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Sports Then and Now

Counting Down the 15 Greatest French Open Champions of the Open Era… 1

Posted on April 29, 2011 by JA Allen

The French Open Grounds surrounding Stade Roland Garros

Thoughts now turn to the red clay of Stade Roland Garros––the next Grand Slam championship on the calendar.

The French Open begins on May 22 following the Masters 1000 tournaments in Madrid and Rome.

The French Open has often presented obstacles to many of the top players.  Pete Sampras never won on the red dirt nor did John McEnroe, although he came very lose in 1984.

Maria Sharapova could never capture this title and the Williams sisters never found the dirt to their liking, although Serena Williams did win the title in 2002 with her sister Venus as the runner-up.

In all eight men and seven women have won multiple championships since the Open Era began in 1968.

How do you measure the greatness of an athlete within their respective sport? What factors determine the degree of greatness over a period of time, be it years or decades?

Further, how do you determine who is number one in any given list or ranking?

First you must find a pattern and then you must determine the significant components of the ranking—does each factor merit being used as part of the overall equation? Sometimes it does, without question, like the score in a game. The highest or lowest score wins as in football or golf.

It is not always a simple task to determine who is the greatest because such discussions invariably have subjective components.

For this ranking, first consider the number of times a man or woman won the title.  Add in as well the number of times a player made it to the French Open finals since 1968 (Open Era) as the initial demarcation of greatness.

To be considered the player must have won the French Open more than once since 1968.

It should be noted that Rod Laver did win this tournament twice in 1962 and 1969, once in the Open Era. He also made the finals in 1968.

Roger Federer made four consecutive finals from 2006-2009, winning the title once in 2009.

That just proves how difficult it can be to win this tournament multiple times as these 15 players have done.

Read the rest of this entry →

David Ferrer Targets French Open Glory 1

Posted on April 25, 2011 by Pete South

David Ferrer hopes this is the year he can get past Rafael Nadal at the French Open.

David Ferrer must be sick of the sight of Rafael Nadal. His Barcelona Open final defeat by the world number one was his second tour final loss to that player in a week and his fifth at the hands of Nadal in his career, all of which have come on clay. In reality he should be encouraged, as any player who regularly runs into Nadal must be doing something right, as it generally means you are playing well enough to reach the latter stages of tournaments.

Those Monte Carlo and Barcelona defeats saw Ferrer push Nadal closer than most have in the king of clay’s current 34-match unbeaten run on the red stuff. He broke the champion on numerous occasions and created plenty of break points, leading 4-2 in the second set in Spain, but lacked the consistency to produce an upset.

In truth Nadal was not at his best in either match, a worrying sign for his rival that suggests a sixth French Open title is inevitable. It is certainly true that Ferrer is one of his likeliest challengers, although the calf injury he picked up in the Barcelona is a slight concern and those looking for French Open tips should bear this in mind. Read the rest of this entry →

Roger Federer Out To Prove He Can Still Triumph 0

Posted on April 13, 2011 by Pete South

Roger Federer is looking to regain his winning form.

Roger Federer is a man who knows that he has very little left to prove in the world of tennis. However, Federer nevertheless badly wants to continue to prove to both himself and his loyal fans that he is not just a good player, nor even just a great player, but instead simply the greatest player of the modern era ever to have graced the game of tennis.

With this in mind, his recent impressive form at Monte Carlo should come as no surprise to tennis fans as he seeks to continue to put in the hard yards required to become a player who can consistently perform well not only on a few surfaces, but on them all. Having already triumphed at Roland Garros in the past, the Swiss legend knows that he has never done so when his main rival Rafa Nadal has been at his very best, meaning that his previous victories can never be viewed as quite so special or meaningful as they would be in an ideal world. Those betting French Open 2011 money should remember this. Read the rest of this entry →

Which Top 20 Roger Federer Records May Never Be Broken? 2

Posted on September 02, 2010 by JA Allen

Roger Federer is used to winning at the U.S. Open

Do you remember what it felt like when Emmitt Smith hung up his cleats,  no longer hustling in the Dallas Cowboy backfield?

