Tuesday, 29 September 2015

'TOUR FINALS VS DAVIS CUP'

History will tell you that last year Roger Federer did not in fact play the final of the World Tour Finals due to an injury he received in his semi final match against Stan Wawrinka. The final was scheduled for November 16.
History will also tell you that seven days later Roger Federer won the fourth match of the Davis Cup final against Richard Gasquet and he won it rather easily, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. Did Roger do the sums on tennis history and wonder whether a struggle against Novak in the final of the year ending championships was really worth jeopardizing what he actually hadn't won to that stage of his career ? Roger apparently had a back complaint, very similar to what Andy Murray currently has.
So all of the talk recently has been about whether or not Andy Murray should play the tour finals in London or whether he should skip it and prepare for the Davis Cup final. Remember these two tournaments are huge but no one will beat Novak in London the way he is playing so why wouldn't Andy look at the Davis Cup for something that would give his country a Holy Grail of sorts ?
If Andy plays the Tour Finals with a sore back then he will be struggling to get ready for Davis Cup duties which look like being on a clay court in Belgium. That will take time to prepare for.
Andy will put bums on seats in London for the World Tour Finals however he will be considered a national hero if he wins the Davis Cup for the Brits a week later.
He aint Superman, he needs to choose one or the other and the ATP isn't being realistic when looking at the schedule ahead of Andy.
Tough one but I think Andy may just save his best til last, do the sums on that.........

Sunday, 27 September 2015

'SOME MORE FRENCH STORIES'

Over the course of the past few months I have been doing some writing that put my memory into overdrive. Trying to recall some rather silly moments from nearly 25 years ago hasn't been easy yet it has been a challenge that I have enjoyed.
I have always vowed to one day write a book on tennis and the many days of travelling around Europe in a rather tiny car that we simply named 'Le Car'. So the following chapters are from a side project that has kept me amused to say the least.
For those who enjoy reading my site then I hope you appreciate just what it took to get the following information finally to see the light of day. For those of you who don't like me and simply read my chapters to find fault in things I write then can I suggest that you go and read something else ?
Regards GT

'SMELLY SOCKS'


'HYGIENE'

When it comes down to it, three Aussie touring tennis 'junkies' driving from one tournament to the other around Europe had all the hall marks of disaster in more ways than one. Friendships were tested in a car not big enough to swing a cat in and on more than one occasion it seemed a good idea to keep driving once one of us had gone to a public toilet at a roadside truck stop or diner. After all it would have been so much more comfortable with just two in 'Le Car' as opposed to three. Sanity prevailed however and we battled through.
We witnessed many things on some fairly treacherous roads including a car that was in fact stuck in the side of a truck, not sure how that happened but it was a poor bit of driving to say the least. We were possibly the smallest car on the highway and on more than one occasion we had some interesting situations and close calls. Not coming home though was not on the agenda.
As far as hygiene was concerned in a very small French automobile there was nothing worse than smelly clothes or socks to be more precise. I am sure Brett Patten will not be at all argumentative when I say that his socks and feet were without a doubt the smelliest of all three of us, for good reason.
Sometimes Brett would wear the same pair of socks for an entire tournament before washing them at a Laundromat, a pretty ordinary habit he got himself into. Now socks after a game of tennis tend to be fairly wet and if it was a clay court event they would also be rather dirty, a fact totally oblivious to 'Patsy'. It wasn't that Brett was superstitious because his brand of tennis on this particular tour was remarkably high, he needed no help from a higher being, he was simply comfortable in his socks.
The thing about worn socks after a while however is the stench factor and Brett's feet were in a word, repulsive. If we had been afforded a little more room as far as cars were concerned we may have escaped the smell but being in a car big enough to put back into a toy box after a run in the sandpit, well..... Pete and I were subjected to some fairly average odours, no escape.
Tennis is one of those sports where you have to be comfortable with your equipment, just look at Rafa, a man who takes superstition to another level. Every drink bottle has to be lined up a certain way and every strand of hair has to be pushed around his ears with precision before he sends down a serve. Brett's effort with his dirty socks may well have been a personal superstition of his but he wasn't letting on that it was part of his routine for winning games of tennis. Pete and I just felt that he was too lazy to wash them.
Personally I used to rinse my dirty socks out in the shower along with my sweaty jocks that I did not like to keep wrapped up in my tennis bag for too long for fear of them disintegrating through sweat and stench. Placing them on the back shelf of 'Le Car' to dry whilst we 'enjoyed' hundreds of kilometres between tennis tournaments was how I had them dry out before my next hit. It may have been the three or so years I had on my touring buddies but I did own some experience in certain fields of life. Sock and jock washing and drying was high on my list of priorities.
European travelling was a ridiculously enjoyable experience but what made it even more so was the personal quirks that each of us owned, we were all as silly as one another in our own silly ways. I will never forget that stench of tournament worn socks but to me it always proved one fact, Patsy was winning a lot more matches than anyone else.......

'FINE DINING'


'EATING FRENCH FOOD'

