andy murray in form ahead of ATP Tour Finals

Andy Murray’s rise to the top of world tennis was the culmination of years of hard work and dedication but 2014 has arguably been his hardest year of all. Having seemed certain to miss out on this year’s ATP Tour finals in London (so certain, in fact, that he was not included in the giant posters advertising the event) the Brit has gone on one of the most remarkable winning runs in recent times and enters the tournament in some of his best ever form. The 27 year old’s form is reflected in his odds and he is now third favourite for the event with Betfair offering a tempting 7/1 on an outright win.Andy Murray

Fall from Grace

When defeated by Novak Djokovic at the quarter final stage of the US Open back in September Murray dropped down to 12th in the World rankings. This was the first time he had been out of the top 10 since 2008 and, having started 2014 up at 4th in the rankings, was an indication of just how far he had fallen and what a significant impact the back surgery that he had at the end of last year had made on his form. At this stage many players would holed up for winter, got back on the practice courts and attempted to come back stronger than ever in 2015…but not Murray. He decided to embark on a punishing schedule of tournament play in a last ditch attempt to secure enough ranking points to re-enter the top nine (Rafael Nadal has withdrawn due to appendix surgery so his spot will go to the ninth ranked man).

Hectic Schedule

Murray’s decision to enter six tournaments in six weeks ahead of the ATP Tour Finals saw him take on his most hectic schedule since his early days on the tour as an 18 year old but his gamble paid off and his place in London is secured. Unbelievably the Brit won three of the six tournaments- first taking the Shenzhen Open (his first title in 14 months), then the Vienna Open and finally the Valencia Open. In the process of winning the finals in both Valencia and Shenzhen he saw off five match points against the luckless Tommy Robredo of Spain demonstrating that his old steel and determination is well and truly back.

Aiming for Hat-Trick

Before winning the Shenzhen Open title, Murray’s last tournament victory had been at Wimbledon back in 2013. His victory over Novak Djokovic in the final delivered the first British men’s singles champion since Fred Perry in 1936 and came hot on the heels of his impressive win at the 2012 Olympics. Since that famous victory Murray has switched coaches, moving from Ivan Lendl to Amelie Mauresmo in June, and has undergone surgery to resolve a disc problem in his back forcing him to miss last year’s ATP Tour Finals event. For the man from Dunblane, victory in London would complete a memorable hat-trick of home wins and would prove many of his doubters wrong.

Man to Beat

Despite Murray’s impressive form, a win in London is still hard to envisage, with the world’s best players all vying for one of the sport’s biggest prizes. Novak Djokovic, who beat Murray comprehensively in Paris last week, will be desperate to hold on to his title and he looks to be the man to beat. Thankfully Murray has avoided the Serb in the group stages, being drawn alongside Roger Federer, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic, but if he is to win his first ever ATP Tour finals title then he looks certain to have to beat the 27 year old at some stage. If he could do that then there would be no doubting whatsoever that he was back to his best.

Maria Sharapova and boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov to participate in Mexican Open

Russian tennis star, Maria Sharapova and boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov confirmed their participation for the XXII edition of the 2015 Mexican Tennis Open held in Acapulco from February 23-28. While Dimitrov will be back for seconds after winning the men’s field in 2014 against Kevin Anderson, this will be Sharapova’s first time playing in the famed Mexican resort town.maria sharapova

Other distinguished players confirmed for next year’s event include, Japanese US Open finalist, Kei Nishikori, #5 ATP-ranking player, David Ferrer and Juan Martin del Potro, winner of the 2009 US Open.

“We are very excited to welcome this caliber of athletes to Acapulco and be once again the host of this important event,” said Guerrero Tourism Board Secretary, Javier Aluni Montes. “Acapulco’s visibility as a sports town is increasing rapidly; this year alone, we have confirmed triathlons, fishing competitions, golf tournaments and international rally events,” he added.

The tournament will take place at the Fairmont Acapulco Princess and will feature outdoor hard courts for the second time (the change was introduced in 2014). Other novelties include a revamped “Grand Stand” which will now have capacity for 1,630 people. Prices for the men’s field will amount to $300,000 dollars and 500 points towards ATP classification. The price for the winner for the female series will consist of $37,000 dollars and 280 points towards their WTA ranking.

