Friday, December 3, 2010

Tennis a Sexy Sport?

THE flailing interests in the sport of table tennis worldwide has sparked a mission by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) to sex up the game to hopefully follow in the footsteps womens tennis.

Female table tennis players have often in the past (and most still do) wear baggy shorts and shirts when competing unlike womens tennis who wear form fitting skirts and tops and also revealing dresses.

Players like Anna Kournikova have certainly brought the game more glamour, though being sexy may be a rather strong word. Stylish could be more appropriate.

China are in support of the move and could make their players dress to their sexy standards in the not too distant future.

Tennis Players run the New York Marathon

THE recent New York Marathon saw a number of former ATP and WTA players run the full 26.2 miles at the event.

Justin Gimelstob won a USD10,000 bet with Andy Roddick after finishing the course in 4hrs 09mins 58secs (Roddick bet he wouldnt finish the race in under 4hrs45mins) but got his ass kicked by Amelie Mauresmo who finished the race half an hour before him with a finishing time of 3hrs 40mins 20 secs.

Also running the NY Marathon were former ATP doubles specialist Jonathan Stark (4hrs 24mins 22 secs) and flamboyant Frenchman Yannick Noah (4hrs 01mins 38secs).

Haile Gebrselassie shocked the running world when he announced after dropping out of the race that he would be retiring from the sport but has since changed his mind and will compete till at least the 2012 London Olympics.

Pix via the NY Times.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kimiko Asian Games Bronze

IT was supposed to be the fairytale comeback, but was just not to be. Kimiko Date-Krumm, the sweetheart of Japanese tennis fell to China's Peng Shuai 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 6-2 in the semifinals of the Guangzhou Asian Games women's individual event.

Kimiko, the top seed in the event, was making her return to the games after spending 12 years in retirement since winning the gold medal in the event during the 1994 Asiad.

The Japanese tennis icon said this would most likely be her last Asian Games since she will be 44 years old by the time the next edition of the games comes around.

Unfortunately Kimiko also said she was unsure of whether she would continue playing till the end of next season as she is already feeling the physical drain of returning to the game at 40 years of age.

I certainly hope she continues to play on for at least another few years as she is a great player to watch.

Pix via Getty

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Perfect Height for Tennis.

SIX foot one must the perfect height for tennis. Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer and Pete Sampras - three of the greatest players of recent and perhaps all time that are that exact height. Between them they have collected too many slams between them in the past 20 years to worth bother counting.

I believe that 6'1'' is the perfect tennis height for two simple reasons.

  1. It is the minimum height a person must have in order to serve powerfully at an angle consistently (and obviously keep the ball in).
  2. Perfect height for chasing balls down, any taller and a player's maneuverability around the court would be hindered.

Thats what I think. What do you think?

Pix via Getty.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Brad Gilbert - Winning Ugly book review

Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis--Lessons from a MasterAndre Agassi was a different player before he met Brad Gilbert. Immersed in the need for flash and hitting winners from impossible angles, Agassi was not winning games he should have. Brad changed all that with a much better tactical and consistent approach and from then on Agassi would never be the same.

Gilbert was known as a tactical genius and had consistently beaten players technically superior to him over the span of his career. He teaches his secrets to success well in this book and is an excellent read for players of all playing abilities and peppers the book with interesting personal experiences from throughout his playing career. A definite Must Read!

Get the best deals on Winning Ugly here!

Wilson BLX Six.One Tour Review

THIS is the racquet that Roger Federer uses. That fact alone sells a lot of these sticks regardless of whether the person buying it actually can decently play with the stick. You dont ask if the racquet is good enough for you. You should ask yourself if your good enough for it.

Weighing in at a hefty 12.5oz and with a headsize of 90 inches, this is definitely not a racquet that forgives. The tiny sweetspot means anything you hit slightly off target will cost you, but as with many players racquets with similar spec, the upside of being good enough to play with it brings unparalleled control and feel of your shots.

Thanks to the advent of modern day marketing, this frames is constantly "upgraded" every two years with a new paintjob and "cutting edge materials". The weight, balance, beam with and string pattern basically never changes much which means the difference is usually only in the feel of the racquet.

