While you’re sitting around eating turkey and thinking about all the things you’re thankful for, take some time to give thanks to all the wonderful things going on in the world of tennis! Here’s our Top 10 reasons to give thanks. Vote for your favorite here!
10. Redfoo What’s not to love about the LMFAO star and boyfriend of Victoria Azarenka who is as omnipresent in the tennis world as most players, analysts, and agents. He fancies himself a strong player, too, as he tried to qualify for the US Open this past summer. That didn’t go so well. Perhaps he will practice up and be next year’s bracket buster at Flushing Meadows!
9. Bartoli’s Bittersweet Year Marion Bartoli achieved her crowning moment as she shocked the world and won her first Grand Slam title this year at Wimbledon. She then, unfortunately and surprisingly, retired just weeks later citing, “My body just can’t do it anymore.” She was a great champion and ambassador for the game, and she will be missed!
8. Bryan Brothers It was heartbreaking to watch the brothers lose to Paes-Stephanek in three sets in the US Open semifinals. They were on track to complete a calendar Grand Slam, becoming the first team to capture all four majors in one season since Frank Sedgman and Ken McGregor in 1951. But the Indian-Czech duo was too strong. Still, they ended the season with a career-best match record of 70-13. Not too shabby for the tour veterans.
7. Twitter and Tennis Players Who needs to write fan mail when you can tweet your favorite player? Not that they’ll respond, but this microblogging keeps the fans up-to-date on the thoughts and happenings of our beloved tennis stars. Federer in particular is very active, hosting #AskRF sessions for his fans. Check out The top 13 things learned from Roger Federer’s Twitter Q&A.
6. Spring Break at the Sony Open and the BNP Paribas Open Although they are battling for the title of the 5th Grand Slam, we couldn’t care less. Both tournaments offer a warm getaway for us tennis fans in March to see both the top men and women compete on American soil. Which one is better? Find out for yourself and check out Topnotch Tennis Tours’ packages to the Sony Open and BNP Paribas Open.
5. Sloane Stephens Breakthrough Winning the title in Brisbane and easily making her way to the Australian Open quarterfinals only validated the critics’ opinions that Serena was the favorite for the title – that was until she faced Sloane Stephens who at the time was the only teenager in the top 50 playing in her first Grand Slam quarterfinal with no Top 10 wins to date. Despite losing the opening set, Stephens rallied back in the second to force a third, winning 3-6, 7-5 6-4.
4. Davis Cup The Davis Cup is unlike any other tennis event in the world. Set up in a team format, it is no longer just a metaphorical ‘boxing-match’ between opponents, but a battle between opponents, sidelines, and the fans. While still largely acknowledged, the hush-hush atmosphere of a tennis match goes out the window, giving way to boisterous fans clad in face paint and flags. We’re already counting down the days to the Davis Cup Tie against Great Britain in San Diego, CA.
3. Serena Williams What more can she possibly add to her remarkable resume? Apparently, a lot. At 32 years old, Serena just completed her most successful year ever with 11 titles, adding her 16th and 17th Grand Slams. Oh, should we mention she also had her longest winning streak (34 matches), won her 600th career match, became the oldest woman to hold the world #1 spot, earned her career best winning percentage, and also set the record for most prize money won in a year ($12.35 million!), 4 million dollars more than the previous record! Yikes, it looks like she is FAR from done.
2. Murray Wins Wimbledon Murray finally “got the monkey off his back” becoming the first British man in 77 years to raise the trophy at the All England Club. And he beat Djokovic, the top seed no less, in three sets 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 on that gorgeous and memorable Sunday afternoon. The strawberries and cream tasted extra sweet that day.
1. Nadal-Djokovic Rivalry The ATP tour felt incomplete with Nadal’s absence after Wimbledon in 2012 until his comeback in early 2013. Since then, he has won 10 titles from 14 finals, ending the season at #1 with a 75-7 match record– 3 of those loses to Djokovic (they are 3-3 in 2013). Djokovic picked up his sixth major trophy at the Australian Open and also had a great year, ending with a 74-9 match record and ranked #2. Nadal leads the rivalry 22 to 17 in match wins, making the duo a must-see for tennis fans in 2014, especially the Grand Slam opener in Melbourne.