The Mexican Open is an attractive tournament for ATP and WTA players. Since 2014 it is part of the ATP’s “Hot Tour” along with Indian Wells and Miami. The event also represents an important economic boost for the state of Guerrero not only due to the creation of new job opportunities (600 new positions have been confirmed), but also for its role in tourism arrivals.

Tickets will be available to public beginning October 13, 2014.

andy roddick added to Mylan World TeamTennis Smash hits field

Former world No. 1 Andy Roddick has joined the all-star lineup for Mylan World TeamTennis Smash Hits in London. The event, which benefits the Elton John AIDS Foundation and is co-hosted by Sir Elton John and Billie Jean King, will be Sunday, December 7 during the final session of the Statoil Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall. Andy Roddick

Roddick is a longtime supporter of the event and returns for his 10th Mylan WTT Smash Hits appearance. Roddick won 30 singles titles on the ATP World Tour, including the 2003 US Open and was ranked in the top 10 for nine consecutive years. He is also a member of the Austin Aces, the Mylan WTT professional team based in his hometown of Austin, Texas.

The field for Mylan WTT Smash Hits also includes former world No. 1s John McEnroe and Kim Clijsters, former British No. 1 Tim Henman and 2013 Wimbledon runner-up Sabine Lisicki. The players will form two teams, coached by King and John, and will play a Mylan World TeamTennis match. The one-night event will be during the final session of the IMG-owned and staged Statoil Masters Tennis tournament. More players to be announced in the coming weeks.

Since 1993, Mylan WTT Smash Hits has raised more than $12 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and various local AIDS charities throughout the United States. This is the first time in the event’s 22-year history that it will be staged outside the U.S.

Tennis action is set for 6:00 p.m. and Team Elton has the edge in the overall series 11-10 after defeating Team Billie Jean in Orlando, Fla., in 2013.

Tickets are available from £18.50 through www.WTTSmashHits.com, www.statoilmasterstennis.com or through the Royal Albert Hall Box Office on +44 (0) 20 7070 4404.

Sponsorship and Group VIP packages are also available by contacting Natalee Jarrett at njarrett@wtt.com or 212-586-3444 x. 111.

For more information on Mylan WTT Smash Hits, visit www.WTTSmashHits.com.

For more information about the Statoil Masters Tennis tournament, go to: www.statoilmasterstennis.com.

For more information on the Elton John AIDS Foundation and how you can help create an AIDS-free future, go to ejaf.org/London. Elton John AIDS Foundation is a registered UK charity – No. 1017336

davis cup: swiss take on italy, czech take on france while usa fights slovakia for next year

It’s Davis Cup weekend and the USA is taking on Slovakia to ensure a spot in the 2015 Davis Cup tournament. Captain Jim Courier has selected John Isner, the top ranked US player who was the last player to exit the US Open 2014.  Sam Querrey, who recently defeated Guillermo Garcia-Lopez to reach the semi’s at  Winston-Salem for the third year in a row only to be defeated by Jerzy Janowicz and they are both joined by tennis twins  Mike and Bob Bryan, who are widely considered to be the best men’s doubles team of all time. The Bryans bros won the US Open 2014 which marked their 16th Grand Slam win and 100th title.

The USA hopes to uphold their unbeaten record versus Slovakia but their last victories already dated from the 2002 and 2003 season.  The 2014 US Davis Cup team shows parallels with the 2003 when the team took on Slovakia at the same stage in Bratislava and beat the Slovaks with an epic 3-2 victory. In order for the USA to compete in the Davis Cup 2015 they must beat Slovakia this coming weekend.

If Slovakia wins then they will be the ones who will compete in the 2015 Davis Cup.  The Slovakia Davis Cup team is captained by Miloslav Mecir and features Martin Klizan, Lukas Lacko, Norbert Gombos and Michal Mertinak.

