Tag Archives: Grand Slam

Tommy Guns. Federer shot down.

3 Sep

 

Tommy Robredo celebrates his 7-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory against Roger Federer on Day 8 at the 2013 US Open.

How sweet it is: Tommy Robredo, winners are grinners.

John McEnroe always had a way with words. Many times in his playing career they were hurled in a verbal spray at all and sundry. To hear him lament “I don’t believe what I am seeing” during the ESPN coverage was McEnroe’s calm TV network voice – but he might as well have been screaming “you cannot be serious” as Robredo systematically pulled Swiss maestro Roger Federer’s game apart.

In what can only be described as the upset of the US Open to date (with apologies to Little Lleyton Hewitt for his gutsy win over #6 Juan Martin Del Potro) Tommy Robredo has sent Roger Federer packing, with a straight set 7-6, 6-3, 6-4 demolition of the Swiss 5 time US Open singles champion. It was Robredo’s first win over the Fed Express in 11 attempts, and on the flipside, it is the first time since 2002 that we won’t see the name Roger Federer in any of the men’s slam singles final in a calendar year.

Tommy Robredo’s is a story of courage, persistence and resilience. He had to forgo much of  the 2011 and 2012  tour with a leg injury that ultimately required surgery and saw his ATP ranking drop below 470 early in 2012. I was lucky enough to sit down at the lowly ATP Challenger in Milano with Tommy Robredo following his tournament victory there, and he spoke of his ambition to once again reach the top echelon of the game. You could be excused for thinking he had been too long in the 37 degree Italian sun.

Tommy Robredo returns in the third set during his 7-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Roger Federer on Day 8 at the 2013 US Open.

Robredo has quietly and efficiently gone about the business of being a true tennis professional from that tournament forward. He has steadily climbed the rankings and already has won two ATP main tier events this year in Santiago and Umag. Perhaps the most telling truth in his determination and burning desire to succeed were on show at this year’s French Open, where Tommy Robredo, in his run to the quarter finals, won three five set matches in a row from two sets to love down. That takes courage, commitment and enormous self-belief. Tommy Robredo – you cannot be serious – John McEnroe – you better believe it.

The PRO.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mature Murray masters his demons.

4 Jul

Andy Murray

Andy Murray – Phew. The Brits can breathe again.

Scottish world #2 Andy Murray appeared to have the fright of his life against a rampaging Fernando Verdasco. The darling of Wimbledon was forced to dig so deep he almost swapped the racket for a shovel as Verdasco unleashed 2 and half sets of tennis nirvana. We learnt something about Murray yesterday – he has a streak of stubborness – we already knew that, but he now has a steely resolve to match the grumpy exterior. Ivan Lendl would be proud.

As Murray said after the match, “my frustration may have affected me in the past, but I don’t think that is the case anymore”. Murray added when asked what he changed at 2 sets to love down –  “I was more patient, took a little longer between points and didn’t give him any free points after that”. Murray appears ready, his belief system is strong, his foot speed impressive, his all-court game flourishing. Under Lendl he has found his place. It is here and now – competing in Slam semis and finals and doing it with confidence.

There was no sense of relief from Murray – that sentiment was overplayed by every Brit in the crowd, on Murray Mound and by those watching on the tube. Grand Slam tennis is played over 5 sets, and it’s played, at this level, mainly between the ears. Murray simply got the job done – the telling moment was how he served out the match. Clinical. Professional. No fuss. Ivan Lendl was proud.

The PRO

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

Serena shines

9 Jun

Serena Williams raises a hand in victory, after a short and snappy 46-minute match in which Italian Sara Errani could only swipe a single game.

French Open champion Serena Williams celebrates with a trademark jig

A somewhat serene Serena Williams snuffed out the early spark from Maria Sharapova to take out her 2nd French Open singles title in Paris. In a dominant serving display, Serena, who loves the big occasion, closed out the match with 3 aces in the last game winning 6/4 6/4. It has been 11 years between celebrations in Paris for Serena, and today’s title takes her Grand Slam singles tally to 16, and kept alive her current career best winning streak of 31 matches.

It could be that Serena Williams knows how to hold a grudge. It has been said before that she has never forgotten losing the 2004 Wimbledon final to the then 17 year old Maria Sharapova. Since then Sharapova has lost 10 straight times to Williams, and despite getting close, doesn’t look likely to turn this around any time soon.

While on court Serena Williams will always play with a ruthless competitiveness, could it be, as she enters the twilight of her career that she is starting to get the bigger picture. Partly due to her relationship with French player maker, Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena addressed the crowd in French and referred to her love of Paris, perhaps she realises a few weeks shy of her 32nd birthday that every moment needs to be savoured. With Serena one thing will always stand out. “I want more…”

The PRO

 

 

Tommy – more than a pinball wizard

4 Jun

Super serve                        4 down!
Tommy Haas the victor. 35 and going strong

Thirty five year years young, Germany’s Tommy Haas showed that old guys rule when he blasted his way into the French Open 1/4 finals today with a thumping win over Mikhail Youzhny. Haas has been a clay court revelation in 2013, especially for a player with a self confessed preference for hardcourt. He won his 14th ATP title earlier this year on the clay at Munich and has risen to a ranking of #13.

