Best of February 2012:

She is not a one-hit wonder after all: 2011 US Open semifinalist Angelique Kerber beat Lucie Safarova, Monica Niculescu, Maria Sharapova, Yanina Wickmayer and Marion Bartoli en route for her first WTA title.

19 yr old Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino won her maiden WTA title in Bogota, playing in just her third WTA main draw and facing a 5-2 third set deficit in her opening match.

David Ferrer keeps flying under the radar and he keeps winning: after Auckland in January, he captured 2 titles in February: Acapulco and Sao Paulo.

Lleyton Hewitt recorded its 38th Davis Cup singles victory, a remarkable 14 more than by any other Australian player.

I love every time I put the gold jacket on and playing for my country whoever it’s against and my preparation is exactly the same

Manuel Orantes has been elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in the master player category. Orantes won the 1975 US Open by beating Jimmy Connors in the final, and he was the runner-up to Bjorn Borg at the 1974 French Open.

Like father, like daughter: Jessica Korda, daughter of 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda, won her first LPGA tournament this month. The place of her triumph: Australia of course.
A nice tribute to her father’s infamous “scissor kick”.

February tournament winners: Angelique Kerber (Paris), Daniela Hantuchova (Pattaya), Victoria Azarenka (Doha), Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino (Bogota), Sofia Arvidsson (Memphis), Agnieszka Radwanska (Doha), Timea Babos (Monterrey), Sara Errani (Acapulco), Su-Wei Hsieh (Kuala Lumpur), Roger Federer (Rotterdam and Dubai), Nicolas Almagro (Sao Paulo), Milos Raonic (San Jose), Juan Martin Del Potro (Open 13 Marseille), Jurgen Melzer (Memphis), David Ferrer (Buenos Aires and Acapulco), Kevin Anderson (Delray Beach)

Worst of February 2012:

The Arantxa Sanchez Saga: the Sanchez clan seemed to be a much more normal family than the Grafs and Seles’ … until Arantxa’s autobiography release.

Lleyton Hewitt will be sidelined for four months after having surgery on his left foot, but eyes a return in tile for the Olympics. Ranked 170th, the 31 yr old Australian, will have to rely on a wild card from the International Tennis Federation to contest the London Olympics.

Aravane Rezai, for her Fed Cup debacle.

Andy Roddick: beaten by Denis Istomin in San Jose, ousted by Xavier Malisse in Memphis, Roddick has plummeted to his lowest ranking since 2001 (31).

The Swiss Davis Cup team of Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka: 0-5 loss against the US team on clay. Enough said.

Thanks to Rick for sharing his 2011 Indian Wells pics.

Entering the tournament:

Watching Nadal vs Del Potro:

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic practicing side by side:

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When Novak Djokovic cut his ties with adidas in favour of agreeing a 10-year deal with Sergio Tacchini in November 2009, many saw the announcement as being no great loss. Particularly when you consider that a player of similar stature (at the time) Britain’s Andy Murray signed a long-term, multi-million pound deal with adidas shortly after. Since that point however, the man they call ‘Nole’ has been formidable, blitzing all those that come before him, winning Grand Slam titles in the process and building a huge global following. In contrast, Andy Murray has now lost in three Grand Slam finals, and until recently has been struggling for form, casting doubt over his potential to achieve his ultimate ambition of winning a major championships.

For now however, the focus has to be on Djokovic and indeed Sergio Tacchini. The Chinese-owned brand has quite rightly bombarded the homepage of its central website with images of the tennis superstar, highlighting his position as global ambassador, referencing his third Australian Open win and even launching his own clothing line. A recent post I published on the Insight Sport blog touched upon the benefits of sponsors of major sporting events such as the Olympic Games aligning themselves with a portfolio of athletes as opposed to ‘putting all their eggs in one basket’ so to speak and focusing on one specific athlete – for a company the size of Sergio Tacchini it has little choice.

