top juniors head to carson for usta intl spring championships

claire liu - usta international spring championships

Just two weeks after capturing her first USTA Pro Circuit $10,000 Futures title in Florida, Thousand Oaks’ Claire Liu is back home and ready to take on a strong field in the Girls’ 18s singles at the 11th annual USTA International Spring Championships starting this weekend at StubHub Center.

The 14-year-old Liu trains with personal coach Mike Gennette and USTA National Coaches Leo Azevedo and Adam Peterson out of the USTA Training Center – West, the site where the tournament takes place. She has represented the U.S. in international junior play, winning gold at the 14-and-under World Junior Tennis competition in 2013.

Liu was a finalist in the Carson ISC 16s in 2013, and fell 6-4 in the third set in the Round of 16 to No. 2-seeded Sofia Kenin in the 18s last year. Kenin, who is ranked No. 22 in the ITF world junior rankings, is back again this year and won the Metropolia Orange Bowl at the end of 2014. The 16-year-old Kenin also has a $10,000 ITF runner-up finish on her resume in 2015.

Usue Arconada, a 16-year-old currently No. 8 in the ITF rankings, is 15-1 this year in Grade 1 and Grade A ITF junior events and trains at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md. A semifinalist at Carson last year, Arconada lost to last year’s 18s winner CiCi Bellis, 6-4, 6-4, in the second round of a USTA Pro Circuit $25,000 event last month in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

She captured an ITF $10,000 pro event in the Caribbean in January and currently holds a WTA Tour world ranking of No. 663. Arconada most recently won the Grade A Campeonato Internacional in Porto Alegre in Brazil, and the prestigious Banana Bowl a week before that, beating the nation’s top girls’ recruit Francesca Di Lorenzo from Ohio in a three-set final. Di Lorenzo, who will play for Ohio State next Fall, will be seeded at Carson and was No. 34 in the last ITF world junior rankings.

Michaela Gordon (No. 30) Ingrid Neel (No. 50), and Caroline Dolehide (No. 56) are all top players to watch on the girls’ side.

Neel recently made headlines by shocking No. 7 seed and WTA No. 85 Donna Vekic of Croatia 6-1, 6-2, at the WTA Miami Open qualifying tournament while Dolehide was a US Open Junior semifinalist last fall.

In the boys’ 18s, William Blumberg of Greenwich, Conn., is the highest ranking ITF world-ranked player moving up from No. 33 to No. 15 after a finalist appearance at the Grade A Campeonato Internacional in Porto Alegre in Brazil. Following him on the boys’ side are Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia at No. 26, and Americans Ulises Blanch (No. 38), Nathan Ponwith (No. 49), Emil Reinberg (No. 61), and Sameer Kumar (No. 76).

Notable wild cards on the boys’ 18s side include Jake DeVine, last year’s 16s champion John McNally and Patrick Kypson. Among the girls’ 18s notable wild cards are Caty McNally, Rachel Lim, 2013 16s winner Ena Shibahara and USC-bound Jessica Failla.

In the girls’ 16s, top players include Emma Decoste, Alexandra Belaya, Taylor Johnson and Victoria Flores. On the boys’ side in the 16s, look for Jack Pullman, William Peters, William Grant, and Brian Cernoch.

Past champions of the event include Sam Querrey (2005), Bradley Klahn (2008), Sloane Stephens (2009) and Melanie Oudin (2008), just a few who have gone on to bigger and better things on the pro and collegiate circuit.

Other notable past participants who have gone on to reach the world top 100 include: Milos Raonic, Madison Keys, Steve Johnson, Christina McHale, Madison Brengle, Vania King, Ryan Harrison, Nicole Gibbs, CoCo Vandeweghe, Lauren Davis, Taylor Townsend and Jessie Levine.

Singles qualifying will take place this Saturday and Sunday with main-draw matches beginning on Monday. The finals will take place in the boys’ and girls’ 16s on Saturday, April 4, and boys’ and girls’ 18s on Sunday, April 5. The tournament director is once again John Lansville.

