Sunday, 30 November 2008

Fancy going to Wimbledon next year?

Want to see if Roger can re-claim his crown? Or if Venus can win again? Want to check out the new roof on centre court, or swing by the outer courts to see the stars of tomorrow?

Well don't forget to stick your name in the ballot for tickets.

Firstly, you need an application form by sending a self-addressed envelope to:

Ticket Office
P.O. BOX 98
London SW19 5AE

The deadline for applying for forms is 15th December.

And if you are applying from overseas they suggest you enclose an International Reply Coupon (in place of a stamp) where possible.

For more see the Wimbledon website

That was a public service broadcast from TopSpinTennisBlog. Over and out. And good luck!

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Fed heads keep the faith

An ATP poll shows that tennis fans are keeping the faith with Roger.

Here's the extract from the ATP website:

In a poll of more than 65,000 fans, 44 per cent of readers believe that the Swiss will join Ivan Lendl as the only player to regain the year-end No. 1 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings after losing it.

Lendl claimed the year-end No. 1 ranking in 1985, '86 and '87 before finishing No. 2 behind Mats Wilander in 1988. He then regained the year-end No. 1 in 1989 and remains the only player in the history of the South African Airways ATP Rankings (since 1973) to achieve that feat.

Quick Poll: Who will finish No. 1 at the end of 2009?
Player Percentage of Vote

1 Roger Federer 44%

2 Rafael Nadal 34%

3 Novak Djokovic 11%

4 Andy Murray 8%

5 Other 3%

What do you think?

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Andy Murray to bulk up...

... to improve his strength and endurance.

The key is sushi, protein drinks, and his Gran's Christmas dinner. The Telegraph has the story here

(Photo Reuters)

Monday, 24 November 2008

Say hello to the next Serbinator

Belatedly I'm just picking up the buzz about Felip Krajinovic, the hot favourite to be the next Serb tennis star.

The 16 year old is currently 901 in the world and has just beaten his first top 100 player, Robbie Kendrick, in the Knoxville Challenger event.

Here's what Brad Gilbert had to say on Felip:

"During my stay at the Academy we trained many kids. However, one of them caught my eye. It’s Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic, who’s got incredible talent. The way he plays at the age of 16 is impressive and there’s no doubt there is a glorious tennis career ahead of him, if everything goes according to plan,”

Nick Bollettieri is also raving about him

“I remember Filip’s arrival at the academy and I can tell you I could instantly tell how much love that youngster had for the game. We can already say that he is now – at 16 – one of the most talented tennis players in the world. His main characteristics are powerful shots, his forehand and backhand shots that he hits very early and with very little spin, and his footwork is great. I’d say he reminds me a lot of Andre Agassi, with a slight difference in that Krajinovic is much better at net play,”

Check out Nick B's website and the Serb paper Blic for more.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

You gotta read this: Sampras interview

Even now, 6 years after his retirement, Pete Sampras still casts a long shadow over men's tennis. He continues to define success and greatness. Roger Federer may have had some titanic matches against Nadal but his one true rival remains Pistol Pete.

With Rafa he is competing for individual slams. With Sampras it's the right to be regarded as the best (or if not the best, the most successful).

Any yet despite his enduring and pivotal place in tennis, for many people Sampras remains an unknown. A bit of an enigma. Which is why I so enjoyed reading the interview with the great man by Paul Kimmage in today's Sunday Times, which is part of the pre-publicity for next month's Blackrock Masters at the Albert Hall.

It explains who he is, and why he is what he is, through a series of interesting insights and anecdotes. Including his up and down relationship with McEnroe; how his love of fast cars got him into trouble with the law; and why he has decided to return to the game.

There's so much to enjoy about this article, especially the little details - Kimmage had to have his DNA swabbed before entering Sampras' exclusive country club where the interview took place. You can read it here

Friday, 21 November 2008

DC day 1: All square

As a British tennis fan I find it hard to get excited about Davis Cup.

