Avec Double Cordage

previous blogs:

LATEST BLOG ° 2010/02/02 AUSO ° 2010/01/06 season preview ° 2009/12/29 Athlete of the decade ° 2009/11/30 ATP WTF & 09 ranking ° 2009/08/24 Daniel Koellerer ° 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

for off topic and live score talk etc. visit the Bar Veronica


Attack beats defense, forehand beats backhand, king beats rook and + beats x for the grand vegemite sandwich



"If they ever tell my story let them say that I walked with giants"

X Y on the current Odyssey, earthling

"I can cry like Roger it's just a shame I can't play like him"

Andy Murray, white x on blue

"Andy you're too good of a player to not win a grand slam so don't worry about it"

Roger Federer, white + on red

Andy Murray ended the Australian Open with a bit of a hole in his shoe and some troubles on serve but the feeling (a positive one) is he never will be the servant many other players apparently are. His words during the trophy ceremony about being able to cry like Roger but not to play like him are nice but not truthful, sadly for him the part that is wrong is that he can't cry like Roger. But let's be reasonable it's not a shame being beaten after giving your best and fighting hard against Roger, Federer is the best player ever to play the game, no doubt about him being the athlete of the decade (especially cuz if you want to be too precise the 201st decade since the birth of christ isn't even over yet as year 1 was the first and 10 the last year of the first decade) but the question is starting to be "is he the best sports dude ever?", we'll see and sure we won't have to wait "onehundredandfiftythousand" years to find out.

Also Murray is really one of the most gifted players after Roger, McEnroe, Laver (throw in Hoad, Sampras, Agassi and maybe Nastase and Becker as well). His problem mainly being that his dominant side is the backhand side so his forehand and serve can sometimes suffer and that's a real problem against one of the best forehands ever particularly on a day when Federer's backhand is red hot and Federer was really on one of his best moments, not only on the court.
His step forward to organize the help for Haiti's earthquake victims that collected about half a million euros was role model like, his humor during the on court interviews and press conferences was good (remember he is swiss, land of banks etc.), his game was probably as good as back in 2004 and 2005, how can he get even better yet? Maybe try some two handed backhand return winners like they seemingly tell his mother. But more on the serious side his volleys could be better, like say as good as in his early days on the tour, maybe he could regularly play a few doubles at the smaller tournaments with somebody that is happy to just cover the baseline and lose in the second round so that Roger can focus on just serve and play volleys in match conditions for one or two hours a week, and why not try out some two handed backhand return winners to make those fools happy ;)

Apart form the Nadal Murray match one of the most interesting matches was probably the second round between Cilic and Tomic. Marin Cilic is obviously on his way to enter the top ten, that was already clear to see last year, he is not a very exciting player on court, some even say boring to watch, "borging" might also fit since he is as calm and focused as Borg. But when you hear him talking off the court he is very interesting to listen to and frankly likable. The fact that Tomic took him to the fifth set and even had his chances is a good sign for him and bodes well for the game, he has a double handed backhand but like Murray the kids of the new generation can play the one handed slice just as naturally and are not afraid to attack the net, as soon as his body will get stronger this teenager will be a threat for the top players.

The question going into this years' AUSO was if Davydenko arriving to Melbourne as Volodymyrovych the great could really win a major? As we saw it in the way he sent Federer running around the court in the first set of the quarters he might actually have a chance if he can get rid of the brain cramps like in the 13 games lasting black out that would have cost him a 06 06 loss in other conditions. Maybe he'll be ready for Paris if Nadal's knee doesn't get better or maybe not. Maybe Murray can win the French, after all nobody expected Agassi to win his first major in Wimbledon. Or Maybe Federer will stay on grand slam course.


plenty of videos just added to the youtube channel e.g. Federer slice festival, Panatta interview, Sampras perfect game


Blue in the face
Apart from the often crazy timings the Australian Open is a very TV friendly slam, lots of streaming also, and the all blue courts allow to see the ball the best. While zapping through quite a few channels over the course of the tournament it was possible to see almost every match one wanted to see, some stations delivered a great service some not so much, let's say 100% is the best you can get then this that follows could be a ranking.