The Davis Cup is an event unlike any other in the tennis community. Blending patriotism and top-level competition, the aura surrounding each Tie is a major digression from the loneliness top players experience on court at every other event. Crazed fans painted and draped in their national colors fill the stands and players remain on the sidelines to support their compatriots, even after long five set matches. The players love playing for country, as it must feel like an escape from their daily grind that breeds, and even requires a degree of selfishness to experience real success. However, after attending the Davis Cup quarterfinals in Boise last spring in which the Americans got spanked by the Serbians, I found an inexplicable lack of energy from the American side that was downright disappointing, and frankly, embarrassing.
As we begin preparing for the 2014 Davis Cup, I came across a cool infographic about the history of the Davis Cup, and it further compounded my feelings about the American team. The resounding theme across the infographic is this: the USA has been the dominant force in Davis Cup play since its inception over a century ago. They have won thirty-two titles, four more than Australia, and twenty-three more than France and Great Britain, who are tied for third most titles. They have won the most consecutive Davis Cups and have the longest streak of consecutive Tie wins. Couple that with the amount of pride Americans put into their sports, and you’d think that the players would step up, be loud, support each other, and bring the type of palpable enthusiasm that electrifies the fans.
Instead, in Boise, the players left the court after their matches (at no point could you find any of the starting players on the court while any of the other matches were going on,) and the sideline consisted of an overdressed Jim Courier looking sadly at a bench of teenaged practice players more thoroughly engrossed in what was going on on their iPhones than the international “battle” being staged on court just feet away from them. It extended to the crowd, who tried to be supportive, but largely fell flat on their face, and the Americans lost easily to a better, more excitable Serbian squad. Novak Djokovic never left the court after his match, and was on his feet after every exciting point. Maybe it is because they hadn’t been there. Maybe it is because we have. We’ve gotten comfortable near the top of the World Group. Maybe we don’t want it anymore. Maybe the stadium was too big. Maybe there are too many excuses.
The American’s first round Tie against Great Britain is a chance for redemption. A matchup of the original Davis Cup and battle between two of the most storied squads in the world. Staged on a sunny outdoor court in a small stadium set in the middle of an ultra-American landmark (a major league baseball stadium,) the Americans are presented with a unique opportunity. Bring back the pride, defeat an old rival, and knock off one of the top players in the world, Andy Murray, on home soil. Take the edge back, act like you’ve been there before, and act like you want to stay a member of the elite. Maybe the Serbians and the Czechs are better, but don’t let them want it more. Fuel the crowd, honor the history, and HAVE FUN. Make it more memorable than Boise, and wear those colors like they run in your blood. Let’s go boys.
You’ve always wanted to go to the Australian Open, but haven’t quite figured out how to put it all together. With finding a hotel, purchasing tickets, and planning your excursions around Melbourne and Australia, it’s all too daunting. How should you avoid that stress? Let Grand Slam Tennis Tours plan it for you. With newly redesigned packages that include anywhere from 3-6 hotel nights (along with custom tours), the 2014 Australian Open is shaping up to be the best one yet.
Unlike any of the other Grand Slams, Melbourne Park is right in the city, seamlessly blending the tennis and tourism into one unbelievable vacation. Included in each package are accommodations at either the Stamford Plaza or Langham Hotel, both located a fifteen minute walk from the tennis grounds, as well as in the middle of all the shopping, sightseeing, and everything Melbourne has to offer.
Grand Slam Tennis Tours‘ tickets are phenomenal– some of the best seats in the house in both Rod Laver and Hisense Arenas! Their corporate silver seats in Rod Laver Arena are located 17th row behind the baseline, and they also offer 1st – 3rd rows on the sideline. In Hisense Arena, their seats are situated first row behind the baseline. All the ticket locations are so close that in the past, GSTT clients have been handed the champion’s racket as the players have walked off the court following the final!
On the first night of your travel package, you will attend a welcome dinner with the other tour clients, the Grand Slam Tennis Tours hosts, and the legendary Fred Stolle, winner of 18 Grand Slams! How often to you get to mingle with tennis enthusiasts from around the world and rub elbows with a Tennis Hall of Famer?
