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The Most Dramatic Wimbledon Upsets of the Modern Era 7

Posted on June 30, 2012 by JA Allen

Kukas Rosol upset Rafael Nadal in the 2nd Round of Wimbledon

As a society, we love upsets—when the decided underdog comes up big to knock off the reportedly sure winner. It levels the playing field for that brief moment and we all feel empowered.

So, when Lukas Rosol sent Rafael Nadal home during their second round match at the All-England Club on Thursday, it marked a true upset. One of the most startling exits at Wimbledon in recent years.

As Rosol remarked in his post-match interview, Nadal is only human.

As such, even the great Nadal has some moments when he does not play his best for whatever reason pundits can determine.

For his part, Nadal had not looked comfortable at all during his early round matches at Wimbledon in 2012; but no one suspected that the world No. 2 could be defeated at this point of the Wimbledon fortnight.

As we look back surveying previous Wimbledon tournaments, determining upsets is a matter of degrees. Whenever the unexpected happens, we call that an upset.

We will use that criteria for discussing some of the greatest Wimbledon upsets in the history of the Modern Era in tennis.

The matches discussed here are listed in chronological order.

The debate about which upset is the most shocking will be saved for a later day.

Certainly this upset of Nadal on Centre Court in 2012 ranks right up there as one of the most shocking.

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Tennis March Madness: The Top 9 Who Won Back-To-Back Titles at Indian Wells & Miami 66

Posted on March 04, 2012 by JA Allen

Roger Federer won the Key Biscayne/Miami title in 2005

March Madness has its own special setting for tennis. Prior to the start of the dusty clay-court season in April, the tour swings through the States landing first in the California desert at a venue called Indian Wells before proceeding to Miami and the Sony Ericsson Open.

Both tournaments field players for a Masters 1000 for the men and a premiere mandatory event for the ladies with 96 participants in the field. Play extends over 10 days, which is unusual for a Masters Series tournament.

The BNP Paribas Open held at Indian Wells will begin March 8, 2012, concluding on March 18.  The Sony Ericsson Open will follow, starting on March 21, 2012, and ending on April 1.

For the men, multiple winners of each tournament remain relatively rare when you consider the number of participants each year.

But the true piece de resistance of the March Madness swing through Indian Wells and Miami is winning both titles, back-to-back in the same year. Surviving to win one of these tournaments is a testament to a player’s endurance, but to win both in the same season is one of the most difficult doubles of the tennis tour.

Only nine players, both men and women, have accomplished this rare feat to date. Only one man and one woman claimed the double more than once—Roger Federer and Steffi Graf.

Indian Wells

Eight men have won Indian Wells more than once.

Boris Becker (1987-1988), Jim Courier (1991, 1993), Michael Chang (1992, 1996-1997), Pete Sampras (1994-1995), Lleyton Hewitt (2002-2003), Roger Federer (2004-2006), Rafael Nadal (2007, 2009) and Novak Djokovic (2008, 2011) all captured the trophy at Indian Wells more than one time.

Only Federer and Chang can claim three titles—so far.

Seven ladies including Martina Navratilova (1990-1991), Mary Jo Fernandez (1993, 1995), Steffi Graf (1994,1996), Lindsay Davenport (1997, 2000), Serena Williams (1999, 2001), Daniela Hantuchova (2002, 2007), and Kim Clijsters (2003, 2005) have won the championship at Indian Wells.

None of the ladies have managed to win the tournament more than twice.

Key Biscayne/Miami

Locale for the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami

Only six men have won the championship in Miami more than once, although Andre Agassi managed six titles during his long, illustrious career.

Ivan Lendl (1986, 1989), Andre Agassi (1990, 1995-1996, 2001-2003), Sampras (1993-1994, 2000), Federer (2005-2006), Andy Roddick (2004, 2010), and Djokovic (2007, 2011) have all brought home multiple titles.

By the same token, eight women have won the championship in Miami more than once with  Graf and Serena Williams bringing home the most titles with five each.

Graf (1987-1988, 1994-1996), Monica Seles (1990-1991), Arantxa Sanchez (1992-1993), Martina Hingis (1997, 2000), Venus Williams (1998-1999, 2001), Serena Williams (2002-2004, 2007-2008), Clijsters (2005, 2010) and Victoria Azarenka (2009, 2011) represent the some of the best of the best in the women’s game.

But only nine players in the history of these tournaments have won both respective championships in the same year.  They follow.

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Roger Federer After Turning 30: Is There Another Slam Title in His Future? 4

Posted on February 08, 2012 by JA Allen

Roger Federer turned 30 years of age in 2011.

Turning thirty can be traumatic for any normal human being.

Some stepping over that threshold suffer overwhelming angst, knowing that Bob Dylan once swore you could not trust anybody over thirty. Seriously—at one point in the recent past, Dylan was akin to God in certain circles, causing some recently turned thirty-somethings to weep copiously over lost youth, sensing all was lost.

On the other hand, Dylan is now over 65—so surely he has learned to trust himself despite living well beyond those prophetic 30 years.

For a tennis pro today, however, reaching thirty presents a true turning point—not simply a psychological marker. The legs grow heavier and the foot, a step slower. Unerring instinct now takes a second longer to kick into gear.

