Sunday, 29 March 2015


The cold hard facts surrounding just how tough it is to win on the Mens Professional Tennis tour are no more evident than one of the latest results from the Miami Open. Alexandr Dolgopolov who was ranked as high as 13 just two years ago and who has had wins over players such as Rafael Nadal took on World Number 16 Tommy Robredo just last night.
Now this match up in round 2 was rather ridiculous when you look at their abilities however the rankings don't lie as now Alexandr is now ranked 65 with a run of fairly average form recently. In fact he has dropped 24 places in this last week due to his failure to defend recent points.
Robredo, who has been in sensational form recently would not have been at all impressed with the draw handed to him as he would have been well aware of Dolgopolov's ability. In fact I am certain he would have ignored his opponent's ranking, he knew what he was up against.
The 6-7, 6-3, 7-5 'upset' win by the unseeded player from the Ukrain to many was in fact not an upset, it was simply an example of just how tough it is to win on the Mens Tour. Take for example another second round match up of Janowicz and Bautista Agut with the big Pole winning in another 'upset'.
I never look upon these wins as upsets by lower ranked players, in fact I don't believe that there is such a thing as an upset in Mens Tennis with players inside the top 70 or 80. It is quite simply a mind battle of who turns up on the day.
If a higher ranked player is not 100 per cent switched on in the above mentioned rankings frame he will invariably lose to a player ranked lower, the number next to their name is at times irrelevant.
Sometimes we are subjected to almost a 'Jekyl and Hyde' scenario with some players who can turn up one day and go missing the next.
Tough sport tennis but at times we as spectators should ignore the rankings and enjoy the fight. It puts the sport into perspective when we simply watch the ball being hit from two players who when stepping onto court ignore each other's rankings but are fully aware of each other's ability to play.........


Well done to a true gentleman of local tennis Mr Mark Tupman who got his Denmark team over the line in the Champ of Champs at his home club today. The Mens Singles can often decide the result in this particular event and Mark did it in style.
Just wondering what happened to all of the Albany Tennis Clubs if a town as small as Denmark can claim victory in an event that puts 5 or 6 clubs against each other on a year to year basis to decide who is in fact the strongest tennis club in the region.
Albany tennis clubs need to have a long hard look at themselves......
Well done Mark and well done Denmark......

Friday, 27 March 2015


Whilst I am not sexist I still cannot believe all the fuss surrounding the Eugenie Bouchard 'twirl' at the Australian Open this year that surely must go down as one of the all time 'biggest beat ups' of a rather innocent request by a post match interviewer that simply asked a player who doesn't mind 'twirling' for a shot on court in front of millions but felt strangely uncomfortable when asked to do it after a match while asking a couple of silly questions that is all part of the Australian Open's efforts to delve into a player's private life but let's put it into perspective as when Andy Murray was asked by Hamish McLachlan was he going to be 'free balling' under his kilt for his wedding it received next to nothing as far as publicity was concerned and in this day and age of equal prize money for both men and women you would think that there also needs to be an 'equality' of moral standards in relation to questions fired at players to go with the whole farcical idea that a best of three set match is worth the same as a best of five set match, does anyone else feel the same ?
Now that was a rather long winded story and question but read on as this one is even better as tennis seems to be a sport that continually makes headlines for all the wrong reasons including Tennis Australia's latest farcical decision to play a Davis Cup Tie on a surface that went out in the 70's with Australia's best players of the past ( no offence, there is a time and place for everything) plus is anyone following the latest hard court exploits of Aussie Tennis Professional male players who are in fact matching it with the best in the World ( apart from the top 10 who are untouchable it seems) and why are these guys subjected to the days of old plus decisions that seem to be rather 'dinosaur like' and lack any real substance apart from a word that seems to come up regularly in Davis Cup and that is 'tradition' but that should surely not get in the way of pure logic when it comes to finding a surface that would suit all Aussie Tennis Professionals and not just the older guys who may appreciate the softer surface and therefore perhaps may recover quicker for either a reverse singles or even a doubles match or is the idea of grass court tennis simply a 'romance' that Australia has had with the sport of tennis that simply cannot be replaced by any other surface due to the repetitive nature of a game that in some ways tries to move ahead but in other ways does it's best to remain static due to the more 'experienced board members' who for reasons unknown to anyone else cannot find a way to move forward due to fear of failure or otherwise that may put their own positions in jeopardy that does not seem to coincide with this country's new breed of player who in fact have proven that their style supersedes the older styles and who can in fact play on a surface other than one that is more suited to playing AFL or Cricket on or as the great Andre Agassi once said, 'Grass is for Cows'......
Anyone agree ?
Nuf said........

