Monday, 28 July 2014


I remember some time ago a conversation I had with a kid and a parent regarding intimidation from other kids at tennis tournaments, it happens regularly. Players of all ages walk around behind the courts as if they are 'rock stars' complete with dazzling clothes and foot wear. These players often stop to watch or in some cases put the opposition off their game, particularly the higher ranked players. It is natural for the lesser credentialed tennis player to be intimidated by the ones who are looked upon as the bench marks and who are usually the players left at the end of a tournament.
I touched briefly on the 'intimidation factor' in my last chapter regarding Europe and the tournament scene because I believe it's a huge factor in tennis. Some players are intimidated by different things and different types of opposition, I recall some moments both here and in Europe.
When I entered  Roland Garros in Paris in 1991 that to me was an eye opener of epic proportions as the enormity of the centre court stadium is one that hits you with a dose of reality. I imagined what it would be like playing in front of that many people and the effect that it would have on me. What sort of person would you really have to be to play fearless tennis in front of 15,000 spectators who are watching your every move ? It's one thing to play in front of 50 people at your local tournament but in front of thousands ? That's intimidating.
I remember walking past some players at Roland Garros who were there for the same reason as I was, to gain paper work to allow us to play the tournament circuit that involved prize money. The money was not life changing but it was a big help to get to the next tournament. Some of the players I saw were possibly the untidiest tennis players I had ever seen, there was no such thing back then as 'dressing to intimidate'.
I see kids now days walk onto a court at the local junior competition with racket bags big enough to sleep in and shoes worth $200, maybe a racket worth $300 - $400, that's a big investment at a young age. It is however all 'part' of the game now days that seems to thrive on looks and image. If you turn up to play in a pair of Dunlop volley shoes and a $50 racket you will more often than not gain the attention of that group of players I mentioned at the start of this chapter. They are intimidating at a junior level.
I usually found the guys who turned up to play with a beard , long hair, older rackets and shoes to be the players who could really play the game of tennis. Why? Because they relied on nothing except ability. Polite players too were the ones to look out for , these guys knew their capabilities and they oozed confidence. They knew they would be in the last 4 in a few days time, their opponents until then were simply 'practice partners'. Arrogant players were not as good , they relied on their surly attitudes to try and gain an edge, their tennis though was not as confident.
When I used to play junior tournaments in both Queensland and Perth I was sometimes overawed with the occasion initially or the opponent but I usually settled well and played a competitive brand of tennis. Trying to do it in Europe however was a totally different equation as the last chapter also suggested, it was like an AFL side trying to win regularly away from home, tough assignment.
So to my initial paragraph and the conversation I had with the junior and the parent, I simply gave some examples as best I could. I told them I now days enjoy playing in front of people who would rather I lose, I actually pick them out and use them as a spur. If tennis tournaments were full of spectators wanting you to win all the time where would the fun be in that ??
 So the obvious question came back " How do you know some of them want you to lose "? I said "Well at your age you don't have to worry too much about it , at my age though in a sport such as tennis some of us have a difference of opinion, nature of the game. As a kid however you have a chance to walk past that group of boof heads at the end of your match and give them a smile that says "Thanks for the support , I play better in front of you guys, hopefully I will see you all next match" (under your breath of course).
That's how you deal with 'rock stars' and their 'fan club', simply beat them, they won't bother you too much after that even if you do play with a $50 racket.....

