Taylor Fritz – New sensation in Tennis world

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New tennis kid is on the block… Every year we hear a story of an upcoming tennis star who we think can be a future legend. One such name that is doing rounds in the tennis circuit is American Taylor Fritz. Just a year into turning professional, Fritz has been awarded the ATP star of tomorrow. It is a feat that he calls surreal and an assurance that he is headed towards the right direction.

This year has been remarkable for this 19 year old in many other ways. He finishes off the 2016 season with being the youngest tennis player in the top 100. Fritz began the year at number 177 in the world and is currently ranked world number 70. However, he has already edged close to the top 50, his highest being 53 in August.

At the beginning of 2015, Fritz was already showing his special skills while playing junior tennis. He reached at least the quarterfinals of all 4 junior Grand Slams including the final of French open and winning the US open.

His achievements in the Grand Slams helped him reach the Numero Uno spot in boy’s junior tennis player. Fritz also became the first American since Donald Young (2005) and Andy Roddick (2000) to be named the 2015 ITF Junior World Champion.

2016 was like a beginning of a new era for Taylor Fritz. He became the youngest American to reach the ATP final since Michel Chang in 1988, when he made it to the finals of the Memphis.  In February, Fritz cracked the Top 100 for the first time by reaching the quarter-finals in Acapulco, his first career ATP 500 event. Since then, there has not been looking back for Fritz.

Tennis pundits have already started comparing him with Tennis Legend Pete Sampras who happens to be his idol as well because of big serves and heavy ground strokes. Fritz has also had practice sessions with the likes of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic and both of them believe that Taylor has a talent and the caliber to be a future champion. So, everything seems to be going on Taylor’s way.

Well, personally also Taylor Fritz has everything fallen in place of him. You don’t generally see players who are trying to make mark professionally getting married sooo young. But Fritz did and for him it indeed was the right thing to do. Fritz got married to Raquel Pedraza in California in July this year after two years of dating, breaking so many hearts. Now that everything is settled in his personal life, we hope he begins the new season with many wins on court.

 

 

Tennis Players and Coaches

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What makes a great tennis player? Hard work, determination and years of practice…Yes, true, but the importance of a coach cannot be ruled out either. The experience of your coach, his way of teaching some small little secrets can make a hell lot of difference between a great player and an ordinary player.

What caught my attention in recent past is the fact there have been so many yesterday’s stars that have either coached or are still coaching today’s stars. Looks like it is extremely difficult to give up something so dear to you and you look ways to be attached to it in one form or the other.

Since couple of years, it kind of became a trend to rope in former greats as coaches. And the trend is seen more in men’s tennis than in Women’s. Swiss Great Roger Federer was once coached by Former Great Stefan Edberg , and now another former player Ivan Ljubicic, Ivan Lendl coaches Andy Murray ,World number one Novak Djokovic’s is being coached by Former German champion Boris Becker and former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic coached country man Marin Cilic . All these players have given some very very good results in their career under their respective coaches.  Not only that, Richard Gasquet has joined forces with former two time  French Open winner Sergi Bruguera, and the Japanese star Kei Nishikori has been coached by another former French Open champion Michael Chang since 2014. Under his guidance only, Nishikori achieved his highest singles ranking of world number 4 last year. Players who have parted ways with former champions have joined hands with new Coaches who too have been either a former player, former Grand Slam Champion or a doubles specialist.

Former great John McEnroe was no exception to that.. He coached Canadian Milos Raonic for an extremely short period but even that resulted in Raonic reaching the Wimbledon final this year. It is  a clear indication that players who have hung their racquets are keen in picking it up too .. So what if it is on a different level!.

The women tennis however is yet to follow the men’s lead but we certainly have witnessed great players occasionally giving tips to some young guns or working as a part timers.

Martina Navratilova was as a part time coach to Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland  before parting ways and Occasionally, we have also witnessed 5 time Grand Slam Champion Martina Hingis being part of the coaching squad to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Former Wimbledon and Australian open champion Amelie Mauresmo broke the stereotype when she accepted the invitation of being Andy Murray’s coach. The Partnership did not last long though with Mauresmo citing Murray’s on court behavior towards his team as the reason for her to quit.