With an annual revenue of less than $50 million, the sportswear brand is reliant on Djokovic continuing his excellent form, whilst it can also fall back on his long term tennis heritage, having sponsored players such as John McEnroe, Pat Cash, Martina Hingis and Goran Ivanisevic in past times. In comparison, the likes of adidas and Nike are in a different league, with both sponsoring a number of high profile tennis stars across the men’s and women’s games. And with Nike recording revenues of $2.55 billion and the adidas $4.7 billion in Q3, 2011. At this point, one can only wonder at the impact Novak Djokovic could have had as an ambassador for adidas should it have retained the World Number one as an ambassador.

However all is not lost…

Adopting a long-term perspective, should Britain’s number one win a Grand Slam – he is showing signs of improvement under new coach Ivan Lendl – the effect could go beyond that of his close friend and nemesis. Given his nationality and the popularity of tennis in the UK, his appeal would reach out not only across his homeland, but also globally, given his delay in achieving what many say is his destiny. Djokovic meanwhile has hit his mesmeric heights now, there is evidence to suggest that Murray is slowly closing the gap, whilst Djokovic’s relatively small home market of Serbia is not one of significant importance to the adidas brand.

For now, one thing is clear, Djokovic is the driving force in men’s tennis, and deserves the accolades he is receiving, and Sergio Tacchini is revelling in his successes. Until Andy Murray wins a Slam, adidas must simply face up to the fact that they missed a trick in releasing Djokovic, although should that day arrive where Murray comes face to face with destiny, expect adidas to turn around and give a big ‘I told you so’ in the direction of those who doubted.

By Andreas Plastiras

Check out Andreas’ blog Snap Shot Sport

Best of January 2012:

Australian Open 2012

The Australian Open: 2 fantastic weeks of tennis.

Esther Vergeer‘s winning streak continues: she notched her 444th consecutive win, defeating Aniek Van Koot 6-0, 6-0 to capture the Women’s Wheelchair singles title.

Victoria Azarenka claims her first Grand Slam title and becomes the new WTA number 1.

Novak Djokovic has now won 4 or the last 5 Grand Slams.

Andy Murray hires tennis legend Ivan Lendl as his new coach, wins his first title of the year in Brisbane, and reaches the Australian Open semifinals. And there’s even more: he seemed to have fun on court!

Bernard Tomic: winner in Kooyong, semifinalist in Brisbane, he reached the fourth round of the Australian Open. He’s perhaps the real deal after all…

Lleyton Hewitt‘s incredible run, and Nadal’s nice words about the Australian veteran.

I always liked him, his spirit of competition. Today he is an example to follow for a lot people. He deserves all the respect of the people who love this sport and respect and admiration of everyone

January tournament winners: Kaia Kanepi (Brisbane), Andy Murray (Brisbane), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Doha), Milos Raonic (Chennai), Zheng Jie (Auckland), David Ferrer (Auckland), Victoria Azarenka (Sydney), Jarkko Nieminen (Sydney), Mona Barthel (Hobart)

2 blogs to follow: The Grand Slam Gal and I have a tennis addiction

Worst of January 2012:

Margaret Court‘s well-known homophobia has reached new heights. Read more about it here: A disappointing irony behind Court’s comments. I mean, they really should rename the Margaret Court Arena into Evonne Goolagong Arena, it would sound so much better, no?

Caroline Wozniacki. No need to add more. At least, she’s not the number one anymore, a really good news for the WTA.

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Lleyton Hewitt wins his first ATP singles title as a 16-year old wild card ranked 550 in the world, defeating fellow Australian Jason Stoltenberg 3-6 6-3 7-6 in his hometown of Adelaide.
At the age of 16 years and 11 months, Hewitt becomes the youngest player to win an ATP singles title since Michael Chang, at the age of 16 years and 8 months, wins the title in San Francisco in 1988.

Says Stoltenberg after the match:

He just played like a 16-year old. You do what comes naturally rather than thinking what you should do.

Source: On this day in tennis history by Randy Walker