Monday, 23 March 2015


The thing that struck me most about the final at Indian Wells between Federer and Djokovic was not in fact the result, that was always going to happen. Novak played fewer matches due to the withdrawal of Tomic in the quarters and he was fresher than Roger. If the same good fortune had happened to Fed then I am certain he would have been the fresher player going into the final. Anyhow that's not what this is about.
Did you read Roger's press conference transcript ? Fascinating to say the least. "I'm not going to look back on that match, on that moment very long. That will be forgotten probably in 25 minutes or so ". Now there's how you take a loss. The thing is this though, when you have won just about every tennis tournament on the planet, winning it again or losing it in this instance may be all a little bit on the 'ho hum' side.
In 1981 after Bjorn Borg had lost the final of the US Open to Jonny Mac which was his second Grand Slam final loss in a row to the American he famously walked out of the stadium in New York and retired from tennis. Why ? Because he couldn't handle being second best, he admitted just that. Sure he made a couple of brief attempts to come back to the game but he was never the same again, he lost his initial desire to be the best.
Here's the thing about Roger Federer, he doesn't mind it, he's just happy to still be showing every other player in the World that at age 33 he is still a genius and when he does lose, well it takes someone of Novak's expertise to beat him. The same happened at Wimbledon last year when after an epic 5 set loss to Novak he spoke of simply being happy to be a part of such a great match. Would title number 8 really have been a life changing moment had he won ? He handled the loss a whole lot better than the Australian Open final defeat at the hands of Nadal in 2009, the loss shattered him.
So what is it about Federer now days ? His game is as free flowing as someone who now has nothing to lose and with an air of almost arrogance about it. He goes up against an army of baseliners like a soldier up against the enemy but with a different type of arsenal. In fact he has alarmingly huge wins over players who seem to be taken back by the way in which they are dealt with, seemingly with no respect whatsoever for their ability.
Take the young fellow Borna Coric for example, the World's hottest teenage talent who had a resounding 6-1, 6-3 win over Andy Murray in Dubai at the quarter final stage. After a win like that you would expect him to put up a big showing against Federer in the semis but it took Roger not much more than an hour to destroy the 18 year old 6-2, 6-1.
How does a player lose that easily after winning so easily against a player of Murray's ability ? Coric spoke of the difficulty in playing someone of Federer's legendary status but also paid tribute to the tactics used by the Swiss genius. He spoke of being 'rushed' and not having any time to play his 'game plan'.
Did you see the highlights of Indian Wells ? At 5-3 up in the tie breaker in the second set the match looked in the keeping of Novak before a rather daring drop shot from Federer set up a winning volley which turned the set around. That type of play is outrageous at that stage in a match yet it proves that Federer is playing with a sense of ridiculous freedom and simply no fear of losing.
The great man from Switzerland didn't win this time around but he won't be walking out of any stadium in the near future as Borg did in '81. There is no personal disgust at not being the best in his chosen field anymore. Federer knows his game plan currently is good enough to beat just about anyone on his best day and recently he has proved that his best days are most days. As he suggested in his press conference, 25 minutes may be all it takes for him to move on from a loss.
Oh to be that philosophical.............