Mauresmo though had a successful run with Marion Bartoli whom she helped coaching enroute to Bartoli’s Wimbledon win.

If we look at how these coaches have shaped up some of the male tennis players’ career, we will find some astonishing results.

Djokovic and Boris Becker

World number one Novak Djokovic has had no less than 8 coaches till date. But his most stable partnership has come with Boris Becker who has been coaching the Serb since 2013. Djoker has won 7 of his 12 Grand Slams under him. Not only this, Under Becker Djokoivc has reached other heights as well. He has held the world number one spot for 124 weeks and became only the 8th player in the history to achieve the Career Grand Slam (After winning the 2016 French Open title.). The best team result came in 2015 when Novak  made 15 straight finals and won 11 titles – including three Grand Slams and a record six Masters 1000 trophies – en route to an 82-6 mark.

Roger Federer and Stefan Edberg

The Partnership lasted for two wonderful years.. Although, the Swiss Maestro failed to add any Grand Slam to his kitty under Edberg, but the former world number one added 11 ATP trophies in his trophy cabinet.Edberg has been Federer’s childhood idol and the two brought up fighting spirit back in Federer’s mind. They ended their partnership last year and now Ivan Ljubicic has entered the lavishing team of Federer, another former player.

Ivan Lendl and Andy Murray

Andy Murray has won all three of his Major under Ivan Lendl. The 2012 US open, the 2013 Wimbledon (Putting a full stop on endless wait of a Briton winning the Wimbledon.) and 2016 Wimbledon and Olympic Gold. The Briton however,  for a brief period of time hired another Grand Slam champion and appeared to have started a new trend.. a Woman coaching a Man. AmelieMauresmo was roped in  but failed to give desired results. And once again, Murray went back to Lendl… this time too, Lendl did what other’s fail.. Win another Grand Slam…The 2016 Wimbledon, his second.

Marin Cilic’s only Grand Slam victory came under Former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic. He is currently being coached by another former tennis player and doubles specialist Jonas Lars Björkman.

So, why did we see such a huge influx of former tennis players into coaching in the recent past? The biggest advantage for the players to be coached by former players is perhaps the experience they have. They have been on the biggest stage, understand the pressure and have tricks to cope with it and they know what works and what does not.

For years we have seen former tennis players who were still hungry to achieve the goals they did not in their time made the most of the list. Brad Gilbret is a perfect example of this… He reached as high as world number 4 in his career but failed to cross the Quarterfinal hurdle in any Major. But what he did with Andre Agassi was simply extraordinary. He is one of the best coaches in the tennis world. He used Andre Agassi’s strength to the core and helped him win 6 of his 8 Grand Slams.But it is not about what you did.. It’s about what your player does and how your player does. Also, one of the best coaches a perhaps those had less and made the best of it. Apart from Agassi, Gilbret also coached players like Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick, Andy Murray but none yielded the desired results. That’s also leads to another point that what works for one player will not necessarily work for others.

Who can forget the efforts of Larry Stefanki who himself who never really had successful tennis career but coached tennis greats like  John McEnroe , Tim Henman , Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova and Yevgeny Kafelnikov.Money off course is another reason why coaches enter into the coaching world. Coaches these Days get paid extremely well.

Another name in the fray is of Ivan Ljubicic. The former player from Croatia reached a career high ranking of world number 3 but was never really successful when it came to big tournaments. He won men’s doubles bronze medal in 2004 Olympics. He hung his racket in 2012 and three years later has been named coach of Roger Federer..

Interesting fact here is that Roger Federer is 35 years old and Ljubicic is 37. So it is not that age is the main criteria for players when it comes to choosing their coaches. its is a personal choice and what a player works best for him.

Others include the likes of Magnus Norman and 1996 wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek who are busy shaping Stanislas Wawrinka’s bright future.