For those who love to play tennis, you will also have the opportunity to play tennis at the former site of the Australian Open, The Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, a favorite memory of many past clients. Take a clinic or play some doubles to experience what it’s like to play tennis on the grass—especially a club with such rich history.
The trip doesn’t end in Melbourne, however, as the GSTT representative planning your trip can also book excursions all over Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific to beaches, wineries, and anywhere you’ve always wanted to travel!
A client who traveled to the Australian Open in 2013 wrote this, “It had always been a dream of my wife and mine to go to the Australian Open. As avid tennis fans who recently began our retirement, we decided 2013 would finally be our year. GSTT took care of every stage of the planning. From the moment we stepped onto the plane at LAX, we were able to enjoy the vacation that had been on our bucket list for forty years. The accommodations were wonderful, the staff was friendly, and we got to see Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova in the front row! Another week in New Zealand following the tennis capped off the trip of our lifetime. Everything was so smooth, the only problem now is making the time to attend Wimbledon and Roland Garros!”
If you are ready to check the Australian Open off your bucket list and are anxious to explore new, beautiful parts of the world, then an Australian Open travel package with Grand Slam Tennis Tours is perfect for you. Experience world-class tennis and everything Melbourne has to offer in one package. Let Grand Slam Tennis Tours be your concierge to tennis!
Alongside the USTA’s recent announcement that the first round Tie between the Americans and Great Britain will be played in San Diego, Topnotch Tennis Tours has just released the newest of their always amazing Davis Cup travel packages. From January 31, 2014, to February 2nd, the pinnacle of patriotism and tennis will come together in the sunshine capital of America. Wearing red, white, and blue for country is always something that makes people brim with pride and cheer a little louder, but Jim Courier, the American Davis Cup captain, in selecting the venue, has done something to make it just a little bit MORE American. The temporary stadium will be built in the outfield of Petco Park, the San Diego Padres home stadium.
Topnotch Tennis Tours’ new package takes all the headache of planning your tennis trip to San Diego. The package includes a four night stay at the Hotel Indigo in the Gaslamp quarter, just two blocks from the stadium and featuring a rooftop bar directly overlooking the park. Tickets to all three sessions are included, in either category one or two seating, as well as a welcome dinner, commemorative gift, and services of the tour hosts.
The Davis Cup is unlike any other tennis event in the world. Set up in a team format, it is no longer just a metaphorical ‘boxing-match’ between opponents, but a battle between opponents, sidelines, and the fans. While still largely acknowledged, the hush-hush atmosphere of a tennis match goes out the window giving way to boisterous fans clad in face paint and flags. With Topnotch Tennis Tours, the tour group gets to know each other, sits near each other, and bond as a unit as they dine together, and cheer together in a situation you could never replicate at any other tennis event. That is why people who attend a Davis Cup fall in love, and come back year after year.
It is the first time a Davis Cup Tie will be played in a baseball stadium, and the first time the Americans have chosen an outdoor clay court since 1992. Since the top American men, currently John Isner and Sam Querrey, rely on booming serves and forehands, the surface of choice has almost always been quick indoor hard courts. The strategy being employed by Jim Courier, the US Davis Cup Captain, in choosing an outdoor clay court, is likely playing to the weakness of Britain’s biggest threat, Andy Murray, rather than to the strengths of his stars. Both Isner and Querrey have won clay court titles, while Murray has not. The last time the teams squared off was in Birmingham, AL, in 1999. The Americans prevailed 3-2.
The winner will play the winner of Italy vs. Argentina in the quarterfinals April 4-6.
There are so many great things about the Davis Cup, and this past weekend’s tie in Boise certainly did not disappoint. Exploring new places with new people, eating amazing food, and watching world class tennis are just a few of the highlights, but you can’t break down such an event so generically.
From the moment we arrived in Boise, we were showered with locals’ smiles and hospitality. We were greeted by one of the most interesting, cleanest cities that we have ever been to, and we were presented with one of the more intriguing David Cup match-ups in recent memory. The Serbian team would typically boast one of the strongest lineups in the world, but without Tipsarevic, they’re far from invincible. The Americans, while brimming with talent, decided to showcase their tall, underachieving bombers at singles and the greatest doubles tandem in history fresh off a loss in Jacksonville.
