Avec Double Cordage
TENNIS ROCKS ...sorta BLOG
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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

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2010/07/30

WATCH OUT FOR DOUBLES

Although at the recreational level doubles might be practiced just as much as singles if not more, one has to wonder how it is that it's still out there on the pro tour. Here are some critical but positive thoughts and a look at three teams.

Petschner, Qureshi, Bopanna, Bastl
Phlipp Petzschner, Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and Rohan Bopanna, Geroge Bastl

  

Somehow people rather play it than watch it, at least on TV this must be the case. Live there might be exceptions now and then, it sure has quite some potential, after all beach volleyball uses a similar formula even if it all is way more casual. But beach volleyball does not have to compete with a singles version, in tennis the direct challenge that singles has to offer is too strong to let doubles have half of the cake. Tradition is strong in tennis but if it would be just for tradition then doubles might be limited to the grand slam tournaments by now, one of the reasons why it has not yet disappeared from the tour might be that it offers a way to secure an income for the lower ranked players and after all the ATP that runs the tour has it's roots in some sort of union of the pros. So while it's still there let's have a look at it again, we already did here some time ago by proposing some changes that might put some new life in it, anyway here are some teams that you might want to watch.   

MELZER - PETZSCHNER

Petzschner, Melzer
Phlipp Petzschner and Jürgen Melzer

  
Long gone are the days when folks like John McEnroe, John Newcombe or Rod Laver where featured in both the last stages of the doubles and singles grand slam tournaments. This year though Jürgen Melzer has reached the semifinals of Roland Garros and together with German talent Philipp Petzschner has won the Wimbledon doubles tournament. Melzer is also the first guy since quite some years to feature in both the singles and doubles top 15. Like Nadal he is a lefty that uses his left hand just for tennis but is right handed in day-to-day life, one of the players with the most sensible touch on the tour has finally fulfilled his potential, great help surely came from his new coach Joakim Nyström. But also the woman on his side Mirna Jukić, who won Olympic bronze in swimming might have had a positive impact. It's not new that players with a very vast selection of shots take longer to reach their peak (it even took Federer a couple of years longer than other champions) and frequently never really reach it,so it's nice to see Melzer eventually made it to the final stages of a major. A former Wimbledon juniors champion he always had great feel at the net, the lefty serve sure is an advantage but his best shot might be the precise and powerful two-handed backhand. Petzschner is also a natural two-hander on the backhand side, but he plays one of the most vicious one handed slice backhands on the tour, he relies on it so much that you might see him faking a forehand drop shot only to play a short chop cross court more often than a regular two handed backhand. If he can get is thing together there is no reason why the Bavarian tennis Picasso should not follow Melzer's success in singles as well, after all this year he brought Nadal to a fifth set at Wimbledon. His breakthrough at a slam could happen soon, but for now he is still somewhere in between genius and craziness, so it should come to no surprise that along with Edberg one of his tennis idols growing up was Goran Ivanisevic "because I enjoyed his craziness and you never knew what was going to happen on court"  

BASTL -BROWN

Dustin Brown and George Bastl
Dustin Brown and George Bastl

  
The greatest moment George Bastl has had was probably the victory over Pete Sampras at Wimbledon in 2002. The second loss to a Swiss on the lawns there must have spurred Sampras to work hard with his new and old coach Paul Anncone to bring home an other US Open trophy, his last. Come to think of it Federer just welcomed Annacone in his camp. You might have a hard time seeing Bastl on the singles these days but he has recently enjoyed some success in doubles teaming up with Dustin Brown, the palm tree tall dreadlocked Jamaican. The altitude of the Swiss mountains in Gstaad might have helped the explosive tennis of the Jamaican surf and music fan and the Swiss - American son of an ice hockey pro, which can only be a good thing since they delivered quite a show, not just visually at that. Dustin toured the European challenger circuit for quite some years in his camper van, last year he had his breakthrough year and has entered the top 100 both in singles and doubles now, would be great to see him more often now that he'll enter the draws of the majors.  

BOPANNA -QURESHI

Qureshi, Bopanna
Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and Rohan Bopanna

  
One of those things that are special about tennis is on display here. Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi is from Pakistan and Rohan Bopanna is from India, may the conflict between their two countries date back to their birth, together they form a team. A good one at that, at this year's Wimbledon they were stopped only in the quarter finals by the eventual champions Melzer-Petzschner.

