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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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

There is a good chance you know someone who has fought a battle or had a scare with breast cancer. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer. Behind skin cancer, it effects the highest number of women. However, since 1989, the death rates from breast cancer have been declining as  a result of better treatment and earlier detection through screening and increased awareness. Right now, according to the American Cancer Society, there are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

3_TennisBalls_Cropped_RibbonWith all of that being said, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. People around the country, organizations, associations, brands, etc. will be working together this month to promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease, and provide greater access to services as well as raise money for funding programs and helping to find a cure. In a sport like tennis that is dominated by strong women at every level, this cause hits home for tennis players all over the world. For me, the cause is a personal one. In 2009, one of my favorite people passed from breast cancer — she was an amazing person, a mother, a grandmother, a wife, a sister, a pillar of strength, and a tennis player. Rosemary, a 4.0 player from Palm Desert, one of my Mom’s best friends and USTA teammate, and someone I considered family. Watching her battle the cancer made me realize how scary and devastating this disease can be and how it can hit anyone. Throughout it all, she kept a smile on her face and a racquet in her hand, whether it was playing when she was feeling strong, watching her granddaughters take lessons, or enjoying tennis at the BNP Paribas — Rosemary was a tennis player through it all. Sadly, in the last 5 years, the number of tennis players that I personally know that have been diagnosed with breast cancer has gone up significantly. Breast cancer has even hit the WTA when tennis legend, Martina Navratilova, an image of strength and health was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. What she described as her “own personal 9/11.”

So you can imagine why I proud that here at Tennis Warehouse, we are excited to be carrying a handful of awesome products that not only look great, but help raise funds for a great cause!
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Keeping Up With the Playtesters

I always get a bit bummed the couple days after a Grand Slam ends. For two weeks straight I had hours on end of awesome tennis to watch (good thing Davis Cup is back in action this weekend), and now football is the only thing I see when I turn on the TV (which, isn’t a bad thing, go Niners, it just isn’t tennis!). Anyway, to recap our US Open picks, my picks were knocked out by the 4th or 5th day of the US Open, while Karly and Jason were the only two playtesters who called the US Open 2013 Champions — and Tiffani was oh, so close with her Gasquet pick! This week, since I don’t have any live tennis to watch today, I decided to bug my fellow playtesters and ask them,

“Who from the WTA or ATP would play doubles with? (We already answered the mixed doubles question, so stay within your gender on this one!)”

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USONP Semis

Just wanted to let you guys know how the semi-finals of the US Open National Playoffs went for me. The way I saw it, almost all of the pressure was on him to win since he was the top seed. I have been surprised with how well I have been playing recently, and it was time to just let it all hang out and do everything I could. At the same time, I was enjoying the tournament with such a fun setting.

My opponent, Jeff Dadamo, was a #1 player at Texas A&M, and was able to win the NCAA doubles title with Austin Kraijeck. On tour, he has won a few doubles titles, as well as being ranked in the top 500 for singles. I watched him play his match the other day, and he looked good. He plays a very aggressive game, with a huge serve. Whenever he gets a chance, he will go big on the shot. He has a one-handed backhand that he is content to chip a lot, but is capable of hitting big on that wing as well. To make matters worse, he is a lefty. I knew I would be able to be in the match with him based on groundstrokes, but the keys to having a chance to win would be returning serve, playing defense, and managing my own service games with smart play.
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Keeping Up With the Playtesters…round 2!

This week’s question is a fun one. As you may or may not know, our playtesters are a competitive bunch, so check out how they answered when asked,

If you could pick anyone from the ATP/WTA to play MIXED doubles with, who would you pick and why?!

photos courtesy of Cynthia Lum

photos courtesy of Cynthia Lum

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Martina Hingis after 30

We saw her grow up right before our eyes on the WTA Tour. One thing was always certain, she had tons of talent, a beautiful game and will remain in the record books for a long time. With a resume of 43 WTA Titles, the number one ranking on the WTA, 5 Grand Slam Singles titles (3 Australian Opens, 1 Wimbledon Championship, 1 US Open title) — Martina Hingis is continuing to expand her wins on the WTA, but this time, as a coach.

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Turning 33 this September, Martina looks to be doing a great job settling into life after being a teen tennis phenom. In the recent weeks, she has been spending a bit of time a little closer to the WTA, coaching talented Russian player Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Martina, who previously was a member of the Patrick Mouratoglou Academy coaching staff, has paired with Pavlyuchenkova for her first taste of working as a full-time personal coach. The two paired up right in time for the clay season. The 21 year old Russian has had some success this year winning a title in Monterrey, but she has noticeably been struggling in the major tournaments of the year. Pavlyuchenkova has suffered first round losses in the Australian Open, Paris, Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami. Since the two have paired up, the duo has already seen some success with Pavlyuchenkova winning a title on the red clay in singles (Portugal) and doubles (Madrid).
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Day 2 at the Miami Sony Open

Hello everybody,

The players have been coming out early in the morning this week down here in Miami to escape the heat. And more importantly, so they can secure their own court to practice on and have the luxury of using a full court instead of splitting one with any of their tour rivals.