Meanwhile Roger Federer leads Swiss’ Davis Cup challenge as they take on Italy in the semi’s of the tournament. Swiss is captained by Severin Luthi and the team consists of Roger Federer, winner of 17 Grand Slam tournaments, Stanislas Wawrinka, winner of the Australian Open 2014 and is completed by Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer.  The Italian team consists of Andreas Seppi and Fabio Fognini.

Federer considers Swiss to be the favorite in this encounter.

“We obviously are favorites,” the third-ranked Federer said. “We have a formidable team. We are playing at home and we chose the surface. We can do it.”

Swiss captain told the press that having Federer and Wawrinka with the team has greatly improved the preparation for the upcoming weekend.

“We could train together as soon as Tuesday, which was not the case in our opening two rounds,” Luthi said, referring to the tight 3-2 wins over Serbia and Kazakhstan.

If the Swiss win they will take on the winner of the match between France and the Czech Republic.

France takes on the Czech Republic who have proved themselves to be great cupfighters as they have won the Davis Cup twice in a row.  France’ team consists of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils, both players who are currently in top form. Tsonga recently won the Rogers Cup in Toronto while Gael Monfils reached the fourth round of the US Open 2014 where he lost to Federer in an epic five set match where he failed to convert two match points.

France coach Arnaud Clement called the Czech team “the best team in the world” and is looking try to stop the impressive winning streak of the Czechs.

“This is the best team in the world,” France captain Arnaud Clement said of the Czechs. “One can’t win the Davis Cup twice in a row by chance. We’ll be trying to put their amazing run to an end.”

The Czech team consists of Radek Stepanek, Tomas Berdych and is completed by Lukas Rosol and Jiri Vesely.

Stepanek is looking forward to playing at Roland Garros and even more so when he found out that Roland Garros was originally built to host Davis Cup matches.

“It’s special when you come here for a Grand Slam tournament and it’s definitely even more special for us to play here and play for our country. It’s even more special to play here in the semifinals.”

Make your predictions for the upcoming Davis Cup weekend matches and check if it is a good bet with the best tennis betting online sites.

serena williams wins 6th U.S. Open and 18th grand slam; kei nishikori makes tennis history with finals appearance

Long-time Wilson player Serena Williams won her 6th U.S. Open and 18th Grand Slam title this past Sunday, tying Wilson’s Chris Evert for third most Grand Slam titles of all-time. Meanwhile, Wilson’s Kei Nishikori made tennis history of his own by becoming the first Asian-born male to compete in a Grand Slam final.

Williams relied heavily on her signature attack style of play (Wilson Blade Racket) en route to defeating Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-3 in the final. She dominated the field throughout the tournament with her hard-hitting serve and baseline game, never dropping a set. Her six U.S. Open singles titles also ties Evert for the most all-time – Williams’ first Open title came at age 17 while using the Wilson Hyper Hammer.

“Serena is one of the greatest tennis players ever, and we’re thrilled to have her as a member of the Wilson Advisory Staff,” said Hans-Martin Reh, General Manager of Racquet Sports at Wilson Sporting Goods Co. “The fact that Wilson has played a role in her success leaves us overflowing with pride. On behalf of everyone at Wilson, we want to congratulate her on winning the U.S. Open and adding another chapter to her remarkable story.”

Nishikori’s historic run to the finals wasn’t as smooth as Serena’s, yet his powerful and precise groundstrokes (Wilson Steam Racket) helped him dictate points as he won back-to-back four-hour matches in the 4th round and quarterfinals against the No. 5 and No. 3 seeds respectively. Two days later, he came back to take down the current world No. 1 seed to reach the finals.

“Kei has played inspirational tennis the past two weeks,” said Reh. “We at Wilson are proud to equip Kei and feel lucky to partner with someone whose talent on the court is only exceeded by his humility off of it. A big congratulations goes to him as well.”

Earlier this year, Kei also made history when he became the first Asian-born player to be ranked top-ten in ATP’s world rankings.

tennis legend roger federer opens up in october issue of Town & Country

 

Tennis legend Roger Federer covers the October issue of Town & Country, on newsstands nationwide September 16th. In the magazine, he opens up about how he deals with failure, his wife and children (two sets of twins!), and why he still has the urge to keep playing tennis.

