Posts Tagged ‘Nadal


Jankovic and Nadal win 2008 ITF awards.


Top-ranked Rafael Nadal and Jelena Jankovic were honored Wednesday as the International Tennis Federation’s world champions of 2008.

Nadal, who overtook Roger Federer at the top of the men’s rankings shortly after beating the Swiss star in the Wimbledon final, is the first Spanish man to receive the honor.

“It has been an incredible year for me and I will never forget all that’s happened,” said Nadal, who also won his fourth straight French Open title in 2008, beating Federer in the final at Roland Garros for the third year in a row. “To finish the year ranked No. 1 was really special.”

The 22-year-old also won the Olympic gold medal in Beijing and helped Spain reach the Davis Cup final, where the European team beat Argentina despite the absence of the injured Nadal.

“It has been a wonderful year for Spanish sport, and I am happy to have been part of it,” Nadal said.

The only other Spaniard to have won the ITF award is Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. She claimed the women’s honor in 1994.

Jankovic finished the year as the top-ranked women’s player despite failing to win a Grand Slam title in 2008—she lost in the U.S. Open final to Serena Williams. But the 23-year-old Serb still managed to win more matches than any other player on tour, and claimed WTA titles in Rome, Beijing, Stuttgart and Moscow.

“I worked really hard this year and to finish No. 1 is where I want to be and where I want to stay,” Jankovic said.

The ITF selects its world champions based on a system that includes results from the ATP and WTA tours, along with Grand Slams, Olympics and the Davis Cup and Fed Cup.

“Both (Nadal and Jankovic) are excellent ambassadors for their countries, for whom they have achieved considerable success both as individuals and in the ITF team competitions,” ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti said.

In men’s doubles, Daniel Nestor of Canada and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia were named ITF World Champions. Cara Black of Zimbabwe and Liezel Huber of the United States took the award for women’s doubles.

The ITF Junior World Champion honors went to French Open boys champion Yang Tsung-hua of Taiwan and Wimbledon girls finalist Noppawan Lertcheewakarn of Thailand. Shingo Kunieda of Japan and Esther Vergeer of the Netherlands took the ITF Wheelchair World Champion honors.

The players will receive their awards at the ITF World Champions Dinner on June 2 in Paris.

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Uncle Tony speaks out!


It’s nice to have your opinion reinforced by the respected coach and confidante of Rafael Nadal, when in an exclusive interview Uncle Tony, the man who continues to guide Nadal’s career, confirmed that it was his contention that playing on US hard courts is detrimental to a player’s health. He went on to express his own thoughts, which he was careful to point out were not Rafa’s, that it is only a matter of time before his protege sustains a serious injury. Winning the US Open is important for the number one player, but if winning means having to endure so much pain and the possibility of suffering a career ending injury, then I would prefer that he limits himself to playing matches only on clay and grass. He also commented on the highly demanding schedule Rafa has to endure. People want to see the best player, and if he doesn’t reach the final the fans who bought expensive tickets just to see him play are disappointed. If you compare him to Tiger Woods, when a patron buys a ticket to watch the US Open Golf tournament, he is assured of seeing Tiger for all four days of the event, and almost certainly in the final day when at least 50 players are on the course. But tennis is different, only two players make it to the final day of competition, and it cannot always be the same two players.

Many tennis fans forget that when the US Open was originally played at Forest Hills it was played on grass. It was many years later that the surface was changed to concrete, and it is interesting to me to hear so many American tournament organizers and coaches bitching about the inexperience of their players and their lack of competitiveness on either clay or grass courts. None of then complained when the US dominated tennis with players such as Connors, McEnroe, Sampras, Agassi, Everet and Navratalova.

The US television commentators like Dick Enberg and Mary Carillo should eat the derogatory words they continue to spout every time a Serb or a Russian beats one of their favourite sons on the unlevelled playing field of a grass or clay court, and stop berating the ‘foreign’ players who have changed the game. In a time of globalisation it may be time for the USTA to think about changing the surface of American tennis courts for something softer and less harmful to their players. The courts in Melbourne are ‘hard’ courts, but Plexicushion courts are not as hard as those used throughout the USA. With the technological advances in rackets and shoes, that has made mediocre players better, it would seem that an advance is due in the surface of the courts. Is synthetic grass a possibility? Or is the indoor carpet of several stadiums adaptable to outdoor use? Having 4 Grand Slams with 4 different surfaces is great, it establishes a winner on all 4 as someone extra special. Australia has ‘hard’, England has grass, and France has clay, it’s time the US opted for a change.

