Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



Novak Djokovic Carves His Own Spot in Tennis Lore 0

Posted on July 14, 2015 by Dean Hybl
Novak Djokovic lifted the championship trophy for the third time at the 2015 Wimbledon.

Novak Djokovic lifted the championship trophy for the third time at the 2015 Wimbledon.

With his ninth tennis grand slam championship, Novak Djokovic has now separated himself from some of the greatest tennis players of all-time and seems to be on a path for even greater heights before his journey is complete.

In an era where Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have clearly distinguished themselves as historic champions, Djokovic has been that irritating pebble in the shoe that has kept both of those stars from achieving even greater success.

His victory over Federer in the Wimbledon final marked the second straight year he has defeated the 17-time grand slam champion in the finals. He also has a 3-4 career record in finals against Nadal.

Clearly the number one player in the world, Djokovic will now set his sights on the U.S. Open, a tournament in which he has reached the finals five times. However, he has not won the title since 2011 and last year failed to reach the finals for the first time since 2009.

Having passed Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Fred Perry and Ivan Lendl, who each won eight grand slam titles during their careers, Djokovic now aims to become just the eighth player in history to reach double digits. He will match Bill Tilden with his next victory and then would aim for Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg, who each won 11 grand slam titles.

While Djokovic will focus on growing his grand slam trophy collection at Wimbledon and then next year in Australia, you know that in the back of his mind is the French Open where his surprising loss to Stan Wawrinka kept him from reaching the career grand slam. Read the rest of this entry →

5 Things I Will Not Miss Now That the 2012 French Open is Finally Over… 33

Posted on June 12, 2012 by JA Allen

Bad weather was a constant in week 2 of the 2012 French Open

It was thrilling to watch Maria Sharapova capture her first French Open title, garnering a career grand slam, sinking to her knees on Court Phillippe Chatrier.

The French Open represented the last jewel in her grand slam tiara, having won titles at Wimbledon, Flushing Meadows and Melbourne.

Equally as compelling was Rafael Nadal’s resurgence to capture his seventh French Open Crown.

These were two of the great moments of the tournament.

Yet, of all of the grand slam tournaments held throughout the tennis season, the least favorite for this avid tennis fan and author, is the French Open. Watching matches on the grounds of Stade Roland Garros leaves one feeling gritty and drained.

Viewers must endure unending, painful encounters on the red dirt where the participants grunt and grumble—often an induced by-product of countless strokes ending when one of the players runs out of gas.

Held annually in Paris, there is normally about as much mystery concerning the outcome of the men’s final as there was when Columbo prowled crime scenes looking to uncover the guilty party.  In the end there was never any doubt but that the rumpled, bumbling detective would figure out “who done it!”

The only time since 2005 that the winner of men’s final has ever been in doubt was when Rafael Nadal was not playing—which happened once in the past eight years.

So who needs to watch it, you ask?

Rafael Nadal tortured Novak Djokovic for four sets during the 2012 French Open.

Unless you are some sort of a sadist who gets your kicks out of seeing how inept Nadal can make the guy on the other side of the net look—just watching the scores blink by on your computer screen is good enough.

As for the ladies – making the French Open final has been a crapshoot from start to finish since Justine Henin retired from the sport in 2008. This fact alone makes it much more exciting than the men’s draw but fifty times as frustrating.

Talk about parity! There is parity in the top 50 in the women’s game when it comes to the slams since Serena Williams suffered her foot injury in 2010.

Perhaps Sharapova’s rise to the top of the rankings will mark the end of this current trend.

As for the French Open itself—here are five things no one will miss.

Read the rest of this entry →

The Best Ever: Rafael Nadal Wins His Seventh French Open Title 11

Posted on June 11, 2012 by JA Allen

2012 French Open Final - Djokovic vs. Nadal

This year’s French Open men’s champion had much riding on the outcome.

Rafael Nadal entered the grounds of Stade Roland Garros to defend his only Grand Slam title of 2011.

Diminishing Nadal’s tennis aura throughout 2011 was the Serb Novak Djokovic who needed to win this title in Paris to complete his career grand slam—just as Roger Federer attempted in 2006 and 2007 when Nadal turned the great Swiss back, denying him his due.

No other man in the history of the Open Era has dominated a surface more than Rafael Nadal on clay.

Greatest of his achievements on the red clay, however, have come on Court Phillippe Chatrier where Nadal has suffered defeat only once since 2005.

Nadal’s journey to seven Grand Slam titles on the clay has been one of almost total domination starting back when the World No. 2 was a teenager…

Read the rest of this entry →

Will Federer and Nadal Continue To Dominate at Tennis Grand Slams? 0

Posted on December 31, 2010 by JA Allen

Federer and Nadal have met in three times in Wimbledon finals.

By now tennis fans are so used to the status quo that anytime Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal does not win a slam, the airwaves crackle with speculation.

Since 2003 Roger Federer has won 16 slam titles. The Swiss began with one title in 2003 at Wimbledon and ended with one title in 2010 at Melbourne, averaging almost three a year in the intervening years.

The news is usually when Federer is NOT in a grand slam final. He has won four Australian Open titles, one French Open championship, six titles at Wimbledon and five consecutive titles at the U.S. Open from 2004-2008.  He had appeared in 23 consecutive semifinals until Robin Soderling stopped that record at the French Open in 2010 during the quarterfinals.

Twenty-four year-old Rafael Nadal who won his first French Open title in 2005 has now won five titles at Stade Roland Garros. In 2010 Nadal captured a career grand slam when he won the U.S. Open for the first time.

