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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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Federer? Nadal? 10 Men Who Can Win the Australian Open, Part 1 2

Posted on January 12, 2011 by JA Allen

The 2011 Australian Open gets underway on Monday, January 17 in Melbourne

The Australian Open begins on Monday, Jan. 17, in Melbourne, Australia.

The draw for the first Grand Slam of the season will not be held until Friday, Jan. 14.

Until that time, no one will know who they will be facing in the first round or which potential opponents might be waiting down the road.

According to oddsmakers, Rafael Nadal is slightly favored to win the title over Roger Federer.

So what do these betting gurus know?

They know about past patterns of behavior and predictable outcomes based on certain incontrovertible factors. They know about odds of winning.

“Beating the odds” means winding up with an unexpected outcome.

This is the crux of betting—figuring out which players may beat the odds.

Nothing is a given, although based on recent history it is not unreasonable to expect either Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal to win the championship in Melbourne.

It is almost inevitable that one of them will be in the final.

But that did not happen in 2008, and who is to say that 2011 could not repeat that aberration?

According to this author’s research, following are the 10 players with the best shot at winning in Melbourne…

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Final 2010 ATP Power Ranking: Roger Federer Rules 1

Posted on December 09, 2010 by Marianne Bevis

Roger Federer captures WTF in London against Rafael Nadal.

The World Tour Finals in London brought the climax to the tennis season that most fans dreamed of.

And as a result, there will be only one story in the tennis headlines for the rest of 2010.

With apologies to the Serbian and French men now summoning up their final reserves of energy for the Davis Cup final, it looks set to be the Roger-and-Rafa show from now until the next Grand Slam in Australia.

One or other of them has topped the tennis rankings for the last seven years and, despite the occasional flurry of excitement as Novak Djokovic overtook a Federer finding his way back from illness in early summer and the musical chairs between Djokovic, Andy Murray and Robin Soderling in the closing months of the year, Roger and Rafa have opened clear water of more than 3,000 points between themselves and the following three.

Nadal—riding high on his best ever season—can now begin to see the super-Swiss in his rear-view mirror, despite remaining over 3,000 clear. Only right, then, that they should fight it out at the bitter end in a bitter London.

But below them, only 455 points separate Nos. 3, 4 and 5, and barely a 1,000 separates the rest of the top 10. These bare statistics, though, cannot disguise the drama that has surrounded the top two protagonists in the last 12 months.

Just a year ago, Nadal had the worst possible end to 2009 with three Round Robin losses at the World Tour Finals. Last week in London, he won all three, then a pulsating semi against Murray and went the distance in a show-stopping final against Federer.

In the interim, Nadal had won the “Clay Slam,” three out of four Grand Slams, claimed a “career Slam” and opened up a mammoth lead of 4,500 points in the rankings.

Meanwhile, Federer’s year slid from the heights of Grand Slam victory in Melbourne, via a lung infection in the spring, to early exits in three Masters on the bounce to players who had never beaten him before—squandering match points along the way.

He then brought an abrupt end to his record of 23 consecutive Grand Slam semis at Roland Garros. And his fall in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon was the first time he failed to reach the final since 2002.

In July, Federer dropped to No. 3 for the first time since November 2003. Within a month, though, he was back to No. 2 and on the up escalator, finishing the year with a glut of titles and points.

So the Roger-and-Rafa drama was destined to go all the way to the 2010 finishing line, as these two charismatic and charming champions first shared the major ATP end-of-year trophies and then fought for the WTF title in their 22nd match, their 18th final, but only their fourth contest in almost two years.

It was the match between the winners of 21 of the last 23 Grand Slams tournaments. And while the head-to-head odds were in the Spaniard’s favour—14-7—the Swiss had won both their previous indoor encounters, both of them at the year-end tournament.

It turned out to be a nail-biter that swung first Federer’s way, then Nadal’s, then back to the Swiss playing some of his finest tennis of the year. The win has determined the final placing of the 2010 Power Rankings and provides the perfect launch pad to the 2011 season for one of the greatest sporting rivalries of our age.

This final appraisal of the year also provides an opportunity for a review of the high-spots of the crème-de-la-crème: the eight World Tour Finalists.