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fed-and-rafa-2The 2009 Australian Open Tennis Tournament starts in January 2009, and picking the winner in the Men’s competition should be easy if you follow the past performances of the key players. Just like Horse Racing, picking winners is all about form, breeding, and conditions. Once in a while an outsider comes along’ and everyone wishes they had bet on this long shot, but in reality the favourites win 45% of the time.
So from the Men’s draw let’s eliminate any chance of a long shot coming through. But if you want to take a risk, you might consider the kid from Argentine, Del Portro, or Tsonga, or Simon.
There’s really only four players that have a legitimate shot at the title, and theses four have separated themselves from the rest of the other players. They are of course, Nadal, the number 1 player, Federer the number 2, and the holder of so many records, Djokovic the number 3, and the defending champion, and the new kid on the block, Murray the number 4.
Follow along, take notes, and see how easy it is to pick the winner based on their 2008 past performances. I’ll make two assumptions. First is that all four players remain healthy, and do show up to play, and second is that only the results of previous meetings on Hard Courts is considered.

Nadal lost to Murray in the US Open, he lost to Djokovic in the Western Masters and the Pacific life.
Federer lost Djokovic in the Australian Open, he lost to Murray in Shanghai, and he lost to Nadal in Monte Carlo.
Djokovic lost Federer in the US Open, he lost Nadal in the Olympics, and he lost to Murray in the Western Masters, the Rogers Masters and in Cincinnati.
Murray lost Federer in the US Open, he lost to Nadal in the ATP Masters and in Toronto, and he lost to Djokovic in Montreal.

Is everybody clear now on who the winner is likely to be? Nadal of course! Are you ready to put your money on such an easy choice, or do you need more statistics? An alternative method of selecting the winner, a method I’ve used successfully in the past, is to throw a dart at the ATP rankings chart.
The Australian Open has always been the oddball of the Grand Slams. In the past many players have decided not to participate, including Nadal, but now he is Numero uno he most likely feels that he has an obligation to the sport to participate. Australia is a long way from home for all except the local players, and it is the first tournament of the season after most players have taken couple of weeks off. Some are not sharp, some are unfit, and some are simply overcome by the heat. Summer in Melbourne can be brutal, with temperatures that hover around the 100 degree mark.

NB. McEnroe has picked Andy Roddick!….but what does he know about tennis?

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2009 Grand Slam Winners?

roddick-4federer-41nadal-4Yesterday I posed a question as to the outcome of the 4 major titles in 2009. Would there be a multiple winner? Or is the competition so fierce that we will have 4 different men as winners of the 4 Grand Slams? Forgive me if I submit my own answer to my own question. In case anyone needs to be reminded the 4 tournaments that comprise the Grand Slams are the Australian Open, The French Open, Wimbedon and The US Open.
The French Open that is played at Roland Garros in Paris on red clay, has to be a given for Rafael Nadal. He is the most dominanant clay court player to ever step onto a court and there is no other player who can come close to beating him. So 1 to Rafa!
Wimbledon was owned by Federer until he lost in an epic match to Rafa in 2008. It was no fluke that Rafa won, both players were at their best, but this year Andy Murray is being touted by the British press as the potential winner. It would be a cinderella story if he won the title, the first Brit in a zillion years to win any title let alone Wimbledon, but I don’t think it will happen in 2009. Murray is not yet strong enough physically to withstand the gruelling task of winning back to back long tough 5 set matches. and with the pressure of the crowd watching his every stroke the emotional pressure might be too much for any player to handle. One player who has the game to win Wimbledon, but has failed every year so far, is Andy Roddick. He has the serve and the volleys, he has the experience, and he has a new winning coach, a man who has guided two other players to Grand Slam titles. I expect Roddick to do well in 2009, but I’m going back to Federer to win Wimbledon again. So 1 to Roger!
I’m picking Roddick to win the US Open. He won here before, and he plays his best tennis in New York. He loves to be at home, he relishes the crowd noise and the press attention, and he is less nervous than he seems to be at other venues. So 1 to Andy!
The Australian Open is wide open. Novak Djokovic will defend the title he won in 2008, when he beat Tsonga in the final. The conditions in Melbourne in January are such a change for the players who arrive from cooler climates, that just about anything can happen on the courts. The surface is not has hard as a true ‘hard’ court, but the surface temperature can rise well into the low hundreds making it tough on the feet. The winner here will be the player who has the ‘luck’ of the draw, the player who makes his way to the final without having spent all his energy, and the player who is the fittest. That player is Rafa! So 2 to Rafa!
What do you think?

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Spain’s Davis Cup Heroes honoured by el Pesidente.


Judging from the look on Rafael Nadal’s face he’s still experiencing some disbelief over his buddies win over Argentine. He was on hand to join with Fernando Verdasco, Feliciano Lopez and David Ferrer, on a day when all of Spain showered the winners with accolades and applause. It was a day when tennis took its place alongside soccer, cycling, motor racing and bull fighting, as one of the sports in which Spain has risen to become a world power, and in an event where they played without the best player in the world. Emillio Sanchez, the Spanish coach announced his retirement as the coach of the Davis Cup team, and has reccommended Alberto Costa to succeed him.

I would like to suggest that they also hire a good Italian clothes designer to make them better suits, a barber to trim their hair, and a couple of the ‘ball-girls’ from Madrid to add a little media appeal.

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