Monday, 30 January 2017

'IT HAS A WAY'

Tennis sometimes has a way of levelling things out and on many occasions it rewards the player who has suffered a degree of pain over their career with a win to make it all seem worthwhile.
In the 2009 Australian Open Mens final I vividly recall a game in the third set that quite possibly changed the outcome of the match. From memory the score was 5-5 and Federer had two break points on Nadal's serve and as usual Rafa went for broke and hit two clean winners to erase the opportunity for Federer to serve out the third set and take a two sets to one lead.
I recall some moments in matches quite vividly because they are moments where history quite possibly could have been written differently, particularly in sport. Federer despite losing that third set in 2009 came back to win the fourth however Nadal won the fifth with relative ease. Perhaps Roger could have taken that match in 4 sets with an ounce of luck at break point in the third.
Roger lost the final of Wimbledon a year earlier to Rafa 7-9 in the fifth set with many chances going begging in the final set. Again, history could have been written differently with an ounce of luck going the way of Roger.
The amount of pain that Rafa has inflicted on Roger over the years is blatantly obvious as their head to head currently stands at 23-12 in Rafa's favour. Five of those meetings were at the French Open, and four were in the final so it would be fair to say that without Rafa's clay court dominance the Grand Slam count of Federer's would be well over 20.
Every great player however has an Achilles heel.
The great Bjorn Borg lost four US Open finals, I believe two each to both McEnroe and Connors with only one going to five sets in 1980 when Mac won 6-4 in the fifth. Earlier that same year though Borg won the Wimbledon final against Mac 8-6 in the fifth. Is there a Tennis God do you think who likes to share things around ?
So to this year's Australian Open Mens Singles final, a Rafa win would continue his dominance over Roger and everyone would be talking about how the lefty style of the Spaniard is the most difficult match up for the one handed backhand of Roger. So what happened ?
At age 35 Roger finally decides to step in and refuses to be bullied by the spin of Rafa. He takes the high bounce on the rise and on more than one occasion hits a clean winner off a ball that in the past had him well beyond the baseline. Good coaching ?? Great thinking.....
If Roger had his time over again do you think he would have tried that several years earlier ?? And the return to Rafa's backhand rather than to his strength which in a way put the point back to a 50/50 situation rather than a 75/25 in Rafa's favour if it was returned to his forehand, a tactical change of genius proportions ?
The final was as frustrating as it was entertaining because of the length of it. There wasn't the long rallies of the past on a regular basis because if that had occurred I believe my tip of Rafa in 4 would have been right on the money. It was a match that Roger had to win within a certain time frame and if it went five hours surely the younger legs of the Spaniard would have won through despite his epic semi against Dimitrov.
Just one thing though, why aren't both semis played on the same day to give both players an equal rest for the final ?? Sponsorship and advertising dollars to do it on different days ? C'mon don't be silly......
Rafa's effort was nothing short of brilliant and Roger may just have had an ounce of luck go his way finally at the ripe old age of 35 with an extra day's rest and an epic semi win for Rafa but that's tennis for you, it has a way........

Friday, 27 January 2017

'I WORKED IT OUT IN 2015'

I published this post almost two years ago when Dimitrov was going nowhere with his tennis. He was being 'coached' by someone who's expertise was in another field. Thank goodness Grigor found someone to teach him how to play the game......

'NEW COACH GRIGOR' ? FEBRUARY 2015

I have been saying it now for a long, long time, Roger Rasheed is not a tennis coach, he is a fitness expert. Rasheed took Hewitt from World Number 1 to number 19 in a short period of time yet he seems to be a walk up start to coaching gigs with top players. So how did his resume look after he finished with Hewitt ? Not flattering.
He then spent time with Monfils and Tsonga, now he is with a man who is going to be known as ' the greatest waste of talent in Mens Tennis' unless he finds a guy who can teach him how to play. Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria has all the shots with no game plan or a way to beat the top guys or even guys who he should be beating for that matter. His loss to Ryan Harrison in Acapulco proved just that.
Ranked a lowly 169 the American found a way to handle the windy conditions better than his opponent who many have touted as the 'baby Federer'.
Dimitrov has all the shots with out all the ideas and he reminds me of a young Andre Agassi before the 'brains trust' Brad Gilbert got inside his head and turned things around. Grigor is in desperate need of his very own 'Gilbert' as it's one thing to be coached by a fitness expert, it's another to be learning the game from a genius.
If I was still a betting man I would have my beach shack on Rasheed to be looking for another job before the financial year is up......

******* FOR THE RECORD, the two split in July 2015, glad I didn't put my beach shack on it, I was two weeks out with my prediction. My landlord owned it anyhow.......*******

Thursday, 26 January 2017

' THANK YOU '

