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Sports Then and Now



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 →

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.

Read the rest of this entry →

The 20 Greatest Male Australian Open Champions of All Time, Part 2 3

Posted on January 18, 2011 by JA Allen

No. 10 John Bromwich (Won 1939 and 1946 – RU 1937, 1938, 1947, 1948, 1949 ) 7 Finals, 2 Wins.

Another of the great Ausssie's to play the game, John Bromwich won in singles and doubles.

Born in Sydney, John Bromwich was an innovator who helped usher in the two-handed forehand.

Primarily a doubles player, Bromwich could also obviously hold his own on the singles court.

He won his first Australian Open in 1939, defeating fellow Aussie Adrian Quist 6-4, 6-1, 6-3.

After the war in 1946, Bromwich again captured the Australian Open title over fellow Aussie Dinny Pails 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 6-2. It was a hard-fought contest.

Bromwich was also runner up five times in 1937, 1938, 1947, 1948 and 1949.

In 1937 Bromwich fell to his doubles partner Vivian McGrath and in 1938 to American Don Budge.

In 1947 Bromwich lost to Dinny Pails, in 1948 to Adrian Quist and in 1949, he lost to fellow Aussie Frank Sedgman.

In all, Bromwich appeared in seven Australian Championship finals, winning twice.

No. 9 James Anderson (Won 1922, 1924, 1925) – 3 Finals, 3 Wins.

James Anderson won three Australian Open titles in the 1920s.

Australian James Anderson won the Australian Open three times in the 1920s when the tournament was titled the Australasian Championships––back in the days when not many players traveled down under to participate.

Between 1919 and 1925 Anderson played in 15 Davis Cup ties for Australia and was well-known on the tennis circuit.

In 1922, Anderson defeated Aussie Gerald Patterson 6-0, 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

In 1924, he defeated Richard Schlesinger also from Australia 6-3, 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Finally in 1925, Anderson upended Patterson again 11-9, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.

In 1927, the tournament name changed to the Australian Championships.

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The Case for Federer 4

Posted on March 03, 2010 by Rob York
Australian Open 2010 - Mens Champion Photocall

Roger Federer's records tower over those of his contemporaries.

I remember the GOAT talk starting when Roger Federer crushed Lleyton Hewitt to win the US Open in 2004, his third major of that season. His contemporaries, Hewitt and Andy Roddick, were clearly not equipped with the tools necessary to stop him, or even to slow him down. He struggled more on clay, but it seemed only a matter of time until he figured that out.

Still, I remember thinking that the field would inevitably evolve to catch up with Federer, at least slowing his progress if not stopping it. To an extent that has happened; Rafael Nadal proved a long-term impediment to Federer’s goals of winning in Paris, while Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro appear more imposing adversaries than Hewitt and Roddick did.

Yet Federer endures, now with wins at all four majors and 16 total Grand Slam titles, two more than any other player in history. Is there any legitimate metric left to deny him the title of the greatest ever? Read the rest of this entry →

Great Men of Tennis: Rod Laver, the Modest Rocket 10

Posted on February 03, 2010 by Marianne Bevis
Rod Laver was the greatest tennis player of his era and some believe the best of all-time.

Rod Laver was the greatest tennis player of his era and some believe the best of all-time.

A new series for a new year, and this time we take a look at the men who have left an indelible mark on tennis. This companion piece to ‘Queens of the Court’ begins with possibly the greatest of the ‘Great Men of Tennis.’

It is the name that—eventually—no one argues about. In the debate about which man is the greatest of all time, Rod Laver is invariably the yardstick.

Even those who never saw him play, who have only heard tell of his achievements, bracket him with Pete Sampras and Roger Federer, with Don Budge and Pancho Gonzalez, with Bill Tilden and Jack Kramer.

Were it not for the five-year hiatus before the arrival of the Open era, most believe that Laver would have put the big “GOAT” question beyond argument. For if he had remained an amateur and so been allowed to play in the 21 Grand Slams between 1963 and the Australian Open in January 1968, who knows what Slam target Federer might yet have to reach?

In the years either side of that five-year “black hole,” Laver notched up 11 singles titles. He was in his prime, reaching his full potential. Read the rest of this entry →

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