This racquet is an evolution or descendant of the Wilson Pro Staff Original 6.0, a stick with now legendary status thanks to Pete Sampras but was also used by Federer in his early days. Other pro's who used this racquet include Jim Courier, Stefan Edberg, Mary Pierce and Chris Evert.

Get the best deal on a Wilson BLX Six.One Tour here.

Previous Versions of the Wilson BLX Six.One.

K Factor KSix-One Tour 90

- In production 2007-2008

nCode nSix-One Tour 90

-in production 2004-2006

Wilson BLX Six.One Specs

Midsize Specs
Head Size:
90 sq. in. / 580.64 sq. cm.
Length: 27 inches / 68.58 cm
Strung Weight: 12.5oz / 354.37g
Balance: 9 pts HL
Swingweight: 333
Stiffness: 65
Beam Width: 17.5mm/17.5mm/17.5mm/
Composition: Karophite Black / Basalt
Power Level: Low
Swing Speed: Fast
Grip Type: Leather
String Pattern:
16 Mains / 19 Crosses
Mains skip: 7T, 9T, 7H, 9H
One Piece
No Shared Holes
String Tension: 50-60 pounds

Michael Llodra -The last we will see of Serve and Volley?

FIRST serve out wide and the volley crosscourt, chip and charge on the second and the deft half-volley. Sounds like we're back in the 20th century but we're not - Its Michael Llodra the last remaining serve and volleyer.

Michael has seen more success in doubles throughout his career but at the age of 30 has had quite a decent year in singles having won in Marseilles and Eastbourne earlier this year. Last week he reached the semi-finals of the Paris Masters, most probably due to the fast surface in play there, but lost to eventual winner Soderling in a very close three set match.

It is a pity Michael, who idolised Stefan Edberg as a child, has spent most of his career playing on slowed down surfaces and balls. Who knows what he could achieved if he had played in the 90s or earlier.

(Pix via Getty)

ATP World Tour Finals 2010 - Groups Announced.

Even with Djokovic in Group A, it should still be a breeze for Nadal, but an inconsistent Federer will certainly have his hands full in group B. Andy Murray will be his biggest threat, especially on home soil.

(Pix via Getty)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Kimiko Date-Krumm- Asian Games champion?

SHE took the gold medal on home soil 16 years ago and could very well do it again at the Guangzhou Asian Games this week. Comeback queen Kimiko is top seed in the women's singles event after Li Na of China decided not to compete in the indvidual event.

Looking at the field, only second seed Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand and Sania Mirza are possible threats to Kimiko winning a second gold medal in this event. Kimiko also participated in the women's team event but could not prevent Japan losing to Taiwan 2-1 in the semi-finals despite winning her single's match.

(Pix via Getty)

Monday, November 15, 2010

More Fast Courts please!

THE recent Paris Masters could prove to be another turning point in the world of tennis. The unusually fast courts in play at the tournament have been well received by the majority of players competing at the event and could mean we will be seeing more fast surfaces at other tournaments in the future.

With baseliners having ruled the tennis world for the past decade thanks to slowed down courts and balls, it will be nice to see some variety come back into the game though I doubt serve and volley will be returning in a big way.

(Pix via Getty)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ana Ivanovic returns

AFTER more than two years of disappointing performances, it seems that Ana Ivanovic has finally got back to her winning ways. The immensely talented 23 year old won her first tournament in two years at the 2010 Generali Ladies Linz open in October and added the 2010 Commonwealth Bank of Champions in Bali, Indonesia earlier this month.

After falling out of the top 50 last year, Ana is now ranked no 17 and will look to work her way back into the top ten. One of the most talented and also beautiful players the tour has seen in recent years, Ana has suffered from a lack of confidence which has often hampered her potential.

Hopefully Ana will make a mental breakthrough and finally become the player she has always promised to be.

(Pix from Getty)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Come on Roger!

AS a 29 year old professional tennis player, Roger Federer has done terribly well for himself. With the year coming to an end, Federer has won the Australian open, been in three masters finals-winning one and also won an additional two smaller tournaments at Stockholm and Basel.

The only problem with Roger Federer is that he is Roger Federer, the greatest player of all time, and has to live up to the expectations that come with that title.

With the year ending ATP World Tour Finals just round the corner, a Federer which had seemed to be picking up the pace lost to Gael Monfils in the semifinals of the Paris Masters after holding 5 match points against the Frenchman. Maybe the old hand can bring on the magic to end the year like he started it.