As I often do on this site, thank you sincerely for reading my posts, I find it flattering. Not sure how people find this site however it keeps me writing. I had someone tune in from Brazil just recently to read a post I wrote some time ago which I called 'Mr Topspin', the Kent Carlson story, albeit in an abbreviated version.
I could write a book on the great man from Sweden and his tennis exploits however I prefer to simply write about the 'best of', if that makes sense.
People don't tune in to this site to read a book though the one I put together in October last year went against the grain for my style of writing and once again for those of you who took the time to read it, thank you.
Please feel free to send me a comment if you wish, whether you agree with my versions on tennis or otherwise and if I offer an opinion you feel is far from complimentary to those concerned then please don't hold back on your criticism. Remember what I do is just a point of view on tennis, there are thousands more out there with their own ideas and personal opinions also that probably make way more sense than mine.
I simply do what I do because my mind keeps ticking over with the sport of tennis so when I get an idea happening I simply express it on this site. If you know me, well you will understand that it's just what I do, can't help it, not interested in changing it.
Some offer opinions on Facebook pages, personally I have distanced myself from FB lately as I have seen some things that I would rather not be a part of. I have seen some 'friendships' dissolved through FB posts so I tend to keep my distance now though I did in fact start a Glenn Thompson Tennis page on FB which was all about a tactical view on the sport, I may get back to posting on it someday.
For some reason I am still World Number 1 on Google for a post I wrote on Andre Agassi titled 'A haircut and a forehand' which will quite possibly go down in history as one of the funniest ever remarks made by one player about another. Thanks Ivan for providing me with that dialogue.
I don't tip much anymore because I don't get too many correct however I feel compelled to offer my pick for the Mens Champion at the 2017 Australian Open though I hope I am not correct as I would love to see Roger win another major.
I do however respect Rafa's climb back into the sport as I have Roger's also as I find them both ornaments to the sport of tennis though I am still a little bemused at Rafa's rather quirky habits even in the twilight of his career. Funny sport though and each to their own. Individuality is something that can definitely reap results.
Rafa in 4 sets over Dimitrov and in 4 sets also over Roger in the final. There you go I have tipped.
Thanks again for tuning in....
Regards GT

'MANY SIMILARITIES'

I vividly recall a semi final at the US Open around the year 1980 when the great Bjorn Borg of Sweden took on South Africa's Johan Kriek.
After the first two sets the eventual winner had only won a total of 8 games.
Watching the first two sets of the Wawrinka / Federer semi at the Oz Open this year there are striking similarities.
Borg lost the first two sets to Kriek in the '80 Semi by the score of 4-6, 4-6 and I am certain the South African had already written his victory speech.
Borg came back to win the next three sets by the score of 6-1, 6-1, 6-1.
Stan just got the third by the same score and is up a break in the fourth. Could it happen again ? My apologies however my mind never stops as I watch the sport and write accordingly.
Whether Roger gets out of the spot he's currently in is almost irrelevant, it doesn't matter what your lead is, it's only a number . Borg was 8 after two sets, Kriek was 12, Borg finished at 26, Kriek was stuck on 15 and that to me is still a belting.
Play the ball, not the scoreboard.......

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

'THE BIRTHDAY BOY'

At age 48 I suppose I can say what the great John McEnroe once said 'The older I get, the better I was'. Wise and very true words from the great man himself.
Tennis at age 48 is a physical battle now days more than anything else because you simply do not move the way that you either used to or the way you wish to so therefore it comes down to just what you learned in your younger years.
By that statement I refer to finding ways to win or at least be competitive without engaging in long rallies which will drain the tank rather quickly and not leave enough in reserve for the final stages of a match which define you as a player.
The way I see it you've got two options as a tennis player as you age, you learn to volley and finish a point or you stand there and belt winners past your opponent. ( I am joking as far as the latter is concerned ).
The only way to conserve your energy on a tennis court as you get older is to shorten the points, rather obvious statement, though the fitness fanatics of over 50's tennis will tell you otherwise and can still sit out there all day with the young blokes and trade punches. Personally I couldn't think of anything worse.
When I was a kid I only ever went to the net to shake hands, now days I volley reasonably well as coaching will do that for you, it will naturally develop a volley for even the most seasoned baseliner because you can't coach from the baseline, not all day anyhow.
So if I was to leave one thing as something that I have learned over the years in tennis I would say that the most important shot that I have ever learned was in fact the volley because it can finish a point and if you know how to set yourself up at the net then you can make life for yourself on a tennis court a whole lot easier.
I played a kid when I was age 41 in a best of three sets match and I swear the kid hardly missed a groundie. When however I worked out that he in fact was never taught to volley or even to come in for that matter I simply brought him in and hit the ball straight at him.
From memory he gave me the equivalent of around four or five games in missed volleys and approaches, just enough for me to sneak in a win.
Anyone can hit a ball from the back of a tennis court but if you know how to finish the point when the opportunity arises or know how to bring your opponent into the zone they are least comfortable with then you may just be able to win enough points through tactics rather than brute force.
I couldn't hit a sliced backhand until I was 18, now days unless someone comes to the net and I need some pace on the pass then I will simply slice the ball from the backhand side. Why ? Because I haven't found a player yet who likes scraping a ball low off the court but I have played plenty who like the ball in their hitting zone, something that topspin will give them.
So from a 12 year old kid who never volleyed and never knew what a sliced backhand even felt like until I was old enough to go out to a pub, it is rather amusing that as I approach age 50 those two shots are now my most treasured.
Tennis becomes a game of chess as you get older and due to the physical demands of it, well it's probably about as slow as a game of chess also but if ever you have read the story of the 'Tortoise and the Hare', well, you may just understand where I am coming from.......
Regards 'The Birthday Boy'
GT

Sunday, 22 January 2017

'NO ADVANTAGE'

