Ahead of the start of the ATP World Tour Finals this weekend, Andy Murray has spoken of his determination to show his top form from the very start of the tournament.
The British No.1 is hoping to finish 2011 on a high with victory at the O2 arena, something many placing free bets online believe he can do. It will not be easy though, all of the world’s top players are in action, and Murray knows he needs to be on top of his game.
Speaking ahead of the tournament, he said: “You have to be right on your game from the first match. Sometimes you work your way into an event. Here you have to play your best, simple as that.”
Murray – who faces David Ferrer on Monday – then spoke of the high calibre of which he holds the ATP World Tour finals, describing winning it as ‘one of the biggest’ achievements in tennis.
The Scotsman continued: “It's one of the biggest tournaments on the tour - you're competing against the top guys.”
“If you can win, it's a big achievement, one of the biggest. So there's a real incentive.”
“This is different from other tournaments because you have to play well - very good tennis - from the first match if you're to have a chance of going through.”
Murray clearly enjoys playing at the O2 too, having won 27 of his 29 matches at this venue.
“I am most comfortable playing indoors because that is what I grew up playing on. Last year I lost in the semis but played a great match against Rafa.”
“In some ways maybe losing that match gave me the drive to work harder and make sure things improved.”
"As long as I finish the year playing good tennis, that makes a difference going into the off-season.”
“None of the matches are easy and there's no group you're going to get that's going to be much better than the other one.”
“I've played well against Ferrer on hard courts in the past but he's made the final before [in 2007] and he has won tournaments on indoor hard courts.”
"Berdych played very, very well in Paris and obviously Novak, even though he's had some injury problems the last few weeks, has had an incredible year. It's going to be a tough draw, with long points and long matches.”
It should be extremely entertaining too. It is always faced paced tennis at this event, with the players interacting with the crowd and revelling in the excellent atmosphere.
Before Murray faces Ferrer on Monday, the tournament gets underway with Roger Federer playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Rafael Nadal up against Mardy Fish on Sunday afternoon.
Petra Kvitova has insisted she isn’t focusing on securing the world number one sport for herself after she claimed victory over Victoria Azarenka in the season-ending WTA Championships.
The Pole began the year ranked a lowly 34 but has battled her way up to second following a remarkable turnaround, culminating in victory in Istanbul over Azarenka which proceeded a one-sided win over world number one Caroline Wozniaki.
Kvitova marked her breakthrough year by winning her first ever Wimbledon crown while also making it to the quarters of the Australian Open and winning six tournaments that helped her become only the fourth woman ever to break the $5 million prize money barrier in a year.
Sports betting suggests she is on course to dislodge Wozniaki at the top of the pile before long but the 21-year-old insists ranking has never been a concern for her, even if she does feel as though she deserves to be on top.
"I'm not thinking about that at the moment, It's been a big year for me, I have improved everything." She said.
While Kvitova may have to wait for the number one spot there was progress made by British women’s number one Elena Baltacha, who is set to become the first British woman since Jo Durie in the 1980s to end the season inside the top 50 players in the world for two years running.
My big goal for the year was to defend the ranking points I had and keep my ranking up, so to have done that and got back inside the top 50 again feels like a really big achievement," Baltacha said. "This has definitely been the best year of my career, no question." The Briton said.no comments
The BBC has confirmed it has extended its live coverage deal of Wimbledon until 2017.
Doubts had been raised over the future of tennis on the BBC leading to free bets backing a switch to another channel after it confirmed its Formula 1 coverage would be shared with Sky in an attempt to cut costs, but the new deal ensures the famous tournament will remain on free to air television for at least another five years.
The three year extension to the current deal means the BBC wil have been broadcasting Wimbledon for 90 years and Ian Ritchie, chief executive of the All England Club, believes it is important to maintain that historical partnership.
"Wimbledon fans have been enjoying the BBC's broadcast coverage of The Championships since 1927 and we are delighted to be extending this enduring and successful partnership for a further three years." He said.
Formula 1 fans were outraged earlier this year when a new deal over television rights was announced that cut the amount of live races shown in half. The BBC pays around £40 million a year for the rights to exclusively screen the sport on TV and Radio as well as on its website, but has the target of making £600 million worth of savings by 2014 and it was rumoured that tennis would be next to feel the effects of the current economic climate.
However Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, believes the “special place” Wimbledon hold with the British public meant maintaining viewing rights was a must.
"The BBC's first ever live sport broadcast was from Wimbledon and we are proud that our new deal means the longest partnership in sports broadcasting continues.
"We know that Wimbledon fortnight has a very special place in the hearts of the UK public. We are delighted that our new agreement ensures coverage of The Championships remains free to air and available to licence fee payers."
ITV had been the free bet favourite to take over the rights had the BBC opted against extending its current deal.
Andy Murray displaced Roger Federer in the men’s singles world rankings after his Shanghai Master’s final win over David Ferrer took him above the Swiss star and into 3rd spot behind Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
The British number 1 successfully defended his Shanghai Masters title as he saw off the threat of world number five Ferrer, winning 7-5 6-4 to move ahead of the 16 time Grand Slam winner in the world rankings.
Even those paying more attention to the best mobile casinos will tell you that Murray has been in exceptional form of late and has won tournaments in Japan and Thailand in October, while also winning the Cincinnati Masters where he became only the second man to beat Novak Djokovic earlier this year when the Serb retired hurt in the final.
The Shanghai Masters win was the Scot’s 5th tournament victory of the year, and while he has previously occupied the world number two spot for a brief time in 2009, Murray believes it would a huge achievement to end the year in front of Federer.
"I'm still not guaranteed to finish at number three, I'm going to have to win some more matches.” He said after his win in Shanghai.
"But if you finish in front of Federer in a year, then there's not many people the last five, six, seven years that have been able to say that."
While he has previously ranked higher, Murray has never finished the year inside the top three, and is making that his goal for the remainder of the year having failed to break his Grand Slam duck in the last major tournament of the year, the US Open, in September.
Federer meanwhile hasn’t completed a year since his first ever Grand Slam win in 2003 at Wimbledon outside the top three and Murray believes it will be difficult to stop him continuing that run.
"For a lot of years everything went very right for Federer. He's had a few tournaments this year where maybe things could have gone his way and they didn't but I'm sure next year he'll be competing. He's still playing great tennis." He commented.
Federer has endured a poor year by his standards, and will finish the season without a Grand Slam to his name for the first time since 2002 after falling at the last hurdle against Nadal while making the semi-finals of the US and Australian Open and the quarters of Wimbledon. Federe set a new record having spent 237 consecutive weeks at number one before giving way to first Nadal then Djokovic, giving rise to theories that the 30-year-old is past his best.
The Swiss star pulled out of the Shanghai Masters along with Novak Djokovic, but will have the opportunity to claim back third spot in the remaining tournaments of the year, including the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London in November.
John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg’s underwear selling competition has me wondering.
A decade ago, Mark was new to tennis as well as sport. He spent years avoiding the invites to participate; but his body didn’t avoid the weight-gain of sedentary mid-thirties’ life.
He was rarely on a court, course or field of any kind. “Maybe once,” he revealed, “and I was mildly annoyed – to my father’s glee. Dad did not want to be the cheerleading-coach-soccer/tennis-dad. He wanted an intelligent child who faced his battles with his mind – nothing lower than the clavicle.” His dad didn’t want messes. Mark, a boy born to please, was in his head more than his body most of his life.
On our first meeting, he arrived in black. T-shirt, backward baseball cap, basketball shoes, eyeglasses, wrist and head band, thin cotton socks and bathing suit. All black. He was focused – years of studying torts, property, restitution contract, litigation. Being tested almost daily came in handy. But that was his mental game. Within 5 minutes of hitting balls down the center of the court, he was keeling over: hot, panting and sweating.
An Ivy League graduate school sent him soaring into the high-priced lawyer world. “Yes, I have been in a court,” he spoke articulately and fast, “my father always reminding me, ‘Keep your head in your briefs.’”
A few weeks later, though he had hit significantly fewer shots than Malcolm Gladwell’s coveted 10,000, he had signed up and played a tournament. He’d only been on a tennis court about 10 times. His break-the-habit attitude: “I play well off the court when there are stakes – why should there be any difference on the court?”
