2014 Coaching/Player Relationships on the ATP and WTA

I don’t know about you guys, but I am ready for tennis season to be back in full force! I am counting down the days until the Australian Open! But until then, let’s discuss some player/coach relationships as it seems like lately there has been an influx of new relationships being formed.

It’s not new to see former pros on the coaching end of things, but it seems like lately, all of our favorite players from the past have made their way back to the circuit via coaching. Brad Gilbert has worked with the best of them — everyone from Agassi, Roddick, Andy Murray to Nishikori and even Sam Querrey. Some of those relationships blossomed in chemistry, and some were duds. In 2013, we saw Sharapova hire, and quickly fire, Jimmy Connors — but let’s be honest, there wasn’t enough room on the court for those two superstars. Then there was Martina Hingis’ stint in coaching Anastasia Pavlyuchnkova…until Martina realized how much she missed the limelight and competition.

So, who do we have paired up in 2014?

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Federer and Edberg are working together in 2014 — photos by Cynthia Lum

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Victoria Azarenka’s 2013 Australian Open Gear

Victoria Azarenka Australia 2013Victoria Azarenka proved why she is the top ranked woman on the WTA Tour, defeating Li Na in three sets to win her second consecutive Australian Open title. Her tactics may be controversial, but no one can deny her heart and desire to win. Let’s take a look at what the champion was wearing during this year’s first Grand Slam.

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Vika uses the Wilson BLX Juice 100. It’s a stiff and powerful player’s frame with lots of access to power and spin, very similar to a Babolat AeroPro Drive. Our playtesters found this to be maneuverable and very forgiving, ideal for strong players looking for a little extra pop to add to their game.

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Mats Merkel: From the Australian Open 2013, Day 10

As the draw is getting smaller and smaller there are 4 matches today.

Two quarterfinals for the women and two for the men. First on Victoria Azarenka vs Svetlana Kuznetsova. A tight first set between the two where Kuznetsova was leading 4-1 but Azarenka came back to win the set 7-5.

1Victoria+Azarenka+2013+Australian+Open+Day+ZzowWJK8QqGlThen an unexpected result occurred when Serena Williams lost to Sloane Stephens in three sets 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. A great result for the young and upcoming American tennis talent! Congratulations and best of luck for the next round!

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Mats Merkel: From the Australian Open 2013, Day 9

Another great day of tennis today!

First, Na Li beat Agniezka Radwanska in a high level match. A lot of long rallies with the better end for Na Li with a score of 7/5 6/3. The former coach of Justine Henin seems to really have a positive impact on her! Li’s husband has been doing a lot of roadwork in the past years especially since Na’s former coach Thomas Hogsted switched to work with Maria Sharapova. Carlos Rodriguez, Na Li’s current coach, has been with her since shortly before the US Open 2012. You can really see that he has certain things he wants his players to do during a match. Na Li is definitely playing more offensive meaning she is going to the net or at least playing a couple of swing volleys after the opponent has been pushed into the corner.

TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Another 5 set match was played by the two Spanish players, Almagro and Ferrer. They were battling each other out there for hours. Almagro was up two sets to love serving for the match at 5/4 in the third but couldn’t serve it out. Ferrer grinded his way back into the match to win in five sets 4/6 4/6 7/5 7/6 6/2.

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Mats Merkel: From the Australian Open 2013, Day 8

Forget what I wrote yesterday about the Monfils-Simon match!

Djokovic and Wawrinka took it to another level last night! The match lasted 5:02h and they were pushing each other until the very end! A new highlight of the tournament and for sure a great victory for Djokovic but an outstanding performance!

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Tough day today for Caroline Wozniacki who lost in the third set to Svetlana Kuznetsova. The match took nearly three hours.

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We actually had a good warm up this morning. But the match started already during the warm up when Kuznetsova came about 20min earlier to warm up behind our court during Caroline’s warm up.

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Mats Merkel: From the Australian Open 2013, Day 6

Mats on court at the Australian Open

Mats on court at the Australian Open

Hello everybody!

Day 6 at the Australian Open – time is flying.

Before talking about Day 6 I would like to mention the outstanding performance of Maria Sharapova last night against Venus Williams.

Maria Sharapova celebrates winning a point during her match against Venus Williams

Maria Sharapova celebrates winning a point during her match against Venus Williams

The way she started the match and also how she handled the pressure when Venus was trying get into the match in the middle of the second set.

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Best new gear at the 2013 Australian Open

As the first week of the 2013 Australian Open comes to a close, I want to spotlight some of the great new gear we have seen introduced at the tournament. There’s tons of new racquets, shoes and apparel being released at the beginning of the year, so I want to dish out some awards to the best introductions of new swag at the first Grand Slam of 2013…

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Best men’s outfit (shirt/shorts only, no shoes):  Lotto

I’m going with a surprise in this category, but I think the new Lotto outfit is awesome. The bright yellow design is super eye-catching on TV, and they have quite a few guys still going in the draw, like Kevin Anderson, Nicolas Almagro, and David Ferrer. They are wearing the Lotto Men’s Spring Graphic LED Crew and the Spring LED Short (and Bermuda Short).  Look for this gear to become available from TW next month.

