Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now

21st Century at Wimbledon: Roger Federer and the Williams Sisters Rule the 1st Decade 4

Posted on June 28, 2010 by JA Allen

Roger Federer has dominated at Wimbledon in the past decade. Last year he defeated Andy Roddick in the final.

In the first decade of the 21st Century the sport of tennis saw rapid improvements in racket technology, in preparation and conditioning of players and in style of play on the courts of Wimbledon.

As the courts slowed, players began to find success on the baseline, staying back and dictating play.  Serve and volley in its traditional form faded in effectiveness.

No longer were the middle of courts torn up as they were when players planted themselves close to the net.  Now the baselines, the back of the courts, became chewed and bare as the tournament progressed.

Roger Federer who won his first Championship in 2003 would find himself in the last seven championship matches of the decade, winning six of them.  The Williams sisters would find themselves in eight finals, winning all eight.  Roger Federer, Venus Williams and Serena Williams dominated play on Centre Court during the last decade.

Take a detailed look at the Wimbledon finals of this first decade of the 21st Century year by year.

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Women’s Top Seeds All in Action Monday at Wimbledon 3

Posted on June 26, 2010 by JA Allen

All of the women's top seeds will be action on Monday in the Round of 16 at Wimbledon.

If you have any plans for Monday, put them aside because the ladies at Wimbledon have set a most appetizing table to lure you to their courts, away from the normal more masculine fare.  To call it “Blockbuster Monday,” is to minimize its significance.

The match-ups are staggering, some significant enough to rate as “finals” in most years.  The ladies round of sixteen at Wimbledon, unfortunately, will be blended with the gentlemen’s.  As is too often the case, the ladies will no doubt be overshadowed by their male counterparts since the media selects what will be covered.  This is not meant to discount the men, but the scope of the ladies’ matches is beyond comprehension.

Here are the matches you need to witness front and center:

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The French Open 2010: Punchlines and Pundits … 3

Posted on May 30, 2010 by JA Allen

The Tennis Channel as well as ESPN and NBC offer coverage of the 2010 French Open

In case you have not been paying close attention, the French Open is underway at Stade Roland Garros in Paris. This event, like most tennis majors, is best seen live—which only goes to prove that you must have money to follow tennis as a dedicated and deserving fan.

The predictable patter emanating from broadcast booths follows a familiar pattern, filling the airwaves with online personalities making their typical forecasts and touting the usual analysis replete with the most probable winners.  We watch on our tiny screens as the same top-seeded players go through their paces, generally walloping their lower seeded opponents in the early rounds.

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France’s Aravane Rezai Takes the Top Spot in Tennis Power Rankings 1

Posted on May 21, 2010 by JA Allen

France's Avarane Rezai defeats Venus Williams the final at Madrid.

The ladies prepare to do battle on the red clay of Stade Roland Garros as the 2010 French Open begins on Sunday. Questions abound concerning which players are fit to play––fully recovered from injuries mentally and physically.

Further which top players are peaking at just the right moment? Who will ride the wave and find herself standing on Court Philippe-Chatrier for the final match on June 5th.

The Power Rankings will give a clue as to which players are on top of their games at just the right time––to help us see who has the right stuff to make it through to the French Open finals.

The draw will be out soon––until then, here are the latest Power Rankings for the ladies.

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Kim Clijsters and Venus Williams Battle For Supremacy In Miami Masters 3

Posted on April 02, 2010 by Marianne Bevis
Venus Williams of the United States

Two Grand Slam champions: two former world No. 1s: two of the most likeable women on the WTA tour. And both Kim Clijsters and Venus Williams will be hoping to reclaim the Sony Ericsson Open title. It should be a blockbuster.

The stats alone make the mouth water.

They have both won dozens of titles: Williams 43 and Clijsters 36.

This will be their 12th meeting in nine years, and Williams leads Clijsters by just six wins to five.

Four of those match-ups have been in finals, and in those they share the honors at two apiece.

Both women, too, are enjoying something of a renaissance.

The Clijsters story, leaving tennis to marry and become a mother, only to return as an unranked player and win the 2009 U.S. Open, is the stuff of Hollywood.

She has not played in the Miami event since 2007, and has not won it since 2005. On that occasion, too, she was making a comeback from injury. She was unseeded, beat four of the top six seeds, and did not lose a set on her way to the title.

Williams has won the Miami title three times before, but this would be her first in nine years. What’s more, it would mark her third consecutive title of 2010, following victories in Dubai and Acapulco. By reaching the final, Williams has achieved a match-winning streak to 15, and the last time she did that was in 2004.

So the stage is set for a real crowd-pleaser of a final, which also raises the small question of just who the record-breaking numbers of fans will support on Saturday. Read the rest of this entry →

Miami’s Tennis Brings Technicolor Thrills To The Hard Court Climax 2

Posted on March 31, 2010 by Marianne Bevis
Sony Ericsson Open - Day 8

The Florida Keys at the height of spring simply burst with “weather” in all its drama.

Hot sunshine alternates with breezy outbursts. The coastal winds kick up the odd storm, then die away to leave air so heavy it presses like a saturated sponge on the forehead.

Residents and visitors alike can take to the sea, or sink beneath the waving palms, indulge in every sport known to man, or simply sit back and soak in the atmosphere.

The Miami Sony Ericsson Open, the second of the two giant Masters that bestride the early hard court season and the late spring of clay, is in full swing.

It is surely the brightest and breeziest tournament of the year: the sprightly allegro before the transition into the adagio of the second movement on clay.

Crandon Park, home of this popular tournament, is bright and breezy in the old fashioned sense, too. It wears its heart on its sleeve, burgeoning with primary colors, Mexican waves, and more diversions from the tennis than you can count.

Perhaps it is the humidity—touching 90% at its halfway point.

Perhaps it is the ebullience of the Latin American fan-base, here to support a wide field of south American players.

Perhaps it is the temperature, soaring from a night-time in the 50s to a daytime approaching the mid-80s.

Or maybe it’s the uncertainty of what tomorrow will bring: thunder and lightning or cloudless skies.

Whatever it is, Miami seems to live for the moment.

For some players, though, the moment was quickly gone. Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Earl Morrall: The Perfect Backup
      November 16, 2019 | 10:46 am
      Earl Morrall

      In a career that started in 1956 and ended in 1976, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was never really a leading man, but he seemed to be part of the supporting cast for many huge moments in NFL history.

      The second overall pick in the 1956 NFL Draft out of Michigan State, Earl Morrall joined a San Francisco 49ers team that already included the famous “Million Dollar Backfield” of Y.A. Tittle, Hugh McElhenny, Joe Perry and John Henry Johnson.

      Morrall started four games during his rookie season, but just before the start of the 1957 season was traded along with guard Mike Sandusky to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for linebacker Marv Matuszak and two first-round draft picks.

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