It’s a Wrap – Wimbledon Recap

It’s a wrap on the most well known fortnight of the year – Wimbledon. Two weeks of highs and lows from the best in the world of tennis.

There was so much action the last couple of days, I tried to keep up with all the stories. But here are the absolute facts you need to know:

The women’s final was between Angelique Kerber and Serena Williams. Yes, Serena is back and in top form. Unfortunately, she peaked in her semifinal match and didn’t have any fuel left for her final. And unfortunately for Serena, but fortunately for the rest of the women’s tennis, Angelique Kerber is back! After a stellar 2016 where she won both the Australian Open and the US Open, she fell into a slump of bad tennis. But here she is, playing and winning the Wimbledon final! Concatulations to both Mrs. Williams and Ms. Kerber.

Angelique-Kerber-FTR-GettyImage: Sporting News

The men’s final saw two unlikely, but both deserving finalists, Kevin Anderson and Novak Djokovic. The road was long for both of these two players, but Kevin drew the short straw here. Because of the rule that you have to win by two in the fifth set, Kevin was stuck playing to 13-11 in the fifth set against Roger Federer in the quarterfinals, and unprecedented 26-24 in the fifth set against John Isner in the 6+ hour semifinal match. He was depleted by the final on Sunday. I’m not taking away how pawesome Novak played, but I think it would have been a different result had Kevin didn’t have to play two marathons back to back. Novak eventually came out on top this Wimbledon Sunday!

Image: The Denver Post

On Wimbledon Eve, I made a few predictions. Let’s see how I did.

  • A David Beckham sighting! He loves Wimbledon.
    • I didn’t spy with my little eye any David Beckham. And that’s a real shame, because it’s always a good day when there is a David Beckham sighting.
  • A Royal sighting. Maybe a Harry/Meghan combo?
    • Never saw Harry, but his new wife was there with her sister in law. You know, they were just two ladies spotted out on the town supporting another Royal…Serena at the final. Oh and hey….there’s Billie Jean King! Hi there!

The Duchess of Sussex was supporting Serena Williams at WimbledonImage: Press Association

  • A bizarre injury. Not that I want this to happen, but playing tennis on an organic surface like grass, anything could happen.
    • Luckily, I don’t remember hearing of any off injuries…thank goodness!
  • A unforeseen victory, likely in the women’s draw.
    • All of the top women were out by the end of week one, so seeing Angelique in the final was quite unforeseen.
  • An upset! My prediction is it will be Federer in the quarterfinals.
    • I am not wrong. I predicted Federer was going out in the quarters and by-golly, I was right! Way to go, Kevin Anderson.

Kevin Anderson of South Africa loses a point to Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the men's singles final match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Sunday July 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland, Pool)Image: Yahoo Sports

After all the tennis, I am exhausted. I’m going to go take a quick cat nap so I can get back to it real soon. Hope your Wimbledon was an enjoyable as mine.

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Tennis ESP

Meow! Just meow! I don’t even know where to start with today’s matches! Oh wait, yes I do. How about “I told you so.”

I have long said I have Tennis ESP. You know, the ability to know what’s going to happen on court before it happens. A friend once told me that, no I don’t have Tennis ESP. I have just watched enough tennis to know statistically how things are going to go.

Well, I can guarantee you that no one predicted Roger Federer would be anywhere except hoisting the winner’s trophy on Sunday, except me. In my Wimbledon preview, I predicted he would be out in the quarterfinals….and I was not wrong! Of course, I didn’t know it was going to go down in such dramatic fashion, but it did.

Image: Yahoo Sports

Roger played Kevin Anderson, and I know what you’re thinking. “Frazier, who the heck is Kevin Anderson?” Well, I’ve been a fan of this guy for a while, and last year he made it to the US Open final, where Rafa Nadal ended up winning. He played college tennis before turning pro about ten years ago, and is currently ranked #7 on the ATP tour. If you see him, you might notice that his hat always sits a little crooked on his head. I think he places with the movement of the sun for maximum protection.

There are so many things to love about Kevin Anderson. Kevin, be looking for a fan letter from me real soon!!

Well furriends, the match started out just as everyone predicted with Federer taking the first two sets pretty handily. And then in the third set, at 5-4 Federer, it was as if Kevin said to himself “Not today, Federer. Not today.” He came back to win the third set 7-5. Then he won the fourth set 6-4.

