Archive for the ‘Tennis’ Category

AussieOpen
Tennis is back after a brief hiatus and we’re a little anxious.

Let me clarify, I’m a little anxious.

This year’s holiday season saw your correspondent consume far too much alcohol. To make matters worse was the rampant cigarette abuse. As a smoker for sometime I knew about the highs and lows. One smoke one day can be followed by the decimation of a pack the next. This wasn’t that. My mouth was the equivalent of a landfill found near a McDonald’s rendering plant.

I decided to quit. I had to.

Seven days later I’m still going strong, and aside from lashing out at 2-3 people a day for no reason I’m doing well.

My relationship with the Australian Open goes back a long way, with most of my memories consisting of smoking a cigarette at 4 am while watching a quarterfinal.

I won’t have my vice this year, but the excitement is still there. The most wide open major of the year falls in the month of January, where rust is constant and upsets remain bountiful. Read the rest of this entry »

Liptons 1991 Pic : Action Images  Jimmy Connors - USA
Hate is a strong word but it’s apt in this case. The tennis establishment hated Jimmy Connors. They hated his boorish on-court attitude. They hated how he treated his fellow players.

Connors didn’t come from the traditional tennis background. While the sport was dominated by country club folks with a lot of money and monocles by the box load, Connors was the outlier. A kid from East St.Louis that was coached by his demanding, task-master of a mom, Connors not only made it when he wasn’t supposed to, but excelled.

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Canada's Pospisil reacts after losing to Serbia's Tipsarevic after their Davis Cup semi-final tennis match in Belgrade
The last thing I want to do is make this a dear diary post, but it matters in this context. ‘Matters’ is being used loosely.

My love for tennis was the biggest thing I had in common with my dad growing up. We used to play a lot until his knees no longer allowed it. We lived and died on every point Pete Sampras won or lost. It was the same with Roger Federer. When I lived away from home our calls would focus on what happened in Rotterdam or Gstaad. Wherever the tour set up shop for the week.

My dad is no longer the person he once was. Age, issues both external and internal have conspired to make him unrecognizable. My family has battled through, but in the end we face the inevitable. We’re just riding out the last few years. Writing that one year ago would’ve been a lot more difficult, but here we are.

Canada almost made the Davis Cup final. They almost did the impossible, beating Serbia, on clay, in Serbia. A bunch of Canadians with great cutouts made their presence felt in Belgrade. Milos Raonic gutted out an intense five set win over Janko Tipsarevic on Friday. Milos Raonic gutted out a five set win on clay. That will never sound normal to me.

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Britain's Murray kisses trophy after defeating Serbia's Djokovic in the men's singles final match at the US Open  tennis tournament in New York

The moral degradation of society continues unabated. This isn’t about barbaric laws, athletes committing crimes or authority figures abusing their power.

Professional tennis has come to symbolize everything that is wrong with us.

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Rogers Cup

With most of the Tennis world’s focus on Montreal, a Romanian in Toronto became more than just another runner up.

Sorana Cirstea’s week in Toronto will be remembered for the giants she slayed and the one she couldn’t. Along the way a supporters group that consisted of half of Bucharest and a smattering of folks who live to cheer for the underdog took over the grounds at York University.

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eugeniebouchardWho are you and what are you doing here?

No one actually asked me that as I walked into the media room at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. It was me asking myself the question.

Breaching the line between fan and ‘journalist’ – I use the term loosely – was something on the check list for sometime. When the opportunity presented itself a few weeks ago it only made sense. Now or never.

And yet it was with a feeling of trepidation and cat calls of ‘coward!’ echoing out in my head that I began a day chock-full of watching, evading and listening at the Rexall Centre. I know. What a coward.

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The Championships - Wimbledon 2013: Day OneIn terms of what we see today, the 1994 Men’s final at Wimbledon was the beginning of the end. Pete Sampras and Goran Ivanisevic led a serve and volley masterclass on centre court. Points ended in seconds. Spectators risked missing three games with a trip to the restroom. Their first serves were bombs. Their second serves were only slightly less powerful. Sampras prevailed 7-6, 7-6. 6-0 and won his fifth grand slam.

The media wasn’t happy. This wasn’t tennis they shouted, citing the lack of rallies that made the French Open a grueling litmus test. Calls for slower courts were implemented throughout the 90s, and as the big servers faded into their elder years, the baseliners took over. The serve and volley at Wimbledon was no longer the only way to win. The likes of Lleyton Hewitt and David Nalbandian were making finals while Tim Henman valiantly advanced towards inevitable defeat.

And then Roger came. The serve and volley was in again, as Federer captured his first Wimbledon trophy employing a style that hearkened back to Sampras while also executing his own brand of sublime ground strokes, ones that have become common place amongst the top players today. Today, it’s the all rounders dominating the game. There will be no Richard Kraijeck at this year’s tournament. In one sense, that’s progress. But the image of Mahut and Isner on the verge of passing out on court lingers.

Playing tennis on grass will never look normal to me. I was obsessed with Wimbledon from the moment Andre Agassi and Todd Martin went five sets in 94. The breakfast at Wimbledon theme, the monocle clad elites in the royal box. It was the sporting version of a fairytale.

There were no grass courts where I grew up. Instead, we used a freshly cut soccer field to try and emulate our idols. It didn’t work so well. To this day I’m not sure how tennis on grass works at all.

For the weekend warriors out their without the means to scam their way into the posher country clubs, we’re left waiting for Wimbledon. The grass court season is depressingly short. In turn the next two weeks are a respite from clay and concrete. Church Road is the place to be in late June.

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