I really like the history behind the event, and the atmosphere in some
of the ties is like nothing else, but for me DC is synonomous with
Britain being humbled by Ecuador and other tennis minnows.

So while others get revved up by DC fever I'm usually slightly

But it's hard not to get excited about Spain V Argentina, even without

My (slightly rash?) prediction for the weekend was that Argentina
would win 4-1. It's still mathematically possible but Lopez downing
Del Potro in 3 today was a massive result which leaves the tie
delicately balanced.

I'm sticking with Argentina - still reckon they will be too strong -
but the dubs will be crucial...

Thursday, 20 November 2008

The first ever tennis video game

Along with all other things tennis related, I love tennis video games.

My favourites are the tennis game which was made for the original Nintendo gameboy in the early 1990s; any version of virtua tennis (especially the arcade machine); and super tennis for the old Nintendo SNES.

(I've only played Wii tennis once, and couldn't get on with it, but I'm sure that given the time and opportunity I could grow to love it.)

So I was really interested when I heard about this tennis videogame designed in 1958 on an oscilloscope at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. Very cool.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

The Roger tour bus stops off in Malaysia

As you've no doubt heard, Roger has combined his trip to Shanghai with a couple of exhibitions and promotional events in Malaysia, including The Showdown of Champions in Kuala Lumpur, where he played James Blake in a 1 set exhibition (Roger won), and then teamed up with Borg to play McEnroe and Blake for some dubs. HCFoo's blog (THE place to go for all Asian tennis news) has all the photos and background.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

I'm a tennis legend, what am I doing in here?

I'm a celebrity, get me out of here, is car crash TV. But there's no denying the strength of the format. It may be trash but it can be compelling and at times hilarious viewing.

The show sees D list celebrities (ie former soap actor, fading sportsmen, and glamour models) competing to be King or Queen of the Jungle. With the public voting to decide which celebrities compete in Bushtucker trials (which tend to involve some form of ritual humiliation with insects, rats or worse) and who should be evicted.

The line up for this year includes Dani Behr, Brian Paddick, Joe Swash, Carly Zucker and Martina Navratilova. Yes, that's right. A bunch of nobodies and Martina Navratilova, one of the greatest tennis players and athletes of all time (the winner of 59 singles and doubles Grand Slam titles !!!!!).

I can't for the life of me work out why she opted to do it. She doesn't need the money and she already has a TV career and fairly high public profile. Why would she cheapen her personal brand in this way??

Still from what I can gather she seems to be making the most of it. After all Martina made a career out of beating younger, less talented, (more attractive?) competitors. And old habits die hard.

I've successfully resisted the pull of the show so far but according to one of the tabloids, yesterday she defeated one of the glamour models / footballer's girlfriend in a swimming contest. Like there was ever any doubt who would win. Go Martina!!

Monday, 17 November 2008

Last man standing

I mentioned before that Djokovic is a bit of a lucky general. Don't get me wrong the guy is hugely talented and - despite his idiosyncrasies - good for the game. But he also has a knack of being in the right place at the right time.

In Rome back in May he was still in the draw when Rafa lost his first clay court match in living memory and went onto to bag a Masters event without having to play a top 20 player.

In Shanghai he went one better. He won the Master's Cup, the event where the worlds elite pit themselves against each other, and only had to play 1 top 5 player all week. (And that was Davydenko)

And just so we are clear I'm not knocking him. He can, after all, only play the opponents he comes up against, and luck, like it or not, is an important factor in sport. It's why we keep coming back for more.

So bravo Nole!

Saturday, 15 November 2008

A tough end to a rough year for Roger

A tough end to a rough year for Roger

Roger Federer entered the year with his aura of invincibility intact, amid expectations from the tennis world that he would seal his place in history by equaling or even surpassing Pete Sampras's record.

He exit's the year with the Federer Fear Factor - which in the past used to beat his opponents before they even stepped on the court - all but gone.