Assuming Djoker would win his two matches, if Isner moved his feet a little bit and managed to win a few tiebreakers, and Querrey kept reaching to fill the potential he’s been showing of late, I figured we would still have a shot! I mean, the Bryans certainly couldn’t lose, right? Of course not. Wait, what? They did? Nobody saw that one coming. They were flummoxed in five incredible sets by Nenad Zimonic (one of the greats) and an absolute no-name, Ilija Bozoljac, who served with the confidence, pace, and variation of Pete Sampras.
Gotta hand it to the Serbs on that one, it was one of the best doubles matches I have ever seen. At that point, the Americans’ confidence ran out and the already pathetic support from the American bench became downright uninterested. It was embarrassing, really. It was no surprise that Djokovic then clinched the tie in downright convincing fashion on a bum ankle, no less.
Luckily, here at Grand Slam Tennis Tours, we don’t attend these event just for the tennis, but for the tennis travel experience. Where the Americans’ tennis fell short, the experience for us and all of our clients exceeded expectations. From our beautiful hotel located in the middle of downtown, to our tremendous dinner at Chandler’s Steakhouse, and a private party and raffle after Saturday’s tennis during the Final Four, Boise helped us play host to a very special weekend.
Typically, our clients are big tennis fans, some fanatical, and some completely obsessed with the game. On this trip, however, one of our most excited clients hardly knew anything about tennis before she got to Boise, and left an avid fan. Hearing her version of the weekend is much more compelling than the ramblings of someone surrounded by the game for twenty years, so with that, meet Kris Carpenter!
“I mostly wanted to come to the Davis Cup because I love catching bits of TV with the tennis stars when they make the crazy “HuuuuH!!” sounds when they hit the ball. Just wanted to hear it myself for real. I’m not a tennis player, didn’t know much about tennis, and didn’t even really know what the Davis Cup was – besides a tennis tournament between really good players who play on teams for their countries. My 87 year old mother-in-law, Janet (Granny) Carpenter is a tennis fanatic! Granny started talking about the Davis Cup being in Boise a couple of months ago. How she’d love to go. How amazing it was that it would be in Boise. How some of the best players in the world would be playing. Then she said this really great company was doing a trip there. (She’s done other Grand Slam Tennis Tour trips before.) She said they always get the best seats, stay in really nice hotels, that you meet really interesting people from all over the country, and that they really take good care of you. Oh and that the tennis is unbelievable because you are up close and in the action. So, since no one else was offering to go with her, I said, “Hey, I’ll go with you.” Done deal.
Kris’s Grand Prize raffle win of a free trip to the next USA home Davis Cup Tie
She was right. Grand Slam Tennis Tours was quite a big deal. They chose a great hotel in a nice location. Nice because it was close to many local sights, restaurants and shopping when we weren’t at the matches. The first night they hosted a really nice dinner for all the tour guests to give us a chance to meet some of our new tennis mates. The shuttles to and from the matches were provided. And the seats were the best! Front & center. Being that close, I was in awe of the amazing physical shape the players are in. (Still can’t believe Novak Djokovic played and won after twisting his ankle like that.)
So, I can now keep score, pronounce a few Serbian names, and know why it’s so addicting. Unbelievable! After the nerve wracking doubles match, GSTT took us to a Pub to watch the Final 4 Basketball and treated us to drinks and food (again). They gave away a ton of prizes to their guests that night. I am so lucky! I won the GRAND PRIZE!!! A trip for 2 to the next home USA Davis Cup tie!
So, don’t be thinking that my mother-in-law didn’t immediately let me know why I was there! Now we both have something really special to look forward to!”
All in all, the Davis Cup in Boise was an excellent event. We saw incredible tennis, made new friends, and got to know a beautiful new city. A big thanks from the GSTT team to all the clients who traveled with us, and we hope to meet more of you on our tours in the future!
