NYTimes: Winning Junior Wimbledon Is ‘Crazy’

Junior Wimbledon 2021

Samir Banerjee, the junior Wimbledon boys’ singles winner, played a forehand during his final match against Victor Lilov on Sunday.

WIMBLEDON, England — As Novak Djokovic and Matteo Berrettini played the first set of the Wimbledon men’s singles final Sunday afternoon on Centre Court, two young Americans were wrapping up the boys’ singles final, 100 yards and also a world away.

In the first all-American boys’ singles final at the All England Club since 2014, Samir Banerjee of Basking Ridge, N.J., defeated Victor Lilov 7-5, 6-3 on No. 1 Court.

Banerjee, 17, dropped his racket and put his hands on his head in disbelief when he converted his third championship point, looking much like any other Grand Slam winner once he became “Samir Banerjee, Wimbledon champion.”

“It has a good ring to it,” Banerjee said with a laugh in an interview. “It’s crazy. I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. I know it’s going to be there forever now. It’s a lot. It’s amazing. But it’s just the juniors, you know?

“Obviously it’s a very good accomplishment, but it’s motivating me to try to play pros and try to get my name as a men’s singles champion,” he added. “It’s a great feeling.”

Both players were unseeded in the draw and represent a surprising success for American tennis as it desperately seeks another top men’s player. Andy Roddick’s 2003 U.S. Open win stands as the last major singles title for an American man.

But three of the top-four ranked American men, led by No. 32 Reilly Opelka, were boys’ singles Grand Slam champions in their youth. Opelka won at Wimbledon in 2015 and Taylor Fritz won at the U.S. Open that same year. Sebastian Korda won the 2018 Australian Open boys title.

Winning a junior Grand Slam title takes considerable talent, but does not guarantee a successful professional career. Looking at the list of boys’ singles title winners at a Grand Slam is a mix of a “who’s who” and just “who?”

Roger Federer won the Wimbledon boys’ singles title in 1998, but no winner since has evolved to win a men’s title here. Ashleigh Barty, a 2011 champion on the girls’ side, won the women’s singles title here on Saturday, becoming just the third woman to have won both.

The last two players in an All-American Wimbledon boys’ final seven years ago have yet to crack the top 100. While Banerjee and Lilov played, the 2014 champion Noah Rubin, now ranked 286th, was waiting to play a qualifying match in Newport, R.I. The 2014 runner-up, Stefan Kozlov, is now ranked 347th. In his most recent tournament last week, he reached the final of a Futures event in Weston, Fla., but the final was rained out.

The 2013 Wimbledon boys’ champion, Gianluigi Quinzi of Italy, recently retired from the sport at age 25.

“When you win so much as a young man, losing becomes a tragedy,” Quinzi told Gazzetta dello Sport in an interview earlier this month.

Even within draws, the crops can be mixed. Three of the four semifinalists from the 2016 Wimbledon boys’ event have established themselves in the ATP top 20: Stefanos Tsitsipas, Denis Shapovalov and Alex de Minaur. The fourth semifinalist, the American Ulises Blanch, has yet to crack the top 200.

Lilov, who said he had “wasted a lot of time on the internet” looking at past junior results, said he knew that his success at Wimbledon wouldn’t necessarily carry forward.

“A lot of the juniors that did well here did go on to become good pros, but a lot of them didn’t go on to become good pros,” Lilov said. “And some who didn’t do well or didn’t even play became top pros, so I don’t think this tournament is really going to determine my career path. It could help boost it, but it’s up to me to see what I do, and if I improve my game enough.”

Banerjee, a rising high school senior, has committed to playing collegiate tennis for Columbia University. He said his win on Sunday would encourage him to enter more pro tournaments.

“College is still in the picture right now, but I’ll try to play a couple pro tournaments and see how it’s going,” he said. “I think I can decide on what I want to do in my future after that. Even if I go to college, I’ll definitely try to give it a shot on the pro tour after college, for sure.”

Lilov, who was born in London, Ontario, to Bulgarian parents and now lives in Delray Beach, Fla., turned professional three years ago at age 14.

“It’s just a junior tournament,” he said. “We’ll see who develops their game the most.”

Winning Junior Wimbledon Is ‘Crazy’, but It’s Still ‘Just the Juniors’

 

Novak Djokovic Wins Wimbledon and 20th Career Grand Slam Title

Novak Djokovic won the Wimbledon men’s singles championship on Sunday, defeating Matteo Berrettini of Italy.

The 6-7(4) 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 victory gave Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked tennis player, his 20th Grand Slam singles title, tying him with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Just as important, it gave Djokovic his third Grand Slam title of the year and positioned him to become the first man in more than a half-century to win the calendar Grand Slam when he competes at the U.S. Open later this summer.

Djokovic won the Australian Open in February, the French Open last month and captured the Wimbledon title for a sixth time on Sunday, successfully defending the title he won in 2019, the last time Wimbledon was held.