Love hard court tennis, just love it. Hate playing on it at age 48 but love watching it because there is no advantage whatsoever to any player, it simply comes down to who you are as a player and what you own as far as brains, shots and tactics are concerned.
In 2004 and 2005 our very own Lleyton Hewitt expressed his concerns that the hardcourts at Melbourne Park were in fact too slow for his liking and he wanted them quickened up. I found that rather interesting to say the least. Try Roland Garros Lleyton, that's slow Champ.
With new balls every seven games and guys like Roddick in the draw back then I doubt that it was really that slow as far as a surface was concerned, I think it was more about some personalities believing they were bigger than the game itself. Tennis is like that, full of self centred egotists rearing their egos on a regular basis, nature of the sport.
For the record, Lleyton never won the Aussie Open, the closest he got was the final against Safin in 2005 where the big Russian blew him away after a slow first set. Court must have played too slow.......
So to this year, how does a guy ranked 50 plus beat the World number 1 ? This was the same guy who lost to Rafa in Brisbane around ten days ago, 1-6, 1-6. Mischa Zverev is a tactical genius or is he just a smart tennis player ?
I guarantee you he did some soul searching after Rafa belted him. 'If Rafa beats me 1 and 1 I have to change something against Andy. If I play from the back I lose 1, 1 and 1, if I serve and volley I may be a silly chance'. Maybe words to that effect anyhow.
That's tennis for you, it's a sport where you only get smarter with each loss. Winning brings contentment, losing exposes  your flaws and teaches you how to become better. Losing isn't so bad, it can make you a good tennis player by the end of your days on court providing you accept that what you currently do is not good enough.
How did Mischa win the 'unwinnable' ? Well it has a lot to do with the surface for sure because a hard court makes you think about things to the extent that thinking becomes educational. If you think on a court you are respecting the game and everything that goes with it.
If you don't think then you are probably a one dimensional tennis player who will only go so far before you lose to the guys who own the grey matter required to go further in the sport.
Mischa Zverev gives every tennis player hope, just as Denis Istomin did when he beat Novak in round 2, they make us all believers that the impossible can be achieved in a sport that usually only delivers the usual suspects at the business end of proceedings.
A serve and volley game can only do one thing, it can bother a baseliner who does not like to be rushed into anything. Serve and volley was the only tactic that could have bothered Sir Andy and Zverev is smart enough to have learned from the Rafa match that things need to be mixed up particularly against a baseliner.
Plan B and C needs to also get a run at some stage when things aren't going according to plan. Hard court tennis is a joy to watch because only the smartest player can win on a surface that only rewards the player who is prepared to go into each match with an open mind and play the opposition on what they bring to the table.
You may go into a tennis match with an 'idiot proof' plan however when that plan gets ridiculed by someone who didn't read your script then it is up to you to tear up the paper and start thinking of what else you have learned from hitting thousands of tennis balls and what else you can come up with.
Rafa taught Mischa a big lesson just recently, it worked, Mischa should send Rafa a belated Xmas card, I reckon it's the least he could do......

Saturday, 21 January 2017

'ALL IN THE NAME OF STUPIDITY'

No tennis player on the planet should be forced to start a tennis match at almost midnight due to many reasons but the main being that it totally puts the body clock out and in a Grand Slam event, well that is crucial.
Sure it may be the 'luck' of the draw however it's never the Big 4 who are asked to set foot on a tennis court when most will have already had themselves at least two hours sleep.
Yes folks I firmly believe that it's all in the name of stupidity, perhaps advertising, perhaps poor scheduling, perhaps the Tournament organisers not allowing for long matches prior to the final one of the night, but hang on wasn't Rafa playing another baseliner earlier in the afternoon ???
So when doing the scheduling for that match didn't the light globe go off ? Not in a fat fit was that match ever going to be under three hours, moreso the 4 plus that it took as both the great man himself and his younger opponent Zverev don't venture much past the furthest line that they can find on a tennis court.
Scheduling a Womens match inbetween the two Mens matches is the dumbest thing you could possibly do because if both go the distance ( which they did ) then you will see a farcical situation as we did last night with Dimitrov and Gasquet which did no one any favours, least of all the players.
Rescheduling is the only way to in fact look after the players in a situation like this yet that doesn't seem to be on the agenda, stupidity prevailed instead.
The Womens match could have been rescheduled to the next day or if that sounds sexist then perhaps the Gasquet/ Dimitrov match could have been put back to Sunday with a promise of an extended time between that result and their following match. Surely either one would have been both accepted and respected by the players in particular.
That way the crowd actually gets to go home by midnight, still a long day at the tennis. You can't tell me that some would have opted for an 'early' night rather than watch the final Mens match last night, it was obvious if you looked at the many empty seats that this was the case.
Experts will always tell you the same thing 'They are Professionals, they have to play and perform no matter what the circumstances ', however what Gasquet and Dimitrov were forced to do was nothing short of plain silly. Have you played a tennis match at say 8 pm then tried to go to bed at a reasonable hour and ask your body to simply relax and forget what just happened ?? These two were asked to play at midnight !!!
The body is pumped full of adrenalin after running around a tennis court no matter what time it is and it requires a period of relaxation before it in fact is asked to sleep. I would suggest that Dimitrov who won the match would not have got to bed much before 5 am after stretching, eating, relaxing and doing whatever else was required to allow his body to eventually sleep.
The Hewitt/ Baghdatis match in 2008 was even more farcical with a 4.30 am finish and from memory I believe that Hewitt got smashed in his next match by Novak. Sure he was playing Novak however what that finishing time did to him was rather obvious. Poor scheduling taken to a new level of incompetence.
It will be interesting to see how Dimitrov performs in his next match though he is playing Istomin who has played ten sets in his past two matches so he may just have luck riding on his side.........