For more information on the tournament, log onto the website at www.usta.com/isc.

roddick takes third power shares series title

Andy Roddick won his third career title on the PowerShares Series champions tennis circuit Wednesday defeating Mark Philippoussis 6-4 in the one-set championship match at the Galen Center at the University of Southern California.Andy Roddick, Power Shares Series

Roddick, playing in his first PowerShares Series event in the season, needed only a service break in the third game of the match to separate himself from Philippoussis.

“I had fun,” said Roddick after the final. “It’s great to come out here and pretend to be a tennis player once in a while.”

When asked how he would report on his tournament victory back on his sports broadcasting position on Fox Sports 1, Roddick, who retired from the ATP Tour in 2012, joked to the crowd, “A little out of breath.”

Following a 13-year pro career that included a victory at the U.S. Open in 2003, the world No. 1 ranking and leading the United States to the Davis Cup title in 2007, Roddick returned to competitive play on the PowerShares Series in 2014. He played in three events – winning in Birmingham, Alabama and Denver, Colorado – and enjoyed himself so much that he signed on to play 10 events in 2015.

“People will say I maybe retired early but I never had that time where I didn’t enjoy playing,” said Roddick. “I still enjoy it. I never get tired of it. I still enjoy hitting balls when I am home. It’s even more fun when I can come out here and play in front of people.”

Philippoussis was fresh off defeating Andre Agassi 7-6 (4) Tuesday night to win the title in Salt Lake City, the opening event on the 12-city circuit that runs through May 2. Philippoussis was only added to the Los Angeles field on Monday when Pete Sampras was forced to withdraw from the event with a calf injury suffered last weekend while playing in Sweden.

In the semifinal matches earlier in the night, Philippoussis posted a 7-5 win over Jim Courier while Roddick defeated James Blake 6-2 in the other semifinal.

After two events, Philippoussis leads the PowerShares Series points standings with 600 points, followed by Roddick with 400 points, earned with his tournament win in Los Angeles. Courier, Blake and Agassi are in a tie for third place with 200 points.

The PowerShares Series, the 12-city tennis circuit for champion tennis players over the age of 30, continues Wednesday, April 1 in Lincoln, Nebraska at the Pinnacle Bank Arena where John McEnroe will make his 2015 PowerShares Series debut and join Roddick, Courier and Blake. For full schedule, player and ticket information, go to www.PowerSharesSeries.com

The remaining PowerShares Series schedule with full fields are as follows:

Wednesday, April 1: Lincoln, Neb., (Pinnacle Bank Arena at Univ. of Nebraska) “Champions Cup Presented by Woods Park Tennis” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake

Thursday, April 2: Chicago, Ill. (Sears Centre) “PowerShares QQQ Challenge” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake

Thursday, April 16: Austin, Texas (Cedar Park Center) “Champions Shootout” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake

Friday, April 17: Little Rock, Ark. (Jack Stephens Center at the UALR) “Champions Cup” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis

Saturday, April 18: Dallas, Texas (Moody Coliseum at SMU) “Champions Showdown” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis

Wednesday, April 22: Boston, Mass. (Agganis Arena at Boston University) “Champions Cup” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake

Thursday, April 23: Richmond, Va., (Siegel Center at VCU) “Champions Challenge” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake

Wednesday, April 29: Minneapolis, Minn. (Target Center) “Champions Shootout” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Michael Chang, James Blake

Thursday, April 30: Cincinnati, Ohio (Cintas Center at Xavier) “Champions Showdown” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Michael Chang, James Blake

Saturday, May 2: Vancouver, Canada (Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre at UBC) “Champions Showdown” featuring Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Michael Chang, Mark Philippoussis

all about maria: sharapova launches app

Maria Sharapova App

Charge your phone, Maria!

Maria Sharapova announced today the launch of the “Official Maria Sharapova App” — a first-of-its-kind 360-degree experience that takes Maria’s engagement with her fans to an unprecedented level. Maria’s app offers exclusive content not available anywhere else – straight from Maria’s computer and phone to her fans.