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4th Annual T-Dubbies: Year End Tennis Awards

Congratulations! We’ve made it another year. Another year that was filled with the usual: unbelievable matches, shocking upsets and ridiculous shot making. But this year was different, this year had something happen that in the past 2,011 years didn’t happen. Yup, you guessed it, this year we had Gangnam Style. You might hate it, you might love it, but either way, you know you’re singing along when you hear “heeeeeeeeeey, sexy lady.” If you are one of the very few, and I mean, very few, who has no idea what I’m talking about, do yourself a favor and click here. And since we’re on the subject of firsts in 2012, and because this is “technically” a “tennis” blog just because it’s “technically” related to “Tennis Warehouse“: Andy Murray and Victoria Azarenka both won their first Grand Slams. How about that!

Before we get to the 2012 T-Dubby awards, here is a quick recap of this past year:
- Novak Djokovic is human! But still really good. He couldn’t duplicate his unreal 2011 season but 2012 was no slouch.
- Rafa is still really good on clay.
- Rafa’s knees, in general, not as good.
- Roger Federer is still really good despite being 31 (that’s 58 in tennis years)
- When motivated and healthy, Serena is scary good.
- Blue clay is scary bad.
- Redfoo of LMFAO really likes tennis. Or really likes hanging out with tennis players. One of those.

Redfoo from LMFAO rocking the TW exclusive Gel Resolution 4 shoes

With 2013 right around the corner (or if you’re following the Mayan calendar, maybe not), let’s take a look at this year’s nominees.

Best Match
Nominees:
Australian Open Men’s Finals: Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal
It was the longest match in Australian Open history and at the end, both players could barely stand during the trophy ceremony. I remember watching the 5th set and thinking that these guys were hitting the ball harder in that set than the 1st set. This was a match that ended at 1:27 in the morning, lasted almost 6 hours and featured the score of 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5 to Djokovic. And yet, despite that all that, Novak Djokovic was still able to muster up the energy to rip his shirt off. How?! HOW?! I’m going gluten free.

Olympic Second Round: Milos Raonic vs. Jo Wilfried Tsonga
It was just a 2nd round match that featured the 5th seeded Tsonga and an unseeded Raonic. This was supposed to be a relatively win for Tsonga, who made it to the semi-finals of the last 2 Wimbledons. They exchanged sets and then the 3rd set happened. Let’s see here, the first 2 sets were 6-3, 3-6 for a total of 18 games. The 3rd set had a total of 48 games and ended 25-23 to Tsonga. That was exhausting just typing it out, let alone playing it out.

French Open Quarterfinal: Novak Djokovic vs. Jo Wilfried Tsonga
4 match points. Novak Djokovic battled off 4 match points to beat Jo Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 5-7, 5-7, 7-6 (6), 6-1. He also had to battle off a crowd that was audibly against him and for the Frenchman Tsonga.

US Open Final. Serena Williams vs Victoria Azarenka
After the 1st set, it looked like it would be another easy win for Serena Williams. But after Azarenka battled back to take the 2nd set, the match went to the decisive 3rd set, a first since 1995. At one point Azarenka even served for the match. But Serena, with the crowd behind her, and Serena being Serena, fought back and eventually won it 7-5.

Winner: Australian Open Finals: Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal

The “Wow These Guys Are Good” Award (Best Point)
Nominees
Rafael Nadal vs Tomas Berdych @ Australian Open

Olivier Rochus vs Fernando Verdasco @ Monte Carlo Rolex Masters

Roger Federer vs Novak Djokovic @ ATP World Tour Finals

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2012 Gift Guide: Andy’s Picks

This year we asked some of our knowledgeable staff to pick their holiday favorites. They picked racquet, string, shoes, apparel and one “wild card” they would like to get as gift this year. Check out the entire Staff Picks. Below, Andy explains his choices.

Racquet: Babolat AeroPro Drive GT Plus 2013

The AeroPro Drive has been the biggest surprise to me since I started working here. I’ve always been a fan of more traditional player’s racquets, but ever since I’ve picked up the AeroProDrive GT 2013 I realized it could be a perfect fit for me and for the modern game. It offers tons of power, spin and forgiveness for taking big cuts at the ball without sacrificing control. Furthermore, the new ones that are just coming out are in my opinion the best ones yet. The Active Cortex that Babolat introduced into the 2013 version makes it much more comfortable than previous versions with much better feel at contact. This is the perfect racquet for the player with a modern game!

String: Tourna Big Hitter Black 7 17g Reel

This is an absolute STEAL for a great polyester string! This is one of the best performing polyester strings on the market today. It’s soft enough to provide great comfort and feel, while also staying crisp enough for good ball grab and control. It’s also a spin monster with its seven-sided design that bites the ball like a hungry beast! And at $89.95 for a reel…are you kidding me?! Unbelievable value from the guys who bring you Tourna Grip.