Rod Laver was the last man to win the calendar year Grand Slam, in 1969. Since then, no male player has arrived at the U.S. Open holding three Grand Slam titles in the same year.

Wimbledon 2021 Ladies Final Match Highlights: Barty vs Plisoka

Ash Barty etched her name in history and achieved a childhood dream with a thrilling three set win against Karolina Pliskova in the Wimbledon final.

Barty beat Pliskova 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3 in just under two hours to become the first Australian to win Wimbledon since Lleyton Hewitt in 2002.

NYTimes: Denis Shapovalov Is Having a Wimbledon to Remember

July 8, 2021

Denis Shapovalov will try to keep his Wimbledon run going against Novak Djokovic in his men’s semifinal on Friday.

WIMBLEDON, England — As she coached him in Toronto as a child, Tessa Shapovalova told her young son not to mind the balls arcing over his head when he went to the net. Someday, she said, he would be tall enough to reach them.

“From a young age I never was a player that would sit back and wait for my opponent’s mistakes,” Denis Shapovalov said on Wednesday. “I always wanted to be the one dictating. I was always coming to the net from 10, 12 years old, getting lobbed back there, losing points.

“My mom always told me: ‘Later on, you’re going to grow, and this is going to be an advantage to you. It’s something that is yours. You have to keep and maintain it for the future.’”

Shapovalov, 22, has reached his first semifinal in a Grand Slam tournament at Wimbledon, where he will face Novak Djokovic on Friday with the hopes of becoming the first Canadian man to reach the final here since 2016.

“It was great that she had that vision for my game years ahead,” said Shapovalov, who is still coached by his mother. “It’s something that, like I said, I’ve always had.”

On grass courts, which reward assertive play more than any other surface, Shapovalov has been winning the races in rally after rally, round after round.

He has hit 214 winners, the most of the four semifinalists, despite having played one fewer match than the other three.

In his first-round win, he hit 58 winners to Philipp Kohlschreiber’s 30. After receiving a second-round walkover from Pablo Andújar, he blasted a two-time Wimbledon champion, Andy Murray, off the court in the third round, ripping 45 winners to Murray’s 16. In his fourth-round win, Shapovalov hit 52 winners to Roberto Bautista Agut’s 14.

“I played against a very good version of Denis,” the eighth-seeded Bautista Agut said. “I think he played great. He was hitting so hard. He was serving well.”

There have been, as Bautista Agut hinted, lesser versions of Shapovalov in past years; Shapovalov has also hit the most unforced errors of the remaining men at Wimbledon, with 170.

When he was 18, Shapovalov made a stunning arrival to the tour by beating top-seeded Rafael Nadal at the 2017 Montreal Masters, electrifying a night session crowd that included Wayne Gretzky in the front row. But in the intervening years, the results haven’t always materialized for Shapovalov and his free-swinging arm, and he has been forced to work on reining in his power.

“Maybe sometimes I’m a little bit too wild, and I don’t make the opponents earn it on the big points,” Shapovalov said. “I’ve been a little bit more conservative, actually, this tournament.”

Shapovalov’s more cautious play did not serve him well in the quarterfinals on Wednesday against Karen Khachanov: He lost the second and third sets.

“I knew in the fourth and fifth, I have to dictate myself and be aggressive,” Shapovalov said. “Otherwise, he was going to win the match. It comes pretty naturally to me. I’ve always been an aggressive player. I’ve always wanted to go for shots. It’s actually the other way around that I’ve had to learn to take a step back and put more pressure on the opponents, make them earn the points.”

He added: “Sometimes it does help having that naturally come to me, especially in a match like today when the opponent is playing so well and he’s not giving anything to you. You kind of have to go and take it yourself.”

Shapovalov took it for himself in the end, prevailing, 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4, hitting 59 winners to Khachanov’s 31.

“I think my game just elevated,” Shapovalov said. “It’s something to be super, super proud of myself for.”

ImageShapovalov basked in the moment after winning match point against Karen Khachanov during their men's quarterfinals match on Wednesday.

Khachanov, in defeat, conceded that Shapovalov “went for it more” in crucial moments.

“It’s his type of game — he’s like this,” Khachanov said. “He also makes a lot of unforced errors, but that’s why I think he’s a tough player to play with because, especially on grass, when he pulls the trigger, he can make it. Sometimes you don’t expect where to run.”

To advance one round further, Shapovalov will need to penetrate the robust defenses of Djokovic. Shapovalov is 0-6 against him, but the two have never played on grass.

“You don’t get too many opportunities on his service game, especially here on grass,” Djokovic said.

“I’m sure that that’s going to be the biggest test I will have so far in the tournament, which is also expected — it’s semifinals,” Djokovic added. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a battle, and I need to be at my best.”

Denis Shapovalov Is Having a Wimbledon to Remember
www.nytimes.com/2021/07/08/sports/tennis/wimbledon-denis-shapovalov.html

NYTimes: It’s Ashleigh Barty vs. Karolina Pliskova in Wimbledon Final

July 8, 2021

Australia’s Ashleigh Barty, left, and the Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova will face off in the women’s singles final at Wimbledon on Saturday.