[Read more…]

claremont-mudd-scripps men, emory women ranked no. 1

ita-tennis-rankings-26March2015

A new No. 1 on the men’s side reflects a completely reshuffled Top 10 in which no team remains ranked in the same spot as the previous edition. For the women, Emory has taken the No. 1 ranking from Johns Hopkins. Regional Team rankings were also published today, for the first time in three weeks, and Regional Singles and Doubles rankings were published for the first time this spring.

The 13-1 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags are the new men’s No. 1 team, taking the top spot from Amherst after beating six ranked teams in the past two weeks. The Stags’ lone loss this season came against Division I Penn, which came in the afternoon after a morning victory over Division I Georgetown.

Ranked No. 2 behind Claremont-Mudd-Scripps is Emory, which improved two spots this week from No. 4. The ITA Division III Men’s Team Indoor Championships runners-up recorded wins over BYU-Hawaii, Kalamazoo and Rhodes in the past two weeks. Ranked No. 3 is Washington University – St. Louis, which took out Top 10 foes Trinity (TX) and Kenyon last weekend.

Pomona-Pitzer improved five spots to No. 4 while Amherst slipped from No. 1 to No. 5 this week. The 16-3 Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens went 8-1 in the past two weeks, losing only to No. 1 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. Amherst was beaten by Pomona-Pitzer, Division II Vanguard and Azusa Pacific in the past weeks and is 9-3 on the season. Trailing Amherst in order are No. 6 Middlebury, former No. 1 Trinity (TX) at No. 7, No. 8 Bowdoin, No. 9 Carnegie Mellon and No. 10 Johns Hopkins.

On the women’s side, Emory and Johns Hopkins flipped at No. 1 and No. 2, with Emory earning the No. 1 ranking this week. The Eagles won matches against No. 8 Bowdoin and No. 5 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the last two weeks, while Johns Hopkins defeated Skidmore and Haverford but took a loss to Division II Northeastern State.

No. 3 Williams, No. 4 Amherst and No. 5 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps all remain in place this week, while No. 6 Carnegie Mellon and No. 7 Pomona-Pitzer each moved up one spot. No. 8 Bowdoin fell two spots from No. 6, and No. 9 Middlebury and No. 10 Washington & Lee down each improved one ranking from the previous edition.

Wesleyan made a big push up the women’s rankings, from No. 34 to No. 17, after going 3-0 versus No. 33 Chapman, No. 18 Redlands and No. 28 Brandeis. A three-way tie for No. 17 met clarity and was broken-up, with DePauw heading north to No. 14, Tufts dropping to No. 19 and La Verne falling to No. 26. DePauw picked up wins over Kenyon and Wittenburg, while Tufts edged La Verne 6-3 in a head-to-head matchup.

New Entrants: Sewanee enters the men’s rankings this week at No. 30, and there were no new entrants to the women’s Top 40.

philippoussis defeats agassi in 2015 powershares series

Mark Philippoussis defeated Andre Agassi 7-6 (4) in the one-set championship match Tuesday to win the Champions Shootout, the opening event on the 2015 PowerShares Series, at the Huntsman Center at the University of Utah.Mark Philippoussis, Power Shares Series 2015

“A match like this could go either way,” Agassi said following the final. “I had a lot some chances early on and when you get down to a breaker with Mark you have to execute on the right points. He did that tonight, but it was lot of fun trying to chase down his shots.”

Philippoussis, the 2003 Wimbledon runner-up, was aided not only by his powerful serve – which has earned him the nick-name of “Scud” – but in the fact that his booming shots broke the strings in all three of Andre Agassi’s racquets, forcing the eight-time major champion to finish the match using one of the Australian’s racquets.

The tournament win was third on the PowerShares Series for Philippoussis and the first since winning in Surprise, Arizona in 2010. Agassi was seeking his eighth career PowerShares Series title.

The one-night four-player tournament event marked the first pro tennis event to exclusively use Hawk-Eye electronic line-calling technology in lieu of linespeople.

In the semifinal matches earlier in the night, Philippoussis posted a 6-3 win over James Blake, who won the PowerShares Series event in Salt Lake City last year, when played at the Energy Solutions Arena. Agassi defeated Jim Courier 6-3 in the other semifinal.

