Tag Archives: John McEnroe

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.














US men. Down and out

30 Jun

Andy Roddick US Open 2009 368 crop.jpg

Andy Roddick: the last American man to win a slam.

Spare a thought for the contingent of American men  – all 11 of them – in Wimbledon’s draw. How many left now? None. It’s the first time in 101 years that there has been no American in the men’s 3rd round. There will be lots of soul searching done in the corridors of the USTA, and the shock waves should probably reach out to other tennis nations, especially those who have unashamedly modelled their programs and pathways on the US system. It has been an amazing 39 Slam events since there was a US male winner – and that was now retired Andy Roddick at the 2003 US Open.

John McEnroe put it simply. “In the USA girls are more likely to play tennis. The greatest American athletes play football and basketball. We are lower down on the totem pole”. And McEnroe concludes “We’re certainly not where we want to be”. Check out last month’s blog from The PRO on the resurgence of US women – and the concluding question – where are the US male tennis players? is even more relevant following only 3 days of Wimbledon.



Wow-rinka. Stan you are the man

4 Jun


Richard Gasquet – dreams of a French Open 1/4 final bite the Roland Garros dust.

In one of those epic 4 and a half hour 5 set contests, Swiss #2 and French Open 9th seed, Stanislas Wawrinka defeated hometown hero, 7th seed Richard Gasquet 6/7 4/6 6/4 7/5 8/6. Wawrinka, often described by legendary tennis critic John McEnroe as “having the best one-handed backhand in the game” was looking down the barrel as Richard Gasquet, with arguably as sweet a backhand swing and a partisan Parisian crowd egging him on, almost stole the match in straight sets.

Wawrinka is having a watershed year and is now back to his previous career high ranking of ATP #9. The catalyst for this could well have been the heartbreaking 5 hour “war” with Novak Djokovic at this year’s Australian Open – where Stan the Man won everything but the match, going down 12-10 in a gruelling 5th set. Gone are the days of Wawrinka surrendering meekly, and after treatment for a thigh strain he steadied to take the next 2 sets and the ascendency into the 5th. Gasquet would be the one on the mat as trainers tried to pump some life back into the Frenchman’s legs. Wawrinka prevailed 8-6 in the deciding set.

And what looms next for Stan the Man – a 1/4 final against Raphael Nadal – who must have been relishing the spectacle of his potential next opponent locked in a physically taxing “epic” – and Rafa also safe in the knowledge of a 19 and 0 win-loss aggregate in his favour against the pair of them.


Age no barrier

19 Oct

In a sport where it seems everyone is getting stronger, faster, more athletic and doing it all sooner, spare a thought for the growing army of tour “veterans”. Guys like Radek Stepanek, little Lleyton Hewitt, Tommy Haas, Nikolay Davydenko and even Roger Federer are pushing past 30. And a similar tale on the WTA roster. Venus and Serena Williams are comfortably in the twilight of their careers, Kimiko Date-Krumm is still competing at 42.

 Teen prodigies Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe.

Why do they keep flogging themselves? Surely not for the money, is it the lifestyle, the travel, the constant practice court and hotel room grind – The reality is they are all hardened competitors – modern day gladiators who thrive on the pressure and thrill of the contest.

Despite the perception of “young guns” bursting onto the tennis tour – the reality is players are having their success later and later.  On the ATP tour in 2011 the youngest final was played in Houston between Ryan Sweeting (23) and Kei Nishikori (21) – hardly teen prodigies. Teens are very scarce on the men’s tour, Bernard Tomic was the only teenager in the men’s top 100 – and not so anymore as he has just turned 20. In fact you need to go back to 2008 for the last teenage winner of a men’s title – and then only just a teen as Marin Cilic was 19 and 11 months at the time.

So don’t despair – keep living your dream, you have plenty of time.