WIMBLEDON, England — Centre Court is back to full capacity as England gradually relaxes its pandemic restrictions. The fans merrily quaffing Pimm’s in their expensive seats certainly got two very different matches for their money on Thursday.

The first women’s semifinal, between Ashleigh Barty and Angelique Kerber, was a craft fair, full of slice and guile and often lengthy rallies. The second semifinal, between Aryna Sabalenka and Karolina Pliskova, was heavy metal: thunderous serves, big-bang returns and Sabalenka’s shrieks.

But the goal was the same for all involved, and when silence finally returned to the closest thing tennis has to a temple, the Wimbledon finalists were the current world No. 1, Barty, and a former No. 1, Pliskova.

Barty, who defeated Kerber, 6-3, 7-6 (3), will be aiming for her first Wimbledon title on Saturday. Pliskova, who rallied to defeat Sabalenka, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, will be aiming for her first Grand Slam title.

Though both Barty and Pliskova have excellent serves, the final will be a contrast in styles, as well.

Pliskova, 29, is an angular 6-foot-1 identical twin from the Czech Republic with relatively flat groundstrokes and a blunt streak who has hired and fired numerous coaches in her professional career.

Barty, 25, is a 5-foot-5 Australian with a solid build and diplomatic skills who has worked long term with Craig Tyzzer as her coach and who tends to use words like “we” and “our” when referring to her tennis matches. While Pliskova likes to smack her shots quickly off the bounce, Barty relies on heavy spin. She has a whipping forehand, but her signature shot is a one-handed chip backhand that stays low on any surface but is particularly difficult for her opponents to dig out on grass.

The stroke was decisive in Barty’s and Pliskova’s only previous matchup in a final: Barty prevailed in straight sets at the 2019 Miami Open, on her way to claiming the year-end No. 1 ranking.

“I think she has an extremely difficult game to play,” Pliskova said. “It’s going to be difficult on grass because of her slice and just her game overall.”

ImagePliskova often prefers to smack her shots quickly off the bounce.

Pliskova observed that Barty can make her opponents “play ugly,” but that was certainly not the adjective that summed up her semifinal with Kerber: an eye-catching duel full of net-skimming brilliance, frequent changes of pace and world-class defense.

Barty and Kerber crouched low, knees sometimes scraping the turf, and Kerber, the 2018 Wimbledon champion, took the upper hand in the second set before being broken at love when she served for it at 5-3. Barty rolled on from there, winning the first six points of the tiebreaker as Kerber faltered before recovering to win three straight points. But the surge came too late to keep Barty out of her first Wimbledon singles final.

“I wasn’t sure if it would ever happen, honestly,” Barty said. “I think you have to keep putting yourself in position. I think Wimbledon for me has been an amazing place of learning.”

She won the girls’ title here in 2011 at age 15, making it clear she had the potential to be a star. But though her all-court game seems well suited to grass — the skidding backhand, the probing serve, the crisp volleys — it has taken her 10 more years to make a serious run at the title.

In 2018, she was beaten in the third round by Daria Kasatkina. In 2019, weeks after winning her first major singles title at the French Open, she was upset in the fourth round by Alison Riske. Last year, Wimbledon was canceled because of the pandemic.

“Probably 2018, 2019, was some of my toughest weeks playing,” Barty said. “I learned a hell of a lot from those two times. I think a lot of the time your greatest growth comes from your darkest times. I think that’s why this tournament has been so important to me.”

She has raced the clock effectively after she retired in the second round of the French Open last month because of a hip injury.

“To be honest, it was going to be touch-and-go,” she said. “Everything had to be spot on to give myself a chance to play pain free and to play knowing that I could trust my body.”

Barty has sometimes seemed more gifted than gritty during her career, prone to big-match nerves, but she demonstrated ample resilience against the resurgent Kerber. Barty smiled before she took the balls to serve the first game, and though she double-faulted on the opening point, she jumped out to an early lead and maintained a high standard.

“I think probably the biggest thing on these courts is you need to have adaptability,” she said. “The courts change dramatically from the start of the event to the end of the event. Learning how to play and adjust the way you’re playing as the grass changes is an important part. It gets quicker. It gets harder. It’s also about keeping it simple, just going out there and enjoying the opportunity.”

Barty stopped enjoying the tour at one stage, taking an extended break beginning in 2014 as she struggled to cope with the pressures of the constant travel and expectations. She also spent most of 2020 at home in Australia because of the pandemic, skipping the U.S. Open and French Open. But she has embraced returning to competition even though it has meant months away from home because of the quarantine restrictions in Australia.

Now only Pliskova stands in her way of becoming Australia’s first Wimbledon women’s singles champion since her mentor Evonne Goolagong Cawley won in 1980.