Sunday, 27 July 2014


When you travel to the other side of the World to play a sport such as tennis you are relying on a few things but memory is possibly the biggest thing. Let's face it , you know how to play tennis , you have done it for years and you are as fit as an athlete, it should just be a progression in your career. It's a pity the game of tennis is not anything like this. The reality of tennis is this, you are playing against more than just your opponent when you are doing it in another country.
The biggest issue that myself, Brett and Peter faced in 1991 on the European Money Tournament Circuit was the intimidation factor. Brett was a bloody good player, as was Peter, I was average, we all had ability of different levels, but we all played opponents of different levels also. So what made it so hard to win ? Culture. We were playing guys who didn't speak much English, players who would curse at both themselves and us in a different language. What did he say ? It sounded like "you are a stinking Aussie who I am going to smash in two easy sets" but I don't know Spanish, French or Croatian so I won't argue with him. Most of these players also had an 'entourage' of family,friends and acquaintances, support.
The clay courts were also an issue even though my days in Queensland playing on the surface gave me some experience. It gave me time to hit the shots, time to think. The problem with clay court tennis however is obvious, it's a game of chess, no easy fix, a game that will take a long time to figure out. Do I loop it and wear myself out or do I drive it and get in to finish the points a little quicker ? Do I wait for him to lose or do I force the issue and ask him if he can hit enough winners to beat me ?
Who am I as a tennis player ? Am I a baseliner or an attacker or am I both ? Do I have a game plan or do I make it up as I go along ?
This is where my days of training in Brisbane looking back were possibly wasted. We hit a lot of balls and played a lot of matches yet we lacked the one thing that possibly could have made us all a lot better, tactics. You know, how to actually play tennis, anyone can hit a tennis ball, very few know how to play tennis. I am sure now days there are 'tactical' tennis coaches at every tennis centre in this land going through scenarios not unlike an AFL coach does with his game plans. If not then it would be a waste of time being there.
Back to Europe. I remember watching Pete play a lefty from France who actually could speak good English and who was belting our mate into submission . He walks to the back of the court and says "What's his problem"? He was referring to Pete's acknowledgement that he was simply no match for him, his body language gave it away. The Frenchman hit such heavy spin on his shots , not unlike Rafa that Pete was playing 'reactive' tennis as this guy did not miss and dictated easily. The other factor was his height. He was around a foot taller than Peter so his spin would bounce at a height that Pete could not get on top of . I believe the score line of 2 and 0 to the Frenchman was no real surprise.
Crowds at European Tournaments are entertaining with some fair and others blatantly biased but that happens no matter where you play. The difference in Europe is that unless you have a good grasp of another language then it is a barrier that can cause a bit of friction between spectators . You have a fair idea that what they are saying is uncomplimentary towards your mate but you are powerless to do anything about it. Sit back, accept it, experience the culture.
Unless you have experienced tennis first hand at a level such as we did many years ago , and let's face it, it's only become stronger then I suggest one thing. Don't offer anything more than a chance to fulfil potential if you are a coach. If you are a budding young player and you want a reality check then pack the bags and spend some time at some obscure French Tennis Tournaments. The opposition will say things you will not understand as will the spectators yet you will find it strangely educational. When you come back home you may just have a little better grasp of two things;
The French language and a wonderful thing called  perspective.......  

Wednesday, 23 July 2014


The following is a detailed conversation between my son and myself regarding tennis, Wimbledon 2014 and how the scoring system works.....
"Dad what are the numbers on the top of the screen "?
"That tells us the score between these two players buddy "
" So what do they need to win "?
"Three sets, and a set is made up of games where you have to win 4 points a game"
"What's 40-30"?
"That's when one player has won 3 points and the other has won 2, the guy on 40 just needs one more point".
(a point later)
"What's deuce Dad"?
"That's when both players have won 3 points each and now they need to get 2 points clear to win the game"
"So what does each set go up to "?
" 6 games buddy"
( a few minutes later)
"Hey Dad that guy is 6 and they are still playing "
"Yeah mate it's confusing, if it gets to 5 games all they have to then get to 7, but if it gets to 6 games all they have to play a tie breaker to 7 points "
( a few minutes later)
Hey Dad the score is 7-6 (in the breaker) why are they still playing"?
" I know mate it's confusing, if they get to 6 points all they have to play to 2 points in front "
( A couple of hours later)
"Hey Dad did you see that ? The total points that have been won , it's close, 112 to 109"
"Yeah mate and the guy that is trailing 3-4 in the last set has won more points"
(big mistake Dad)
"So the player that is losing Dad, he's winning "?
" Not really mate, it's on serve, so it should even out in the end"
(a short time later)
"Hey Dad it's 7-6, why are they still playing"?
"Well buddy when they get to 6 games all if it's two sets all they then play to 2 games in front to decide the winner of the match, so it may end up say 16-14"
(The final stats are shown)
"Hey Dad the total points won , didn't the guy that lost win more points "?
"Yeah mate , that's right"
"So how did he lose "?
"Tennis scoring buddy, doesn't make a lot of sense"
"Footy isn't that hard"
"No mate you stick to footy, it's a bit easier to understand, if you win more points you win the match, pretty simple hey"?
Funny game this tennis........
* Footnote- in 2010 at Wimbledon Mahut won 24 more points than Isner but lost the match....

