|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on March 2, 2016 at 12:25 AM||comments (0)|
Former No.1 Venus Williams published her thoughts on returning to the BNP Paribas Open for the first time in 15 years for the Players Tribune....
One month after she officially announced her intent to return to the BNP Paribas Open for the first time since 2001, seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams wrote at length about her decision and close bond with her sister, World No.1 Serena Williams, in the Players Tribune.
"Being the big sister," she said, "I didn't take that responsibility lightly. I knew what she was going through - debuting as a professional tennis player, growing up in front of a camera, entering public life as a young black teenager - and I knew how hard that could be. And I knew how much I would have loved to have had a big sister on tour during my first year, and how much pride I took in the knowledge that my little sister had me. Serena always has me."
Venus and Serena had stayed away from Indian Wells for nearly 15 years following an ugly incident that left both sisters, who were still in the nascent stages of their careers at the time, feeling profoundly unwelcome in a sport they loved.
"I remember the pain of my knee injury, and how badly I wanted to play in the semis against Serena - before finally accepting that I wouldn't be able to. I remember the accusations toward me and my sister and our father. I remember the crowd's reaction, as I walked to my seat, during Serena's match in the final. And I remember how I couldn't understand why thousands of people would be acting this way - to a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old, trying their best.
"There are certain things where, if you go through them at a certain age, you simply don't forget them."
Serena's decision to come back last year led Venus, who has long fought against injustice - as evidenced by her work in engineering equal prize money at Wimbledon - to do some soul-searching of her own, inspired by her younger sister's choice to not only forgive, but to return to a place that had caused them both such pain.
"It was in that moment, seeing Serena welcomed with open arms last year at Indian Wells, that I think I fully and truly realized what being the big sister means. It means that, for all of the things I did first, and all of the times when I paved the way for Serena, the thing I can be most proud of is this time -- When Serena paved the way for me."
By : David Kane
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on October 23, 2015 at 11:25 PM||comments (0)|
P.S. Courtesy of Getty Images
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on June 7, 2015 at 12:35 AM||comments (0)|
After coming from a set down in four of her six matches to get to the final, Serena Williams survived another three-setter against Lucie Safarova for her 20th Grand Slam title....
PARIS, France - After surviving her toughest ever path to a Grand Slam final - four times in six matches she had to fight back from a set down, even coming within three points of defeat in one of those matches - Serena Williams survived another three-setter against giant-killer Lucie Safarova to win her third Grand Slam title in a row, and the milestone 20th Grand Slam title of her career
Safarova was having the tournament of her life, powering into her first Grand Slam final without even dropping a set, taking out a pair of former champions - Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic - en route.
Meanwhile, Williams was having the fight of her life time and time again en route to the final, having to rally from a set down four times in six matches, her closest call coming in the fourth round as she was three points from losing against inspired WTA Rising Star Sloane Stephens serving at 1-6, 4-5, 0-15.
And she wasn't out of the woods yet. It looked like it was going to be an easier day at the office for a while - after just over an hour on the court Williams found herself up a set and a double break at 6-3, 4-1, even going up 40-15 in that game - double game point for a seemingly unstoppable 6-3, 5-1 lead.
The match turned in a big way from there. Safarova dug out of that double game point and ended up winning five of the next seven games to push the second set to a tie-break, and after she raced through that tie-break, she raced out to an early 2-0 lead in the third set - Williams was in real danger.
But like she's done so many times in her illustrious career there was one last fightback left, and the No.1-seeded Williams won six games in a row to edge the No.13-seeded Safarova, 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-2.
An elated Williams spoke to the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd afterwards - in French.
"It got really complicated today," Williams said. "I was getting a little bit nervous, and Lucie was just playing great. She was a magificent opponent. She was playing very aggressive and she had no fear.
"To win my 20th Grand Slam title at Roland Garros is very special for me because I haven't always had the most success here. I want to thank all of the fans - it's just a dream that I've won this title."
And when asked to say a few words to her fans at home in English? "Everyone watching back home, thank you for all the support. This is just a dream for me. I love you, I love you, I love you - thank you!"
Williams is the third player in tennis history, male or female, to win 20 majors, after Margaret Court (24) and Steffi Graf (22). And she's the first player to win the Australian-French Open double since 2001 (Jennifer Capriati).
Source:- WTA Tennis
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on May 21, 2015 at 9:05 AM||comments (0)|
PARIS, France - Roland Garros is the stage for some of the best tennis fashions of the year, with WTA stars turning heads with bold, pioneering and confident statements - and this year will be no different, with former World No.1 Ana Ivanovic set to dazzle in the adidas Roland Garros Y-3 Collection.
Together with adidas we created something that did not exist before and completely projected the future," said Yojhi Yamamoto, who helped create the collection. "My desire was, and is, to make sportswear elegant and chic. adidas is a very personal inspiration to me - it enriches my creative life."
The summer flower print was painted by hand in Japan for the main Y-3 collection in Spring Summer 2015. Yamamoto's spirit and love for Paris, the history of Roland Garros and the functional sporting expertise of adidas all fit together to make this the right project to introduce Y-3 to the tennis court.
And Ivanovic embodies all the qualities of the adidas Y-3 Roland Garros Collection: she's bold, with one of the biggest forehands on the tour and an incredible fighting spirit; pioneering, as the first player representing Serbia to win a Grand Slam title and reach No.1 in the world; and confident, especially at Roland Garros, where she captured that first Grand Slam title in 2008 and subsequently rose to No.1.
Source:- WTA Tennis
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on April 27, 2015 at 7:55 AM||comments (0)|
Angelique Kerber battled back from the brink of defeat to beat Caroline Wozniacki, conquer the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix and keep her clay court winning streak alive....
STUTTGART, Germany - It wasn't easy, but Angelique Kerber kept her perfect start to the clay court season alive Sunday, edging Caroline Wozniacki in a nail-biter to win the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.
Kerber and Wozniacki had played some phenomenal tennis to get to the final - they were responsible for taking out the Top 2 seeds en route to the final, Kerber taking out No.1 seed Maria Sharapova in the second round and Wozniacki outlasting No.2 seed Simona Halep in an almost-three hour semifinal.
