Tale of Two Dancers

Once upon a time there lived two young men who loved to dance. Dancing was in their blood, what they were born to do. They were considered the best male dancers this world has ever seen, each with their own unique style. Roger was elegant, graceful and executed fine finesse with each movement, and was the best danceur in all the land. That is French for a male ballet dancer…ballerino in Italian, if you will. Rafael on the other hand was strong, powerful, dominant on the dance floor…the best Flamenco bailaor in all of Spain. And yes, that is the correct term for the male dancer in Flamenco, which originated in Spain.

As time passed, the two dancers traveled the world over, swinging head to head, stepping toe to toe, at every competition under the sun for the illustrious title GOAT (greatest of all time). Time ticked on year after year, and each dancer became more dominant in their craft. But as one gets older, movement slows, injury creeps in, younger dancers are joining the party, and just when you think these two fine dancers are ready to exit the ballroom, there is a renaissance! An explosion of talent, will and hunger that both dancers possess, simultaneously saying “The lights aren’t out! The party is not over. This is not my final dance.”

A rebirth of their talents is exactly what happened to Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal this year. At the conclusion of last year, the tennis world was embracing Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka. Roger and Rafa were in the conversation, but simply as sentimental favorites. They already made their mark and were in the process of making graceful exits. But in January, the Australian Open proved to tell a different story. The finalists were Roger and Rafa, with Roger winning. The French Open was Rafa’s red clay playground, where Wimbledon was Roger’s grass park. Then of course to bring a lovely balance between this dance, Rafa wins the US Open.

This past weekend, Roger played a flawless game against Rafa to win the Shanghai Masters title and to be the Rolex King. However, Rafa is still ranked #1 with Roger trailing him by around 2000 points. Will Roger be able to catch him before the ATP finals this November? I don’t know. But I do know it has been a fun and interesting year for tennis watching these two reclaim their dominance on the tennis dance floor.

Image: shanghairolexmasters.com

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It’s Good To Be King

With the Shanghai Masters being sponsored by Rolex, that lends itself to a fun debate.

Who shall be KING?

Is it Rafa Nadal, currently world’s #1?

Image from twitter@gasparlanca

Or is it Roger Federer, possibly the greatest player of all time?

                                      Image from twitter@rogergenio

It’s not quite Juan Martin Del Potro (my sentimental favorite)…

Image from shanghairolexmasters.com

And it’s certainly not this guy…

Image: shanghairolexmasters.com

…Nick Kyrgios, who walked off court after the first set who just wasn’t feeling it today. SMH

So tell me, who do you think is king?

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Simona Halep – The New World #1

Back in August, I wrote a post about one of my favorite players, Simona Halep titled Always a Bridesmaid when she played in the Western and Southern Open and lost in the final. Despite a fervent work ethic and new coach, she has struggled to find her groove, her mojo, her sweet spot. But this week, no more.

At the China Open this week, Simona became world #1! A huge congratulations goes out to Simona, her coach Darren Cahill and her entire team (because we all know it takes a village). Now, instead of being the bridesmaid, Simona gets center court with this lovely bouquet! I hope you and #1 remain together a very long time.

Image: indiatoday.intoday.in

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The Laver Cup Effect

Two weeks ago, the world was introduced to the Laver Cup, a new, glamorous tennis competition that was Roger Federer’s brainchild. “Europe against the World”…which still makes me laugh! (Advantage World, Advantage Europe) It was a great weekend with all the top players battling each other in singles and doubles in a spirited, fierce clash of tennis titans. I was on a tennis high for days afterward, just reliving the great matches. (There is nothing more dangerous than a tennis cat on a tennis high! ) And the Tennis Channel gave us every opportunity to relive them because  played them on repeat for what seemed like an eternity. Thank goodness cats have nine lives!

The problem now is the top younger players who participated in the Laver Cup are bombing at the tournaments following that weekend. Namely, Sascha Zverev and Dominic Thiem, ranked #4 and #7 in the world, respectively.

Image: http://www.tennisidentity.com

Sascha Zverev is being labeled a “Next Generation” player, but let’s be honest, there is nothing “Next Gen” about him. He is the 20 year old German who is red hot right now. Last week, Sascha Zverev was the top seed at the Shenzhen Open and lost in the quarterfinals to Damir Dzumhur. This week, he is scheduled for the China Open and squeaked by a first round win against Kyle Edmund. We will see how far he gets into this tournament.

Image: @DominicThiemFans (twitter)

Dominic Thiem is the 24 year old Austrian, who has had an unbelievable clay court season this year and a decent run at the US Open, just played in the Japan Open this week and lost in the first round to Stevie Johnson. Yes, the match went to three sets, but Dominic was off. He was not himself. The week prior, he played the Chengdu Open and lost in the second round.

Much has been written about the long tennis season and the packed schedule to gain ranking points. But at what cost? Injury? Fatigue? Burn out? Did playing in the Laver Cup add unnecessary fatigue to these young players? As fun and prestigious as the Laver Cup was and may become, I wonder if any of this will factor in to who decides to play in the upcoming years. Will the player’s entourage decide it’s not worth it if it will be detrimental to their overall ranking and results? Or maybe they will be more strategic when putting their schedules together. Either way, fans want a competitive Laver Cup, but we also want good results on the tour. Can we have both?