I vividly recall eating cornflakes on a trip through the country side from one tournament to another because that's all we had in the car and we were all starving. The silly thing was this, the cornflakes were tasting more and more sensational with each mouthful. It was a long trip from memory and I believe that it was an early trip so some roadside eateries were yet to open. Cornflakes are great but much nicer with milk, we had no milk.
Travelling in Europe is easier if you plan things in advance like food shopping, travelling snacks and plenty of water. We were the most disorganized bunch of Aussie yobbos you would ever care to meet and the fact that we were travelling around Europe and simply hoping for things to fall into place was a real concern.
My choice of orange juice and bananas was without a doubt the healthiest of all of our early morning diets. I was told many years earlier that Coco Pops for brekky was not on the list of healthy foods particularly for a tennis player so I used to shake my head at Pete and Brett on a daily basis. My theory was simple, eat healthy, feel healthy, play good tennis. Brett and Pete did not fit into the same mould and did not share my theories on food.
In fact at one stage Pete became as 'crook as a dog' through his obsession to eat bagets with pate at every opportunity possible. I do not remember what sort of pate that took Pete's fancy but he scraped it onto his French bread with no thought of carbohydrate overload, he shovelled the stuff down. The day he became sick I may have afforded a slight wry grin as he took another trip to a public toilet but I was not happy with one of the touring party's poor health.
Once Pete's stomach had settled I am sure I remember Pete's words " Never again" and the baget with pate idea was put to bed for good. Eating French food was an education and Pete had been well and truly 'educated'. I don't believe that either Brett or myself suffered the same 'gut rot' that Pete did with his bread intake but if nothing else it made us all aware of the pitfalls of overeating certain foods.
As far as main meals were concerned I had a fetish for spaghetti Bolognese, some nights I would order two main meals of the same pasta as many dishes were not huge and after a day of playing and practicing I was in a word starving. I do have a reasonably good memory and I vividly remember Brett once ordering two dishes of lasagne, one after the other. His words were "I am still hungry, that last dish was the size of a bit of pelican crap". Do they have pelicans in Europe ?? One night my card was the only one accepted as Brett and Pete's were declined, not through lack of funds but through a restaurant's refusal to accept certain cards. Without my Visa card we would have been washing dishes to pay for our dinner that night.
I felt that I did not receive the 'respect' I deserved for being the elder statesman of the touring party but that night I was 'the Man' and I was thanked profusely by my two companions. The respect did not last long however as the practice courts delivered me many beatings from Brett and Pete but it was character building and I owned a thick skin.
We all maintained our weight somehow despite many days of eating garbage when our bodies were no doubt craving some healthy food to refuel after hitting so many tennis balls on a daily basis. None of us owned a 'Eat Healthy in France' book so we were flying blind with nutrition but I maintain that my diet was by far the healthiest of the trip.
My tennis results did not match my dedication to eating fibre but I needed every little advantage I could find and my banana and orange juice intake over the eight weeks was exemplary. Brett and Pete never once followed my lead except for the day that one of them ran out of coco pops and  stole a banana. I knew exactly how many I had on a day to day basis.
Words were exchanged......

Friday, 25 September 2015

'BACKING UP AN ARGUMENT'

I found this article written a day after my chapter regarding Andy Murray and the rather tough decision that he has to make. It backs up my chapter and gives a nice little serve to the ATP. Note the TRANSLATION at the bottom of the page, brilliant.

The article was written courtesy of The Bleacher Report, Sports Journalists and bloggers who cover all things relating to all sports. Well written Jeremy Eckstein....

Why the ATP Should Stay Out of Andy Murray's Davis Cup Decision

Andy Murray has been mowing through the Davis Cup competition, but he may find a bigger battle against the long arm of the ATP.
Fresh off his heroics to guide Great Britain past Australia in the September semifinals, Murray will be in a quandary before he leads his team in their November 27-29 clash in Ghent, Belgium.
The first part of the equation is that Murray is required by ATP guidelines to play in London’s lucrative World Tour Finals, which end on November 22.
The year-end showcase at the O2 Arena, London, is played on fast indoors hard courts, and Murray as the No. 3 player and popular UK native is the most-important attraction (Yes, Murray is a commodity not a person in this vein) next to Roger Federer.
Murray recently entertained the idea of skipping the WTF event in order to rest his body and acclimate his game and footing to Belgium’s selection of a clay-court surface.
He said as much on BBC Radio 5 Live (h/t Simon Bragg of The Telegraph) after his victory over Bernard Tomic:
The O2 would obviously be a question mark for me if we were playing on the clay. I would go and train and prepare on the clay to get ready for the final.
You saw last year with Roger Federer that the matches at the O2 are extremely tough and physically demanding. If you reach the final and play on the Sunday you also need to take time off - you can't just play five matches against the best players in the world and then not take any days off.
Perhaps Murray erred by not keeping his cards closer to his vest. ATP president Chris Kermode quickly fired a warning shot across Murray’s bow, according to the AP, via Tennis.com:
All players who qualify, unless injured, are required to compete in the event. Andy Murray has had a fantastic season and earned his place among the world's top eight players to compete at the season finale. We are aware of the comments made after the Davis Cup tie in Glasgow, however our expectations are that, if fully fit, Andy would compete in this year's tournament.
Translation: We are the ATP and we own you, Andy Murray. We expect to profit off of your star rather than let you compete for your country and for an event sponsored by our competitor the International Tennis Federation that puts on the Davis Cup events.
Once again, the ATP has asserted its Orwellian authority without regarding the best interests of the players.
That’s wrong and the system needs to change. Players must be allowed to have more autonomy with their own schedules and choices.

 

Thursday, 24 September 2015

'WTF' ??