Curtain Bluff, an exclusive, luxurious resort located on Antigua, is offering a week-long “Fantasy Tennis Camp” from April 29th – May 3rd. Former US Open Champion and #1 player Tracy Austin will team up with two time Australian Open Champion and World #7 Johan Kriek and former ATP Pro Taylor Dent to welcome adult players ranging in skill from recreational to tournament level. The event will include 5 days of topnotch instruction and match play, a welcome party, a tennis exhibition and plenty of opportunities to enjoy the resort and the island of Antigua alongside tennis legends. All-inclusive rates start at $885/night at double occupancy (tax and service charge not included).
They’re also hosting “Antigua Tennis Week” at Curtain Bluff Resort from May 11th – 18th where you can join International Tennis Hall of Famer “Fiery” Fred Stolle and former Aussie champions Ross Case and Owen Davidson for an incredible week of tennis.
Ready to pack your bags? I sure am. If you call to book either of these vacations by April 1st, mention Grand Slam Tennis Tours and receive 10% off your entire stay. 888.289.9898.
If you’re unfamiliar with Curtain Bluff Resort, it’s a gorgeous property sitting on a rocky promontory flanked by water and beaches on both sides – one side calm, ideal for swimming and watersports, while the other beach is washed by ocean surf. With only 72 rooms and suites, all with staggering seascape views, this intimate, all-inclusive resort boasts two restaurants: the open-walled Tamarind Tree serving breakfasts and candle-lit dinners, and the Beach Cafe & Bar, where barefoot-casual lunches are enjoyed one step from the sand and a few feet from the water’s edge. The resort’s exceptional facilities include a championship tennis center, a fully equipped watersports center (scuba, deep-sea fishing, Windsurfing, paddle-boarding, waterskiing, Hobie Cats and kayaks), a squash court and fitness center. When it’s time to relax, there’s a tranquil spa overlooking the sea, a beachside swimming pool, a beach bar, and hammocks swaying in the shade of coconut palms.
Call today to take advantage of this amazing opportunity at one of the finest resorts in the world! 888.289.9898
Imagine a packed house, electrifying tennis, raucous cheering for most every point played, and the potential for an entire weekend of tennis culminating in a Sunday afternoon singles match, with both players scrapping for every point, and the score two sets all, and 5 games all in the fifth and deciding set of a Davis Cup tie.
Davis Cup brings an entirely different level of energy to professional tennis. Personally I have been to Wimbledon, the BNP Paribas, McEnroe exhibitions in New Orleans, as well as two Davis Cup ties one in Portland where we won the Cup, and one in Birmingham Alabama – but truly nothing matches the look, feel and excitement of Davis Cup. In Portland, I met many many people who said this was their fifth, eighth or even the tenth tie they have attended. Why? Because of the potential for searing drama.
The United States hosts Serbia, featuring world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, in a Davis Cup quarterfinal April 5-7 at Taco Bell Arena in Boise Idaho. “Obviously for tennis, this is the biggest thing that’s ever happened to Boise and the state of Idaho. … The community is just going to love it,’’ said Patton, part of the organizing group that worked to bring the international match to Boise. And a note, Greg Patton and the Boise community will work to pack the Taco Bell Arena on the campus of Boise State University.
The Americans earned the quarterfinal meeting with Serbia with a dramatic 3-2 first-round victory over Brazil Feb. 2 at Jacksonville, Fla. that was capped by a thrilling 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (3) men’s singles victory by Sam Querrey over Thiago Alves.
The other three match-ups for the April 5-7 quarterfinals are France vs. Argentina, Canada vs. Italy and Czech Republic vs. Kazakhstan. This year’s semi-finals are set for Sept. 13-15, and the finals Nov. 15-17. Last year, the Czech Republic defeated Spain 3-2
The American squad is led by 16th ranked John Isner, 21st ranked Sam Querrey, and the world number one doubles tandem of Bob and Mike Bryant. And before you think Serbia may pose too daunting a threat, note that both John and Sam have posted wins over Novak Djokovic and Janko Tipsarevic. This Davis Cup tie is anything but a sure thing.
For more information, and to order your Davis Cup package from Grand Slam Tennis Tours click here.
The USTA has announced that Boise, Idaho will be the setting for the quarterfinal tie between the United States and Serbia, April 5-7. It will be played at the Taco Bell Arena on the campus of Boise State University, which has a capacity of approximately 11,700. This will be the second tie played at home after winning a tight first round against Brazil in Jacksonville, FL.