Pliskova, seeded eighth, is standing tall. She needed to play and serve boldly to withstand the second-seeded Sabalenka’s onslaught on Thursday. Sabalenka is perhaps the biggest hitter in the women’s game, with a relentless style similar to that of Serena Williams and with first and second serves that are faster on average than those of some of the leading men.

But Pliskova was able to break serve early in both the second and third sets and then hold the lead despite Sabalenka’s hustle and muscle. Pliskova’s serve is not as fast or as stadium-rattling as Sabalenka’s, but it was the more effective weapon. She won a greater percentage of first-serve and second-serve points than her Belarusian opponent.

Pliskova remains the most successful active women’s player not to have won a Grand Slam singles title. The closest she came was at the 2016 U.S. Open, when she upset Williams before losing to Kerber, then ranked No. 1, in the final.

“My second final, second time I’m playing against a player who is number one,” Pliskova said of her Saturday matchup with Barty.

Sascha Bajin, Pliskova’s new coach this season, has quite a résumé. He long worked as Williams’s hitting partner, and he coached Naomi Osaka when she won her first two Grand Slam singles titles. But he has not had the same results with his recent employers, and Pliskova struggled this year until Wimbledon, falling to 13 in the rankings. On Monday, she will re-enter the top 10, possibly as a major champion.

“When we started our partnership together, we weren’t as successful as she maybe wanted it or expected it,” Bajin told me on Thursday. “You only get measured by the success you have. It doesn’t matter what a nice guy I am, whether I’m funny or not, she’s not going to keep me around if we don’t deliver results. I couldn’t be happier right now, but we’ve got one more to go.”

It’s Ashleigh Barty vs. Karolina Pliskova in Wimbledon Final
www.nytimes.com/2021/07/08/sports/tennis/wimbledon-womens-semifinal.html

To Avoid Injuries, Don’t Shake Up Your Routine Too Much

ATP:  while the research focused on running, nevertheless the lessons are the same for tennis.  Overplaying, changing rackets (new or poor restrings) or playing consistently with heavy balls or in the wind can significantly increase your chance of injury!  Here’s the article—-

According to a new study of how runners hurt themselves during last year’s Covid-related lockdowns, to avoid injuries, runners should try not to change their running routines too much or too quickly.

Most runners are regrettably familiar with the aches, strains and orthopedic consults that accompany frequent running. More so than in many other recreational sports, including cycling and swimming, runners get hurt. By some estimates, up to two-thirds of runners annually sustain an injury serious enough to lame them for a week or longer.

Why runners are so fragile remains uncertain. Some studies point to sudden and substantial increases in mileage. Others find little or no correlation between mileage and injury and instead implicate intensity; ramp up your interval sessions, this science suggests, and you get hurt. Or, as other research indicates, concrete paths could be to blame, or thick-soled running shoes, or minimalist models, or possibly treadmills, group runs, oddball running form or simple bad luck.

But a group of exercise scientists at Auburn University in Alabama and other institutions felt skeptical of the focus of much past research, which often aimed to isolate a single, likely cause for running-related damage. As runners themselves, the researchers suspected that most injuries involve a complex network of triggers, some obvious, others subtle, with elusive interactions between them. They also recognized that until we better understand why running injuries happen, we cannot hope to forestall them.

Then came the pandemic, which abruptly and profoundly changed so much about our lives, including, for many of us, how we run. In the face of lockdowns, anxiety and remote work and schooling, we began running more or less than before. Or harder or more gently, perhaps without our usual partners, and on unfamiliar ground.

Sensing that such a wide-ranging array of hasty and intermingled shifts in people’s running patterns might provide a natural experiment in how we hurt ourselves, the researchers decided to ask runners what had happened to them during lockdown.

So, for the new study, which was published in June in the journal Frontiers in Sports and Active Living, they set up a series of extensive online questionnaires delving into people’s lifestyles, occupations, moods, running habits and running injuries, before and during local pandemic-related lockdowns. They then invited adults with any running experience to respond, whether they were recreational joggers or competitive racers.

More than 1,000 men and women replied, and their responses were illuminating to the researchers. About 10 percent of the 1,035 runners reported having injured themselves during lockdown, with a few individual risk factors popping out from the data. Runners who increased the frequency of their intense workouts tended to hurt themselves, for example, as did those who moved to trails from other surfaces, presumably because they were unfamiliar with or tentative on the trails’ uneven terrain.

Runners who reported less time to exercise during the lockdown also faced heightened risks for injury, perhaps because they traded long, gentle workouts for briefer, harsher ones, or because their lives, in general, felt stressful and worrisome, affecting their health and running.

But by far the greatest contributor to injury risk was modifying an established running schedule in multiple, simultaneous ways, whether that meant increasing — or reducing — weekly mileage or intensity, moving to or from a treadmill, or joining or leaving a running group. The study found that runners who made eight or more alterations to their normal workouts, no matter how big or small those changes, greatly increased their likelihood of injury.

