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2009/11/30
 
WTF happened, "what the fudge" is gonna happen next?

 
With Spain defending the Davis Cup title and master Kolya winning the WTF it's fair to say that the 2009 season is over, so let's have a quick look at the top twenty of the ATP ranking.
 
1 Rogelio Federer
 
Roger Federer
the laughing king

from Basel, Switzerland
age 28 (08.08.1981)
tennis-school Switzerland
racket Wilson
shoes Nike
clothing Nike
grand slam titles: 15
year end masters: 4
Davis Cup titles (best): 0 (SF)
masters series tournaments won: 16

 
total ATP level tournaments won: 61
career win - loss: 722:182
best ranking: 1 (reached first on 02.02.2004)
year end ranking: 1997-704, 98-301, 99-65, 00-29, 01-13,
02-6, 03-2, 04-1, 05-1, 06-1, 07-1, 08-2, 09-1 
Olympics: Gold 2008 (in doubles with Stan Wawrinka)
Wood at Sidney 2000

grand slam results 2009: Australian Open Final,
Roland Garros Winner, Wimbledon W, US Open F

Davis Cup results 2009: 2:0
WTF masters result 2009: SemiFinal

tournaments won in 2009: 4
win - loss  2009: 61:12

height / weight: 185cm / 85kg
best surface: grass, hardcourt, clay
playing style: allcourt, righthander, one-handed backhand
influences on game: Peter Carter, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Pete Sampras
great: footwork, defense, attack, serve, second serve, return, forehand, backhand, matchplayer
problem: too good

 

 

2 Rafa Nadal

Rafael Nadal
the London tourist

from Manacor, Mallorca, Spain
age 23 (03.06.1986)
tennis-school Spain
racket Babolat
shoes Nike
clothing Nike
grand slam titles: 6
year end masters (best): 0 (SF)
Davis Cup titles: 3
masters series tournaments won: 15

total ATP level tournaments won: 36
career win - loss: 480:115
best ranking: 1 (reached first on 18.08.2008)
year end ranking: 2001-811, 02-200, 03-49, 04-51, 05-2,
06
-2, 07-2, 08-1, 09-2 
Olympics: Gold 2008

grand slam results 2009:
AO W, RG 4R, WIMBLEDON Absent, US SF

Davis Cup results 2009: 4:0
WTF masters result 2009: Round Robin

tournaments won in 2009: 5
win - loss  2009: 64:14

height / weight: 185cm / 85kg
best surface: clay
playing style: baseline, righthander plays lefthanded, two-handed backhand
influences on game: Uncle Toni, Carlos Moya, Sergi Bruguera, Thomas Muster, Lleyton Hewitt
great: machine, defense, topspin forehand, return, backhand, nerves, tactics, matchplayer
problem: knees

 

 

3 Novak "Nole" Djokovic

Novak Djokovic
the grim joker

from Belgrade, Serbia
age 22 (22.05.1987)
tennis-school Serbia, Italy, Germany
racket Head
shoes Adidas
clothing Sergio Tacchini
grand slam titles: 1
year end masters: 1
Davis Cup titles (best): 0 (1st Round)
masters series tournaments won: 5

total ATP level tournaments won: 16
career win - loss: 322:106
best ranking: 3 (reached first on 09.07.2007)
year end ranking: 2003-679, 04-186, 05-78, 06-16, 07-3,
08
-3, 09-3 
Olympics: Bronze 2008

grand slam results 2009:
AO QF, RG 3R, WIMBLEDON QF, US SF

Davis Cup results 2009: 0:2
WTF masters result 2009: RR

tournaments won in 2009: 5
win - loss  2009: 78:19

height / weight: 188cm / 80kg
best surface: hard court
playing style: baseline, righthander, two-handed backhand
influences on game: Niki Pilic, Ivan Ljubicic, Ivan Lendlovic, Lleyton Hewitt, Alberto Tomba
great: wheels, return, backhand, matchplayer
problem: hybris, forehand sometimes lets him down

 

 

4 Andy Murray

Andy Murray
the sleeping wizard

 
total ATP level tournaments won: 14
career win - loss: 285:98
from Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
age 22 (15.05.1987)
tennis-school Great Britain, Spain
racket Head
shoes Adidas
clothing Fred Perry
grand slam titles (best) 0 (F)
year end masters (best)  0 (SF)
Davis Cup titles (best) 0 (Play Off Round)
masters series tournaments won  4

best ranking: 2 (17.08.2009)
year end ranking: 2003-540, 04-411, 05-64, 06-17,
07-11, 08-4, 09-4 
Olympics (best): 0 (1R)

grand slam results 2009:
AO 4R, RG QF, WIMBLEDON SF, US 4R

davis cup results 2009: 2:1
WTF masters result 09: RR
tournaments won in 2009: 6
win - loss 2009: 66:11

height / weight: 190cm / 84kg
best surface: hard court
playing style: baseline, righthander, two-handed backhand
influences on game: mother Judy, Emilio Sanchez, Brad Gilbert, Marat Safin, Lleyton Hewitt
great: return, backhand, volley, sliced onehanded backhand, defense, tactical arsenal, matchplayer
problem: could play more aggressively given his net talent, forehand sometimes lets him down

 

 

5 Juan Martin "JMDP" Del Potro

Juan Martin Del Potro
the silent NYC giant


total ATP level tournaments won: 7
career win - loss: 218:112
from Tandil, Argentina
age 21 (23.09.1988)
tennis-school Argentina, Italy
racket Wilson
shoes Nike
clothing Nike
grand slam titles 1
year end masters (best):  0 (F)
Davis Cup titles (best): 0 (F)
masters series tournaments won (best):  0 (F)

best ranking: 5 (06.04.2009)
year end ranking: 2004-1047, 05-157, 06-92,
07-44, 08-9, 09-5 
Olympics (best): Absent

grand slam results 2009:
AO QF, RG SF, WIMBLEDON 2R, US W

davis cup results 2009: 2:0
WTF masters result 09: F
tournaments won in 2009: 3
win - loss 2009: 54:16

height / weight: 198cm / 83kg
best surface: hard court, clay
playing style: aggressive power baseliner, righthander, two-handed backhand
influences on game: Marat Safin, Lleyton Hewitt
great: forehand, serve, backhand, size, footwork, matchplayer
problem: needs to improove volley to rule the world

 

 

6 Nikolay "Kolya" Davydenko


the WTF master, aka Volodymyrovych


total ATP level tournaments won: 19
career win - loss: 489:291
from Severodonezk, Soviet Union / Russia
age 28 (02.06.1981)
tennis-school Ukraine / Russia, Germany
racket Prince
shoes Asics
clothing Airness
grand slam titles (best) 0 (SF)
year end masters: 1
Davis Cup titles: 1
masters series tournaments won: 3

best ranking: 3 (06.11.2006)
year end ranking: 1999-1071, 00-869, 01-79,
02
-81, 03-44, 04-28, 05-5, 06-3, 07-4, 08-5, 09-6 
Olympics (best): 0 (2R)

grand slam results 2009:
AO A, RG QF, WIMBLEDON 3R, US 4R

davis cup results 2009: Absent
WTF masters result 09: Winner
tournaments won in 2009: 5
win - loss 2009: 57:17

height / weight: 178cm / 70kg
best surface: hard court
playing style: aggressive baseliner counterpuncher, righthander, two-handed backhand
influences on game: Andre Agassi, Marcelo Rios, bother Eduard, Guns N' Roses
great: anticipation, footwork, wheels, backhand, forehand
problem: look

 

 

7 Andy Roddick


the lucky husband

 
total ATP level tournaments won: 27
career win - loss: 530:170

from Omaha, Nebraska USA
age 27 (30.08.1982)
tennis-school USA
racket Babolat
shoes Babolat
clothing Lacoste
grand slam titles: 1
year end masters (best):  0 (SF)
Davis Cup titles: 1
masters series tournaments won: 4

best ranking: 1 (03.11.2003)
year end: 2000-156, 01-14, 02-10, 03-1, 04-2,
05
-3, 06-6, 07-6, 08-8, 09-7 
Olympics (best): 0 (3R)

grand slam results 2009:
AO SF, RG 4R, WIMBLEDON F, US 3R

davis cup results 2009: 2:0
WTF masters result 09: Absent
tournaments won in 2009: 1
win - loss 2009: 48:15

height / weight: 188cm / 88kg
best surface: hard court, carpet indoor
style: aggressive baseline, righthander, two-handed backhand
influences on game: Jimmy Connors
great: fastest serve ever i.e. mesured at about 250km/h, second serve, forehand, wife
problem: Federer and that high backhand volley

 

 

8 Robin Bo Carl Söderling


the elf that stole Thor's hammer

 
total ATP level tournaments won: 4
career win - loss: 287:172
from Tibro, Sweden
age 25 (14.08.1984)
tennis-school Sweden
racket Head
shoes Lotto
clothing Lotto
grand slam titles (best) 0 (F)
year end masters (best)  0 (SF)
Davis Cup titles (best) 0 (QF)
masters series tournaments won (best): 0 (QF)

best ranking: 8 (30.11.2009)
year end ranking: 2001-444, 02-163, 03-60,
04
-34, 05-77, 06-25, 07-41, 08-17, 09-8 
Olympics (best): 0 (1R)

grand slam results 2009:
AO 2R, RG F, WIMBLEDON 4R, US QF

davis cup results 2009: 3:0
WTF masters result 09: SF
tournaments won in 2009: 1
win - loss 2009: 49:21

height / weight: 193cm / 87kg
best surface: hard court and carpet indoor
style: aggressive power baseline, righthander, two-handed backhand
infuences on game: Magnus Norman
great: serve, forehand, backhand, guts
problem: volley could be better to collect points coming from the huge serve and forehand

