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Sports Then and Now



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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Could Andy Murray’s Next Coach Be Tennis Legend Ivan Lendl? 4

Posted on March 30, 2011 by JA Allen

Andy Murray has not won on court since the 2011 Australian Open.

These days Andy Murray walks onto the tennis court a defeated man, ready to receive the next dose of humiliation.

While this does not appear to be the case on the surface, mentally Murray appears to be in no man’s land—in danger of sinking completely from sight as he begins another journey onto the porous red clay of Europe.

Since he moved into the top five in September of 2008, the Scot has remained on everyone’s radar as they waited for him to make his move to the top of the men’s game. That meant winning a major and improving his ranking.

Many expected Murray to be the next No. 1 after Federer and Nadal, lauding his considerable talent.

Since 2008, Murray has held steadfast in the top four, except for a few intermittent weeks when he dipped into the five spot. Now, however, a steady diet of the No. 5 ranking has occurred since January of 2011, with Robin Soderling seemingly ensconced in the No. 4 spot.

Since making the finals of the 2011 Australian Open and losing to Novak Djokovic in straight sets 4-6, 2-6, 3-6, Murray has not won a match. The Scot was summarily dismissed in his opening round of play against Marcos Baghdatis at Rotterdam,

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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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Will Roger Federer Become the Greatest Champion of the World Tour Finals? 1

Posted on November 03, 2010 by JA Allen

Since 2009, the WTF has been held in London.

It is a given in any sport that happens to light your fire––at the end of the season, fans need to crown a winner––the ultimate champion whose accomplishments set him, her or them above all the rest.

For men’s tennis, this event rolls around shortly in November.

The World Tour Finals, paradoxically referred to as the WTF––the latest moniker for the year-end tournament for men’s professional tennis––will be held in London for the second year. It is an unfortunate acronym, although purportedly unintentional.

Since 1970 men’s professional tennis has tinkered with the year-end tournament, finally settling on its current format in 1999 when the ATP and ITF decided not to compete with each other. At long last the guys at the top realized that competition between the governing bodies in tennis was counter-productive.

Now if they could do something equally as innovative for the Davis Cup, the tennis world could breathe a collective sigh of relief! The Davis Cup should be a premiere event instead of a lingering afterthought as it is now.

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. 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. Ironically, last year’s champion, Nikolay Davydenko will not make the field in 2010.  It is tough out there when you get injured.

So in the 40 years the championships have been held, who are the greatest champions of the event? We will count them down here.

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The Greatest U.S. Open Tennis Champions of the Modern Era 4

Posted on July 22, 2010 by JA Allen

The United States Open has hosted some of the greatest matches in tennis history.

In a another month we will be heavily invested in the last grand slam tournament of the season, the 2010 U.S Open to be held in Queens, New York, at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Last year’s winner of the U.S. Open men’s trophy, Juan Martin del Potro will not be on hand to defend his championship.  The Argentine has been sidelined most of 2010 after surgery for a wrist injury.

The question remains whether Roger Federer will reestablish his dominance in the event or if a new champion will crowned as the next U.S. Open winner.

Some believe Federer’s era has past. But most have adopted a “wait and see” attitude.  Time will tell whether the Swiss continues to add to his impressive record at the U.S. Open, moving him up the ladder on the list of greatest champions.

An examination of  the top U.S. Open champions since 1968 should focus on both the number of finals won plus the total number of final appearances.  If those totals are equal then consider the total winning percentages of the respective players.

Of all the tennis professionals who have participated in the modern era at the U.S. Open, the number of men who have multiple wins is few.  It is a very difficult accomplishment––making it to the final of a major and then winning the tournament––most of all, doing it more than once.  The following men are great champions.

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Miloslav Mecir: The Man Who Could Have Been King of Tennis 11

Posted on May 07, 2010 by JA Allen

Miloslav Mecir played tennis in the 1980s--known as the Swede Killer.

You have to admit that there is a huge difference between sultry singing in the shower and performing live at the Met to a packed house filled with critics.

This has implications beyond being able to carry a tune…and being fully clothed.

Besides the necessity of possessing outstanding vocal abilities, you would also need to overcome performance anxieties as you stood in front of an impressive audience thinking it knows exactly what you should be doing—never hesitating to point out your perceived flaws.

The same is doubly true on the playing field.

Monday-morning quarterbacks exist in all fields of endeavor. For example, the tennis player who exhibits all the talent and ability in the world must still overcome his or her own internal jitters in order to win.

This series will highlight tennis players who should have made it to the top of the game but who failed in big moments to win the most critical matches because of (1) nerves, (2) belief, (3) prolonged injury, or (4) the special category belonging to those who won a major but could never repeat the feat.

Miloslav Mecir

The “second-best” player who stands out most in my book is the Big Cat, Miloslav Mecir. The Slovak had an uncanny ability to annoy players from all corners of the globe during the 1980s, but he never made it all the way to the top.

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