Also, being a successful tennis player does not guarantee you to be a successful coach and vice-versa. It also does not mean that one particular coach will be as effective to other player as former.. It absolutely depends upon an individual player and its rapport with the team. But looking at the successive rates, you may expect the trend to continue for quite some time.

STAN THE MAN- “WOW”RINKA

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Enough with the talks of Big 4 and their dominance in the world of men’s tennis..It’s now time to talk about Number 5. Like in the women’s section, the Flushing Meadows found its new champion in men’s singles- Wawrinka. The Swiss third seed lit up the stadium with some glorious tennis for almost 4 hours to capture his first US OPEN and second Major. Wawrinka now needs a Wimbledon trophy to complete his slams collection. The Swiss player found his lost confidence just in time to beat world number one Novak Djokovic in 4 sets 6-7 6-4 7-5 6-3. En route to his final, Wawrinka played twice the amount of tennis as the Serb and it seemed to have worked for a man who almost crashed out of the tournament in the third round. Wawrinka faced a match point against Briton Dan Evans in the 4th set tie-breaker. Wawrinka kept his cool to win the 4th set and then went onto win the match in 5 sets.

At 31, Wawrinka is the oldest male US Open champion since 35-year-old Ken Rosewall in 1970. He is also only the fifth man in the Open era to win more than one major tournament after turning 30, following Rosewall, Rod Laver, Andre Agassi and Jimmy Connors.  It was an 11th consecutive win in a championship match for Wawrinka, dating to 2014.

His 3-0 record at the Grand Slams finals clearly shows his revival and Iron will. For long, he played under the shadow of his compatriot tennis great Roger Federer and his emergence as a credible tennis player has taken some time to come.. He was known to be one of the most unpredictable players on circuit. He used to hit some of the best tennis shots in a game and than making one of the most stupid mistakes on the next. But in recent past, if you would notice a change in his attitude on court, he has a trademark -Pointing his index figure to his temple. Perhaps, telling us that he is a changed man. The results too indicate the same. He is courageous and aggressive yet less reckless and calmer.

An interesting thing that I noticed was that he has “Stan the man”- with two Majors trophies he won earlier (Australian Open and French Open) engraved on his kit. Well, that’s typical of Stanislas Wawrinka’s personality. I am sure he will now have the third one engraved too.  At 31, he has pocketed three Grand Slams and is still looking strong and capable of adding more under his belt. Stanislas does not think he fits in the big 4 category considering the amount of years the Quartet have played and his own record against them. But we all know, he is a man to stay to watch out for in future.

THE QUEEN OF TENNIS- ANGELIQUE KERBER

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Three Grand Slams Finals…Two wins…An Olympic Silver Medal and world number one ranking…Well it will not be an exaggeration to term the year 2016 as a “Kerber Year” in the world of tennis. What a spectacular season the German has had… Angleique Kerber won the last major of the year US OPEN after beating a resilient Czech player Karoline Plikosva in three sets 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in 2 hours and 8 minutes. With this win, Kerber also became the first German in 20 years after Steffi Graf (1996) to win the US OPEN.

Under severe humid conditions at the centre court, both the players played a tight and intense match much to the delight of a vociferous crowd. It all began with Kerber playing an aggressive tennis in the first set. She broke Pliskova’s serve in the first set and did not face much challenge thereafter either. German won the first set 6-3. Plikosvoa, playing her first Major final, used her power weapon- her big first Serve, picked up the pace and upped the ante in the second.  It was a tense third set in which both showed their netal toughness and refused to surrender. Kerber battled back from a 1-3 deficit to break Pliskova’s serve the final game and fall to the ground in triumph.  It took Kerber 12 years to make an impact on the tour and now that she has done it; it’s no looking back for her. The last time Kerber reached a semifinal of any major was in 2011and it was not until 2012 that she managed to win her first WTA title. But she never gave up.

She always thrived on her childhood dream of being a Grand Slam Champion and World Number one. So, she Practiced harder, increased her physical fitness to play longer on the court and slowly but steadily began to show what truly she is capable of. (Her quick movements in the decider set gave a clear edge over Pliksova who was visibly tired and fatigued.)