Monday, 14 July 2014


Break-even for a pro is a No. 150 ranking or approximately $160K/year. ‘Dad how  much do you make a year?’
It takes 4-8 years to REACH THE TOP 200, at a cost of $160K/year, that is between $640K-$1,28M. ‘Mary, how much is our house worth?’
The cost to train per year is approximately $12K low end by age 15, you spent that easily in 5-6 yrs. Roughly $60K. ‘How many mutual FUNDS can you buy with 12K per year?’
Only 7% of the Top 100 juniors in the world will be pros, and only 1% will be Top 20. Top in the world, not the USA. ‘Hey John, did you WIN state yet?’
* Until you WINyou need to front-end all expenses, ouch! ‘But, I only make…’
10,000 hrs. spent training by age 18, with odds of 0.0002? ‘Five hours a day for 10 years, I should learn to code…’
Found this on the net. I just love it when people spell tennis out in black and white.The above facts and figures aren't just talking about 'tinkering around' with your training, this is fair dinkum full on training with real Tennis Coaches. This is not hitting balls with 'Mickey Mouse Mentors', this is the real deal.
I like the way this article is put together, factual with no glossing over of what is really required. There should be more articles written on the above statistics, it may just save some money for families in the future....


I have always had fond memories of my old Albany tennis club that goes by the name of Lawley Park, it's a club that I first played at when i was 14. The reason I first went to Lawley Park was simple, I was not 'welcome' at the Country and Suburban Tennis Club on Albany Highway, but let's dissect this. I had outgrown the junior seen at age 13 and was starting to hit a good consistent ball, but never hard , that wasn't the way I learned to play, I simply looped it in, Borg style. The Swede was my first inspiration to play, so I hit it like he did, high over the net.
The problem was this , apparently I upset a senior player or two at C & S with the way I hit it, so much so that someone 'chatted' me about it. I took the comments home , Dad said  "Righto let's try another club then" , I was more than happy to. I wanted to play how I wanted to play, not how others wanted me to play so it was an easy choice to try 'Lobby' , sorry Lawley Park.
Now the back drop to 'Lobby' was magnificent, from both ends of the court, pine trees and a sweeping hill on one and the harbor on the other. The ocean view however was not the best, you knew it was there but the trees were so thick it was tough to see through, a great wind break. So how about my topspin style at 'Lobby Park' then ? Well received, I loved playing there, the seniors loved having a junior who could match it with most of them, a good challenge all round. Let's fast forward a few years....
Just prior to going to Europe I played a mixed doubles tournament at Lawley, now I hate mixed but I thought well I may never return from Paris so why not ?! Now I believe this is how the day went; My partner and I went through undefeated as did a mate of mine with his partner, so it came down to the final match. We did the sums, we needed a win with a loss of no more than 2 games in a set first to six games, tiebreaker 6 all.
We thought we would keep the 'requirement' of games for and against from our opposition , another good mate from junior days, just in case he put in an inspired performance. No we were hoping for a casual last set from him and his sister, they were going well all day, competitive but not in the 'money' for the day.
So the team that was up on games against us cracked an Export from the club house and watched the final match of the day, they had this in the bag. I believe that if we won 6-2 it would go to a count back and 6-3 we would lose by a game.
Now the memory is still pretty good, we belted 'em 6-1 and I explained the situation to my buddy as I shook his hand at the end of the set, he was furious with himself. Now what about KT up in the club house with his third can of Emu ? Even more furious, possibly not so much at me but with Ted for letting myself and Carmen belt them in the final set. I think we both won $50 each but the moral victory was worth a hundred at least.
Great memories of 'Lobby' , sorry Lawley Park, the days when the club had an independence and a membership base that was not matched any where else locally. So what about the players involved in that day's rather humorous events ?
 KT actually became one of the best local Mixed Doubles players of all time, his loss to us by a whisker was possibly his last and Ted , well Ted and I won the Albany Open Men's Doubles title around 15 years later.
Carmen, well she was the last woman I played mixed doubles with until i turned 41 , 20 years later, a form of the game I am not a fan of but can be a bit of fun all the same.
Thanks Carmen , well played......
 *So why 'Lobby Park' ? As an older chapter explained, because of the way i hit the ball and the way i taught the game I was branded a 'hack' and my students were branded 'Lobby Park Kids'. 
So where did the comments come from ? Would love to tell you but I am tired of receiving legal threats and i really don't have the $$$ to risk it. Nature of the Industry........