And now…the final set.

In the majors, men play the best three out of five sets, and in all majors except the US Open, the winner must win by 2 games. In the fifth set, neither player got broken. If Roger won his service game, then Kevin won his service game. This went back and forth and forth and back furrever!! The final score of the final set was 13-11! That’s practically an entire other set played. It was a fierce battle, but Kevin was hitting his returns so early with incredible amount of pace. And the angles he was making! Unbelievable tennis.

And then we had Rafa Nadal play Juan Martin Del Potro. I predicted this was going to be a fiery match, and it didn’t disappoint. I’ve said it before, I love watching Del Potro play because he puts it all out there. The crowds love it. His opponent respects it. And Rafa plays every match with such intensity you can’t help but get fired up!! Vamos!

Nadal/Del Potro was another five setter and it was fireworks to the very end when Rafa hit the winning shot and Del Potro fell face down in exhaustion, across the net. In a display of pure sportsmanship, Rafa steps over the net to help his friend up and congratulate him on a good match. How could you not love these guys?

Rafael Nadal of Spain, left, meets Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina on the court after defeating him in their men's quarterfinal match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Wednesday July 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth) Image: Yahoo Sports

All in all, it was a great day to be a tennis fan! But now I’m exhausted and must sign off.

More Wimbledon later…

Crack Open a Window Or Kick Open the Door

Well, here we are in week two of Wimbledon, folks. A few of the Next Gen stars took a peek through the cracked window of success, but the big name players kicked the door of the Championships wide open.

I was excited to see two Next Gen stars (ATP players, age 21 or younger and ranked in the top 200) make it to week two of the Championships at Wimbledon. Fourth round at Wimbledon is not a bad gig. Unfortunately for Mackenzie McDonald and Stefanos Tsitsipas, they had some unforgiving opponents across the net. However, both put up a pretty good showing.

American, Mackenzie McDonald, had the misfortune to meet up with Milos Raonic. If these two names sound familiar, it because I have written about them both recently…Mackenzie just last week as a player to watch, and Milos as a player experiencing a Tennis Renaissance. Here, I think experience won out against youth. Milos has been a finalist at Wimbledon in 2016, so he knows what it takes to grind through a match. Milos beat Mackenzie in 4 sets. Not too bad.

Image result for mackenzie mcdonald Image: usatoday.com

Greek, Stefanos Tsitsipas, was paired up against huge hitter and the King of Tiebreaks, John Isner. Stefanos put up a good fight , but in the end, John won 6-4, 7-6, 7-6 (of course finishing it off in two tiebreaks).

Image result for stefanos tsitsipas          Image: Daily Express

Of course, the big names made it to week two and busted the door wide open! Tomorrow, the stage is set for the following quarterfinals:

  • Roger Federer vs. Kevin Anderson
  • Milos Raonic vs. John Isner
  • Novak Djokovic vs. Kei Nishikori
  • Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Rafa Nadal

The latest debate is which matches gets Center Court and which matches gets Court 1. Purrsonally, I hate that this is even discussion, but people are people, and people like to debate. It really doesn’t matter at all to me…I watch them from my comfy couch, usually with a plush blanket covering me anyway!

I’ve been predicting that Federer will be upset in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. Tomorrow will tell us if I’m right.  The Raonic/Isner match should be fun because they are both big beasts!! On the opposite end of things, Djokovic/Nichikori will be a battle of the fit and slender. Then we have the great Juan Martin Del Potro against Rafa Nadal. This could go with either way, really. Expect a lot of Argentine and Spanish heat! All in all, a great day of tennis tomorrow.

I’ll be watching! Will you?

Rising American Star – Mackenzie MacDonald

Furriends, I have some exciting news! We’ve got ourselves a rising tennis star and his name is Mackenzie MacDonald!

Image: atpworldtour.com

I watched his match today against Argentine, Guido Pella, and he was on fire! MacDonald was not even seeded at Wimbledon; he is playing as a qualifier…playing his Wimbledon debut. The 23 year old is currently ranked #103, but his ranking will go up after this tournament, fur sure!

I know what you’re thinking, “Frazier, what’s the big deal about him beating a guy named Guido?” Well, under ordinary circumstances, this wouldn’t be something huge to write about, but just yesterday, Guido Pella took out last year’s finalist, Marin Cilic, in a brutal 5 set match. Guido was looking good. Guido was looking sharp. And then came Mackenzie, and Guido got a two-hour beat down and a three-set loss.