We all know the 28 year old does not have a particularly powerful serve or forehand. But her speed on the court is to die for. You hit a ball wherever you want; she will be present there to return it. She hardly missed any returns throughout the tournament and has one of the best two- handed Backhands in the circuit. Speed, steadiness and patience have been key factors to Kerber’s recent success. She waits for a loose ball from her opponent and returns it with precision and accuracy. The third set of the final was a clear example of that. Age is no bar for Angelique Kerber as at 28, she is the oldest world number one women tennis player and dethroned Serena Williams from her Numero Uno position, ending her remarkable streak of 186 weeks at the top. She has also proved that now she is the one to beat in women’s tennis. She is certainly not stopping here and her prime has just begun and we hope it continues. The win of Angelique Kerber and the emergence of players like Karoline Pliksova, Simona Halep and Muguruza Garbine clearly show the Renaissance of tennis.

Who will be the New Queen of the US OPEN

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The final Grand Slam of the year – US OPEN is nearing its end and once again we will witness a new champion in the ladies singles section. Serena Williams was stunned by Karolína Plíšková of Czech Republic in a match that was mired by Williams’ injury. But we cannot take away the credit from the 24 year old who displayed a nearly flawless 85 minutes of tennis to reach her first major Final. The best part of the match for me was the way Pliskova judged Serena Williams’ serve, a trick that the American has always applied to defeat her opponent. After this loss, Serena is now tied with German Great Steffi Graf for the record of Open era Slams at 22. She also lost her world No. 1 ranking, for the first time in 186 weeks — another record she now must share with Graf. Serena’s left knee was surely troubling her throughout the match as she was visibly slow on court and limping towards the end. She perhaps did not get much time to recover after her marathon Quarterfinals against Simona Halep.

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Pliskova on the other hand is playing perhaps the best tennis of her life and her fearless attitude on court has made her reach where she has. Her quick movement and correct judgment on court is impeccable and she is one step from what could be her best moment ever. The Czech Player is also only the third woman to beat both the Williams’ sisters at the US Open. (Pliskova earlier outclassed Venus Williams.).  Karoline Pliskova has lost just one set en route to her final and has defeated players like kenn, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and also ended Ana Konjuh’s dream run in the tournament.

Career Highlights of Pliskova

  • Plíšková has won six singles and five doubles titles on theWTA tour
  • She also won ten singles and six doubles titles on theITF circuit in her career.
  • She reached her best singles ranking of world number 7 in August 2016.
  • On 26 June 2016, she peaked at world number 19 in the doubles rankings.
  • As a junior, Plíšková won thegirls’ singles event at the 2010 Australian Open,
  • Plíšková and her sister Kristýna became the first twin sisters to win a doubles title in WTA history in 2013.

 

Pliskova will face Angelique Kerber in the finals.  Angelique Kerber is the new world number one and has reached her third major final this year… She is having the best time on tour and is a red hot favorutie to win the title. She was world number 10 at the beginning of the season trailing Serena by 6,355 points and by the end of the season she now leads the American with 980 points. She defeated Caroline Wozniacki in the semis to make it to the final. Kerber did not have much trouble in beating her Danish Opponent. Kerber won in straight sets.

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The experience surely is on the German’s side, with Kerber having already won Australian open this year. She has not been really tested throughout the tournament (She has not dropped a set yet) and is looking fit and ferocious with each progressing match. En route to her finals, Kerber has beaten some top notch players like last year’s runner up Vinci and Two times Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova. Her toughness and determination will be a key to the way she plays in the final. The 28 year old however needs to focus on her game and not get lost in the glory of being the World number one. She by no means can take Pliskova lightly and need to attack her serve from the word go. History is in the offering for Kerber as she is eyeing to be the first German after Steffi Graf to win the US OPEN.  (Graf won her last US Open in 1996) The final will be the match of big serves and baseline play. All in all, we can expect a mouthwatering clash to end the Grand Slam season this year.

