Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now


Archive for the ‘Masters tennis’


Rafael Nadal Heads The Field Into The French Open 0

Posted on May 18, 2010 by Marianne Bevis
Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates his victory over Roger Federer of Switzerland at the end of their Madrid Open final tennis match

Who would have thought it would be a year to the day before the tennis world saw another Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer face-off? And who could have predicted that it would, as it was 12 months ago, be in the final of the last clay Masters of the year, in Madrid?

The balance of power as they entered the home straight this year has, though, looked a little different.

2009 began with Nadal as world No. 1, winner of the Australian Slam, and dominant through the clay season. But by the time he reached Madrid, his months without a break had wreaked havoc with his knees and he was soon forced off the tour to recuperate.

This year, he was short of his best form in Melbourne. But with the clay came the Rafa of old. He won every tournament he entered, and this time he paced himself so that he looked, if anything, stronger and fitter with each passing week.

So the Nadal in Madrid 2010 was a stronger animal than the one Federer dominated in 2009, while the Federer on the other side of the net was only just getting into his stride following a month off the tour with illness.

Add in the extra factors of Andre Agassi’s Masters record, and the imminent French Open title to fight over, and this was destined to be a great occasion. It saw Nadal avenge his loss of 2009, and take the outright record for Masters titles: 18. And he is still just 23.

Looking beyond the Rafa-and-Roger showdown, the Spanish armada once more laid down its marker, as it has done throughout the spring.

Three of the four finalists in Madrid were Spanish, as were six of the last 16. And that’s without their fourth man Juan Carlos Ferrero and their fifth Tommy Robredo, both missing with injury.

So, not surprisingly, Federer is the only non-Spaniard in the top five this week. Who’ll give me odds against the Spanish reign continuing in Paris? I thought not. Read the rest of this entry →

Roger Federer Is Here To Stay 6

Posted on May 15, 2010 by Marianne Bevis
Switzerlands Roger Federer celebrates winning a point against Ernests Gulbis of Latvia during the Madrid Open tennis tournament

Rumors of Roger Federer’s demise in tennis have peppered the media since the early days of 2008. For that was when he failed to reach his first Grand Slam final in almost three years.

It was the Australian Open, and he fell short—in the semifinals. He would go on to win just four games in the French Open final, would lose his Wimbledon crown, and would not win a Masters title throughout the entire year.

It mattered not that he was recovering from the debilitating effects of glandular fever during the early months of that year, nor that he struggled with a back injury in the latter stages. Nor, indeed, that he had made the finals of three out of the year’s four Slams.

There was, for a brief moment, a little back-tracking when Federer won the title at Flushing Meadows for a record fifth consecutive time, before the muttering started up at his failure to pass the Round Robin phase of the World Tour Finals.

Just a month into 2009, and the clouds settled over the Federer story again. It was not so much his failure to win the first Slam of the year but that he lost it, in a long, tough final, to Rafael Nadal.

If the clay-court supremo could take the Australian title, on the surface always considered to favor the Swiss, this really did mark the handing over of the baton to the younger man, a transition to a new order.

 Read the rest of this entry →

Rome Masters Produces Another Leftie Champion: The Stunning María José 0

Posted on May 11, 2010 by Marianne Bevis
Sports News - May 08, 2010

María José Martinez Sanchez, that is, the new women’s champion of Rome. And yes, she also happens to be Spanish,  just like the male champion last week.

It’s another of those heart-warming stories that has pervaded the tennis tour in 2010.

It’s up there with Ivan Ljubicic winning his first Masters event at 31.

Or Andy Roddick reaching back-to-back Masters finals on home soil, and winning one of them, Miami, for the first time at 27.

Or Justine Henin taking the Premier title in Stuttgart just four months after her return from retirement.

Or Juan Carlos Ferrero, aged 30, reaching three consecutive finals and his highest ranking since 2004.

For the lovely Martinez Sanchez is now 27, and has just won is her first singles Premier title.

Although she had won two titles before this, both on clay, they were at International level—Bogota and Bastad in 2009. So Rome is a truly break-through moment for her. Read the rest of this entry →

World No1s Roger Federer and Serena Williams Top Rome Draws 3

Posted on April 18, 2010 by Marianne Bevis
Charity tennis exhibition organised for the victims of the Haiti earthquake before the Australian Open tennis

Roger Federer and Serena Williams bestride their respective tennis worlds rather as Everest and K2 dominate the Himalayas.

They may be just two amongst many world-beating champions, yet they remain the standard against which those others are measured.

They can be conquered by the fittest, most ambitious, most determined of individuals, just as those two mighty mountains can, but they remain head and shoulders above the rest. The rankings say it all.

Williams has topped the women’s tour since November 2009 and is currently more than 1,500 points clear of the field. Federer has topped the ATP rankings since Wimbledon 2009 and currently towers over the chasing pack by more than 3,000 points.

This is all the more striking because the two No.1s of tennis have been notable by their absence since they both reasserted their superiority over the competition on the Grand Slam stage of the Australian Open.

Take Williams. Though she is clear of the chasing pack in the rankings, she has played eight fewer tournaments in the last 12 months than the second placed Caroline Wozniacki: just 16 events. In fact only one other player in the top 20 has played fewer than Williams, and that is Kim Clijsters, who only rejoined the tour last August.

Even more remarkable, though, is that Williams has played just two tournaments this year, reaching the finals in Sydney and winning in the Australian Open. That’s just 11 matches, ten of them wins. She did add some court time to her year by playing—and winning—the doubles in Melbourne as well. But since then, she has been laid low by a knee injury, so has not played a single match since the end of January.

Then last week, Williams pulled out of the Premier event in Charleston. She was not scheduled to play at Rome either, but the good news is that she just announced she has taken a wild-card entry for the Italian Open after all.

The return will be intriguing. How will her fitness be after three months with no match-play? Will she be prepared for the sudden transition to clay after her intensive fortnight in Melbourne brought the curtain down on her hard court season? Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rusty Staub: A Man For All Ages
      April 8, 2024 | 1:26 pm
      Rusty Staub

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

      Originally signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, he made his major league debut as a 19-year old rookie and became only the second player in the modern era to play in more than 150 games as a teenager.

      Though he hit only .224 splitting time between first base and rightfield, Staub did start building a foundation that would turn him into an All-Star by 1967 when he finished fifth in the league with a .333 batting average.

      Read more »

    • RSSArchive for Vintage Athlete of the Month »
  • Follow Us Online

  • Current Poll

    Who Will Win the 2024 World Series?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...
  • Post Categories



↑ Top