Friday, 20 January 2017

'REGARDING 'TESTING YOURSELF'

For those of you who know me and for those of you who have read my book you will see that I am rather passionate about testing myself, it's what tennis is all about.
If you turn up somewhere that owns a depleted field or play in a division that you know you will win easily then basically you are chasing a trophy.
I once mentioned a 'hero' who I played in doubles ten years ago who, after we had belted 6-0 in around 20 minutes in the local championship came out with 'We haven't been beaten in two years'.
Funny that, you hadn't played anyone in two years you peanut....
So to this year's Albany Open, my most favourite local championship and one that I have had seven years of success in over around 20 or so years of playing it, my apologies however I will not be competing for the second year straight. Why ?
Two years ago Pete and I won by 22 games on a different format in a reasonably strong field, one the local paper mentioned as a 'star studded field'. Ok it's only a local tournament but we had some good teams playing. Last year the entries had dropped, I didn't play, this year same story, no new juniors playing and the 'old' guys are going fishing now days in January, fact of life.
Tennis in my town aint what it used to be where if you won a local event you had won against some seasoned campaigners and you earned your 'bragging rights'.
You have to put tennis into perspective and either play accordingly or do what the rest are now doing and go chasing fish.
When the region's 'Zen Masters' who swear by their tuition start sending their kids to local tennis tournaments rather than chasing events all around the Country or when the guys of yester year (who would still run rings around the new breed who don't know how to play a sliced approach) start playing competitively again I will be happy to start playing local tennis tournaments again.
Until then, well, I am simply going to join the older brigade and go fishing with my boys.....
All the best, Regards Glenn

Monday, 16 January 2017

'AREN'T WE LUCKY'

So far no Jim Courier, he may be busy somewhere else, however we are 'lucky' enough to have the one and only Roger Rasheed in the commentary box at this year's Australian Open. Now don't just take my word for it but Roger R is not that well respected by some in this Country ( I may be part of that select group ).
John Tomic once congratulated Roger R for taking Lleyton from the top ranked position to around the 20 mark in a short period of time, not sure how that happened but it happened. Not a great look for your next coaching appointment.
Anyhow Roger R is here folks, fasten your seatbelts........

Sunday, 15 January 2017

'MR EGO HIMSELF'

I felt this post was worth publishing once again on the eve of the 2017 Australian Open due to the fact that Mr Jim Courier will no doubt be in charge of talking to the players after each headline match.
I look forward to Courier interviewing his 'favourite player' David Goffin of Belgium, for the following reasons.
I just hope the little fellow who is now ranked World number 11 can win enough matches to gain a centre court spot and hopefully have a win which in turn will force Jim to ask him a few questions.
Hopefully he will ask him about his 'inflated' ranking.......

In case you haven't read much on this site of mine I will reiterate a point that I made after the 2016 Australian Open after I took exception to a comment made by 'Mr Egotistical' himself, Jim Courier.
During the Federer/ Goffin match in the Round of 16 Jim came up with a theory as to why David Goffin of Belgium was ranked so high and quite frankly I found it both hilarious and insulting all in one.
Now you are probably aware of my views on certain Commentators of the Tennis World and why I don't like many of them and it's because of their ridiculous way of taking sides or refusing to even acknowledge a player. One at Wimbledon this year came out with "I don't know anything about this player" which I found to be rather confusing because if you take 5 minutes out of your busy schedule it's easy to look up.
You see on the ATP World Tour site there is that much information about players that it's easy to find out in probably less than 5 minutes what certain players like, dislike, their rankings history, prize money and where they reside. If I was a commentator and about to call a match then I would use my initiative, look up the site, do some homework before the match and perhaps even bluff my way through a few things.
'I see David Goffin has made over one and a half million dollars already this year, his Father is in fact a Tennis Coach in his home town in Belgium and he was voted by his fellow peers 'the comeback player of 2014'.
Now if a commentator doesn't already know this sort of stuff about a player such as Goffin well they really have no excuses because it's all there in writing, all you have to do is both use your initiative and press a few buttons, simple really. Back to Courier, Mr Egotistical.
At this year's Aussie Open Mr Ego felt that it was his duty to explain to the public why David Goffin was ranked World number 16 and he was far from complimentary about it saying among other things that he received ranking points from Davis Cup matches that held no significance. Well Jim it's like this buddy, Mr Goffin is now ranked World number 14, he did even get as high as number 11, so how did that happen then ey ? Did he bluff his way to that number ??!
You cannot fake a World Tennis ranking unless maybe it's in the Futures events where guys are ranked down in the seven and eight hundreds for example but on the World Tour it is basically an impossibility to hold a 'fake' ranking. Try telling that to Mr Ego himself.
I touched on the Jim Courier book reading saga in an old post where I relayed some facts about this particular person bringing the sport of tennis into disrepute. This all came about when Jim thought it would be a good thing to read a book at the change of ends, a book that had nothing to do with tennis and which had arrogance written all over it.
I believe that Mr Courier was told by certain people in tennis that this antic was not to be done again due to the look that it gave the sport. If every tennis player sat down and read a book at the change of ends it would look like a children's nursery rhyme session with the only thing missing being the ball kids huddled around the offending player with big cheesy grins waiting for the moment when 'Itsy bitsy spider crawled up the water spout'.
Jim Courier is far from perfect yet he makes out that he is a man of great integrity and who never put a foot wrong, I tend to dispute that and I take exception to him bagging current players and their rankings. Sure I may have had a dig here and there regarding certain players however it has never been over their World rankings, probably just their antics. A player is a number for a reason, not because he wears fancy clothes.
Personally I think Jim Courier should apologise to the little guy from Belgium because it was uncalled for and lacked substance yet that's Jim Courier for you, full of his own self importance. Silly sport tennis, full of silly egotistical people......