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Battle of the Sexes

True cat confession: I love Billie Jean King and all she is. A real bad ass! Always have, every since I was a young kitten.

True cat confession: I don’t go to the movies often. I just think there are better ways to spend my time than two + hours sitting in a movie theater.

True cat confession: Traditionally, tennis movies are terrible! As much as I love the game, movie makers have yet to come up with a formula that translates the magic and drama of tennis into a compelling full length movie.

image: wallpapershome.com

So, when Battle of the Sexes came out, I was conflicted. I love Billie Jean, her story, her tennis, but are the movie makers going to ruin it for me? Luckily, the Battle of the Sexes got it right!

The movie’s premise highlight’s Billie Jean King’s fight for equal prize money for men and women in tennis, the birth of the Women’s Tennis Association, and the much publicized “Battle of the Sexes” match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King.

What set this movie apart from other tennis movies is it really didn’t focus on tennis. Yes, tennis was the avenue for which all of the key elements were centralized, but it struck the right note when developing the characters behind the headlines. Bobby Riggs and his strained relationship with his wife and family, the dynamics between Jack Kramer and Billie Jean, Billie Jean’s relationship with her husband and her struggle with her own sexuality at a time when coming out could have been detrimental to her career. It told the story of women’s rights for equal pay (which is still an issue in the US with women making $0.77 for every $1.00 a man makes, according to a 2014 study posted on now.org), it had believable acting and was not just another novelty tennis flick.

Billie Jean King was a trailblazer for gender equality and equal prize money in tennis and other social justice causes. She is one of my favorite human’s in all the world! My hero! If you have a couple of hours to spare, you should definitely add this to your movie viewing list.

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2017 Laver Cup Success

Now that the excitement and buzz of the inaugural Laver Cup is in the books, we have ourselves the winners, Team Europe. Next year, this will be played in Chicago. I thought it was really fun to watch, so I hope the momentum of this event stays high and it becomes “a thing”. Time will tell.

Here are some of my observations of the three day event:

Team Europe = classy, handsome tennis players

Team World = fun loving, let it all hang out bros

Funnest match to watch – Dominic Thiem vs John Isner

Best doubles pairing – Jack Sock and Nick Kyrgios

Coolest tennis moment – Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal playing doubles together

Weirdest tennis moment – Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue Magazine, doing the coin toss for the Federer/Nadal vs Sock/Querrey match

Greatest pleasant surprise – Thomas Enqvist as vice-captain!

Did you catch any of it this weekend? What did you think? Am I missing any key moments? Let me know! Have a great week everykitty!

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The Case for Nick Kyrgios

When coverage of the Laver Cup started today, I really thought I was going to write about the gold chain epidemic. (Yes, there is a gold chain epidemic in men’s tennis, and it’s pretty serious. Stay tune for a post on that real soon). However, I get sucked into the drama that is Nick Kyrgios. He is a fascinating character to watch and analyze. I’m a huge fan…I’ve even wrote him a fan letter. Dear Nick

Photo courtesy: lavercup.com

To set the stage for today, there are several factors that come into play. We all know, and Nick has even confirmed, he loves playing on a big stage when the stakes are high, and he enjoys the “team” environment, so today’s match should have been right up his alley. However, Team World is down 7 – 1 and he is feeling some self-imposed pressure to win his match. A realistic expectation.

To add another layer to this dynamic, John McEnroe is the coach for Team World. These two have a bit of a history with one another. Nick has been fined for lack of effort in matches, suspended for weeks on end, made crude comments about another player’s girlfriend during a match, agreed to see a sports psychologist. He has admitted that he is not committed to the sport. John McEnroe has called him a “black eye” to the sport and to himself, said he would be finished in five years, and even suggested that he should coach him. To this, Nick replied “he’s dreaming.”

Well, here we are, living the dream that is the Laver Cup, and we have John McEnroe coaching Nick Kyrgios in the pressure singles match of the day. At the first change over, Nick sits on the bench, stares straight ahead repeating “I’m fine” while John is in his face grilling him about tennis tactics. You can almost see the gears grinding in McEnroe’s mind trying to figure out how to reach Nick. On the second change over, it is John sitting quietly with his arms crossed while Nick is running his mouth. John finally gets up from his seat and turns towards him and tells him that his negative vibe is bringing the team down. Nick losses the first set 4-6. But then his teammate and tennis bestie, Jack Sock, starts to join McEnroe at the bench to pump him up on change overs. Nick is now engaged with his teammates watching on the sideline and with the crowd and this is just the type of atmosphere he thrives in. Slowly but surely, point by point, ace by ace, Nick wins the second set in a tiebreak 7-6! In total, Nick fires off 18 aces in a two-set + tiebreak match.

I don’t want to take anything away from his opponent, Tomas Berdych who was basically out there giving us all a service clinic! Flawless service game today! And, if you’ve ever seen Berdych play, you know he stays at the baseline and power hits every point back at you. But at the end of the day, Nick Kyrgios dug deep with the help of his teammates and his coach and pulled off the win in a game deciding tiebreak 10-6.

Nick, I am awestruck by your talent, heart-warmed by the comradery you have with your teammates, smitten by your charm, but completely baffled by your sporadic behavior. You are an intriguing character that always keeps me watching. I hope you stay with us a little bit longer!