And they brought out their best tennis again on Sunday, with Wozniacki drawing first blood by taking the 32-minute first set, 6-3, then Kerber retaliating with a runaway 25-minute second set, 6-1.
There was all kinds of drama in the third set, with Wozniacki jumping out to a 3-1 lead, then Kerber catching up to 3-all, then Wozniacki again leaning ahead 5-3, and coming within two points of victory at 30-15, but again Kerber digging out of it, breaking to get back on serve then holding for 5-all.
In the end Kerber's momentum was just too strong, and she managed to win the last four games of the match to close out the No.4-seeded Dane after two hours and four minutes, 3-6, 6-1, 7-5.
"It was small things today that made the difference," Wozniacki told the crowd. "I had 5-3 in the third set and 30-all, and it could have gone both ways, but she took her chances and it went her way.
"We're great friends, we hang out a lot and practice a lot together, and it's always nice to play a friend in a final. You obviously want to win, but if you don't win, it's still nice that your friend does."
"A few days ago I said clay is actually not my favorite surface, but right now I think I will change my mind," Kerber said. "I've played very well on clay the last few days and weeks. I feel good that I have had so many matches on clay, and now I'm looking forward to the next tournaments before Paris.
"Of course I'm a little bit tired - I've had a lot of matches the last few weeks, and also a lot of travel. So that's why I'm for sure taking the next few days off, just relaxing a little bit before I go to Madrid."
Kerber is now 11-0 since the tour switched to clay a few weeks ago, and this is her equal-biggest title too - she also won Premier titles at Paris [Indoors] in 2012 and Charleston two weeks ago.
Source:- WTA Tennis
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on April 6, 2015 at 7:10 AM||comments (0)|
Novak Djokovic celebrates his fifth win in Miami....
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic claimed a piece of tennis history on Sunday at the Miami Open presented by Itaú.
With his seventh straight win over World No. 4 Andy Murray, the Serb captured a fifth crown in South Florida and became the first player to complete the Indian Wells – Miami title sweep three times. He also joins Roger Federer as the only player to accomplish the feat two years in a row.
The 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-0 win marks Djokovic’s third triumph over Murray in 2015, including victories in the Australian Open final and the BNP Paribas Open semi-finals. He now owns an 18-8 FedEx ATP Head2Head record over the Scot.
"I'm trying to enjoy the moment and also utilise this time of my career where I'm probably playing the tennis of my life, and I'm feeling confident and physically fit," he said. "I'm trying to use that. That's what I'm thinking about right now... I am aware that this cannot go forever. There is going to be eventually a change of generations, some players that are going to start playing better and be stronger."
The first set of the final was anything but straightforward, with both players tallying two breaks each before Djokovic clinched the tie-break. Murray temporarily turned the tide, taking the second set with a break at 5-4. Ultimately, Djokovic's momentum, a culmination of his recent performances against Murray and his stellar start to the season, was too much for the Dunblane native to overcome in the final set.
"It was just a physical battle between the two of us that play similar game," Djokovic said. "We haven't served that well, so we haven't had that many free points, as a matter of fact. With first or second serves, we needed to earn every single point, to work for it. That's why this particular match was very tough."
The 27-year-old top seed converted on five of 18 break points en route to the two hour, 36-minute triumph, maintaining a perfect 33-0 record after winning the first set in Miami. Even with a 6-0 final set, Djokovic won just seven more total points than his opponent.
"I just have to try and keep working hard and see if there are a few things I can do differently, which might help," Murray explained. "It's tough, because it was obviously pretty brutal conditions out there. He was stronger than me at the end, for sure."
On Monday, Djokovic will tie Rafael Nadal for the sixth-most weeks at the summit of the Emirates ATP Rankings (since Aug 23, 1973) with 141. With 4,000 points separating him from Federer at No. 2, he has set himself up well to finish at World No. 1 for the fourth time in five years.
With his victory on Sunday, he is just one ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title short of Federer's total of 23. Nadal leads the pack with 27 trophies at that level.
Source:- ATP Tennis
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on April 6, 2015 at 7:00 AM||comments (0)|
First two tournaments, first two titles - Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza continued their dream start together, adding the Miami Open title to their BNP Paribas Open title....
MIAMI, FL, USA - They were in a lot of trouble early on, but Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza battled back to beat Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina on Sunday to win the Miami Open doubles title.
The No.2-seeded Makarova and Vesnina came out strong, storming out to a 5-2 lead, but the No.1-seeded Hingis and Mirza came alive from there, reeling off eight games in a row - even staving off a set point - to surge ahead, 7-5, 3-0. They barely looked back to close out the Russian pairing, 7-5, 6-1.
"The most important thing is that we never stopped believing we're a great team," Hingis said of the early deficit. "They played a great set to get us to that position, 5-2 down. Then we just tried to stay in there and get our chances. We just built on every point, which is what we did well last week too."
The Swiss-Indian duo talked about how an on-court coaching visit helped them turn it around.
"Today the coaching really turned it around - your dad came on court," Hingis said to Mirza.
"We just tried to keep telling each other to enjoy the struggle," Mirza said. "Last week everything came very, very easily to us - we didn't lose more than four games in a set. Over here we were down, and we were panicking. It was like, 'Oh my God, we're not playing well.' We just weren't used to that.
"But it's good to fight through those matches and believe, and come out now and be like, 'At 5-3 I was gutsy to hit a big serve,' or she made a huge move at 5-4, if that makes sense. So it's good."
It has been an absolute dream start for Hingis and Mirza - the two Premier Mandatory events in Indian Wells and Miami were their first two tournaments playing together. They're now 10-0 together, and even more impressively, they haven't lost a single set along the way - they're 20-0 in sets together.
Hingis now has 43 WTA doubles titles to her name, which matches the 43 WTA singles titles she's won in her career. Meanwhile, Mirza took home the milestone 25th WTA doubles title of her career.
Both teams will also make big moves up the Road To Singapore doubles leaderboard, the year-long journey to the doubles event at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. Makarova and Vesnina will go from No.2 to No.1, while Hingis and Mirza will go from No.9 to No.3.
Source:- WTA Tennis
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on March 12, 2015 at 7:25 AM||comments (0)|
Rafael Nadal is back in sunny California to make his 11th appearance in Indian Wells. And while many things have changed in the past decade, even Nadal marvels at the fact that the top four seeds at the 2015 BNP Paribas Open are the same four names that have dominated the men’s game for so long.