 

 

9 Fernando "Guido" Verdasco


former Gino turned eyebrow-raising
kitten magnet

 
total ATP level tournaments won: 3
career win - loss: 333:226

from Madrid, Spain
age 26 (15.11.1983)
tennis-school Spain
racket Tecnifibre
shoes Adidas
clothing Adidas
grand slam titles (best): 0 (SF)
year end masters (best):  0 (RR)
Davis Cup titles: 2
masters series tournaments won (best): 0 (QF)

best ranking: 7 (20.04.2006)
year end: 1999-1026, 00-1332, 01-464, 02-173,
03
-109, 04-36, 05-32, 06-35, 07-26, 08-16, 09-6 
Olympics (best): Absent

grand slam results 2009:
AO SF, RG 4R, WIMBLEDON 4R, US QF

davis cup results 2009: 3:1
WTF masters result 09: Round Robin
tournaments won in 2009: 1
win - loss 2009: 52:25

height / weight: 188cm / 81kg
best surface: hard court, clay
style: aggressive baseliner, righthander, two-handed backhand
influences on game: Andre Agassi
great: forehand, backhand, arm
problem: shotmaker

 


10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga


the Hendrix Ali

from Le Mans, France
age 24 (17.04.1985)
tennis-school France
racket Wilson
shoes Adidas
clothing Adidas
grand slam titles (best): 0 (F)
year end masters: 0 (RR)
Davis Cup titles (best): 0 (1st Round)
masters series tournaments won: 1

total ATP level tournaments won: 5
career win - loss: 251:106
best ranking: 6 (17.11.2008)
year end ranking: 2001-899, 02-500, 03-394, 04-163,
05
-338, 06-212, 07-43, 08-6, 09-10     
Olympics: Absent

grand slam results 2009:
AO QF, RG 3R, WIMBLEDON 3R, US 4R

Davis Cup results 2009: 5:0
WTF masters result 2009: Did Not Qualify

tournaments won in 2009: 3
win - loss  2009: 53:20

height / weight: 188cm / 91kg
best surface: hard court, carpet indoor
style: power allcourt, righthander, two-handed backhand
influences on game: Boris Becker, Andy Roddick
great: serve, forehand, volley, matchplayer
problem: injuries cuz heavy wheight, backhand can let him down when not in perfect condition

 

 

11 Fernando Francisco González Ciuffardi


mano de piedra
 
 
 
 
total ATP level tournaments won: 11
total head to head: 406:234
from Santiago, Chile
age 29 (29.07.1980)
tennis-school Chile
racket Babolat
shoes Adidas
clothing Adidas
grand slam titles (best): 0 (F)
year end masters (best):  0 (RR)
Davis Cup titles: 0 (QF)
masters series tournaments won (best): 0 (F)

best ranking: 5 (29.01.2007)
year end ranking: 1996-1269, 97-1057, 98-580, 99-415, 00-115, 01-139, 02-18, 03-35, 04-23, 05-11, 06-10, 07-7, 08-15, 09-11  
Olympics: Gold 2004 (in doubles with Massu)
Silver 2008, Bronze 2004

grand slam results 2009:
AO 4R, RG SF, WIMBLEDON 3R, US QF

davis cup results 2009: Absent
WTF masters result 09: DNQ
tournaments won in 2009: 1
win - loss 2009: 39:16

height / weight: 183cm / 82kg
best surface: clay, hard court
style: aggressive baseline, righthander, one-handed backhand
influences on game: Marcelo Rios, Boris Becker
great: forehand, backhand, wheels
problem: none, fulfilled his potential, slam final, olympic gold, silver & bronze... win a masters 1000?

 

 

12 Radek Stepanek


the ogre slayer

from Karvina, Czech Republic
age 31 (27.11.1978)
tennis-school Czech
racket Bosworth
shoes Nike
clothing Alea
grand slam titles (best): 0 (QF)
year end masters: 0 (RR)
Davis Cup titles (best): 0 (F)
masters series won (best): 0 (F)


total ATP level tournaments won: 4
career win - loss: 393:266
best ranking: 8 (10.07.2006)
year end ranking: 1995-1065, 96-484, 97-401, 98-165,
99-165, 00-277, 01-542, 02-63, 03-46, 04-33, 05-20,
06
-19, 07-30, 08-27, 09-12    
Olympics: 0 (1R)

grand slam results 2009:
AO 3R, RG 3R, WIMBLEDON 4R, US 4R

Davis Cup results 2009: 6:3
WTF masters result 2009: DNQ

tournaments won in 2009: 2
win - loss  2009: 47:20

height / weight: 185cm / 76kg
best surface: grass, hard court, carpet indoor
style: serve and volly allcourt, righthander, two-handed backhand, continental forehand
influences on game: Petr Korda, Stefan Edberg, Mats Wilander, Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Kafelnikov
great: volley, serve, matchplayer
problem: power on forehand

 


13 Gaël Monfils


the sliderman

from Paris, France
age 23 (01.09.1986)
tennis-school France
racket Prince
shoes Nike
clothing Nike
grand slam titles (best): 0 (SF)
year end masters: 0
Davis Cup titles (best): 0 (POR)
masters series won (best): 0 (F)

total ATP level tournaments won: 2
career win - loss: 199:130
best ranking: 9 (02.03.2009)
year end ranking: 2003-925, 04-239, 05-30,
06
-46, 07-38, 08-14, 09-13     
Olympics: 0 (QF)

grand slam results 2009:
AO 4R, RG QF, WIMBLEDON A, US 4R

Davis Cup results 2009: 0:1
WTF masters result 2009: DNQ

tournaments won in 2009: 1
win - loss  2009: 42:19

height / weight: 193cm / 80kg
best surface: clay, hard court, hardcourt indoor
style: power baseliner with allcourt potential, righthander, two-handed backhand
influences on game: Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Yannick Noah, Arthur Ashe
great: serve, forehand, backhand, atlethicism
problem: injuries from too much sliding on hard courts, still too defensive for his potential, shotmaker

 


14 Marin Cilc


the coming top ten

from Zagreb, Croatia
age 21 (28.09.1988)
tennis-school Croatia
racket Head
shoes Fila
clothing Fila
grand slam titles (best): 0 (QF)
year end masters: 0
Davis Cup titles (best): 0 (SF)
masters series won (best): 0 (QF)

total ATP level tournaments won: 3
career win - loss: 152:97
best ranking: 13 (18.05.2009)
year end ranking: 2004-1463, 05-587, 06-170, 07-71,
08
-23, 09-14    
Olympics: 0 (2R)

grand slam results 2009:
AO 4R, RG 4R, WIMBLEDON 3R, US QF

Davis Cup results 2009: 4:2
WTF masters result 2009: DNQ

tournaments won in 2009: 2
win - loss  2009: 48:21

height / weight: 198cm / 82kg
best surface: hard court, hardcourt indoor
style: power baseliner with allcourt potential, righthander, two-handed backhand
influences on game: Bob Brett, Mario Ancic, Marat Safin
great: serve, forehand, backhand
problem: just needs time to get better and become a serious contender at the majors

 


15 Gilles Simon


the former top ten

from Nice, France
age 24 (27.12.1984)
tennis-school France
racket Head
shoes Adidas
clothing Adidas
grand slam titles (best): 0 (QF)
year end masters (best): 0 (SF)
Davis Cup titles (best): 0 (1R)
masters series won (best): 0 (F)

total ATP level tournaments won: 6
career win - loss: 273:175
best ranking: 6 (05.01.2009)
year end ranking: 2002-1331, 03-487, 04-177, 05-124,
06
-45, 07-29, 08-7, 09-15     
Olympics: 0 (3R)

grand slam results 2009:
AO QF, RG 3R, WIMBLEDON 4R, US 3R

Davis Cup results 2009: 0:2
WTF masters result 2009: DNQ

tournaments won in 2009: 1
win - loss  2009: 45:29

height / weight: 180cm / 69kg
best surface: hard court, hardcourt indoor
style: counterpuncher, righthander, two-handed backhand
influences on game: Lleyton Hewitt
great: wheels, tactics, consistency
problem: it is what it is


 

16 Tommy Robredo


Disco Tommy wins what he can win
 
 
 
 
total ATP level tournaments won: 9
total head to head: 468:275
from Hostaric, Catalonia, Spain
age 27 (01.05.1982)
tennis-school Spain
racket Dunlop
shoes Nike
clothing Sergio Tacchini
grand slam titles (best): 0 (QF)
year end masters (best): 0 (RR)
Davis Cup titles: 2
masters series tournaments won: 1

best ranking: 5 (28.08.2006)
year end ranking: 1998-511, 99-249, 00-131,
01
-30, 02-30, 03-21, 04-13, 05-19, 06-7,
07-10, 08-21, 09-16  
Olympics: 0 (3R)

grand slam results 2009:
AO 4R, RG QF, WIMBLEDON 3R, US 4R

davis cup results 2009: 1:2
WTF masters result 09: DNQ
tournaments won in 2009: 2
win - loss 2009: 46:25

height / weight: 180cm / 75kg
best surface: clay, hard court
style: baseline, righthander, one-handed backhand
influences on game: Arantxa Sanchez, Eurodisco and nevermind The Who
great: schedule
problem: qulified for year end masters cup in 2006 by winning in Hamburg defeating Stepanek