A lawyer’s logic or the bliss of unawareness? Giving him a moment to breathe after a long rally, I asked, “How was your tournament?”
He lost in three hours and three sets to an opponent at his level. He spoke diplomatically, “Other than it being a long and incredible experience, it gave me a sense that I can play and I have a lot of room to grow.”
“Did you have fun?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he monotoned. Something was on his mind.
“What needs work? What was your worst shot?”
“I knew you’d ask that and I know!” he perked up. “My drop shots. They went high and deep and the guy got every one.”
“Where was he standing when you chose to hit the drop shot?”
“No idea,” he responded immediately.
“Where did you hit the shot just before the dropper?”
“It’s like I’m naked when I try them.”
“If you want a better drop shot, you’ll need more exposure. The circumstance of the shot -- before the technique.”
“OK. OK.” He sounded rushed to get somewhere else.
“Let’s hit some balls and when you have me out of position – either wide or behind the baseline – throw in the drop shot.”
With his momentary low expectations, he hit a perfect one. Then he popped up a few, missed a couple into the net, and another sweet one…. He exasperated quickly.
Mark cleared his throat. “I have a question.”
“It’s a bit embarrassing.”
“Have you asked anyone else this question?”
He smiled, “No.”
We settled on the bench. “Now I’m really ready.”
“I hurt.” I looked at him. “I hurt after I play.”
“Could you be a little more vague?”
“Down there.” He looked into his lap. I understood.
“You pulled a groin muscle?”
He shook his head and said, “It’s not a muscle.”
“Chaffing?” I asked.
“Almost,” he offered with a smirk.
“What kind of underwear are you wearing?”
I laughed louder, “I think a change in strategy is essential. And as your intuitive dad said, ‘Mark, keep your head in your briefs.’ Forget the drop shots; drop shorts and put on some briefs.”
Mark arrived to his next session walking taller, smoother and smiling.
“I’m in my briefs.”
“Multi. Red, white and blue. I think it’s a Union Jack. Bjorn Borg’s. He makes briefs now.”
Yes, underwear counts.
When asking about underwear, I hear words like: comfy, intimate, bikini, rubbing, tighty-whitey, necessary, clean please, sexy, hold me together, keep it safe, part of the ensemble, ew, are we allowed to talk about that? Iisn’t anything sacred?
Has anyone heard about the Borg/McEnroe Competition of 2011?Two of the most high-profile tennis players of the Open Era – John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg – are riding under the radar. They initiated a current-day competition: Who can sell the most underwear? They each designed two styles of briefs for men. And who else would know better how to carry themselves than these two icons from opposite ends of the emotional cosmosphere. Four percent of the proceeds are going to charity. But since most people are concerned about score: As of this printing, John has a slight edge over Bjorn.
World number four Andy Murray was handed a walkover at the Shanghai Masters as Dmitry Tursunov pulled out of their second round match with a wrist injury.
The Russian had set up the clash with the in-form Scot after overcoming Thomas Bellucci 6-7 6-4 7-5, but was deemed not fit enough to take to the court on Wednesday. Murray will face either Stanislas Wawrinka or Donald Young in the third round.
The defending Shanghai Masters champion is the second seed for the tournament behind Rafael Nadal, who he beat in the Japan Open final last week, and would meet the Spaniard in the final were he to make it.
Murray has won his last two tournaments off the back of his superb victory at the Cincinnati Masters last month to take his recent record to 21 wins in his last 22 matches – with his sole defeat coming against Nadal in the US Open semi-finals.
Murray is now closing in on the world number three spot currently in the possession of Roger Federer, and a tournament victory in Shanghai would move him to the verge of dislodging the Swiss star, who pulled out of the tournament along with world number one Novak Djokovic.
The 24-year-old admitted after his victory in Japan last week that his target for the remainder of the season is to secure the number three spot at the expense of Federer.
"I've played well in the last few months in Cincinnati and then the U.S. Open and I now need to carry on that form into Shanghai.” He said.