“It’s pretty amazing what has happened in the last 10 years,” Nadal told the media on Wednesday. “The same players are achieving almost everything. That is something that I think has never happened in the history of our sport.
“Novak [Djokovic], Andy [Murray], Roger [Federer], myself…it’s something special. It’s something that is finishing. I don’t know if [it will happen] in one, two, three, four years, but for everybody it finishes. Hopefully we created a good example for the next generations.”
The three-time Indian Wells champion and current World No. 3 credits his upbringing for his longevity.
“When I was a kid, I didn’t feel that pressure from my family,” said the 28 year old. “I didn’t feel that I was only focused on tennis. I was playing tennis, football, going out with my friends. You have time to be a professional in the future.”
Nadal, who claimed his first title of the season just weeks ago in Buenos Aires, has undoubtedly made the most of his time at the top of the sport. In addition to his family support, he has an inner circle he trusts implicitly.
“I give my team the flexibility to say the right things to me,” said the 14-time Grand Slam champion. “If I am playing terrible, they are not scared to say [that] to me. Sometimes the teams around the big stars of sport are scared to say things to the player. That hasn’t happened with me, and that helps.”
Source:- ATP Tennis
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on February 1, 2015 at 7:15 AM||comments (0)|
Martina Hingis and Leander Paes celebrate capturing the Australian Open mixed doubles title....
Leander Paes and Martina Hingis clinched the Australian Open mixed doubles title on Sunday.
Paes, contesting his 25th season on the ATP World Tour, and Hingis defeated defending champions Daniel Nestor and Kristina Mladenovic 6-4, 6-3 in the final.
Paes has now won 15 Grand Slam championship titles – eight men’s doubles and seven mixed doubles. It was his third mixed triumph at Melbourne Park, having also won in 2003 (w/Martina Navratilova) and 2010 (w/Cara Black).
“It’s a great honour to keep coming back to Australia,” said 41-year-old Paes. “There are a few people who got us together. All you guys back home, who put us together to win our first Grand Slam, thank you.
“It's a treat to play with Martina. I finally managed to learn some things from her returns and returned half decently today. It's intriguing."
Paes and Hingis took a 3-0 lead, but Nestor and Mladenovic’s I-formation caused problems and they soon levelled the scoreline. At 4-5, a backhand drive volley error by Mladenovic gave Paes and Hingis a set point opportunity on Nestor’s serve. He struck a double fault to end the 29-minute first set.
Nestor and Mladenovic broke Hingis for a 2-1 lead in the second set, but Mladenovic was broken in the next game. Net errors by Nestor paved the way to hand Paes and Hingis a 4-2 lead, but Nestor regained his rhythm on return of serve to break Hingis again. Mladenovic was broken in the eighth game and Hingis went on to seal victory with a smash winner.
“I think we even grew with every match – the confidence, the teamwork, the suggestions we had, one or the other, we really trust each other,” said Hingis. “I think that was the key in every match.”
Paes and Hingis converted five of their seven break point opportunities, hitting 19 winners and committing just 11 unforced errors for victory in 62 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
Former World No. 1 Hingis also won the Australian Open mixed doubles title in 2006 (w/Mahesh Bhupathi).
Source:- ATP Tennis
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on January 11, 2015 at 7:30 PM||comments (0)|
Sporting immortality long assured, Roger Federer has added another jaw-dropping achievement to one of tennis’ greatest careers.
By lifting his 83rd tour-level title at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp today, Federer joined a very exclusive club.
The Swiss followed in the footsteps of Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl as the only players in the Open Era (since 1968) to have reached the 1,000 match wins milestone.
The feat reflects dedication, commitment, longevity and, most importantly, desire.
“To be the best, year-after-year, takes a good team of support with coach and trainer,” says Pete Sampras, a six-time year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, who recorded 767 match wins. “It’s having to play through times when you aren’t playing well and trying to find a way to win those matches you have to win.”
Connors conjured through intensity; his fun came from the battle, and he became the first to achieve the feat in early 1985. He retired with a record 1,253 match wins. Lendl, the father of modern tennis, who out-psyched and dictated, got to the mark at Basel in October 1992.
“You work hard and prepare hard to play consistently,” says Lendl, who notched 1,071 career match wins. “I remember when I played over 100 matches per year in the 1980s and never thought about it. Obviously, getting to 1,000 wins is more difficult than it seems. It’s really rare. But I looked at it as a by-product of winning so many matches and being consistent for that long.”
Both Connors and Lendl, like Federer, combined a relentless hunger and consistency that have become the hallmarks of modern professionalism.
Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall, who both recorded more than 1,000 match wins in their careers during the amateur, pro tour and Open Eras of the sport, are certain as to the reasons why Federer has been able to consistently beat the very best.
Laver, who won 200 titles during a 24-year career, insists that it is because of Federer’s “anticipation, strategy and fitness, along with being able to play on all surfaces.”
“By staying healthy and injury free, you can stay in good shape,” says Rosewall, who competed globally from 1951 to 1980. “He maintains his desire to play, because he loves to compete. For what he has achieved, Federer competes with a lot of pressure. He is one of the icons of tennis.”
Physically unchanged since his ATP World Tour debut at Gstaad in 1998, the lean Swiss has also continually evolved as a player to stay ahead of his rivals and at the top.
Just take Federer’s decision in late 2013 to hire one of his childhood idols, Stefan Edberg. Laver believes, “Stefan has been a great help, giving Roger a little more confidence at the net, and where to place your volleys.” Federer looked to improve an under-used aspect of his game in order to prolong his record-breaking career.
At 33 years of age and with two sets of twins to look after, he shows no signs of letting up. He remains a standard-bearer for excellence and is followed by example. In 2015, his 18th season as a pro, he continues to make sporting history.
By : James Buddell
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on January 10, 2015 at 7:10 AM||comments (0)|
Victoria Azarenka, in the studio of a Los Angeles artist doing her portrait....
LOS ANGELES — It was almost 2015, and Victoria Azarenka was parked in her sleek sport utility vehicle on a Beverly Hills street with the rain drumming on the windshield as she spoke about how it felt to no longer be above the rest, to be ranked No. 31 instead of No. 1.