99% BBC
the best, almost like paradise, no commercials and that's meaning absolutely none, not even a logo on the screen not even the BBC logo, very good commentary and no talking during points. If they could get Jon McEnroe to do some commentary then they would get the 100%

80% Super Sport South Africa
saw the half African semi there (Tsonga France/Kongo versus Federer Swiss/South African passport), so it made some sense. Also here, very few commercials like one or two in an hour, good  commentary, very interesting after-match analysis with Jeff Coetzee and Hendrien Grove.

that's Swiss TV in German, good thing there is hardly any commercials and the ones they show often crack you off, bad thing the commentary. Heinz Günthardt might very well have been a good player and done some good coaching (particularly with Steffi Graf), but he has no clue of how to underline a match without ruining it and his college in the commentary boot is even worse under this aspect plus he has just about no sense of humor. as if this wouldn't be enough both have a funny accent when they speak proper German, which wouldn't be a problem but on TV it just doesn't work, they'd better stick to Swiss German, that way they might get rid of the problems involved in speaking a foreign language, hence totally losing sense of humor etc. ...Good thing, while you watch it you can just mute it and listen to Richard Evans and Australian Open radio instead.

50% Eurosport France
good refreshing commentary but boy those commercials really freak you out after half an hour, always the same ones overand over every three minutes and if you got to interrupt matches in the final stages to show some snooker, ski jumping or curling on the way to "wank over" then please, get outta here.

40% Eurosport Romania
the good thing here is it's streamed all over the place, the bad things are the same bad things as with all the other eurosport versions plus the commentary is as exiting as a meeting of the committee for transilvanian retro burocracy zombies, it's often better to switch over to Eurosport Poland, at least you can't make any sense of what they are talking about.

45% Star Soprts Asia
last year it was great with Vijay Amritraj, this year I didn't hear him so it was not so good, actually it was all in some Asian language, so (with all due respect for Asia) I didn't understand a thing but sometimes that's good. Actually I saw the Del Potro - Blake match with no commentary at all just the courtsound and umpy, very nice
Actually, found an advantage in the fragmentary game (remember in the rule book it says play has to be continuous, sure) early in the first week when Del Potro vs. Blake and Henin vs. Dementieva were played simultaneously. The advantage is that you can watch two matches at the same time, with all the interruptions and long TV change overs that's no problem at all, good they streamed the men's match without commentary so I kept that on the apple with the audio on and muted the women's match on the windows laptop, set both the streamings on full screen mode and put the computers next to each other, it felt kinda crazy but it worked perfectly fine. First time in over a year that I watched a women's match by the way, but really the only thing that can make me do that is to see how little Justine freaks out the one dimensional ball machines with her one handed backhand and all court attacking game. Justine maestra! Serena is a deserved champion, but it's a pity Justine wasn't strong enough on serve yet to win the title.

40% CCTV
can't understand it and there's quite a bit of commercials but at least they are funny.

35% EUROSPORT Germany
as bad as all the other eurosport channels but if possible with even worse commentary, most of the times just one guy that either is a sleep or if it's the othere one then it's the one who thinks he's out on a mission to explain to some granny every single shot that is shown.

30% ESPN
so-so commentary, you can here they are alive (unlike the Romanian cousins of Dracula) but sometimes they are hyperventilating and it all just sounds a bit fake. Speaking about fake, please guys do your selves a favour and get rid of those silly blazers, tennis is not politics or at least it shouldn't be so dress normally, the way you would if you'd go to see a tournament in the summer and don't tell me you put on one of them blue blazers for that. Almost forgot, get rid of the trombone and the annoying pop guitar intros and music you put over the tennis, actually just stop putting music over the points. 

29% Tennis Channel
same as ESPN, if possible with even more silly talk, sillly blazers, sillly pop guitars, silly trombone, what saves them is the mute function...

Haven't had a chance to see Australia's Channel 7 but I hear Leconte did some great and fun commentary there... also can't really give a percentage cuz there's no pictures of the match, but special mentioning is deserved by the "Fuzzy Yellow Balls" and "essential tennis" cooperation (some on court help form Melbourne also by Pete Tramacchi of "elite tennis tours") for the ustream live web cast that they have done. Great analysis and great humor, you can watch it at www.fuzzyyellowballs.com they are analyzing the points after they're over. So if you got the match on the PC or on DVR where you can mute the commentary whilst keeping the court sound you can put this next to it. Let's hope they do it again for the French Open, looks like they will.

Out! Correction! Replay the point etc. 
And finally here's something that should get the ITF guys thinking ...although it sure won't, it's about the two umpiring errors in the finals. Point one, The Henin drop-shot which was on the line and that would have given her the break in the first set. Serena Williams would not have had a play on it, the linesman called it out then corrected his call so they repeated the point although it was actually a break for Henin.
Point two and the second mistake was in the first set of the men's final when Murray double faulted and then got broken but Hawk Eye (on channel 7) showed it wasn't a double fault. Murray did not challenge and therefore lost the point.
So there's probably something that needs to be done about the line calls now that we got Hawk Eye working decently or well enough, let's look at the two points introduced just above.