Sunday, 13 July 2014


John McEnroe despised Brad Gilbert, he hated everything about him, here's some dialogue for you that is rather humorous from the great Mac.
"Brad Gilbert doesn't swing hard enough at the ball to break an egg". Or this one. "He doesn't hit the ball, he waves at it". Or this , while they were actually playing a match, "Gilbert you don't deserve to be on the same court with me".  Now this match in particular was the match that forced Jonny Mac to take six months off from the game and pondered whether or not he would return or simply stay retired. "When I start losing to players like him I've got to reconsider what I am doing even playing this game". 
That match was at the 1986 Masters Tournament where Gilbert beat the defending Champ and World number 2 in three sets 5-7, 6-4, 6-1. The above mentioned 'trash talk' was from another tournament that the two played where Jonny psyched out Gilbert the night before in an interview. Gilbert even admitted that the verbal psych out from Mac put him off his game and he tried to out hit him, that was not Gilbert's game, he knew that , Mac knew that. 
"Gilbert seemed to be playing a little more aggressive than usual, it seemed to hurt his game " was Mac's post match comment regarding the 4 and 4 win. He even did it with a straight face, that's the sort of guy John McEnroe was as he could talk the talk, walk the walk and do it without a hint of guilt. Even Gilbert was in awe of Mac's ability to put him off his game . "Great psyching by Mac" was Gilbert's reaction.
Up until the win by Gilbert in '86 he had only won a single set from McEnroe in seven outings, yep JM 'owned' Gilbert but in the end Gilbert found a way. He even wrote a book on it, it's called 'Winning Ugly' and is one of the best selling books of all time in tennis. 
The book is about the 'mind games' in the sport of tennis and how you can have endless lessons and the best equipment but if you don't own the head for the game it will all account for nothing. Personally i have not read the book , I have read snippets of it but it is a well regarded book.
The head in tennis is the greatest factor of all, you can win with average shots if you are smart and you can easily lose to someone even if you are technically 'superior'. One day i will read the Gilbert philosophy but until then i will continue to both play and teach the game of tennis with the focus on two things, technique and tactics.
Tough game tennis, a technical game, a thinking game, a tactical game, good fun......