In addition to five French Open titles and one U.S. Open championship, Nadal has captured Wimbledon twice in 2008 and 2010 and the Australian Open once in 2009.  Nadal owns nine grand slam trophies.

That leaves little room for anyone else.  This iron grip on majors is quite unusual in the history of the sport.  True, other players have dominated, but not for such an extended period. If we look back at the years since the Open Era began, you begin to see how extraordinary the dominance of the current No. 1 and No. 2 ranked players has been.

Read the rest of this entry →

Pillars of Roger’s Career: Federer Bounces Back In Emotional 2008 U.S.Open Victory 2

Posted on February 12, 2010 by Marianne Bevis

UPI POY 2008 - Sports

The series “Pillars of Roger’s Career” looks back at key matches in the evolution of the mighty Roger Federer.

As the tennis telescope turns towards Flushing Meadow at the end of August, the world sits comfortably on its axis, and turns at its designated 24 hours a day. Roger Federer is No. 1 in the world, holds the Wimbledon title, and has broken Pete Sampras’ grip on the Grand Slam record.

Rewind 12 months and this was precisely the scenario that had been predicted for last year’s US Open. Except that, by August 2008, Federer had lost his No. 1 ranking, lost his Wimbledon title and had many commentators doubting whether he would ever reach that elusive 14th Grand Slam. The earth had, for tennis aficionados, tilted out of true.

Federer’s losses had begun, unexpectedly, at the very start of 2008, the first surprise being his capitulation of the Australian title. A subsequent diagnosis of glandular fever explained the result but did not silence the few who had begun to question his hunger.

While Federer continued with the required tournaments and ATP commitments, he was clearly not himself. Rafael Nadal was eating away at his ranking points, Novak Djokovic was celebrating his first Slam victory and further Masters success. Other rising stars were also picking Federer off—not least Andy Murray.

So the year went on, with a shocking defeat at the hands of Nadal in Paris, and a heartbreaking loss to the same adversary at Wimbledon. Most ominously, he made early exits from the key hard-court Masters leading into Flushing Meadows.

So the pressure could not have been higher nor the expectations lower for the four-time U.S. champion’s bid to equal the 80-year-old record of Bill Tilden. Read the rest of this entry →

Roy Emerson: Master of the Grand Slam 5

Posted on January 13, 2010 by JA Allen
Roy Emerson was the first men's tennis player to win 12 Grand Slam titles.

Roy Emerson was the first men's tennis player to win 12 Grand Slam titles.

The best tennis had to offer chased this man for over 30 years. In 1967, Aussie great Roy Emerson won his 12th Grand Slam singles title at the French Open Championship against countryman Tony Roche.

After years of Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, and a legion more, no one equalled this mark until Pete Sampras tied Emerson’s single Slam total at the Wimbledon Championships in 1999.

The American surpassed Emerson, winning his 13th at Wimbledon one year later in July of 2000. As far as Sampras was concerned, when he took the U.S. Open title in 2002, winning his 14th and final Grand Slam victory, the record was his hopefully for another 30-plus years.

Sampras, however, was passed by Roger Federer in 2009—a mere seven years later, again setting his new record on the fabled Wimbledon lawns. Federer currently holds 15 Slam singles titles.

Emerson, born in 1936, was part of the Australian golden era of men’s tennis in the the late ’50s, ’60s, and early ’70s. During this reign of supremacy, no one contributed more to the aura of Aussie domination than Roy Stanley Emerson—a farm boy from Blackbutt in Queensland.

Considered “tall,” Emerson, at 6’0″, towered over his contemporaries, which would not be the case today. According to his biographers, who tout his milking regimen as the reason for his astounding wrist strength, being a farm boy also served its purposes.

The truth is that Emerson—“Emmo” to his friends—was sublimely fit, as he trained hard to go the distance. He loved the challenge and rigors of five-set majors. His results in Grand Slam finals show his fitness served him well.

On court, Emerson preferred to serve and volley, but he could adapt his game to any surface—as he proved by winning the French Open twice during his career. Opponents feared his quickness, his ability to cover the court and his volleying skills.

Emerson typified Aussie spirit with his never-say-die attitude, his love of partying and his simple belief that once you took the court, you were fit enough to play—no excuses allowed.

Emerson “went the distance” 28 times in Grand Slam finals, winning 12 singles titles and 16 doubles. The Aussie holds the record for the total number of Grand Slam championships for men. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Follow Us Online

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Bulldog Turner: Two-Way Star
      November 12, 2017 | 8:52 am
      Bulldog Turner

      Bulldog Turner

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was a two-way star for the dominant Chicago Bears teams of the 1940s.

      Though Hardin-Simmons College in Abilene, Texas was not known as a football power, legendary head coach George Halas could find great players anywhere and chose Clyde “Bulldog” Turner with the seventh pick in the 1940 NFL Draft.

      Read more »

    • RSSArchive for Vintage Athlete of the Month »
  • Sign up for Email Updates

    Sign-up to get daily updates of all the great articles and information on Sports Then and Now.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  • Check out the best free bets at freebets4all. Learn how to convert online bookmakers free bets into guaranteed cash using the matched betting technique.

  • Affordable Satellite TV Great prices on Dish network packages.

  • Gear up for your next trip with new North Face Backpacks from SportsUnlimited.com. Shop great Field Hockey Sticks from Grays & Gryphon.

    Football Jerseys

    8mm film to digital
  • Current Poll

    Who was the best NFL Quarterback in the 1970s?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...
  • Post Categories



↑ Top