He lost his final game of the season to Andy Murray. Didn't see it but by all accounts it was a cracker. And for the second time this week Roger lost after going a set up. 

For some time it's been clear that the chasing pack of next generation players has caught up with Roger.

But - and it pains me to say this - it's also starting to look like that it's not just a case of Roger standing still and the pack raising their game to catch up.

In fact while Murray, Nadal and co progress, Roger is slipping back. Sure he is still brilliant, but it's no longer enough.

The big question is 2008 a blip and will he come back as strong as ever in January, win some slams and re-capture the No 1 spot?

Or is it the beginning of a new phase in which he continues to bag the occasional Slam but has to come to terms with the fact he is no longer the man?

On the basis of the fighting spirit he showed yesterday in refusing to quit despite being in severe pain (and nearly beating Murray) the hunger and pride is still clearly there.

So as I'm a glass half full kinda guy, I'm going to predict that after a much needed rest Roger will get the top spot back next year, and break Pete's record!

What do you think?

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Want to know how the eviction process works?

If Roger beats Andy tomorrow and Simon beats Stepanek then there will be 3 players in the Group who have won two matches each. And as you know, only two can progress.

So how do they decide who gets the chop?

This is from the Master's Cup rule book:

If two or more players/teams are tied after the round robin matches, the ties will be broken as follows:

1. Winner of match between the two players tied;
2. Player with the highest percentage of sets won;
3. Player with the highest percentage of games won.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Eat my shorts

I like Gilles Simon but what was he thinking with those ill fitting
yellow shorts he was wearing today?

A friend of mine used to have the perfect expression for such poor
fashion choices: "savage".

Roddick out of Masters Cup...

... due to an ankle injury. Replaced by Stepanek.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Quote of the day

"It was a second accident"

Gilles Simon on beating Federer and establishing a 2 - 0 head to head record over Roger.

Rafa out of DC

Rafa out of DC

Rafael Nadal's awesome year is officially over with confirmation yesterday that he is out of the Davis Cup final against Argentina.

"After a very long and positive year, it is terrible for me not to be able to participate at two of the events that were part of my goals this season, Shanghai and the Davis Cup final.

This is a very difficult time for me, but at least I know I've done everything possible to be in the final. It was a goal of mine to be there."

The most revealing comments were about how - because of his style of play - he is accustomed to playing through the pain:

"I'm used to playing with pain, but this pain is different, new in a way. I can't control it."

Doesn't sound good. I'm a Roger fan but the sport is poorer for Nadal's absence. So get well soon Rafa!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Quote of the day

Thanks to FreakyFrites for this gem from Roger:

"it doesn't change a whole lot, I just don't like the ring of it when
I'm being introduced on centre court saying 'and this is the number
two in the world', it just sounds wrong. Either I'm Number One or a
Grand Slam Champion. But I'm not number two."

That's the spirit...

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Indoor tennis

I asked the question a week or two ago about whether indoor tennis is real tennis.

The answer is: it is highly enjoyable but it's not authentic. Indoor is just too perfect to be real. But I do enjoying playing indoor and in winter it is the only way to continue to play week in week out.

For the pros the indoor season runs from late September to mid November. But here in the UK because of the lousy weather in starts in September / October and runs to March / April.

As I've mentioned before I used to be a member of David Lloyd's in Raynes park, just down the road from Wimbledon. I left the club and its 16 carpet courts a year ago.

Today I played on carpet again for the first time in 12 months. It was at St George's in Weybridge. The home of the second best grass courts in the world.

The courts are better than Queens - I've played at both a few times - but I'm guessing, and let's face it I'll never know for sure, that the Wimbledon courts are the best. But that's another story.

Today it was heavy rain so we played on the indoor carpet and boy was it quick. I'd forgotten how quick carpet can be. Too quick. At times you dont have time to play the correct shots and find yourself improvising or using a half take back or block shot.

Don't get me wrong it's fun - you can feel like a pro as you drive a passing shot down the line - but for club players who wish to improve, the surface is a hindrance. It flatters to deceive and players get found out when they play on a different surface. Or move outside.

