasika was able to quell Haly’s power and fought back from the brink of a straight sets loss to take out the title in a gutsy 3 set win.

Great to see Omar is another in the “I started playing tennis by hitting a ball against the wall” production line. He regularly practices with Kei Nishikori, who he describes as a mentor figure. Pat Cash remarked “Jasika reminds me of former world #1 Marcelo Rios, a lefty and whilst not tall, hits the ball hard and fast”. Hopefully Cashy is on the money. Omar kept it simple in his press conference after the final. “I hung in all week and kept fighting”. Omar Jasika is a player to look out for over the next few years.

Congrats to Omar and the Bentleigh corner shop Jasika family!

Cilic has all the Kei’s.

10 Sep
Great win by a rejuvenated Marin Cilic in the US Open this morning “Down under” time.  Cilic was able to subdue the road runner Kei Nishikori – who may well have used up all his petrol tickets prior to taking the court. Nishikori will be back on the main stage, he is too good a player to fade away.

Hats off to Cilic – who has always had something of an Aussie connection. Cilic’s long time coach (though no longer) was Bob Brett. Brett used to come out to Australia each year to visit his Mum – and would always bring a handful of players with him to train at Melbourne Park. Quite often we would match up a few lucky players from my Academy program to drill or play points with Bob’s troops.

One of those was Marin Cilic and for several weeks he and his brother, Goran would pester me for balls, courts, ball machines. Cilic must have been 15 or 16 at the time. A tall, lanky bean pole who was always practicing his serve.
Today’s win takes his career ranking back to #9, where he spent much of 2010. This could be the making of Marin Cilic. He has the game to intimidate players and is driven to succeed. Bobby Brett taught him well.

Kokko-pops. Here comes the Special K.

27 Feb

Thanasi Kokkinakis, Brisbane, 2014. GETTY IMAGES

Thanasi Kokkinakis: an eye on the future.

You would be excused for thinking young Aussie tennis player Thanasi Kokkinakis has come from nowhere. However, like all teen “sensations” there is a steady back catalogue of blood, sweat and tears. Kokkinakis began playing tennis at the age of 8 – in this day of early learning and toddler motor skills programs that seems like a late start. Kokk was hooked by watching clips of Marat Safin, and later Gael Monfils.

Watch Kokkinakis play today and you can see the entertainer emerging in his game too. Big forehand, big serve, big ear-ring. He does look like he was born for the centre court. He’s Greek, he’s flashy – starting to sound familiar. Yep, it sounds like a throw back to that other big serving Greek / Aussie of reality TV fame – the Scud, Mark Philippoussis. While the Scud was ultimately, some would argue a huge talent, but an under achiever, perhaps Kokkinakis is poised to deliver on his promise.

For a start he has the advantage of a rock solid foundation – his family. Dad Trevor came to Australia as a 5year old – and grew up in the tough working class inner west Adelaide suburbs. His is a story of hard work, struggles and ultimate success; owning and operating his own engineering firm. Kokk’s siblings (he is the youngest) all have university degrees, and father Trevor insists Thanasi will finish school, hopefully this year. Grounded – that’s Trevor.

He is coached by Todd Langman. Langman himself is a rookie at this level – he gave up a promising baseball career to work more with Kokkinakis, and that decision is paying off. I was lucky enough to see the two of them in action at this year’s Australian Open in my media role, and you wouldn’t see a more cohesive coach / player partnership. Langman and Kokkinakis have been together 10 years, since Thanasi first struck a tennis ball. In Langman’s words – “it is a dream to coach someone with Thanasi’s ability”. There is no ego with Langman, he is like a sponge, learning on the job, questioning, seeking advice – he is well on his way and will be  a first rate tour coach. He even had the cheek to line up a 10 day training block in Mallorca with someone’s Uncle Toni. Grounded – that’s Todd Langman.

Believe it or not Kokkinakis was playing his first overseas events in 2010 – in the European 14 and under tour. He broke through with a few wins, got the bug and has not looked back since. A runner-up in the 2013 Australian Open junior final, albeit played with a stress fracture in his back, sealed his pedigree. This year he has beaten 4 top 100 players and already cut his ATP ranking  from over 1600+ just 13 months ago to inside 400. It’s no surprise to those who have seen his work ethic – after a 1st round loss last week at the ATP 500 in Marseille, Kokkinakis tweeted “gotta get better, # at the practice court!”  Hard working Trevor would be proud. Like father, like son.



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