Sunday, 27 March 2016

'GT NUMBER ONE IN THE WORLD'

Did you see who rates number 1 on Google for one of the most famous tennis quotes in history ? Yep yours truly is WORLD NUMBER 1 when it comes to looking up 'A Haircut and a forehand' by the great Ivan Lendl in regards to the great Andre Agassi.
I always had a dream of being World Number 1. Some people don't like me because of what I write though that particular chapter has in fact had over 30,000 views World wide. I still receive the occasional email over that one even though it has been around for a while now. I haven't received a negative one yet, most like the content of 'A Haircut and a forehand' as it is a compliment to one of the World's greatest ever tennis players.
Nice to be Number 1........

Sunday, 20 March 2016

'BIG TED' ( TED ADAMS )

OK, I read your blog and you are still managing to piss people off.
You were obnoxious as a 15 year old and, while I will concede you have mellowed a little with age, you still come across obnoxious and a little truculent as an adult (I use the term 'adult' loosely!)
You wouldn't play 'Pennants' for Lawley Park when you were a kid and it appears you still 'dont play well with others' now.
You broke rackets (Emrik Blitz's) like they cost you nothing! Sometimes I know they did?
You would ride your bike everywhere and sometimes you had a fat passenger on the back.
You loved to eat snickers bars but never put on weight.
You were the only serious tennis player in the Southern Hemisphere that still wore Dunlop 'Volleys'.
You went to Queensland with Kieron and when you guys came back he still couldn't take me.
And in all the years we would hit together I never did beat you.
Remember me!
That was an email I just received from 'Big Ted', a mate of mine from way back in the 80's. I used to ride about 7 kms to Ted's house, he then sat on my seat while I dinked him down to the Lawley Park Tennis Club. The hardest part of our training session was in fact taking Ted on my bike as the big fella was just that, a big fella even in High School but boy he could serve.
It's funny but Ted and I trained a lot, as we also did with our other buddy Kieron ( as Ted mentioned ) yet we only played a couple of tournaments together as juniors. I recall Ted and I losing to two South Australian kids in the semis of the 18's Boys Doubles at the Albany Open Junior Tournament one year but we made 'em earn it.
Ted and I didn't really have any success on court together until we were around 30 years of age when we put in a late entry for the Albany Open Championship just for a bit of a laugh. In our second last match we faced match point against Max Loveridge and John Quinn and Ted did the most ridiculous thing, yet it worked a treat. 
I actually said to Ted "Just get it back mate, nothing fancy, make 'em play", so this is what Ted did. He ignored me, took Max's serve half way to the service line, chipped it on his backhand and came to the net where he hit a sublime backhand volley winner in the tram lines past John.
I remember looking at him with a rather wry smile and nodded in appreciation at his rather gutsy move but it was tough to watch. It was all up to Ted whether we won that match or not.
We saved one more match point then I served it out from memory to 15. We won our last match easily to take the title, classic day out at the Emu Point Tennis Club. I believe it was the year 2000.
Absolute legend of local tennis here in Albany was Big Ted and I am grateful for being able to play against guys like him in my junior days. Our practice matches were plentiful and most involved 4 or 5 sets where we put the friendship aside for several hours and did our best to kill each other on court. There were no niceties when Ted and I trained at Lawley Park in the 80's.
Ted won me my first ever Albany Open with a display of guts that I was simply in awe of as most players would tighten up at match point down, not Ted, he only knew one way of playing.
One day Ted when you get back to the land of Oz we will renew our rivalry down at our old tennis club but we may just cut that best of 5 sets down to best of 'one' as the old legs may struggle to do much more.
Legend you are buddy......

Friday, 18 March 2016

'HOW MANY MATCH POINTS' ??