And interestingly, people’s moods during the pandemic influenced how much they switched up their running. Runners who reported feeling lonely, sad, anxious or generally unhappy during the lockdown tended to rejigger their routines and increase their risk for injury, notably more than those who reported feeling relatively calm.

Taken as a whole, the data suggests that “we should look at social components and other aspects of people’s lives” when considering why runners — and probably people who engage in other sports as well — get hurt, says Jaimie Roper, a professor of kinesiology at Auburn University and the new study’s senior author. Moods and mental health likely play a greater role in injury risk than most of us might expect, she said.

This study relies, though, on the memories and honesty of a self-selected group of runners, who were willing to sit in front of a computer answering intrusive questions. They may not be representative of many of us. The study was also observational, meaning it tells us that runners who changed their workouts also happened often to be runners with injuries, but not that the changes necessarily directly caused those injuries.

Perhaps most important, the results do not insinuate that we should always try to avoid tweaking our running routines. Rather, “be intentional in what you change,” Dr. Roper says. “Focus on one thing at a time,” and thread in changes gradually. Up mileage, for instance, by only 10 or 20 percent a week and add a single, new interval session, not three. And if you are feeling particularly stressed, perhaps hold steady on your exercise for now, sticking with whatever familiar workouts feel tolerable and fun.

To Avoid Running Injuries, Don’t Shake Up Your Routine Too Much
www.nytimes.com/2021/06/30/well/move/prevent-running-injuries.html

Viktor Troicki Retires From Professional Tennis | ATP Tour

The abiding memory of Viktor Troicki is delivering for Serbia. Whether it was being held aloft on the shoulders of his compatriots, who rushed onto court at the Belgrade Arena in celebration of clinching the 2010 Davis Cup crown or, 10 years later, when he partnered Novak Djokovic in the deciding doubles match against Spain to capture the inaugural ATP Cup title.

The 35-year-old, who officially announces his retirement from professional tennis, transformed into a world-beater in international team competitions, moving out of the shadows of his childhood friends Djokovic and Janko Tipsarevic, during a golden age for Serbian tennis.

“It’s been a wonderful ride,” Troicki told ATPTour.com this week. “I am happy with what I achieved and I lived my dream with friends since childhood. I achieved things I never thought I could, but I want to enjoy some time at home now with my family.”

Troicki came mightily close to a place in the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings during the European clay swing in 2011 and won three ATP Tour singles titles, plus two doubles trophies. But nothing compared to his emotions after he struck a crosscourt backhand return winner to beat France’s Michael Llodra 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 in the deciding rubber of the 2010 Davis Cup final. Watched by 17,000 fans in Belgrade, it gave him “the greatest experience of my life”.

World No. 1 Djokovic paid tribute to Troicki, telling ATPTour.com this week, “Congratulations on your career. It’s a sad day for all of us who know you. We’ve been friends for a very long time, since [we were] eight years old [and] played so many matches against each other in Serbia. We travelled so much, played doubles [together], won [the] ATP Cup and Davis Cup and had some unforgettable memories on the Tour and the court.

“It’s been an incredible journey to witness your career as your friend, colleague and compatriot. Your commitment for the Serbian tennis team has been incredible, unprecedented and you’ve been a great inspiration for many generations of young tennis players in Serbia… You should be proud of everything you’ve achieved.”

Troicki, who dreamed of playing important matches as a child, worked for everything he achieved. When he partnered Djokovic to a deciding doubles match victory over Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta and Feliciano Lopez in the 2020 ATP Cup final, Troicki became the first player to win each of the three men’s team competition titles (also two World Team Cup titles in 2009 and 2012 at the Rochusclub in Dusseldorf).

“I won two World Team Cups in Dusseldorf, the Davis Cup and the ATP Cup, so I’m really proud,” said Troicki. “Winning the Davis Cup in 2010, in front of a home crowd, in the deciding rubber was crazy. I will take it with me forever.”

In tribute to his good friend, Tipsarevic told ATPTour.com this week, “Congratulations on an unbelievable career. It was an honour for me to share all of the downs and the ups, especially the ups of your career. You’ve reached the top of our sport and I’m sure that in the continuation of your life, with the same attitude and the same spirit that you had on a tennis court, you will reach new heights.”

Former doubles World No. 1 Nenad Zimonjic told ATPTour.com, “He had a great career, reaching No. 12, being a part of the Davis Cup team and winning the deciding rubber against France for the title. He should be proud of his career and I wish him all the best in the future. We have a lot of great memories. He is 10 years younger than I am, and I try to help all of our players. Viktor was no exception. We also had the chance to win the Sofia title together in 2017.”Troicki’s parents scraped together money to give their son the best possible chance of tennis success during a period of economic uncertainty in Serbia. He came across Djokovic and Tipsarevic at junior tournaments in Serbia, before moving to train in Boca Raton, Florida, for two years as a teenager.

“I’ve known Novak since he was eight, meeting him in one of his first tournaments,” said Troicki. “We played each other in the second round, and I beat him nine games to love. Janko was two years older than me, and he accepted me like a brother. He always helped me to feel welcome, support me and gave me great advice.

