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Sports Then and Now



Ranking the Most Successful Male Clay Court Players of the Modern Era 1

Posted on May 17, 2013 by JA Allen

rafafrench2008Heading into the French Open, the second major of the season, most players prepare diligently for their final hurrah on clay. It remains as probably the least understood and least appreciated of the court surfaces players endure each year.

If the truth be told, players who learn to play on clay and who embrace the surface’s forgiving nature generally become better, more successful all-around players than those who learn the game on grass or hard courts.

The typical clay court player excels in patience by learning how to develop points as well as excellent defensive skills.

For a long time it seemed that some players segregated their careers by either avoiding clay altogether or by playing exclusively on the red dirt. But with the start of the Open Era and the necessity to play on multiple surfaces, some players built successful all-court games using clay court expertise as the foundation.

These male players achieved a top ten ATP ranking, a winning percentage in excess of 70 percent on clay throughout their careers—as well as double digit title wins on clay. Most also won at least one French Open, although not all.

Read the rest of this entry →

Tennis, Sun, and the Mediterranean: It Must Be The Clay Season 6

Posted on April 12, 2010 by Marianne Bevis

IMG_7777_2There’s something about the burnished, shimmering heat rising from the deep rust of a clay court that warms the spirit.

Sure, the tennis Tour started more than three months ago in the heat and humidity of the Asian Pacific swing. January hurtled through five hard-court events in the space of a fortnight on its way to the youthful camaraderie of the Australian Open. The players must feel they are on board a runaway bus, so fast and furious is January.

February, by comparison, offers an assortment of vehicles to destinations in every corner of the world.

Fancy some respite from the punishing hard courts of January? Then head for the grandeur of Latin America and take in some of the most exotic cities in the tennis calendar: Santiago, Costa do Sauipe near Salvador, Buenos Aires, Acapulco.

These courts are the closest the modern game has to traditional clay: deepest orange; little fear of rain; warm scented surroundings.

The fans who support the “Golden Swing” are enthusiastic, informed, and passionate supporters of the many South American and Spanish stars who choose to play. This is, after all, the single oasis of live ATP tennis that the continent has in the year.

Many players prefer to keep their feet on the hard, synthetic surfaces in order to maximise their preparation for the first spike in the Masters calendar: Indian Wells and Miami.

For those, there is the beating sun of South Africa, Dubai, and Florida, or the indoor protection provided by Zagreb, Rotterdam, and Memphis.

But get those March Masters out of the way, and a new atmosphere creeps over the calendar. Because April and May provide the longest, unbroken phase of the year. It’s clay or nothing right up to arguably the classiest of the Grand Slams, the French Open. Read the rest of this entry →

Clay Season Could Shuffle ATP Rankings 10

Posted on April 10, 2010 by JA Allen
Tennis - French Open

For the first time, Roger Federer enters the clay court season as the defending French Open Champion.

How do you measure the worth of a man—or, more specifically, the relative strength of a professional tennis player?

You do it by looking at their ranking points. It is simple enough.

The player with the most points earned by participating in tournaments, some mandatory and some voluntary, lets you know where this player stands compared to his peers.

Right now, the current No. 1 player in the world has 10,765 points, accumulated over the past year. But what does that ultimately mean?

Between the top-ranked player in the world, Roger Federer, and the No. 6 ranked player, Nikolay Davydenko, there are 5,430 ATP ranking points as of April 5. On Feb. 1, 2010, the spread between those same two players was over 6,000 points.

While the difference between No. 1 and No. 2 continues to hover at 3,000 points, the distance between the rest of the field in the top six shrunk dramatically following the conclusion of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami. The fallout was a true rankings dip for all the top-seeded players not named Rafael Nadal. Read the rest of this entry →

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    • George Musso: From Longshot to Hall of Famer
      August 5, 2017 | 4:52 pm
      George Musso

      George Musso

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month went from small college long shot to Pro Football Hall of Famer.

      When George Musso finished his college career at Millikin College in 1933, Chicago Bears coach George Halas offered the 6-foot-2, 265 pound lineman a tryout and eventually a $90 per game contract, but had serious doubts whether he could make the transition from small college football to the NFL.

      It took a year for Musso to adjust, but by 1935 he was an All-Pro tackle. Two years later, he moved to guard and again earned first team All-NFL honors. He became the first player in NFL history to earn first team All-League honors at two different positions.

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