In the 80's there was a tennis professional from Czechoslovakia who went by the name of 'The Big Cat' or Miloslav Mecir, whichever you preferred. Mecir was a genius and owned possibly one of the most remarkable returns of serve the game has ever seen. For proof of that statement you only have to watch the first two sets of the Wimbledon semi final between Edberg and the tall Czech in '88 to see that he simply knew how to get a serve back with interest.
Mecir was also known as 'The Swede Killer' because of his ability to basically 'own Sweden'. His win/ loss ratio over the Swedish players was second to none and for him to do it predominantly on clay was even more remarkable. As we all know the Swedes will go down in history as one of the most successful nations on clay tennis courts. 
Miloslav Mecir somehow found a way to beat the Swedes at their own game which was to play their game until he basically got bored with it then he would up the pace almost at will and more often than not he would confuse the opposition with his tactics. By the time the 1986 US Open came around Mecir owned a 17-3 win / loss record over the Swedes over a two year time frame and he confirmed his status in that particular Open once again by beating the number 2 seed Mats Wilander of Sweden in the round of 16.
So to the current game of World tennis and it's not very often that you see any real domination from one particular country towards another but there is however one gentleman who stands out a little further than the rest in the art of the two on two format. Take Serbia's double's genius Nenad Zimonjic and the way in which he handles the greatest ever doubles combination of the Bryan Brothers from the US.
In 2009 alone Zimonjic won nine doubles titles with Daniel Nestor and in five of those finals they beat the Bryan brothers. In the Cincinatti final they won 15-13 in the third set super tie breaker. Whilst I do not have the match details in front of me I am certain they saved at least one match point, possibly several. In the Davis Cup Quarter final of 2013 against the US Zimonjic was paired with Ilija Bozoljac who at the time was ranked World number 900 plus in singles and 102 in doubles.
This match will certainly go down in history as a win for the heart and not necessarily the talent as Serbia won this match against the Bryans 15-13 in the fifth set, a marathon match where Zimonjic somehow took his partner's level from that of a Challenger level player to that of a World beater. Such is the talent of Nenad.
In the same month in Monte Carlo in 2013 Zimonjic paired with Julien Benneteau of France and in the final against the Bryans' they saved an incredible seven match points before taking the match 14-12 in the final set super tie breaker. How is it possible to work your way through that many match points and simply not miss ? I believe it's a gift of not just the technical ability of a player but more so of the mind. It's an ability to not fear losing and that is a rarity.
So to the current Indian Wells Championships and this time Zimonjic paired up with another Frenchman in Edouard Roger-Vasselin who won the French Open Mens Doubles of 2014 with Benneteau. In the quarter finals they played the Bryan brothers once again and rather incredibly the Bryans' lead the third set super tie breaker at one stage 9-2.
From that stage you would have to be questioning whether there was any light at the end of the tunnel yet somehow Zimonjic and his French partner found a way to level at 9-9, save another match point and win the breaker and the match 14-12. That's a total of 15 match points that the Bryans' held over Zimonjic and his French partners' in two tournaments yet they could not convert one of them.
Whilst Mecir dominated the Swedes from the start of most of their matches Nenad Zimonjic seems to have a remarkable ability to fight his way out of impossible situations against the most successful doubles combination of all time. The Bryans eventually reached the magical number of 100 tournament titles but surely would have got there a lot quicker without the magician from Serbia who weaved most of his magic throughout his career when he seemed to be down and out against Bob and Mike.
Some Tennis Professionals have higher profiles and some have earned a lot more money over their careers yet the man from Serbia who seems to shadow his countryman who happens to be the World's best singles player will surely be talked about one day for his exploits.
That Davis Cup Doubles match in 2010 will surely go down as one of the best wins in Davis Cup history as it was pivotal at the time with both teams sharing the opening two singles matches. Bozoljac's ranking alone defied logic as someone who could even bother a team of the Bryan's ability, but he was playing with Nenad, that was the difference.... 
Nenad Zimonjic is a tennis professional who never knows when he is beaten and he may just own the record for most match points saved in the World of Mens Doubles. Genius............

'AN APOLOGY JIM' ?

Last month I wrote a chapter that touched on the fact that Jim Courier had a red hot go at David Goffin's apparent 'inflated' ranking just because he was getting a red hot belting from Mr Federer. I wonder if Jim would have said the same thing about David if he had perhaps won a set or at least a few more games but Fed was on fire that night. He saw it like a football.
So how is David Goffin's ranking looking now days Jim ? Well I reckon it's looking pretty damn good and whether Jim Courier likes it or not I think the Belgium pocket rocket is in the top 20 to stay for quite some time. How about Indian Wells this week Jim ?
Goffin is in the semi finals after beating none other than Stan the Man in the round of 16 in three sets and then Cilic in straight in the quarters. Every pro who owns a name or a game turns up at Indian Wells, in fact you could almost call it 'the fifth Grand Slam', it's huge. To beat Stan and Maran on a neutral surface with no real advantage to any player is an effort that cannot go unnoticed. So how did he do that Jim ?
Well it may just be because David Goffin is in fact a very good tennis player and even though he may not own a game that is recognised as big, classy or really even that entertaining he owns an ability to win.
David Goffin is just a light weight tennis player who can in fact beat the heavy weights by simply getting the ball in play. He is not unlike David Ferrer of Spain who bothers opponents to the extremes of frustration as he really does not own a big shot, just a very big heart.
I wonder if Goffin got wind of Courier's rather unflattering comments from the Federer match in Australia this year ? Hope so cos I reckon that Jim fired him up and now he's just doing his best to prove him wrong. I love to see that in World Tennis.
You don't have to own a big game to be successful, you just have to find a way to keep getting the ball back, it's not rocket science, just common sense. Jim Courier I believe owes David Goffin an apology because it's not the commentator's place to make assumptions as to whether a player owns an 'inflated' ranking or a 'legitimate' one. Unless that player is an absolute 'crab' and cannot justify his place on court with the big boys then I think he deserves a bit of respect.
David Goffin has proven not just this week that he belongs whether he beats Raonic in the semi final or not, it's simply a huge result just getting to the last 4 as he is in good company.
Some commentators are too full of their own self importance and are quick to judge players and usually it comes back to bite them on the arse.
I reckon Jim got bitten big time..........