As stated above the fact that teams in tennis rarely are national teams is one of the interesting aspects of tennis, it was 1896 when the first Olympic games of the modern era took place in Athens and the gold medal was won by a team representing two nations, Friedrich Traun for Germany and John Pius Boland for Great Brittain and Ireland.
When the Union Flag and the German flag were run up the flagpole to honour Boland and Traun's victory, Boland pointed out to the man hoisting the flags that he was Irish, adding "It[the Irish flag]'s a gold harp on a green ground, we hope." The officials agreed to have an Irish flag prepared. Irish independence only came in 1922. Boland also won the singles gold medal defeating Dionysios Kasdaglis of Egypt in the final who made it to the doubles finals as well together with Demetrios Petrokokkinos of Greece so four nations where actually represented in the final.

At this year's Wimbledon tournament the Indian-Pakistani pairing Qureshi - Bopanna have been going around the All England Club wearing tracksuit tops reading "Stop War, Start Tennis" on the back.

"When we started out in tennis the tension between India and Pakistan wasn't something I cared about, I was playing with my friend," Qureshi told the press.

"Over the passage of time, we've seen a bigger picture apart from tennis, and it's about changing people's views. If we can change even one person's view, we'll take it as a positive.

"It's really nice to see Indians and Pakistanis sitting together supporting one team. You don't see that anywhere else, in any sport. Our on-court and off-court relationship proves that Indians and Pakistanis can get on fine."

Bopanna, Qureshi, Bastl, Brown, Melzer, Petzschner
Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi, George Bastl and Dustin Brown, Jürgen Melzer and Phlipp Petzschner

 

Might have already proposed this, but why not reintroduce these "mixed nations teams" to the Olympics?
It would be some sort of doubles world championship, also if played in the week after the Olympic singles tournament it should attract the top ten players considering that Olympic gold can be won. A final involving four teams would sure increase the media interest, actually at least by 100%, double it so to speak.
It's also a step forward, out of a type 0 or 1 civilization in direction to a more peaceful one. The whole nation thing could still be done by adding a third competition, they actually already do this at the Olympics with other sports, table tennis for instance. Following sort of a Hopman cup format. Well even if played at the end, after the singles and doubles tournament, for this additional competition matches should obviously be shorter otherwise the tennis would last longer than the Olympics...
But this shorter version could be achieved by just 4 modifications that would not modify the spirit of the sport, playing the tie break at 4 games all and allowing the second serve only in the tie break, forget about the let as well while at it and reduce TV breaks to only one every 4 games, basically sit down only on every second change over, this would be the 4 modifications to speed things up. Since the decisive moments come immediately and the flow of the match is not permanently interrupted it would make the whole thing also more TV friendly and more attractive to new comers.
Olympic tennis could start out with a singles tournament played by the top 16, so it would be 4 rounds with direct elimination and best of five sets, sort of a mini slam starting one or two days before the opening ceremony like other events such as football / soccer already do, so the final would be one of the first highlights on the third or fourth day after the opening ceremony since the whole thing does not take more than 7 days even with the necessary recovery days between the match days.
 
qolimpic tennis 1896 Athens and Tim Henman in 2004 Athens
Olympic Tennis in Athens 1896 and in 2004 with Tim Henman
 
 
After that the doubles tournament with 32 teams and no need for both players to come from the same country, it should be possible to get to the final of  this 5 or 6 days later, since it could be played best of three sets with matches played every day.
The last event would be this new nations teams challenge, starting after the doubles tournament is over and with the final on one of the last days of the Olympics. Each encounter could be played best of 7 matches starting with a singles and a women singles match then doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles. Most encounters should already be decided after this, obviously with no need to play dead rubbers like in Davis Cup (some ideas about that here) where it actually makes sense playing them, but should it not be decided then it would be an other women's singles match played by other players then those that played in the first one and the last match a male singles encounter.
It's a lot for one day but if started early it could be done, since the matches with tie break at 4 games all should typically last between 40 and 90 minutes, particularly because play should be continuous without let and by sitting down for a minute only every 4 games instead of every two, but particularly by allowing second serve only during tie breaks and thus making an ace a spectacular shot again.
In the early rounds some matches could be played simultaneously so this would considerably speed up everything so that it's actually only 3 or 4 slots per day and not 7.
Although tennis thrives on the direct elimination format, in this particular case the round robin format might even make sense cuz the occasional draw after the round robin encounters could be decided by an additional and quick singles match. To represent a good number of nations without taking too much time for the event, it could be done with 4 groups of 5 teams each, the round robin matches would take 4 days then a semi and a final, so the whole nations team event would not last more than 6 or 7 days and should attract new people to tennis.  



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2010/02/02

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

chess

 

"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...


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2010/01/06

BANG, BACK TO THE GRIND WITH THE WIZARDS OF OZ

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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2009/12/29

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.

iulaica?

 

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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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...


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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...


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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...

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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...


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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...

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