Mackenzie MacDonald was calm, powerful, sure of himself, and focused. And that my furriends, is how you earn a spot to play in week two of Wimbledon!!

Keep an ear up for this guy! I think he’s got a bright future!

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The Emperor’s New Clothes

At the conclusion of day 3 of Wimbledon, one thing is for sure…The Emperor has some new clothes. That’s right, furry furriends, The King of Grass, Roger Federer, has a new clothing sponsor. After many years with Nike, Roger just signed a 10 year, $300 million deal with Japanese clothing company, Uniqlo.

Image: Yahoo Sports

Roger is 36 years old and he is guaranteed $30 million per year until he is 47 years old. Not too bad for the old guy!

But in all seriousness, it is weird to see Roger play without being decked out in the Nike “swoosh”.  So far, he has played his first two matches very solidly. But I still think there will be an upset somewhere along his way to the final. We’ll see.

In other Wimbledon news…the players I mentioned in the Tennis Renaissance are all doing well, except for Andy Murray who had to pull out of the tournament due to his ongoing injury. But Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori, Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic all look really solid! And that is grrreat news!

Play was suspended today due to rain, but there are some really great matches that should finish tomorrow. The one I have my eye on is young Greek, Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. Jared Donaldson. Tsitsipas is my new “next gen” favorite. Tsitsipas is up two sets to one, but Donaldson is making a good run right now…this may go to a fifth! Take a good look, y’all. This is the future of tennis.

https://www.tennisworldusa.org/imgb/41196/stefanos-tsitsipas-talks-about-tennis-players-who-had-to-stop-their-career-because-of.jpgImage: tennisworldusa.org

More Wimbledon news to come…

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Wimbledon Eve 2018

It’s that time of the year where all eyes descend on the most hallowed of all tennis grounds…The All England Lawn Tennis Club! Wimbledon!

It’s like Christmas Eve when you can’t sleep because you’re waiting for Santa to drop the presents off under the tree. Did I get a new racquet? A tennis bracelet? Or maybe a tennis ball filled with catnip? But hey, who are we kidding? I’m a cat…I can sleep anywhere, any time!

That’s right, my furry furriends! For the next fortnight, that’s two weeks in layman’s terms, I will be blogging about all things Wimbledon. The matches, the celebrity sightings, the outfits, and anything else that pops up.

A few predictions:

  • A David Beckham sighting! He loves Wimbledon.
  • A Royal sighting. Maybe a Harry/Meghan combo?
  • A bizarre injury. Not that I want this to happen, but playing tennis on an organic surface like grass, anything could happen.
  • A unforeseen victory, likely in the women’s draw.
  • An upset! My prediction is it will be Federer in the quarterfinals.

We won’t know until it starts tomorrow, but don’t worry, cool cats. I’ll keep you all in the Wimbledon know. One thing I know fur sure, it’ll be action packed tennis from sun up until sun down.

Stay tuned, furriends.

 

The Year of the Tennis Renaissance

After a plague, comes the renaissance. A rebirth of tennis possibilities, tennis stars and tennis greatness. 2018 has surely been the year of the Tennis Renaissance. Players who were gone are back, new players are emerging, and it’s an exciting time to be a tennis fan!

Last year was an intriguing year for us tennis fans. It was indeed the Black Plague of the tennis era. Prior to 2017, the Big Four (Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Andy Murray, and Novak Djokovic), plus the fifth hanger-on, Stan Wawrinka, dominated the tennis world for over a decade. And then something strange happened. Injuries and personal setbacks plagued Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, and Stan Wawrinka, along with winners Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic, and we were left with two victors: Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal. Roger and Rafa dominated 2017 winning all four of the majors between the two of them, along with numerous other championships. And although this is great for Roger and Rafa fans, I don’t think it was good for tennis, as a whole.

Although these players may not be in 100% championship form, it’s nice to have them back in the conversation.

Milos Raonic: Canadian player who has had a career high ranking of #3 in 2016, reaching the final at Wimbledon that year. He was out most of 2017 with a hamstring injury (sounds super painful). Just a few weeks ago, Milos played Roger Federer in the final at Stuttgart. He did not win, but looks to be in good form.