"I need to keep up the wins and hopefully I'll get to the No. 3 ranking. It's not the ultimate goal, but it's the target I set myself for the last few tournaments of the year."
"It had to be some of the best tennis I have ever played in the third set. I've played some good matches against Rafa in the past but it was just very consistent. I didn't make too many mistakes and played well at important moments," he added.
Nadal kept his tournament on track with a 6-3 6-2 win over Guillermo Garcia Lopez to set up a third round showdown with either Florian Mayer or David Nalbandian.
As for Murray, he will need concentration like the best uk pokerstars to finish his 2011 season on a high.
The sporting world is made up of individuals who all want the same thing, to be number one and play at the highest of levels.
Every sport has its stronger players and the weaker, from football to basketball to tennis.
Having home-grown talent participating at the highest level is something which every spectator and everyoneplacing betting money on sport wants and in tennis Scotland and Great Britain have Andy Murray.
Currently 4th in the world rankings Murray shapes up every other day against the best and competes in all rounds through to the final of events.
Murray,aged 24, has come to fruition at a time when talent in tennis is high with Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer all above in the rankings he has his work cut out.
On his day he is able to compete against and beat those ranked above him, but to do it consistently is something that he has struggled with.
Injuries have cost him in the past but his overall fitness is improving, but the margin for error is minuet at this level and his consistency leaves a lot to be desired, looking sluggish at times.
Given a top-10 ranking in 2007, Murray has played in 3 Grandslam Finals and in semi-final of all four major tournaments, he is however yet to come out on top.
Currently playing in the Shanghai Open he has now reached the quarter final, Murray finds himself being the highest ranked player remaining in the tournament he won last year.
This gives him the opportunity to further improve on his 2011 record in which he has won the Cincinnati Open, losing finalist in Australia and 5 other semi-final appearances.
There has been talk recently from the tennis council that players could potentially strike due to an overcrowded calendar and the high level of travelling involved in the sport.
The current tournament has seen the Worlds Number 1 and 3 (Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer) pull out through fatigue and injury.
Those looking at sporting tips note that Murray’s next task is Australian Matthew Ebden who is ranked 124th in the world, the two have never played against each other and Ebden as both look towards a place in the final four it will hopefully be the fledging Brit who comes out on top.no comments
“No athlete’s ever at 100 percent. I’ll leave it at that.” Though Serena Williams was talking about her feet (bunions, blisters, bursitis) she could easily have been talking about her need to be on the International Tennis Federation’s probation list. Her 2009 screaming scene and the 2011 sequel - serenading us during the US Open final - have triggered some thoughts about cheating, knowing the rules and where is an athlete’s edge – or foot.
How close to the edge was Serena treading? In 2009 it was over the baseline on a serve. What did she learn about the game or herself from that? On the surface, it seems like about two years and ten professional matches of relative calm. But we missed what she learned during her off-court life of injury and illness. Earlier there was the South Carolina confederate flag fiasco and the Indian Wells Waterloo. How close to the edge was Eva Asderaki, the chair umpire? Was Serena’s rule infraction deliberate, unintentional or unconscious? Were Eva and Serena conscious?
When we walk on to the court to play a match, most of us are going with the intent to win. At least that’s what people say – and that’s another story to visit some day. But that conscious and sub-conscious urge to win is partially guided by the rules of the game. Some are clear and one-note, some recommend leeway, and others have a step process. All are based on an honor system: When in doubt – give the point to your opponent. This honor code is intact whether there is a referee of not.
Either way, we need to know the rules. John McEnroe has said many times, “If you don’t know the rules of the game, you can’t complain.” Sounds a little like Johnny Cochran, but I took JMac’s words to heart as I won and wasn’t cheated out of a pleasant share of points just by knowing how to handle the rule issues. I knew what to fight for and what to concede. I knew the boundary.
Did Serena try to get away with something? Did she think she saw the ball bounce twice? In 2009 did she think a foot fault was OK? Was she trying to cheat a point? Did she watch the infraction and her reaction on YouTube?
My questions, as a player and coach: How far do we go for a win? What do we teach? My line: I play to win and I will do anything to win short of cheating.
