Posts filed under ‘Tennis’

Federer Fulfils His Dream. Will he Revisit His Vision?

Switzerland have won their first ever Davis Cup and it is a fitting win for one of their great sporting ambassadors, Roger Federer.

There is no doubt that this will be a victory that Federer will savour. The 17-times grand slam champion had to stave off back problems during the weekend and also bounce back from Friday’s defeat by Gael Monfils. Federer was imperious on serve, although he made more unforced errors than the his opponent Richard Gasquet – 24 to 21 – but hit an incredible 62 winners, before wrapping up the match with a cunning drop shot to hand France a third defeat in their last three finals.

This victory will be sweet for Federer who has always been a fan of the Davis Cup and has urged the powers that be to give the tournament more credibility. It was he several years ago who asked the ATP World Tour is they could find a window each year where the Davis cup could be slotted in; he had already identified an ideal time. He then wanted the tournament to be taken around the world, to take tennis to the people. So that countries who rarely see the best players could host the tournament in a 7 – 10 day tournament, with nations playing each other in a world cup style knockout format. He managed to obtain support from the other top ranked players, but the powers that be rejected his approach.

So for Federer this would have been a special win, as he has always been quick to say how special it is to play for his country, and the only opportunities come in the Davis Cup and the Olympic Games; Olympic Gold is now the only honour missing from his trophy cabinet, having lost the London 2012 final to Andy Murray.  “I’ve been playing this game for almost 15 years and clearly I had never come as close than this past weekend, I’m happy I stayed calm and played a good match when I had to. I’m really happy for all the guys in the team.” The world Number two said.

Maybe now as a winner he will try again, and hopefully the powers that be will listen as the tournament would benefit from having total focus on it once a year.

November 24, 2014 at 10:48 am Leave a comment

Don’t Blame it on Rio, Blame it on the Referendum

With less than twenty four hours until Scotland’s referendum on whether it should break free from the shackles of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and become an independent nation, many of the country’s top athletes are faced with a real dilemma, if they believe this is in fact a good move.

The International Olympic Committee have according to Britain’s Independent newspaper said that it would be “virtually impossible” to endorse Scotland as a separate country in time for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

This would mean that defending Olympic tennis gold medallist Andy Murray would be unable to defend his title. Other top Scottish athletes would also miss out on Olympic dreams, that is unless they decided to continue to compete for Team GB. However such a move would deem them ineligible to compete for their newly independent nation in 2020.

Interestingly Andy Murray will not be eligible to vote in tomorrow’s referendum, as he does not reside in Scotland. He has a luxury house in Wimbledon. Murray has always distanced himself from the referendum debate, however at the recent US Open when asked who he would opt to play for if Scotland did take the independent route, he was quoted as saying “I imagine I would be playing for Scotland, but I haven’t thought much about it yet because it is not looking too likely.” That was before the polls narrowed in the past week, and now he may have to think a little more deeply about his predicament.

Another man in a tight spot should the independence vote win through is former Chair of the British Olympic Association, Sir Craig Reedie, who was a key player in the success of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Sir Craig hails from Glasgow and although he has stated that he is opposed to Scotland becoming independent, as an IOC vice president, many believe he will be given the task of trying to speed up Scotland’s endorsement with the IOC so that its athletes can compete in Rio.

Once again sport and its athletes are unfortunately drawn into a political situation; hopefully things will work out positively for all concerned, and whatever the outcome of the referendum, Scottish athletes can compete in Rio in two years time.

September 17, 2014 at 11:44 am Leave a comment

Li-ding Light

Popular Women’s Tennis player Li Na moved to the World number two ranking in the past week and has become the best ever ranked Asian tennis player. Her compatriot Peng Shuai was also rated the top ranked women’s doubles player, which was a massive shot in the arm for Chinese Tennis.

Li who turns 32 this month, is helping the sport gain traction in Asia. Several major tournaments in the region have been planned on the back of her success including one in her home town of Wuhan.

Peng became the first Chinese player to top the doubles rankings with her Taiwanese partner Hsieh Su-Wei ranked second. The two recently won the Qatar Open, a tournament where the Australian Open Champion Li bowed out in the third round.

Li had already become the highest ranked Asian when she moved into third position in the WTA Rankings but now has moved higher. She remains however a fair way behind the World Number one, – 6690 ranking points in fact – behind 17 time Grand Slam winner Serene Williams, who is also aged 32.