“I was maybe not as gifted as some other players at my age, so I had to prove myself and to work even harder to make it and become a top player. I never gave up. It was great to travel, compete together and have such good friends.”

Out of the juniors that included a 2004 Wimbledon doubles final appearance with Robin Haase, Troicki came under the guidance of Jan de Witt. Troicki learned about self-discipline and how to work in a professional way from the German’s training base in Halle and formed a long-term partnership with fitness trainer Milos Jelisavcic.

“He had the ability to work day in and day out,” De Witt, Troicki’s coach from 2006 to 2012, told ATPTour.com. “He worked hard every day. He brought the physical strength and he had a good first serve. We made progress every year, No. 450 to 220, then at the end of the second year at No. 120, then 60, 30, 20 and close to the Top 10 in his best year. Initially, we worked a lot on his second serve, to win more points, and to win points on second serve return.

“He enjoyed the team environment in Halle, working with players like Marco ChiudinelliJarkko Nieminen and Ivan Dodig. He liked having people around him, taking the positives from it. All the Serbians are good team players. They are really proud to play for their country.

“When we started working to help him win the Davis Cup with his friends, and to be able to reach that dream in the deciding rubber, it was amazing. I learned from Viktor that as long as you work hard, there are no limitations. He did more in his career than I ever thought possible.”

www.atptour.com/en/news/troicki-retirement-tribute-june-2021

Tennis at the Tokyo Olympics

The Olympic tennis tournament will be missing some of the sport’s bigger names this year, but there’s still plenty of star power to go around in Tokyo. Tennis’s best-known players have often shined at the Olympics — past gold medalists in singles include Steffi Graf, Jennifer Capriati, Venus Williams and Serena Williams on the women’s side, and Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray on the men’s side.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • What is the Olympic tennis format?
  • When is the Olympic tennis tournament?
  • Where will the Olympic tennis tournament take place?
  • Who are the top players competing in Olympic tennis?
  • What type of courts are used in Olympic tennis?
  • Who are the defending gold medalists?

What is the Olympic tennis format?

The men’s and women’s singles medals will be decided by a 64-player, single-elimination tournament. Doubles will feature 32 teams and mixed doubles 16 teams.

All four players or teams to reach the semifinals will compete for medals, with the two semifinal losers playing for bronze and the winners playing for gold (or silver).

Sixteen of the 64 players in singles are seeded based on international rankings, while eight of 32 are seeded in doubles. When possible, no two players from the same country are placed in the same quarter of the draw.

All matches are best-of-three sets. All singles matches will feature a standard tiebreaker (first to seven points) in every set. In doubles, if the teams split the first two sets then the third set will consist entirely of a first-to-10-points tiebreaker.

When is the Olympic tennis tournament?

Olympic tennis begins Friday, June 23, with first-round matches in men’s and women’s singles and men’s and women’s doubles. The complete schedule can be found here. The gold medal matches for each tournament are as follows. All times Eastern.

Men’s doubles: Friday, July 30, 4:30 a.m.

Women’s singles: Saturday, July 31, 5 a.m.

Read more

With an Early Win over de Minaur, Korda Advances His Father’s ‘Half-Crazy’ Plan

Sebastian Korda celebrated match point against Alex de Minaur on Tuesday.

WIMBLEDON, England — Sebastian Korda watched from his father’s hotel room in London on Sunday night as his sister Nelly achieved a major dream, winning the Women’s P.G.A. Championship in Atlanta. Two days later, on a different sort of green, Sebastian kept the family business booming.

The 50th-ranked Korda beat the 15th-seeded Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(5) in three hours and 25 minutes in the first round of Wimbledon on Tuesday afternoon.

“Seeing Nelly achieve what she achieved, and how emotional she was, and how much hard work and passion she puts into it every single day, it’s super inspiring,” Korda said. “Hopefully I can keep playing some good tennis and stay a little longer here.”

The successes of the Korda family are coming rapidly, but they have been building for generations. Petr, the father, won the 1998 Australian Open, one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments. Regina Rajchrtova, the mother, was a top-30 tennis player who competed for Czechoslovakia at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. In addition to Nelly, 22, winning her first major title on Sunday, sister Jessica, 28, qualified alongside her for a spot on the U.S. Olympic golf team.

Sebastian, who turns 21 next week, was playing his first match in the Wimbledon main draw, but showed little stage fright as he imposed his game and 6-foot-5 frame on de Minaur, who had won a warm-up event in Eastbourne, England, last weekend. “That’s what makes him dangerous: he hits big and plays very loose,” de Minaur said of Korda. “He’s going after it.”

Korda surged at the start of the match, breaking de Minaur in his opening service game. He had seven break points in the eighth game and could have closed out the set, but did not convert them. Rather than betray any disappointment, Korda smoothly served out the set in the next game, and then broke in the seventh game of the second set to take full control of the match.