Friday, 11 July 2014


Hitting with guys like Mark Heather and Justin Stead at Coops in Brisbane was a tennis education that I cannot describe in enough words that will fit in a chapter. These guys were the best, no risk, the guys that the younger players if fortunate enough could hit with maybe once a week after training if you either knew them or asked nicely enough. Most top squad players were always looking for some more hitting after training, you just had to be in the right place at the right time. I suppose i was just lucky to have known Mark from that State Championships in Perth, any little thing can help in a sport like tennis. 
When you finish tennis for the day though what do you do ? I rode my bike the 5 or so kilometers to Coops each day but had a great stop off point on the way home, a place called 'The Hypermarket'. This was a store like an American store , it had everything including 75 checkouts in a row, plus other stores, including a music store. 
I had heard of a band called Def Leppard, now these guys had a sound all of their own , like no sound I had ever heard before as I sampled their new album, Hysteria. This was of course 'vinyl' , you know the big round disc maybe a foot in width that you placed on a turn table.
 Lucky though it was also available on tape, yes tape, a thing you placed in a tape recorder, long story but 'cutting edge' technology back then.Hysteria was an album that sold from memory 20 million copies, it was a hit to say the least.
So in the space of a week I had a new favorite band , a band who rather strangely had a one armed drummer but you wouldn't know it , Rick Allen sounded just as good as a two armed drummer. So with a 'walk man' strapped to my tennis shorts with Def Leppard Hysteria playing loud I hit the road to Coops each day on my push bike, a great warm up.
 By the time I reached the Tennis Centre I was ready for anything the place could throw at me, the hitting, the sprinting, the stair climbing, the aerobics, the challenge matches. By the way a 'walk man' is a modern day ipod, boy the times have changed since i was a lad. 
Now 1988 wasn't just a great year for music , it was my favorite year of all time, on court for both myself and my inspiration to play. My hero Mats Wilander had one of those years that has now only been matched by Nadal, Federer and Djokovic, a year that three of the four majors went their way. It was also a year that I fought with many 'guru's' off  court (most unlike me) as we were loyal to our idols. Most arguments stemmed from who had the most Grand Slam titles and the 1988 US Open title match was the one match that gave me what I really wanted.
Without making it a long story and most of you will know what transpired that day in New York but Mats beat Lendl in a 4 hour 54 min marathon that took him to World number 1, finally. That victory by Mats gave me all the ammunition I needed to walk into Coops the next day and say " Hey you guys I see we have a new World number 1, just try to upset me today".
A great day, a great year, 1988..........


Can anyone honestly say they had a great year ? A great month is something we all strive for , a great six months is bordering on just plain silly but a whole year ? This is the stuff dreams are made of . It was in Brisbane, Queensland of 1987 that all of a sudden 'life' had fallen into place as my move to that State was starting to make sense.
When you first take off  in a Qantas Jet to move away from your home town and State it is rather intimidating as you quite simply do not know what to expect. So what you do is rather simple, you carry on as though nothing had changed , you get up , you have brekky, you get on the bus , you go to 'work'. My 'work' was a little different than most, it was hitting tennis balls for long periods of time, maybe six hours a day. This is the time my old school mates from Albany Western Australia were gaining a 'real' education as mine was what I simply refer to as a 'pipe dream'. 
Now this may seem rather blunt but wasn't my plan something that deserved some merit? No, it was plain stupidity at it's greatest. My school education had gone down to a level that my parents had seen as 'non acceptable' , so what was the answer ? 'Tennis School'. Yep full time tennis. Initially I thought "you little bloody rippa" but when you are 16 , a big fish in a small pond and have a 'steady' girlfriend, well it's rather daunting. 
My first impressions of walking into the Coops Tennis facility in Brisbane was one of awe. Only some months before i left WA I had played the State Championships in Perth and received a belting from one of the State's best player's Mark Heather. He had just so happened to have taken the same path as myself , just a little earlier and was a permanent fixture of Coops, in the top squad.
I walk in , get a tour from the main man Richard Howes "This is a challenge match here, Mark Heather is playing....." "Yeah I know Mark , he belted me just a few months ago in Perth, I didn't even know he was here". "Mark is one of the top 10 here, let's watch him". 
The first shot I witness is a short rally then a net approach by Mark and a lob on his backhand side which mark replies with a backhand smash that almost clears the fence. I didn't even know how to hit that shot. Mark wins the point, the match, 7-6, 6-7, 6-2, I know this as I keep a diary. 
I talk to Mark at the end of his challenge match, I remind him of the 'education' he gave me back in our home State a few months earlier, he remembers but is humble. " You played well, I was just in the zone, we should hit some balls in practice".  That's what Coops was like, you may have been in a different squad but you could hook up with another player from any squad and hit for as long as you liked any time after training.
Mark and I hit regularly and initially he took it easy on me, just simply grooving his ground strokes, but within a few months he actually had a practice partner who could take it up to him. I couldn't beat him but I could push him and this is where the game became clear. The 'Hunter' or the 'hunted' ? A mind game. I learned the mind game of tennis from those days at Coops hitting with Mark.
As I say regularly, you don't just step up in tennis and say "Here i am tennis, give me your best" . Tennis isn't like that. It's a game that you  step up and say "Ok tennis here i am, I am a slave and you are the Master, please be kind" . 
If you go in with this attitude you may just be ok..........
Part 2 to follow.....