“It’s just a number,” she said slowly and quietly. “If I thought that, hey, No. 31 is how I feel and this is me, there would be a problem. But that’s not it. I know what I’m capable of. And I don’t need to say it. I just need to do what I want to do.”
What Azarenka wants to do is return to tennis’s ruling class, where she was firmly entrenched in 2012 and 2013, winning consecutive Australian Opens. She scrapped and shrieked to the top of the pyramid, and she demonstrated the rare ability to walk on court against Serena Williams with her chin up and her shoulders back, clearly believing that she could prevail.
After the two met for their second-straight three-set United States Open final in 2013, Williams’s coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, said, “Serena and Victoria Azarenka, they are above the rest.”
But Azarenka, 25, also wants to return to the circuit with a more frank and true-to-herself attitude after a season foiled by injuries and the painful end of her romance with the singer Stefan Gordy, better known as Redfoo.
“I did get my heart broken; I really did,” she said. “I’m over it, but it was broken. And I’m not afraid to admit that it was, but it’s life.”
She said she cried a lot last year, but she sounded as if she has gleaned a lot on her way to a brighter place: making new connections and deepening others, spending Thanksgiving in November with the big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton, his wife, the star volleyball player Gabrielle Reece, and their daughters on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
Azarenka played only 24 matches in 2014 primarily because of foot and knee injuries, missing most of the first six months of the season. She reached just one final and ended her season after losing in the second round in Tokyo in September.
If she does not have another good run at her season-opening tournament this week in Brisbane, Australia, where she reached the final last year, she risks not being seeded at the Australian Open. But as her latest unwanted break from the game comes to an end after three and a half months, her coach, Sam Sumyk, says she is finally pain free.
“I think her motivation is pretty good, but I don’t want to get too excited or say too much,” Sumyk said. “Because at the same time last year, I thought 2014 would be a great year for her. All the lights were green. And look what happened.”
What happened in the first month of the season was a painful inflammation in her left foot. Sumyk said she later developed plantar fasciitis in the same foot, followed by tendinitis and a knee problem.
“I pushed, and I pushed last year, which was not smart,” Azarenka said. “Because it was rushed decisions and part of it was I didn’t trust my own intuition sometimes.”
Azarenka was often prepared to second-guess herself during a several-hour interview conducted in her car, at a raw-food restaurant she chose in West Hollywood, and in the downtown studio of James Haunt, a pop artist she met via Instagram who is working on her portrait. But on balance her mood was much more upbeat than regretful. She was open, curious, occasionally profane and often reflective, picking her words carefully and proving much more willing to linger over sensitive topics than in previous encounters.
“I think the toughest part is to admit that you weren’t O.K.,” she said of 2014. “Somebody asked me at one stage, ‘Are you depressed?’ And I said: ‘Are you kidding me? I’m not depressed.’ But you know what? I was. I was, but I just didn’t realize it, because all these things happen, and you just don’t know how to deal with emotions.”
Reeling and searching for an outlet, she started to paint last May and began to cry in one of her first sessions. She said she put down the brush and smeared paint on the canvas with her hands.
“Just doing weird stuff; I didn’t know what I was doing,” Azarenka said. “I was upset, and I was lazy, and I just wiped my hands on my shirt, just everything on my shirt, on my pants. And I woke up the next day and had a meeting in this restaurant with Nike people, and I didn’t feel like dressing up. I just put on that shirt and those pants, and I come into the restaurant. And the Nike people, they’re like: ‘Oh my God, that’s a cool shirt. Where did you buy it?’ ”
Learning to Speak Out
Azarenka was born in July 1989 in Minsk in Belarus shortly before it declared its independence from the Soviet Union. From a close family of modest means — she said eight people shared a small apartment — she left home in her early teens to train briefly in Spain and then extensively in the United States, where she lived in Arizona with the Russian hockey star Nikolai Khabibulin and his family.
It has taken Azarenka time to embrace the open approach to communication that often prevails in the West.
“I had to learn all this stuff, because it doesn’t come naturally,” Azarenka said. “With somebody from a pretty closed country, you don’t get it. You don’t get that you need to speak out and how to express your feelings.”
Her parents and extended family remain in Belarus, where they are building a new house bought with her winnings. Azarenka remains a resident of Monaco but is finishing work on a residence in Manhattan Beach, Calif., an affluent Los Angeles suburb where her coach, Sumyk, and her agent, Meilen Tu, who are married, live a Frisbee throw from the ocean, and where Maria Sharapova has long had a home.
Sumyk, a 46-year-old Frenchman from coastal Brittany, loves the ocean, works out regularly with Hamilton up the coast in Malibu and likes to mine non-tennis influences to enrich his coaching. He has consulted Maurice Greene, the former Olympic sprint champion, and Olivier de Kersauson, a leading French sailor. Sumyk introduced Azarenka to Hamilton, whom she calls “one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met.”
Azarenka described Sumyk as her life teacher, not just her coach, and she is adamant that there is too big a gap between her image and reality.
Public perception of Azarenka has been shaped by a number of factors. Among them: her relentless shrieking during rallies; her combative and once much more tempestuous demeanor on court, and her occasional prickliness and defensiveness in interviews.
“Deep down inside, I know I’m a very good person,” she said. “I’m a sensitive person. I have a kind heart, you know, but I’m a fighter on the court and a competitor in life, so just to understand that and accept that can sometimes be really difficult.”
Sumyk said, “We could play cards right now, and she just wants to kill you.”
He turned to Tu and added, “Both of you are going to make lasagna, and she’s going to want to make the better lasagna than you.”
Azarenka attributed this in part to genetics and in part to conditioning, pointing to her early tennis days in Minsk.
“I started with 40 kids in the hall where you are just hitting against the wall, and if you miss the ball you wait for five minutes to hit another one, so you better make it,” she said. “My first year I didn’t even see the tennis court. My second year, we were on the court three times a week with 25 kids for one hour. That’s all. The rest is me going and hitting against the wall and imagining myself playing on the big arenas.
“When I see these kids 6 years old with a private coach and at 7 they have a fitness coach, I’m like, ‘Aw, come on.’ At 12, it’s for sure they will lose all the interest in tennis because they do not interact with other kids.”