Haas is a survivor. He has had to endure multiple shoulder, elbow and hip surgeries over the years, and has seen his ranking plummet to the 370’s as recently as 2011. By winning his 4th round match today in Paris, Tommy Haas has the distinction of achieving the full set of career Grand Slam 1/4 finals. A fitting record for a genuine stalwart of the game. In fact Haas’s longevity makes sense when in a recent interview he conceded he “didn’t know what he would do when and if he stopped playing”, and that “tennis is all I know”.

Lucky wristband?Bullseye!

Haas has broken a couple of quirky statistics here – it took him the most number of match points ever to close out the match against big John Isner – not surprising that record is against Isner with his booming serve. Haas is the oldest 1/4 finalist since Andre Agassi at the 2005 US Open, and was quoted at his post match press conference to be “really proud to make the 1/4’s here for the first time”. In a fitting comment he said “he is smarter in how he trains, how he eats and how he recovers” – who said you can’t teach old dogs new tricks.

The PRO

Slam or dunk.

24 May

 I mentioned in a previous post that Serbia’s Novak Djokovic is in with a chance to win his 4th major title in a row, not a Grand Slam, but dubbed the “Serbian Slam” by some. The other possibility is that Raphael Nadal could achieve something even more unique.

Rafa has been runner-up to Nole at the past 3 slams which gives him the chance to feature in the record book. Rafa could become the first player to hold all 4 runner-up trophies concurrently. And what do our friends in the press dub this one – perhaps the Anti-slam, or even the Nada Slam (nada is Spanish meaning nothing).

And whilst Djokovic is seeking some tennis immortality – he is chasing his first French Open title –  at the other end of the draw Rafa is a 6 time champion at Roland Garros.

Novak has stated during his post match press conference following his loss to Rafa in the Rome Masters final that he “feels good and will make a few adjustments before Paris and I will be in top form”. He will need to be. Rafa for French Open number 7 for mine – and that way we get nada. (No Serbian Slam for Djokovic, and no Nada Slam for Nadal)

The PRO

 

Novak – its not a slam – but could be 4 in a row..

15 May

Gallery by Ella Ling - Novak Djokovic - Madrid<p></p>

It is no surprise that Novak Djokovic is eyeing off a BIG prize. Afterall he is the only man who can contemplate IT this year. IT has been close but elusive for tennis great Pete Sampras and current GOAT (Greatest of All Time) protagonists – Roger Federer (for the record the Fed Express has won 3 out of 4 on three separate occassions)and Rafael Nadal (in 2010).

IT is, of course the GRAND SLAM. That is all 4 major tennis titles in the one calendar year. And whilst most tennis pundits bandy the term Slam or Grand Slam as interchangeable nouns when they speak of any of the 4 majors (as a point in case look at the above table from Associated Press – it refers to “Grand Slam streaks!!!!), the fact is only two men, Don Budge and the Rockhampton Rocket – Rod Laver, have won a GRAND SLAM.

But for now Nole will be hoping to garner a very rare 4th major in a row – not a Grand Slam – but a remarkable achievement nonetheless. No doubt there will be some catchy phrase coined (a Serbian Slam?). If anyone has the self-belief it is Djokovic. Whilst it is not his favourite surface, he was brought up on clay and I think will mount a very strong challenge.  From the moment the Djoker left Melbourne with the Australian Open trophy in his keeping he has been plotting and planning for this one. And whilst Djokovic says “bring on Roland Garros” -The PRO thinks it will be very hard to go past Rafa….or Roger…

The PRO.

The Grand Slam?

30 Jan

We’ve had Rocket Rod Laver in the building for the past week – and it got The PRO thinking – are we ever going to see another player dominant the ATP tour to the extent of winning all 4 majors in the one calendar year.

Many have tried, one man has come close – very close in recent times – Roger Federer. The Fed express in 2004, 2006 and 2007 won 3 of the 4 only missing out on the French Open each year. In two of those years he was runner up in the French – you cannot get any closer than that. His last “big” year was 2009 – where he won the Wimbledon and US Open titles and was runner up in the French and the Australian Open.

Raphael Nadal also had a dominant year in 2010 winning 3 of the 4. He fell however at the first hurdle by going out in the 1/4 finals at the Australian Open. Close but no cigar.

One thing about the Australian Open  – it always eliminates ALL but one player from making the Grand Slam a reality. So that leaves Novak Djokovic. His 2011 was stellar, posting victories at 3 of the 4 majors – missing the French Open along the way. So again in 2012 it is Novak Djokovic as the only tour player with the Grand Slam dream alive. Can he go one further than he did in 2011?

The PRO.