 

 

17 David Ferrer


the work horse

from Valencia, Spain
age 27 (02.04.1982)
tennis-school Spain
racket Prince
shoes Lotto
clothing Lotto
grand slam titles (best): 0 (SF)
year end masters (best): 0 (F)
Davis Cup titles (best): 2
masters series won: 0 (SF)

total ATP level tournaments won: 7
career win - loss: 414:259
best ranking: 4 (25.02.2008)
year end ranking: 2000-406, 01-209, 02-59, 03-71,
04
-49, 05-14, 06-1407-5, 08-12, 09-17,    
Olympics: 0 (1R)

grand slam results 2009:
AO 3R, RG 3R, WIMBLEDON 3R, US 2R

Davis Cup results 2009: 6:0
WTF masters result 2009: DNQ

tournaments won in 2009: 0
win - loss  2009: 43:23

height / weight: 175cm / 73kg
best surface: clay, hard court
style: baseline retriever with power when in the zone, righthander, two-handed backhand
infuences on game: Alberto Berasategui, if he'smade it why not David Ferrer
great: atlethicism, defense, will
problem: you can't always win just cuz you want to

 

 

 

18 Tommy Haas


the better Tommy on court is
the worse Tommy at the hotel
 
 
 
total ATP level tournaments won: 12
total head to head: 483:273
from Hamburg, Germany
age 31 (03.04.1978)
tennis-school Germany, USA
racket Dunlop
shoes K-Swiss
clothing K-Swiss
grand slam titles (best): 0 (SF)
year end masters (best):  0 (Runner-up in the
 Final of the Grand Slam Cup 1999) 
Davis Cup titles: 0 (SF)
masters series tournaments won: 1

best ranking: 2 (13.05.2002)
year end ranking: 1993-1071, 94-1198, 95-1241, 96-170, 97-45, 98-34, 99-12, 00-23, 01-8, 02-11, 03-NA, 04-17, 05-45, 06-11, 07-12, 08-82, 09-18  
Olympics: Silver 2000

grand slam results 2009:
AO 3R, RG 4R, WIMBLEDON SF, US 3R

davis cup results 2009: Absent
WTF masters result 09: DNQ
tournaments won in 2009: 1
win - loss 2009: 31:17

height / weight: 188cm / 88kg
best surface: hard court, carpet indoor, grass, clay
style: aggressive allcourt, righthander, one-handed backhand
influences on game: Boris Becker, Michael Stich, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Nick Bollettieri
great: allround game, good volleys
problem: there's always something in the way

 

 


19 Mikhail Youzhny


the zany knight

from Moscow, Russia
age 27 (25.06.1982)
tennis-school Russia
racket Head
shoes Adidas
clothing Adidas
grand slam titles (best): 0 (SF)
year end masters: 0
Davis Cup titles: 2
masters series won: 0 (QF)

total ATP level tournaments won: 5
career win - loss: 355:257
best ranking: 8 (28.01.2008)
year end ranking: 1998-1096, 99-290, 00-113, 01-58, 02-32, 03-43, 04-16, 05-43, 06-24, 07-19, 08-32, 09-19       
Olympics: 0 (QF)

grand slam results 2009:
AO 1R, RG 2R, WIMBLEDON 1R, US 2R

Davis Cup results 2009: 1:1
WTF masters result 2009: DNQ

tournaments won in 2009: 1
win - loss  2009: 42:28

height / weight: 183cm / 73kg
best surface: clay, hard court, hardcourt indoor
style: allcourt, righthander, one-handed at times two-handed hybrid backhand reminiscent of Borg
infuences on game: Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Kafelnikov
great: anticipation, backhand
problem: can lose control quite frequently

 


20 Thomas Berdych


the green beater

from Valasske Mezirici, Czech
age 24 (17.09.1985)
tennis-school Czech
racket Dunlop
shoes Nike
clothing Nike
grand slam titles (best): 0 (QF)
year end masters: 0
Davis Cup titles (best): 0 (F)
masters series tournaments won: 1

total ATP level tournaments won: 5
career win - loss: 316:180
best ranking: 9 (20.08.2007)
year end ranking: 2001-1383, 02-398, 03-113, 04-45,
05
-24, 06-13, 07-14, 08-20, 09-20     
Olympics: 0 (QF)

grand slam results 2009:
AO 4R, RG 1R, WIMBLEDON 4R, US 3R

Davis Cup results 2009: 6:3
WTF masters result 2009: DNQ

tournaments won in 2009: 1
win - loss  2009: 36:25

height / weight: 196cm / 91kg
best surface: hard court, carpet indoor
style: power baseliner with allcourt potential, righthander, two-handed backhand
infuences on game: Marat Safin
great: serve, forehand, backhand
problem: tactics, wheels when not in best form




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2009/08/24

Daniel Köllerer von Wels

There are a couple of  players on the tour that you rarely will see on TV but kinda jump out of the frame just like Fabrice Santoro does amongst the more known ones, one of them for instance could be the time travelling Falvio Cipolla with his old school touch game or Dusan Vemic, Sergiy Stakhovsky and Rohan Bopanna, each for a different reason. The following is about the Austrian number two, arguably the most combustible guy on the tour who keeps collecting point after point at the Challenger level just as he is collecting enemies, doesn't seem to bother him too much actually looks more like the contrary could be true.

Let's not get confused here, I confess that I admire the tennis of Roger Federer, well who doesn't? Novak Djokovic might not have the same crowd following as Roger but I guess this will change as he is not only a great player but an outstanding entertainer, so naturally one would look forward to a final of the two, well if it would be a major. This was the Cincinnati "insert some bank or insurance company name here" Masters 1000 though and so while waiting for the broadcast from Cincinnati to start I had a look at the web cast streaming from Trani.

You might well ask Trani, where is that?
Well it's some village in south eastern Italy, where at the local country club they had set up a metal construction for tribunes, and they were packed and overflowing with taunting whistling and swearing well let's call them people. It was the final day of the Trani Challenger, and the noise coming from the stands was against Daniel Köllerer more that than a rooting of tifosi for the Italian Filippo Volandri. The images running on the screen were so surreal that I skipped the Federer Djokovic match and watched the Challenger final (I managed to see the end of Federer's win though). On the Trani broadcast there was no need for any commentary (not that there was any) since the continuous discussions between the players, the unpair and the players, the players and the spectators or audience and Köllerer and the Supervisor in the atmosphere of a Brazilian jungle Davis Cup match were sufficiently intriguing.

Number two is not enough.
Koellerer is a quite known figure to the people of the Italian challenger tournaments, played 5 or 6 of them this year, has had a fist fight after a match some years ago and has been suspended cuz of his behaviour by the ATP already twice, the last time for 6 months in 2006, about 70 pros even signed a paper to kick him off the tour... he is now ranked around number 60 and is the Austrian number 2. Despite that he just can't find his way into the Davis Cup team, probably cuz if he would display is usual demeanor in Chile his team mates might well have a reason to fear some actions against their personal safety by the Chilean fans.

Daniel Koellerer
Daniel Köllerer

At 26 years of age (born on August 17, 1983 in Wels) Köllerer might now well have reached the peak of his career and so his disapointment regarding the team captain's decison is understandable, aparently the reason for his exclusion is Köllerer's behavior in a doubles match recently played in Umag against the Austrian Davis Cup doubles pairing Melzer - Knowle.
Considering his successful Challenger tournaments though it might well be that he will unravel his chaos, acrimony and adversity also more frequently on the bigger tournaments of the ATP tour next year and climb the rankings some more maybe even close to the top 50, if they let him do it that is.

W!#€* v@ F@^ Cv£0 !/]i§t !!! etc.
But back to the Trani challenger final, you have to imagine Herr Koellerer as somewhat of a mix between McEnroe's and Tarango's temper but multiply the two and then square the result, Muster's fighting spirit and traditional Hispanic "dirtballing" skills plus a pretty decent backhand drop shot and remain sure that he is one of the world's leading experts on Brad Gilbert's winning ugly, sincerely one thinks he must have been quite a brat but different sources report that off court he can be a very nice guy. Koellerer has no problems bringing his opponent to white heat and hate him from his guts, usually not much different from most of the crowd's feelings, out of which he frequently picks people to argue with on a personal basis. All thais is accompanied by cursing and self incitement in Italian as well as frequent use of vulgar Austrian swearing that makes the traditional English four later words that normally would get you warnings look like kindergarten twittering, the Australian umpair obviously did not understand Austrian. If there was any more need for proof of Koellerer's broad ego one might consider this, for the first part of the match the public's enemy wore a white shirt with Koellerer written in large letters on his back...

Alone against the tifosi.
The result of the match was never really in question, Köllerer did not have to outplay his opponent, playing his "hate me show" with the crowd driving Volandri nuts was enough and in the end the scoreboard declared 6:3 7:5 accompanied by a whistling and booing concert under a shower of plastic bottles et similia while Koellerer bowed down to the audience, like some Kinski played Karajan.

