Mercedes Cup – Welcome Back Milos!

As purred yesterday, the grass court season has begun. And of course with that, is a resurgence of Fed Express Mania. So, it’s no big surprise that Roger Federer won the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, Germany this morning. What IS surprising, though, is who his opponent was…Milos Raonic!

Germany_Tennis_57983.jpg                        Image: Associated Press

If you are new to tennis, you may not know who Milos is because he spent a huge chunk of last year out with injuries. But before that, he was ranked as high as #3 in the ATP rankings in 2016, reaching the Wimbledon finals that year. He is the most successful Canadian tennis player in history, so he’s practically my neighbor.

OK, so he didn’t win the Mercedes Cup today, but I am glad to see him back in good form. His serves were on point and he movement looked good! Here’s hoping for a great, injury-free, grass court season for Milos! Welcome back!

Side note: I don’t think it’s necessary to actually drive the winning Mercedes on to the court during the trophy ceremony. That was just silly.

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Welcome to Grass Court Season

Last week, we witnessed Rafa Nadal grab his record-breaking 11th French Open title, signaling the end of the clay court season. And with the blink of a catnap, here we are paw deep in grass!

A semi-final match between Roger Federer and Nick Kyrgios at the Mercedes Cup is the perfect way to kick off the grass court season! Roger, who completely skipped clay court season (because there’s no way he could compete against the King of Clay, Rafa Nadal). Nick Kyrgios, who has been out nursing an injury. Of course, I was rooting for Nick, but it was nice to see them both back on court.

I never really know which Nick is going to show up when he plays. Will I get an unfocused, disinterested Nick who is a showman with trick shots that don’t work, or the one I know and love? The Nick that fully shows up ready to play with fierce serves and precise shots. For better or worse, we got a little of both of Nick today.

Image:gifphy.com

The first set was close with Nick winning in a tiebreak. Then in the second set, Nick loses focus and was playing more in an exhibition style, and of course, Federer jumped all over that and won the set 6-2. Nick finally snapped out of it in the last set, but it was too late. Federer won the match, winning the final set in a tiebreak, 7-6.

Even though Nick didn’t win, it was great to see him on court, feeling pain-free, and enjoying the game again! Welcome back Nick!

Roger Federer Image: bbc.com

Federer returns to the #1 ranking by winning this match, dethroning Rafa Nadal, who held the number one spot for all of clay court season. Concatulations to Roger.

But I am going to go out on a limb and make a prediction. I do not think that Federer will win Wimbledon this year. Comparing Roger’s play today to Rafa on clay, I think that Roger is a little rusty and vulnerable. When Rafa is a clay, there is nothing vulnerable about him. Not sure who I think is going to win, but I don’t think it’s going to be Roger.

I also predicted that Nadal would not win the French Open this year, and he did, so what do I know? Probably nothing. So, this is just my inner cat intuition talking. We shall see as this season progresses. Stay tuned.

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The New Rivalry That Wasn’t

Borg/McEnroe. Sampras/Agassi. Federer/Nadal. I’ve been waiting for years for a new rival to pop up on the men’s tennis scene, and I thought we had one in the making. Zverev/Theim? But nope, not today Tennis Satan. Not today!

It was a quarterfinal match between Dominic Thiem and Sascha Zverev, two young players who are destined to become rivals. Zverev, whose history at the majors has been nothing but lackluster, has finally, after three 5-set matches in a row, made it to a quarterfinal at the French Open! Con-catulations to Sascha. Unfortunately, he met Dominic Thiem across the net from him. Thiem is the only person who has been able to beat Rafa on clay these last couple of years. So, he knows how to play on clay and he is eager to win his first major (paws crossed!!).

It was such a non-battle, it was disappointing. Sascha developed a hamstring injury from the get go, and Dominic was relentless. It was a quick three set match, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1.

APTOPIX_France_Tennis_French_Open_64116.jpg                       Image: Associated Press

I’m sure we will see a lot more from these two players in the next couple of years, but it just wasn’t meant to be today.

We still have lots of tennis to be played in the French Open between now and Sunday, so stay tuned. Will it be a Nadal/Thiem final? We don’t know quite yet, but we can hope!

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Serena – Don’t Call It A Comeback

Guess what my furriends…Serena is BACK! To be honest, she never really left. Yes, she was out for a bit…becoming a mama to Alexis Olympia and wife to Alexis Ohanian, but was she really ever gone?