Thursday, 10 July 2014


I have never liked Lleyton Hewitt, never , and never will. Can't stand his arrogance, something that I thought may just have toned down as he approached retirement. This year's Wimbledon Championships proved that the arrogant Aussie still has a long way to go if he is to be respected by the majority of the tennis fraternity.
 What I did enjoy immensely was the way the giant Pole JJ Janowicz mimicked  Hewitt when he beat him in 5 sets. As I stated in an earlier chapter "That's how you start a lawn mower Lleyton".
There is no doubt whatsoever that I am just one in a long line of people who do not like the arrogance from Down Under but I know someone who is more upset with him than most. A retired former professional from Sweden by the name of Niklas Kroon is far from happy with Hewitt and I can understand why, here's the story.
Kroon was a handy player but a lesser known Swede as his more famous countrymen Borg, Wilander, Edberg etc took the limelight but he did reach World number 46 in 1989. It was in fact Kroon who thought up the "vicht" hand sign that unfortunately for him Hewitt now has the 'rights' to. Mats Wilander probably made the hand sign famous in 1988 at the Australian Open from memory and continued it that year in particular as he won three of the four majors.
The hand sign in a broad sense means "for sure" and from the side looks like a duck's bill.
I have read numerous articles on the "vicht" and it seems that Wilander also owned the rights to it along with Kroon from 1988. There is no doubt at all that both Swedes can take credit for the signal becoming famous. What seems most frustrating for them is the fact that it now seems to be in the 'keeping' of the arrogant Aussie Hewitt.
Unfortunately this whole saga has not been followed through by the media but at last count Kroon was seeking confirmation from a Lawyer as to his rights over his sign. Sounds rather silly doesn't it? After all the Swede invented it.
It does seem though that it is a moral issue as the patent on the sign had lapsed with the passing of Kroon's father who took care of his son's business affairs. Niklas was unaware apparently that the time had elapsed as far as legally renewing the "vicht" as his own brand which he had marketed himself.
Then enters Lleyton Hewitt. 'Mr Unoriginal' then bought the rights to the sign. Kroon reportedly said simply " I wish he had called me first ". He no doubt was referring to the moral side of the equation as that is what it comes down to in all reality. If someone in an Industry such as the Sport of Tennis invents something that is used by champions such as Wilander then surely a simple phone call may not have gone astray ...." Hi Niklas it's Lleyton, about that hand sign of yours"......
Surely Niklas Kroon and Mats Wilander should have a say in what happens in this whole rather frustrating saga as it was originally a part of Swedish Tennis folklore.
I enjoyed watching Mats do the "vicht" a whole lot more than Hewitt as the Swede was my favourite player , Hewitt's accompanying "Cmon" was loud and obnoxious. Wilander did it with a touch of 'cool' whereas Hewitt's version got under his opponents' skin regularly.
I would love to hear how the "vicht" is going now days , not Hewitt's version but the legal version as it would be nice to hear a positive outcome for the Swedes , I will keep looking.......