Before the prize giving a brawl between the finalists was almost about to build up under the aptly notes of "we are the champions", then Volandri got his silver statuette, a watch and the supersized cheque and declared that "contrary to the usual he would not congratulate the winner", a roaring applause followed his words and the guy presenting the trophy said that "for all of us you are the real winner Filippo", clearly an objective point of view in front of a straight sets defeat. Then he introduced the winner adding that Köllerer probably won't talk, probably hoping so, but Koellerer in a humble tone thanked all the ball kids, umpairs, lines men, supervisors, people from the organization, security, transportation, catering and what not finishing with a "grazie mille buona sera". Then smilingly he received the cup from mayor Pinuccio Tarantino and before he left he might well have signed an autograph to the lone guy shouting "Forza Koellerer!"

Daniel Koellerer
Daniel Köllerer let's his Head fly

Watch the Trani final at www.e-tennis.tv simply open the web-TV then click on DEMAND and browse through the program till the final day, part two of the final is the more interesting part.

 

The Challenger Tour.
The Italian Challenger circuit consist of 26 tournaments, mostly held on clay though there are a few on hard courts and also indoor carpets, by number of tournaments that it is even more than the 19 Challenger Tournaments played in the USA and more than in Spain, but Spain has quite a few more Future tournaments and clay is not so dominant there, perhaps an other reason for the number of quality players coming out of the Spanish academies, since many there don't play much on the juniors circuit but go directly to the Futures and then Challengers.

The 26 Challenger Tournaments held in Italy in 2009 and the respective finals

Bergamo, indoor carpet (play it): 02.03.2009 Lukas Rosol - Benedik Dorsch 7-6(6), 6-1
Caltanissetta, clay
: 16.03.2009 Jesse Huta Galung - Thiemo De Baker 2-6, 6-4, 6-3
Barletta, clay
: 23.03.2009 Ivo Minar - Santiago Ventura 3-6, 6-2, 6-1
Napoli TC, clay
: 30.03.2009 Pablo Cuevas - Victor Crivoi 7-6(2), 6-4
Monza, clay
: 06.04.2009 David Marrero - Antonio Veic 7-5, 7-5
Roma - Rai, clay
: 13.04.2009 Sebastian Decoud - Simon Greul 6-1, 6-3
Roma - TC Garden, clay
: 20.04.2009 Daniel Köllerer - Andreas Vinciguerra 6-2, 7-6(7)
San Remo, clay
: 04.05.2009 Kevin Anderson - Blaz Kavcic 3-6, 6-3, 6-1
Cremona, hard court
: 18.05.2009 Benjamin Becker - Izak Van Der Merwe 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-2
Alessandria, clay
: 25.05.2009 Blaz Kavcic - Jesse Levine 6-0, 7-5
Milano, clay
: 15.06.2009 Alessio Di Mauro - Vincent Millot 7-5, 6-2
Reggio Emilia, clay
: 22.06.2009 Paolo Lorenzi - Jean Rene Lisnard 7-5, 1-6, 6-3
Torino, clay
: 29.06.2009 Potito Starace - Maximo Gonzalez 6-2, 6-4
San Benedetto, clay
: 06.07.2009 Fabio Fognini - Cristian Villagran 6-2, 6-2
Rimini, clay
: 13.07.2009 Thomaz Bellucci - Juan Pablo Brzezicki 6-7(1), 6-2, 6-2
Recanati, hard court
: 20.07.2009 Stephane Bohli - Andrey Golubev 6-3, 6-2
Orbetello, clay
: 27.07.2009 Oleksandr Dolgopolov Jr - Pablo Andujar 6-4, 6-2
San Marino*, clay
: 03.08.2009 Andreas Seppi - Potito Starace 6-7(1), 6-1, 6-2
Cordenons, clay
: 10.08.2009 Peter Luczak - Olivier Rochus 5-7, 6-1, 6-2
Trani, clay
: 17.08.2009 Daniel Köllerer - Filippo Volandri 6-4, 6-4
Manerbio, clay
: 24.08.2009 Federico Del Bonis - Leonardo Tavares 6-2, 4-6, 6-2   
Como, clay
: 31.08.2009 Oleksandr Dolgopolov Jr - Juan Martin Aranguren 6-4, 6-2    
Genova, clay
: 07.09.2009 Alberto Martin - Carlos Berlocq 3-6, 7-5, 6-3    
Todi, clay
: 14.09.2009 Simon Greul - Adrian Ungur 6-3, 6-3   
Palermo, clay
: 21.09.2009 Adrian Ungur - Albert Ramos Vinolas 6-4, 6-4  
Napoli - Posillipo, clay
: 28.09.2009 Federico Gil - Potito Starace 6-4, 6-7(5)    

Trani, Italy
Trani, typical tourist pic

- ATP Challenger Tour www.atpworldtour.com/Tournaments/Challenger-Tour.aspx
- Trani Cup www.atptrani.com
- ESPN article on Koellerer
- Brazilian video on 2005 Koellerer beating Del Potro
- buy Köllerer gear http://shop.mesports.at/grplist.asp?group=7
- official Koellerer site www.koellerer.cc


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2009/07/12

KNOW YOUR GOAT

XV

XV meaning fifteen grand slam tournaments out of the last twentyfive won by one man, Roger Federer. Facing this number it was inevitable that the discussion about the GOAT had to get virulent, now that Roger Federer has surpassed the 14 majors of Pete Sampras, the former record.

Some say that there is nothing left to talk about since Roger won also on french clay, some of those are named John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Boris Becker, Andre Agassi and have actually stood on court with him. Others like Rod Laver have said that it is impossible to compare players from different eras, but they have also said that the game since then has evolved a lot and that the athleticism nowadays makes a hypothetical match up impossible. Some doubt that one can be declared GOAT when he has a losing record against other players that makes them doubt he is even the best of his era, and others say that a GOAT can not exist because players from different eras can not be compared.

I would say that it is impossible to establish who would have been the best tennis player amongst all those that have played the game since 1877, thinking sort of as if they all would have played now, with equal training chances and equipment and the same date of birth, but it is well possible to establish at least a small club of those that where the most successful ones up until now and more interestingly a club of those that where the strongest athletes with the toughest game. Not necessarily the two clubs must contain the same people, I would say that Rod Laver, Don Budge, Roger Federer, Bjorn Borg, Fred Perry, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Jimmy Connors and Bill Tilden are in the club (maybe Ivan Lendl and Mats Wilander should get a pass as well and McEnroe for the incredible 1984 season but they thrived in an era with lots of great players that divided the titles amongst them, perhaps we will reach a similar situation soon with Murray, Djokovic and del Potro winning some majors) of the players that where the most successful ones with Rafael Nadal knocking on the door already and Laver and Federer ruling the house.

But I wouldn't see that club as the GOAT club, which to me depends more on the variable time and the evolution that comes with each year passing by, so the real GOAT club in my view has Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal battling it out over the next few years where major titles and finals together with the head to head results in majors, year end masters cup and davis cup will be what has to be put into consideration (right now the problem with the head to head is that because of the age difference Nadal has not reached Federer in many other finals other than on clay). Obviouslly Pete Sampras and John McEnroe are also in that club, and they might well have been able to compete on the same standards if hypothetically they were born 10 or 20 years later but they were not.

Head to head makes a scapegoat of GOAT or what?
So we will never know what kind of a player they could have been if they would have had the footwork training and athletic workout that little kids get at the academies nowadays and if they had learned the game with a super light composite racket instead of with a wooden batter. This means we can only sort of estimate what a John McEnroe in his prime, say 1984, would have looked like facing a Sampras from 1995, or what difference it would have made if in 2001 Sampras would have faced in the shape of his Wimbledon win of 1995 a class of 2006 Federer.



Federer king in history
Federer king in history

It's impossible to give a clear answer, it is only possible to estimate the outcome of such clashes (sort of as if we were at a betting office), and only a real expert liek a former pro turned coach could really do that, but anyway to have a rough base of discussion I would say that the 2007 Federer and the 1995 Sampras are the strongest ones seen so far on grass, behind them perhaps the 1996 Krajicek, the 1990 Edberg and the 1989 Becker followed by the best Ivanisevic and McEnroe, Pat Cash, Pat Rafter and Rafael Nadal are peeking through the door and this years Roddick might just as well.

The four sports of tennis
On Clay I would say that the 2008 Rafael Nadal is by far leading the group Federer has a chance next year to diminish the distance but right now on clay he is a clear second, behind him Guga Kuerten, the best Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Thomas Muster, Sergi Bruguera, Ivan Lendl and Michael Chang and actually if it would have been possible to give the best Ivan Lendl, say the one from 1986, a modern racket and some time to get used to it, then that Lendl might well be almost on a pair with the best Kuerten and Agassi but the truth is this Lendl version never existed, so it is only helpful as an example for what should be left out of the GOAT talk, like a Tilden with a Wilson Pro Staff racket or a Laver born in 1986, it makes really no sense and much less then any overheated GOAT discussion.

On hard courts I would rate the 2007 Federer as the strongest player seen so far, behind him a Sampras and Agassi in their best US Open form of the 90's and the Marat Safin that destroyed Sampras in the 2000 US Open final, together with the Rafa Nadal seen at this year's Australian Open, then the 2008 Djokovic and Tsonga and maybe the Murray seen at the 2008 US Open but he will do even better soon, for sure, so might Roddick after what he showed this year at Wimbledon.

On indoor carpets it's the 2006 or 2007 Federer again followed by Sampras, Becker, Edberg, Ivanisevic and Nalbandian at their best, maybe the 1984 McEnroe might be able to say a few serious words here as well. I can't include any players that only played with wooden rackets cuz such a player would be destroyed by the ones I mentioned earlier, destroyed like grand daddy trying to compete with his twelve year old grandson on the playstation, so no Laver, Borg, Nastase, Vilas. Cuz of his heart the only one out of that era that might have a small chance to get near the elite somewhere, perhaps on hard courts, is the best version of Connors.

