Another Future Star!

You may have noticed these past couple of weeks I have highlighted some bright stars in the future of men’s tennis. Well, this week in Montreal at the Rogers Cup, another star emerged! 18 year old Canadian, Denis Shapovalov.

Image: http://www.thestar.com

He had an incredible week at his home country’s Masters level tournament. He entered as a wildcard, but that didn’t stop him from making a splash. In his second round match, he beat Juan Martin del Potro (former US Open champ), and then in a shocking 3rd round match, he beat Rafa Nadal in three sets. A third set tiebreak sealed the deal for this guy.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “What’s so special about this guy, Frazier?” For me, it’s the way he engages with the crowd and uses them to his advantage. If the spectators are on your side, you have everything. And, he didn’t let the pressure of the big moments get to him. And his slice backhand ain’t bad either! He was really able to rise to the occasion and play great tennis this week.

Of course, only time will tell if this new crop of players will become the new McEnroe/Borg, Sampras/Agassi, Federer/Nadal, or Murray/Djokovic. But the timing is right. We had an unprecedented start of the 2017 tennis season with Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal dominating not only the grand slams, but all the tournaments in between. They’ve both been shaky since Wimbledon. Let’s see if this new crop of guys can rewrite the ending of the 2017 season. Time will tell.

The Future’s So Bright

I gotta wear shades. That’s right y’all, go grab my Ray Ban’s for me, will ya, because I am blinded by the light! I’m revved up like a deuce…Bruce Springsteen wrote that song, BTW (you’re welcome! 😉 ). Good thing I don’t have to wear my sunglasses at night! Hold up…too many 80’s one-hit-wonder references? Too much for a Sunday? Can I really ever have too many references to 80’s music? No, I don’t think so (LL Cool J, Going Back to Cali).

I digress…have I even started? I guess I’m just excited for the future of men’s tennis, as it was on full display this week! As we countdown to the US Open, we found ourselves in Washington DC at the Citi Open. Two worthy opponents met each other for the final: Kevin Anderson and Sascha Zverev. Kevin Anderson is a bit of a veteran, but has been out due to injury. Sascha Zverev is part of this “Next Generation” of players the ATP is trying to promote. He just turned 20 in April, and he has been making quite a name for himself this year. He beat Anderson like it was no big deal, 6-4, 6-4, winning his fourth title this year.

Image:yahoo.sports.com

I want to dislike Sascha Zverev so bad. I do, I really do. Much like I wanted to hate Roger Federer when he beat Pete Sampras in the 4th round at Wimbledon in 2001. He was only 19 years old at the time and Pete Sampras had won Wimbledon seven previous years (and Pete is my all-time favorite player). I knew at that moment, big changes were coming in men’s tennis.

Am I comparing Sascha to Roger? Not necessarily. It’s a little premature for that. I mean, this tournament is not a grand slam. It’s not even a Masters 1000 level tournament. But, in a couple of weeks, he will be on the world’s biggest tennis stage and we will all see if he’s got the goods. If he plays anything like he did today…clean, powerful, strategic shots, with loads of confidence…I think we have a future grand slam winner on our hands!

This coming week, we head north of the border to our friendly neighbor, Montreal Canada. This is a Masters 1000 tournament and Rafa and Roger got the top seeds. This will be a good test to see if I will need my Ray Bans or if I can leave them in the car while I’m revving up my deuce coupe!

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter

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

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

Tennis Tug of War

Four weeks! The countdown to my favorite grand slam of the year begins! The US Open in NYC! But before we get to the city that never sleeps, there is a fabulous series of tournaments across the US that leads up to the Open. First stop…Atlanta!

Atlanta loves its tennis. The city has the most recreational players in the entire United States. So it’s only fitting that we begin there. The final came down to two Americans (again, very fitting since it is the US Open series), John Isner and Ryan Harrison. The only way I could describe this match would be like watching tennis Tug of War.

Image: clipartsall.blogspot.com.au

Picture two players, one of each side of the net. Each is holding one end of a rope, and there’s a puddle of mud in the middle. The first person to tug on their rope hard enough to drag the other person into the mud wins. For the entire first set, they were steady, each player pulling equal tension. No movement towards the mud pit. Isner wins the tiebreak of the first set. Harrison’s toe touches the edge of the mud pit. Second set, Harrison tugs ever so slightly, moving Isner closer to the pit. But no, Isner pulls back to steady the distance between him and the mud. In the end, Isner tugged one final time, and Harrison comes crashing into the pit of tennis defeat! Final score: 7-6, 7-6. It doesn’t get closer than that.

