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The Best Tennis Teams in Davis Cup History. 2

Posted on September 19, 2012 by JA Allen

John McEnroe and Coach Arthur Ashe, Photo from oregonlive.com

The Davis Cup competition has been in existence since the start of the 20th century. Today, it is a function of the ITF (International Tennis Federation), but its beginnings were not nearly so formal.

It began as a challenge between the United States and Great Britain to determine who had the best tennis players—the concept dreamed up by some Harvard tennis players.

One of the Harvard fellows bought the silver cup awarded annually—Dwight Davis. Therefore, the name of the tournament evolved from International Lawn Tennis Challenge to the Davis Cup after the man whose trophy was awarded to team winners.

The challenge gradually expanded to add France, Belgium, Austria and Australia in 1905. By 1920, the number of teams participating had increased to over 20 and, by 1969, to over 50.

By now, the Davis Cup competition includes 123 nations who participated in 2012. In 2007, 137 countries were represented—a far cry from the two nations who began the series.

The United States has won the trophy the most with 32 wins. Australia has won it 28 times, with Great Britain and France each winning nine times. Sweden brought home the cup seven times.

Early on, it was easier to repeat as champion because prior to 1972, if a team won the Davis Cup in the previous year, the following year, the team just had to play one tie—the final, while the “challengers” had to fight it out in zonal competitions throughout the year.

The evolution of the format has been very interesting and necessary with over 100 teams participating every year.

Throughout its long history, the Davis Cup has fielded some remarkable teams that dominated the competition for over a year—often several years.

Here are the best teams in Davis Cup History.

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Greatest Kings of the Court at Wimbledon 7

Posted on June 20, 2012 by JA Allen

Roger Federer defeated defending champion Pete Sampras in the 4th round of Wimbledon in 2001.

Since 1950, the lush lawns of Wimbledon have staged some of the greatest tennis matches of all time.

Many of those battles have been waged on Championship Sunday as two finalists faced off on opposite sides of the net to determine who would claim the vaunted title that year.

Throughout the decades the champions seemed to come in waves from Australia early on, then Sweden, the United States and lately from Switzerland, Spain and most recently from Serbia.

The twelve greatest champions of the past 60 years won multiple titles after working through the draw to reach the final at the All-England Club.

Until recently, most truly successful played serve and volley tennis—a game which seemed unbeatable on grass.

Now, however, base-liners rule Centre Court.

Base-line players supplanted serve and volleyers as the seemingly less aggressive game style dominated, enhanced by new racket technology while the grass surfaces reportedly slowed significantly.

As Wimbledon gets underway in 2012 world No. 1 Novak Djokovic hopes he will capture his second Wimbledon championship.

Rafael Nadal desperately wishes to seize his third title on the grass while Roger Federer anticipates winning the Wimbledon trophy for the seventh time and, in the process, recapture the No.1 ranking.

As usual, the Wimbledon championship is eagerly anticipated with much riding on the outcome.

See whose name is added or moved up on the Wimbledon winners list once the fortnight ends.

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The Top Ten Champions of the ATP World Tour Finals 57

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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The Ten Greatest Players Never to Win the French Open 5

Posted on May 27, 2011 by JA Allen

The French Open is the only major played on clay.

Regarded by many players as the most difficult grand slam to win, the first French Open was held in 1891. But it was not until 1925 that the tournament moved to the grounds of Stade Roland Garros.

The French Open is the only major still played on clay.

Playing tennis on clay was once deemed a special art. Roland Garros became the arena for clay court specialists.

Even today’s players utilize a particular skill set to do well on the clay court surface––which not only slows down the ball but can produce a high bounce.

It takes great patience, but learning to play on clay also provides a good foundation for doing well on all surfaces.

Winning in Paris is essential to winning a grand slam. Very often, lack of success at Stade Roland Garros has kept many a player from winning that elusive fourth major.

Few players have won a grand slam––all four majors in a calendar year. For the men, there was Don Budge in 1938 and Rod Laver in 1962 and 1969.

For the ladies, Maureen Connolly Brinker won in 1953, Margaret Court in 1970 and Steffi Graf in 1988. These three ladies all won calendar year grand slams.

Additionally, many players have won a career slam––winning at all venues during the course of a tennis player’s career.

The men who have won career slams are Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

For the ladies the career slam belongs to Maureen Connolly Brinker, Doris Hart, Shirley Fry Irvin, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Serena Williams.

Many great players have been stopped because they could not negotiate the clay.  Following are the top 10 players who could never find a way to win that elusive French Open title.

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The 20 Greatest Male Australian Open Champions of All Time, Part 1 1

Posted on January 18, 2011 by JA Allen

Roger Federer serves in 2010, winning the Australian Open that year.

It used to take 45 days on a ship to get to Australia from Europe.

For that reason, in the early days, the Australian Championships were not well-attended by players outside of Australia and, at times, or even by their own players.

But as the world grew smaller, the importance of this colorful slam down under grew until now it ranks up there with the other three, receiving the attention from the players and the media the Australian Open so richly deserves.

This year as the 2011 Australian Open gets underway, the world is focused on many fascinating tennis stories.

For example, the women will be looking to crown a new champion with the absence of last year’s winner and former World No. 1 Serena Williams.

On the men’s side, the questions center on whether Rafael Nadal will be able to complete his “Rafa Slam,” winning the Australian Open––owning all four major titles at one time.

No one has accomplished that since Aussie Rod Laver completed his own grand slam in 1969.

There is also much speculation wondering if Roger Federer, who is the defending champion, can win career grand slam title No. 17.

It would also give Federer five Australian Open Championships, which has not happened in the Open Era of men’s tennis.

Such a win would surely boost Federer higher on the list of the 20 all-time greatest Australian Open Champions.

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Classic Match: Pete Sampras vs. Boris Becker 1996 ATP Championships 4

Posted on November 17, 2010 by JA Allen

Pete Sampras Vs. Boris Becker in 1996 ATP finals.

In 1990 the ATP World Tour Championships moved from Madison Square Garden in New York City to Germany, home of native tennis phenoms Boris Becker and Steffi Graf.

New York City was vacated, bowing to the wishes of the German tennis hierarchy to move the year-end tournament to Frankfurt––offering more convenience to Europeans on tour. Madison Square Garden had served as home of the “Masters Grand Prix,” as it was then known, from 1977 through 1989.

After six years, the tournament moved from Frankfort to Hanover where it was played on carpet.  Pete Sampras entered the 1996 year-end finals as the top seed while the German Boris Becker was seeded No. 6.

No one suspected the level of drama that would unfold in the final match for the championship. The German contingent, of course, hoped that Becker would do well and make the ATP final so the stands would be packed.

So far in 1996, Sampras had lost once in nine finals, ironically to Becker in Stuttgart one month prior to this tournament. Also  of note––during the year Sampras had captured one major––the 1996 U.S. Open.

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