Shoes: Asics Gel Resolution 4

These are my favorite shoes to wear on the tennis court, hands down. You put these puppies on, and it feels like you’re putting on a pair of slippers to wear around the house during the holidays. There’s plush cushioning all over the foot, a great fit and they’re on the lighter side (you’ll find some lighter shoes out there, but these are by no means heavy). Even with their low profile design, they have great support and stability, along with more than adequate durability (backed by a six-month outsole durability guarantee). And they look great, too, with a number of different colors to choose from! On sale at less than $100 for the holiday season, this is a must buy for the serious tennis player.

Apparel: Stick It Wear?! 2012 Men’s My Favorite Tsong T-Shirt

My boy and clothing designer Joe Durica keeps turning out stylish shirts, and this one is one of my favorites of the lot. The cotton tee is super soft and comfortable, and the design always gets comments from people when I wear it out and around. This one has a great blue/teal color and features one of my favorite pro players, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and his signature post-match celebration. Check this one out but be sure to check out all the other great designs from Stick It Wear?!.

Miscellaneous: Australian Open 2012 Final – Djokovic v. Nadal DVD

This may be the highest quality tennis I’ve ever seen played over the course of a match. More than six hours of incredible tennis, with a Grand Slam title on the line, going toe to toe in some of the most exciting baseline rallies I’ve ever witnessed. These two guys will go down as two of the greatest baseliners of all time, and their skills and hearts were on full display in this match.

Thanks for reading!

AG

WTA Blog: 2012 Year End Power Rankings

Serena Williams dominated the WTA Tour in 2012.

With the 2012 WTA campaign coming to an end, I wanted to post my end of the year Power Rankings. Just like in football and basketball, these don’t exactly follow the official rankings, but are reflective of who I feel is playing the best tennis to close the year and head into 2013. Without further ado, I give you…

2012 Year End WTA Power Rankings
Power Ranking. Name (WTA Ranking)

1. Serena Williams (3)
When she’s at her best, there’s no woman in the world that can beat her, and for the last half of the year she’s been on fire! Since her first round loss at the French Open, she’s 32-1, winning Wimbledon, the Olympics, the US Open, and the year end WTA Championships (among other titles). There’s no question she’s the best in the world as the year comes to a close.

Victoria Azarenka finishes 2012 with 69 match wins, the highest total on tour this year.

2. Victoria Azarenka (1)
There’s no debate who the second best player in the world is. Vika has dominated the rest of the tour, with a 69-5 record on the year against players that aren’t named Serena. The feisty 23-year-old from Belarus reached two Grand Slam finals this year and won one of them (Australian). Look for her to build on her best year as a pro in 2013.

3. Maria Sharapova (2)
Maria has quietly put together a very nice year, with a 60-11 record and a French Open title to complete her career Grand Slam. She also reached the finals at 7 other major tournaments this year and beat Vika Azarenka twice, the only player other than Serena to do that this year.

4. Na Li (7)
She didn’t perform well at the majors this year, but Na Li has had a nice second half of the year and given the rest of the Top 10 fits. Since the start of the summer hard court season, she’s 6-2 against the rest of the Top 10 outside of the Top 3, and took the title in Cincinnati.

5. Agnieszka Radwanska (4)
The young Pole had an excellent start of the year, and after all is said and done, is finishing the year with 59 match wins, good for 4th best on tour. She’d be higher on the list if Na Li hadn’t beat her three times since August.

6. Sara Errani (6)
The 5’4″ Italian built on her surprise French Open finals appearance and turned in an even bigger surprise semifinal appearance at the US Open. She also took home 4 singles titles and 8 doubles titles this year, along with $3 million in prize money. Not a bad 2012!

7. Angelique Kerber (5)
She’s one of three players to reach the 60 win mark this year, and the only person to beat Serena in the second half of the year. However, she’s struggled for the most part against the best, with a 3-10 against the rest of the Top 10 since the start of Wimbledon. On the bright side, this is the first year the big hitting lefty will finish inside the Top 30.

8. Nadia Petrova (12)
Ever since losing close to Maria Sharapova at the US Open (6-4 in the third), she’s been on a tear, winning two titles and posting a 12-2 record to finish the year. She’s hot and one to watch for at the beginning of 2013.

Caroline Wozniacki looks to get back into the Top 5 in 2013.

9. Caroline Wozniacki (10)
She might be better known for being the First Lady of the PGA Tour this year rather than her on-court results, but Woz has quietly closed 2012 with a flurry. Since the US Open, she’s won two titles and reached the finals of the third tournament, and is gaining momentum going into 2013.

10. Marion Bartoli (11)
The French veteran has been streaky all year, but she had two of her best tournaments at the US Open and in Beijing to finish the year. She’s been hovering around the top 10 for years, and continues to be a threat if the best aren’t at the top of their games.

Thanks for reading!

-AG