Tag Archives: Pete Sampras

Ocho for Rafa. Bravo

11 Jun

Nadal slides to a reverse backhand return to Djokovic.

Raphael Nadal – rarely stretched in his 8th French Open victory.

Raphael Nadal proved once again what we already know. He is the greatest clay court player of this, and probably all generations with a clinical straight sets win over fellow Spaniard David Ferrer. And in a rare quirk of ATP computer treachery, the win saw Nadal drop from #4 to #5 on the rankings, while Ferrer moved up from #5 to #4. I won’t go into detail on the need to “defend” points from the previous 12 months – suffice to say Ferrer making the final was an improvement on 2012, whereas Rafa winning the final was the same result for him. It’s hard to improve on perfection – more on that later.

Rafa becomes the first man to win a Slam 8 times – both Roger Federer and Pete Sampras amassed 7 Wimbledon titles – and Roger will still start pretty close to favourite this year at Wimbledon. I’m not sure if Federer, Djokovic or Murray will be able to stop the runaway train that is Raphael Nadal. He is relishing his time back on court following serious knee trouble that plagued him in 2012.

In his victorious post match press conference, Rafa conceded “sure I have doubts, so I work as hard as I can.. that’s why I am back” David Ferrer summed things up. “Rafa was better than me – he has the best mentality I’ve ever seen in my career.  He has everything, no?”

Spare a thought for the rest of the players on the ATP tour with Rafa’s fitting final words – “I will keep practising with the same passion and intensity to bring my tennis to the highest level possible…in tennis, for sure, you can improve and keep improving”. Scary.


* worth reading this earlier post from the PRO on Rafa’s comeback



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.

Serve BIG and eat meat – just like Milos.

17 Feb

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic from Canada, who had a match in the Australian Open against Lleyton Hewitt where he averaged 217 km/h on his first serve and who this week hit a 250km/h bullet in the ATP event in San Jose this week, was asked “how?”

Here’s some serve tips from one of the most exciting prospects on the tour. 

Speed isn’t everything. Start with rhythm. And focus on target areas.
“Even from a young age I was able to serve pinpoint, play well. I spent a lot of time on it and just never focused on speed, that sort of came I guess with a lot of hours. I just have a good mental outlook on it, I think. I keep the same rhythm for everything. I’m able to hit all the spots from the same toss and I think this is important, to try to give away as little as possible.”

Work out in the gym.
“The speed has gone up gradually. Obviously I’m getting stronger and working more on my fitness and that is helping.”

A good shoulder helps!
“I’ve got a good shoulder, so I’m fortunate. I remember in school I was good at shot-put and all that kind of stuff with the shoulder, and that was without even working on it.”

Learn from the best. This is great stuff – love the comment on tempo and control of a match. Good goal for you all.
“Pete Sampras has always been my idol, because I just liked his style, the control of his serve, how he was able to do the same thing with one toss, hit all the spots. I thought he had a tremendous second serve and he did a very good job controlling the court and controlling the pace. You always had the feeling that the match was in his hands, win or lose. That’s something I’ve been working on and trying to develop as much as I can. I felt as those Sampras inspired those things in my game and development.”

Eat red meat.
“The night before a match, I eat medium-rare steak. Can I get to 260km/h with my serve? I don’t know, maybe. As long as I keep getting the free points I’ll be happy, I don’t care if it’s 165km/h or 265km/h.”

In a study The PRO is currently carrying out with his players – one group using a radar and benchmarking serve speed, and the other not using it…the overwhelming outcome is that using a radar while training definitely helps players attain faster serves sooner.

So there it is – one point for all to remember Raonic didn’t develop that serve overnight. He definitely used all the “P” words: perseverance, patience, positive thinking AND the 3 most important “P” words of all – practice, practice, practice. And maybe you too can serve like Raonic.

*Thanks to the tennis space for their Raonic interview.

The PRO.