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.

atp tour and lacoste extend partnership through 2015

The ATP has announced a two-year renewal of its partnership with Lacoste, the renowned lifestyle fashion brand. The “crocodile” will continue to dress the line judges at the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at The O2 in London until 2015. Lacoste has been a loyal partner of the world’s biggest indoor tennis tournament since 2002.

“As a partner for the past 12 years, from Shanghai to Houston and now in London, Lacoste has always been in line with what the event stands for: a mix of tradition and innovation,” said Laurent Delanney, ATP Commercial Director. “The Barclays ATP World Tour Finals is broadcast in 193 territories and Lacoste is present in 114 countries. Wherever it takes place, the extensive global coverage of the tournament is the foundation of our successful partnership.”

Beyond the on court brand exposure, Lacoste’s benefits include a private hospitality suite in the Sponsor Village facing one of the practice courts and a promotional booth in the popular Fan Zone, which welcomed over 300,000 people in 2013.

“With our support to several players and several tournaments throughout the year, it is natural for us to partner with the culmination of the ATP World Tour season.” said Berta de Pablos-Barbier, Group Marketing & Branding EVP. “We will keep a close look at the Race to London to see if some of our ambassadors qualify for the tournament in the singles or doubles draw.”

An extended collaboration

Both parties also took the opportunity to extend the collaboration, which will see the ATP staff wearing Lacoste at all ATP events and Lacoste receiving advertising space on ATPWorldTour.com, which recorded 550 million page views in 2013.

“Our teams are very proud to wear Lacoste clothes, which combine elegance and comfort,” said Laurent Delanney, ATP Commercial Director. “The quality and consistency of the clothing reflects the level of professionalism we want to achieve in all areas of our organisation.”

“ATPWorldTour.com is a very good platform to keep expanding our new campaign ‘Life is a beautiful sport’ as an established member of the big tennis family.” said Berta de Pablos-Barbier, Group Marketing & Branding EVP.

 

 

new espn/atp agreement expands coverage for iw, miami, and world tour finals

PRESS RELEASE

ESPN expands of ATP coverage for Indian Wells, Miami, and ATP World Tour Finals

TV Schedule for Miami Now includes Both Finals; ESPN3 to Deliver More Action from Every ATP World Tour Masters 1000 & 500 Event

ESPN and the ATP World Tour have finalized a long-term agreement that will expand coverage of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif.; Sony Open Tennis in Miami; and the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals currently played in London. More than 44 hours will be aired, including, for the first time, both the women’s and men’s championships from the South Florida event. Also, more live action from every ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and 500 tournament will be on ESPN3 – totaling up to 1,200 hours annually.

“ESPN is thrilled to expand coverage of three of the biggest events outside the Major Championships – Indian Wells, Miami and the ATP World Tour season finale,” said Jason Bernstein, ESPN senior director, programming & acquisitions who oversees both ESPN3 and ESPN’s tennis business. “ESPN3 presents more live tennis action than any other U.S. outlet year-round, with multiple simultaneous matches available on broadband and via WatchESPN no matter where you are.”

Mark Young, CEO ATP Americas and Chief Media Officer, said, “We’re delighted to sign this extended agreement with ESPN, paving the way for even greater TV coverage and viewership in the US of our biggest events. ESPN is a terrific broadcast partner for the ATP and, with more fans tuning into ATP World Tour events than ever before, it’s a very exciting time to be a part of the Tour.”

ESPN3 is ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network, a 24/7 destination that delivers thousands of global sports events annually via WatchESPN. It is available to 85 million homes at no additional cost to fans who receive their high-speed Internet connection or video subscription from an affiliated service provider. The network is also available at no cost to approximately 21 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers connected to on-campus educational networks and on-base military networks.