Some of the interview highlights:

On feeling joy when he steps onto the tennis court:

“I want to be happy when I play. For me it’s the only right thing to do: to be happy, feel happy, and also share that with the people. It’s very important to me.”

 On his love for the game, and why he’s not quite ready to retire:

“I didn’t expect to become a professional tennis player. Everything after top 100 and even top 10 for me was, like, way beyond. Yeah, I was joking about winning Wimbledon when I was younger, but did I ever really, really believe that it was going to happen? Probably not. But let’s just sort of dream big and give it a chance, you know? So everything, the whole last 10 years, has been more than I could ever ask for. And for that reason, I think, I have this pleasure and this fun, because I remember how it feels to play on Court 23. I remember how sad and angry I was when I was younger. I remember how much work I put into it. And that’s why I don’t want to give it away just like that.”

 On his namesake foundation, a charity that helps children gain access to education, primarily in southern Africa, and currently assists 86,400 children, with the goal of 1 million by 2018:

“I just want to focus on one thing and do that a hundred percent. It’s important for the people who give you the money to see clearly what you’re trying to stand for. If somebody gives you one dollar, they know what’s going to happen with that dollar. For me it’s been a privilege being able to do that and having the trust of people.”

 On his legendary battle with Rafael Nadal at the 2008 Wimbledon finals:

Fans “relate to you sometimes more when you lose. And then I think I got unbelievable support from 2008 onward. They wanted to see me win again.”

Read the full interview on the Town & Country website

serena steals the show

Serena Williams in pink leopard

 

Looking fabulous in a pink leopard print dress, Serena Williams stole the show in the US Open quarter finals with a comprehensive 6-3, 6-2 victory over Flavia Pennetta to book her place in the final-four. In his 19th consecutive win at the tournament, Serena kept alive her hopes of winning the 18th Grand Slam title that would see her join an elite group containing Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova as the most successful players of all time. If Williams can go on to win a sixth US Open title, she would also become the first woman to win the tournament three times in a row since Evert in the late 1970s.

After an injury-hit season in which the American has maintained her place at the top of the rankings without winning a Grand Slam, there had been some betting fans writing off Williams ahead of this year’s US Open. On the evidence of her performances so far, though, it’s unsurprising to see Serena heading into the latter stages of the tournament as the stand-out favourite with the likes of Betfair, Paddy Power and others.

The 32-year old hasn’t dropped a set in her first five matches at Flushing Meadows this year, dropping just 22 games in total. But despite her impressive form, Serena had to shake off some early wobbles before coming through her quarter final against Penneta. After losing her first two service games, Williams grabbed the tie by the scruff of the neck and did it all while looking her usual sensational self.

The US Open has always given both Serena and Venus Williams the chance to push the limits of tennis fashion in the past, and this year has been no different. While Serena was sporting her leopard print outfit in her quarter-final, she had stolen the show throughout her career with a string of eye-catching dresses.

the tennis channel unveils signature series: arthur ashe at the us open 2014

Tennis Channel will celebrate the illustrious career of tennis pioneer, devoted activist and Hall of Famer Arthur Ashe in Signature Series: Arthur Ashe during the 2014 US Open. The newest edition to the network’s original Signature Series documentary lineup – Ashe’s first authorized television biography – will debut Sunday, August 31, at 11 p.m. ET at the conclusion of Tennis Channel’s US Open coverage. A complete schedule of episode airdates can be found on the channel’s website at www.tennischannel.com/schedule.

Signature Series: Arthur Ashe delves into the brilliant tennis career, passionate activism and untimely death of one of the most respected athletes of all time. In a pantheon with other 20th Century agents of change like Jackie Robinson, Jesse Owens and Muhammed Ali. Ashe is remembered as a man who broke color barriers and affected human rights issues. With perhaps nothing more important to him than education and the opportunities it can afford people, of all walks of life, Ashe took a leading role in advancing this cause of using a locker room as a means of promoting the classroom. The dignity and grace with which he led his life, on and off the tennis court and in the face of his own mortality, remain respected around the world.