In conclusion, for many pros, writers and experienced journalists the GOAT fuzz might be irrelevant but for many tennis nuts it is intriguing and after all these are the kind of people that keep the tennis industry going by buying the sponsors stuff, the gear, the tickets, the pay per view TV etc. so maybe there is something more about the GOAT talk then just the fact that we will never get rid of it.

Freeze racquet evolution
One useful thing that could be taken from it would be to freeze the evolution in racket and string technology, or even better put also a limit on the size of the rackets so that we won't have to see giant Karlovich and Isner clones battling each other with widebody rackets that go beyond oversize. It would really not be so complicated and it would actually be enough to rule that only rackets allowed on the tour are some 20 or 25 racket types that are identical in the form and every other aspect (like paint brushes) to the ones used now, like Rafa's Babaolat, Federer's Wilson, Murray's Head, Hewitt's Yonex etc. and like 20 more rackets that are kinda normal, that way ruling out the ones that would make it too easy for giants to hit aces and forehand bombs on after an other. Recreational players might still use whatever they want but on the tour there should be clear rules. Same goes for the strings.

The side effect is that we could then compare future GOAT candidates to Federer and Nadal quite a bit more easily than we can compare Federer and Nadal to Sampras, Agassi, Edberg, Becker, Lendl, McEnroe, Borg, Connors, Nastase, Ashe and Laver. Anyway the GOAT discussion is a quite sterile one particularly the one that involves champions of the past reappearing to challenge today's super athletes. In the end everyone will have his favorite more or less depending on his taste.

The art of tennis
After all tennis is not only a sport but to some extent also an art and when the artist is also a great athlete as happened in some cases e.g. McEnroe, Edberg and Federer then taste can take over and it becomes almost impossible to remain objective. Finally it really is not so important to know who the GOAT is, what difference does it make? The thing that matters in tennis is the match and to have great matches you need at least two great players, right now with Nadal and Federer we have two extremely good ones and hopefully soon we will 3 or 4 more



Rog goat Rafa
(for non tennis nuts GOAT = Greatest Of All Time)


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2009/06/28

Roger Federer wins at the Roland Garros 2009 and completes the career grand slam

Fred Perry has a new follower


Earlier in June I was locked away from time and space in the middle of nowhere surrounded by prickly pears, dunes, waves and weird people at DUNAjam and PRICKLYpeaBOWLS so I missed the end of the tournament at the Caja Magica, I had not seen the epic 4 hour 3 set match that Nadal won against Djokovic in the semifinal and I did not know Federer had beaten him in the final, in fact the isolation went that far that I had no clue of what had happened at the Roland Garros.

Then I found out that the King Salami singer was actually a french tennis instructor from a junior academy near London, so I went and talked to him and I really thought he was kidding me when he told me that Federer had won the French Open. I had troubles believing the news and it sure didn't help me in trusting the king when he told me that Roger's opponent in the final was Robin Söderling who had eliminated Nadal at the end of the first week, the same swede I had seen lose 6:0 6:1 to Rafa in Rome. So at first I really thought it was more like a joke, but the more details the King told me about Söderling's new trainer Magnus Norman and the tough opponents that Federer had in Haas and del Potro, the more it started to seam that he was actually telling the truth. Still the fact that Nadal had been beaten in a best of five sets match on clay sounded quite unbelievable and so I had to wait a few more days to get back to a place with a connection to the odd interweb to reassure my self that Roger Federer had completed the career grand slam. And I can't deny that it was a joyful moment when I read that he really did. Actually it is not impossible that at the end of the year Rafael Nadal might join the club of Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Andre Agassi and Roger Federer by winning the US Open. He would be only the fourth man to winn all grand slam tournaments in the open era, Laver, Agassi and Federer being the other three, Laver has obviously won the grand slam winning all 4 in one year, the difference to now is that at the beginning of the open era 3 tournaments out of 4 where still held on grass. So Agassi and Federer are the only two men to have won all the 4 grand slam tournaments each on a different surface, grass, clay, concrete and synthetic winning 7 matches in a row during a two week long tournament held in the best of five sets format.


tennis paris 2009 federer from Avec Double Cordage on Vimeo.


Above is a video that contains some moments of the French Open that I had missed, it starts with a fan then there's one of the greatest talents of the sport that interviews Roger in English, followed by the highlights commented by Roger in French, a few words from Rod Laver and finally Roger on Swiss German TV receiving a messages by Valentino Rossi.

post scriptum: let's hope that now that Rog has equaled Fred Perry he get's someone sent over from there, to do his mandatory "predominantly white" line for Wimpeltn, to finally replace that Brüno guy at Nike

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2009/05/03
 Marco Mazzoni, Gulbis, Nadal, Nalbandian, Tsonga

An interview with Marco Mazzoni of 0-15 magazine

Marco Mazzoni writes for the Italian tennis magazine 0-15 www.zeroquindici.com which covers the reader spectrum of well-informed tennis enthusiasts, it comes in the A3 format with a particular love for the graphic layout and big sized photography. Apart from following the international tour for 0-15 Marco Mazzoni also runs a blog "Gesti Bianchi" http://doppiofallo.sport-blog.it in which he brings news and insider details about everything going on in the tennis world, and his own website www.marcomazzoni.com, that includes reportages and articles focused on the main tennis themes.

Avec Double Cordage: last year with Jo Wilfried Tsonga we had a relatively "old" player bursting into the midst of the top players seemingly out of nowhere with already 23 years of age. Do you think we will see more of such explosions, due to the increased amount of technical skills necessary to compete with the best and the frequent injury stops?

Marco Mazzoni: tennis is becoming more and more a physical sport, and this especially due to the latest technological evolutions of racquets and strings, let’s say from the year 2000 on, when this important development touched the new tennis generations. It is now more difficult for a player without huge physical strenght to become a great champion: the new racquets allow to hit stronger and more accurately and the latest strings allow to generate great top spin and precision on shots. The first example is Nadal, who is now dominating tennis: certainly talented, huge concentration and determination, but most importantly an extremely physical tennis. Nadal is the top of this new pyramid, and will probably be unique in the history (hope so!). To create new “Nadals” is already the goal of most coaches in the world, so for players with great technical talent and not so great physical stregth, it will be harder to be tennis champions. This, to explain why Tsonga exploded so late: he has suffered important physical trouble to the back and knees in the past, and a player like him, with great potentialities, has been able to give his best only for a short period of time, when healthy. Another player is Gilles Simon, who increasing the strength of his shots has been able to reach the top ten. A negative example of this modern tennis, on the other hand, is David Nalbandian, technically number 3 in the world behind Federer and Nadal, but due to his bad shape is struggling to enter in the quarterfinals of bigger tournaments. Even Novak Djokovic started 2009 very badly, compared to 2008 because of a slight shape decrease, underlining how important it now is to be 100% perfect, even for a strong player like him.

ADC: who were last year's new "teen-age entries" on the ATP tour that impressed you the most and who do you think will remain a permanent fixture amongst the top ATP ranks?

Marco Mazzoni: There are some young players I believe can become tennis blockbusters, but I am not sure about their physical and mental strength. Some names? I love the tennis of Ernests Gulbis: from the young Safin era I had not seen anybody able to hit the ball so fast and accurate with both forehand and backhand, together with an impressive serve. Another player is the Bulgarian Dimitrov, still very young, who impressed me for this fantastic all-court tennis and his fighting; if the physical part will sustain him, he could be a future champion. There are several other players with good prospective and shape, but they are not my favourites, as I prefer technical players. I will reveal you my personal “promise”: I have seen a Croatian 17 years old boy called Draganja: he has a technically splendid tennis, one-handed backhand, not too powerful but to my eyes only the 18 years old Roger Federer impresses me that much for his technique.

ADC: you have recently spent some time in Mexico, what is the situation of tennis like there? Is it true that team-tennis is an obstacle there for young professionals, who tend to focus more on team-tennis than on Futures and Challengers tournaments? Mexico has had some notable talents in the past and with the abundance of Challengers and Futures in the neighbouring USA it appears that there must be particular reasons for the lack of Mexican top 100 players.

Marco Mazzoni: the problems in Mexican tennis are various: the Mexican Federation has a lack of money and badly used, as there are too many political interests and contrasts to be able to use them for a single goal. Former tennis champion Raul Ramirez said an important problem is the lack of professional tennis coaches. In Argentina, ex-players have all created small teams, independent from the Federation, that thanks to some local sponsors have been able to help up to 3 players at a time, and so the movement has spread. This could be a good solution for Mexico too, but there are no well prepared coaches wanting to risk on International tennis, and the few well prepared coaches live inside the few high level clubs and tend to create good national players to win national competitions only. Players themselves prefer to risk less and not get out of the country with good earnings for the average incomes in Mexico: to try to become a professional player could mean 10 years of struggling without gain. Another big problem is that, in Mexico, it is impossible to access a club if you do not have a good social position, and so, humble people who will be ready to risk all to become professionals, are not able to access the structures. The classical tennis player in Mexico is a lawyer’s son practicing tennis in his free time, and who has no intentions on sacrifice as much as needed to be professional. It is a shame, as Mexicans do like tennis, the country is not that poor, and an important intervention of the national Federation would be needed, using the money to create small structures with low cost for young players so the few coaches can have a wider base to choose from.