The rankings say yes. A short time ago, she was world #1! You couldn’t watch a grand slam tournament and not assume Serena was going to win. She is currently ranking #451 because she took time out to have a baby. Currently, the WTA doesn’t have anything in place for protecting the rankings for women who take time out for maternity leave. And of course, that’s a debate for a different time…

Her performance so far at the French Open says this is absolutely NOT a comeback. It’s just like LL Cool J sings…Mama gonna knock you out! And that is exactly what this mama did. In a fierce black, full-body catsuit, no less! Superhero cats unite! (me and you, Serena…we’ll talk later…)

Image: Twitter@serenawilliams

She confidently won her first round match against Kristyna Pliskova in two sets, and last night took Ash Barty to three sets, winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Here is what Serena had to say about her second round performance: “I lost the first set, and I thought, ‘I’ve got to try harder. I’ve got to just try harder.’ And Serena came out,” Meow…words of a true champion! Mama gonna knock you out, indeed!!

We can’t know for sure how far she will make it at the French Open, but it will be fun to watch! Good luck, Mama!

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The Lucky Losers At The French Open

The French Open began yesterday and I’ve got some great news! The International Tennis Federation implemented a new rule that I think is going to change the landscape of Grand Slams moving forward.

If you recall last year, there was an uptake of injured players starting their opening round of a Grand Slam tournament and withdrawing shortly after the start of play…all to earn their first round prize money. By doing this, they cheated the other healthier players who could have had that chance to play. And they cheated the fans who bought tickets, just to see the match end early because of a retirement.

The ITF addressed this by changing the rule so that, if a player retires before the match starts, they still get 50% of the prize money for that match. This opens up a spot for an alternate player (the lucky loser) to play in their place, and that player earns half of the prize money for that round. Because of this rule change, the French Open has seen eight “lucky losers” able to play in the first round!

The feel good story of the lucky losers has to be Argentine, Marco Trungelliti who arrived back in Paris just this morning to play his first round match against Bernand Tomic. Trungelliti didn’t make the quallies, so he was back at home in Barcelona with his mom, grandma and brother when he got the news that Nick Kyrgios dropped out, giving his a chance to play! What did he do? He loaded up mom, grandma, and brother and drove 10 hours from Barcelona to Paris to play this morning, documenting the whole adventure on Twitter. That’s him in the front seat to the left.

View image on Twitter

And guess what…he won 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4! So now he is on to round two! Congrats to him and the whole family!!

There are other lucky losers making some noise at the French Open. As I am writing this, Simone Bolelli is playing Rafa Nadal and the score is currently 6-4, 0-2. Now, do I think Bolleli is going to beat Rafa in the first round of the French Open? No, not really. But how cool is it that Bolleli gets to play the best clay court player in the world on the most famous clay court in the world, and he is up 0-2 in the second set? This would have not been possible without this new rule. We would have seen an injured player walk out, play a few games, then retire, leaving the fans in the stand and the fans at home disappointed. This way is MUCH better!!

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Does Vulnerability Have a Place In Tennis?

 

Vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity, innovation and change…a solid quote from one of my favorite self-help gurus, Brene Brown. What does this have to do with tennis, you may ask. I think we can draw some parallels of vulnerability between today’s Rome Masters Final between Rafa Nadal and Sascha Zverev and the results of the match.

If you’ve been following my blog or tennis at all, you know that Rafa Nadal is dominant on the clay courts. Last year, he blew through the clay court season like the Tasmanian Devil of the Red Dirt! But this year has been subtly different. If you’re not paying close attention, you would never notice. But…last week, he lost in the quarterfinals in Madrid against Dominic Thiem and today, I saw a slight chink in this armor against Sascha Zverev.

The first set was decidedly all Rafa in a quick set winning 6-1, leaving Sascha and his game vulnerable to errors. This vulnerability lit a fire under Sascha and he changed his game, was creative and powerful with his shots and won the second set 6-1, his first set on clay that he’s ever won against Rafa. It is rare to see Rafa’s vulnerability on the tennis court, especially on a service that he practically owns. Luckily for Rafa, there was a rain delay in the third set with Zverev up 3-1 giving Nadal a chance to regroup and reset, and he took the final set 6-3.

