Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year: Predictions for 2009

Ever since my post reviewing 2008, I have been anxiously awaiting to post one about predictions for 2009. 2009 has a lot of expectations to live up to, after 2008's incredible players, points, matches and scandals, so here is what I expect to happen on the men's and women's tours in '09.

Grand Slams
Australian Open- Men's Winner: Andy Murray
Women's Winner: Dinara Safina
Roland Garros- Men's Winner: Rafael Nadal
Women's Winner: Ana Ivanovic
Wimbledon- Men's Winner: Roger Federer
Women's Winner: Venus Williams
U.S. Open- Men's Winner: Roger Federer
Women's Winner: Serena Williams

5 Bold Predictions

1. No Americans finish in the top 15
Andy Roddick hasn't won a slam since 2003, and won't win another. James Blake just turned 29 and after playing 27 Grand Slams in his career, he has never reached a slam semifinal. Sam Querrey may be the biggest hope of all the Americans to finish in the top 15, but with a rank of 39, I don't see him moving 24+ spots in 2009.

2. Marin Cilic finishes in the top 10
The 6'6 20 year old gave Novak Djokovic all he could handle in a grueling 5 setter at the U.S. Open. On a lighter note, he defeated Andy Roddick and Fernando Gonzalez in 2008. He dominated Igor Andreev and barely slipped past Mardy Fish on his way to winning his first ATP title, at Pilot Pen. With a huge serve and forehand, Cilic, who plays similar to Mario Ancic, is my pick to show up big in 2009, and not just with his height.

3. Ivan Ljubicic Retires
After a poor 2008, with an unsatisfactory 19-18 record, Ljubicic will hand up his racquets in '09. He hasn't retrieved his level from when he was ranked #3. He lost in the firt round of 9 out of the 20 tournaments he participated in. He had a few good runs at the French Open and the Qatar Open, but Ivan is almost 30 years old, has dropped to a ranking of 44, and will never return to the level he was at when he had a ranking of #3. We'll leave the decision to him, but in our opinion, Ivan should retire.

4. Lindsay Davenport OFFICIALLY retires
After "retiring" then returning to the tour after having her first child, Lindsay Davenport, pregnant again, will finally call it quits after a distinguished career. Her baby is said to be due in August 2009, which leaves her with very little time to return in late '09. She will still have to get back in shape after pregnancyand will realize that her heart isn't with tennis anymore, with 2 kids to care for, both of which will undoubtedly be Lindsay's #1 priorities, Lindsay won't be able to get back on the tennis scene.

5. Serena, Venus and Dinara will round out the Top 3 in the Year End Rankings
I'm still not sure what order I think this trio will be in, but I think Venus will triumph once again at Wimby, Serena will do the same at the U.S. Open, and Dinara will get past her inner-demons and win a Grand Slam in Melbourne. These three all had outstanding 2008s and will be ready to conquer a women's tour that is more scrambled than it ever has been before. To be more specific, I think that Maria and Jelena will round out the rest of the top 5.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sharapova pulls out of Hong Kong

Contradictory to previous reports by Maria Sharapova's agent, Sharapova has pulled out of a Hong Kong exhibition next week (Jan. 7th-10th). Sharapova's team recently announced that Sharapova would be more ready than ever to make a comeback come 2009, after a shoulder injury has kept her off the tour since her early-round Wimbledon loss in late June. “She’s doing good,” Max Eisenbud, Sharapova's agent, said in an interview through telephone in Novemeber. “Everything’s on track.” If she can't be ready by Jan. 7th, then who knows if she will be ready less than 2 weeks later to defend her Aussie Open trophy. All the best to Maria.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

In case you haven't heard..........

Mary Pierce, remember her?, is planning to return to tennis. More specifically, she plans to make a splash at the French Open. The frenchwoman has won 2 grand slams, Roland Garrosn in 2000 and Melbourne in 1995. “I care about Roland Garros. If I could stand in center court for one match, that would already be a big victory,” Pierce said. She has not played on the Sony Ericsson WTA tour since Linz in 2006, when she ruptured a ligament in her left knee. “I don’t feel it’s the right moment (to announce my retirement),” she told L’Equipe. She also says that her knee is recovered, yet still contains some weakness. Pierce, 34, isn't hanging up her rackets yet.

John Isner, 23, and Christina McHale, 16, have garnered a spot in next months Australian Open through the USTA wild-card tournaments. For McHale, it will be her first Grand Slam appearance of her career. Isner has already competed in numerous Grand Slams so far in his career, reaching as far as the 3rd Round of the 2007 US Open, taking a set off of then world no. 1 Roger Federer. After going 3 for 3 in round robin play, McHale, out of Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey defeated Gail Brodsky 0 and 1 to clinch a spot in Melbourne Jan. 19th.