Since I left David Lloyd's last year I've played on a variety of surfaces - grass, hard, clay, indoor hard and indoor synthetic clay - but not carpet. And my game has come on so much. It can't be a coincidence.

Still needs must and so yesterday I joined David Lloyd in Woking, which is closer to where we live, and has 8 superb indoor courts. It may not be real but the bottom line is I can play no matter how dark or wet it is outdoors for the next 5 or 6 months.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

The line up for Shanghai

The line up for Shanghai

Here's the line up for the Master's Cup group stage

Red Group




Gilles Simon

Gold Group



Del Potro


Nole travels to China on the back of a slump in form so my prediction is Tsonga and Del Potro to advance from Blue Group and face Roger and Andy M.

The fun kicks off next Wednesday.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

The audacity of hope

I'm a friend of the US. I admire the country's values around freedom and opportunity, I grew up on American pop culture, and above all I'm grateful for what America has given the world.

Andre, Serena, The Wire, Six Feet Under, Sesame Street, Michael Jackson, the iPod, the Marshall Plan, and the lives of thousands of young men who died in the World Wars. These and countless other gifts to the world, are what make America great.

So it troubles me that America's reputation and standing abroad has taken such a hit in the past few years - there’s far too much knee-jerk anti- Americanism in Europe and beyond. The election of Barack Obama is a truly historic moment, and a wonderful opportunity for 'change'.

He comes to office with impossibly high expectations but if he can achieve only one thing it should be to restore the health of the US brand and re-connect with the global community.

So good luck Obama we're all counting on you.

[OK, that’s the first - and probably last - political post from me. Normal service will resume tomorrow]


Monday, 3 November 2008

Wow, just heard the news...

Wow, just heard the news...

... that Rafa is out of the Masters Cup due to fatigue. The Spaniard admitting that his drive to No 1 this year has harmed his physical condition.

Am off to bed now after an enjoyable night out at the House of Commons (sorry can help name dropping) so no time to mull over the significance other than

i) I'm pleased Gilles Simon gets to make the trip he deserves it

ii) it just shows you how impressive Roger's run was that Rafa is feeling the burn after less than a year at the top.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Great Sunday Times preview of Doha

I'm a big fan of the women's game, and in particular a big fan of
Serena and Justine (how I miss that backhand!).

But for some reason when I blog 9 out of 10 of my posts are on the
mens tour. Not sure why, it's certainly not a conscious decision, it
just seems to work out that way.

And without wishing to over theorise, maybe it reflects the fact that
often the womens game (as good as it is) is still over shadowed by
Roger and Rafa.

But this week, is the womens week in the sun, with the end of season
tournament in Doha, beginning on Tuesday.

One thing the WTA tour has got right is it's naming partner Sony
Ericsson. And the guys at Sony Ericsson deserve credit for what they
invested in helping increase the profile of the womens game.

Like a number of other big brands who are involved in music or sports
sponsorship they have rightly sought to be a partner rather than mere

A perfect example of this is their media partnership with the Sunday
Times this weekend. The Times, the biggest selling 'quality' Sunday,
today carried a 4 page pull out preview to the Sony Ericsson

For far too many people in this country the tennis season begins with
Queens and ends at Wimbledon. No paper could ever justify spending the
money on something like the end of season round robin event, so by
making this happen Sony Ericsson and The Sunday Times have given the
profile of the game a boost, and done the sport a real favour.

What's more in a nice touch, Sony Ericsson have also developed a new application - Mobile Event Guide - which fans attending the end of season event can download for free. The app is updated by Bluetooth when users walk through Sony Ericsson kiosks at the venue, and provides schedules and results, video and pictures of matches player info and post match analysis. Very cute.

Being a sponsor means slapping your logo on something, but as Sony
Ericsson have shown, to be a partner you have to put more in, but you
get so much more back.

The centre piece of the preview is a feature on Serena. You can read it here.