Wednesday, 18 March 2015


I didn't think much of Grigor Dimitrov's comments in his post match press conference the other day so I wasn't too disappointed with his loss to Robredo in the next round at Indian Wells. His coach Roger Rasheed can keep playing the same old tune over and over regarding his fitness expertise but it accounts for nothing if you can't teach the finer points of the game.
Take a look at Dimitrov's returning statistics, the weakest part of his game by a long way; The Bulgarian 12th seed won just 16 of 60 first service return points against a player who's serve is definitely not in the higher echelon of service statistics. And second service return points; 10 of 21. So Dimitrov is winning around 25 per cent of first service return points and 50 per cent of second service return points. Robredo did serve extremely well all the same with 74 per cent of first serves in but Dimitrov won just 26 of 81 return points for the match.
I make no apologies for my lack of respect for Roger Rasheed because he is not a tennis coach, he is a fitness expert, there is actually a difference. He can keep training his man Grigor as hard as he wishes but it's going to keep accounting for nothing if he keeps losing early in tournaments. The Bulgarian needs a coach who can see his weaknesses and improve them, not to simply make him into a fitness machine as Rasheed seems to be doing.
Someone needs to show Dimitrov how to play the service return as a 50/50 shot just as Federer does so well as he nullifies service pace, particularly from his backhand. His chip return should be in every tennis manual complete with step by step instruction on how to play it. No professional tennis player handles a service return from the backhand better than the genius from Switzerland.
The young man from Bulgaria has been likened to Federer many times as his style is similar however his tactical mind is lacking the polish of the great man. I have no doubt Dimitrov could become a great player but he will need to do some serious work on his thought processes in the future if he is to fulfil his potential.
I look at less talented players from the past such as Brad Gilbert and my favourite player Mats Wilander who's shots weren't anywhere near as glamorous as Dimitrov's. Those two players had rather simple games but their brilliant thinking found avenues to victories more often than not.
It's not that I don't like Dimitrov but I think he needs someone to show him how to play tennis before he becomes a wasted talent.
Perhaps a new coach could also teach him a thing or two regarding what to say at the press conference........

Monday, 16 March 2015


In relation to my previous chapter regarding Dimitrov's lack of praise for his opponent that seemed to be all about his own game's inconsistencies, well a young fellow from Australia shows how you do it. Thanasi Kokkinakis had this to say regarding his huge win over Juan Monaco in the third round at Indian Wells; " I made life difficult for myself, but he made it difficult for me too"......
I like that from a young professional who is just finding his way in the sport as it lacked ego and all of the other things that go along with most tennis professionals at their press conference. To simply acknowledge the fact that your opponent made it tough for you shows a good attitude that does not hint of self absorption.
Just that statement alone will stand young Thanassi in good stead as he rubs shoulders with the best in World Tennis. It shows a mature head on a young man's shoulders that many older players could take note of. Many are too wrapped up in their own egos to even consider complimenting an opponent.
It is an ego fuelled sport but it doesn't always have to be in the press conference as that is where a player will be put under the microscope at times even more than out on court.
Well played young fella..........

Sunday, 15 March 2015


“It's still early in the year, so still trying to find my game,” Dimitrov said of his start to 2015. “I think it just takes a bit of time to really find that rhythm.

“Coming to the tournament, to any tournament now, I feel much more comfortable, much more confident. I have been out there on those kinds of courts. I think it's definitely an advantage for me… But I think the game still needs to improve a little bit more. [It] needs a bit of a polish up.”

The above comments are from Bulgarian Professional tennis player Grigor Dimitrov after just sneaking past Australian Nick Kyrgios in a third set tie breaker. The match at Indian Wells was a second round match that in fact had Kyrgios serving for the match at 5-4 in the third before rolling his ankle.
The injury obviously affected his movement but he clawed his way to the tie breaker before eventually losing it 4-7. Now the comments by Dimitrov are most interesting in the way that he talks about his game needing a 'polish up'. What about conceding that his opponent perhaps should have won the match as he did in fact serve for it but while doing so sustained a fair dinkum injury ?
I believe the above comments by Dimitrov are implying that he simply didn't play well but you can only play as well as your opponent allows you. Dimitrov should simply concede that he was lucky to win this particular match as an uninjured Kyrgios should have been able to serve it out.
Tennis players are constantly looking for excuses as to why they lost or why their game was not free flowing yet it all comes back to the same answer. You are allowed to play only as well as a style suits your own game and many styles are contrasting.
Some allow a player to constantly receive the ball in their hitting zone and some players simply have to improvise. After a match of improvisation it will always seem as though things just didn't work particularly well but after a win, well it should be said :
'If I struggled through with a victory over a player who gave me nothing then I am most happy with my performance. If however I lost then my opponent found a way to win that I was not smart enough to find. Their thought process was a lot clearer than mine'.
Professional tennis players should always accept that in practice everything usually goes their way, the ball is placed where they require it, this builds technique, this builds confidence. In the heat of battle however if an opponent keeps placing the ball where his opponent requires it to build confidence then perhaps they should be looking at a new coach or a different game plan.
In the instance of the Dimitrov victory well I would suggest that this time he was a little fortunate and he should accept the win in a humble manner. Finding rhythm is not going to happen against the top players because that's why they are the best in the World at it. They will hand you nothing so accept that it's going to be a mind game more than anything else.
The smarter player will usually find an avenue to victory, not necessarily the best ball striker.
If a player gains 'rhythm' during a match then I believe they are playing against someone who isn't a very smart tennis player......