Peter Lundgren, former coach of Roger Federer, Marat Safin and Marcos Baghdatis will try to tackle a new role next year. He has accepted a job coaching at a tennis academy in Paris. Lundgren expressed his excitement for now coaching multiple players, not just one at a time. "I'm tired of working with just one player at a time," he said. "I'll start work (at the academy) in January and my ambition is to find young, interesting players for the future. My first task will be to go to Australia in January and check some names out." Lundgren also said that he is not ruling out coaching on the ATP tour once again.

Legend, 12 time Grand Slam winner and 2 time Calender Year Grand Slammer, Rod Laver, will reunite with former foes at a ceremony in Melbourne next month. 40 years ago, the tennis God won all 4 majors in the same year. He is also the last man to achive the milestone. Laver will meet again with Andreas Gimeno (Australian Open Finalist 1969), Ken Rosewall (French Open Finalist 1969), John Newcombe (Wimbledon Finalist 1969) and Tony Roche (US Open Finalist 1969). The former rivals will discuss their roles in tennis history on Womens Finals Day, Jan 31st.
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Think you can beat Andy Roddick?

ESPN's "page 2" had a contest in July to see who could reinact a memorable sports moment, with a frying pan. The winner got a chance to play tennis against Andy Roddick, Roddick using..... a frying pan. Basically, a shot to have bragging rights over Andy Roddick, without the 130 mph serves coming at your stomach.
Check the video out here. 

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Check this vid out!

From Serve and Return                                                    

Here is a hilarious video of Novak Djokovic and other top ATP stars in 12 days of Christmas. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Davenport PREGNANT!

Lindsay Devenport, who announced she would be competing in the 2009 Australian Open earlier this week, has now recieved some unexpected news, from a pregnancy test. Lindsay is pregnant and will quite obviously not be participating in Melbourne, Jan. 19th. “Of course this unexpected but exciting surprise now means I will be putting tennis on hold for the foreseeable future,” Davenport said, in a statement made by her agent. Davenport will clearly not be playing competitively in the near future, but plans to be back. Remember, she had her first child, Jagger Jonathon, in June 2007, and came back on the tour in September 2007, won a few titles and played very well.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

In case you haven't heard.........

Andy Murray is said to be switiching from Fred Perry to K-Swiss. Fred Perry, the most prominent name in the history of British tennis, will  not be the new clothing company of Murray in 2009. The 3 million dollar deal will be officially announced when Murray participates in an exhibition, including Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Over the offseason, Murray has been spending time in Miami and will be ready as ever to win his first grand slam, Jan. 19th, in Melbourne.

Six tournaments on the ATP tour are still searching for their big name sponsor. 2 of them are said to be inching closer and closer to reaching a deal, but the other 4 seem to be in trouble. Don't sweat it though, because all of the Masters Series, soon to be renamed 1000s, all are ready to go with sponsor in hand. "We continue to have encouraging discussions with a number of partners from different sectors," Kris Dent, a spokesman for the ATP tour has said. "We are in a fortunate position that as a business we can afford to take the time required to get the right kind of deal for the ATP. While clearly the current financial climate is an added challenge, we are very confident of finding the right kind of partner for the ATP and the right price for the ATP," Dent said.

Get your USA Fed Cup tickets soon. The tickets go on sale tomorrow, December 15th for the Fed Cup tie between the Americans and Argentina. When you buy your tickets you will not receive a seating assignment though, because the USTA is still creating the stadium and the seating layout.

Mardy Fish sure has had his hands full this year. He had great runs at Indian Wells and the US Open, married a Deal or No Deal model, and now has donated 30k for an after-school activities program at Pelican Island Elementary School. Fish, in Florida for his annual charity event, took time to greet and shake hands with the Student and Staff of Pelican Island. 24th ranked Fish is hoping to win back that money with a good run at the Australian Open, Jan. 19th, where he lost in the 3rd round in 2008.

He might not have OFFICIALLY announced his retirement yet, but Mark Phillippoussis sure has been MIA the last 2/3 years. Rattled by injuries, Phillippoussis is now very close to announcing his official retirment. In his very long "offseason", or you could call it the last few years, Phillippoussis has starred on a cancelled reality show about his search for a relationship. Nothing seems to be going to well for this man. 

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gear Wrap-up

Whether you're a Wilson guy or a Prince girl, the following equipment works for everybody. Well, almost everybody. So here is a list of the best gear of 2k8, from A to Z.

A- The Addidas Barricade 5 Shanghai looks cool, is comfortable, moves well and is being used by many pros. It is made of synthetic leather and has anatomically molded EVA insole for comfort.