“I could have made it go my way, but he stepped up to the plate and he delivered today,” de Minaur said. “All kudos to him.”

As much as his play impressed his opponent, Korda said that his father hadn’t held back on immediate constructive criticism after one of the biggest wins of his career. “My dad, he’s super happy, but he also sees the mistakes that I did during the match and he lets me know right away,” Korda said. “That’s probably one of the best things about my dad: He’s always pretty straightforward and he tells you how he is. He doesn’t sugarcoat it.”

Patricio Apey, who managed Petr Korda during his career and now manages his children as well, said that Petr had been guiding the careers of all three from a young age, expecting them to all peak simultaneously.

“As crazy as it sounds, Petr and I have been talking about this for like 12 years, to do these things together with the three kids,” Apey said. “I always say he’s half-genius and half-crazy, and it’s hard to differentiate between the two.”

ImageNelly Korda, left, and sister Jessica at the U.S. Women’s Open in San Francisco earlier this month.
Credit…Michael Owens for The New York Times

Comparing him to Richard Williams, who boastfully — and, in the end, accurately — predicted great successes for his young daughters Venus and Serena, Apey said Petr had been able to “map out the technical side” of the developments of all three of his children with long-term planning. That planning occasionally comes with short-term sacrifices: While Sebastian’s sisters will be representing the United States at the Tokyo Olympics later this month, he will miss the competition to prepare for the U.S. Open, focusing on smaller stateside tournaments that Apey described as “lower-hanging fruit.”

A similar decision was made earlier this year, when Korda skipped Australian Open qualifying to focus on Challenger-level tournaments in France. The move paid off with a title in Quimper, France, which Sebastian said had been inspired by Jessica winning her first L.P.G.A. title of the year the weekend before.

The Olympics decision, made Sunday evening, became tougher when it was clear that both his sisters would make the trip. Wherever Petr Korda’s children are competing, he manages to sync up with them, staying up late when his daughters are on the Asian swing of the golf circuit, or waking up early when his son is in Europe.

“I have no clue how they do it,” Sebastian said of his parents. “We’re all over the place.”

With an Early Win, Korda Advances His Father’s ‘Half-Crazy’ Plan
www.nytimes.com/2021/06/29/sports/tennis/wimbledon-sebastian-nelly-jessica-korda.html

NYTimes: Serena Williams: The Queen and Her Court

SEEING SERENA

By Gerald Marzorati

I was sitting in the pressroom backstage at the U.S. Open, surrounded by a chatty horde of media from around the globe, when Serena Williams strode in wearing a form-fitting top and a tennis skirt. It was the first time I was near her and the sight of her up close was breathtaking. She was muscular and radiating power like a warrior queen. This was about 20 years ago but she was, then as now, one of the very best players in the world. And she was already a complex, polarizing figure. I watched her dismantle tiny Martina Hingis, and even though the U.S. Open crowd loves Americans, aggressive players, new stars and winners, on that day the overwhelmingly white audience was clearly rooting for Hingis and merely tolerating Williams. Meanwhile, throughout the match, every Black friend I had who held even a passing interest in tennis was calling with glee to say, “She is amazing!”

Serena has evoked so many emotions and symbolized so many ideas that she, more than any other modern professional athlete, deserves a book-length meditation. Gerald Marzorati, a veteran tennis writer and former editor of The New York Times Magazine, has given us his version with “Seeing Serena,” a thoughtful journey through her 2019 season with stops at all of the major tournaments. Marzorati attended all the Slams and three other big tournaments and occasionally talked to Serena and other tennis luminaries, from her current coach Patrick Mouratoglou to her childhood coach Rick Macci to Chris Evert and Tracy Austin. Serena is portrayed as a global celebrity who’s inherently political — a Black superwoman like Oprah, Beyoncé or Michelle Obama, a body-conscious star in an era when people are expanding the definition of beauty, and a working mom in a time of celebrity sharenting.

Williams at the 2019 U.S. Open.

Credit…

Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Serena has, for years, been on the doorstep of tying the record for the most Grand Slam tournaments won — she’s one win away from it — but in Marzorati’s telling, the desire that’s most present for Serena is the imperative to win one as a mom. She’s been so dominant for so long it’s easy to forget that she has not won a single Grand Slam title since she became a mother. But that is one of the most challenging mountains in the sport — only one mother has won a Slam in the past 40 years. Part of the challenge is recovering your body after having a baby. Part of it is how the Women’s Tennis Association does not allow for any sort of maternity leave, so if you go off to have a baby, your ranking plummets and you have to rebuild your status. Part of it, too, is emotional — the mother’s imperative to do everything she possibly can for her baby is in direct conflict with the athlete’s need to do everything she possibly can for her sport. For Williams, who conquered the barriers of being Black in a white sport, of growing up poor in an expensive sport, and of lasting a long time in a young person’s sport, this last hurdle has proved the hardest.