Her reputation has also been shaped by her lengthy injury timeout in her 2013 Australian Open semifinal victory over Sloane Stephens. The timeout drew accusations of gamesmanship, although Azarenka insisted that she was truly hurting, unable to breathe properly because of a rib problem that was causing her back to seize up. She did not help her cause with her postmatch assertion that she “almost did the choke of the year.”
Bring that match up, even in passing, and Azarenka is quick to wince, still quick to deny any intent to cheat but also newly critical of her communication strategy, saying she should have addressed the topic once and left it there instead of giving dozens of interviews in an attempt to control the damage.
“It maybe looked over-rehearsed when you do it 40 times,” she said.
She said that she might have been treated differently if she had been American or Australian, and expressed particular irritation with some commentators suggesting the Stephens affair had not troubled her before the final against Li Na.
“They have no idea what I went through those two days,” she said, her voice never rising. “They had no idea how much I cried those two days. They had no idea that Sam came to me in my room and he brought me wine and said, ‘Vika, I think you may need some wine because you are stressed out.’ ”
She went on to win the title, which Sumyk considers her most impressive performance in light of the circumstances, but which did not succeed in endearing her to the Australian Open masses, who greeted her with ambivalence in her return last year.
A Matter of Motivation
What might happen next remains a mystery, particularly after a season when Williams remained No. 1, but when new talent like Eugenie Bouchard and Simona Halep rose to considerable heights and Azarenka’s longtime friend Caroline Wozniacki resumed being a big factor after her breakup with the golfer Rory McIlroy.
“I think it’s great,” Azarenka said of Wozniacki’s resurgence. “Because we were both in Monaco when her situation happened and everything with me happened, and we were just having dinner and crying on each other’s shoulders.”
The women’s game has its share of nightmarish injury tales. Dinara Safina, a Russian once ranked No. 1, had her career cut short by chronic back problems.
But there are also more heartening comeback stories, including those of Williams and Rafael Nadal, both of whom returned to No. 1 after significant layoffs because of injuries or ailments.
Azarenka remains 3-14 against Williams, but she beat her twice in 2013, and their duels in the United States Open finals in 2012 and 2013 — both won by Williams — were two of the most intense and magnetic women’s matches of late. But Azarenka, who looked ready to finally rival Williams, has yet to regain her momentum since the 2013 Open defeat.
“I do think Vika can become No. 1 again and win Grand Slams,” said Antonio van Grichen, who coached Azarenka for five years before Sumyk took over in 2010. “She has the tools, and if she’s healthy, at the end of the day it only comes down to motivation. If it’s there for her, she will be there again.”
Azarenka insisted that her trademark fire had not dimmed, saying, “Honestly, I’ve never been that motivated in my life before as I am now.”
That might be tough to believe, given that she started as a hopeful among many in Minsk; given how many outside plans, projects and paintings she is mulling; and given how mellow she sounded and how comfortable she looked as she tackled big subjects while navigating the freeways and back streets of Los Angeles with the smartphone balanced on her knee providing GPS assistance.
“I always think about how far I have come,” she said, eyes on the road. “It’s a dream. But I never take it for granted.”
By : Christopher Clarey
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 17, 2014 at 6:40 AM||comments (0)|
Agnieszka Radwanska and Urszula Radwanska took part in the charitable Noble Box project for the sixth year in a row - this year they helped two families in need...
Agnieszka Radwanska and Urszula Radwanska kept a charitable December tradition going recently, taking part in Szlachetna Paczka - or Noble Box - for the sixth year in a row.
Every year through the Noble Box project, volunteers go door to door throughout the year compiling a database of families in need, asking them what would help ease the pressures of the holidays. Then, for a three week period in November and December, donors are given a list to take with them to the supermarket, where they fill a shopping cart with the food, clothing and more to donate to them.
This year the Radwanskas helped two families from Krakow. The first one was a family with five kids under a desperate financial situation - their seven-year-old son is autistic and needs expensive treatment and therapy, and the father recently lost his job because he was driving him around to hospitals. Additionally, the mother recently had an accident that has been limiting her mobility.
The second family is a single mother and her seven-year-old son. The mother divorced her husband because he was abusing her - they recently moved out of the center for abused mothers into their own tiny apartment, and she's been working as a cleaner, but she's also still fighting depression.
Needless to say, the Radwanska sisters' help was in need - and they were happy to come through.
"We join the Noble Box project every year to help people who really are in need," Agnieszka Radwanska commented. "We believe that the Noble Box project can change people's lives, and it's really nice to be a part of it. It's a great joy to make others feel happy, at least for a little while."
The former World No.2 and Wimbledon finalist also enjoys shopping with her sister.
"I always try to buy gifts with my sister Ula," she said. "Two heads are better than one."
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 14, 2014 at 7:15 AM||comments (0)|
In the latest edition of GQ France, World No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is a far cry from the tennis court as he models the best of winter coats and jackets in a 10-page spread.
For Tsonga, who has always been interested in fashion, it was an exciting chance to work with the creative team at GQ and an opportunity he relished.
"For me, it's something positive," said Tsonga during the photo shoot in Paris in October. "I'm really happy to do that and be on the other side as a man. Sometimes I'm able to buy magazines like GQ.
"I like to dress fashionably, it's great. I think GQ is the best magazine for me in terms of fashion for men. It's very cool and I'm very happy to do some photos for them."
The 29-year-old Tsonga compiled a 36-19 match record in 2014, highlighted by winning his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in Toronto, beating Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Grigor Dimitrov and Roger Federer in succession.
He also finished runner-up in Marseille (l. to Gulbis) in February and recorded his 300th match win during the Internationali BNL d'Italia in Rome.
View Tsonga's GQ Photo Shoot : http://www.atpworldtour.com/Media/Photo-Landing.aspx?q=Tsonga%20GQ%20France
Source:- ATP Tennis
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 4, 2014 at 3:35 PM||comments (0)|
Rafael Nadal has been named the 'Favourite Son of Mallorca' in a ceremony attended by his girlfriend, Xisca, and family members at the Consell de Mallorca.
"I appreciate being a Mallorcan," said Nadal, who is the 11th person to receive the award. "The first thing that I do when I'm playing in other countries, whether I win or lose in the tournament, is to seek for the fastest way to go back to Mallorca."