Or how the “Windy City” sighed when the Chicago Bears could no longer rely on “Sweetness” to gain  impossible yardage to convert on a third down?

When was it that Edwin Moses no longer dominated the 400 meter hurdles at the summer Olympics or when Michael Jordan no longer jammed the ball home for the Chicago Bulls?

You see, great athletes not only impact themselves and their teams––they have a profound influence on the game itself, and its fans.

They push the limits and stretch former boundaries as peers and competitors learn that something new is possible and follow their lead.

The longer they play, the greater their record.

Their  time to excel on the playing field––whatever its boundaries––is limited by time because no player’s athletic life goes on forever, despite rumors to the contrary brought on by Brett Favre aficionados.

Sooner or later, the athlete cannot continue to improve and if you cannot continue to add to your game, the process of subtraction begins––you began to move toward “less.”  You settle for “good” rather than maintaining “great.”

For Roger Federer, proving he is moving forward, adding to his game, means increasing the distance between himself and everyone else on tour.  He must add to his already staggering records to bounce back to glory again.

How many of these records are reachable by anyone currently playing tennis today, including Federer himself?

Can Federer himself improve on perfection??

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Roundup: What Roland Garros 2010 Means For … 0

Posted on June 07, 2010 by Rob York

Rafael Nadal won his fifth French Open title in six years.

Rafael Nadal: There was a sense going into this final that the Majorcan Mauler was vulnerable, based on the premise that he faced a player who had demonstrated the ability to beat him and whose game appeared a good matchup with his.

When he denied those four break points in the second game of the second set, retrieving huge forehands that would have won the point against pretty much anyone else, it was clear: Rafael Nadal had been saving his best for the final.

Those earlier matches when he had committed more errors than usual, had not been the usual human vacuum cleaner on defense, and had allowed less patient or less potent opponents to stick around had been by design. Nadal has learned that he can save his knees and still dominate the field here, and he has that extra gear he can find if he really needs it.

Soderling didn’t play his best in the final, but that’s why he is a very, very good player, and the Spaniard is an all-time great.

With this win, Nadal moves past Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker in the Slam count and into a tie with Mats Wilander and John McEnroe (at least as a singles player). Tennis historians may feverishly debate who is the better of that triad, but it may be a moot point soon – Nadal will have two more chances to add to his total this year. Read the rest of this entry →

Juan Martin del Potro: The Next Man Who Should be King 4

Posted on June 06, 2010 by JA Allen

Juan Martin del Potro wins the 2009 U.S. Open over defending champion Roger Federer.

The road to the top of the game in men’s tennis is not an easy one, just ask Juan Martin del Potro who upped his ranking as high as No. 5 in the world after defeating No. 1 seed Roger Federer during the finals of the U.S. Open in 2009.

Federer was going for his sixth consecutive U.S. Open championship.  The Swiss had not lost a match at Flushing Meadows since 2003.  It was del Potro’s first win over the world No. 1 in six tries.

You cannot make it to the top of the men’s game without going through Federer.  Few have done it.  David Nalbandian stood tall defeating the Swiss in 2003 at the U.S. Open during the fourth round after Federer won his first major championship at Wimbledon earlier that summer.

Gustavo Kuerten took Federer down in the third round of the French Open in 2004. Then Marat Safin defeated the Swiss in the semifinals of the Australian Open in 2005, going on to win the Championship.

Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rocky Colavito: Super Slugger
      March 30, 2020 | 7:24 pm
      Rocky Colavito

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was just the fifth player in Major League Baseball history to have 11 straight seasons with 20 or more home runs, yet could not sustain that greatness long enough to earn a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      In some sense, the legend of Rocco “Rocky” Colavito Jr. began long before he ever started pounding home runs at the major league level.

      Born and raised as a New York Yankees fan in The Bronx, Colavito was playing semipro baseball before he was a teenager and dropped out of high school at 16 after his sophomore year to pursue a professional career. The major league rule at the time said a player could not sign with a pro team until his high school class graduated, but after sitting out for one year, Colavito was allowed to sign at age 17.

      Read more »

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