I’ve mentioned before about my disdain of smashing and throwing of racquets. Every once in a while, a player will also think it’s a good idea to punch their racquet strings. You know, like as if it was a person’s face (which it’s not). The racquet head is a series of very thin strings woven closely together designed to strike a tennis ball with force and spin. IF you decide to punch your strings in the face, please note the strings WILL cut your knuckles and bleed. Then you’re dripping blood on the court, your shorts, the towel (that the ball kid has to carry around for you), and you’re playing with a bloody hand like you just lost a bar fight. Listen…you’re not going to win. The strings always win. Don’t punch your strings (John Isner).

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter

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

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

 

 

The Class of 2017

I need to go to Rhode Island one of the these days. New Port, Rhode Island, to be specific. See, that is where the International Tennis Hall of Fame is, and for any tennis fan, I think that is it is a bucket list trip! They inducted their Class of 2017 this weekend.

First of all, I must be behind the times because I didn’t realize Todd Martin was the CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame! No better ambassador for the sport I love than Todd Martin. Who’s Todd Martin, you ask? Just one the great American tennis players who has had some memorable night matches at the US Open. He always played well at the Open. One night match in particular in 2000, against Carlos Moya, went to five sets and lasted well past 1am. I remember watching this match at home thinking “I have to get to New York to the Open so that I can witness tennis like this!” It was a few years later, but I finally made it there!

Class of 2017:

Andy Roddick – American men’s player, former world #1, US Open Champ, philanthropist

Kim Clijsters – Belgium women’s player, former world #1, winner of 4 Grand Slams, mother of three (one of the few women who were mothers when they won a Grand Slam)

Monique Kalkman-van den Bosch- Dutch women’s wheelchair player, Paralympic Gold medalist participating in three Paralympics (Seoul, Barcelona, and Atlanta)

Steve Flink – American tennis journalist, author and historian, still contributes to the Tennis Channel

Vic Braden – American tennis instructor, researcher and broadcaster

This is obviously a broad-strokes description of everyone, but I encourage you to read more about them here Tennis Hall of Fame. Especially if you have never seen wheelchair tennis, it is totally impressive! You will be hooked! It is unfortunate that it does not get any TV airtime…but maybe that’s a topic for another blog.

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter:

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

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

There’s No Crying in Tennis

Or is there? I have never seen so many tears on Centre Court of a Wimbledon final in all of my nine lives! Let me set the scene.

Our two opponents…Roger Federer and Marin Cilic. We all know Roger…the “GOAT’, as they say. Having a resurgence this year, winning the Australian Open, and going for his record breaking 8th Wimbledon title and 19th grand slam title. And Marin Cilic, the quiet giant. He’s beaten Roger at big moments, including the semi-finals at the 2014 US Open and went on to win the title that year.

But alas, the moment was just too great for Marin. Some may say it was physical…a problem with his foot. He had it re-taped around the end of the second set. But no, I say it was more psychological, in his head, emotional. And who blames him? Not me. I mean look, he’s playing on the biggest stage in tennis against the best men’s player to play the game.

He lost the first set 6-3, and was down 3-0 in the second when he called the trainers out. But instead of the trainers attending to any body ailment, they knelt next to him while he had a meltdown. They didn’t even take his blood pressure like if he was having a panic attack. Nope, at one point, he put the towel over his head and openly cried under his make-shift shelter for one.

Photo: http://www.express.co.uk

After getting his foot re-taped at the end of the second set, he did come out with a little bit of fire. But it was too late. The match was too far gone and Roger won the third set. Final score: 6-3, 6-1, 6-4. It’s just a shame Cilic couldn’t collect himself before the third set because I think we could have had a very competitive match.

Then there’s Roger. If you’ve been watching tennis for as long as I have, you know that Roger Federer is one of the most emotional guys on tour. He’ll cry if he wins, he’ll cry if he loses, and I’ve seen both!

Photo: http://www.thesun.co.uk

And wouldn’t you, if you were him? What he has achieved and continues to achieve is nothing short of spectacular. And just as I told my human’s mom on the phone this morning, we are just lucky to be around to witness it!