Nadal, Gulbis, Nalbandian, Dimitrov
Nadal, Gulbis, Nalbandian, Dimitrov

ADC: the 0-15 magazine is one of three monthly tennis magazines with national distribution in Italy, how do you explain so much enthusiasm in Italy regarding tennis, with its more than 55 Challenger and Futures ATP tournaments, the abundance of Internet forums etc. and now with "Supertennis"
www.supertennis.tv even a TV station dedicated exclusively to tennis... when Italy after Adriano Panatta hasn't had a player able to compete with the best on a regular basis in over thirty years?

Marco Mazzoni: tennis in Italy, after the success of Adriano Panatta and the Davis Cup team, has become one of the most popular sports. In the eighties, several tennis clubs were opened everywhere in the country, allowing everybody to practice it, and fortunately many good coaches and trainers have been formed with great passion. And even if Italy has not had a champion for such a long time, this base has always been active thanks to he national championships in various categories. The birth of Pay-tv (in the 80’s the historical Capodistria, then transformed into Tele+ and then Sky TV) allowed tennis to be transmitted all year long. We would really need a champion: tennis in Italy is now loved and practiced, but having a figure like Alberto Tomba in tennis, it would also become “in” and tennis could become even bigger. During the 90’s , there was a period of crisis and many tennis clubs transformed the tennis courts into futsal-soccer on artificial grass fields. Fortunately, in the past 3 years, tennis has recovered a lot of young new players, and this still thanks to the teachers and clubs job, and partially to the Federation too, but especially what has never disappeared in Italy is the passion for tennis.

ADC: Adriano Panatta was the only one to beat Borg on the clay courts of Roland Garros, do you see anyone able to stand a chance against Rafa Nadal on the clay courts in 2009? Do you think Djokovic, Murray, Monfils or Del Potro could reach the final this time or will we see a re-edition of the past Nadal vs. Federer matches?

Marco Mazzoni: Federer…I don’t think so, also with the news regarding his future paternity, I think he will focus all his strength on winning Wimbledon again and defending the US Open title, having won it 5 times in a row. Djokivic doesn’t seem to be in a very good shape: his tennis is very shape-depending. Probably Murray has the best weapons to beat Nadal but not on clay. Something that nobody talks about but I strongly believe is that tennis on clay has the greatest crisis ever. This is because shots are too strong and fast, and players are created for hard courts only, the main surface today. Once upon a time, tennis on clay had a huge fascination as it is the most tactical surface, allowing lots of solutions and a kind of various tennis; now, Nadal is superior to everybody on clay but the negative fact is there are no other young clay court tennis players on the horizon. If Nadal keeps his physical shape, he will win the Roland Garros tournament also this year. Only Nalbandian in a great physical moment could beat him, or an incredible day of Tsonga, playing in France and with more than 40 aces!!!

ADC: how do you think Tsonga will fair on Wimbledon's grass courts, given the fact that his game is in some aspects similar to Safin's do you think Tsonga could do as well there as he did at the beginning and end of last season or do you think he will need more time to adapt to the low bounce etc. of grass?

Marco Mazzoni: If Tsonga will reach Wimbledon healthy, I think he will be the third favourite player to win the tournament. Murray will suffer a lot of pressure, so I don’t believe to much in him. Tsonga bases his tennis on his serve and forehand, and now, on grass, it is no longer players with serve and volley tennis but serve and forehand tennis, as Federer that dominate and naturally he won many of his titles there. And Tsonga can really be devastating on grass because of his power. It is a shame that heavier and larger balls, and higher-cutted grass allow to play from the baseline like on clay: see the victory and Nadal and his 2 finals.

ADC: this year adidas will return producing tennis racquets, do you think other big-business brands will follow, given the fact that many new markets in east Asia and eastern Europe like China, Japan, Taiwan, Serbia, Bulgaria, Latvia and the Baltic states are about to have top players? Do you think we will see some new racquets also by the more traditional English, French and Italian brands, perhaps as paint-brushes, or do you think that the racquet market is basically saturated?

Marco Mazzoni: there are many positive signs of an increase of interest on tennis from sports brands. For instance at the beginning on 2009, the return to tennis of Ellesse, a historical Italian brand that was missing from the pro tour since more than 10 years and there are rumours that the important French brand Colmar will be active in tennis next year. On the racquets side, Slazenger launches in this period their new racquet line, and Donnay is working hardly on a new racquet line to be launched next month. When a brand like Adidas enters so strongly in a market, it means that they have done a lot of market research with positive responses. Italy used to dress the most important champions in the 80’s: Fila is still very active, and, for example, Sergio Tacchini, who has suffered a large crisis recently, has now a new owner (Chinese) and intends to give new life to the brand staying strongly on tennis, where it was born.

ADC: in the seventies and eighties up to the early nineties Italian tennis and winter sports brands such as Fila, ellese, Diadora, Australian, Lotto and Sergio Tacchini were dominating the endorsement market appearing on the screens as almost bigger than brands such as adidias, Puma, Lacoste, Le Coque Sportif and Asics. How do you explain the dominance that Nike has on the market nowadays and can you tell us what happend to ellesse since it virtually disappeared as an endorsement brand?

Marco Mazzoni: The large American brands lnke Nike and Reebok have kept on high levels thanks to the internal American market, allowing them to sponsor their greatest champions: Agassi and Sampras. They had had more aggressive marketing campaigns than their competitors, and have better survived to the International crisis in the past years. The important Italian brands, like Ellesse and Tacchini, were familiar enterprises, grown a lot during the 80’s with the explosion of sportsware market, but upon globalization they have not been able to keep the step of big brands. I know the story of Ellesse quite well, the historical brand from Perugia tried to avoid producing in the far East, but also because of this in the end it was not posible to keep the enterprise alive and the owners were forced to sell it to a large American company.

Monfils, Tsonga, Nalbandian, Murray, Monfils
Monfils, Tsonga, Nalbandian, Murray, Monfils


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2009/04/29


Fuzzy Yellow Eyes


let's let the images talk cuz everybody knows anyway, youtube you know. If you can't get enough then check those channels
www.youtube.com/user/neibaf3
www.youtube.com/user/krosero
www.youtube.com/user/tennis24TV
www.youtube.com/user/FYB2007
and actually we got one as well
www.youtube.com/user/AvecDoubleCordage
then if your eyes aren't completely fuzzed out after this you can always get them day glow yellow by looking up some live stream services...

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2009/03/01

Ion Tiriac and Guillermo Vilas and a few Kneissl rackets from www.80s-tennis.com

An Interview with Jens Wehrmeister of 80s-tennis.com

The first decades following the birth of "open tennis" in 1968 were the seventies and early eighties, and naturally with them came a fresh wind in the visual aspect of tennis not only in the way of playing the game. www.80s-tennis.com is a page dedicated entirely to the rackets, apparel and aesthetics of those years, we had a chat with the mind behind it, Jens Wehrmeister.


Avec Double Cordage: Jens naturally your focus is on the eighties, but particularly the early eighties stuff is a development of the innovative introductions of the seventies, when some ski brands stepped into tennis, like Rossignol and Fischer. Can you tell us a bit about some of the names that expanded form winter sports into tennis?

Jens Wehrmeister: Indeed, there were a couple of European ski brands stepping into tennis in the seventies, amongst them several Austrian companies. Let me pick out three ski & tennis companies and tell you a little bit about their history. One has to mention Head in the first place here I think, because Howard Head was one of the most ingenious and versatile sports engineers ever, having contributed a lot of innovations to both the ski and tennis industry. He founded the Head Ski Company in 1948 and sold it to AMF in 1969. The Head/AMF company made itself a name as racquet producer in the 70s, when they had American top star Arthur Ashe under contract. Howard Head then became majority share-holder and chairman of the board of Prince Man. Inc. Striving to improve his own poor gameplay, Head invented the first oversize racquet Prince Classic and obtained a patent in 1976 that covered tennis racquets with size 95-135 square inches. The Prince Classic, made of aluminium, was released to the market in 1976 and became and a very popular racquet. Howard Head also pioneered the development of the legendary Prince Graphite racquet, the first racquet solely made of graphite.
Another big name is German company Völkl that was founded already in 1880. However, it took almost a century until Völkl started constructing tennis racquets. Their first one was introduced in 1972: The legendary
Völkl Zebra - the first all-fiberglass tennis racquet ever available on the market. In the late 70s, the Servo Soft type became Völkl’s best selling racquet with more than 300,000 Servo Soft frames sold on the German market alone, pretty amazing. Now I’d like to turn to my personal vintage racquet brand #1 – Kneissl. This Austrian company is even older than Völkl, founded in 1861. Between 1919 and 1921, Franz Kneissl became the first to mass-produce skis. In 1932, Kneissl was renamed as “First Austrian Ski Company”. They expanded their range of products to tennis goods in the 70s and presented the first fully synthetic tennis racquet in 1978, the White Star Pro (head size +8%), a real silver bullet with previously unknown ball acceleration power and precision, impressively demonstrated by young Czech Ivan Lendl hammering himself way up to the top with the White Star Pro. It marked the beginning of a unique chapter in the graphite racquet era, being the prototype of a lot of follow-up models by both Kneissl and Adidas (Adidas racquets were produced by Kneissl until the early 80s) that basically remained unaltered over ten years until 1987, when the very last model of the White Star Pro / White Star Masters line was launched, the White Star Master 10. All these racquets, including the famous Adidas GTX Pro Ivan Lendl and GTX Pro-T Ivan Lendl frames, were more or less merely paintjobs of the White Star Pro prototype from 1978. Nowadays it is totally inconceivable that a newly developed racquet stays on the market almost unaltered for 10 years! The very last White Star type, the White Star Masters 10 racquet, also marked the definite end of the small-headed racquet era in 1987. Back then, the Masters 10 had already been kind of exotic, the last dinosaur.