The PowerShares Series, the 12-city tennis circuit for champion tennis players over the age of 30, continues Wednesday night in Los Angeles at the Galen Center at the University of Southern California where Philippoussis, Courier and Blake will join Andy Roddick in the field. Philippoussis is a late replacement in the Los Angeles field for Pete Sampras, who injured his calf muscle while playing in an event in Sweden over the weekend and was forced to withdraw from the event. For full schedule, player and ticket information, go to www.PowerSharesSeries.com

The remaining PowerShares Series schedule with full fields are as follows:

Wednesday, March 25: Los Angeles, Calif., (Galen Center at USC) “SoCal Honda Dealers Helpful Cup” featuring Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis, James Blake

Wednesday, April 1: Lincoln, Neb., (Pinnacle Bank Arena at Univ. of Nebraska) “Champions Cup Presented by Woods Park Tennis” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake

Thursday, April 2: Chicago, Ill. (Sears Centre) “PowerShares QQQ Challenge” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake

Thursday, April 16: Austin, Texas (Cedar Park Center) “Champions Shootout” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake

Friday, April 17: Little Rock, Ark. (Jack Stephens Center at the UALR) “Champions Cup” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis

Saturday, April 18: Dallas, Texas (Moody Coliseum at SMU) “Champions Showdown” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, Mark Philippoussis

Wednesday, April 22: Boston, Mass. (Agganis Arena at Boston University) “Champions Cup” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake

Thursday, April 23: Richmond, Va., (Siegel Center at VCU) “Champions Challenge” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, James Blake

Wednesday, April 29: Minneapolis, Minn. (Target Center) “Champions Shootout” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Michael Chang, James Blake

Thursday, April 30: Cincinnati, Ohio (Cintas Center at Xavier) “Champions Showdown” featuring John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Michael Chang, James Blake

Saturday, May 2: Vancouver, Canada (Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre at UBC) “Champions Showdown” featuring Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Michael Chang, Mark Philippoussis

wilson releases rush pro 2.0 tennis shoe

Wilson Sporting Goods Co., announced today the release of the highly anticipated Rush Pro 2.0 tennis shoe. Featuring new construction and the Company’s patented Pro Torque Chassis arch technology, the new Rush Pro 2.0 is a shoe made for performance tennis players with a range of playing styles.

“The Rush Pro 2.0 represents the next evolution of Wilson footwear and reflects smart engineering enhancements based on player feedback and deeper study of game play styles,” said Hans-Martin Reh, General Manager, Racquet Sports. “We introduced the Rush Pro Collection in 2013, and it quickly became one of the top ten best-selling tennis shoes in the U.S. We believe it will be our flagship tennis shoe franchise of the future.”

The shoe debuts the Company’s Pro Torque Chassis, a patented arch technology engineered to provide torsion control and stability for maximum acceleration, so players can keep up with the speed of today’s game. And the shoe’s enhanced forefoot support provides for explosive starts and optimum stability in every direction on the court. Further, new outsole construction with zonal tread engineering makes the Rush Pro 2.0 lighter with better grip for improved traction consistency, increasing stability and control.
The Rush Pro 2.0 also employs enhancements to technologies that are staples of the Rush Pro line, including Endofit technology on the interior for enhanced comfort, stability and an overall natural-fit experience. The shoe also contains Perfect Fit technology, offering players a shoe that fits uniquely to each foot.

The Rush Pro 2.0 Women’s shoe features the Company’s Women’s Specific Support (WSS), reflecting the biomechanical difference in women’s feet compared to men’s. Designed for the competitive player, Wilson Labs engineered the WSS construction to deliver enhanced support and stability. Using an asymmetrical and elongated medial side, WSS construction features a TPU heel counter and a dual density molded sock liner. The inner structure of the shoe for women helps hold the heel in position, while providing added support through the mid-foot area.

The Rush Pro 2.0 is available in seven color options for both men and women. For more information on the Rush Pro 2.0 and various retail partners, visit www.Wilson.com. The MRSP for the Rush Pro 2.0 is $140.