"The ATP World Tour Finals is a mandatory event ", Chris Kermode, president of the ATP said. "All players who qualify, unless injured are required to play in the event".
Yes that's exactly what the main man said just recently yet Chris Kermode was one of the bright sparks' who no doubt scheduled the ATP finals to conclude so close to the Davis Cup final.
So how did that happen Chris ? An over sight ? It does seem however that there is a conflict of difference between the International Tennis Federation which schedules the Davis Cup and the ATP which organises all other tournaments. Why can't these guys work together ?
Now the Davis Cup final was always an event that was going to include at least one or more superstars of the game. There was also a better than average chance that at least one of these superstars was going to play in the Tour Finals so how did they find that date for the Davis Cup final ?
I remember many years ago when Andre Agassi played in the Davis Cup final against Australia in 1990 and it was just before a lucrative money making tournament called the Grand Slam Cup where the winner took home two million dollars. Agassi openly expressed his dislike of the event which from memory held no ranking points, I could be wrong but I am certain it was simply the equivalent of an exhibition event. So Andre did what any man would do, he 'received' an injury in his dead rubber singles match against future coach Darren Cahill. BRILLIANT ! Andre had his priorities, no doubt about it.
I vividly recall the match, Cahill took the first 6-4, Andre the second by that same score. During that second set he asked for the trainer who taped his pectoral muscle up like a mummy. He retired 'hurt' not long after. No Grand Slam Cup for Andre that year.
So to the moral of the story.
Why would Andy really give a s... about the Tour finals just before the Davis Cup final which would no doubt hold far more esteem for him if he could win that for his country ? He would be considered a national hero again which has wilted slightly since winning Wimbledon several years ago yet seems to have reignited since winning three matches in the semi against the Aussies.
So what does Andy do ? Well Andy could do an 'Andre' and go the injury line which could be on the cards considering he has a back issue or he could play the ATP finals. However that would risk his country's chances of claiming the Davis Cup title for the first time in around 37 or so years.
I think by now Andy has enough brains to work out what he should do so it's possible that he may play but just go through the motions.
I reckon Andy you stick with the back complaint until a week before the Davis Cup final then get yourself up and about. Have a rest, have a holiday, after all you are basically still on your honeymoon. Get the back right..... 
Your country needs you Champ......

Monday, 21 September 2015

'WELL DONE GB'

Nice to see the Brits have a win in the Davis Cup even if it was at the expense of Australia. You probably are well aware of my views on how we run the Davis Cup in this country and I felt that Tennis Australia showed no faith in its players. The grass court selection at home was the obvious give away. Who trains on grass ?
When I wrote that previous chapter it was on the assumption that Great Britain would play two doubles specialists in Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot against the Aussie pairing of Hewitt and Groth.
Whether you agree with me or not the fact is this, Hewitt has never been considered a great doubles player despite him being half of the winning duo at the US Open in 2000. His partner then however was and still is a doubles genius in Max Mirnyi of Belarus.
No offence Lleyton but this guy could win with anyone, same as Bjorkman who proved just that in carrying Rafter to the 1999 Australian Open Doubles title. No way in the World could Rafter have won that title unless he was partnered with someone of Bjorkman's doubles ability. Some players have been rather fortunate to play with guys who really can win with anyone next to them, such is their ability to play the two on two format.
So to the original statement and that is this, I picked the Brits to win the doubles in 4 sets over Australia because I felt that Inglot and Murray were the obvious choice. In March against the greatest doubles team of all time the Bryan Brothers they lost 7-9 in the fifth set, not many combinations could get that close. The fact that Inglot and Murray hardly ever play doubles together and actually combine brilliantly is testimony to the fact that they are a team that actually should play together in Davis Cup.
So it was a rather big surprise to see the Murray's walk out to take on Hewitt and Groth as Andy barely plays any doubles despite his remarkable ability as a tennis player in general. Watching some of his returns was like watching a genius in a work shop but doubles is all about taking the net away from the opponent and Andy is not comfortable serve and volleying.
Despite that the Brits just got over the line in a rather entertaining match. My tip of a 4 set win to the Poms was within a point of happening but Andy's choice of a cross court return on a Hewitt second serve was painful to watch. There was enough room to drive his Porsche down the line but he did not pick the move by Groth. Tennis is easy in hindsight.
Inglot usually plays doubles with Lindstedt of Sweden, another brilliant doubles exponent and those two made the semi finals at the US Open this year losing to eventual winners Herbert and Mahut. They also won a lead up tournament to the US Open so the form was good. Jamie Murray's doubles form has never been questioned and he was part of the losing team in this year's US Open doubles final.
Davis Cup Captains however usually have a method to their madness and the British captain Leon Smith obviously had his reasons for going with the brother combination of the Murrays'.Experience is a big thing when playing for your country and Andy owns tonnes of it, doubles exponent or not.
The final against Belgium in November should be fascinating and I would love to see that played on a neutral surface also however chances are they will go with a clay court. Andy plays pretty well on anything though so good luck to Belgium if they think that the dirt may give them an advantage. I am tipping the Brits 3-1 with the final match to not be played.
Watched this space....

Friday, 18 September 2015

'DAVIS CUP TIP'

I was so busy writing the Borg chapters that I neglected to do my Davis Cup semi final tipping so here goes. I would not have been on my own if I had tipped a Murray win and an Evans loss in the first two matches so I suppose the Tie starts from here.
Inglot and Murray should win the doubles against Hewitt and Groth fairly comfortably but let's say 4 sets as a hedged bet. The English duo are a lot more accomplished at the two on two format than the Aussies and it would take something extraordinary for the result to be reversed.
Why Australia can't find a doubles pairing like Peers and Guccioni is beyond me as those two are doubles specialists, in fact it's the only form of the sport that they play.
Murray should beat Tomic in the first reverse singles for a 3-1 win to the Poms. If anything else transpires I would be very surprised but sillier things have happened in tennis.....

**** The thing I like most about this Tie is that it is in fact being played on a neutral surface, an indoor hard court that holds no advantage to any player or country. Perhaps Australia could take a leaf out the book of the Murrays' who no doubt would have had a huge say in what the Davis Cup semi final was to be played on.
It shows belief in one's own game without leaning toward a supposed 'advantage' from a playing surface. I doubt anyone would have beaten Andy on grass yet they did not lay that particular court.
The hard court in fact put the tie in neutral playing territory yet Australia doesn't own either the faith in it's players or the balls to even attempt a neutral tie Down Under. 
It just seems to revert back to a surface that is played on for around four weeks of the year. Interesting........
Go the Poms.......