It was only a matter of time before recently appointed Australian Davis Cup Captain Wally Masur made a 'fantastic' decision that surely proves that he has a heart the size of a pea. The next round of Davis Cup matches happens to include one in Darwin, that's not the issue, well done Darwin on securing the Quarter Final Tie between Australia and Kazakhstan.
The issue is the surface, why is it grass ? Is this the best surface for Australian Professional Tennis players and is this the surface that they train on regularly ? The answer is simple, NO Wally it's not. However I am positive that Wally would have gone back to what he can remember most from when he played the game and came up with one word, grass.
I don't believe that this decision can even be called 'playing it safe' as surely grass is not a 'safe' surface for any player quite simply for the following reason; No one practices on grass except for a few weeks of the year in the lead up to the grass court season in London. So why would both Wally Masur and the selection committee for the Davis Cup in this country go with a grass court against a lowly ranked country such as Kazakhstan ?
Because who ever is making these decisions has about as much faith in our male tennis players as most voters currently have in our current leader Mr Abbott. A neutral hard court would be suffice to get Australia through to the semi finals, no risk at all however just like Mr Masur this country is still in the dark ages with many things in relation to tennis.
Never mind evolving, let's go back to the days of black and white television, HQ motor cars, safari suits and grass tennis courts. Despite the outcome of the tie it is open to a rather large debate as to whether or not this current crop of players are in fact having a say in the court surface.
Are they simply forced to go along with it for one reason or another ? Wally believes that by playing on grass it gives Australia the best chance of making it through to the semis.
I disagree, Australian tennis players are currently strong enough to win on ANY surface against Kazakhstan just as they were against Uzbekistan. Surprise, surprise, they also played that tie on grass.
Grass is not a proven surface of advantage to anyone except a player of Roger Federer's grass court ability. All other players with the 'regular' style are not proven winners on that surface. The decision lacks 'balls'. 
The European players go with clay, the Americans go with hard courts, (usually anyhow) and Australia, well we go with a surface that gets played on for less than a month per year on the pro tour. So how is this surface of an advantage to Australia ?
Wouldn't a win over Kazakhstan on a hard court be a larger confidence boost going into their semi final no matter who or where they played ? Wouldn't that prove that they are good enough to win on a surface that provides a more consistent bounce and prepare them stronger mentally for perhaps a clay court semi ?
As usual I have a theory, 'romance' with Lleyton Hewitt. They want him to play this tie as it may be his last ever in Australia and grass apparently is his favourite surface. If it was played on hard court then he wouldn't stand a chance of being picked over Kyrgios and Tomic. He is a chance to be picked for singles in this particular tie.
What does a win on grass however give them if they play a semi on clay except a false sense of security ? Or is Australia just happy to make it to the semi finals so they can say just that ? The way I read the current draw is that Australia will probably play France in France on clay in the semis. Grass aint going to do Australia any favours if that match up occurs in the following round.
To Tennis Australia, the Davis Cup Committee, Wally Masur and all others involved in this great game in this country I wish you all the best with your latest decision.
My last chapter was titled 'Weak As Piss', I may have to switch some titles around..........