This means I need to know the ITF Rules and USTA Handbook of Rules; I need to remain informed about rule and procedural changes (footfault, carry, tirbreaker sequence, lets; ranking system…). And I need to know about myself. How much do I want the gold? What will I do for it today? How close to the edge will I go?
What will the Grand Slam committee do? If Serena was “beside herself” – not within herself – does that relieve her of responsibility?no comments
One of the greatest players of all time is back.
After a sixteen-year lay-off from tennis, Ivan Lendl has recently returned to the Champions (senior) Tour. He’s back to competition and he'll be coaching, too.
He has opened the Ivan Lendl IJTA (Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy) http://champacademy.com/homepage.html to promising young juniors with the intent of guiding them to greatness.
So what can we expect from Mr. Lendl? And what can his protégés learn from this sporting legend?
Well now, let’s see.
Lendl has been described over the years by many a sports writer and many a critic as: Obsessive, dull, boring, machine-like, void of humour, robotic even. In fact, in September 1986, Sports Illustrated went as far to say that he was ‘the champion that nobody cares about.’ Even some of the greats around him at the time, such as Connors and McEnroe, seemed to have a distinct disdain for him. Mind you, they seemed to hate everybody.
My own memories, as I first became interested in tennis in the mid 80s, were my family’s less-than-complimentary reaction to him as they watched Wimbledon.
‘He looks like a deranged chicken,’ my mum used to say as he jutted his head back and forth celebrating those bullet-like winners. ‘I don’t like him very much,’ she continued, as if being liked should be a considered factor to be on her television screen.
I remember feeling sorry for him as he appeared to eternally fall at the final hurdles at Wimbledon. But I also remember his unfaltering work ethic and how incredibly fit he was, even though he wasn’t on my 10-year-old boy's favourites' list. Little did I know that I was watching one of the greats in the making.
Those with more insight and his genuine fans saw something very different. They saw his intensity, his professionalism, his attention to detail, his meticulous preparation and his will to be a champion; his will to be truly great.
Lendl was often dubbed ‘the man with the iron mask,’ but those who knew him, knew the fallacy of that mask. They knew of his up-bringing, his tough mother, (who was a top-2 national player), who forced him to eat what he found unpalatable and who would no longer play against him after he defeated her; he was just 13 years old. They knew of the ruthless treatment by the Czechoslovakian Tennis Federation who classed him as a defector, as he sought liberty and citizenship in the U.S. They knew that the Federation banned him from representing his country and even from having his name published in the Czech media; even though he helped them to their only Davis Cup victory in 1980. Then playing an exhibition match in South Africa, in the apartheid era, he was fined a hefty $150,000 by the Czech authorities. A punishment that surely only enhanced his hatred towards the communist system.
His fans will also know his true passion and dedication to the game of tennis and to competitive sporting philosophy in general.
What maybe less well-known and documented is his sharp wit, his unwavering loyalty, his sensitivity, warmth and his love for the things that truly matter; like his wife Samantha, his dogs and now his 5 daughters; two of whom, Marika and Isabelle, are attempting to make it as great golf pros themselves.
Lendl with his golfing daughters from left to right Marika, Isabelle and Daniela
In fact, Lendl happens to be pretty handy with the clubs and putter himself. He plays off scratch and has even played in European professional tour events and attempted to qualify for golfs’ prestigious US Open. He has won celebrity tour events and even has a golf tournament in his own name. He now continues to be the driving force behind his two daughters' careers and is with them at every opportunity.
Late last year, Lendl re-ignited his tennis rivalry with his old adversary, McEnroe, as he returned after that sixteen-year lay-off. This time it seems, they are showing a distinct respect, or dare I say liking, for each other.
In Adelaide, Australia in January of this year the hosting MC of the WTC (World Tennis Challenge), Mark Woodforde, asked them if either of them could remember the head-to-head between them.
McEnroe was first to reply with his typical attacking style, "Unfortunately yes."
But Lendl, who has clearly been in training, or more likely never out of it, was sharp enough to counter punch, "Well, I don’t understand what’s unfortunate about it, but, ok."