What was assumed would be an easy first round (wrongly so, apparently) for team USA, with John Isner and Sam Querrey’s dominating wins over Thiago Alves and Thomaz Belluci the first day, turned into an exciting weekend at Veteran’s Memorial Arena. Brazil’s Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares battled back on Saturday to keep their team alive. The undaunted pair impressively took out the world’s No. 1 ranked doubles team, Bob and Mike Bryan, who are the most successful doubles duo in Davis Cup history, with a record 20 wins and only two losses when playing together. With the overall score 2-1 to start the final day of singles, Belluci beat Isner in five sets, leaving it up to Sam Querrey to win the final tie in four sets against Alves.
The best-of-five rubbers between the U.S. and Serbia will begin on Friday April 5 with two singles matches. Saturday will feature the doubles rubber, and Sunday will include the two reverse singles matches. This will be the third home tie for Jim Courier, the U.S. Davis Cup Captain, and the fourth home tie for the U.S. since 2009. The U.S. holds a 110-16 all-time record for Davis Cup ties played at home. Idaho is the 34th state to host a U.S. Davis Cup tie.
The upcoming tie will only be the second meeting between the U.S. and Serbia in Davis Cup competition. Serbia previously won 3-2 in the 2010 World Group First Round in Belgrade with a team led by Novak Djokovic. Serbia is only one of three countries to have a winning record against the U.S. Davis Cup team.
With this tie being held the weekend after the Sony Open in Miami, we will hope to see names like Djokovic, Tipsarevic, Isner, Querrey, and the Bryan Brothers.
The winner will play in the semifinals, September 13-15.
USA will play Brazil for the first round of the 2013 Davis Cup. It will be held in Jacksonville, Florida from February 1-3 at Veterans Memorial Arena. This will be Brazil’s first time in the World Group in nine years, beating Russia 5-0 this past year in Sao Jose de Rio Preto to secure their spot.
The 2012 season was one to remember for the US Team. They won two difficult away matches, the first round tie in Switzerland where Fish defeated Wawrinka and Isner beat Federer in two long, arduous rubbers. The tie ended 5-0. USA then went on to beat France away in the quarterfinals, again Isner winning two big matches against Simon and Tsonga to clench a 3-2 win. Ultimately, USA fell to Spain 1-3 in the semifinals, the only win coming from the Bryan brothers. Spain will play the Czech Republic in November for their sixth Davis Cup title, a rematch of the 2009 final where Spain won 5-0.
The tie against Brazil will be the first one at home for the Americans since their loss to Spain in Austin, TX in 2011. USA has an all-time record of 109-16 in Davis Cup events played at home and 6-0 in Florida. This will be the seventh Davis Cup match played in Florida and the first since USA defeated Sweden 4-1 in 2004 at Delray Beach. Brazil and the US have met on four previous occasions, the last one in 1997 when Jim Courier led USA to a 4-1 away win over Brazil. USA leads the overall series 3-1.
“There’s nothing like playing Davis Cup in your home country,” Courier said. “We were very happy to draw a home match. This could be a great opportunity for players like John (Isner), Sam (Querrey) and Ryan (Harrison) to experience a home court advantage for the first time in their Davis Cup careers.”
Looking at numbers, the odds are in favor of the US team, the most decorated team with 32 championships. Although the official nominations aren’t in until 10 days before the tie begins, we all have a good idea of who will be on the US’s team: Isner, Querrey, and Harrison for singles, and the Bryan brothers for doubles, both of whom have outstanding Davis Cup records. The guy to watch out for on the Brazilian side is Thomaz Bellucci. This past season he has beaten some top 10 ATP players, including David Ferrer and Janko Tipsarevic.
If the Americans advance, they would host either Serbia or Belgium in the Davis Cup quarterfinals April 5-7. My bet is on Serbia, which will make a tough match for the Americans. But we won’t worry about that just yet.