Friday, 13 March 2015


The recent arrest of former Pro Tennis player Nick Lindahl from Australia for apparent match fixing seems a little over the top especially if you read one of my recent chapters (Fascinating Story).
Lindahl, formerly of Sweden has been made an example of by the sport of tennis, albeit at the much lower Futures level of tournament play.
What about the chapter I wrote regarding Chela and Schwank and what became of that rather 'obvious' match fixing episode ?? Why wasn't as much put into that farcical match as far as investigations were concerned and why are they targeting the 'small boys' compared to the 'big boys' ?
Easy answer; They want to make an example of the up and comers as opposed to bringing to light what is obviously happening on the professional tour itself, I reckon that's weak as piss. Why not make an example of the two Argentine players who were obviously 'having a lend' of everyone around them including the sport itself. All too hard ATP ?
Whoever set the dogs onto Lindahl needs to take a long hard look at themselves because making an example of him is missing the point as the real issue is obviously at the higher level, it's just not 'cool' to admit it. Why is this ?
It would bring the game of tennis into disrepute, no question.
Sure what Lindahl did was wrong but at the Futures level it seems way over the top as far as 'Organised Crime Investigations' are concerned. The ATP needs to tackle the problem at the top and work it's way down, not the other way around.
Start with the 'big boys', surely that will set the precedent for the rest of the players on either the big stage or the not so glamorous smaller stage that is the breeding ground of future professional tennis players.
Like the title suggests of this chapter............

Monday, 9 March 2015


In reference to my last chapter regarding 'the boys club' in Davis Cup selection, here's another mind boggling selection, or is that LACK OF SELECTION for you.
Stephen Huss was born in Bendigo, Australia in 1975. So who is he ? Stephen Huss won the Wimbledon Doubles title in 2005 with Wesley Moodie from South Africa. They didn't just beat anyone, they beat the greatest team of all time, the Bryan Brothers in the final.
Along the way they beat the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 9th seeds yet no one has heard of him except people who know a thing or two about tennis.
Tennis Australia and the Davis Cup selection committee also didn't read the papers as Stephen Huss never played Davis Cup for Australia, not that I can find anyhow. So why is this ? Australia has had some superb Doubles specialists over the years yet they seem to be overlooked regularly for 'scratch pairings'. Look no further than the greatest farce in Australian Davis Cup history. 2001.
For some unknown reason Australian Davis Cup Captain John Fitzgerald overlooked Todd Woodbridge for a spot in the doubles, what was he thinking ?? Instead he opted for another 'scratch pairing', the apparent 'dream team' of Rafter and Hewitt. Oh dear what was Fitzy thinking ? Sure Hewitt had won the US Open dubs with Mirnyi and Rafter had won the Australian Open dubs with Bjorkman but they were doubles 'nobody's' without partners like they had. The selection by Fitzgerald was a disaster and cost Australia the Davis Cup final.
So why are guys like Bolt and Whittington overlooked just as Huss was also overlooked for a spot in Davis Cup for Australia ? Hewitt's name seems to come up an awful lot as a 'replacement' for guys who would belt him in doubles no matter who he played with from Australia.
Is it just me or is Australian Davis Cup selection a totally closed shop ? What's going to happen when Lleyton finally retires ? Will Australia finally select a team on current form and not what happened years earlier ? Don't forget also that word that I used last chapter, sentiment, I like that one, it seems to happen a lot here in Australia.
Putting my hand up for the next Davis Cup selection. I reckon either myself or Mickey Mouse could find a smarter doubles combination than what's been happening since the Woodies retired......

Sunday, 8 March 2015


If Chris Guccione had played doubles with Sam Groth they woulda won easily against the Czech's, where was he ? Is this Davis Cup thing still all about Lleyton Hewitt and his last year on tour ?
Even if the 'Gooch' was not available Australia still had more credentialed doubles players than Lleyton.
Please let's not go back 13 years or so when he won the US Open Doubles title with Max Mirnyi who is a doubles genius.
What about Bolt and Whittington ? Two Aussie Doubles specialists who made the third round of the Australian Open this year, anyone heard of 'em ?! Has anyone done their homework on these two guys or are they simply not part of 'the boys club' ?
These two lost in two tie breakers to Marrero and Cuevas in round 3 who then lost in two tie breakers to the eventual champions Fognini and Bolleli. Do any of these statistics count at all when it comes to Davis Cup or is this country still totally absorbed with sentimentality ?
Let's forget the sentimental garbage and if Australia do in fact scrape out of this tie with Czechoslovakia why not put in the 'best' team and not a sentimental one next time around ? 
Wally Masur made the wrong choice in this particular tie, hopefully he will make the right one next time. Give Bolt and Whittington a go as that is what they do for a living or at least try one of them with Groth or Gooch.
Australian team selection has been rather ordinary for many years in Davis Cup as it's always been about who is having a regular barbeque with the selectors than anything else. How about actually looking at current form and who is in fact going to be the best for the tie in question, not who is going to turn the snags at the next function.
Sometimes I reckon I hit the nail right on the head......