'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 two months 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.
' I will give both of you until lunchtime to replace what you 'borrowed'.........

'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.......

'STUMBLED ACROSS A COUPLE'

My apologies, while looking for another post I stumbled across a couple of older posts that did not make it into my book however they were factual experiences from our European trip of '91.
I vividly recall the food, I vividly recall the stench of smelly socks, so as I do, I wrote about them.
Here they are, unedited, I apologise once again, in advance for my poor writing skills........

Saturday, 14 January 2017

'THE LIGHTS OUT EFFECT'

Great article on the ATP site in regards to age and how to handle certain situations as you become more experienced, if you get a chance take a read, it's brilliant.
I wrote a post on this site quite some time ago about the effect of getting belted in the first set and how to deal with that mentally, I will do my best to find it and repost a section of it as I believe it mirrors what a Pro has recently said.
'The lights out effect' has happened to all of us who have ever set foot on a tennis court, some know how to deal with it better than others. The junior who I mentioned in my post could not believe that they lost a match after winning the first set 6-0 though my philosophical chat with her at the end of the match made her realise that there is a lot more tennis left to play despite an easy opener, whether you are on the receiving end of it or dishing it out.
If you get your lights belted out or belt someone's lights out to start a tennis match you have to put it into perspective and you have to do it rather quickly or the match may be gone or you may find yourself at a set all while you are still writing your victory speech in your mind.
What happened in that first set blinder ? Was your opponent sluggish ? Did you not miss every line you tried to hit ? Did your opponent try to do too much and miss ? Were you simply just getting the ball into play and not actually having to win the match as opposed to your opponent losing it instead ?
There are many factors in a 'lights out' set of tennis that you have to weigh up before you start either patting yourself on the back in relation to your 'brilliance' or berating yourself as a 'useless' tennis player and that's where the recent ATP article is so enlightening.
It focuses on age and experience and how as you get smarter in tennis you learn to deal with certain situations a little better than perhaps the younger players who lack the brains to do the same.
Tennis is a sport that you will only get smarter at so it's a case of whether or not you have the mental toughness and the physical capabilities to stay in the game long enough to enjoy the fruits of your longevity in a sport that requires the body and mind to stay fresh.
I will repost part of that article I wrote some time ago when I find it as I believe that it is relevant when looking at certain match situations and how to cope with them. Heading off for a hit, have a ripper day.......

Thursday, 12 January 2017

'MOST OTHER SPORTS'

When it comes to tennis, well it's a little behind in the trend. Most other sports require just a single point to separate the winner from the vanquished, not tennis, you require a space of two points.
Tennis also requires two shots to start a point. If you miss, doesn't matter, have another go, we will let you have a free swing.
Watching Twenty/ Twenty Cricket tonight you can see the difference in the way other sports are moving ahead with formats and even though the 'Fast 4 ' idea is a 'tweak' of sorts it does not compare to the way in which our home sport has evolved.
One run required, one ball......
Stuff dreams are made of, not only for the public but the players involved.
Tennis is all so particular with the way in which it is portrayed however it lacks that one thing, the ability to surprise us with a finish that has you on the edge of your seat. In basketball all you need is one point separating you from the opposition, same in golf, same in AFL, same in soccer, same in just about any sport in the World, yet tennis bucks the trend.
Why doesn't tennis move with the times ?
If anyone has ever followed this silly site of mine you will have read that I do in fact practice what I preach as I developed an idea locally and gained some sponsors to try a new idea with tennis scoring.
I was on the receiving end of a rather painful loss at dusk one evening as my Doubles partner lost the final point of his singles match, a sudden death point which gave the title to the opposition by the barest of margins.
Was worth a shot I thought, this was ten years ago.....
If an obscure local tennis player from Western Australia can come up with a format that spices up a tennis tournament that dares to differ from the usual 'ho hum' of tennis scoring then I am sure the hierarchy of the sport can do the same. 
Perhaps it could even allow just ONE SERVE to each player and abolish the ridiculous current system that allows a free swing like very few other sports do, if any, and finally give tennis the 'technical brilliance' headline that it believes it has the right to own........

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

'WELL SAID'

The following is from an article on an ABC News site printed yesterday. Paul McNamee's comments mirror what I said on a piece I wrote about a week ago titled 'WHAT DID YOU EXPECT' ? in regards to the lower ranked players scratching to make a living.......

Match fixing a 'toxic mix'

Former Australian Open chief executive and tournament director Paul McNamee is not surprised match fixing is an issue among lower-ranked professional tennis players.
"There are only 100 guys now who are making a decent living and 100 women as well," he said.
"The rest are living on or below the poverty line and that's a toxic mix when you've got these temptations put in front of you."
McNamee, who won five majors in doubles and mixed doubles during his professional career, believes tennis authorities are more concerned with addressing the "symptoms" of match fixing and not the "cause".
He has called on the majors to increase the level of prize money available in the qualifying rounds.
"The qualifying is where the Grand Slams, who are in a leadership position, can take a leading role," McNamee said.
'So I would like to see the qualifying prize money tripled and then you would have another 100 guys and 100 women able to make a living and not be seduced by any temptations out there."