To point one (the Henin drop-shot on the line called out and corrected that stole a break from her), the solution would probably be to "mute" all the lines men and let them only do signs (typically sticking their arm out when a ball is out or put both hands together when the ball is on the line) and let the umpire have live data from Hawk Eye for every ball and receive a clear visual message when the ball is out, maybe also put something behind the players on both sides of the court that shows the word OUT in big letters (or some similar signal) only when the ball is called out by Hawk Eye so the audience can see that as well and make sure the umpy does not overlook any of those.
To point two (Murray losing a decisive point cuz of a double foult that Hawk Eye showed wasn't actually a double fault). The Hawk Eye live data to the umpy would be a solution also for that. Sure it sounds very much like Utopia (and perhaps right now live data is still too much for the Hawk Eye computers, but surely soon they will be fast enough to deliver it) but if you look back at how Hawk Eye got officially introduced after the terrible line calls in the Serana Williams vs Jennifer Capriati match (watch video by clicking here) it's actually something not totally impossible.
It would not solve the foot fault thing like it typically happened to Safin or Serena last year, to solve that there would have to be a change in the rules, also this is not impossible since it has been done before. Before the sixties or even early seventies (look that up on wikipedia or somewhere like that) it wasn't allowed to serve with both feet in the air after jumping up to the ball, one foot had to stay on the ground at the moment of contact with the ball, then this got changed and that's why the serves of today's pros are so much more powerful as those of the Laver - Perry - Tilden era, cuz by jumping up not only is the ball contact higher but obviously the momentum is also bigger as opposed to just stretching your body up to contact.

The pros obviously don't foot fault by making contact with the ball after they've landed inside the court since that would only be a weak serve. For a strong serve you need to hit the ball while your body is still going up. The way the pros actually foot fault is by barely touching the line either with the front foot or by stepping over the center notch with the back foot when they have a "foot up - pin point" service motion like Murray or Serena for instance have it, those that serve with a platform stance like Federer will have a hard time foot faulting.

So a way to get rid of the foot fault trouble without changing the game could be to say something like this: You have to start with both feet behind the baseline but are allowed to touch the line or the center notch, although you are not allowed to move the front foot forward, you can only rotate-twist it while it is on the court (kinda like in basketball) or move it back, but not forward. This way the only way to foot fault is to hit the ball after landing in the court which would be a crap serve anyway, so there would be virtually no weird foot fault calls anymore.

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Welcome back everyone along with the newborn son, well for those down under the days are not getting longer but have just started getting shorter though it's long before the sun will dim, hot blue concrete of Melbourne is ahead.

Victor Troicki
Viktor Troicki goes bang ...in the east


Perhaps not everyone is already back from the leisure of the "off season" (off week squeezed in between some exo in a hall, christmas and the World Championships of Universal Mammon in Abu Dhabi might actually be more on the true side of the story but that's a story for the off season) albeit one has to think it can only be a matter of days before all those addicted to yellow balls being batted back and forth over a net return to their addiction, all it might take is a look at this...

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Athlete of the decade

Just a small seasons gift for all the fans of the athlete of the decade, hands down. Please pleaze me by Dean Allen Foyd and the Gimmicks is the song. Apart form Rog it is starring Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Janko Tipsarevic.

Vai Rogelio! Dedicato a Gene.



here's some more

BTW the complete "ADC athlete of the decade" ranking goes like this

1. Roger Federer

2. Valentino Rossi
Valentino Rossi
the Italian won 7 world championships out of 10, finishing second twice and third once in the only three years that he didn't win the title (let alone two more world championship titles in the previous decade while still a teenager and add to that more than 100 races won)


3. Usain Bolt 
Usain Bolt
the Jamaica lightning, runs in his own league 


4. Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps
America's medal machine 


5. Lance Armstrong
Lance Armstrong
just won't go away no matter how dark it looks


6. Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal
Spanish clay court king and the best clay court player ever by far, even better than Borg


7. Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant
the man 


8. Shaun White
Shaun White
snow, street, pipe or freeride he just flys, can't count his titles plus olympic gold for the USA


9. Hermann Maier
Hermann Maier
after the Austrian had been counted out twice he returned just as strong as before


and 10th some football player or other team sports guy, sue me ;)

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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,
-2, 07-2, 08-1, 09-2 
Olympics: Gold 2008

grand slam results 2009:

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...

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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...

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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...

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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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 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...

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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
and actually we got one as well
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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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...

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