Sunday, 6 July 2014


This year's Wimbledon Championships saw two guys in the final who a few years ago would have given me one and only one player to barrack for. Novak Djokovic was a player who many people disliked, myself included, Roger Federer was the ONLY one to put support behind in a match between the two. It was due in large to the way the Serb acted on court, the times have changed.
I picked Novak to win the French Open in an earlier chapter, I picked him for more than one reason but I actually wanted him to win in Paris, I felt he had paid his dues. He fell at the final hurdle again and I actually felt sorry for him, I felt he deserved it. Going into this year's Wimbledon final Djovovic had won only one of his past six finals in Grand Slam Championships, he was due for a change in luck.
Novak Djokovic is a man who was his own worst enemy on and off court, a man who didn't know how to act with integrity. His first Australian Open title in 2008 was a title he won with perhaps a hand full of fans supporting him in the crowd, and they were his family. His ball bouncing exploits in this match in particular against Tsonga were talked about by many as a 'grubby tactic'. His opponent basically didn't know when he was actually going to deliver the serve such was the time he took, not unlike what Rafa does. The public have always accepted Rafa though, he is a gentleman.
The 2008 US Open also saw Djokovic embroiled in controversy as his match with American Andy Roddick became quite farcical. The 'injury' time outs that Novak took were looked upon as time wasting to regroup by Roddick and he took his frustrations to the locker room. The four set loss to Novak paled in significance to the tactics that were employed by the Serb to get over the line, so Andy let him know.
The two had to be separated as Roddick reportedly had Novak up against a locker and was rather close to giving him a real injury when it was broken up. The crowd had earlier booed Novak during his post match interview, they were far from happy with him. Novak seemed to throw all tennis etiquette out the window when he played and was something that needed to be addressed, he has since heeded to it.
In fact even though I tipped Roger to win Wimbledon I am genuinely happy for the Serb that he has finally broken through for another major. Sure it would have been nice to see Roger win again but he has won Wimbledon seven times, surely that's enough ? At the start of this year's championships at The All England Club I gave Novak no hope of winning it , same for Rafa, I felt that neither of them had enough grass court form in the lead up tournaments to warrant a victory.
Novak Djokovic is a guy who I at last don't mind, he is a player who's on court antics have toned down to a level that is no worse than any other player now days and his off court demeanour is rather humorous. Anyone who hasn't seen his player impersonations should take the time to take a look, some are priceless, his one of Roddick is rather funny.
I picked him to win the French, I tipped him to lose Wimbledon, I am sure Novak isn't too upset with what he has come away with from both Championships. Novak is a tennis player who unlike some I have mentioned on this site I have grown to like, he is 'two different people' than when he first took on the tennis World in an arrogant display of egotism.  
Others should take note of how to win friends and influence people, in fact I think that may be a book title, perhaps this year's Wimbledon Champ did some reading........