Interesting fact- Karoline Ploskvoa beat Angelique Kerber in the Cincinati open to snatch the world number one ranking from her…and she is the one who handed it over to her by beating Serena Williams at the US Open

Little too FaT…little too SkinnY

Marion-Bartoli old pic
“I am too fat for you.?”

 

bartoli slim photo
“I am too skinny for you?”

When in 2013, defying all odds, French woman Marion Bartoli won Wimbledon, she was termed as Fat, Pig and Ugly winner of the Venus Rosewater Dish. She was criticized for her serve run up as well as her mobility on court… So much so, we all remember BBC commentator John Inverdale’s sexist comments that cost him his job.

Cut to 2016, we saw an extremely thin Bartoli. Apparently she has reduced a lot of kilos  and is looking sick. So naturally, a section of social media users especially people on Twitter began to scan her, began to understand her problem and believe it or not, they understood her problem as well.. That she is Anorexic, about to die, suddenly people were worried about her health .is she sick!, OMG what is wrong with her ? , what has she done to herself? She looks pathetic and so on. So basically, when you have muscles, you are fat…And when not…you are Anorexic and sick. The breakneck speed in which we judge someone and body shame them just blows my mind. I am being honest here it is not that her appearance did not surprise me. I myself believe that there is a stark difference in her appearance from 2013 but does that give me the right to shame her? that too without knowing the reason behind it? The way social media reacted and comments that some wrote, surprised me the most. There are so many male players from different walks of sport, are they shamed like that? It is absolutely not Men vs Women issue; because I know there are so many women itself that body shames other women. It’s about understanding somebody and definitely not judging. Aren’t we told to respect everyone’s body type. Isn’t there are so many ads, and campaigns that are breaking the old shackles and teaching us to not to judge or have preconceived notions about anybody? Isn’t the beauty of human race is that everyone’s body is different and it is not the right way to measure the credentials of anyone?   By just terming some one’s body shape as “fat” or “skinny” aren’t we unnecessarily perpetuating beauty  standards? Haven’t we learnt anything?

Bartoli claimed that a virus that infected her in India is the main reason behind her weight loss and that she has been undergoing blood transfusion to survive. Whatever may be the reason, body shaming in any case is not acceptable. I am surprised that so many players from different sport have been subjected to it. Tennis legend Serena Williams has faced it all. Her built has been a topic of cheap laughter among audiences. The most surprising part was the fact that “her eyebrows are so bushy” was inevitably  trending on twitter when she won her 21st Grand Slam. The unfortunate fact is there is a  stark difference of how women players should be like is not limited to spectators or commentators. The shaming is seen even in higher officials and so called intellectual people.

I remember a Tennis great  calling Daniela Hantchova too skinny to play a power pact game for longer duration and cited it the main reason for her losses in the matches that are stretched to three sets. Perhaps he did not know, calling someone skinny is as insulting as calling someone a nigro.

Bethanie Mattek Sands’ colorful attire too raised many eyebrows and was also termed overweight to be a tennis player.

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“My socks are too high for you?”

Oh yes, “Anna Kournikova is extremely beautiful and hence could not win matches”. I remember a well known cricket commentator  who was commentating on some match (don’t remember who was playing) but it was June and Wimbledon was about to begin. He said to his fellow commentators that if you want to see the beautiful Russian Ana, than you better hurry, otherwise she will be out of the tournament and then there was a humongous laughter in the commentary box.! In the recently concluded Rio Olympics, Mexican gymnast Alexa Moreno too suffered abuse for her size after she faltered at the bar. One of her bully wrote: “Alexa Moreno has the body of two gymnasts together; a diet before going to the Olympics would have been nice.”

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“My eyebrows are too busy for you ?”
alex moreno
“I faltered at the bar because i am fat?”

It is not that everybody is the same and for sure there are so many people who always come forward to give support to players  but there is a small section of people who think just because they have registered their names on different social media with a password, they can say whatever they like. This certainly is not a sign of a progressive world. We are no doubt entitled to our view but as the Spider Man says – With power comes great responsibility and one should always keep that in mind.