'BEFORE RAFA' PART 2

Tennis prize money was beginning to increase in 1978 as Borg picked up exactly 200,000 French Francs that year for the title, an increase of 80,000 from his '74 and '75 triumphs. 
In 1979 Borg won again, this time over Pecci in four sets in the final but he didn't have it all his own way that year losing several sets along the way. Borg earned 208,000 Francs that year.
In 1980 the Swede's form in Paris mirrored his efforts from '78 as he lost just 38 games for the entire tournament which included a straight sets 4, 1 and 2 win over his best mate Vitas Gerulaitis in the final. Borg pocketed 220,000 French Francs for that win, around $35,000 Australian dollars.
Borg's last victory in Paris came the following year against Lendl in the final where the Czech tested him but Borg closed out the match 6-1 in the fifth set. Prize money again was on the improve that year as 271,000 French Francs went the Swede's way.
Borg lost just 39 games up until that deciding match but was pushed all the way by a man who went on to claim three French Open titles himself after Borg retired.
So for a total of six French Open titles Borg won just a tick over one million French Francs and when broken down into Australian currency was just over a quarter of a million dollars. 
The amount however that he picked up playing around the World in matches that did not own any ranking points was outrageous to say the least. From memory he once picked up around US $600,000 for a week of exhibition matches. Considering it was in the mid to late 70's that was a ridiculous amount of money but it typifies why the pros played those types of matches back then on a regular basis. 
The man from Sweden was a marketer's dream yet if you look at his official prize money earnings they resemble that of an 'average' pro of today ranked around the 50 mark who can make that amount within two years or even less.
Playing exhibitions with Federer, McEnroe and the likes up until just a few years ago would have no doubt netted him way more than what he took home for each of his six French Open titles. Longevity in tennis has it's rewards.
It is interesting to note that in Borg's final year of success in Paris there was a 16 year old kid also from Sweden who won the junior French Open boys championship. Mats Wilander took out the title in 1981 perhaps inspired by his hitting sessions with Borg during that year in which he become the World's best junior.
Quite remarkably Wilander won the Mens title in Paris the following year, a feat which I am certain will never be repeated but again it was perhaps inspired by Borg's no show in 1982. Out of respect for the sudden retirement of Borg it may just have given Mats the incentive to keep the title in Swedish hands.
Before Rafa there was Borg and I was fortunate enough to see him at his best when I was a kid and it left a lasting impression on me.
Borg may have been a type of robot from the baseline that we see so regularly today yet he did it with a flair that I have perhaps only seen once since and that was from a fellow by the name of Andre Agassi.
BB and AA, must be something to do with the initials and the long flowing locks....

'BEFORE RAFA' PART 1

Many years before Rafa Nadal commenced a dominant run at the French open in Paris which netted him nine titles there was a fellow from Sweden who may just own the record for lack of games against in one particular year.
Bjorn Borg possessed a game that was nothing short of perfect for the clay courts of Europe yet he was brilliant enough to switch to the grass of Wimbledon and be successful with it. He is the only male player to have lifted both the trophies at the French Open and Wimbledon in three consecutive years, 1978 to 1980. 
Borg was known as the 'passing shot King', a reference to his ability to find a winner with remarkable accuracy and he was ridiculously patient. There is a well documented rally between Borg and Vilas in the 1978 French Open final that lasted 86 shots. The Swede was in no hurry to win.
Bjorn Borg owned a backhand that the sport of tennis will probably never see again due mainly to the uniqueness of it as it had a two handed strike but a one handed follow through. I believe that this motion was why Borg could create so much angle and topspin. The shot was in a word, brilliant.
Borg won the French Open as an 18 year old in 1974 against Orantes in five sets and picked up a grand total of 120,000 French Francs which if converted to Australian dollars was perhaps around $30,000. A nice pay day for an 18 year old in the early 70's but dwarfed by today's pay days for the pros.
In 1975 Borg was far more dominant and beat the World's second best clay court player Guillermo Vilas 2,3 and 4 in the final but there was no such thing as inflation back then. The Swede's pay day was exactly the same as the year before of 120,000 Francs courtesy of BNP (Banque Nationale de Paris ). 
Borg lost in the quarters to Panatta the following year and did not play in 1977 due to tennis politics and World Team Tennis contractual requirements. This whole farce was documented in Borg's biography which is a book I could recite almost to the word, I read it that often.
The Swede returned in 1978 and was obviously keen to make up for his absence because he may just own the all time record for games against in a Grand Slam tournament with his effort that year. Borg lost just 32 games for the entire tournament which culminated in a 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 victory in the final over Vilas.
To put that into perspective Borg's average match winning margin that year at the French Open was in fact less than what the score was in the final. That's how dominant Borg was on a surface that has always rewarded patience.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

'FROM MEMORY'

