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Sports Then and Now



Shocking Tennis Moments That I Never Expected Would Happen 1

Posted on April 26, 2017 by Aleksandra Udovenko

McEnroe-umpireTennis is full of shocking moments and memorable matches. With a full calendar of Open events and major tournaments this year, we can expect to see more madness before 2017 is over. Here is a look at some of my favorite moments in tennis history.

I like a good marathon match. Nothing beats the excitement of a tied game in which one competitor needs to win by two match points. With players so evenly matched, this format can lead to some interesting and time consuming tie-breakers.

Take the 2009 Wimbledon Grand Slam Final, in which Roger Federer played Andy Roddick for a whopping 4 hours and 17 minutes, then the longest men’s singles grand slam final in history. Federer eventually went on to win his 16th grand slam title, but it was by no means easy.

If you thought it couldn’t get any more tiring than that, then just look at the Australian Open match between Hewitt and Baghdatis in 2008. The pair played from midnight until the following morning.

In the 2010 Wimbledon Championships, a match between Isner and Mahut took a total of 11 hours and 5 minutes to play over the course of three days. The match is considered the longest in history. Legendary! Frenchman Nicolas Mahut finally went on to win the match, but how the pair survived such an intense game is beyond me.

Tennis has had some fine marathon moments and epic showdowns, but it has also suffered from bad publicity at times due to the sporadic behaviors of professionals throwing tantrums. Read the rest of this entry →

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.

Read the rest of this entry →

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.

Read the rest of this entry →

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.

Read the rest of this entry →

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.

Read the rest of this entry →

Review: High Strung: Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe…by Stephen Tignor 2

Posted on May 04, 2011 by JA Allen

By Stephen Tignor

Those of us who lived through the final hours of the Borg-McEnroe tennis rivalry in the early 1980s continue to embellish the mystique surrounding those epic matches relying upon imperfect memory and wish fulfillment.

This is because as the matches fade into history, our faint recollection of the events heighten the excitement of each pivotal point recalled.

Ultimately when Borg sinks to his knees on the war-ravaged lawn of Centre Court in 1980, we sink into the 3-inch shag carpeting in front of our console TVs exhilarated all over again.

There was nothing quite like their battles waged with wooden rackets during those two turbulent summers when It’s Still Rock’N’ Roll to Me, Workin’ My Way Back to You, and The Boy From New York City were topping the charts and we lip-synched and strutted along with the rest.

Author Stephen Tignor’s poignant rewind entitled High Strung––Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, And the Untold Story of Tennis’s Fiercest Rivalry details the denouement and climax of what many consider tennis’ most memorable rivalry.

The opening salvo comes as the brash, loud American teenager meets the cooly, serene Swede on the hallowed grounds of the All England Club in the summer of 1980––where Borg was a God and McEnroe the unwelcome American interloper.

Tignor, with colorful expressive language, mimics the highly rhythmic yet repetitive lyrics of the times. He paints his collage of those days with broad vibrant strokes, detailing most often the Borg-McEnroe rivalry.

Read the rest of this entry →

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