Friday, 4 July 2014


The Grand Slam Cup held in Germany from 1990 through to 1999 was an interesting tournament to say the least. Some players hated it, namely Andre Agassi who went to extraordinary lengths to not play it, or lose it. In 1990 Agassi was rather vocal regarding his thoughts on a tournament that was nothing more than a money fest for the invited players.
The Grand Slam Cup was for the best performed 16 players of the year , until 1998 when it was changed to the top 8, not unlike the Masters. The first two rounds were best of three sets and the semi's and final were best of five. This tournament however offered no ranking points, just 2 million dollars for the winner, half that for second place and some rather substantial spending money for the rest. Back to Andre.
The great man did not want to play in it's inaugural year, he let everyone know, but as a professional he was actually 'required' to play, so what did he do ? Nine days before the tournament the Davis Cup final was held in the US and with the title in the bag at 3-0 Agassi played Darren Cahill in a dead rubber. At one set all Agassi retired due to a 'pectoral strain', I remember it vividly as they taped him up to no avail, he retired 'injured'. Only Darren and Andre know the real story to this 'injury' as Cahill became Andre's coach towards the end of his career.
So Andre got his wish , no Grand Slam Cup for him , as was the same case the following year however the reasons were unclear. In 1992 he actually did play and was seeded number 2 but put in a 'token gesture' and lost first round to Michael Chang. In 1993 Agassi's ranking had significantly dropped so he did not have to play but the following year was rather humorous, I remember it well.
Agassi was required to play and was seeded 2 again, he drew Thomas Muster in the first round and anyone who knows anything about tennis knows that these two did not get along.
To cut a long story short Andre was not leaving Germany without beating the Austrian and he did it in straight sets which set up a clash with Swede Magnus Larsson. This match was a comedy, unfortunately it is unavailable on you tube but I would pay good money for it. At one set all a rather visibly upset Andre put his foot through the throat of his racket, let me describe this.
The racket was placed on the ground, head first, on an angle, grip in hand, then he has put his foot straight through the throat and snapped it in two. Now there is an art to this technique, it aint easy. Andre also said the F word and from memory it was something like this "So I'm not allowed to say f..."? The umpire's response, again from memory was "very close now Andre", in reference to a default.
Andre didn't need an umpire, he self imploded losing the final set 0-6 to the Swede who actually went on to win the tournament against World number 1 Pete Sampras in the final. This was to be Agassi's last performance at the Cup until 1998 where he went on a 'bagel' rampage. As if to bury some past demons he won his first match against Pioline without dropping a game then in his next match against Korda he won the second and third sets 6-0, 6-1. In the semi's he beat Kucera 6-0 in the fifth before losing to Rios 6-3 in the fifth in the final. This was the last year it was played.
For history's sake in 1993 Czech Petr Korda beat World number 1 Sampras 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 7-6, 13-11 in the semi finals which earned him the right to play for $1.625 million first prize. The tournament dropped it's winner's purse from two million in it's first four years but hey, these guys were  still playing for big bucks.
In the final he took on German Michael Stich who was ranked 5 but had beaten World number 2 Stefan Edberg in five sets in his semi. The final was another epic and Korda prevailed by the score of 2-6, 6-4, 7-6, 2-6, 11-9
I would call his $1.625 million well earned.......

Thursday, 3 July 2014


No I am not talking about the 100 reasons why some people wish to sue me over the content of certain chapters that I have posted on this site, we have already discussed them. This chapter is about the name, not just any name, remember to be a professional in any sport it is a necessity to have a name that fits.
Remember Joachim Johanssen from Swedish Tennis ? What about the Formula 1 Champion Fernando Alonso ? Alberto Contador of the Tour De France ? What do these guys all have in common ?
That's easy, the name, they have a name that sounds classy, a name that goes with the sport that to us common people simply sounds normal , like Bob Smith the Aussie Farmer. These sporting stars don't just talk the talk, walk the walk and look the look, no ,these guys sound just as good as they do everything else.
Let's just switch to the women's side of things, but only momentarily as I am not a great fan of women's tennis, I do like women's beach volley ball though and who really cares what their names are?
The two Czech stars who played a semi at Wimbledon this year had a striking similarity to their predecessors from the 80's . Lucy Safarova and Petra Kvitova are two of the world's best players as were Hana Mandlikova and Martina Navratilova. So what's the similarities? Pretty obvious, it's the last three letters in their surname but what does it mean?
Czech female surnames come from feminine adjectives, most of the time, so for example if a Czech Father's surname is Novatel then his daughter will go by Novatelova, pretty simple really. There was a perfect example of this in the 80's as Cyril Suk and Helena Sukova were a brother / sister combination from the Czech Republic, great players.
So rather than rabbit on about it , there you have it, the 'ova' in the name has nothing to do with getting the ball 'ova the net' , no it's way more complicated than that, it's quite simply the way the country hands out surnames. Don't you just love how uncomplicated it is here in the land of Oz ? Just glad we don't have to put an 'ova' at the end of some of our female surnames as 'Belinda Boil' would be a rather unfortunate name to own.....