(Pix from Getty)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pete Sampras goes babolat

AFTER spending his whole career playing a Wilson Pro Staff 85 (Or its descendants), Pistol Pete has shocked Pro Staff purists the world over by switching to what looks like a Babolat Pure Storm GT.

Pete was seen at an recent exhibition match with Andre Agassi using the new stick, and upon closer scrutiny by tennis geeks worldwide, seems to be the real deal. Not just a paintjob as is usual with pro players switching brands.

The Pure Storm GT has a thicker beam compared to his old sticks and also has a bigger headsize. Perhaps Pete is feeling his age and decided to switch to a more player friendly racquet. Spectators at the Agassi match found Pete to be serving just as well or some say even more powerfully than before.

Pete's former racquet, the Pro Staff 85, has achieved legendary status among Wilson fans as THE player racquet. With its tiny sweetspot and club like weight, the racquet is definitely not for weak and low level players but is said to offer excellent control.

It will be interesting to see whether Pete sticks with the racquet for future matches. Maybe Babolat will even come up with a Pete Sampras Signature racquet.

(Pix from Yahoo! sports)

Pat Rafter - New Davis Cup Captain

PAT Rafter has certainly picked a tough time to be the Australian Davis Cup captain. With no players in the top 50 of the ATP rankings and Australia not qualifying for the World group, Rafter will certainly be tested.

After spending most of the last eight years of his retirement out of the limelight, Pat will now have more than family, surfing and underwear modelling to think about. Regardless of the current situation Australia has got itself into, I think it is great that he has decided to return to tennis in a serious role.

With his former coach Tony Roche at his side it will be interesting to see what Pat can do to revive Australian tennis to its former glory. With an aging Lleyton Hewitt still on their side, they should be able to make it back to the world group in a few years, when hopefully Bernard Tomic will have developed into the player he has promised to be.

Possibly the last successful pure serve and volleyer on tour, Pat has always been one of my favourite players during his career. His game combined finesse and athleticism which was always tough for his opponents to counter and entertaining for those watching.

(Pix from Getty)

Anna Kournikova - More than just a pretty face

DESPITE being heavily criticized for her lack of success on the WTA tour, Anna Kournikova has done a lot of giving back to the sport and various charities since she retired. In fact a lot more than what other more successful champions of the past can boast about.

Anna has often been a victim of her own beauty. As it is with all things blond the public and media are quick to have a go at the russian beauty for all the publicity she gets. With pop star boyfriend Enrique Iglesias in tow things just get worse.

Since she retired in 2003 due to a string of injuries, Anna has participated in numerous charity exhibitions and programmes (too many to mention) which is a great thing to do for a person with her pulling power.

I certainly do hope Anna continues with all the good work she has done and also hope people will stop unfairly criticizing her.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kimiko Date Krumm Comeback

WHEN I first read the name Kimiko Date Krumm in the news last year I immediately wondered if this was the same Kimiko Date that had been so successful on the WTA tour and had been the pride of Asian tennis during the early nineties.

To my surprise and delight it actually was the same person. Kimiko had made a comeback to the tour after 13 years of retirement and was doing a good job of beating players close to 15 years her junior in age.

Kimiko started her comeback at the age of 37 in 2008 and won a couple of ITF 50k tournaments in Japan that year. After receiving a a few wildcards for a few bigger tournaments Kimiko finally won her first WTA Tour title since her comeback at the 2009 Hansol Korea Open in Seoul, defeating Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3, 6-3 in the final. Kimiko was an astonishing 38 years of age.

To date Kimiko has beaten quite a few of the big names in the current WTA Tour. Casey Dellacqua, Daniela Hantuchova, Maria Kirilenko, Anna Chakvetadze, Nadia Petrova, Dinara Safina and Maria Sharapova to name a few.

Kimiko said she is more composed on the tour now compared to when she was younger and it definitely shows. Kimiko has won numerous matches coming from behind since her comeback and in my opinion is testament to her improved mental strength and pre-existing iron will.

Its quite often we see female tennis players make a successful comeback to the tour but its not often you see someone of Kimiko's age do so well and I hope she will continue till she is at least 50. Her recent achievements certainly do give us some hope that other players such as Martina Hingis could do the same thing in the future.