 

 

Tennis Results Overall @ Rio Olympics

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History created… Puerto Rica wins first ever Gold Medal in Olympics

Hardly anybody knew Monica Puig before the start of the Tennis event at the Rio Olympics, but the 22 year old made sure on 13th of August (IST) 2016 that her name goes down in the History books… that everybody remembers her name now.  The Puerto Rican created history by becoming the first athlete (Men or Women) to win an Olympic gold for her country.  puig

She beat Germany’s Angelique Kerber (perhaps the favorite to win) in a pulsating three set match 6-4 4-6 6-1 to win the women’s singles Gold Medal. The current world number 33,  Puig never ever had even reached beyond the 4th round of any major, before this triumph. She holds a career record of 220-139 in singles and has won one WTA title so far. Her execution and precision on the D day was just  spot on and Kerber who was aiming to win a medal for Germany in tennis since Steffi Graf did it in 1992, could not match up to her. Puig claimed the first set as Kerber suffered a shoulder injury. But the German roared back in a close second, onoonly for Puig to run away with the third. Puig is also the only unseeded player to win gold since the reintroduction of tennis in 1988. Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic beat USA’s Madison Keys in three sets 7-5 2-6 6-2 to win bronze.

Murray…..Murray….

When Juan Martin Del Porto and Britain’s Andy Murray stepped onto the tennis court, a high octane match was expected from them.. Neither of them disappointed and produced some of the best tennis for the delight of spectators. In a see-saw match, It was Andy Murray who came Triumphant  after a grueling battle of 4 hours to clinch the Gold Medal. Murray became the first tennis player to win two Olympic singles title. The Brit won 7-5 4-6 6-2 7-5.

After losing a scintillating semifinal clash to Juan Martin Del Potro, Rafael Nadal was visibly tired and fatigued when he took on Kei Nshikori in the Bronze Medal match. The Japanese took the opening set in no time. He was at one time leading 5-2 in the second set and was serving for the match; Nadal however, upped the ante by winning 4 games in row and eventually taking the second set in a tie breaker, forcing the match into decider. The third set meanwhile had a totally different story to tell. Nishikori held his nerves to seal the match in three sets to win an Olympic Medal for Japan in tennis since 1920. (in 96 years)

Mixed Doubles- USA Dominates

Veteran tennis player Venus Williams signed off the Rio Olympics on a high note after having not so good run at the mega event. Venus Williams and her mixed doubles partner Rajeev Ram gave a tough fight to their counterpart Jack Sock and Bethani Mattek-Sands in the Gold Medal match, but it was the latter duo who won the Yellow Metal.

mixed doubles

After losing the Semifinals against the American pair of Rajeev Ram and Venus Williams, Indian combine Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna had to come all guns blazing in their Bronze medal encounter against the Czech pair of veteran Radek Stepanek and Hradecka. Mirza and Bopanna failed to do that and lost the match in straight sets 6-1 7-5 to the Czech Republic pair, finishing 4th.

Men’s doubles – Vamos Spain !

Men doubles

When Rafael Nadal began his quest for second Gold medal at Rio, he still was not fully recovered. Despite of that he put his best foot forward and won the men’s doubles Gold.  Partnering Marc Lopez, the Spanish pair beat the Romanian pair of Mergea and Tecau in a pulsating three sets 6-2 3-6 6-4. The Bronze medal match was won by American duo Sock and Johanson. They defeated Canadian Pair of Pospisal and Daniel Nestor.

Women’s doubles — Russia is the best

Russian pair of Ekaerina Makarova and Elena Vesnina held their heads high as they won the Gold medal in the women doubles. Both known for their high quality game have previously captured 2013 French Open and 2014 US open together. They out classed Switzerland’s pair of Martina Hingis (who was making her Olympics appearance after 20 years) and Timea Bacsinszky in straight sets to make sure that Russian National anthem was sung for the 7th time till now at Rio. The fate of the Bronze medal was decided in an all Czech Encounter. Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova beat their compatriots Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka in straight sets, 7-5, 6-1 to complete the podium.