Friday, 6 March 2015


The following story is rather fascinating to say the least. I was actually looking for some information on the Andre Agassi 'tank' of 1996 against Michael Chang. This particular match was at the Australian Open in the semi finals and Agassi has stated in his book that he was not the least bit interested in winning the match.
The reasons given from Andre stemmed from his dislike of Boris Becker who was waiting in the final for either himself or Chang and he felt his form was not up to beating Boris. He opted for a loss to Chang instead. I find that nothing short of fascinating but in some sort of way acceptable.
If a player is not up to the task at hand then should the following match be between two players who are willing to give 100 per cent rather than a token gesture ? I believe that the mindset of Agassi back then may have been just that. He was not interested in playing Boris so he didn't even try to get to that match. For history's sake Boris Becker won the final in straight sets.
Whilst looking for the above information on the net I found the story of the two Argentine players (next chapter) who perhaps 'fixed' a match in 2011. That was a totally bizarre result and the story is worth a read. I must admit as I wrote in another chapter a while back I have had a few dollars on a tennis match however it was a big final, the Australian Open in 2005 between Safin and Hewitt.
As far as early round matches in smaller tournaments well I would not go near them, particularly in the smaller clay court events where friends play friends for smaller prize money. It seems from the following story that there is a larger prize off court available from people 'setting up' certain matches. To be in a winning position and then retire 'injured' has to be a sure sign that things are going on outside of the court.
I wonder how many dollars were won and lost on the Agassi/Chang match back in 1996 and I wonder if anyone who lost money on Andre has since written to him and asked for their money back ? Be worth a try I reckon.......


* The following information is from a website titled 'SPORTSPUNTER.COM. This particular chapter I found when looking for information regarding 'tanking' in tennis, a deliberate loss by a player not interested in winning a particular match. The following match was played in February 2011.
A casual tennis observer may not realise that a game is being tanked, but for a gambler it is as glaring as possible, and there is no more glaring example than the most recent Chela vs Schwank match held this week.  In case you didn’t know, both players are Argentinian, which Chela ranked 31 in the world compared to Schwank’s 104.
Chela has been in impressive form on the red clay up until this stage, only just losing the final of the Copa Claro in Buenos Aires the week before in three sets. For this round one match Chela started understandably favourite at 1.46 with Schwank at 2.93.
But these odds were remarkably different come start time. Chela has moved into a rank outsider at 3.50 before a ball has been served and bookmakers took the game off the market. PinnacleSports for example, took the game off the market when Chela’s price has only reached 2.24, and from then it continued to drift.
Was something afoot? Was Chela sporting an injury that made him unlikely to win the match? It seems not. Chela won the first set reasonably easily 6-3, claiming 60% of the points played. However despite winning the first set, his price was at 2.80 at betfair. It had come in from 3.50 before the start of play, but why should Chela, the higher ranked player, the player in form showing no signs of injury who has just won the first set still be seen as the rank outsider?
It didn’t stop there. Chela continued to dominate in the second set, winning a healthy 5-1 advantage. When serving for the set, Chela’s odds were only 1.90. What this means is despite Chela being up 6-3 5-1 and serving for the match, according to the odds, the game was a near 50-50 chance for either player.
Chela then saw a doctor and retired from the match citing injury. All bets on Schwank won.
It would have to be one of the most dubious matches in sport history, and whilst one can say that the match wasn’t tanked by Chela, one can easily say that there were many people out there who knew that Chela was not going to win the match. Hundreds of thousands of dollars could have been bet on Schwank and large profits made.
But it’s not the first time that such tanking has occurred in tennis. From my own betting, I believe there to be at least 5 matches a year where players lose on purpose. In April last year, Chela played Schwank and Schwank was fined US$1,000 for erratic and unusual play. Schwank said a back problem cause him to play a more than normal amount of drop shots and lobs. He even served a foot fault on match point.
It’s clear to me, although hard to prove, that these two Argentinians have one over the ATP Tour.
Tanking occurs when the amount of money that one can gain via betting outweighs the potential gain from prize money for the tournament. Hence it more often occurs in early rounds in small tournaments out of the way of most of the worlds media.
A blight on the game it is indeed, and whilst the ATP has said that players could receive three year bans and then lifetime bans on repeat occurrence, their own anti-corruption rules, to this date, have only handed out petty small fines of which players and affiliates could well have already paid off by losing on purpose.