ESPN – All Four Slams, All In One Place
Tennis has been part of ESPN since its first week on the air and provided many memorable moments, but it has never been as important as today, with the US Open joining the lineup in 2009, giving ESPN all four Grand Slam events, something no other U.S. network has ever done, let alone in one year. ESPN has presented the Australian Open since 1984, the French Open since 2002 (plus 1986 – 1993), and Wimbledon since 2003, with exclusivity for live television with all other rights extended in a 12-year agreement starting in 2012. Exclusivity for the US Open in an 11-year agreement begins in 2015.

About the BNP Paribas Open
The BNP Paribas Open is the largest ATP World Tour and WTA combined two-week event in the world, offers more than $12,000,000 in prize money, and is the only event to provide the Hawkeye line challenge system on all match courts. In 2013, more than 380,000 people attended the event. Visit www.bnpparibasopen.com for more information, including tickets and hotel vacation packages Indian Wells Tennis Garden Box Office, 800-999-1585 or 760-200-8000, 78-200 Miles Avenue, Indian Wells, CA, 92210.

About Sony Open Tennis
The 2014 Sony Open will be played March 17-30 at the Crandon Tennis Center in Miami. The two-week combined event is owned and operated by IMG. The Sony Open is one of nine ATP Masters 1000 Series events on the ATP calendar, a Premier Mandatory event on the WTA calendar, and features the top men’s and women’s tennis players in the world. The event’s international fan base, exotic location, and celebrity appeal give it an energy and excitement unlike any other event on tour. In 2013 Andy Murray defeated David Ferrer for his second Sony Open title, while Serena Williams knocked off Maria Sharapova to capture her record sixth title in Miami. For ticket information, call (305) 442-3367 or visit the website at www.SonyOpenTennis.com.

About the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals
The Barclays ATP World Tour Finals is the year-end climax to the men’s professional tennis season, featuring only the world’s best eight qualified singles players and doubles teams as they battle it out for the last title of the season. Players compete for Emirates ATP Rankings points throughout the season in a bid to earn one of the eight coveted berths and a chance to win the $1.92m prize money on offer for the winner. Played using a round-robin format, each player plays three matches as they compete for a berth in the knockout semi-finals and beyond. The prestigious tournament has been contested in major cities around the world with a rich history dating back to the birth of The Masters in 1970 in Tokyo. Since 2000 the event has taken place in cities such as Lisbon, Sydney, and Shanghai. In 2009 the tournament was moved to London, where it will be played through 2015.

quantifying the GOAT question

Aneki.com, the web site that prides itself on all sorts of rankings and records, has recently come up with a formula (full of numbers, of course) to calculate just who, exactly, is the Greatest of All Time (GOAT).

While you might not care which country has the highest percentage of bride kidnappings (that would be Kyrgyzstan) or where the world’s best restaurant is (that would be Copenhagen, Denmark), there is certainly some intrigue in comparing the men of tennis’s past to one another in trying to figure out – at least numerically – who should be called the GOAT.

Similar to the ATP‘s Head-to-Head feature, the Aneki interactive tool lets you file through a list of greats that range from Federer, Nadal, Sampras and Agassi to Lendl, Connors, McEnroe and Borg. The advantage of this system, however, is that it plugs in stats like total weeks at no. 1, major titles, head-to-head record and the like to dole out who is better than whom and – ultimately  – who the GOAT is.

As Patrick McEnroe makes mention in his recent book Hardcourt Confidential, it’s almost impossible to compare who really is the greatest ever across generations because of the change of the game, the technology, the tournaments and the overall tennis culture. But hey, it’s fun, right? We never turn down a good time…

(screengrab via aneki.com)

tuesday tease (sans tees)

Is that tongue?! Has the ATP joined forces with MAP for our London Balls idea?! We mean, it is the end of the season, so you can’t really blame us for wishful thinking, right?

Novak Djokovic took down Nikolay Davydenko 7-5 in the third set in their round robin encounter on Tuesday in London. The two have now met five times, with Djoko holding a 3-2 edge in the series. 

OK, yes, we agree, more pictures. After the jump. Go! [Read more…]