From memory my first tennis hero Bjorn Borg from Sweden won around $23,000 pounds when he won Wimbledon in 1976. A lot of money back then. Borg went on to officially win just over three and a half million in prize money which was perhaps a tenth of what he really earned over the course of his career.
The amount that the Swede made through exhibition tournaments dwarfed his real earnings and it is documented in his book which is worth a read, fascinating book. His endorsements also were nothing short of monumental so in reality back then in the 70's what a player earned from playing tennis was in fact rather misleading. It was what they made 'on the side' that was far more lucrative.
In 1982 my second hero of tennis Mats Wilander who took the mantle of my inspiration to play the game due to Borg's sudden retirement made slightly more than Borg in his remarkable win in Paris. As a 17 year old Mats picked up around $63,000 US dollars to go with his $13,000 that he picked up in a semi final loss to Gomez in the Italian Open semis that same year, a lead up tournament to the French Open.
The prize money that Wilander picked up in '82 for his exploits on the clay in Europe were no doubt life changing yet Mats has a 'real job' now days commentating plus teaching the game to the public. Now you are probably aware by now of my views on tennis coaches but a lesson with Mats now days would be worth every cent as he reached World number 1 in 1988 after his victory at the US Open that same year. I would be happy to part with a lot of money for some words of wisdom from a guy like Mats, it would have a ridiculous amount of substance.
I believe that Mats in his career earned around seven and a half million dollars and maybe double that in endorsements however as popular as Mats was he did not have the same 'Rock Star' appeal as Bjorn. I do not believe that Mats would have made anywhere near as much as Bjorn even though he played in a later era where prize money was beginning to escalate.
So to 1988, Mats won $275,000 US Dollars for winning the title in New York over Lendl and back then sure that was a lot of money but compared to 2015, well I wonder if some players actually lack the desire to get past the round of 16. I had a brief look at what the men earned this year in New York and I believe that three match victories took home around $400,000 US Dollars. Hey Mats how does that feel ??!
Yeah sure it's all about inflation and sponsorship, the list goes on but Novak and Roger are edging toward $100,000,000 each in prize money alone, you could double that at least in endorsements. 
So why do tennis professionals keep earning more ? After all it's just a sport where you are engaged in an 'argument' with another player who is doing his best to win the argument as best he can. Sometimes the argument can be entertaining, sometimes it's as boring as watching paint dry depending on the styles but no matter what the outcome is it's all about who can come up with enough answers when the questions are asked.
We can't forget also the sponsors who are throwing more and more dollars at the major tournaments who are all looking at new ways to get the public to buy their product. These guys love players like Novak and Roger who can stay out there for up to three or four hours against each other in the big matches and regularly give good air time to major companies.
Sorry I am getting off track here.
Guys like Thomas Berdych, Tommy Robredo and Feliciano Lopez do not have to win a major to be a 'successful' tennis player, they simply just have to win a few rounds in a major tournament. Easy ? Absolutely not, you have to be a brilliant tennis player to do that but I ask you this.
Does a player who is simply trying to make money out of tennis really have to do anything else but win some early rounds ? You don't have to win a major to be a millionaire.
It's perhaps why we have the new coaches of the game commanding anything up to $80 an hour to 'teach' a sport to a kid who's parents see the dollar signs of a professional tennis player and realize that winning tennis tournaments is not in fact a necessity.
All you have to do is win a few matches, only a handful of players win tournaments. It is not a necessity to be as hungry as the players of years gone by who earned peanuts yet strived for more than many do now days simply to survive.
Tennis prize money and costs for learning keep rising yet the success rate of a player is not improving. Do the sums on that......


Monday, 14 September 2015

'FASCINATING'

Without a doubt I find the game of tennis so ridiculously confusing that I continue to study it for that reason alone. Take for instance the US Open Mens Singles final played out in New York just this morning. The statistics all point to a Roger Federer win however he lost. Read on.
Roger won 39 of 59 net points or 66 per cent in simple terms. The great man also won just a tick under 40 per cent of receiving points. That's outrageous. Rog also won 62 of his own 87 first serves that he hit.
Roger also hit 56 winners. So why didn't he win the US Open title ? Simple.
Novak broke Roger's serve 6 times out of 13 chances, that's 46 per cent. Brilliant.
Roger broke Novak's serve just 4 times from 23 chances, there's your ball game.
So how does a player of Roger Federer's ability both technically and mentally actually get the opportunity to break the World number one's serve that many times yet manage to do it to the tune of just 17 per cent ?
The answer may just lay in a vault somewhere with the answers to tennis' greatest mysteries written on a scroll in fancy writing and marked 'Never To Be Opened'. If it was opened then perhaps it may make the sport a whole lot less interesting.
I for one am totally bemused by what happened today in New York or perhaps what didn't happen to be more to the point. Roger had enough opportunities on Novak's serve that he should have reversed the 4 set result and won in 4 himself.
This was one of those results that doesn't really make a whole lot of sense and I believe that Roger will have some sleepless nights over this loss.
Tough to do the sums on this one......

Saturday, 12 September 2015

'FROG IN A BLENDER'

If you have followed this site at all over the course of it's existence you will notice that I get my back up in regards to certain things said by certain gurus of the game. Nothing disappoints me more than when I am watching a broadcast of the sport and I hear things that really should have stayed back in a tennis bag somewhere.
Take for example the chapter I wrote in regards to Australian tennis legend John Newcombe and his take on certain players and their supposed weaknesses or even Nationality for that matter. I touched on the comment he made about Kyrgios's second round Wimbledon opponent Juan Monaco who is in fact from Argentina. Newk thought he looked like a 'fit Spaniard'. His right hand man Todd Woodbridge who does in fact know how to commentate had to correct him.
What about the comment in regards to Federer's magnificent backhand chip return which he actually missed a couple of that prompted Newk to say that it 'isn't a very good shot'. No reply from Todd on that one, he obviously found something to stuff in his mouth to stop him from laughing, well done Toddy.
There was also an instance of Newk commenting on the serve of Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert when he was playing Bernard Tomic in round two. Newk felt that the Frenchman's delivery needed work, pardon me if I can't remember his exact words however from memory it was about as complementary as his opinion on Federer's chip return. I find that totally absurd.
It doesn't matter if you look like a frog in a blender when you hit a tennis shot as long as it is technically sound and it has substance. If you look at the serve of a professional tennis player then you will notice the obvious, no two players own the same action. Herbert's is not as smooth as say Fed's but it is a magnificent and effective delivery and if you look at him hit it in slow motion it ticks all the right boxes.
Now Pierre just won the 2015 US Open Mens Doubles title with another Frenchman Nicolas Mahut and if you saw some of the highlights then you will see just how effective Herbert's serve is as well as the rest of his game. The issue I see from a guy like Newk is that he is not accepting the fact that tennis has changed somewhat since the days that he ruled the tennis courts of the World, styles are now completely different.
Have a look at Stefan Edberg's serve from the 80's, now there was an unconventional looking delivery that kicked like a mule and at times was a shot that went amiss due to the outrageous ball toss, not too dissimilar to Herbert's. In fact both serves own the type of ball toss associated with a huge kick and both hurt an opponent due to the extreme high bounce.
Wakey, wakey Newk, the times have changed.
If ever you have heard Newk and Todd commentate for the Wimbledon coverage you will notice two things, Todd is brilliant, Newk is not. Todd does not ever speak of a player's supposed technical deficiencies because he is aware of the fact that if a player is good enough to play main draw Grand Slam then he owns a great game whether he is ranked 1 or 128. Todd commentates on the match and what is happening, nothing else. Newk needs to take a leaf out of Todd's book.
As far as Herbert is concerned well he finished runner up at the Australian Open this year in the Mens Doubles with Mahut but he now owns a Grand Slam trophy, serving deficiency or not. Nicolas Mahut on the other side of the coin is a man who deserved a Slam as his loss in the final of the 2013 French Open Mens doubles was a heartbreaker. He and Llodra lost in a third set tiebreaker to the Bryan brothers and the photo of an inconsolable Mahut at the presentation was testimony to how disappointing that loss was to him in particular.
I am all for technical prowess as the original name of this site was Glenn Thompson Tennis Technique however due to a complaint I changed it. I believe in technical brilliance yet I also believe that if a shot has substance then it should not be changed, just refined.
Any tennis enthusiast will tell you the same thing if they own half an ounce of tennis intelligence. This game shouldn't be complicated to either teach, commentate on or even play for that matter if you do the sums on what works and what doesn't.
Newk should be just as aware as any tennis coach of the game that if it aint broke then you don't try to fix it......