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on November 27, 2014 at 6:40 AM||comments (0)|
BRADENTON, FL, USA - Maria Sharapova had a magical moment with one of her toughest fans recently, surprising 10-year-old cancer survivor Sunny Logan with a hit at the IMG Academy.
Logan, who began playing tennis at age five and started competing at age eight, had been diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma, a rare cancer of the lymphatic system. With the help of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, she overcame the disease, and began hitting the courts again - and she was surprised with a dream trip to hit at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
What came next for Logan, who had already overcome the unthinkable, was, well, another unthinkable.
"We had been talking about her all day - she was on the hall of fame board, and they had pictures of her everywhere," Logan told The Today Show, referring to her favorite tennis player, Sharapova.
"I was hitting some serves and then I turn around, and there she is. And I was just speechless.
"I did not know what to do."
"Is this Sunny?" Sharapova said when Logan saw her. "I heard there's this incredible tennis player playing on center court here. I'm Maria. It's very nice to meet you. Can I get a hug?"
Sharapova then stepped it up. "So do you want to hit some balls with me?" she said.
Watch Sharapova and Logan hit - and Logan's interview with The Today Show - at the top of this story.
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on November 24, 2014 at 7:35 AM||comments (0)|
Roger Federer added to his growing legacy on Sunday in Lille, guiding Switzerland to its first Davis Cup title with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 victory over France’s Richard Gasquet.
The Basel native’s humility was on display as he reflected on the achievement following the match. For Federer, it was a team effort.
“This one’s for the boys,” said the 33 year old. “This is not for me, this is for them.”
He and Stan Wawrinka teamed to clinch the doubles rubber on Saturday after Wawrinka earned the first point of the tie with a four-set win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Federer admitted that while the title was important, it does not mark the final piece of the puzzle in his illustrious career.
“Everybody worked incredibly hard to get me match ready and Stan has put in so much effort over the years and played an unbelievable weekend. That’s what gave me the opportunity today. I’m very much aware of that.”
Coupled with a run to the final at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, the victory gives Federer considerable momentum in his quest for 1,000 match wins. Currently at No. 996, he will vie for the milestone at the season-opening Brisbane International presented by Suncorp in January. The 2014 runner-up to Lleyton Hewitt, he would clinch the feat with a run to the title.
Federer caps an impressive 2014 campaign, eclipsing the 70-match win threshold in a season for the sixth time and capturing five titles in 11 finals. His maiden Shanghai Rolex Masters crown in October gave him his 23rd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy and he would return to World No. 2 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time in 17 months.
Last week, the Swiss made a record 13th consecutive appearance at the season finale, where he reached his ninth final. Additionally, his 17 wins against the Top 10 are the most since 2007.
“I’m unbelievably happy,” added Federer. “It’s an amazing feeling to be celebrating with my friends. It was just a great match, great atmosphere, a beautiful weekend for tennis… I’m happy I was able to stay calm and play a good match when I had to and I’m happy for all the guys on the team.”
Source:- ATP Tennis
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on November 2, 2014 at 10:40 PM||comments (0)|
Novak Djokovic won match No. 600 on Sunday in Paris, claiming his 20th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown as well....
As the finishing touches were put on the 2014 ATP World Tour regular season at the BNP Paribas Masters, it was apropos that its World No. 1 would write the final chapter in thrilling fashion.
On Sunday at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy, Novak Djokovic became the latest player —and 23rd overall— to claim 600 match victories, powering to his 20th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Milos Raonic. The new father capped an impressive season for the 600 Wins Club, becoming the third player to join the exclusive group in 2014, alongside Lleyton Hewitt and David Ferrer.
At just 27 years old, six years younger than Hewitt and five behind Ferrer, achieving the milestone is a testament to Djokovic’s consistent run of dominance since crashing onto the scene in the late 2000s. A fearless competitor, the Serb’s ascent to the summit of the ATP World Tour has not been without its share of struggles, but it has been the Belgrade native’s strength in the face of adversity and warrior mentality that has made him one of the elite players in the modern era.
“I think that the 600th win for Novak came in the right moment, just a week after his son was born and a week before London,” Serbian rising star Dusan Lajovic told ATPWorldTour.com. “Along with pushing to secure the No. 1 spot to finish the season, it's a great week for him, that's for sure.
“Winning 600 matches [in singles] is something nobody from our country did before, and even though we are all accustomed to Novak making new records it's an incredible thing to win that many matches. It's also a big boost for us younger players to work even harder.”
"It's amazing how quickly he reached the 600 wins," added countryman Nenad Zimonjic, who has amassed 624 doubles match wins over a 19-year career. "He's had a very impressive career from his first professional win. He improved every year and keeps improving and that's why he's at No. 1 right now."
Djokovic competes with a flair for the dramatic that is embedded in the fabric of his identity. A 46-time titlist on the ATP World Tour, good for third-most among active players (Federer, Nadal), he boasts a defensive-oriented game that has dominated in an era of titanic servers and baseline bombers. The Serb is an elastic wall at the back of the court that defies the laws of physics, relying on a seemingly impervious transition game to win matches.
“He’s remarkably consistent on every surface and I think he’s taken movement and flexibility to a whole new level," former World No. 4 Brad Gilbert said to ATPWorldTour.com. "He has the best backhand in this era and the best since Andre (Agassi).”
“Djokovic has got that art of sliding on cement,” Rod Laver commented during the 2013 Shanghai Rolex Masters. “Scares the hell out of me. I would think you could sprain an ankle very quick.”
One of the more relentless returners in history, Djokovic owns a 45 per cent career break point conversion rate, tied for second-most all-time. Like an orchestra conductor leading a symphony, very few can match Djokovic’s wit and brute force from the baseline, often dictating rallies with one of the most lethal backhands in the game.
Upon beating Djokovic at the Australian Open earlier this year, Stan Wawrinka said, "He's so tough to beat. He's an amazing champion. He always fights. He always finds a solution."
Djokovic has found a second home atop the Emirates ATP Rankings since first ascending to World No. 1 on 4 July, 2011. Boasting a 145-25 record while in the top spot, his 118 weeks there are the seventh-most in history. A two-time year-end No. 1 (2011-12), he is a three-time winner at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals (2008, ‘12-13) as well.