“Arthur Ashe’s legacy transcends tennis and even sports, and this is a story that simply had to be told,” said Ken Solomon, chairman and CEO, Tennis Channel. “For the first time television audience will experience Arthur in the context of history and learn why he was one of the greatest social leaders our world has seen.”

An eventual World No. 1, Ashe began as an outsider in tennis, an African-American unable to play junior tournaments – or even walk onto the same court with a white opponent – because of racial segregation laws in his home state of Virginia. He went on to lead the University of California Los Angeles’ championship tennis team, and became the first African-American to play for the U.S. Davis Cup team in 1963. This landmart “first” was one of many in a lifetime of firsts for Ashe. He later became the first man to win the US Open in 1968, its inaugural year. In doing so, he also became the first – and to this day only – African-American man to win the singles title at the US Open or the U.S. National Championships, as the tournament was known before the Open Era.

Ashe added to his place in history with championships at the Australian Open in 1970 and Wimbledon in 1975, also firsts for an African-American man. Even today his Wimbledon championship upset of Jimmy Connors is considered a match for the ages. Ashe remains the only black man to win singles championships at the US Open, Wimbledon or the Australian Open. He also, with 1983 French Open winner Yannick Noah of France, became one of only two black men to win a major tennis singles title. He finished his career with 33 titles overall.

This documentary, however, charts the story of not only a Grand Slam champion, but also a lifetime leader, humanitarian, philanthropist and human rights activist who worked with three different U.S. presidents. Known for his character, Ashe’s passionate and tireless leadership translated into many causes – both politically and socially. He protested South African apartheid, championing human rights and serving as a beacon of hope to the people suffering under segregation there. Ashe became such a virtuous example to South Africans that they nicknamed him “Sepo” or “Hope.” After decades in prison, future South African president Nelson Mandela immediately sought a meeting with Ashe upon his release. Ashe was also committed to protesting U.S. crackdowns on Haitian refugees. He was arrested twice while demonstrating his beliefs regarding these issues. Above all Ashe was a fierce advocate of educational empowerment, and gave back to his community throughout his life. Paramount among his achievements may be his role as a founding member of National Junior Tennis and Learning, a non-profit dedicated to helping underprivileged youth through tennis.

“We are humbled to be able to honor Arthur Ashe’s memory in this edition of Signature Series,” said Laura Hockridge, vice president, original programming, Tennis Channel. “His actions as a player have helped to mold the sport as we know it today, and his convictions as an activist continue to inspire people and motivate positive change in the world.”

In 1992, Ashe announced that he had contracted AIDS during a blood transfusion years earlier while receiving treatment after heart surgery. In doing so, he became an early and public face for raising awareness about the disease. Ashe, with his wife Jeannne, helped to bring attention to AIDS by founding the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS, which generated funds for study into treating, curing and preventing the disease, with the eventual goal of finding a cure. He continued to bring light to the plight of AIDS victims by speaking before the U.N. General Assembly, inciting a call to action for delegates to increase funding for research and see the virus as a global issue. At a local level, Ashe also founded the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health. He designed the institute to address poor health care delivery issues amongst urban minorities. Ashe died in 1993 of AIDS-related pneumonia.

“The greatness of Arthur Ashe was not his tennis. It was the way he carried himself and what he tried to create. He represented so many good ideals and values … and I always believed that America lost a great deal when we lost Arthur Ashe,’ said longtime friend and agent of Arthur Ashe, Donald Dell, in an interview that appears in the documentary.

Spending nine years in the World Top 10, Ashe contributed more to the sport than just great match play and big wins. In response to tennis’ growing popularity and the stalemate of tennis professionals’ earnings, he co-founded the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) with Jack Kramer and others in 1972. The ATP was formed to represent the interests and rights of the men who made their living on the pro tennis circuit. Ashe served as president for two years and went on to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985. Today he is the namesake of the main venue at the US Open, “Arthur Ashe Stadium,” the largest tennis arena in the world. It was Ashe’s dedication to promoting equality and championing human rights – both in his professional and personal life – that keeps him in the hearts and minds of the public.