Friday, 11 September 2015

'THAT TIME OF YEAR'

Yes folks it's that time of year again, the smell of Spring is in the air, the time the yellow fuzzy ball gets hit around and the red carpet gets rolled out as 'coach of the year' steps onto court. 'Coach of the year' resides in most towns, most regions and most cities and I was 'lucky' enough to observe a student who had no ability whatsoever being 'taught' by another 'guru' of the game just recently.
I was always taught that if a student could not do a drill because of lack of ability to hit a tennis ball then the lesson should be all about teaching technique. 
What I saw however was a student with no technical ability being moved around the court simply for the 'coach' to look like they were doing their job. Typical of tennis coaching in the modern era.
It's all about looking cool, not ruffling the hair, saying things that sound technical and not getting the hands dirty.
Personally if a student has no ability to hit a tennis ball then I would not be standing at the baseline to feed a ball and I would not even be looking at a drill. A new student of tennis requires a ball to be placed in the same spot over and over to work on technique, pretty simple really. Why would you do anything else ?
Yes it's nearly tennis season and the Facebook Tennis Coach is ready to Rock 'n' Roll, ready to impart their Worldly tennis knowledge on the unsuspecting student and parent who believe that parting with $60 or $70 per hour is money well spent. After all surely the more you spend for a tennis lesson the more you learn, correct ?
All you need to do is locate the most expensive 'coach' and the game is a piece of cake, it's what learning the game of tennis is all about now days. Apparently.
I love this time of year, the comedy routines are plentiful all around the country and all you need is a piece of paper that says that you are a 'qualified tennis coach'. With this piece of paper you can earn some tax free cash that real workers take three plus hours to make in the real World.
Yep, it's that time of year so go find yourself a 'coach' to take you to the next level and find the most expensive, it's money well spent......
Apparently.......

Thursday, 10 September 2015

'LAST TIP'

Pretty ordinary night's tipping by me but in all seriousness how could you have picked Stan to not drop a set to a guy who has been serving bombs all tournament ? As far as the Federer/ Gasquet match was concerned well 'Reeshard' has been playing bloody good tennis so my tip of a set to the Frenchman I considered not that silly. 
Rog was not interested in giving him anything and in fact he only gave him seven games. Stan himself only lost nine.
Rather happy that Halep beat the screamer as a lot of people I am sure would have been equally as pleased. Not quite sure why Azarenka was the favourite in that match. Kvitova was a surprise loss but Vinci has been playing red hot tennis lately so perhaps the upset was on for the taking. So to my final tipping for the tournament where I have got more right than wrong but still haven't nailed it to a tee just yet.
I am tipping Roger to get through over Stan but this match may go to five sets as Stan is red hot at the moment as is Rog but the old man may just have an extra trick up his sleeve. I don't believe that Cilic can win more than a set from Novak so I will tip just that, Novak in four sets.
I would love to see Roger win this year's US Open and for that reason alone I am tipping Roger to win the final, if he gets there, in four sets. If Stan does make it through then I am sure he will bother Novak just as much as he did at the French Open. That would be a tough final to tip.
As far as the women are concerned I would love to see Halep win this year and I think she will at least get to the final by beating Pennetta but winning against Serena is a totally different ball game. In saying that I think that if she plays well she may just put some doubt into William's mind and playing for the final leg of a Grand Slam will always heap huge pressure on a player. Halep in three to ruin the party.
That's it for my tipping, over and out......

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

'JUST MISSED'

Almost did the complete tipping to perfection last night, just missed by a set on the Tsonga match as I tipped him to win in 5. Picked Novak in 4 plus Vinci and Serena in 3. Time I had a shocker, tonight may be the night.
Tipping Roger in 4 sets but not confident, in fact I believe Gasquet may push the great man to five but will go with caution and pick a four set win to Rog. The other men's quarter is tough but will lean toward Stan in 5 sets mainly because I tipped Switzerland to take the title this year. So Rog in 4 and Stan in 5.
I am hoping Halep will down the screamer from Belarus in straight but hopefully she will at least win in three so the public can enjoy the rest of the tournament without the ridiculous screaming on each shot from Azarenka.
Kvitova should take her match against Pennetta is two sets but you never know, it may just end up a three set epic.
Rog, Stan, Halep and Kvitova in a combined total of 13 sets. That's my tipping for another night....