The Boris Becker and Marian Vajda pupil is also closing in on 60 match wins in a season for the eighth consecutive year. A seven-time Grand Slam titlist, having hoisted four trophies at the Australian Open, he led Serbia to the Davis Cup crown in 2010.
Djokovic entered the 2011 ATP World Tour season with burgeoning confidence and would turn in one of the greatest single-season campaigns in history. The Serb opened the year with a 41-match win streak and would capture 10 titles overall, including three Grand Slams and five ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns.
“Djokovic had the greatest year in the history of our sport, there’s no doubt about it,” said John McEnroe in 2011. “He bewildered Nadal. I’ve never seen Nadal look as if he doesn’t know what to do – and even on clay in Rome, Djokovic made him look like that.”
During his unforgettable stretch, he compiled a combined 10-1 record against Federer and Nadal and finished year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time.
Following their meeting in Cincinnati in August, Tommy Robredo said it best: "If you don't play your best you're going to lose for sure. Even if you play your best, sometimes if he's playing great, you're going to lose also."
Like every great player, Djokovic has taken the sport to the next level. Federer made everyone play better; Nadal too. Djokovic has added his own stamp on the sport – a driven champion, who combines sheer athleticism with a will to win at all costs.
By : Josh Meiseles
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on October 26, 2014 at 7:30 AM||comments (0)|
ATPWorldTour.com pays tribute to Tommy Robredo, who has recorded his 500th match win....
When Tommy Robredo was sidelined for 14 months due to a leg injury in 2011 and 2012, he drew on his resilience. In more than 800 tour-level matches, his mental fortitude and physical stamina has never been questioned, but after his hiatus it was his passion for the sport that helped him to return from No. 471 and back into the Top 30 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.
Robredo will rightly savour his 500th match win today, as only the fifth Spaniard in the Open Era to reach the milestone - joining Rafael Nadal (706), Manuel Orantes (641), David Ferrer (600) and Carlos Moya (575). But he will resist the temptation to over-celebrate it until the conclusion of the Valencia Open 500. Robredo has unfinished business; there is a final clash to play against Andy Murray on Sunday.
"It is only a number, but it's a special number," said Robredo. "If somebody told me I would win 500 matches at the beginning of my career, I would sign up for it. Now, I will go for 600."
As only one of three active players (also Nadal and Ferrer) to have recorded more than 200 match wins on hard and clay-courts, Robredo has helped to dispel the myth that Spaniards are clay-court specialists. For over the past 15 years, Spanish tennis has evolved and Robredo has been at the forefront of that change. Murray admits, “He has improved on all the surfaces as he has got older. He has become very consistent. He fights very hard and he is very fast. That’s why he has been at the top of the game for so long.”
His speed and adaptability, both hallmarks of his game, were both initially developed on hard courts as a youngster. But it wasn’t until Robredo was 14 that he first played on a clay court. Humble of his achievements, he broke into the Top 20 in 2004 and spent 18-months in the Top 10, rising to a career-high No. 5 in August 2006. His lethal one-handed backhand has helped him to 12 ATP World Tour titles in 22 finals, including the 2006 Hamburg crown (d. Stepanek).
Former World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero confesses, “He is very similar to how he was as a junior. But he now has more experience. He is a very intelligent player on court, using his weapons well and serving very well, which is why he is still up there, aged 32. He knows everything that is going through an opponent’s mind at every moment. That is a very important quality.”
At 2013 Roland Garros, he became the first man since Henri Cochet in 1927 to come back from two-sets-to-love down to win three consecutive Grand Slam championship matches. This year, at the Western & Southern Open, he recorded his 22nd Top 10 victory in beating World No. 1 Novak Djokovic 7-6(6), 7-5.
On the court, Robredo is highly focused and driven. Off the court, he keeps himself occupied. The home-loving Robredo, named Tommy because of his father Angel's love for The Who’s rock opera of the same name, enjoys riding in the mountains with his horses, Sebastopol and Dia, or quad biking. Yet inside the lines, he competes with the same level of enthusiasm as he had when he turned pro in 1998. At 32 years of age, he has become stronger, more powerful and remains a player to be feared.
By : James Buddell
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on October 25, 2014 at 7:30 AM||comments (0)|
ATPWorldTour.com pays tribute to David Ferrer,who has recorded his 600th match win....
David Ferrer is not your typical player at a time when cannonball servers and strapping goliaths are the norm on the ATP World Tour. Just like Michael Chang and Lleyton Hewitt, in recent years, the Spaniard, at 5’9” in height, has required guile and a hard-work ethic to succeed at the very highest level. Today, at the Valencia Open 500, Ferrer reached the 600 match wins milestone and his 16th quarter-final of yet another fine season.
"I’m most proud of all the years that I’ve been able to stay among the best players in the world," said Ferrer. "There have been important tournaments that I’ve won, and that I’ve been proud of, but what I’m most proud of is to have been able to maintain this stability for all these years.
“I’m proud that this 600th victory was at home. I want to thank all the people that have been with me along the way and especially to Javier Piles, who was not here today.”
Both are remarkable achievements for a player who might never have turned pro. Tommy Robredo, a childhood friend and rival, recalls, “As a junior, maybe mentally he was a little bit crazy. But when he moved to Valencia, he calmed down on the court and all of his game exploded.” Pablo Andujar admits, “He has changed, becoming calmer with experience. He used to break racquets.”
Failure to apply himself on the practice court as a teenager led to him questioning his future. Javier Piles, his long-time coach until 2013, locked his protégé in a two-by-two metre cupboard, with only bread and a bottle of water. Soon, Ferrer pleaded to be released. A week spent on a building site, pushing around bricks for 30 euros, resolved Ferrer to dedicating himself to tennis. Sixteen years on, it was a smart decision.
Ferrer pulls out all the stops on court with his compact, disciplined game. Ferocious and energetic, he attacks relentlessly from the baseline, while his forehand and return of serve have helped him to 21 ATP World Tour titles, 49 Top 10 match wins and to a career-high No. 3 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. “He always wins matches,” said Andy Murray. “He is an incredibly consistent player and works extremely hard. He puts in a lot of time and effort into his tennis. It is not easy to win a lot of matches these days. You have to work hard for wins, so it is a big achievement to have attained 600 match wins.”