Wilson launches power-packed, sleek burn racket

Wilson Sporting Goods Co., announced today the introduction of the BURN family of rackets. This new line is built specifically for performance tennis players seeking a bold, sleek racket that accelerates power from the baseline. The BURN is the first Baseliner-focused product to emerge from the Company’s new PlayerID system, which categorizes three key types of tennis playing styles: Baseliner, Attacker and All Courter. The system helps athletes better select products that speak to their playing style and enhance their overall performance on the court.Burn-One-Sheet

“We are very excited to launch the BURN. This is a racket that has been designed specifically for athletes, particularly juniors, who are looking for booming power and an aggressive frame,” said Hans-Martin Reh, General Manager, Racquet Sports. “This line symbolizes our deep understanding of performance tennis, our constant evaluation of how the game is evolving and what players truly need on an individual performance basis.”

The BURN line consists of five rackets, each with a headsize of 100 square inches. Each BURN racket is constructed with High Performance Carbon Fiber, which increases frame stiffness for explosive power on groundstrokes. And the BURN comes with the X2 Shaft, a longer handle that allows for increased feel and leverage on two-handed backhands, and an optimal shaft shape to enable quick grip changes for extreme grips. The rackets also feature Parallel Drilling, which dramatically increase their sweet spot, while providing a forgiving feel.

In addition, the BURN 100S, BURN 100LS, and BURN 100ULS rackets are equipped with the Company’s Spin Effect technology and differ in weight, allowing juniors to work their way up within the BURN family of rackets as they grow.

Current top-ten players and Wilson Advisory Staff members Kei Nishikori and Simona Halep will be two of the first athletes to play competitively with the new BURN during the 2015 Australian Open in Melbourne.

Wilson Sporting Goods Co., announced today the introduction of the BURN family of rackets. This new line is built specifically for performance tennis players seeking a bold, sleek racket that accelerates power from the baseline. The BURN is the first Baseliner-focused product to emerge from the Company’s new PlayerID system, which categorizes three key types of tennis playing styles: Baseliner, Attacker and All Courter. The system helps athletes better select products that speak to their playing style and enhance their overall performance on the court.

“We are very excited to launch the BURN. This is a racket that has been designed specifically for athletes, particularly juniors, who are looking for booming power and an aggressive frame,” said Hans-Martin Reh, General Manager, Racquet Sports. “This line symbolizes our deep understanding of performance tennis, our constant evaluation of how the game is evolving and what players truly need on an individual performance basis.”

The BURN line consists of five rackets, each with a headsize of 100 square inches. Each BURN racket is constructed with High Performance Carbon Fiber, which increases frame stiffness for explosive power on groundstrokes. And the BURN comes with the X2 Shaft, a longer handle that allows for increased feel and leverage on two-handed backhands, and an optimal shaft shape to enable quick grip changes for extreme grips. The rackets also feature Parallel Drilling, which dramatically increase their sweet spot, while providing a forgiving feel.

In addition, the BURN 100S, BURN 100LS, and BURN 100ULS rackets are equipped with the Company’s Spin Effect technology and differ in weight, allowing juniors to work their way up within the BURN family of rackets as they grow.

Current top-ten players and Wilson Advisory Staff members Kei Nishikori and Simona Halep will be two of the first athletes to play competitively with the new BURN during the 2015 Australian Open in Melbourne. Consumers are invited to visit www.wilson.com/burn for more information on the BURN family of rackets and to register for pre-sale notification. Pre-sale for the BURN 100S and BURN 100ULS begins February 2, and for the BURN100LS and the BURN 100 on March 2. Pre-sales will be available on www.wilson.com/burn and major tennis retailer websites. The BURN will retail for $199. The BURN racket will be in retail stores in mid-February.

ABOUT WILSON’S PLAYERID SYSTEM

The BURN is the first Baseliner-focused product to emerge from the Company’s innovative PlayerID system, which allows tennis players to easily identify the appropriate Wilson racket model based on individual play style.

Through extensive player research, Wilson identified three core playing styles in relation to the modern tennis game:

  • Baseliner – the player who battles from the baseline with consistency and speed
  • Attacker – the player who attacks the ball early to dictate play inside the baseline
  • All-Courter – a versatile player, who hits from all corners of the court

After identifying which playing style they belong to, athletes can quickly narrow their racket search by model type and weight. Every racket for Wilson will correspond with one of the three playing style segments, streamlining the racket selection process and ensuring a player’s equipment is best suited for his or her style of play.