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

'IMPROVING TIPS'

My tipping is on the improve, three outa four but was never going to be brave enough to tip Anderson winning against Murray despite the South African's effort against Novak at Wimbledon. Isner has a great serve yet lacks the polish to sustain a battle against a man who owns every answer in the book, hence my three set tip.
As far as Berdych is concerned, well here is a tennis professional who lacks a mind to go with his sensational shots and is in need of a coach  to teach him how to play the game against anyone who owns a tennis brain.
So to the four matches tonight that count, including the women who quite frankly I hate trying to tip.
Lopez should push Novak and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Spaniard take at least a set but will pick Novak in four.
The other men's match is real tough to tip but will lean toward Tsonga in maybe five sets. It's not easy trying to pick the winner of these two as they are both as equally unpredictable as each other. Even a straight sets win to either player would not be a surprise.
Serena vs Venus, tough one as Serena knows history is on the line and these two will find it hard to play against each other. I would not be surprised to see Venus take the first before Serena wakes up and gets it all together.
Mladenovic and Vinci is just as tough to pick but Vinci is fresh as Bouchard did not even turn up due to injury so if the match goes to three I would lean toward the Italian.
Thought I would just put those tips in either to prove that my last tips were either rather clever or just lucky.
In a few hours we will know either way....

Monday, 7 September 2015

'JUST FOR FUN'

I am having a go at tipping tonight's matches at the US Open before I hit the hay;
Fed in straight sets if he keeps getting Isner's serve back as big John has nothing else to bother the great man with. Maybe 4 sets but leaning toward three tight sets.
Stan should get over Don Young but this one may be a tough assignment for the reigning French Open Champ. Stan in four, perhaps even five sets.
Murray may struggle against the serve of Anderson just as Novak did at Wimbledon. Murray in four tough sets.
I don't have much time for Berdych who lately has delivered very little. Gasquet in 4 sets.
There you go, GT's tips.....
Just for fun.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

'MORE PROOF'

Italian tennis pro Fabio Fognini once again proved that going to the net other than just to shake hands can pay handsome dividends. His match against Rafa at the US Open this week was a classic and I believe that he is the first player to beat Nadal after losing the first two sets since the Spaniard was a teenager.
Fognini appeared to tweak the game plan after the first two sets and repeatedly attacked the net to put Nadal under pressure to find enough winners. In fact the Italian went to the net 54 times and won 39 of those points, not bad for a man considered to be a baseliner. Just as my last chapter suggested it takes almost a genius to find enough winners against a player willing to take the game on as opposed to simply waiting for something to happen.
The Swede Borg, as brilliant as he was from the baseline simply could not find enough winners against Mac to win on the hard courts of New York. Perhaps even the baseline robots of today are starting to see the way in which guys like Federer can finish points a little quicker and preserve the legs for the latter stages of a match.
With groundstrokes hit to almost perfection by most professionals there is no reason at all why a player can't come in more regularly on a shot hit with venom that puts an opponent on the defence. If you watch a player practice they will always hit volleys and most hit them rather well, it's only a mindset that prevents them from using it more often in a match, a fear of being passed.
A tennis player of any talent will see that staying back all match will groove an opponent into form yet by mixing the play up with slice or net approaches it will keep the opposition guessing, a necessity of the sport. Predictability in sport doesn't win too many matches.
A smart tennis player will own more than one plan as will a smart coach. Fabio Fognini obviously is a player who was gifted with more than one way of playing and likewise his coach's thinking.
At the conclusion of the match the Italian looked up at his coach and pointed to his own head as if to say "I thought my way through".
Always great to see a player taking the game on, makes it more interesting as a spectator....

Friday, 4 September 2015

'NO ADVANTAGE'

Hard court tennis has always been a task for the mind and body but it holds no real advantage for any player. The bounce is consistent and the conditions really do not suit any player more than the other regardless of wind or heat. That comes down to conditioning and mental strength.
The hard court tournaments of the World have always been interesting to watch as it really just comes down to talent. That may be stating the obvious however it is rare to see a player who dominates on clay also regularly win on hard.
Look no further than the great Swede Bjorn Borg who ruled the clay courts throughout his brilliant career yet could not find a way to win in New York. Borg could have laid claim to three of the four Grand Slams in 1980 if it weren't for a defiant John McEnroe who edged him out in five sets after Borg almost pinched the title after trailing two sets to love.
Bjorn Borg knew that by being physically fit and by playing with his usual brutal topspin he would be hard to beat yet he struggled to find enough winners against a net rusher.
Mac played the odds just as Federer is currently doing at the tender age of 34. Both Mac and Fed were born with the mindset that asking enough questions of the opponent is too big a task to answer and it may just have merit.
Mac stopped Borg in '80 and '81 in New York and it was the one major that the Swede could not find a way to win yet his game suited the surface. He was simply beaten by a barrage of serves and volleys that tested his passing shots to the limit. He was maybe within half a dozen passing shots of the title in 1980 but his near miss that year was just another one of those heart breaking tennis stories.
There are only so many winners an opponent can come up with if a player is constantly attacking the net and forcing their opponent to find a way through. That is of course if the player who is rushing the net owns an ability to not only volley but to anticipate the pass regularly. That requires a tennis brain that cannot be purchased easily.
Tennis today is a slug fest but only because the game is taught a safe way by most coaches who are not prepared to roll the dice as Roger is now doing on a regular basis. Even the great man himself realizes that he is not young enough anymore to stay on the baseline and out hit an opponent. With age comes experience, we all know that. 
It's interesting to note just how well both Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis played at this year's US Open despite their losses. Nick had four tough sets against Murray and Thanasi had to retire with cramps in the fifth set against Gasquet who also made the Wimbledon semis this year.
So if you do the sums on Australia's two big tennis hopefuls you will see that they both have games to suit a surface which simply relies on one's own ability as a tennis player and nothing else.
There are no clay court wizards in Australia as most training is done on hard courts and our major tournaments are also played on hard. Synthetic and grass courts are not user friendly for developing an all round game hence the lack of training done on them. 
Tennis Australia however continues to stage Davis Cup ties in this country on grass, a decision that I am sure does not just bemuse myself but perhaps the players themselves. Does Tennis Australia lack faith in it's players or are we really still stuck in the dark ages as far as sentiment and tradition are concerned ?
The last two ties in Australia were played on grass against countries that did not own a player inside the top 50 yet for some reason TA looked to grass as 'an advantage'. How does that own an ounce of merit ? Australia's top three players all know how to play tennis on hard courts as it's what they train on more regularly than any other surface, that's a fact.
It would be nice to finally see one day a Davis Cup tie held in Australia on the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, home of the Australian Open, that would make sense. It's more than interesting to note that the Australian Open in fact moved away from the grass courts of Kooyong to the hard courts of Melbourne Park yet we still stage Davis Cup ties on grass courts.
Do the sums on that......