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Men’s Tennis Power Rankings: Soderling Tops Them All After Paris… 2

Posted on November 15, 2010 by JA Allen

Robin Soderling of Sweden won this week's Paris Masters.

Robin Soderling, whose total tennis repertoire stole the show at the Masters in Paris, tops our Power Rankings for the very first time.

The Swede’s 2010 indoor season proved to be the best of his career, ending with his first ATP Master’s 1000 win.

Soderling, along with many of the world’s top players, fought hard throughout the Fall in order to qualify for the season-ending championships.

As the culminating event of a very long year in tennis, the eight top-ranked men in 2010 will begin play at the World Tour Finals in London on Sunday, November 21.

The eight who have qualified: (1) Rafael Nadal (2) Roger Federer, (3) Novak Djokovic, (4) Robin Soderling, (5) Andy Murray, (6) Thomas Berdych, (7) David Ferrer, and (8) Andy Roddick are almost all featured in our Power Pankings.

Only Berdych failed to make the list, suffering a bit of a slump at the end of this year.

The next question facing the tennis-loving public is—who will win the World Tour Finals (WTF) in London?

Much will depend, of course, on the draw. But with the top eight doing combat, no opponent will be easy.

Judge for yourself as you consider the following candidates:

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American Men Tennis Players Continue To Lag Behind World’s Best 5

Posted on October 03, 2010 by Rob York

Despite a disappointing 2010 season, Andy Roddick is still the top American on the men's tennis tour.

Andy Roddick’s quarterfinal appearance in the Australian Open will not be remembered as one of the finest moments in his career. He has, after all, won the US Open, on three occasions been a Wimbledon finalist, and has twice been one round further at the AO.

It was a noteworthy event for another reason: It was as far as any American advanced in any of the four majors of 2010. Sam Querrey reached the fourth round of both Wimbledon and the US Open, but got no further. John Isner won the longest match in the history of the sport at Wimbledon, but had nothing left for the next round.

It’s a far, far cry from 1995, when four Americans reached the AO semis, none of those four participated in the first round of Davis Cup and the US side went in as the heavy favorites anyway.

What happened to US tennis? Here are a few factors:

The rest of the world caught up: Globalization affects a lot more than who makes our toys, and this is evident when looking at the ATP Tour’s top 5.

Spain has a proud tennis history, but Rafael Nadal has already won more Grand Slams than any other two Spanish players – men or women – put together. Swiss Roger Federer and Serb Novak Djokovic, among their many other accomplishments, are the first men from their countries to win Slams. Read the rest of this entry →

Americans Love a Prizefight, Even When the Sport Isn’t Boxing 3

Posted on September 02, 2010 by Rob York

At the 2002 U.S. Open Pete Sampras showed Andy Roddick that he still had some game.

Tennis is one of those rare experiences that can offer that one-on-one contest of physicality, skill, strategy and endurance, and all without the combatants having to get punched in the face. Watch closely enough during this year’s US Open and eventually a match, probably in the men’s draw, will eventually be described using a boxing analogy.

But not all bouts live up to expectations, in the sense that they are not closely fought affairs that teach us about human will. Sometimes one player unexpectedly reaches a plateau where he can’t be touched, and the contest’s outcome is not in doubt.

It’s not dramatic, but it’s still breathtaking.

Drama was what tennis fans wanted to see in the quarterfinal match between Pete Sampras and Andy Roddick in the quarters of the 2002 Open. Residual memory from the previous year’s event, particularly its quarterfinal rounds, was still strong: Sampras and Andre Agassi had played the most commemorated match of their career, a four-set clash of styles that ended in four tiebreaks, neither player having his serve broken. Roddick had taken on fellow young gun Lleyton Hewitt, the eventual champion, on the next night and fallen in a tight five-setter. Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Billy Kilmer: Hard-Nosed Quarterback
      September 2, 2018 | 7:32 pm
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      Billy Kilmer

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month began his NFL career as an athletic running quarterback, but he endured a near fatal car accident to completely change his game during a career that spanned nearly two decades.

      Anyone who is familiar with former NFL quarterback Billy Kilmer probably remembers him as the portly, un-athletic, but very tough quarterback for the Washington Redskins in the 1970s. However, during his first two NFL seasons, Kilmer was primarily used as a running quarterback and running back for the San Francisco 49ers.

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