B- The Babolat AeroPro Drive is used by Nadal and many other pros. It has a built in vibaration filter customized for player needs and Babolat has innovated it's racquets so that the strings and frames interact when hitting the ball.

C- Cage II Men's nike tennis shoes are a hit this winter. Worn most notably by Nadal, The shoe has added a more cuhioned sole from it's previous version for added support. The shoes requires a break-in, but it's worth the few days. The shoe is for a serious player with a serious need for new footwear.

D- Nike's Dri-FIT men's sleeveless shirt is another one on the list worn or used by Nadal. Breatheable dri-FIT material will keep you sweat-free and comfortable, even for a match like the 5-setter played by Nadal and Federer at Wimby 2008. It worked for Nadal.

E- Nike's Elbow Sleeve was worn by several players in 2008. With built in cushioning it's great for tennis elbow. Although havinjg the injury isn't fun, from personal expierence, if you use the poroper equipment, the nagging injury is gone in no time.

F- Federer's Nike Hat is worn by Roger and me. As a huge fan I sport the hat almost everywhere I go. It's comfortable and perfect for Rpger's best fans. For those of you who adore Nadal, if he keeps this play up, Nike will probably make a hat in his name as well.

G- Games......Top Spin 3, to be exact. Although many of us are constantly out on the court, if you ever have time to play a video game, Top Spin 3 is a great choice. Wioth exccellent gameplay and solid graphics, Top Spin 3 blows other tennis video games out of the water.

H- The Head microGel Prestige Pro, used by Andy Murray, has a soft feel and an interesting string pattern. Inbstead of the traditional 18x20 strings, the Prestioge Pro has a 16x19. The racquet has a lot of added spin potential because of the string pattern and is a great option for Head lovers.

I- Ivo Karlovic's serve. Unless you are 6'10 and have an astounding serve to begin with, then you won't be able to add this to your tennis game. You can't buy it either. But you can read about it here...

J- Not much equipment for J, but tickets to the new ATP tournament in Johannesburg in 2009 would be nice.

K- The K Blade Tour 93, my personal racquet, is the greatest thing that happened to me in 2008. It came out in Januray, I got it in Januray and until something tops it,. I don't see myself using any other racquet until a Januray 5 years from now. I might not use it that long but it has a pefect dose of (K)ontrol and poiwer and is perfect for any avid player. It is extremely playable and very stable. NOTHING tops it.

L- Lacoste Tennis clothes are raising in stock rapidly. Worn by Andy Roddick for years now, Lacoste's tennis clothes are classy, comfortoble and afordable.

M- The "Magician of Precision" T-Shirt along with Nadal's "Matador of Spin" shirt are great for a casual hit with a friend. Both players' faces are featured along with their respective nickname. Click here for both shirts....

N- Nike SWOOSH bandanas worn by Federer and many others are comfortable and most important of all, look cool. They are great accesorie for an intenmse match. Also, they can be used as a serious intimidation factor in a big match.

O- The Open Book is a compilation of the last 40 years at the U.S. Open. It is complete with dramatic pictures and great memories from historic matches.

P- The [K] Pro Tour Super Six is the best bag of the year, by far too. In the same colors as the Addidas Bariicade Shanghai 5's, this bag can hold 6 racquets and has a removeable waterproof bag installed in it for sweaty or wet clothes. I'm not done yet either. It has 3 extra center compartments and much, much more.

Q- Not much begins with Q in the dictionary, so not much begins with Q in the tennis world either. I'll skip this one, and give myself a break.

R- The RED Nike Fall Pro Bandana was a huge hit with Nadal, and iot was a huge hit with m,any other recreational players this year. Also, if you are a Spain fan, the bandana is red with a yellow Nike symbol.

S- Another bandana, but even better. The Summer Nike Green Bandana was worn by Rafa at the French. It has green diagonal lines going across it and it gets a lot of style points.

T- The Team Prince 03 Speedport is a great racquet for players that want big frames and playability. It is very light, but still contains a good feeling coming off the racquet.

U- UnderGrips or otherwise called Replacement Grips. Although they seem like just another tennis necessecity, the leather under grips that come with the [K] Factors are great. They can get slippery, but they have a good feel and lets you get a firm feel of the racquet.

V- The Adidas Barricade V is a comfortable fit with support. It is recommended for a hardcourt, but has been reviewed as an all around shoe.

W- The Nike Winter Master Polo is worn by Roger Federer. It is a classy option that comes in 5 different colors. If you want to look like Roger buy it, but playing like him might cost you some more.

X- Sorry, but I got nothing for you.