Major Upsets

The Tennis event at the 2016 Rio Olympics, gave some of the most bizarre and unexpected results…All the A list players competed in the event (In all categories). It was supposed to be a usual affair for Williams’ sisters who were undefeated at the Quadrennial event. But the hard court of Rio had other plans for them. They were outclassed by the combo of Czech Republic pair of Lucy Safarova and Strycova. In the singles too, it was soon curtains for them. Other top ranked players too faltered in the early stages.

India’s Overall Show

India drew blank in tennis. The team lost both their Men’s Doubles and women’s doubles matches in the opening round. While, the Pair of Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna lost to polish pair of Matkowski and Kewitt, Sania Mirza and her partner Prarthana Thambore were shown the door by Chinese pair of Zhang and Peng in a three set thriller.

TRIVIA -Unlike previous editions of the Olympic event, the 2016 Olympic tournament does not offer ranking points for the players.

Tennis was reintroduced in Olympics in 1988 and since then has not been excluded.

Tennis Medal Standings

USA – 1 Gold Medal (Mixed Doubles),   1 Silver Medal (Mixed Doubles) and 1 Bronze Medal (Men’s Doubles)

Spain- 1 Gold (Men’s Doubles)

Puerto Rico – 1 Gold Medal (Women Singles)

Russia- 1 Gold Medal(Women’s Doubles)

Germany – 1 Silver Medal (Women Singles)

Romania- 1 Silver Medal( Men’s doubles)

Switzerland-1Silver (Women doubles)

Japan- 1 Bronze Medal(Men’s Singles)

Czech Republic – 3 bronze Medals (Women Singles, Mixed Doubles and Women’s doubles)

India – None

THAMBORE ALL SET FOR HER DEBUT AT RIO

Prarthana-Thombare

Coming from a small town of Barshi, Maharastra to partnering her Idol Sania Mirza in the women’s doubles tennis on the biggest tournament of her life -Rio Olympics, Prarthana Thambore’s life has been nothing short of an Inspiring story. Tennis as a sport is considered to be an elite game but Prarthana’s entry has broken all the stereotypes. She is making her debut at the Olympics and is not leaving any stone unturn to grab a medal the Quadrennial event.

“Tennis was a different sport than what I had learned…” is what the 22 year old shy girl has to say when she first held the tennis racket at her village. There was no TV, not many people who knew the actual Tennis Rules. But that did not deter her determination and now she is all set to play for her country in a very coveted tournament. She is training hard to fine tune her volley and getting that finish on her forehand.

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Prarthana is extremely talented player.. The Past results justify my statement. She was just 10 years old when she won the U-14 nationals. Prarthana was defeating a lot of senior girls at such a tender age. She has won 3 singles and 17 doubles title on ITF tour in her career so far out of which 11 titles (singles & doubles) came in the last itself. Not only that, she has 12-4 record when playing at Fed Cup for India. She has also represented India in the U-16 and U-18 and U-21 categories, showcasing her talent and rising as one of the brightest future star of our country. In 2008, Prarthana reached the peak of her junior career by being selected as the top player in Asia. A master’s event which pitted the best juniors against each other saw her lift the individual singles title, helping her reach continental stardom. She also reached at world number 208 in the doubles rankings, her best so far. Prarthana’s father saw potential in her daughter and shifted base to Pune to pursue her rising tennis career. She then changed her base to Hyderabad. The interesting thing is that Prarthana is being coached by her Idol, Sania Mirza’s father Imran Mirza. Imran Mirza has played a big role in rekindling Thambore’s tennis prospects.

Her biggest achievement so far has been a bronze medal win at the 2014 Aisan Games women’s doubles. The win came with her partner Sania herself. I guess, that was the reason Sania picked her for the women’s doubles at Rio. They both share a cordial relationship both on and off court.

A lot will relay on Sania when the two will step onto the tennis court in some days time. The world Number one will have to take the charge but Prarthana sure will complement Mirza with her run and accuracy on court.