The following is part of my post.....

If that's the case then increase the prize money in the lower tiered events. Those players are the future of the game yet most will never get the opportunity to finally show their full potential as they will not be able to afford to stay in the sport.

This article is typical of where the sport is currently, a sport which is happy to help Novak surpass the $100,000,000 mark yet fails to help future champions stay in the game.

Fair dinkum comedy routine this sport. Plenty of finger pointing, no one addressing the issues that really matter.......

Saturday, 7 January 2017

'THE ITALIAN JOB'

Another post from a while back which for some reason I placed in a folder as a draft copy. I have written over 800 posts on this site including 76 from my book. I suppose I am entitled to make a few mistakes here and there with my file organisation......

The Italian Job was the title of a movie made in the year I was put on this earth, 1969, one of the all time great movies. In fact the lead actor Michael Caine put in a one liner that was once voted the greatest of all time " You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off "!
The movie was about a group of gangsters plotting to steal 4 million dollars worth of gold in Italy and escape with it to Switzerland, absolute classic.
So what's it got to do with tennis ? Nothing, but it reminds me of two Italian 'gangster' tennis professionals from Italy, Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi, interesting characters. I wrote a chapter recently on Fabio.I swear the man who could double as a clothes fashion model had a night out with a 'fan' at the clay court event in Barcelona in April where he forfeited his match after trailing 0-6, 0-4. How else would you explain that effort ?
In Brazil in February he lost the second set 0-6 to Bedene, a Slovakian ranked 103 before winning the third 6-1. In Monte Carlo in April he lost the third and deciding set in the Round of 16 to Tsonga 0-6 but at the French Open against Monfils he won the fourth 6-0 before losing the last 2-6. In Germany in July he lost to Krajinovic of Serbia 4-6, 0-6 . What happened there Fabio ? The Serb was ranked 149.
In Cincinatti in August he lost a Quarter Final to Raonic 0-6, 1-6 but pocketed $80,000 before moving on to the US Open in New York. Fabio offered very little resistance again and got smashed by a guy ranked 89, Mannarino of France 3-6, 4-6, 1-6. He did however 'earn' $60,000 for a second round showing. Not a bad few weeks for Fabio as far as prize money was concerned but it did nothing for his reputation as a match or set 'tanker'.
Enough about Fabio, let's move on to his fellow countryman Andreas Seppi. In Davis Cup against Argentina in January this year he played Berlocq, a man ranked 13 places behind him. After winning the first 6-4 he then put all his toys back in the toy box and went home, 0-6, 2-6, 1-6. Five weeks later in Indian Wells he lost to Stan 'The Man' Wawrinka 0-6, 2-6  then met Berlocq again in Romania in April. The Argentinian smashed the Italian to love in the first before Seppi staged a fight back winning the second 6-2 but then lost the third in a breaker.
In July in Hamburg Seppi beat Monaco by the strangest score of 1-6, 6-0, 7-6 which asked two questions, how does a score like this happen and what is it with the Italians and their bagels ??
 In the Moselle Open in France just last week Seppi took on Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands in the first round, a match that Seppi would have fancied his chances. Seppi is currently ranked 26 places higher than the Dutchman however it seems as though Andreas may just have found a 'fan' the night before. For reasons only known to the Italian he found himself down 0-6, 1-4 before doing a 'Fabio' and shaking hands with an 'injury' stated withdrawal.
So the questions need to be asked of these two 'gangsters'. Do you guys meet with 'foul play' the night before the matches you withdraw from when you are receiving an absolute pounding from your opposition ? And why so many bagels in your playing career ?
Perhaps a movie can be made one day about these two Professionals from Italy who are fantastic tennis players but can make the headlines for some 'indifferent' score lines in various matches. I would pay good money to go see 'The Italian Job Part 2'..........

'SERVE AND RETURN'

I just read an article on the ATP site in regards to serving and returning and what really is the most effective way of playing. It seems that receiving serve well by far outweighs the ability to own a great delivery.
This was written around TWO YEARS ago however I feel it is worth reposting due to the article I just read......