 John McEnroe, Fred Perry shoes and Fila overall
John McEnroe, Fred Perry shoes and Fila overall

 

Other ski companies entering into the tennis industry were, as already mentioned by you, Rossignol (France) and Fischer (Austria). Not to forget Fila (Italy), but their tennis racquet episode lasted only a few years from the late 70s till 1984. Fila most obviously had bigger success with their tennis clothes, thanks to their flagship player Bjorn Borg, but also a lot of other prominent tennis professionals. To my mind, in the 70s and early 80s Fila in fact made the most beautiful tennis fashion ever seen on this planet. Italian sports fashion company ellesse never produced tennis racquets, but stepped from ski into tennis fashion in 1975. Just like Fila, Ellesse released a wide range of lovely classic tennis clothes until the mid eighties, also supported by many popular players such as Guillermo Vilas, Chris Evert and Boris Becker.

ADC: Obviously not only ski brands stepped into tennis as it became a more popular sport, but also sports brands like Puma, Le Coq Sportif, Diadora and Lotto followed Adidas into tennis and some of them even produced rackets, and even Yamaha and Kawasaki rackets could be bought. Which rackets do you consider the most characteristic ones of the Nastase Borg Mac Lendl era and which are the most collectible items and which the oddest ones?

Jens Wehrmeister: This is a wide field - one can easily mention twenty types of racquets here. In general, any racquet played by top stars like McEnroe, Connors, Borg or Lendl is considered a highly collectible vintage racquet. In 2008, I wrote an article for German Tennis Magazin that covered the ten most collectible 80s tennis racquets. Naturally such a top ten selection also is a subjective thing to a certain degree. The ten most collectible 80s I chose for that article were: Donnay Borg Pro, Adidas Ivan Lendl GTX Pro & Pro-T, Dunlop Max 200 G, Puma G.Vilas, Wilson Pro Staff Mid, Rossignol F 200, Prince Graphite and PG 110, Donnay Pro One and Boris Becker Worldchampion Racket (limited edition of 3,000 pieces). While the latter was released in the mid 90s, it merely was a paintjob of the Puma Boris Becker Super, so it has its roots in the 80s. The Puma Boris Becker Super of course is highly collectible, too, just like its precursor Boris Becker Winner. Other highly collectible and charismatic 80s racquets are e.g. Slazenger Vilas V-24 (played by Guillermo Vilas and Pat Cash), Kneissl Super Pro Vario, Le Coq Sportif Concept 3 Oversize (played by Yannick Noah) and Head Prestige Pro. And then there’s the Kuebler Resonanz R 50, the first widebody racquet ever, a big triumph of German engineering skills, invented by Siegfried Kuebler, an ingenious engineer who to this day has contributed a lot of essential innovations to the racquet industry. As for collectible wood racquets, Dunlop Maxply McEnroe certainly is another must-have.

 Vilas and Tiriac in ellesse
Vilas and Tiriac in ellesse

 

With regard to highly collectible racquets of the 70s, one certainly has to pick out the famous Vilsbiburger tennis racquet with double-stringing (“spaghetti strings”). This unusual racquet, invented by Bavarian Werner Fischer and released to the market in 1976, produced an incredible, erratic topspin and overnight enabled weak players to beat stronger players. It was also used by professionals, for example Ilie Nastase. When Guillermo Vilas met Nastase for the first time with his Vilsbiburger racquet in the best of five-set final of the 1977 Aix-en-Provence tournament, he dropped the first two sets by 6–1, 7–5 and then retired in protest of Nastase's use of the Vilsbiburger racquet. Thus Nastase snapped Vilas' world record 53-match winning streak on clay courts which stood until the record was broken by Rafael Nadal in 2006. “It was really the racket,” Vilas said. “I didn’t lose against a player, I lost against a racket.” He and his coach Ion Tiriac then used their big influence on the ITF, causing it to quickly ban the Vilsbiburger racquet.

 Pirelli Technort B1 racket, MacGregor and Myriac, Diadora ad
Pirelli Technort B1 racket, MacGregor and Myriac, Diadora ad

 

As for odd racquets, there were many around in the 70s and 80s… well, the Vilsbiburger racquet certainly is an odd one. Another remarkable odd racquet was the Snauwaert Ergonom (1983) with its angular head. The Hexon Aggressor (1982) also was an absolutely unusual racquet, just like the MacGregor Bergelin Long String (1986). You can find many more examples of oddish racquets on my website under http://80s-tennis.com/pages/oddities.html

ADC: Can you tell us about Barry Borg and his treasure?

Jens Wehrmeister: That’s a strange story, and a sad story unfortunately. He contacted me one day by email and offered to send me pics of his incredible Borg collection for publication on my website 80s-tennis.com which I happily accepted. It was a big pack of printed pics I received by post, but many of these were out of focus, covered only a part of the collector’s item or had a finger covering a part of the photo. I picked out the best ones and put them on the website and politely thanked Barry for his contribution, but also very kindly drew his attention to the fact that it was a pitty many of the pics were too bad for being published. Then he started acting crazy all of sudden, heavily cursing at me and abandoning the contact. He obviously is a guy who cannot bear any kind of criticism. I never came to know who he really is and how he managed to get his hands on all these Borg treasures. I only know he is living in the USA and announced to open a “Tennis Borg Museum”, but as far as I can see, this hasn’t happened yet.

 Barry Borg's treasure
the treasure of Barry Borg

 

ADC: There are many tennis collectors out there and lots of web-sites on the matter like www.raqueta.net from Spain, can you name a few more and tell us the stories behind them?

Jens Wehrmeister: I cannot tell you much about other racquet collector websites, that’s their job I think, but certainly about the vintage racquet collectors who are contributing to the racquet gallery on my website so busily. Collecting vintage racquets is a worldwide affair, I receive emails from all over the world. Many of these people are located in the USA, Asia and Italy. The typical vintage racquet collector is aged +40 and male. This is why I was so happy when Virginia, a collector from New Zealand with a great 300+ collection of racquets, got in touch with me. She has a great passion for 70s/80s racquets. Soon there was a second female contributor, Marina Gorena from Argentina. My main contributor is Massimo from Italy, a guy with immense dedication who has an amazing collection of virtually all 70s/80s vintage racquet must-haves – and they are all brand new, apart from a very few “only” mint exemplars! He keeps on sending in pics of newly bought racquets all the time, although already a year ago he declared that he considered his collection finished. But I think he has meanwhile realised that the next racquet never is the last racquet… There’s always one more racquet that he previously didn’t know or see and wants to add to his collection. Indeed, collecting vintage racquet is a matter of passion and nostalgy, many get heavily infected with the collector’s virus and can never stop. And why should they? Well, space often becomes an issue at a certain point… Other great collectors (and contributors to my site), I know are Bob (USA), Rodney (Australia), Jaap (The Netherlands) and Andrè (Belgium), amongst others. A big thank you to you and all the other contributors of my site!

ADC: What about vintage tournaments?

Jens Wehrmeister: I have to admit I never took part in any vintage tournament and also haven’t paid that much attention to this topic so far. I know that in several countries there are vintage tournaments in local tennis clubs sometimes, at which everybody has to use a wood racquet for example, and possibly also dress in authentic 70s/80s tennis apparel. I would like to organise a small vintage tournament one day and invite all my website contributors to this event. That would be a nice get-together.

 Fila racket
Fila racket

 

ADC: Tennis in Germany had a sudden boom with Boris Becker's win in Wimbledon, apparently in 1985 there was only one German journalist to cover Wimbledon, the year after almost every German news paper had someone there. What is the state of German tennis now, and what do you think are the reasons behind its current condition?

Jens Wehrmeister: I fear we will never experience this unique historic situation again in Germany that we had both an extraordinary male and extraordinary female champion at the same time from the mid 80s until the late 90s: Boris Becker and Steffi Graf. But the dominance of these superb players concealed the fact that there was not so much behind them, no other world’s no. 1 candidate, apart from Michael Stich, who ranked second in 1994 on the ATP world ranking and won Wimbledon in 1991. Before and after Boris and Steffi, German tennis produce many good players, but no champions. The male generation after Boris, led by Tommy Haas and Nicolas Kiefer, was quite promising and had much more potential than the female generation that came after Steffi. Haas managed to become world’s no. 2 and Kiefer world’s no. 4, but none of them has ever reached a Grand Slam final, to say nothing of winning at Grand Slam title. They both have been plagued by many severe injuries during their career, this certainly was a big hindrance. But it is most evident they both just don’t have Becker’s calibre. Presently Haas and Kiefer, both over 30, are once again back on the ATP tour, trying to gain ground again.

