You Are Viewing All Posts In The Friday List Category

Friday Five: Sharapova, Isner among many racing to heal for Aussie Open

Decrease fontDecrease font
Enlarge fontEnlarge font
Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova is on the mend and already practicing in Melbourne. (Tertius Pickard/AP)

The dawn of a new tennis season is always filled with hope, anticipation and possibility. We can’t help ourselves. It’s like we completely forget about how we complained a mere two months about the length of the tennis season and how much we longed for a break. Nope, things are new, we’re happy, and we’re ready to go.

Until players start dropping like flies due to injury and we’re left wondering why we got all that excited in the first place. Andrea Petkovic is the sobering reminder of that fact. Her run of bad luck continued when she tore the meniscus in her right knee in her first match of the season. Much like Rafael Nadal, Petkovic’s injury is too serious to allow her to compete this month, and she’s already returned home to Germany for surgery and rehab.

Those catastrophic injuries may grab the headlines, but tennis is as much a sport of niggles. Major injuries knock you off tour, which in a sick way can be a blessing. It gives players time to actually commit to their fitness and get better, as opposed to simply managing their bodies so things don’t get worse. But those less-than-major aches and pains? It’s like being in purgatory. Being in competition doesn’t afford anyone the luxury of being at 100 percent for long stretches of time.

The Australian Open is a mere 10 days away, and while some players can’t wait to strike their first ball of the 2013 slam season, a small handfull of others probably wouldn’t mind a longer break. The worst luck you can have is to suffer an injury at the start of the season, a time when the conditions are at their toughest, the courts unforgiving and no meaningful break in sight to give your body extended rest.

Here are five players whose early injury woes could spell doom to their Australian Open chances.

Read More…

  • Published On Jan 04, 2013
  • Matching players with their intro songs

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    Earlier this week, the BNP Paribas Open site asked a number of players what song they’d like playing when they walk onto the court. The answers were fairly predictable, though I am still trying to wrap my head around why anyone would choose Nickelback, let alone specifically identify its newest album (it has more than one album?).

    I jest. Kind of.

    But it did get me thinking: What songs should the players use? Eighteen hours later and only 1/8th through my iTunes library, this is what I came up with.

    Novak Djokovic: Sabotage, Beastie Boys. The perfect song for the most dominant man in tennis. It’s in your face, there is screaming (oh, how Djokovic loves to scream) and it describes exactly what he’s done in an era that many thought would be all about Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. You’re right, Novak. Guess our crystal ball ain’t so crystal clear.


    Read More…

  • Published On Feb 10, 2012
  • Revealing numbers from the ATP Tour

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    An improved serve has been a big part of Novak Djokovic's dominant season. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

    The ATP unveiled a more robust data center on its official website this week. Now you can see some of the more notable statistics dating to 1991 and run comparitives until the cows come home. It’s a little piece of heaven for those who, like young, future fictional President Jed Bartlett, prefer numbers over empty arguments.

    Here are five observations from just a few hours of clicking around the site:

    1. The return is king: It’s often said that the return of serve produces the most revealing numbers on the stat sheet. If you poke around the site, you find that to be true. The top men may not lead the service stats — Ivo Karlovic, Milos Raonic and John Isner are tops in percentage of service games won for 2011, with Roger Federer the only one of the Big Four in the top five — but they anchor the return stats. Look at the leaderboard for return games won this year entering the week:

    1. Novak Djokovic: 40.5 percent
    2. Andy Murray: 36.4 percent
    3. Rafael Nadal: 35.5 percent

    (Incidentally, Federer ranks 15th at 27.3 percent. More on him below.)

    Read More…

  • Published On Oct 14, 2011
  • Dream mixed doubles pairs at London Games

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    Conceptually, it’s hard not to get a kick out of mixed doubles. It’s always fun to attempt to read into the pairings at Grand Slam tournaments (“how does he even know her?”). And it’s amusing to watch as the guys fly around the court trying to dominate the match and “protect” the women, who, more often than not, more than hold their own against the men.

    But the top men and women rarely play mixed doubles at majors. So, outside of the Hopman Cup, an annual country-based exhibition held in January, fans seldom get to see some marquee pairings that could make mixes doubles a can’t-miss event.

    Will that change at the 2012 London Games? We’ve already heard plenty of speculation about a potential pairing of Roger Federer and Martina Hingis, among other possible big-name partnerships. Here’s our wish list of five mixed double teams that would add intrigue, drama and, most important, entertainment value to the Summer Olympics. Sure, most of them won’t/can’t happen, but we can dream.

    Read More…

  • Published On Oct 07, 2011
  • The five most exciting players to watch

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    At the end of the day, tennis is a sport and sport is about competition. The gladiatorial battle between two players armed with nothing more than a racket and two cans of balls should be enough to keep any fan entertained. The level of tennis being played by the pros these days is nothing short of jaw-dropping.

    But there are a small group of players who seem to be able to elevate the game beyond just the competition. They are players who, regardless of the stakes, can whip a crowd into a frenzy and create an unforgettable moment. They have displayed time and time again that if you spend a couple of hours with them, they will endeavor to show you something you have never seen before.

    Here are five players you just have to watch regardless of who they’re playing, where they’re playing or when they’re playing.

    1. Alexandr Dolgopolov

    It doesn’t get more unorthodox than the man they call “The Dog.” From his quick-fire service motion to his almost two-handed slice backhand, his game looks different from anyone else’s on Tour. He combines imaginative shot making with the courage (stupidity?) to try to pull off ridiculous shots when he sees an opening. When it works, his game is a revelation, as it was when he shocked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Robin Soderling at the Australian Open this year. When it doesn’t work, he tends to get overpowered and runs himself out of the match by going for too much.

    Read More…

  • Published On Sep 30, 2011