For more information and product specifications on the full line of Wilson BURN rackets, log on to www.wilson.com/burnthebaseline.

Wilson launches next gen BLADE racqet

Wilson Sporting Goods Co., announced today the introduction of four new rackets to its BLADE performance tennis franchise: BLADE 98 16×19, BLADE 98 18×20, BLADE 98S and BLADE 104. The rackets join one of Wilson’s best-selling lines globally, and are designed specifically for big- hitting, attacking-style players seeking aggressive control. Current top-ranked players and Wilson Advisory Staff members Serena Williams, Milos Raonic, Gael Monfils, David Goffin and Madison Keys will play with the BLADE during the upcoming 2015 season.
The BLADE is the second attacker-focused product to emerge from Wilson’s new PlayerID system. For this system, Wilson categorized three core playing styles in today’s game: Baseliner, Attacker and All Courter. The PlayerID system helps players better select products that speak to their playing style and enhance their overall performance on the court. The introduction of the next generation BLADE rackets follows Wilson’s highly successful re-invention of its attacker-style Pro Staff franchise, which launched in 2014.

wilson-blade-2015

“BLADE is an incredible story of how to take performance tennis engineering and design to the next level,” said Hans-Martin Reh, General Manager, Racquet Sports. “We really dug into the playing style of attacker athletes and what they need to optimize their game. Then we looked at materials, construction, string pattern, weight, head size and feel, to design a racket that gives these powerful players greater control, feel and a bigger sweet spot.”

The new 2015 BLADE features a bold, new design with lime green accents on a sleek, black base, and is technology-packed. Evolutionary Braided Graphite and Basalt construction allows the BLADE to be more elastic and reactive at the point of contact for enhanced feel and greater control. The racket also includes Wilson’s Parallel Drilling, a technology that ensures the racket’s grommet holes are parallel with the string bed. This expands the sweet spot size by up to 26 percent, resulting in more power and a forgiving feel.

Further, the BLADE 98S delivers precision spin through Wilson’s patented Spin Effect Technology, which creates 200+ more RPM’s on every shot and enables players to get more balls in the court. And the BLADE 104, Serena William’s racket of choice, has a larger head size and bigger sweet sport.
The BLADE is available for pre-order now at select retailers and will be in retail stores and on Wilson.com in mid-January. The MSRP for the Blade is $230.

ABOUT WILSON’S PLAYERID SYSTEM

Wilson’s innovative PlayerID system allows tennis players to easily identify the appropriate Wilson racket model based on their individual style of play.

Through extensive player research, Wilson identified three core playing styles in relation to the modern tennis game:

  • Baseliner – the player who battles from the baseline with consistency and speed
  • Attacker – the player who attacks the ball early to dictate play inside the baseline
  • All-Courter – a versatile player, who hits from all corners of the court

After identifying which playing style they belong to, athletes can quickly narrow their racket search by model type and weight. Every racket for Wilson will correspond with one of the three playing style segments, streamlining the racket selection process and ensuring a player’s equipment is best suited for his or her style of play.

“The powerful relationship between an athlete and their equipment is often underplayed, yet at the crux of performance tennis,” added Reh. “We want every player to play at their personal best and achieve their goals and aspirations. We believe PlayerID will help athletes determine which racket will be their best tool for their best game.”

 

djokovic ready for shot at fifth australian open crown

Novak Djokovic goes into the 2015 Australian Open, which begins later this week, as the favourite to win his fifth title in this event and start the year in the best possible manner.
The Serbian secured his maiden Grand Slam trophy in Melbourne in 2008 and has since gone on to bring that tally up to seven, while also securing the top spot in the men’s world rankings.Novak Djokovic

ATP World Tour Finals success

At the end of the 2014 campaign, Djokovic ended the year in the best possible way by winning his third straight ATP World Tour Finals crown in London. Unfortunately the crowd at the O2 Arena did not get treated to the final they were hoping for as Roger Federer pulled out on the game with a back injury, handing the world number one the trophy without having to face the Swiss player. Although Djokovic received a handover in the final, he did look in good form throughout the week and he was fancied to beat the 16-time Grand Slam winner.
The victory in London capped off a solid season for the 27-year-old. There was just one Grand Slam to his name, which came at Wimbledon, however, he ended the year at the top of the world rankings as he was the most consistent player on the men’s tour. That is a reason why the likes of betfair.com have him around 10/11 for success in Australia.