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

'A TIP'

I hate tipping now days because it's like a chook raffle, almost an impossibility to win but I will have a go at this year's US Open. Usually it's all about head space, not necessarily current form. In saying that I do believe that there are two gents from Switzerland who own two vastly different mind sets currently but who could both take out the title in New York this year.
Stan is mad as hell that his private life has been given front page news lately and I think that may just fire him up enough to give the trophy a real nudge. Roger,well he's just Roger, a genius who has been in red hot hard court form lately and who is rather content with life in general. Life is a giggle for the Fed.
So I am going no further than the home of cow bells and chocolates for the title this year in New York, simple as that.
Stan or Roger.
Women's title ?
Who cares ?

'WORTH A READ'

The following is an article from the Sydney Morning Herald confirming what I have been saying for a long time about Lleyton Hewitt. He rubs people up the wrong way. Take a read.


1 The whole of Argentina

"Hewitt seems to think that he's come to Iraq; that they are going to plant a bomb," Argentinian Davis Cup player Jose Acasuso said this week of Hewitt employing two personal bodyguards for the tie. As the most hated sports personality in Argentina, Hewitt is naturally a little bit nervous about the Davis Cup semi-final. David Nalbandian put it succinctly: "Nobody is a friend of him."

2 Andrew McLeod


It was man-love at its very best. McLeod lived in Hewitt's West Lakes mansion and drove his Ferrari. Hewitt wore an Adelaide Crows pendant to the Logies in a tribute to his best mate. They both headed to the Top End to have some boy time and made a DVD titled Lleyton Hewitt: The Other Side. The highlight? When Hewitt and McLeod are buying toilet paper in Darwin and Lleyton asks Andrew: "Do you want seashells or elephants?" Golly, it was man-love - but it had to end. McLeod objected to footage of his people in Hewitt's DVD. The pair went to the Federal Court and a settlement was reached, but the two no longer talk.

3 Rebound Ace


Summer comes, the hype around the Australian Open starts to stir and then Hewitt has his say about the sluggish surface. If they really wanted him to win that slam, surely the tournament organisers would change the court covering for him? Surely. Australian Open director Paul McNamee quit earlier this year, but insisted his resignation had nothing to with the Hewitt-Rebound Ace controversy. McNamee's final years were plagued by criticism from Hewitt.

4 Guillermo Coria


When Coria spat at Wazza (Warren Livingstone, head of tennis supporter group the Fanatics), it was on. At last year's Davis Cup tie against Argentina, Coria came out firing and grabbing his crotch (according to Hewitt). Coria's antics made Hewitt burst: "He tried hip and shouldering me at the end of the first set and he complained the whole day." Coria was just as upset by Hewitt and said that on the court "you really feel like killing him". "As a person, I would rather not win a single tournament in my life than be like him," Coria said.

5 Juan Ignacio Chela


At the 2005 Australian Open, Chela aimed a serve at Hewitt then spat in his direction. Chela was later fined $US2000 ($2600) but denied he spat in Hewitt's direction. Chela's behaviour caused Roger Rasheed to burst into the locker room and demand satisfaction from Chela's coach. "You do that again and I will knock your f---ing block off," Rasheed is alleged to have said.

6 David Nalbandian


"It's not very good for the sport. Not when you do a mistake or something like that, that's the worst thing." It's obvious Nalbandian is no fan of Hewitt's "C'mon" routine. "He [Hewitt] is not a gentleman," Nalbandian offered on another occasion. The pair simply drive each other nuts, and the rivalry has heightened again this week in Argentina.

7 Stupid Australians


They seem to congregate at tennis courts in Adelaide - well, that was the case in 1997. Hewitt was playing a hardcourt tournament in South Australia and after being booed for his unsportsmanlike behaviour, he questioned the "stupidity of the Australian public". "They're [spectators], not athletes, they haven't been in that situation … I'm not going to go out and change my mind just because a couple of idiots in the crowd say grow up."

8 New Idea


They used to be friends - but then Woman's Day smacked down megabucks for baby Mia and the Hewitts' hearts were stolen. Tied to a million-dollar contract under which wife Bec writes a diary about the baby and tennis life, Hewitt was unimpressed when photos and, gasp, words emerged in New Idea earlier this year and considered taking legal action.

9 The linesman


In 2001, during a second-round match against American player James Blake at the US Open, Hewitt attempted to have a black linesman removed after being foot-faulted twice. "Look at him and you tell me what the similarity is," Hewitt implored the umpire. Hewitt later denied the comment was made on racial grounds.

10 Laureus Sports Awards


Karrie Webb, Cathy Freeman, Ian Thorpe, the Australian cricket team and the Wallabies have all been lauded with a Laureus Award. Lleyton is yet to join the list. The sporting Oscars have so far failed to recognise Rusty's great achievements, so what does he think? "I couldn't really give a shit."