For most tennis players having played for over a decade brings steady decline if not resignation, ending in retirement. Time seemingly has expired requiring shelving or recycling for the majority.

That was not always the case in men’s professional tennis.  There were some notable exceptions from bygone days when tennis players were not millionaires and fame was hard to come by.

Think of Bill Tilden who played professional tennis well into his forties. During the 1920s we can safely attest, however, that the competition taking the court against Big Bill was hardly the same caliber as today’s players. Still, Tilden helped Americanize the game, altering its path from strenuous past time to highly competitive sport.

The great and enigmatic Pauncho Gonzalez seemed unbeatable in his thirties, playing top-notch tennis well into his forties. Consider, too, that Rod Laver won his second grand slam while age 31 in 1969—at the beginning of the Open Era in men’s tennis.

Other men have been successful, winning slams  after age 30 like Roy Emerson who won the 1967 French Open title or like John Newcombe who won the 1975 Australian Open having turned 30 years of age in 1974.  Renowned Arthur Ashe won his 1975 Wimbledon title at age 32.

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The Top Ten Champions of the ATP World Tour Finals 56

Posted on November 19, 2011 by JA Allen

Roger Federer will be looking to win Title No. 6 at the WTF in London.

For men’s tennis, the season is a long one—starting in January and ending in early December with the Davis Cup finals. The ATP, however, ends its year with the World Tour Finals which get underway on Sunday.

The tournament is the crowning event of the 2011 season where the top eight man do battle to determine the champion of the champions.

The World Tour Finals is the latest title for the ATP year-end tournament for men’s professional tennis to be held in London for the second consecutive year.

The Masters year-end tournament, first played in 1970, features the top eight players on the men’s tour selected based on accumulated calendar year ATP ranking points. The top eight men draw to create two teams with members of each four-man team competing with each other in three round-robin matches.

This year in Group A are Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych. In Group B we find Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mardy Fish.

From each group, the two players with the best results move onto the semifinals where the top-ranked player from each group plays the second-ranked player from the other group.

The final is contested by the winners of the semifinal contests.  The winner of that match is accorded 1500 ranking points as well as the honor and prestige of winning in a field of the best eight players in the world.

Last year Roger Federer faced Rafael Nadal in the final which Federer won 6-3, 3-6, 6-1— giving the Swiss his fifth title in this event.  That ties Federer with Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl at five championship titles at the ATP year-end tournament.

So in the 41 years the championships have been held, who are the multiple winners of this event?  Who reigned as the best of the best at the end of the season?

We will count them down here.

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Roger Federer: How Does He Stack Up Against the 10 Greatest of All Time? 3

Posted on April 14, 2011 by JA Allen

Roger Federer wins Wimbledon in 2009.

In over a century of judging the hits and misses of men’s professional tennis, tournament rules have come and gone. Styles of play rose and fell with the passage of time.

Technology has increased speed, spin and accuracy as rackets evolved and athletes became bigger, stronger and faster.

In light of constant evolution, it becomes difficult to compare players from one generation to the next because unlike baseball, tennis has never been a game noted for rote statistics.

That is not to say the stats were not there, but as a professional organization, no one thought to keep numbers comparing players in a consistent and forward-thinking manner. Sometimes even the most rudimentary facts about a match are missing.

Even today, there is no consensus about just what statistical measures are important in judging the overall careers of the top men in tennis.

The statistics that seem to matter most currently are: (1) the number of grand slam victories; (2) the number of weeks or total length of time holding the No. 1 ranking; (3) the number of year-end tour championship wins over the best eight men in the field, and (4) the number of Master’s Shields won. Many other statistics considered important by the ATP are detailed here

This ranking looks at players of the modern era, since 1968, although a great case can and should be made for male tennis stars who played before the Open Era.

Compare Federer’s numbers to the stats of others with him in the top 10, especially those who have won slams on all surfaces.

These 10 players in the modern era have set the bar for the rest following in this 21st century.

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High Notes for the Past Ten Champions at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami 3

Posted on March 21, 2011 by JA Allen

The Sony Ericsson Open gets underway this week in Miami.

The blueprint for the Sony Ericsson Open existed long before the tournament materialized as part of the tennis landscape in the United States––more specifically in Miami.

The man who pursued the dream and saw it through to its often-complicated conclusion was Butch Buchholtz, a former tennis pro who toured with such notables as Pancho Gonzalez and Jack Kramer back in the 1960s.

On February 4, 1985 after years of negotiations with the ATP and WTA, the first ball was served in a combined tennis event called the International Players Championships sponsored by Lipton.

Tim Mayotte and Martina Navratilova were its first two winners. In fact the final featured Chris Evert and Navratilova and the stands were jam-packed.

The inaugural tournament was held at Delray Beach.

After relocating a few times, the tournament finally settled in the newly constructed Tennis Center at Crandon Park in Miami-Dade Country in 1989. In 1994 came the addition of a $20 million permanent stadium.

Andre Agassi holds the record for the men having won this title six times in his career.  The next closest male is Pete Sampras who won this title three times.  Ivan Lendl won the title twice.

Current players Andy Roddick and Roger Federer have also won this title twice.

Current top seed and top-ranked Rafael Nadal has never won the title at the Sony Ericsson Open.  Perhaps this year?

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