Preparation for Australian Open

However, Djokovic’s preparation for the 2015 Australian Open has not necessarily gone to plan. He withdrew from the Mubadala World Tennis Championship final in Abu Dhabi due to illness in his return to the court following the winter break. That came after he had defeated 2014 Australian Open winner Stanislas Wawrinka in the semi-final.
The Serbian then suffered a surprise defeat to Ivo Karlovic in the Qatar Open. All three sets in that game went to a tie breaker, with the Croatian winning two of them to advance into the semi-final of the competition in Doha. Before the upset, Djokovic defeated Dusan Lajovic and Sergiy Stakhovsky in straight sets, dropping just six games in those two ties.
However, despite a lack of success in either of his pre-Australian Open tournaments, Djokovic still got a good run of games under his belt, which would have been his priority.
Conditions in Melbourne are always straining on the players as the heat really does test the fitness in the opening Grand Slam of the year. By playing in Qatar in his two warm-up events, Djokovic has become accustomed to competing in such high temperatures once again which will be similar next week over a five-set format.

Question marks about rivals

All three of Djokovic’s main rivals going into the Australian Open have question marks hanging over their heads.
Federer finished 2014 with a back injury so it is unclear what his fitness is like ahead of a gruelling Grand Slam campaign.
The Swiss player did, though, take part in the Davis Cup final where he helped Switzerland defeat France to win the team competition for the first time in its history. He also recently won the Brisbane International where he beat Milos Raonic in the final. At the age of 33, however, Federer is looking for his first Grand Slam title since he lifted the Wimbledon trophy in 2012.

Rafael Nadal is on course for his return to the ATP in the Australian Open. He has been out of action since the back end of the 2014 season which forced him to miss the US Open and ATP World Tour Finals due to him needing an operation on his appendix. It is likely that Nadal will not be at his best for his first Grand Slam since Wimbledon 2014 as the five-set format may just come too soon for him.

Andy Murray also needs to prove that he is 100 per cent fit again and is ready to win another Grand Slam to add the US Open and Wimbledon titles in won in 2012 and 2013, respectively. His best run in 2014 was in the French Open where he eventually went out in the last four in Paris on what is considered his least favourite surface.

Previous success

Only Andre Agassi and Federer have won as many Australian Open titles in the modern Open era as Djokovic, but the Serbian is bidding to exceed that joint-record this year by winning the crown once again in order to stand alone with five tournament successes to his name.
Between 2011 and 2013, he avoided defeat in Melbourne and his run only came to an end last year when eventual champion Wawrinka beat him 9-7 in a fifth-set decider in the quarter-final of the 2014 competition.
In his last seven appearances in the Australian Open, Djokovic has reached the quarter-finals or better so he is a more than worthy contender.

want: rf97 autographed and wilson’s juice 100

With the holidays around the corner and you don’t know what to get your loved ones, we figure we can help out by offering you some ideas for Christmas morning. First off is the Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autographed.

The sport of tennis is evolving, so is the Pro Staff. Developed with the help of Roger Federer and engineered for the next generation of tennis, the new Pro Staff delivers more power, a larger headsize, and a bigger sweet spot, but keeps the pure, classic feel that players love.

Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autographed

And next up is the the Wilson Juice 100.

Developed to deliver high power for the widest range of playing styles, the Juice is ideal for nearly all play levels. A lightweight, forgiving modern frame design in a mid-plus head size offers versatile performance and maneuverability from the baseline or the net. Amplifeel 360 increases power and enhances feel and Parellel Drilling increases sweet spot size.

If you think this makes a great gift then head over to the Wilson shop and surprise your loved ones with the gift of a lifetime.