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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.

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 →

From Agassi to Ljubicic: The Last 10 Tennis Pros Who Ruled at Indian Wells 3

Posted on March 02, 2011 by JA Allen

BNP Paribas Open Tennis Tournament held annually at Indian Wells.

The BNP Paribas Open, a Masters Series 1000 Tournament held annually, has a rich and storied history.

Staged at the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens, the setting is lushly picturesque with its 12 courts bathed in the warm California sun.

The tournament’s roots go back to 1976 with its name changing as often as its sponsors.

The popular tennis event, however, had its beginning at its current Indian Wells locale in 1987.

Boris Becker won the inaugural men’s tournament at Indian Wells defeating Stefan Edberg in the final 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.

Since that time this premiere tennis tournament has attracted the top players from the men’s and women’s field.

Following upon the heels of the Australian Open, the one-two punch of Indian Wells and Miami, closes the early American hardcourt season, pressing the players toward the upcoming clay season.

To date, only three players in the tournament’s history have won the event more than twice–Americans Jimmy Connors, pre-Indian Wells, and Michael Chang who won the event in 1992 and then consecutively in 1996-1997.

Roger Federer is the only player to have won the tournament consecutively three times from 2004-2006.

The question looming on the horizon remains–who will win the title in 2011? Perhaps one of the seasoned veterans will reclaim his spot at the top or will one of the new up-and-coming players demand the trophy on the final Sunday?

Read the rest of this entry →

Should Sports Stars avoid mixing business with pleasure? 5

Posted on February 10, 2011 by Rod Crowley

Romance is in the air at this time of year with Valentine’s Day falling in February, therefore it is probably worth a look of some famous sporting couples who have been successful in the love stakes and perhaps it would be a bit more fun to look at those who haven’t been as lucky as we look to answer the question whether sports stars should look to avoid mixing business with pleasure?

Former Tennis player, Chris Evert, is one sporting legend who features prominently in the failed stakes, after several failed relationships with sportsmen including Greg Norman, John Lloyd and Jimmy Connors.

Those sporting couples who have been Successful in love include…

Steffi Graf & Andre Agassi – This was a match made on the heavenly Courts at Roland Garros in Paris (where else?), which brought together arguably the greatest female tennis player of all time and one of the very best males. They were married two years or so later; they remain happily ensconsed with two children and live in Las Vegas. Steffi won a total of 22 Grand Slam titles including a Calendar year Grand Slam of all four titles in 1988, while Andre won a total of 8 ‘Slams’ including Wimbledon in 1992, the same year his wife to be won the women’s title. Agassi won a career Slam, making him one of only seven players to do so in history.

Zara Phillip & Mike Tindall – The oldest granddaughter of HM The Queen and former world eventing champion is said to be really happy following her engagement to the current England rugby captain, Mike Tindall, the hard tacking, broken nosed tough guy centre. No wedding plans have been announced at this stage but the couple do live together in Gloucestershire.

Kenny & Gabbi Logan – The former Scottish rugby union winger is said to have chatted Gabbi up in a pub in London, but obviously his chat up lines worked as he later married the daughter of former Welsh International, Terry Yorath who is currently a leading  BBC Sports presenter. The couple have been married for ten years and have twins.

Paula Radcliffe & Gary Lough – Marathon Queen Paula married her coach and former 1500 meter champion Gary Lough in 2000 and the couple have two children. They have been working extremely hard together to get Paula fit for a tilt at the Marathon in the 2012 London Olympics.

Couples who have suffered defeat meanwhile include

Kim Clijsters & Lleyton Hewitt – Once described as ‘Kylie and Jason with balls’ this engagement was doomed to failure from the start, with both players still far to committed to winning tennis tournaments rather than winning each other over. They lasted 12 months!

Zara Phillips & Richard Johnson – Royalty and Horse Racing normally goes hand in hand, Zara, daughter of Princess Anne and Richard one of National Hunt’s leading jockey’s had a well reported relationship for over three years but sadly for romantics they fell in the fourth. Read the rest of this entry →

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.

Read the rest of this entry →

The Hewitt Dilemma, and Why Grass May Solve It 7

Posted on June 10, 2010 by Rob York

After a strong showing at the 2009 Wimbledon, Lleyton Hewitt will look to repeat his success in 2010.

A good player, or even a great player, can’t avoid facing the game’s best players in the early rounds if he doesn’t improve his ranking.

But how can he improve his ranking if he keeps running into the game’s best players in the early rounds? I call it the Hewitt dilemma.

For Lleyton Hewitt, a winner of both Wimbledon and US Open titles, and the guy who spent all of 2002 at No. 1, the recent majors have been an exercise in frustration. Since 2006 he’s not only been through hip surgery, causing him to miss the 2008 US Open, but he has also faced Rafael Nadal four times at Roland Garros, none of which took place after the round of 16.

Since 2008, he’s also faced Roger Federer at the 2008 Wimbledon, the 2009 US Open, and the 2010 Australian Open. He lost no sets in lead-up to those matches with Federer, but the only set he won against The Great Swiss came in last year’s USO. He surprised more than a few when he took a set from Rafael Nadal in the 2006 RG, but won none from the Spaniard in their subsequent Parisian meetings.

The game has come a long way since the 2001-02 period, when Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Patrick Rafter’s careers were winding down, Marat Safin’s was stagnant and those of Federer, Andy Roddick, and Juan Carlos Ferrero had yet to bloom. Read the rest of this entry →

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