Marzorati digs deep into the reasons for Serena’s dominance: She has the greatest serve the women’s game has ever seen and the greatest return of serve ever, too. These two strokes put her at an advantage at the start of every point and often push her opponents to the edge. “Williams’s returning prowess often forces a server to go for more on her serve,” Marzorati writes. “This, in turn, can lead to faults and double faults, and, even when not, to pressure. Causing stress, incessant stress: This has been an aspect of Williams’s game, over the years, as important as any. It can’t be tabulated like rally length or service placement, but it’s clear enough to those who have watched Williams that she can undo an opponent by mentally and emotionally straining her.”

There’s plenty of insight and detail in this book to please tennis nerds, but this is also a travelogue covering Marzorati’s year following Williams from Melbourne to Paris to London to New York. He gives us some of the flavor from each stop such that you get more than just tennis, you get the feel of having been on this dream trip following Serena around the globe. In England we hear about the origin of lawns and how that led to grass-court tennis, and about an exhibition of the work of the great African American visual artist Faith Ringgold, which puts him in mind of Serena because once you start looking at the world through a Serena lens, everything bends back to her.

Marzorati also relates highlights of Serena’s personal life, from sleeping in a little bed with her older sister Venus in their childhood home in Compton to hiding out from her father in her Paris apartment to meeting the man who would become her husband in an Italian hotel. In a world where the Black family seems invisible, Serena has always been seen as a devoted family person. From her first foray into stardom she was surrounded by family. The love between Serena and Venus is heart-wrenchingly sweet. As kids, Marzorati writes, “when they played practice points against each other in the park in Compton, Serena would ‘hook’ her — call balls out that Venus had clearly hit in — and Venus would say nothing.” Everyone deserves to know love like that. Now, Serena is in the twilight of her career, and her husband is in her box, and her daughter does commercials and photo shoots with her, and even her daughter’s doll Qai Qai has had her own 15 minutes. Serena is such a giant star that people in her orbit become stars, too.

The trip through Serena’s childhood raised questions for me about how we have chosen to view her and what details we’ve focused on and which ones we’ve ignored. It’s critical to the mythology of Serena that she is from Compton, that iconic city, the home of N.W.A. The media mentions it constantly, as if to endlessly burnish her credentials as a “real” Black person, i.e., one who rose from poverty. But the full story is more complicated. Serena’s father moved the family to Compton by choice because he thought it would forge greatness and also because living there lowered his mortgage payments immensely, meaning he could worry less about his business and think more about teaching his daughters how to play. The toughness and the vibe of the place seem to be part of Serena, but the Williamses moved to Florida so she could attend tennis academies when she was just 9 years old. Compton gets a lot of mention for a place she left at 9 — she’s from the world of institutional tennis just as much as she’s from there, but “she grew up at tennis academies” is not quite as evocative. And sometimes “she’s from Compton” plays into hoary stereotypes of Blackness that turn painful for Black viewers when, say, Serena gets angry on the court and white pundits and cartoonists look at her like some stereotypical Angry Black Woman, conveniently forgetting that all athletes under high pressure get furious at some point.

Marzorati says Serena became “the most consequential athlete America had produced since Muhammad Ali.” But where Ali’s political stances were revolutionary, nowadays it’s considered a sin for athletes with large platforms to not speak up. Serena has not been overtly political because her Jehovah’s Witness faith forbids it. Marzorati is understanding about this, but another writer might have chosen to take her to task for being silent. Is being political in the political-as-personal sense enough when Black people are dying at the hands of the police? It is disappointing to see Serena remain quiet in a world where Colin Kaepernick and LeBron James and Megan Rapinoe and Maya Moore and Naomi Osaka are using their platforms to try to make the world better.

Marzorati has written a deep, satisfying meditation on Serena’s path through an unsatisfying year. But she’s still the greatest tennis player ever, and it’s instructive to watch her become a Madison Avenue darling after being rejected by so many white fans early in her career; it says a Black person can eventually win ’em over if she’s a winner and she’s sympathetic and she’s nonthreatening. Serena may be fearsome on the court, but her apolitical nature means she’s not going to challenge white supremacy in ways that make fans feel uncomfortable, while her personal triumph gives them a chance to feel good about rooting for a Black woman who’s risen up from Compton.

 

Sent from iPad. Pls excuse typos.

MLTC Newsletter 15 June 2021

CLUB CAPTAIN’S REPORT

After a weekend off, Badge returns on Saturday with Our Ladies 2 Team and Mens’ 2 and 3 Teams playing late matches at home.The early matches sees our Mens 5 and 7 Teams playing to stay in the top 4 on the ladder. Rain is predicted for Saturday so I will inform the captains if the courts become too wet for play.

Hugo is recovering at home after the stabbing incident on Friday. He will be out of action for about 6 weeks and he wishes to thank everyone who sent him messages of support. He thought he was back in South Africa for a moment there on Friday. However if his left arm is slow to recover he might try using his right arm and maybe he will play better! But seriously he was lucky that the cut was not too severe and all members wish him a speedy recovery. Hurry back Hugo.

 

Denis Crowley