It seems once a competitor, always a competitor. The 8-time Grand Slam champion, Ivan Lendl, clearly has not lost that edge, and probably never will. He admitted in a mini-press conference that winning is much less important to him now, and that he is actually having fun on the court. However, the steeliness is still there in competition, and the quality of heavy serve, blistering forehands and quality passing shots has not changed much. It is mostly the inevitable movement loss and agility that separates the ‘has-beens’ from the ‘here-and-nows.' Still at the tender age of 51, we can forgive him.
Lendl has shown that he is not one to shy away from hard work, possibly the biggest understatement of all time, and his approach is to be hands-on whenever possible. So what will it be like at the Lendl Academy? What would be his archetypal philosophy? To answer those questions the following quotes from the man himself may give us a distinct flavour:
“If I don’t practice the way I should, then I don’t play the way I know I can.”
And more humorously:
“I was between number 2 and 3 in the world for two, three years. That’s not exactly where I wanted to be.”
For a full description of Academy philosophy please click on the following link: http://champacademy.com/ivanlendl/ilcaphilosophy.html
But just in case you think it might be all work and no play, making Jack a dull boy, I include two short anecdotes, courtesy of ‘New York Magazine’ to emphasise that life with Lendl is not always as you may expect.
Lendl was playing in a golf foursome against Bob Miller, (a friend and business colleague) and a partner whom Miller had brought along. Lendl's team trounced Miller's and won a few dollars for the effort. At the end of the round, Lendl went off to a pay phone and dialled Miller's wife.
"Bob just asked me to call," Lendl told her, totally deadpan.
"He's on his way home, but he just lost a lot of money playing golf with us. He didn't have the cash to pay up for today, and he wants to play with us again tomorrow, so he asked if you would go to the bank before it closes and take out a couple thousand dollars for him." When Miller got home, his wife gave him hell. Lendl couldn't have been more tickled.
Lendl was visiting Warren Bosworth (his tennis racquet supplier/designer), and Bosworth's lawyer, Stanley Cohen, a car collector, showed up in a Ferrari GTO worth $2.5 million. Cohen asked Lendl if he wanted to drive it.
"No way," said Lendl. So they all sat around and talked for a while. As he was leaving, Cohen asked Lendl to autograph a racquet cover. Lendl obliged.
"To Stanley," he wrote.
"F--- you and your Ferrari."
Far from offended, Cohen framed the cover and hung it on his wall. Men act like awed boys in Lendl's presence. Pleased just to be around him, they are only too happy to be on the receiving end of his jokes.
The Ivan Lendl International Junior Academy, also known as Lendl’s Champions Academy, is based in the beautiful setting of Hilton Head Island, just off the South Carolina coast. The Island is well-known locally for being eco-friendly and its high amount of tree cover relative to development. Sporting greats such as NBA superstar Michael Jordan and Wimbledon champion Stan Smith have been notable residents.
The Academy is now looking for promising junior players for the fall of 2011.no comments
The Scot beat world number one, Novak Djokovic, in the final after the Serb retired hurt and unable to claim his 18th career title. He is one of the favourites with free bets to win at Flushing Meadows.
He admitted he was happy with the way he played, but says that there is still plenty of room for improvement in his game.
Murray said: “I played well this week. I knew I needed to up my game because I obviously was not happy with the way I played in Montreal. But I still feel I can improve in the next week or so before the US Open.”
The 24-year-old has yet to win a Grand Slam event, and will no doubt be hoping to end that with a win next week.
And he knows it will be a tough ask with the three players ahead of him in the world rankings all hoping to win in New York.
He added: “You never know. Those guys (Djokovic, Nadal and Federer) could end up making the semis of the US Open, then you get to see if it's a chance. If all of them lose early, obviously my chances would go up. But I'm sure come the start of the US Open on Monday, all of them will be fine. I think each one will be playing great tennis - better than they've played (in Cincinnati).”
Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic, the free bet favourite for the tournament, says the injury that saw him hobble out of the Cincinnati final should not prevent him from competing in the US Open. “The good thing is that there is a week, eight days to the start of the US Open. So I think that's enough time for me to get ready.” He will be one of the favourites among punters placing their free bets to win the tournament, having already enjoyed one of the most successful years in tennis history.no comments