Spain's Rafael Nadal returns the ball to Italy's Fabio Fognini during Rome's ATP Tennis Open tournament at the Foro Italico, on May 18, 2018 in Rome. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)Image: Getty Images

Is this the type of vulnerability Brene Brown was talking about when she wrote her best selling books on vulnerability or her TED Talk on the Power of Vulnerability? Probably not. But I challenge you to think about this for a little while. When a player is down, losing, get out played on the court, showing their most vulnerable selves, how do they harness their feelings and their energy? Champions use this to kick things into the next level, find a new gear, raise their efforts, be more creative with their shots (because, obviously what they are currently doing is not working), change things up during practice, do whatever it takes to win.

The French Open starts next week and I don’t think Rafa Nadal is a foregone conclusion here to win. He has shown vulnerability this season on the red clay and I sense his time is marked. I also think some of the new guys have used their creativity, innovation and change and could go all the way in Paris. I’m going to keep an eye on Dominic Thiem and Sascha Zverev this year, and I think we’ll have a new winner! Bold prediction, I know. Of course, I’ll keep you in the loop and let you know how it all goes down in Paris! Stay tuned….

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Battle of the Mullets

My human and I finally had a chance to sit down and watch some tennis yesterday, and what is the first match we see? A battle of the mullets! To which I meowed, “Bring It On.”

You know the mullet…made famous by Billy Ray Cyrus in the 90’s. Don’t break my heart, my achy, breaky heart! (You’re welcome for that lovely earworm!)

Image: menshairstyleclub.com

The mullet…the hairstyle that purrs business in the front, party in the back!  Prrrr……

And apparently the mullet is ageless style…Denis is a Next-Gen 19 year old and Tomas is a seasoned 32 year old veteran.

Image result for denis shapovalovDenis Shapovalov

VS

Tomas Berdych

For these two players, the business is obviously tennis, and both players came to play!

It was a disjointed match to watch. I took one short catnap and Tomas won the first set 6-1. Then Denis came alive in the second set and won 6-3. By that time, they were both in the groove and the third set was tight, coming down to a tiebreak, with Denis winning the third set 7-6.

The Next Gen guys are shaking things up on the ATP tour and I like it!!

So, how do you feel about the mullet? Who wore it best? Denis or Tomas? OR Billy Ray? These are the questions that keep me up at night!

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Spa Day

Hello furriends! It’s been a little bit since I have written, but I am happy to be back. Sometimes in life, you need a little refreshing…a little reorganization, and that’s exactly what we did. My human and I took a little break to send my website out for a spa day.

Image: Pinterest.com

With the help of one of my blogging friends, Queenie at Written in the Ink, I redesigned my blog! No, my website didn’t get rhinoplasty or a tummy tuck, but something more subtle…something more in line with a massage and facial. We went with a new, fresher theme, cleaned up a bit of the categories and made it easier to navigate around the site. Purruse around the site and let me know what you think!

A huge thank you to Written in the Ink for helping me out with this. They were very easy to work with and I’m happy with the final results. Please visit their beautiful site and check them out. They even have my favorite category….Cats!!

Missing some of my tennis posts? Don’t worry, I’ll be back tomorrow with a wrap up of the Madrid Open. Spoiler alert….the winner in NOT Rafa Nadal!! Dominic Thiem knocked him out in the quarterfinals yesterday! It was purrty unbelievable, but Thiem is on a roll!!

Meow at y’all tomorrow…

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Everything Counts In Large Amounts

Depeche Mode! One of my favorite bands of all time! So, it was no wonder when I was in the kitchen, staring at my food bowl waiting on my human to fill it up, chilling to the classic “Everything Counts In Large Amounts” I had a kitty epiphany! I said aloud to my human “Especially when it comes to ATP ranking points! Am I right? Meow! ”

Image result for roger and rafaImage: Newsweek

That is why this past year, all we’ve heard about are the 3 R’s! No, not reading, writing and ‘rithmatic, but instead Roger, Rafa and the Rest. Once you understand how the points work, you’ll see why. I’ll break it down for you in simple, broad stroke terms. Ready?

The grabbing hands

Grab all they can

All for themselves

After all…

It’s a competitive world.

Everything counts in large amounts.

Who has these grabbing hands, anyway? Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, that’s who! And when we talk about large amounts, we mean the big G’s! 1000’s!