This is great news fro Tennis in Asia and it will be interesting to see how it impacts on the region in the years to come.

February 21, 2014 at 2:23 pm Leave a comment

Never Hurry a Murray.

England’s Cricketers may have headed home with their tails between their legs but sports fans in the old country have an achievement to be proud of. Great Britain has made the quarter finals of the Davis Cup for the first time in over quarter of a century.

Great Britain disposed of the USA in part thanks to 175th ranked James Ward who beat Sam Querrey. Ward won 10 of the last 11 games to grab a five set come from behind triumph following Andy Murray’s win over Donald Young a replacement for John Isner.

This was Great Britain’s first Davis Cup win over the USA since 1935. The team then included Fred Perry. This win sees Murray again follow Perry after becoming the first Briton to win at the All England Club since Perry in 1936. It was also the first time that Great Britain had made the quarter finals since 1986.

Britain will now face Italy in the semi finals after they defeated Argentina 3-1 on Sunday. Could Andy Murray spearhead a Great Britain Davis Cup win? If he can it would be a remarkable achievement and one that no one saw coming, but there is still a great deal of tennis to be played.

February 4, 2014 at 2:26 pm Leave a comment

Sport and Politics Two

Fresh from becoming the oldest woman to win the Australian Open Chinese tennis star Li Na received a heroes welcome in her hometown of Wuhan City on Tuesday morning.

While there she attended a sate press and central government press conference where she praised the Chinese athletic system for helping make her a star, even though she won the title several years after leaving the programme. The Chinese press were quick to credit the national programme even though Li was allowed to quit it in 2008. According to the Xinhua News Agency, “The country took care of Li and cultivated her. The state is her sponsor.” It said.

Li who has been credited with the best acceptance speech ever at a major tennis tournament, who is now worth and estimated USD $40million sparked controversy back in 2011 when after winning the French Open she said “Don’t say I’m doing this for my country, I’m doing it for myself.”

On Tuesday she again created a storm by turning down the chance to appear on China’s Spring Festival Telethon on state broadcaster CCTV. Many believe it a great honour to be asked to appear on CCTV so her decision to politely opt not to appear has stunned many. Her reason though makes a great deal of sense. “I just want to spend Chinese New Year at home.”

It is a decision that has upset many in China, but were her popularity at an all time high outside her home country Li will not be losing a great deal of sleep over the issue.

January 30, 2014 at 1:04 am Leave a comment

Breaking Back

One great story to come out of the Australian Open in Melbourne was the return of British player Ross Hutchins, who won his first round doubles match yesterday.

Just over a year ago Hutchins was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the white blood cells and as a result under went Chemotherapy. The treatment although completed can take almost up to a year to leave your body and frequently leaves patients lethargic and with low energy levels, so to be back playing top  level tennis within a year is a remarkable achievement.

Hutchins and his partner Colin Fleming won their match and he is reported to have said “It’s an amazing feeling to be back.”

January 16, 2014 at 1:14 pm Leave a comment

Summer Breaks Some

The heat at the Australian Open has become a big issue n the past few days. Sadly Wimbledon Champion Andy Murray will no doubt be dismissed as simply moaning again but his comments that players and ball boys fainting on court “looks terrible for the whole sport,” are bang on the money.

With temperatures reaching 42.4C Chinese player Peng Shuai cramped up and vomited on court and Canada’s Frank Dancevic fainted on court. The Canadian passed out for over a minute. “I think its inhumane. I don’t think its fair to the players, to the fans, to the sport when you see players pulling out of matches, passing out.” he said in his press conference.

He has a point and the Australian Open has a record. The nine first round retirements – eight men and one woman – equalled the record for the most retirements or walkovers in a single round at any Grand Slam event in the Open era.

The one withdrawal in the Women’s draw came from Slovakia’s Polona Hercog who walked off after winning just one point in her match against Hopman Cup winner France’s Alize Cornet. She was trailing 1-0 in the first set, hit a winner and then retired. Having only played for ten minutes she still pocketed $30,000 for competing in the first round and picked up ten World Ranking points.


Although the heat had many players hot and bothered, former World Number One Roger Federer will not have won many friends on this occasion as he claimed it was not as big an issue as many were making out. “It can become just a mental thing and you just can’t accept that its hot. Just deal with it because its the same for both. That’s basically it.” he said. Mental toughness may be one part of it, but some people quite simply cannot handle the heat as well as others.