Thursday, 5 March 2015


Taking the piss- meaning; To mock, to make fun of...
Remember that message I told you that I received from that weirdo who spelled the names wrong of both Lleyton and Serena ? If you read any of my chapters recently you would have read that this particular 'tennis expert' referred to both of the above mentioned as 'Cleyton Hewitt' and 'Samantha Williams', yes true story.
We all are entitled to our opinions of course however this person's, well, I am not sure which category to put their complaint in. Perhaps my 'too hard basket'.
Anyhow the person in question should take a look at the latest chapter on the ATP site and then get back to me with an apology because at least most of my chapters are not about watching grass grow or observing paint drying. Here's what I am on about.
There's a guy by the name of Greg Sharko who had an idea to put his head into the history books of statistics and come up with some facts and figures that had one guy say in a comment "Someone needs to give Greg Sharko a more meaningful job".
The comment came about after reading the latest statistics on who has the best record in World Tennis from leading 40-0 on their own serve. It came as no surprise that the guy with the World's fastest delivery ( on a regular basis ) Ivo Karlovic won the 'award'. He in fact has a 78 from 78 record in this particular facet of the game but I am still to see the value in the statistic.
Perhaps I am being a little hard on Greg the statistics guru and perhaps I am also being a little hard on the individual who I received the rather lengthy message from on my site a few weeks back. As I mentioned before we all are entitled to our opinions and views on the game.
As most of you are aware I have many views and opinions on tennis and a few of them have landed me in hot water. All part of the process I call it, just like losing 0 and 0 when you are a kid. It's a learning curve as we get an idea on what we can and can't 'get away with' both on and off court. All part of the fun aint it ?
Anyhow back to the 'Sharkster', Greg the statistics guru. Now I am not sure what possesses a man to actually look this kind of thing up but he has delivered this as his opening line "New statistical analysis from ATP World Tour events - available for the first time this year is sure to delight tennis junkies and create deeper insights into the game".
Yes that is Greg's opening line but when I got through that tantalizing opening I was left with a feeling of emptiness, I was expecting more. This is why.
Out of around 330 service games that were analysed by the 'Shark' there was in fact only 5 games that were broken by the receiver when they were trailing 0-40. Tell you what, I bet the 'Shark' got real excited when he finally found one ey ?
He has gone through the top ten players in the World, minus Cilic who is injured and came up with just five indescrepencies from a service game that looked as though it was all but sewn up. Sorry but I am not convinced that this guy isn't 'having a lend' here. Why would you even bother with this little project ? Is anyone paying him to do this ?
When I write about tennis I would like to think that the facts and figures I give actually lead somewhere. Maybe to a final set, a final tournament match or perhaps some statistics on how long the match was or what year the match was played. I am struggling to see why this guy would come up with some figures on something that when you really look at it, has about as much relevance as how many days the sun comes up in a row. (You know it happens but you just don't bother counting.)
But Greg has found something stimulating about these recent facts and figures that unfortunately are all part of the game now and that no doubt will find a way to render the great Sports commentator Bruce McAvaney redundant sooner than later. I can't believe Bruce didn't think of the above idea, he will be kicking himself no doubt.
Yes I can be cynical and yes I know I am biased about my site and the content on it that has earned me about as much as a guy ranked 1,000,000,000, in the World in our wonderful sport of tennis. But surely this latest attempt at breaking down the game into tiny little bits has failed to the same extent that the 'around the World' canoeist did just recently. ( I think he managed a few miles, 'just' short of his target before his canoe started to sink).
I for one won't be reading anymore of the 'Sharkster's' chapters until he can prove to me that he can come up with an idea that doesn't leave the average reader thinking 'hang on I reckon this guy is just taking the piss'.........