The ATP has tournaments year round for which players earn points. The Masters tournaments range from 250, 500, and 1000. That number refers to the number of ranking points the winner gets. There is also four grand slam tournaments, worth 2000 points each. You win a Masters 250 tournament, you earn 250 points. You win Wimbledon, you earn 2000! See how that can make a difference?

Let’s look at the current rankings:
1. Rafa Nadal – 8770 points

2. Roger Federer – 8670 points

3. Sascha Zverev – 5195 points

4. Marin Cilic – 4985 points

5. Grigor Dimitrov – 4950 points

Notice how close Rafa and Roger are? A mere 100 points. Notice the gigantic drop of 3475 points between #2 and #3? That’s because Rafa and Roger won all of the grand slam tournaments last year, two a piece (remember, that is 2000 points per tournament). Of course, the small amounts in the other tournaments of the year help move things up and down slightly. And you have to factor in defending points from previous year’s tournaments. But it is the large amounts that make the biggest difference.

Image result for roger and rafaImage: Business Insider

If any of these other players even think about being a contender against Roger and Rafa and knocking them off their thrones, these other players’ grabbing hands will have to start grabbing all they can and start winning the grand slams. It is simple math!

Of course, it is a little more complex than this and if you want to read all about the ATP rankings, you can find information here. ATP Rankings

Hopefully you learned a little something today. It’s pretty fascinating when you start following things closely. I am going to make a bold prediction and say that someone else besides Roger or Rafa will win a grand slam this year and really shake things up in the ATP rankings. But we will have to wait and see. And of course, I will be here to bring you the big news!

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Monte Carlo Masters – Welcome Back Kei!

Today was the Monte Carlo Masters and guess who won? Rafa Nadal! I’m not surprised, are you? Of course not. But what IS surprising is who is opponent was. Kei Nishikori! Who, you may purr! Kei Nichikori, that’s who!

Kei Nishikori came from a set down to beat Zverev and reach his fourth Masters final

You haven’t heard me meow much about Kei Nishikori because he has been out with injuries lately. Let me catch you up! He’s a Japanese player who has reached as high as #4 in the ATP rankings. He’s been a US Open finalist in 2014, a US Open semifinalist in 2016 and an Olympic Bronze medalist. He’s no schmuck! But most recently, he’s spent about five months out with a wrist injury. To have him back on tour in top shape is a big win for him and a HUGE win for tennis!

You may be asking yourself, what record has Rafa broke now? Good question. If you recall last year he was making the rounds winning the Decima (10). Yep, last year he won his 10th title at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and French Open. There is only one way to go…11. That’s right, he’s won his 11th title, breaking his own record of the most titles at a single event.

Next week is Barcelona. Wanna bet he’s taking his 11th title there? We’ll have to watch and see.

And again…welcome back, Kei!!

 

Is Rafa Nadal a Freak?

Let’s start by saying I would never ask this question if I didn’t hear someone call Rafa Nadal a freak. The exact quote was “Nadal is a freak in every possible way that can be interpreted.”

I immediately lifted my head that was resting on my outstretched paw, my other paw tucked underneath my chin. I cocked my head to the side, looked at my human and meowed “Did he just say that?” She assured me that, yep, that’s what he said.

Image: Yahoo Sports

It is the quarterfinals of Monte Carlo, the first Masters 1000 event for this clay court season, and the return of Rafa Nadal. I was looking forward to watching today’s match between Rafa and Dominic Thiem. I thought “If anyone could beat Rafa, it would be Dominic.” Domi was one of the few people that has beaten Rafa on clay recently!

Well, furriends, it was not in the cards today for poor little Domi. Rafa went out there with a quick pace and finished off Thiem in two quick sets, 6-0, 6-2. The whole event last a little over an hour.

It was about this time the Tennis Channel commentator said “Nadal is a freak in every possible way that can be interpreted.” Now, I know what he was trying to say, but come on. Rafa is just playing a game. He’s crafted his talent in such a way that he is a genius on clay. Yes, he’s a bit OCD with his water bottles facing the right way, the adjustments he makes before every single serve, and his overall work ethic. Does this make him a freak? I don’t think so. But, you can draw your own conclusions. All I know is he is magic when he steps out on the clay courts!

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True Cat Confession #8 – My Favorite Tennis Player Of All Time

I have a confession to make…I have a favorite! And it’s not Rafa Nadal or Roger Federer! This afternoon, I was casually purr-using one of my favorite websites, http://www.atpworldtour.com to check out the latest rankings and what did I see…an article on Pete Sampras!! This made my little kitty heart skip a purr! Apparently, it’s been 25 years since he reached #1 for the first time.