One has to feel that Andy Murray has a point, it is not a good image for the game when players are passing out, ball boys are passing out and players are vomiting on court. There needs to be a happy medium, but once again money talks and television schedules will frequently dictate terms as they are ultimately the ones paying the bills.

January 16, 2014 at 1:08 pm Leave a comment

Problems Ahead – Want to Bet on It?

It cannot have come as a surprise to most sports fans to hear that the Big Bash League has come under scrutiny due to the amount of betting activity taking place on this format of the game of cricket. This news broke on the same day that a man was arrested at the Australian Open tennis and charged with “one count of engaging in conduct that would corrupt a betting outcome.”

According to figures published in the Courier Mail newspaper betting giant Betfair has had $575million worth of best on 22 Big Bash League games. Apparently betting companies globally have taken $30million in best on this year’s T20 competition.

The concern centres around those betting in “Live markets,” from seats inside the grounds where they get a several second edge over those betting at home, due to the delay in the pictures being transmitted. Live betting odds fluctuate rapidly with the fall of a wicket, or a bowler being tonked in one over. So those at the ground have an advantage over the armchair punters.

Cricket Australia has claimed that anti-corruption measures have been put in place but the number of bets placed this year is up by 50% on last year, and questions are being asked if these measures have kept pace with the betting.

Betting companies have become synonymous with sport in recent years, you cannot watch a game without having the odds rammed down your throat pre-match or even during the broadcast by commentators, by visuals running across the screen or during the advertising breaks. No doubt these companies pay the top dollar and the TV stations need that revenue to be able to pay off the cost of the rights to broadcast each sporting event, but one thing is clear the betting companies are well ahead in terms of their returns.

The signs were there a long time ago as to whether players were being asked to influence betting results, and with figures such as these it is only likely to get worse. The saddest thing to come out of the rise of betting in sport is when you hear Children telling you the odds on certain facets of a game yet being unable to name all of the players taking part.

Time will tell how long sport can afford to allow so many variations of bet to be placed, mobile phone technology would appear to be ahead of the game and it would be sad to see sport suffer because of one of its sponsors.

January 16, 2014 at 12:49 pm Leave a comment

“Selfie” Off The Menu

A great deal seems to be being made of the fact that tennis star Maria Sharapova refused to allow a waiter in a Melbourne Cafe to take a “selfie” with her as she relaxed.

Many have said this shows how determined she is to performa well at the Australian Open after a four month lay off for a shoulder injury, but maybe it was simply that she felt it was inappropriate.

Although not quite the same situation it was the late actor Paul Newman who made the decision never to sign another autograph after he was asked while standing at the urinal in a restaurant.

Surely athletes are fair game for an autograph in and around the sporting venue where they ply their trade, but they too should be respected enough to be allowed to relax and enjoy a coffee without being expected to sign autographs or pose for photos.

It may have only been a waiter, but imagine if she had to suffer the same request whenever she went to a bank, a post office, a newsagent? It would become a little annoying. The question is who defines the boundaries? The athlete themselves are probably the best judges of that.

January 13, 2014 at 5:17 pm Leave a comment

No Sir!

It would appear that despite many people going into bat for him Andy Murray’s supporters were sent back to the club rooms almost as quickly as England’s top order in the Ashes.

Despite a strong recommendation from the Sport Honours Committee headed by Lord Coe that Andy Murray be awarded a knighthood on the back of becoming several key tennis achievements. Murray became the first British player since 1977, and the first British man since 1936, to win a Grand Slam singles tournament, when he beat Novak Djokovic to win the US Open. That victory also made him the only British male to become a Grand Slam singles champion during the Open Era. He also won the Olympic tennis gold medal in 2012 in London.

However it was in 2013 when on 7 July, he won the Wimbledon Championships, to become the first British man to do so since Fred Perry, 77 years previously. He again beat Djokovic in the final.

The final decision lies with the powers that be in Whitehall and the response from them was that it was “too soon.”

This has left many tennis fans angered and baffled as the same body was quick to bestow a knighthood on Tour de France winner and Olympic cycling Gold medallist Bradley Wiggins. Then again the 2013 winner of the Tour de France Kenyan born Chris Froome was also overlooked.

The one relief is that these decisions have tended to kill the murmurs of David Beckham receiving a tap on the shoulder, he too may have to wait a little while longer.



January 6, 2014 at 4:23 pm Leave a comment

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