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

'GOT ONE RIGHT'

 "The next match that the two big servers play will put the argument to rest; Can two huge servers dominate doubles ? Personally I believe they have one match left in them even if it is a 6 and 6 defeat. The return in dubs far outweighs the serve and I believe that these two lack an all round game. I may be stating the obvious. The Spanish team of Lopez and Lopez or Bopanna and Mergea should be able to find the spots that these two dislike but it will be fun to watch regardless. The game of dubs has changed somewhat and the returners now days can beat the servers with a bit of guile and finesse. "
I wrote that a few nights ago in regards to two big servers teaming up in doubles ( Isner and Raonic ). It goes to show that guys who rely heavily on their serve tend to spend a lot less time on the return and it showed in their next match against the Spanish team of Lopez and Lopez. (6-4, 7-5 )
How good are tennis professionals ? The Spanish team just proved it. Imagine trying to not only get an Isner or Raonic bomb back into play but away from the net player and into a position which sets up a  50 / 50 play. Many returns in singles do not have to be as precise as in doubles and I think at times doubles exponents are not given the credit they deserve.
As I wrote earlier I think the tournament at Indian Wells is like a 'chook raffle', anyone can win the doubles event with just a little bit of luck on the big points but in particular smart play in the third set super tie breakers.
From memory there were around 9 matches that went the distance in the round of 32 in Mens dubs, that's a lot of tight tennis.
Doubles is not for the faint hearted with the new cut throat scoring system now days. Hats off to the World's best doubles players, tough way to make a living........

Sunday, 13 March 2016

'NO ONE IS SAFE'

When you look at moments in tennis matches and who gets through the tightest spots certain names come up more than others yet if you look into some examples more closely you will see a pattern and Rafa Nadal may just slot into the 'normal human being' tag, finally.
The current Indian Wells Tournament is a huge event, perhaps the 'Fifth Grand Slam' as every player turns up for this one, it's a big deal in both singles and doubles. The Bryan Brothers were seeded 3 but as we all know they are the greatest Mens Dubs pairing of all time and still a feared team so to their match against Spain so to speak.
They faced a rather tough opening match against Nadal and Verdasco who both play a mean game of doubles, particularly Verdasco.
At a set down the Bryan's squeaked through the second set 7-5 then lead 8-2 in the third set super tie breaker before the Spanish duo woke up. They reeled off six straight points to take it to 8-8, that's when the most remarkable thing happened that you would normally only see at club tennis on a Saturday arvo. Rafa double faulted, what was he thinking ??
When you look at certain situations on a tennis court between the pros most times it all makes sense yet this does not, in fact it goes against what most pros will always say in a tight contest, make the opposition play.....
Even the harshest critics would agree with me that at 8-8 and with 6 straight points behind you the momentum is firmly in your favour and the main objective from that point is to make the opposition hit a ball. They will already be doubting their ability to hit a ball over the net whether their last name is Bryan or not.
Rafa's double fault then changed the whole match and the Bryan's won the next point and the match but it proved something, even the pros are human. Rafa particularly does not rely on doubles for a living but he is relying currently on things to go his way as far as confidence is concerned and this match perhaps will have him questioning his thought process even more.
I was always taught in a tight contest particularly on the serve to make it, just make the serve, nothing fancy, just plenty of spin and height over the net. A big first serve is risky, a high kicker at three quarter pace is the safe play. Even Raf knows that.
Thanks Raf for making us all feel as though we are at times on the same shaky ground as far as decision making is concerned in a tennis match at a crucial moment whether we are a pro or a hacker.
We can all sleep better at night..............