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Caroline Wozniacki practicing in Miami

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Serena Williams practicing in Miami

On Tuesday, I had a quality practice with Caroline Wozniacki on Centre Court but today even
though coming out at 8:30am she didn’t get a show court.  Even Serena Williams didn’t get centre court to practice on today when coming out at 8:30am. She was practicing out there on one of the regular practice courts with her hitting partner Sascha Bajin and her coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

 

Both Caroline and Serena will be opening up play tomorrow in Miami.  Serena will play Flavia Pennetta second on the Main Stadium, while Caroline’s first match is against qualifier Karolina Pliskova and will be third on over on the Grandstand.

Kevin Anderson is continuing to grind and work hard here in Miami. He was already hitting them big when I arrived to the site this morning at 8:15, he must have started  around 7am. It looks like he won’t officially take to the courts until Friday, which gives him enough time to adjust to the Miami heat and humidity.

Great effort by all of them.

Enjoy the Tennis!

Mats

@matsmerkel

Age means nothing on the WTA

Today has been packed full of action at the BNP Paribas.  And within minutes of each other, the oldest and youngest ladies of the tournament walked off the court in winning fashion.

American Taylor Townsend, ranked 471 on the WTA and just 16 years old, made her Indian Wells debut today.  She opened up play on the main stadium by beating Lucie Hradecka 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-3.  While 42 year-old veteran, Kimiko Date-Krumm, ranked 75 on the WTA, had a battle of her own over on court 8, coming out with a win over Galina Voskoboeva 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.

As refreshing as it is to see the youth of American tennis show up to play Indian Wells this year, it is a nice surprise to see some of the more “mature” players continue to see success on the court.  Maybe it’s the fact that I’m inching closer and closer to a birthday of my own and when I step on the court I’m quick to realize I’m not 18 anymore!  I’m years from the golden days when I spent four hours playing and training a day, my footwork has slowed down by a step or two, I find myself reaching for ice packs and heat rub more often, my aches and pains are just daily reminders that I have spent my life as a tennis player but they certainly don’t hinder me from getting on the court.  However, the best part of getting older as a tennis player is becoming wiser.  If only I knew back then what I know now!

Pair the older, more experienced players with the new technology that our game continues to offer and age quickly becomes just a state of mind!  In today’s game, players have so many more choices on racquets, strings, even apparel and shoes that will help make them to be better, faster, and stronger.  And if that doesn’t continue to help them stay competitive, the new technology we are seeing in the training world off the court continues to help athletes work more effectively, spending less time putting stress on their joints.  And not to mention the mental capacity of the veteran tour players.  Can you imagine the matches Kimiko Date-Krumm had before Taylor Townsend was even walking?!  Experience is an advantage not to be overlooked.

So no more making excuses on the court about your age – tennis is a sport for life and age is just a number!

Play with heart (and enjoy the BNP),

Michelle

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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Top story lines at the U.S. Open

The U.S. Open is only a few days away, and I cannot wait. It’s my hands down favorite Grand Slam of the year. Why? Maybe because it’s on U.S. soil, maybe because I don’t have to wake up at 4 am to watch the matches or maybe because it’s the only Slam I’ve actually attended in person. Or maybe it’s all three reasons. We like to get pumped up for these Slams by making our picks in our Tourneytopia Racquet Bracket (which you can sign up here for men and here for women). And once our picks are in, we like to do a little trash talking and friendly betting. Now I cannot fully disclose what these bets entail, but let’s just say it rhymes with nappy hour.

This year, I think there are two major storylines for both the ATP and WTA. On the ATP side, the most obvious headliner is that Rafael Nadal will not be playing because of knee issues. Which, as a Nadal fan, is very worrisome for his future, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog.

Murray and Federer should be the favorites to win the U.S. Open title.

I think the other big story is going to be Federer and Murray. No disrespect to Djokovic, but he’s been put on the back burner because of the outstanding play from the ageless Federer and from Andy “Always the bridesmaid, never the bride” Murray. Federer has been playing like the Federer of old the past few weeks, save the Olympic finals, and looks like this could be his best chance to win another Major because his nemesis is sidelined with a knee injury. And for Murray, this could be his best chance to win his first Major. Here’s why: He’s riding high from his Olympic gold medal, Djokovic is not nearly playing as well as he did last year and Murray won’t have the pressure of an entire nation on his shoulders. Which is a lot of weight considering the United Kingdom has a population of 60 million people at an average weight of 156 pounds. That equals to 9.36 trillion pounds! Sorry for the math tangent.

On the WTA side, we say goodbye to one of the great ambassadors of the sport, a truly great champion and human being, Kim Clijsters. After 41 WTA singles titles and 4 Grand Slams, Kim is walking away from the game a second time.

Kim Clijsters at the 2010 U.S. Open

And at the ripe old age of 29 (yes, that was sarcastic), this time is the last time. Can she retire on top with a U.S. Open title? There is one big obstacle standing in her way, which brings us to…..

The second major headliner? One word: Serena. Is there a more heavily favored No. 4 seed in the history of women’s tennis? Me thinks not. It seems like all the top players have been on the receiving end of Serena’s wrath lately. Just look at the Olympics. She rolled through Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 6-2 and then shellacking Maria Sharapova 6-0, 6-1. There’s nothing scarier than a healthy and motivated Serena. And believe you me, nothing motivates Serena like Grand Slams.

Serena holding up her 2012 Wimbledon trophy. Who's stopping her at the U.S. Open?

Be sure to check out more U.S. Open previews and blogs from Andy and Siobhan in the upcoming days.

Enjoy the Open!