The old adage 'you are only as good as your second serve' is as true as the sun will come up in the morning, there are too many statistics to back up the fact. If you take the time to scroll through some facts and figures of tennis matches rather than just read the scores then you will notice an alarming trend in the game.
Because many players use the first delivery as basically a 'free swing' it is often hit with such pace that unless a player guesses correctly the return will come back without a great deal of interest on it. That is of course unless the returner has an exceptional ability to get the serve back no matter what the speed of delivery is.
With ground strokes being as big as they are now days a mid court service return will be treated with no respect and more often than not hit for a winner or a commanding approach shot to set up an easy volley.
A tennis player who does not spend the time to practice the return of serve is like a cricket player going into bat without a helmet, it's called lack of preparation. Many players are not interested in service return practice because it's not one of the more glamorous training routines and it's frustrating. Yet it separates the good from the average.
I have mentioned before in an older chapter how a young Andre Agassi practiced his return of serve for his Davis Cup match against Boris Becker who owned possibly the World's biggest serve when he was at his peak. Agassi moved his team mates up to the service line to hit serves at him which gave him almost no time to respond, but it quickened his eye. Routines like that are proven, it's thinking outside of the square and it spices up the same old ho hum training drills.
The return of serve has seen some brilliant exponents, Andre Agassi could possibly have been the best because he took on guys like Becker, Sampras, McEnroe, Ivanisevic and Edberg. That was an era of servers who delivered the ball with unbelievable power and Andre Agassi knocked it straight back at them or past them, more often than not. It's why he won every Slam.
Fast forwarding to some statistics of this year's French Open it is blatantly obvious that the best returners are the most successful, particularly in doubles. It has to be precise as the net player is constantly moving. Keeping one eye on the guy at the net and the other on the ball is a tough assignment yet if you watch the top exponents of the two on two format it is made to look easy.
One of the teams I am tipping to win the Mens dubs in Paris this year Dodig and Melo just squeaked past Peya and Soares by the score of 6-3, 7-6 with the tie breaker going to 10-8. Here was the difference;
Dodig and Melo won just 12 of 46 returning points or 26 per cent but it was just enough to scrape over the line as their opponents won less, 9 of 42 or 21 per cent. The biggest difference it seems however is the lack of unforced errors in that pivotal second set, they made just ONE unforced error. I find that statistic totally outrageous.
Dodig and Melo won 71 per cent of their first service points but their second serve performance was even more brilliant, 89 per cent. That's not BIG serving, that's SMART serving. So is a kick serve more effective in doubles ? You do the sums on that one. Sometimes the slower higher kick is harder to get on top of as a returner particularly if the returner is not tall.
The above examples are just a few statistics from one set of the French open this year. Imagine if you did the sums on all matches according to the height and returning ability of all players and crunched the numbers.
I believe it would be fascinating to say the least, correct me if I am wrong. The best servers in the French Open are out, Isner, Querrey, Karlovic and Cilic, the best returners however are still in.
There has got to be more merit in being a top returner than a top server.....

'DRESSING DOWN'

 Wrote this a while back, don't believe I posted it. It typifies what I think of the dress sense of today's tennis players and in particular the juniors who like to 'dazzle' the opposition with their clothes......

'DRESS DOWN' (BE AN INDIVIDUAL)

I have never been a huge fan of bright tennis clothes and in particular 'loud' shoes. I believe it is asking for trouble. When I was a kid I used to practice occasionally in Perth with one of the State's top ranked juniors Damian Hampson who had a few funny habits, one in particular was his dress sense. 'Hampo' basically did not own any dress sense whatsoever but he could play the game remarkably well.
I remember drawing him first round at a State Closed Championship at the Reabold Tennis Club in 1985, he was seeded 3, our friendship was put aside for three sets. Despite leading him 6-4, 2-0 I found a way to lose to a higher ranked player who I could match it with for a certain period of time before falling away. Lack of self belief.
Back to Hampo's clothing.
Here was a guy with a ranking inside the State's top three best players yet you wouldn't have picked his tennis talent by looking at him. Hampo would turn up wearing a pair of socks that looked as though he had been gardening in and a pair of worn Dunlop Volley shoes. He would also wear a pair of shorts and a shirt that lacked any colour or style. Hampo in a word was 'untidy'.
I did however like his 'style' that gave the opposition a false sense of security if you did not know his tennis ability. 'Was he here as a tennis player or has he just cruised by on his BMX bike for a look at the tennis' ?! Hampo was a guy who was not interested in dazzling the opposition with his fashion sense, it was all about his game.
It's funny when you see the young players now days walking through the gates for a junior tennis tournament with a bag big enough to sleep in and a pair of shoes that have arrogance written all over them. I was never a fan of that sort of clothing or equipment and even though Hampo 'inspired' me to dress down I suppose I was always going to be a player who was far from interested in dressing to impress.
I vividly recall my first tennis bag, a Donnay brand that was too small to fit my racket in so I would walk out on court with the handle sticking out of the end of it. Along with my less than glamorous way of dressing I would say that I was simply trying to be known as a good tennis player, not a fashion model.
I would always wear my black V neck jumper in the warm up as my hero Mats Wilander did when I first saw him walk out onto court at the Italian Open in 1982. That's the thing that first struck me about Mats, he was not fashion conscious, he was simply letting his racket do the talking. I liked that idea.
I also developed a habit of wearing dark clothes, black shorts and either a brown or black shirt along with black socks complete with a pair of shoes that were not a real popular brand. I felt that if I was to go out on court dressed like my buddy Hampo then perhaps it would give my opponents NOTHING from the initial greeting. Perhaps they would think "this one is going to be easy, he doesn't even wear tennis clothes".
No matter what I was thinking about my dress sense or lack of it I felt comfortable with it and being comfortable right from the start in tennis is the most important thing. People who wear loud gear basically put a lot of pressure on themselves before they even hit a ball. I would recommend to any player of any age to dress down as opposed to up as it puts any perceived pressure back onto the opposition. 'Loud' clothes generally require a game to match.
As I got older I would even turn up to a tournament wearing beach sandals! I would wear them until about ten minutes prior to my first match before changing into my tennis shoes. Why ? Well it wasn't through arrogance, it was more about my mindset that needed to be relaxed before I commenced play.
If I felt as though I was on my way to the beach for a leisurely day of relaxing as opposed to a series of intense matches I would feel a sense of calm as opposed to nerves or anxiety.
Yes I have always done things a little differently however tennis is an individual sport and not one that should be likened to playing 'follow the leader'.
Be your own player and find things that relax you as opposed to raising the level of nerves too high before a match. Be an individual....