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

'WHAT IF'.....

The recent statistics on win/loss ratios of the World's best tennis players is fascinating to say the least and it's a shame that there is not more information available from years gone by. In saying that however I am sure that somewhere in the archives it is possible to find out just what a player did when it counted most.
Roger Federer has in fact played a total of 126 tournament deciders and quite remarkably he has won 84 tournaments and lost 42. What if he had won another 50 per cent of those deciding matches ? If he had well he would be within a whisker of surpassing the great Jimmy Connors who stands alone on 109 tournament victories.
As stated in a recent chapter I felt that it was a gesture of selflessness when at the conclusion of his final tournament win Connors handed his winners cheque back to the tournament. After all if you won as much as 'Jimbo' an extra thirty grand wouldn't really make that much difference to your bank account would it ? The Israel Tennis federation needed the money more than Connors did, nice parting gesture.
Novak Djokovic who lost the final in Dubai to Federer has won 49 title matches and lost 23 so it puts it all into perspective when you look at just how hard it is to keep winning big titles. Despite how good a player is at tennis there is always another side of the draw going on that is totally out of their control.
I wonder how many shrewd coaches do a media ban on their players and let them know after their semi final just exactly who they are playing in the title match ? Would it make a difference to a player's mind set in the early rounds perhaps ? Would a player perform at a different level of intensity if they found out that Roger Federer had been beaten first round ( which is unlikely ) and the other half of the draw had been a total napalm of seeded players by lesser ranked ones ?
Would a tennis professional perform at different stages of intensity if they kept looking at who was left in the tournament as opposed to one who adopted the Brad Gilbert philosophy ? (Start at 21 sets in a Grand Slam and tick them off one by one). Would it be easier that way ?
I wonder what a bike rider does when presented with a 200km stage in the Tour De France and would they chase other riders ? Would they opt for simply counting the miles in their head from 200 and work their way to zero ?
I believe Borg has 65 titles but he did retire at age 26, McEnroe 77 titles and Lendl 94 however I am not certain of how many finals these guys played. From memory I am certain Mac won another 77 doubles titles also so what ever he lost in singles title matches he made up for in doubles wins.
I love statistics in tennis as I am fascinated in the finer points of the game. At times I go way off on another tangent when I read something that really pisses me off but I will always get back to the technical part of the sport, eventually anyhow.
Funny sport tennis, played by millions, perfected by a select few and 'coached' by countless numbers of 'gurus' who perhaps have never even heard of Bjorn Borg. Those of us lucky enough to have seen the great Swede play know just where the art of topspin was perhaps brought to a level of brilliance.
Thank goodness for You Tube and thank goodness for the statistic gurus who bring many parts of tennis to light and who put the game into perspective with their breakdown of matches.
It makes things a little easier to see why a player can win more points than his opponent yet lose the match. Funny game tennis........

Sunday, 1 March 2015

'WHAT THE ###...'??

Did you see the score line between David Ferrer and Ryan Harrison at the semi final stage in Acapulco ? Ferrer won the match by a remarkable score line of 4-6, 6-0, 6-0 and that tells me two things. Ryan Harrison completely ran out of steam against a guy who keeps running or he was simply happy with his pay cheque of around $50,000 and was already 'shopping' in Mexico.
Either way it was a great tournament for Harrison who beat Dimitrov on his way to a semi final that now has his ranking  somewhere around 100. It's been a long hard road for Ryan and no matter what the reason for a complete capitulation in the second and third sets he has gained some much needed confidence.
Meanwhile over in Dubai the 'young fellow' Roger continues to amaze both the tennis World as well as himself with a straight sets win over the 'Aussie Open Actor' Novak Djokovic. Don't you just love it when a player upsets the rhythm of a base liner and especially when it's a guy of Novak's stature ?
I reckon Boris Becker may just be scratching his head as to how he can get his player to find enough passing shots to beat a guy who quite simply keeps asking the question of his opponent.
While Federer keeps beating these guys there is always the argument going around ' Is the base line still the best place on a tennis court' ?
We can only hope that the great man from Switzerland remains injury free, he is nothing short of a genius and may just one day change the current coaching perception of 'base line is King'. No point hitting a volley in the warm up if you only go to the net to shake hands.......