The Indian combo no doubt will face tough challenges from the likes of Williams Sisters, Italian pair of Sara Errani and Roberto Vinci and French duo of Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic ( the French open doubles champions )but they are ready to create some upsets. All in all, let’s hope the magic is created when these two step onto the court…

 

S for Serena… S for Supreme … W for Williams .. W for winner

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When Serena Williams and Angleque Kerber stepped onto the center court of Wimbledon, the common thread between them was the lady I have admired, got inspiration from and certainly in head over heals with- STEFI GRAF ..

If one was trying to equal the record of the German’s great 22 Grand Slams in open era, than the other was trying to become the first German since Graf to capture the coveted title of Wimbledon.

Now if you ask me honestly, ( Sorry to all the Serena fans..) I do not want whatsoever any one EVER… to beat or come close to Graf’s achievements. ( I guess that’s what is considered to be an obsessive fan.. hmmm… ) Anyways, So my heart was with Kerber and my head with Williams. After failing to achieve the feat on two occasions ( First in Australian open where she was beaten by Angleque Kerber  and than on the red clay , where she was defeated by Garbiñe Muguruza) , the younger Williams was a dominant force which Kerber this time failed to stop despite putting up a brave fight.. So there she was SERENA WILLIAMS, the proud Wimbledon champion for the 7th time ( Again equally the number of Wimbledon titles  held by Steffi Graf )… The proud 22 major holder.( Finally the burden was off her shoulder).

That got me thinking, for the past decade or so, Serena has been dominating the women’s tennis circuit.  If you look at the records of Major winners who are still playing, Serena has 22 Grand Slams and the lady that stands second to her is none other than her elder sister Venus Williams who has 7. ( THE WILLIAMS POWER). The podium is completed by Russian star Maria Sharapova who has 5 (and now is banned for taking performance enhancing drugs). The other champions include Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitova , Svetlana Kuznetsova who have two majors each. The difference in the win clearly shows that the younger Williams is a force to reckon with. Some pundits have claimed that such is the dominance of Serena that it’s making women’s tennis boring. ( I honestly have a 50-50 opinion on this.)

Some of the Records held by Serena Williams-

You name the record and she has it.. She is the only tennis player – female or male – to have won singles titles at least six times in three of the four Grand Slam tournaments. She is also the only tennis player to have won 10 Grand Slam singles titles in two separate decades. She has won an all-time record 12 Grand Slam singles titles on hardcourt. Williams also holds the Open Era record for most titles at the Australian Open (which she has won it 6 times). She is at the moment second in all time Grand Slams champion’s list behind the great Margart Court who has 24 ..Etc etc etc….

Her contemporaries are far behind her in almost all aspects.  At her best, she is unbeatable. Her opponents come onto the court just to increase the duration of defeat.  See some of the matches she has played recently in Grand Slams and you will know what I am talking about. In her initial round matches, where her opponents were happy and celebrating a “game’ win like they have won the match. That’s the kind of power she has.

Bagels, Double bagels and breadsticks have been her norms of winning.

Her Strengths

Tennis as we all know requires physical strength and Physical fitness as much as mental strength and mental fitness. Serena is a supreme example of both. Her court coverage, her ferocious serve, her timing of volleying during a match and the ability to hold her nerves on crunch situations says it all.

she is 34 years old but plays  like a 19 year old giving her opponents a run for their money. Believe it or not, She has won 9 majors since turning 30. Talk about money, She became the highest paid female athlete in 2016 after earning around $30 million in prize money and endorsements.

Her Struggles

But her life has not always been like that. As she herself says she is a fighter and a survivor, her life is a living example of it. From facing racial discrimination and being bullied by her tennis prodigies during her childhood to losing one of her sister in an attack and facing a life threatening injury some years back that almost forced her to quit the game, Serena Williams not doubt has come triumphant and beaten all odds. Off court she is a trend setter (with her choices of attires and sometimes her emotions and grunts while playing) and on court she is an inspiration to many. She has dominated the women’s tennis for more than a decade now and continues to do the same. Having said that she is a human at the end of day, despite of her saying many times that she is now not thinking about concurring the number 24, we all know she is and we hope she does… Because she is a true champion and deserves all the accolades and achievements.