Ashe’s family, friends and contemporaries have joined together to help Tennis Channel honor the tennis great by speaking about their fondest memories of him on camera. Each was asked to write a personal letter to Ashe from the present, addressing the ways in which his legacy lives and the changes in the world today because of him. Read in “Dear Arthur” segments throughout, the letters form the pillars of the film’s structure. His brother Johnnie Ashe, Ambassador Andrew Young, prize winning sports writer Frank Deford and tennis icon Billie Jean King are among those featured. Other interviewees include contemporaries like all-time great Rod Laver and Cliff Drysdale, and tennis chroniclers Richard Evans and Steve Flink.

Signature Series: Arthur Ashe is a a part of Tennis Channel’s on going Signature Series documentary lineup. Other tennis personalities and subjects have included Rod Laver, Andre Agassi, Vitas Gerulaitis, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Rene Lacoste, Bud Collins and the sport’s centuries-old origins.

tennis legend mats wilander coaches GQ’s rosecrans baldwin for the US Open

GQ’s Rosecrans Baldwin is a tennis fanatic. He didn’t start playing tennis until the age when most pros retire, but he’s pretty decent at it. It was the longest of shots, but that didn’t stop him from gunning for this year’s U.S. Open. He hooked up with a former champ (Mats Wilander!), trained for months, and took his first step toward becoming a Grand Slam winner.

Baldwin on his experience training with Wilander:

“My first time out, a ball from Mats came fast to my backhand. I was caught off guard and returned a weak slice, rather than a more powerful topspin shot. Mats said immediately: ‘Why did you do that? You’ve got a good backhand—why hit a slice?’ Twenty minutes later, there was a drill where Mats fed me overheads so fast I might as well have swung my arm like a propeller to hit them all. Instead, I lost focus and dumped three into the net. Mats was pissed. ‘You should never miss an overhead! It’s the easiest shot in tennis. Federer misses maybe five overheads in a season.’”

Watch Roger Federer’s pre-match routine

“It was a master class. He disassembled everything he’d noticed in my game, down to the tiniest hiccups in my strokes. ‘Against these guys’—meaning the opponents I’d see at the tournament—‘you have nothing. No weapons. Maybe two things: your footwork and your determination. That’s it.’ From there came tips, tactics, solutions. He jumped out of his chair to demonstrate positioning. Compared situations I might face to moments in matches he’d played twenty-five years ago. By the end, my notes ran to seven pages.”

The September issue of GQ is available on newsstands now in New York and LA and nationally August 26.

sony develops smart tennis sensor to improve your game

Tennis Sensor on Racket

The Sony Smart Tennis Sensor is a device that is developed for players who want to optimize their play. With the  Smart Sensor you are able to keep track of various shots such as top spin forehand, slice forehand, topspin backhand and many more.  And even  tracks your attack style. And you can keep track of all aforementioned things using your smartphone and / or tablet.

Sony has partnered with Wilson, Yonex and Prince to realize real-time optimization of play and more to select tennis racket models accross the USA and Canada.

“Wilson is thrilled to be the exclusive distributor and marketing partner with Sony on this important Tennis technology advancement,” said Mike Dowse, President of Wilson Sporting Goods Co. “As a leader in Tennis for more than 100 years, Wilson has always been at the forefront of sport innovation and is dedicated to providing the best technologies to athletes of all levels. In some cases we build that innovation, but we also seek out partners, like Sony, who have developed innovation that we view as best in class.”

With an IP65 waterproof/dustproof rating and officially approved by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) for use during competition*, Sony’s Smart Tennis Sensor aligns to play of all levels and intensities.

“As of May, Yonex has had great success in introducing Sony’s Smart Tennis Sensor exclusively within Japan. This product has brought a new enjoyment to the game and has stirred strong praise among many tennis fans in Japan,” said Manji Kanemasu, Assistant General Manager of Global Marketing. “As the Smart Tennis Sensor expands globally, it will surely bring about a fun new experience to tennis fans all over the world.”

The Smart Tennis Sensor will be available at Wilson.com and through select Wilson tennis dealers, by the end of January 2015, at a MSRP of $200. More specifications and a full list of compatible tennis racket models will be available at: http://www.smarttennissensor.sony.net/NA/