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

'KEEP IT SIMPLE'

Take a look at two of the best double handed backhands being hit at the moment in Australia at the Brisbane International, Nadal's and Simon's. What do you see ?
Personally I see a simple swing, straight back low with no loop.
Now take a look at many juniors who are being taught the loop backswing and you tell me what the difference is. Now to elaborate, watch the arms take the racket back on both Rafa and Simon's shot and see how simple it is.
Now watch a kid being taught this shot now days from a 'Zen Master' fresh outa coaching school who has been given a manual and a few lessons on how to teach the game with 'the latest methods'.
Now do the sums on who gets ready for the shot with a minimum of fuss and who is late to many shots due to the ridiculous nature of the complicated swing.
Tennis is a technical sport though it seems to be more technical now due to many teachers of the game taking simple things and making them harder to learn. Is that strictly a money making idea or a necessity ?
Why would you go past a backhand like Rafa's as far as simplicity is concerned ? Perhaps the great man's shot is not listed in the book of 'latest methods' ? Why ? Be way too simple to learn, less time on court, less dollars 'earned' by the 'Zen Masters' of today.
Do yourself a favour if you teach the sport and look at Rafa's backhand slow motion and also Simon's while you are at it, note how easy the swing is and how easy it is to teach unlike the forehand which has many more aspects to it.
The backhand should be the easiest shot to teach, it's why I teach it before the forehand.
Keep tennis simple, leave the complications to the over qualified.........

Monday, 2 January 2017

'THE SUCCESS STARVED'

Over my 35 years on a tennis court, including both playing and coaching I have seen enough to write a book on, so basically that's what I did, I wrote a book over three years and I put the final pieces together in October, 2016. Some of you may have read it, hope you enjoyed it.
Obviously I could not put all of my experiences in the book as it would have resembled more of a 'cynical' look at the sport of tennis than anything else so I simply put those 'cynical' thoughts together and post them from time to time. Some of you may have read them, hope you enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed writing them.
I do it because I take pride in letting the public know that tennis isn't what it seems in many aspects due to the many 'people' in charge of the sport who could get a job as a 'con man' or 'con woman' if their current 'job' ever fails. As always I will elaborate.
Over my 29 years of coaching here in WA in the City of Perth, in sleepy hollow here in Albany and in Queensland where I first started hitting balls to kids I have witnessed certain examples of what I simply refer to as 'pissing in someone's pocket'. Some are funnier than others. If you are not certain what that terminology means then look it up, it's relevant in the following examples.
I once coached a kid who was showing all sorts of potential however this particular student's parents' felt obliged to send the prodigy to both my program and one other as they knew another coach in the area so why not share the love, so to speak. So they did. The kid had two coaches however as we all know in tennis this is a tough gig so eventually something had to give.
One day I get a call, " The hot shot won't be coming to your program anymore, we have been offered a 'scholarship' with .......... and we are taking it ".
Fair enough, all the best with that.
Around 18 months later the hot shot is back. "Yeah we feel that ......... is not gaining anything by being in that program and the forehand is a real issue, do you mind taking ........ back " ?
Sure, why not ? What are 'friends' for ey ?
Took me two lessons to fix the forehand technique, another few hitting sessions to refine it and a beer or two and a chat about what had transpired over the previous year and a half. 
"So how was the 'scholarship" ??!
Didn't exist.
"Surprise, surprise, no scholarship ey ? So don't tell me, a few discounted sessions, maybe a free racket, free restrings, perhaps a free trip or three thrown in as well ? Am I warm " ?
Red hot Thommo........
You see the success starved 'tennis coach' will try all sorts of things to gain clientele and the 'scholarship' idea is definitely worth a go if you are that way inclined however it also helps if you know how to actually teach the game.
For that particular child, well they left at a vulnerable age as far as tennis knowledge was concerned but during that 18 months or so of hitting tennis balls 'aimlessly' the light globe eventually went off and they worked it all out.
So to another story that was emailed to me and one I may have touched on already however we will give it another run.
Another child 'prodigy' currently receives training from someone totally different than who claims the current accolades for their recent success. In other words, 'Billy Bloggs' coaches 'Mats Nadal' yet 'Donald Duck' is on the books as the coach of 'Mats' and 'Don' receives the accolades. Why ? Well that's simple.
'Don Duck' has pulling power, so to speak and knows the right 'people', can find rackets at cost price or even cheaper and will throw in free restrings, travel etc whereas Billy Bloggs is in fact a good teacher of the game but doesn't really have a name and hasn't been to as many high profile bbq's as Don.
It's how the game works now days, it's full of the new breed who barely know how to teach a topspin forehand yet follow programs that Governing Bodies preach to them and then receive awards for their 'great work'.
I know for a fact that most tennis coaches who receive accolades on 'Awards Night' have had minimal success with their students or none at all whereas the 'real' coaches of the sport are overlooked. In fact they aren't even interested in an award, their students' successes and improvement are the only awards they require to run a successful program.
They do their own thing, usually without the help of the 'latest methods' from the Governing Bodies who think they know how to make a tennis player however all they are doing is creating clones or robots who lack the creativity of a champion.
Yes folks beware the success starved 'tennis coaches' of the World, they usually offer all sorts of things, particularly to the better players as they fail to own a tennis mind of their own so they make up for it with gimmicks and gifts.
Silly sport tennis........