Saturday, 12 March 2016

'CHOOK RAFFLE'

Interesting to note the pairing of Isner and Raonic at Indian Wells this week. When I say interesting I mean of course why wouldn't these two pair up more often ? Simple answer, the return. Both of these guys own two of the biggest serves in the game yet they only just squeaked by Andy Murray and Colin Fleming who rank where on the doubles radar as a team ?
The next match that the two big servers play will put the argument to rest; Can two huge servers dominate doubles ? Personally I believe they have one match left in them even if it is a 6 and 6 defeat. The return in dubs far outweighs the serve and I believe that these two lack an all round game. I may be stating the obvious.
The Spanish team of Lopez and Lopez or Bopanna and Mergea should be able to find the spots that these two dislike but it will be fun to watch regardless. The game of dubs has changed somewhat and the returners now days can beat the servers with a bit of guile and finesse.
Doubles now days is in fact like a chook raffle, any number can come up, it's just a case of taking the chances when they arise. When you spin a wheel anything can happen and any number can come up.
Have a look at the draw in the Mens dubs at Indian Wells and tell me if anything is different to spinning the wheel at the end of a game of golf at the club house after 18 holes over a few beers.
And people bet on tennis......
Hmmmmm

Sunday, 6 March 2016

'INTERESTING ARTICLE'

 The following article is courtesy of Tyson Otto of the Herald Sun. I find it rather interesting as the ATP have once again gone after a 'small fish' to make an example of in regards to match fixing. It has similarities to the Nick Lindahl farce where a player wasn't even on the big stage ( Lindahl was a Challenger Event player ).

The ATP are not interested in anyone but the small fish because they are too frightened to upset the big stars of the game so they start at the bottom. How about they start at the top instead and work their way down or would that bring the game into disrepute if they found something ? This player in this article is another 'nobody' who the ATP will kick off the tour just so it looks as though they are doing something to weed out issues. Weak as piss ATP.......

Banned tennis match-fixer claims ATP Tour ruined his life


Saturday, 5 March 2016

'OLD SCHOOL'

I often look back on my playing days and compare them with today's coaching and playing ideas, I am sure I am no Robinson Crusoe there. Us 'Dinosaurs' used to have a coach at the net who fed us balls and commanded results. Now days the ball is hand fed by many. My apologies to the 'dinosaurs' of the past but I see some merit in that, but only some.
Back in the days of black and white television a tennis coach would gain improvement from a student by hitting a series of balls at different speeds with different spins and different trajectories. That's how smart tennis coaches gained results, through coaching ideas which made the student think. My 'apology' comes from me hand feeding now days also however I only do that to improve technique because let's face it, if a ball is delivered by a coach at all types of angles it will not in fact improve technique alone, perhaps just the thinking side of the game.
Technique improvement comes from hitting a ball in the same spot over and over again until it becomes like the quoted golf pro from the 70's, pardon me for not remembering his name. 'It's like turning the light on in the middle of the night when you are getting up for a pee'. Great way of looking at it.
I do not do group lessons anymore because they create minimal improvement so I find the one on one sessions are the ONLY way to work on a player's technique but there are ways of doing this. I once told a female student that I could keep placing the ball in that perfect spot in the perfect hitting zone or I could teach her how to play tennis. I asked her what was her preference. She said 'how about both' ? I said 'perfect answer'.
You can place a tennis ball all you like in the same spot for a student of any age and have that student hitting the ball like a pro but when you really look at it, what's it really doing ? I believe it creates a false sense of one's own ball striking ability not unlike when a player plugs in a ball machine, belts 300 balls then makes the statement ' I am ready for anyone'.
Problem is simple, if that 'anyone' has any brains they will not put the ball in the hitting zone of the player who has declared they are able to beat anyone because they just beat a machine who is programmed to play one way.
I look back at my group sessions with my advanced students and I was slightly proud of the way in which we approached most sessions. I often placed a student on the baseline and created a short ball feed to the player at the other end who was usually a baseliner but who I urged to come out of their comfort zone because I felt it a necessity for future growth as a player.
Some of the pass and volley attempts I witnessed were nothing short of comical but it was a learning process that I think is not implemented enough now days through too much 'comfort zone' hitting. Sometimes I would feed from the baseline and bring a player forward giving them an approach shot, a low volley, a harder hit volley, a sitter then a smash. In other words REALITY tennis, things that actually happen on a tennis court. Isn't that what really eventuates ?
You get a short ball, you are forced to hit an approach, you must come in, your opponent may chip a low ball to you, a low volley must be hit back as best you can, then they belt one at you, a reflex volley is hit back then they may try a lob because none of their previous attempts at winning the point were effective. Let's face it, unless a topspin lob is hit, well, a defensive lob is just that, a last resort at winning the point.
The 'old school' way of coaching may have been a little like the dinosaur era type of doing things however much of it was effective. Some kids wonder now days why they can't in fact play tennis other than against a coach's feed or a ball machine. Pretty simple, they are being pampered and not being forced to think for themselves.
Hand feeding and ball machines are fantastic methods for creating technique perfect students but those methods do not create champion tennis players. Someone who thinks outside the square will create a very good player, that's what makes the sport so unique.
A creative mind usually wins the day in a sport like tennis, not someone who is only taught to hit the ball in the same spot. That's not tennis, that's Walt Disney.........