 Snauwaert Ergonom racket, Puma California shoe, Fila shorts
Snauwaert Ergonom racket, Puma California shoe, Fila shorts

 

Another veteran German player is Rainer Schüttler (32), who at least reached a Grand Slam Final in 2003, when he lost to Agassi at the Australian Open and ranked ATP no. 5, but only had this one outstanding season. After frustrating years with many injuries and round one losses, Schüttler had a marvellous comeback at Wimbledon 2008, when he surprisingly made it into the semis. The younger generation is lead by Philipp Kohlschreiber (25), a great technician, but inconsistent player who also lacks self-criticism. But this generation seems to be even weaker than the Haas/Kiefer generation. Not to mention the ladies – after Steffi Graf’s demission in 1999, the German ladies tennis has degenerated into total insignificance. I’m not an expert with contemporary German tennis, but some people complain that we don’t have a national elite youth training centre like the French have at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris that produced ambitious top ten players such as Tsonga, Monfils, Simon and Mathieu. In Germany, all of the 16 federal states do have their own elite youth training centre, and two of them even have two. There was an attempt in the past, though, to establish a national elite youth tennis centre in Hannover, but it didn’t work for some reasons and was abandoned in 2007.

ADC: In Sweden Tennis is currently suffering a low after the post Borg Wilander Edberg era, but sure there must have been a few brands coming from Sweden supporting the high times. Can you tell us something about those little known Swedish brands and also some details about Tretorn which at a certain point produced everything from shoes to racket and not only balls.

Jens Wehrmeister: Tretorn was constructing tennis racquets already in the 60s, when they released an odd metal racquet to the market that could be dismantled into single parts. But it didn’t succeed in the market, and also the other racquets produced by Tretorn in the 60s and 70s weren’t big sellers. The most popular tennis product manufactured by Tretorn to this day is their unpressurised tennis ball that lasts for ages. In the 70s and 80s, Tretorn had Bjorn Borg under contract, for some years, the Swede champion wore Tretorn tennis shoes at tournaments in the USA and Tretorn clogs all over the world. In the mid 80s, there was an advertising campaign with Borg praising unpressurised Tretorn tennis balls.

 Lacoste metal raquet
Lacoste metal racquet

ADC: Some rackets just seem to be timeless and somehow Connors is involved in one way or the other, the Wilson T2000 stemming from a much older Lacoste racket stepped through the ages thanks to him. When you think about the Wilson Pro Staff racket that Connors introduced in the early eighties and then went from Edberg to Sampras and Courier and eventually to Federer it seems like the game needed more than a decade to adapt to the sudden jump of technology that happened in the early eighties, the Prince Original Graphite has a similar story dating back to the early eighties and then passing through the hands of Agassi and Chang and still now there are players like Xavier Malisse using rackets based on it, also the Head Prestige rackets sure saw quite some paint jobs. Do you think the Babolat Pure Drive which also dates back some years to the Pro Kennex Destiny mold could have a similar story?

Jens Wehrmeister: Without a doubt, the Babolat Pure Drive already is a modern classic. There was a “The ten greatest racquets of all time“ article last year in Tennis Magazine that chose the Pure Drive as one of the ten greatest racquets ever. That caused a controversial discussion, as many people were complaining other racquets had more legitimation to be included in the top ten list. Frankly I didn’t know the Pure Drive dates back to the Pro Kennex Destiny mold… but I think you are right that its history is comparable to the one of the Wilson Pro Staff or Prince Original Graphite racquet.

 Fila rackets
Fila rackets

 

ADC: To a certain degree what Borg and Fila were in the seventies and early eighties, Agassi and Nike were in the late eighties and early nineties, introducing new colors and styles like the worn out jeans shorts, pirate bandana and black shoes, all things that Nadal took a couple of steps further. What do you consider the most remarkable or odd innovations in tennis equipment to surface in the nineties?

Jens Wehrmeister: Guess what? I really can’t tell. In the early 90s, I stopped playing competitive tennis, and tennis took a back seat, although of course I kept on watching tennis on television and played a little bit on an irregular basis. But I kind of overslept the nineties and developed my passion for vintage tennis as late as 2005, when I started collecting 80s tennis racquets and fashion pieces, gradually developing a real sense for tennis technology and fashion. But it is mainly focused on the 80s – “my era”, the decade in which I started playing tennis myself - and also the 70s. It is possible though, that I will shift to the 90s as well one day, rediscovering another era.

 Estusa
Estusa Boris Becker racket

 

ADC: One of the more obscure brands to surface in the nineties was Estusa with Becker and Connors, what is the story behind it and do you know of any similar corss overs like the Nordica one that for a short time in the early nineties appeared on the tennis courts with Anke Huber, and seemed to follow the path of the eighties ski brands.

Jens Wehrmeister: Let me focus on Estusa. Taiwanese “Estusa Corporation“ was founded in 1984 by Jackson Tse, a learnt aircraft engineer. The name Estusa is a combination of “Tse” spelled vice versa and “USA”. The company produced tennis, squash and racquet ball frames. Estusa tennis racquets were manufactured in a factory (1000 employees) in Taichung (Taiwan), 75,000 pieces per month in 1990. In 1987, the “Estusa” company presented itself at the International Sporting Goods Fair (ISPO) in Munich for the first time. But Estusa’s breakthrough on the European market did not happen before the company managed to contract Boris Becker in 1990 and one year later also Jimmy Connors. For a five years contract, Becker was supposed to pocket 12 million US$. But in the first contract year, Becker continued playing the Puma Boris Becker Super with the Estusa logo sprayed onto the strings - he wasn’t satisfied with the Estusa Boris Becker Advantech racquet prototypes that were developed for him. This was possible thanks to a respective clause in Becker’s contract. Estusa had promised to precisely rebuild the Puma Boris Becker Super racquet for him, and there was any reason to believe they would quickly fulfil this task, as the Taiwanese had secured the services of German Günter Adam, the former chief racquet engineer of Puma, creator of all the Puma racquets developed for Vilas and Becker! When he left Puma, Adam had secured the right to pass the licenses for the racquet patents he had invented on to another company. In the end, Becker totally abandoned the Boris Becker Advantech line and Adam succeeded in delivering an exact copy of the Puma BB Super when creating the Estusa Boris Becker ProVantech PB that also had the same design and colours, only the inscriptions were different. It was not before 1991 though that Becker finally switched to a real Estusa racquet, the BB ProVantech PB - but he played it only for four months, according to his longtime stringer Uli Kühnel. So the liason between Estusa and Boris Becker wasn’t meant to last very long, in 1992, the contract was cancelled early. Estusa Boris Becker Advantech and particularly Boris Becker Provantech PB racquets are highly collectible, just like the bright yellow Estusa Pro Legend Classic that is inseperably linked to Jimmy Connors’ sensational 1991 US Open appearance, when he made it into the semis at the age of 39.

ADC: For most people that own some vintage racquets or apparel there's hardly anything they would trade them for, even though they are not really of any practical use, which are your treasures and which are the ones you are still looking for?

Jens Wehrmeister: I own a lot of the collectible 70s/80s racquets mentioned above. But there’s a special collection within the collection, and that is my “White Star Pro frame like” collection, consisting of almost all +8%-10% head size Kneissl and all respective Adidas frames. Only one is missing: The white version of the Kneissl Super Pro Vario racquet! I’ve been searching for years, but cannot find it… if somebody owns one and wants to sell it, please don’t hesitate to contact me contact@80s-tennis.com . With regard to vintage tennis fashion, I have many nice Fila Borg Bj and Ellesse clothes that I mostly wear off-court, as 80s casual fashion. They are just too precious…

 Estusa ProVantech, Sergio Tacchini jumper, Kneissl White Star
Estusa ProVantech, Sergio Tacchini tank top, Kneissl White Star


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All previous blogs:

ALL PAST BLOGS ° 2010/07/30 Watch Out For Doubles ° 2010/02/02 AUSO '10 + beats x ° 2010/01/06 Back to the grind ° 2009/12/29 Athlete of the decade ° 2009/11/30 WTF happened? ° 2009/08/24 Daniel Koellerer von Wels ° 2009/07/12 Know Your GOAT ° 2009/06/28 Federer career grand slam ° 2009/05/03 Marco Mazzoni 0-15 interview ° 2009/04/29 Fuzzy Yellow Eyes ° 2009/03/01 80s-tennis.com °  2009/02/04 Nadal - Federer Australian Open 2009 ° 2009/01/21 www.quadorb.net/adc the new address ° 2008/12/14 Novak Djokovic interview - St. Anton Tennis Trophy ° 2008/11/17 Muito Obrigado Guga Kuerten ° 2008/11/12 Commentucci Interview ° 2008/10/12 David Foster Wallace ° 2008/09/28 A faithful tale fo how the Lord won the cup ° 2008/09/11 A second chance for Doubles ° 2008/04/10 Tennis Boom in Serbia ° 2008/03/27 Chris Lewis interview pt.3 ° 2008/03/26 Stefano Grazia about Tennis in Africa Pt.2 ° 2008/03/22 Tennis Profile Awards - 2008 TPA Blaward ° 2008/03/20 Stefano Grazia about Tennis in Africa Pt.1 ° 2008/03/19 Olympic Tennis and Tibet ° 2008/03/04 Andreas Seppi, Karin Knapp, Sartori & Boesso ° 2008/03/03 Chris Lewis interview pt.2 ° 2008/03/02 Class of 1995 juniors ° 2008/02/29 Chris Lewis interview pt.1 ° 2008/02/25 top 10 'watch list' ° 2008/01/27 OZ Open final ° 2008/01/26 Jo Buma Ye ° 2007/11/23 Becker got me into Tennis ° 2007/11/15 ubaldoscanagatta.com ° 2007/11/10 Agassi Black Lips ° 2007/10/26 New Davis Cup format

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