His first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in November 2012 at the BNP Paribas Masters (d. Janowicz) and 2013 runner-up finish at Roland Garros (l. to Nadal) were warmly welcomed by the tennis world, that appreciates his tenacity as a player and humble nature off the court. “He is a very honest guy,” said Robredo. “You know what he will do and think. He is funny sometimes, the way he acts and reacts. He deserves his place at the top of the sport.” Andujar adds, “He is a warrior, a gladiator. He gives everything to every point, game and match. Importantly, he has always been a very, very nice guy.”
In a golden era of Spanish tennis, Ferrer is a class act. “He is a great example as a player and a person,” says Andujar. Robredo confirms, “He is a great sportsman, the way he acts on and off the court.”
By : James Buddell
|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on October 16, 2014 at 10:10 PM||comments (0)|
In Eduard Davydenko’s two-room Volgograd apartment, Nikolay Davydenko became tennis mad. It was not an overnight transformation, for he had not considered a pro career upon arriving at his older brother’s doorstep aged 11. But the sport, ultimately, became his escape during the hard years preceding the fall of the Soviet Union. In 1992, he dedicated himself to the sport, often spending four hours per day training during school time in a bid to hone his all-court game. In the winter, his timing was tested on the wooden floor of a local police athletic club; then, in the summer months, he perfected his strokes, fine balance and athleticism on a rubbery surface. On Sundays, he put down his racquet and worked on his fitness.
Although Davydenko became the only Russian to place in the year-end Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for five straight years [2005-2009], he was happy to ply his trade in the shadows of the sport’s biggest names. Quiet and unassuming by nature, his 15-season pro career was characterised by his capacity for work and for his powers of concentration. It earned him the nickname “Ironman”, among his contemporaries. “You saw the will and desire to be one of the best,” recalls Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who played him twice. “He was never a big server, but he was a work horse.”
Davydenko never forgot how lucky he was. For it had been Eckhard Oehms, a German businessman and later his agent, who realised his potential as a 14-year-old on a trip through Russia and offered to move the Davydenkos to Salmtal, Germany, where unlimited tennis courts beckoned. It was a massive change in fortunes. But Davydenko didn’t let up on his strict regimen. “He played like a robot, like a wall,” admits his compatriot Teymuraz Gabashvili. “He practised really hard, he worked liked a machine. He played inside the baseline and never retreated. When he was at his best, the stronger you hit the ball the faster it came back. His backhand was unbelievable. His speed and the way he took the ball early were two of his greatest strengths.”
Incredibly the indefatigable retriever, who was renowned as one of the fastest players on the ATP World Tour and was a tricky opponent to play against on any surface, added no more than 10lbs to his lithe 5’10” frame throughout his pro career. He regularly played more matches in a season than any other player and between 2008 and 2010 he recorded 22 victories over Top 10 opponents. He picked up the 2008 Miami Open, one of three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns, using just one racquet. He got it strung after each of his victories, including Andy Roddick and Rafael Nadal. “Once he was in the Top 10, he believed he could be a Top 10 player,” says Kafelnikov, who became the first Russian to rank World No. 1 in May 1999. “People tried to avoid his name in the draw.” He also helped Russia to the 2006 Davis Cup.
Arguably, though, some of his finest performances came in late 2009 and early 2010, which catapulted him into the spotlight he had tried so hard to avoid. “At his top level, he was an unbelievable player,” remembers Verdasco. “He didn’t give you time to think, he was a very fast player and a hard worker. It was very difficult to play against him.” Jarkko Nieminen, who is 33 like Davydenko, adds, “His movement, baseline and return game were his strengths. He didn’t give you anything for free. He could take the ball very early and he played with a great pace and tempo. You always had to run and defend a lot.”
By improving his service technique and by fine-tuning his volleying skills, to back up his accomplished knack of seamlessly transitioning from the baseline to the net, Davydenko got hot during the 2009 Asian swing. Having finished runner-up at the prestigious season finale, Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai, one year earlier, Davydenko arrived in London for the first Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at The O2 in a confident mood. In a ‘group of death’, that included defending champion Novak Djokovic, the Russian defeated Nadal and Robin Soderling, prior to beating Roger Federer in the semi-finals and the reigning US Open champion, Juan Martin del Potro, 6-3, 6-4 in the final. He earned the biggest cheque of his career, a cool $1.51 million.
When he dispatched Federer and Nadal again, en route to the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, in the first week of the 2010 ATP World Tour season, he arrived in Melbourne for the Australian Open as a major contender for the title. With the experience of four Grand Slam championship semi-final appearances on his resume — 2005, 2007 Roland Garros and 2006-07 US Open — he started to believe. Forty five minutes into his quarter-final against Federer, a player he had lost to 12 times in a row prior to his recent change in fortunes, Davydenko led 6-2, 3-0. But, in the fifth game of the second set, Federer found his serve. Davydenko went into a tailspin and 13 straight games went the Swiss’ way. Federer eventually won 2-6, 6-3, 6-0, 7-5 in three hours and 36 minutes.
Sadly, at his next tournament, the 2010 ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, he landed on his wrist in a straight sets semi-final loss to Robin Soderling. Although he won the 21st — and final — title of his career at Munich in May 2011, Davydenko’s days of consistent peak performance were numbered. Towards the end of the 2010 season, Davydenko dropped out of the Top 10 — the elite club he had been a member of for more than five-and-a-half years. Stan Wawrinka admits, “I always admired the level of his game. He was so fast and was a big fighter. There was so much speed in his game. I felt that he was one of the fastest players I’ve ever faced.”
Davydenko always sought a simple life. With his wife, Irina, whom he married after a three-year courtship in November 2006, their two-year-old daughter, Ekaterina, and his coach brother — 10 years his senior — he was able to play tennis and enjoy his life, largely free of widespread attention. Today, after a farewell ceremony at the Kremlin Cup by Bank of Moscow, where he won three titles, he can enjoy his retirement safe in the knowledge that he will be long remembered alongside the greats of Russian tennis. “It is bad news from Russian tennis,” says Gabashvili. “He was one of the greatest in the world.” Says Kafelnikov, “People in Russia love him.”
By : James Buddell