I, however, did not shed a single tear this morning watching this final. I’m proud of myself for holding it together…especially when Marin Cilic seemed so helpless. Bless his little heart!

But, that’s a wrap for Wimbledon this year. Now on to the rest of the summer season and looking forward to my favorite slam, the US Open!

Have a great Sunday, everybody.

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

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

 

Battle of the Headbands…Who Wore It Best?

As per Wimbledon tradition, the players….and the grass…get a rest on the middle Sunday of the tournament. That does not mean that the Sunday Slice, my weekly segment, gets a rest. As a matter of fact, now is the perfect time for a little fashion fun!

Battle of the Headbands!!

Who Wore It Best?

We will start with the original trendsetters and tennis legends, John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg. Much has been written about this rivalry, but lets answer the question, who wore the headband best? John’s wild bird’s nest of a hair is no match for Borg’s shiny, smooth golden locks. Borg for the win!

Next up, Rafa Nadal vs Roger Federer. This is a tough one, and one, I feel, that has to be broken down to “young” Rafa/Roger and “older” more mature Rafa/Roger.

When they were both coming on the scene in the early 2000’s, I was like, “who are these jokers and what’s with the headbands?” Much to my chagrin, this trend started up again and is still the preferred method of locks control for many tennis players on tour, men and women alike. In the younger days, I have to say Roger Federer wore it best.

Then as they both matured, and still rocked the bands, Rafa Nadal really came into his own, and I now think he wears the headband best.

Now to some more recent additions to this headband craze. Here are two “breakthrough” players who are on the cusp of greatness trying out the style, Dominic Thiem vs Sascha Zverev. I have written much about “Sweep the Leg” Thiem during clay court season because he was one of the the only ones to get a win off of Nadal this year. Like his win on clay, I have to give him the win in Battle of the Headbands.

Dominic Thiem

 

Sascha Zverev

Now we have the battle between USA and Canada. First up, Jared Donaldson. Next-gen player on tour, from the US. His opponent, Canadian Milos Raonic. This is a tough one because both started sporting the headband recently, so I don’t have much to go by. But I think I will go for my countryman, Jared Donaldson, for the win.

Jared Donaldson

Milos Raonic

So, our final winners are:

Bjorn Borg – best traditional

Roger Federer – younger year’s style

Rafa Nadal – mature year’s style

Dominic Thiem – breakthrough

Jared Donaldson – USA

Let me know your thoughts. Did I get it right? Did I miss anybody? Would you have picked different winners?

Enjoy your Sunday everyone, and I will be back tomorrow for Manic Monday.

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

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

 

 

 

Wimbledon Eve

Well furry friends, it’s finally here! Wimbledon Eve! Much more exciting than Christmas Eve, don’t you think? I mean, besides having a big green tree in my living room with shiny lights, shimmering ornaments to play with, presents to unwrap, Wimbledon Eve could be my favorite holiday.

Wimbledon is the epitome of classic tennis. It is held in a private club in ye olde England (did you hear my British accent right there?). Grass courts are the original court surface of tennis, players don their their best whites! Classy! Almost too classy for an old fashion house cat like myself. But maybe that’s why I get so excited to be transported to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club for a fortnight every Summer!

I don’t think anyone would have predicted a 2017 Wimbledon like this one, but this has been an unusual year in tennis, indeed. From the ashes, Roger Federer remarkably rose to the top of his game this year. Rafa Nadal is close behind, dominating the recent clay court season. It will be interesting if that momentum can carry through the low bounce of the grass courts. The top two players from last year, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, are just afterthoughts in the discussion…like shooting stars fading in the dark night sky.

Then we have your typical dark horses…Nick Kyrgios, Jack Sock, Sascha Zverev…maybe Stan Wawrinka? Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking. “Frazier, Jack has a warm chance at Christmas time to win Wimbledon.” Well, you’re right, but I will always throw some love towards my US players.

On the women’s side, Serena is out this year, and the rest of the field have been unpredictable. I look to see Karolina Pliskova make a solid run for it. And then how about Jelena Ostapenko, the surprise winner of the French Open? I know, I know….who? Yes, that’s how I feel, too. But if I want to continue writing a relevant tennis blog, I better learn how to spell that girl’s name, and QUICK!

So, stay tuned because this should be an exciting two weeks. I may not get to open any presents, but watching the matches each day is a gift unto itself.

Happy Wimbledon Eve!

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

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