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

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fraziersracket

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/fraziersracket

Advertisements

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.

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fraziersracket

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/fraziersracket

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!

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fraziersracket

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/fraziersracket

 

 

The Davis Cup Mysteries

Now that the 2017 grand slam season is over, I want to focus my attention on the Davis Cup. Unfortunately, when I think of the Davis Cup, a huge cloud rolls in overhead and I am left in the dark. For as long as I have followed tennis and heard commentators talk about the Davis Cup, it is still an illusive mystery to me. You too? Here, let me break it down for you…

Things I (think I) know about the Davis Cup:

  1. It is a year long men’s tennis tournament.
  2. It is played with teams which pits country against country (ex: Belgium vs. Australia).
  3. Each team has a team captain. Sometimes this team captain is a formal pro player of the previous generation (Jim Courier is (was?) USA’s team captain, Leyton Hewitt is team captain for Australia).
  4. It is played in different countries on different surfaces (grass, clay, hard court).
  5. The atmosphere is much like a soccer game where the spectators wear face paint, costumes and show spirit for their respective country.

Things that are a mystery to me:

  1. The bracket! I do not understand who plays who and when, who makes the bracket. Apparently, we are in the semifinals right now? France vs. Serbia and Australia vs. Belgium…maybe?
  2. Who decides which surface you play on? Does there have to be an equal amount of play on each surface throughout the year?
  3. The scoring. I know that there are some singles matches and some doubles matches, but I don’t know the ratio or even how many matches are played.
  4. How often are Davis Cup matches throughout the year?
  5. When are the finals?
  6. What do you get if you win?
  7. Why is Australia’s uniforms always yellow and green, but their flag is red, white and blue?

There are some players who really thrive within this team setting, like two of my favorites, Juan Martin Del Potro and Nick Kyrgios. I’ve been a good feline Sherlock Holmes and tried to find some clarity on the Davis Cup website because I want to follow and get excited about this. But alas, I am still in the dark.

If you have any clues that could solve the Davis Cup Mysteries, please share. I would love to know. And maybe some of the readers here will learn a little something too!

Thanks!

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/fraziersracket

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/fraziersracket

There Is No “I” In Team

But there is an I in Tennis! Of course, that means absolutely nothing except that it is a fact. There is also a T, and E, a couple of N’s and an S!

Oh cat, I got off track there for a minute. Too much cat nip! But not that far. I was thinking about the Women’s Final that took place yesterday, and there was an interesting dynamic that happened on the court. The two finalists, Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens, are both American’s, . Both players were out earlier in the year, skipping the Australian Open in January, with injuries which required surgeries. We all know that you don’t recover, rehab, and compete at the level of a grand slam final without a team behind you. Coaches, trainers, nutritionists, parents, friends…that’s your team!

To add an extra layer of complexity to this grand slam final, both players are also teammates and good friends. They play on the American Fed Cup team together, they competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics together, they themselves are teammates. So, imagine for a minute that you were playing for the biggest title of your career against a teammate and good friend. This was the scene for yesterday’s final.

But with all competition, there is a winner and there is a loser. And yesterday, the momentum swung in the direction of Sloane Stephens. Sloane Stephens was on point from the get go and Madison Keys struggled to find her game. The final score was a convincing 6-3, 6-0.

Photo by:  (USTA/Darren Carroll)
For me, the highlights came after the match! After the win, both players met at the net like players do. But instead of the cold handshake, chair umpire handshake, then march back to your chair, Sloane and Madison hugged at the net and one friend consoled the other while she cried on the winner’s shoulder. Then instead of going to their own respective seats, the winner sits next to her friend and laughs and cuts up until the trophy ceremony. Furriends, if you don’t follow tennis, let me tell you, I have been watching tennis a long time and this NEVER happens.
Then, during the trophy ceremony, both players had beautiful, gracious things to say about the other player. I cried through the whole thing! (No one is surprised by this, I’m sure). Wonderful display of sportsmanship, friendship and class at a time when our world needs a little bit of it!
So even though there is no I in Team, there is a team within tennis. And the American women’s teamwork was on full display yesterday! Congratulations to Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens.

The Young Guns – Under Pressure at the US Open

With five out of the top 11 ranked players not playing in the US Open this year due to injuries (Milos Raonic (11), Kei Nishikori (10), Novak Djokovic (5), Stan Wawrinka (4), and Andy Murray (2), this leaves the window wide open for one of the young guns, “next gen” players, to make their move. In week one, we have seen some pretty impressive play, but as we sneak into week two, will they be able to hang with the big boys? Only time will tell. On this middle Sunday, there are only two “next gen” players left, Andrey Rublev (currently ranked 53) and Denis Shapovalov (currently ranked 69).