To be honest, 1993 does not seem that long ago. I remember watching Pistol Pete craft shots only a genius could make, run around the court like the Energizer Bunny, and hit second serve aces by the dozens. And even when he was tired, suffering from heat exhaustion, or cramping, he always found a way to be just fine for that one to two seconds it takes to serve an ace and win a point! Ah, where have players like that gone?

Here’s a young Pete hoisting the Wimbledon trophy.

Related image

Here is an older Pete, still looking pretty agile.

Related image

Take a minute and read this excellent article that was posted on the ATP website to understand a little bit more about this living legend. His records and milestones are nothing short of amazing. I think you will see why he is my favorite player of all time. Pete Sampras Tribute

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Are Popped Collars Still A Thing?

Yes, apparently. In fashion, the old adage, “everything old is new again” holds true. This morning, I turned on the TV to watch a little tennis, and what do I see? Frenchman, Benoit Paire, sporting a Lacoste polo with a popped collar…while he is playing tennis! Not on a runway or hanging with his bros, but on the tennis court! I immediately sat up and thought, “hold on here a hot fashion minute. What is happening!” If Heidi Klum has taught me anything, it is that “In fashion, one day you’re in, and the next day you’re out.” Oh, I’m so confused…

I haven’t seen a popped collar since John Hughes introduced us to the preppy frat guy in the 80’s! Even the bad boys popped their collars back then…isn’t that right John Bender from the Breakfast Club? (wink, swoon, meow)

Image: Quotesgram.com

Oh I digress…

Anyway, I don’t mind this trend swinging back around into the 21st century, as long as you can pull the look off! And clearly, if you’re French and your name is Benoit Paire, you can totally pull it off! Oui, oui! (hi Monsieur Paire, call me)

Image: Lacoste

Maybe popped collars never went away! So go on you preppy frat boy, bad boy Bender, or “80’s was the best decade ever” cool cat, pop that collar! It’s a look and it is here to stay! Meow!

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Clay Court Season Is Here! Plus…Bonus Poetry!

Spring has sprung and clay court season has arrived! Thank cat-ness for that!

If you are not familiar with watching tennis being played on a clay court, you are in for a real cat treat! There is a certain finesse and athleticism to playing on clay that makes it so fun to watch. Because the players are essentially playing on dirt, there is an unpredictability of the bounce of the ball, the variation of the speed, and if you’ve ever watched a baseball player slide into home plate…well, picture Rafa Nadal sliding across a court to hit a winner!

No doubt the best court player of all time, Rafa Nadal is back! He is the Clay Court King and he is ready to take over his tennis kingdom! That is, if he remains healthy (paws crossed).

In honor of the Master of Mud, I composed a limerick!

There was a kid named Rafa

Who liked to slice and drop a

Short shot at the net!

Did he win the set?

Slip, slide, the clay, the drama!

I am on a poetry roll, so I also wrote a haiku for the occasion:

Deep red is the clay.

The court made of crimson dirt

Sliding, stretching. Win!

Here’s a purrty cool compilation Roland Garros put together of what it is like to slide on clay.

So, let’s leave the sliding to the players while we sit back and watch our 2018 clay court season!

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Happy Easter from Frazier’s Racket

Happy Easter from my human and me! Whatever you decide to do on this lovely Sunday morning, whether it’s attend a church service, visit with family and friends or just hang out around your house, I hope it is relaxing and enjoying!

Image: drodd.com (no bunnies or kitties were hurt in the making of this gif…promise!)

The eyes of the tennis world have been focused on Miami these past two weeks (which, if you ask me, looks like an awesome place to spend a holiday weekend), and that tournament is coming to a close. Yesterday we saw Sloane Stephens, winner of last year’s US Open, take down Jelena Ostapenko, winner of last year’s French Open. I am eagerly waiting the men’s final between US player John Isner and NextGen phenom Sascha Zverev. I’m sure this match will be filled with giant serves, massive forehands and a lot of attitude! Just between you and me, I am going against my native American Isner and cheering for Zverev. (Bad Kitty!) At least it’s not Independence Day!!

Next week starts clay court season, and you know what that means! Possible poems, top ten lists, and a whole lotta Rafa!! All very good things!

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