Y- The Yonex RQ 1 has been reviewed as an all-around great racquet. It generates enough power to let the player generate their own as well. It is a bit on the heavy side, but it has a sweet paint job.

Z- It's time to get to sleep, so all i have for you is ZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In case you haven't heard.....

Here is some news from the past week in Tennis. Their isn't any play going on but that doesn't mean their is nothing to talk about. So here is some stuff you might wanna catch up on.

Roger Federer has released his playing schedule for 2008. He is taking it a little easier than in the past, but whatever is best for him. I personally wish he would play some more clay events, so he can have more oppurtunities at beating Rafa, but, maybe this will give him a better shot at the French. Here it is.....

After a little controversy, although I always thought that the All England Club would prevail, Wimbledon has bought back the All England Club, and the Wimbledon organizers sure don't want to be dealing with this again anytime soon, because the agreement will last until 2053. Looks like Wimbledon will be at the AEC for the next 45 years. For details.......

The ATP seems to be inching closer and closer to finally finding a decent replacement for Etienne de Villiers. The short list looks like it is Brad Drewett, leader of the international group for the ATP and Marc Young, head of the American ATP group.

Serena Williams' hamstring injury still seems to be bothering her. She withdrew from the Hopman Cup, Jan. 3rd, and will be replacved by Meghann Shaughnessy. Quite a drop.......#2 to #837. Let's hope that James Blake and Shaughnessy can bring a 2nd straight title to the U.S.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

And the Award goes to.....

It's December 2008, and with the miniscule offseason tennis players have to try to make the best of, it's time to give out the awards before we have to start predicting for 2k9.

Most Improved (ATP)
Their were 8 to 10 players who became household names this season, but their were a few that stood out from the rest. Jo Wilfried Tsonga, Juan Martin del Potro, Gilles Simon and Andy Murray all became top-tenners this season, but because Tsonga was injured and did not play all season, he is eliminated from the race. Del Potro did win 4 straight tournaments during the summer and reach the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open, but his results were dismal from the beginning of the year to June, and to be named the most improved on the tour, he has to show up for all 11 months of the tennis season. Simon beat Roger Federer twice and Rafa Nadal once this year, reaching the semis of Toronto and Shanghai, and becoming number 7 in the world, but to be deserving of this award, playing well at the grand slams is a must, and he didn't, at any of them. Third round at the open, Wimbledon and Australia are pretty bad, but a first round loss at the French adds to it, so Simon doesn't win it this year. That leaves me with Andy Murray, who went 3-1 against Federer, won Cincinnati and Madrid, reached the U.S. Open final and rose to number 4 in the world. Sounds deserving of this award to me.

Best Match (ATP)
I'm going to have to go with the obvious one for this category. I just can't resist the 2008 men's Wimbledon final. 5 sets, 2 tiebreaks, mind-blowing passing shots from 10 ft. behind the baseline, rain delays, suspense, an oh so close comeback, and Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and the fans. Federer and Nadal produced what WILL go down as if not the best match ever, one of them. As you obviously know, Nadal pulled it out 9-7 in the fifth. I was disappointed, but I have to say, that the match was the most entertaining one i have ever experienced in my short life.

Youngster to Watch (ATP)
Their were several players this year that got on national television and got to show what they were really made of. My first look at Marin Cilic was a good one, when i saw him dominate Andy Roddick at the Rogers Masters. He rose to number 23 in the world, took no prisoners, reached the 4th round at both the Australian and Wimbledon, and fired a 135 mph serve at anyone who stood across the net from him. I could see Cilic fighting his way into the top 10 by the middle of 2009.

Biggest Upset (ATP)
Who expected Jo Wilfried Tsonga to reach the final of the Australian Open? No one. Who expected him to do it, while making a mockery of rafael Nadal in the semis? No one, again. 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 Tsonga dominated Nadal. Full of energy, he went into the final an underdog, lost but had the tournament of his life. Nadal scored just 7 games and Tsonga's two thumbs up rattled him the whole match. I guess Tsonga's whole Aussie Open run could be considered the biggest upset, but this match in particular was mind-blowing, and was the start of a career half year (injury) for Tsonga.

Worst Drop (ATP)
This one came down to David Ferrer, Guillermo Canas, Marcos Baghdatis and Richard Gasquet, but my heart is telling me to go with Gasquet. After a career year in '07 and major expectations for the 2008 season, Gasquet failed. He played much better the second half of the season, but in he first 6 months his record was 12-12 and he dropped from number 8 to number 25.

Best Player (ATP)
Wimbledon, French Open, Olympic Gold, 82-11 record, Aussie Open semis, U.S. Open semis, 4 masters and the best match ever. I think you know who I am talking about.

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