Image: sports.ndtv.com

Stan Wawrinka: Swiss player who came up in the tennis world in Roger Federer’s shadow. He has one of the most beautiful, powerful, accurate one-handed backhands on tour. Truly…it’s a thing of beauty. Stan has won three majors, 2014 Australian Open, 2015 French Open and 2016 US Open. So, he’s no schlump! He nursed a knee injury for much of 2017, and has slowly been making his way back in 2018. He’s not quite there yet, but it’s nice to see him back.

Image: ibtimes.co.uk

Kei Nishikori: He’s the first Japanese male tennis player to be ranked in the top 5. He’s been a US Open finalist in 2014, a US Open semifinalist in 2016 and an Olympic Bronze medalist. However, he’s been plagued with a wrist injury that has kept him off the court for a while. He made a nice, splashy comeback this year when he made it to the Monte Carlo finals, falling to Nadal. But still…what a great rebirth in 2018!

Image: espn.com

Novak Djokovic: Well, what to say about Novak? He’s been world #1, dominated the grand slams between 2011-2016, then something happened that had him spirally down. There’s been a lot of speculation about what contributed to his downfall in 2017. He fired his coach, Boris Becker, in late 2016. Then he cleaned house and fired his entire coaching team mid-2017. He started traveling around with a spiritual guru and losing interest in tennis. He lost weight. There were rumors of extra-martial affairs. And then, of course, there is the elbow injury that could be the official reason for his absence. I’m not 100% sure, but what I can say is I haven’t seen the guru lately, he reunited with his old coach, Marian Vadja, and he’s winning matches again with the spark and fire I am used to seeing his play with. Just last week, he reached the final of the Fever-Tree Championships (a warm up tournament to Wimbledon), and he is looking sharp! Now, if he would stop doing that scoop up with his hands to the crowd after every match win, that would be purrfect!

Image: si.com

Andy Murray: Let me just start out by saying I just love Andy Murray. He always looks like the undercat, even though he is an incredible force on the tennis court. And, I love Andy because he is an outspoken advocate for equal pay between men and women. And, I am pretty sure he is the first top professional tennis player to hire a female head coach (Amelie Maurresmo). So, you go on with your bad self, Andy!

Andy has played in 11 grand slam finals, winning three of them. And he’s an Olympic Gold Medalist, to boot! But, Andy’s been out with a hip injury that looks just awful. He had a couple of false “comebacks” this year, already, but I think he is improving and just in time for Wimbledon! He’s played some warmup matches and he’s looking pretty good.

Image: guardian.ng

Wimbledon starts July 2, and since these players have all been out with injuries, their rankings have fallen, and therefore the seeds at Wimbledon will be different. This could really shake up with draw when it comes out later this week. We could have some interesting first round matches between players who normally would meet in the quarterfinals or later. Should be fun to watch!

So let the rebirth continue! The Tennis Renaissance is here!

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The Tide Has Shifted

Did you feel that this morning? Maybe a tiny disturbance while you were pouring your breakfast cereal. Or an a small inexplicable light flicker? What was that? A little shift in the tides, purrhaps? Well furry furriends, you were not imagining these things. We had a great tennis match and the tennis tides are shifting!

If you recall, last week I noted that Roger Federer, the King of Grass, did not look as commanding coming into Wimbledon as Rafa Nadal did on clay this year. I didn’t think his winning streak would last. His power, dominance and presence would be tested and today, 21 year old Croatian, Borna Coric was on the opposite side of the net ready to take him to task!

Coriccropped

So what if Borna’s big round eyes looked like they just woke up, he was ready to play! Coric was solid as a rock, strong as steel, smooth and steady throughout the whole match. And I think most importantly, he was not intimidated by his opponent. A lot of players let the fact that they are playing the best male player to ever play the game get into their heads. Well, guess what…what goes up, must come down eventually. You can’t be at the top forever. Today, Coric was better.

The match went to three sets. The first set was a tiebreak going to Coric (I even high-fived my human when Borna won that first set). The Roger looked across the net angrily, as to say “Don’t you know who I am,” and he wins the second set 6-2. But Coric didn’t flinched. He basically answered Roger with a win in the third set, as to say “Yes, I do. And now you know me!”

We have one week until Wimbledon and I think this win will not only give Borna Coric some confidence going in, but other players, as well. They see that Roger is not unbreakable. I’m still sticking with my prediction that is will not be Roger lifting the Wimbledon trophy at the end. Stay tuned and we will see together.

 

 

 

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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