Maybe I’m the only one, but I was surprised to see the most recent cover of Tennis Magazine. I figured after the Grand Slam season and the drastic shift of power over the last few months, Andy Murray’s face would be staring back at me when I opened my mailbox. I assumed there would be a cliché headline like, “Great Scot, He Finally Did It!”, but all I saw were the usual suspects and their trademark expressions: Nadal’s intense scowl that could turn any competitor’s blood cold, Federer and his nice-guy smile who you’d trust to watch your baby, and Djokovic’s cocky smirk, an expression of someone who you wouldn’t want to leave alone with your girlfriend. When I read the featured article, there wasn’t one mention of the guy who just won two of the five biggest tennis events of 2012–the gold medal at the Olympics and the US Open–both tournaments won the previous year by “Trivalry” members. Not to mention that it was his first Grand Slam, and the first for Britain since the 1930s.
Yes, I know that Murray doesn’t fully meet every requirement to a tee (consistency, staying healthy, persistence, and resilience) set by the writers of Tennis Magazine to be considered part of the rivalries, but he certainly has strong points in all four categories. There’s no argument that he’s yet to prove his consistency on the grand stage, but he definitely has been consistent at nipping at the heels of the top three for years now. He reached the finals at the US Open in 2008, the Australian Open in 2010 and 2011, and this year’s Wimbledon. He also briefly attained the number two ranking in 2009, and has won several smaller tournaments along the way, all the while collecting wins against the top players. He has stayed relatively healthy with a few bumps and bruises along the way, which has drawn some criticism, but nothing long-term that’s kept him out of competition for any prolonged period of time. When it comes persistence and resilience, he certainly has had some large obstacles in the shape of a Spaniard, a Serb, and a Swiss standing in his way, but he has continued to get up after each fall to fight on. I think Jim McLennan, editor of TennisOne, said it well about Murray’s game with, “I believe Murray is the smartest player on the tour, who plays with the absolute best awareness of offensive, defensive, and neutralizing tactics. He is not as dangerous as Nadal, he is not as gifted as Federer, but he beats these guys at their own game by totally knowing the court.”
Since the US Open, Andy Murray had a small fumble when he lost to Canada’s Milos Raonic in the semi-finals of the Japan Open. But as Murray stated after the match, “There was always going to be a bit of residue from the last few months.” He bounced right back to beat Federer this past weekend in the semi-finals of the Shanghai Open, but then lost to Djokovic in the finals even though Murray had five match points against him.
I can’t help thinking that the absence of Rafael Nadal has cast a shadow on Murray’s most recent breakthrough. Even though he beat Federer for the gold medal (his current head-to-head against Federer is 10-8) and Djokovic for his first Grand Slam title at the US Open (his current head-to-head against Djokovic is 7-9), I have a feeling that there are those out there thinking that that may not have happened if Nadal was there playing at his best. Maybe that’s true, after all, his record against Nadal is 5-13, only winning two of those matches in majors (2008 US Open and the 2010 Australian Open). Only Nadal’s much-anticipated return will put that debate to rest.
Nadal, the most talked about person in tennis right now, is speculated to return for the season-ending Barclays ATP Men’s Finals at the O2 Arena in East London in early November. And if not there, Nadal will most likely be a part of Alex Corretja’s Spanish squad to defend their Davis Cup crown against the Czech Republic later that month. Should he “rush” his recovery to come back before the season ends? I certainly think he’ll need some matches under his belt before heading to Melbourne, but if it will hinder his 2013 season, then he should rest and wait until the new year. As Nadal said about his return happening before the end of 2012, “Impossible no, but difficult, yes.” No doubt, his return will make the men’s tour feel more complete, and give Andy Murray a chance to prove he’s up there with all of the best.
It may sound like I’m Andy Murray’s number one fan. I admit I wasn’t in the recent past, but maybe it was the soft touch in me that did a complete 180 after hearing his Wimbledon speech, and especially his current results the last few months. I just think it’s extremely exciting for men’s tennis that four different players have won each of the four Grand Slams this past year, which hasn’t happened since 2003. The “quadvalry” will make the 2013 season a must-see, which in general will help the growth of tennis. As Federer said about Murray after winning his seventh Wimbledon title, “His (Murray’s) next nine months are going to be extremely interesting to follow.” I certainly agree with that.