This morning on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Denis Shapovalov gave it his best effort. His opponent was Pablo Carreno Busta. You may be thinking “Who?” But, if you followed any of my clay court coverage, you will remember that he is a formidable clay court player and knows how to win.

Before we even get into Denis and his match, I just want to say that Cliff Drysdale and John McEnroe covering the main match on Arthur Ashe Stadium in the morning is a perfect combination! John is a little more subdued in the morning and Cliff is a good counterpoint to John’s commentary. They don’t talk too much during points, they didn’t favor one player over the other, and all in all, it was a very pleasant experience.

Now onto the match. Denis Shapovalov made a splash earlier this year and not in a good way. You may recall reading in the news of a young kid getting frustrated during a Davis Cup match and hitting a ball into the stands out of frustration. But instead of it going into the stands, it hit the chair umpire smack in the eye. It was hit so hard, the man had to have surgery. Well, that was Denis. Since then he has matured and improved and has been climbing up the rankings.

Denis has style and some are comparing him to a young Andre Agassi. I see him more as a Leyton Hewitt throwback. His “signature style” is his long blonde hair and his oversized cap wore backwards. He’s a lefty with a flexible and powerful one-handed backhand, and a pretty solid 1-2-punch (serve, volley).

The match went three sets, each set ending in a tiebreak. Pablo Carreno Busta won every set 7-6, 7-6, 7-6. If I was Denis’s coach, I would work on the following:

  • Patience. Don’t try to rush the point (too many sloppy errors at the net).
  • Focus. You have got to stay in it from first ball to last.
  • Overhead shots at the net. Too many got dumped straight into the net. (see Patience, above)

I was not surprised Pablo Carreno Busta won this match. I was hoping for it to go to at least four sets, but it didn’t. Even though Denis Shapovalov didn’t win, I see great things for him in the future, so I guess I’m going to have to practice saying his name! Shapo-valov. That’s how he’s told us to pronounce it! The future of tennis continues to shine brightly!

US Open Tennis Championships Eve

New York, New York…concrete jungle where dreams are made of! There’s nothing you can’t do now you’re in New York. These streets will make you feel brand new, these lights will inspire you. Let’s hear it for New York!

Yes, that’s right my furry and fluffy friends, my favorite grand slam tournament, the US Open, starts tomorrow and I am pumped. Well, as pumped as a cat can be…lets just say I’ve been meowing and strutting around the house like I own it this week. Did you enjoy the countdown of my favorite US Open moments that I posted this week? To be honest, when I had the idea last Sunday, I started making my list and quickly came up with a dozen moments and easily could have continued. I didn’t even cat scratch the surface with the Venus and Serena moments, Rafa and Roger, McEnroe/Connors/Lendl, Leyton Hewitt/Marat Safin/Patrick Rafter, etc. Oh there’s just not enough time in the day or days in a year!

Things I love about the Open:

  1. The logo…who doesn’t love a flying tennis ball on fire?
  2. The crowds..if you’ve ever been to NYC, you know there is a pulse on the street that you can feel down to your core. Same for the crowds at the Open!
  3. The outfits! Seems like all the players bring out their best for the final tournament of the year. And if you are a top player, your brand designs different outfits for day and night matches.
  4. The tennis! It has and always will be all about the tennis! Final tournament of the year fires up the players like nothing else.

The men’s draw has thinned out a bit with 5 of the top 11 seeds out due to injury, but there are plenty of great story lines to follow. Will 36 year old Roger Federer win his third major this year? Will Rafa Nadal rise up and win a second major this year? Or will one of the young guns like Dominic “Sweep the Leg” Theim or Sascha Zverev announce their arrival to the big leagues with their first win? Maybe a US player like Jack Sock, Sam Querrey or John Isner will grab the title.

The women’s draw has been a bit wide open all year since Serena Williams has been out on maternity leave. Will Garbine Muguruza continue to dominate? Or will Simona Halep finally win her major? She’s certainly capable, but she gets in head a bit. She plays Maria Sharapova in the first round. Maria’s been out due to a drug suspension but was able to claim a wild card. Or Venus? Or Karolina Pliskova (my pick). So many story lines!

Well, there’s nothing left to do but sit back and wait! Come on, New York, show us what you got!