Andre Agassi

Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi did renew their rivalry at the World Tennis Day London Showdown. Agassi took the match 6-3 7-6. You can read the complete recap of the event here. Enjoy a few pics and videos of the match:

Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras being interviewed by Andrew Castle:

Ivan Lendl

The one-set match between Pat Cash and Ivan Lendl was one of the highlights of the World Tennis Day Showdown in London. Enjoy a few pics and videos of the match. You can read the complete recap here.

Ivan Lendl being interviewed on court by Andrew Castle. He speaks among other things of that Scottish boy, Andy Murray:

Click to enlarge the pics:

Pete Sampras

The second-ever World Tennis Day took place on Monday 3 March 2014. World Tennis Day aims to promote tennis and increase participation among players around the globe, and this year’s celebrations were centred around exhibitions featuring Grand Slam or Davis Cup champions, on three different continents:
Li Na vs Sam Stosur and Tomas Berdych vs Lleyton Hewitt in Hong Kong
Pat Cash vs Ivan Lendl and Andre Agassi vs Pete Sampras in London
Bob and Mike Bryan vs John and Patrick McEnroe, and Andy Murray vs Novak Djokovic in New York

For the first time this year an event was organized in London, and obviously I couldn’t miss that! Read my recap below and stay tuned for more pics and videos.

Cardio tennis demo

To start the evening, a demo of cardio tennis, a group fitness activity featuring fast paced drills and games. It combines the best features of tennis with cardiovascular exercise.
It does not require tennis skills, but is all about keeping your heart rate up, burning calories and having fun. The main purpose is to get fit.

Cardio tennis

Cardio tennis

Ivan Lendl vs Pat Cash

First highlight of the evening, the one-set match between 9-time Grand Slam champion Ivan Lendl and Wimbledon 1987 champion Pat Cash.

The Ivan Lendl from today is really different from the somewhat cold and robotic player he was back in the days. Believe me or not, Lendl was the real entertainer of the event, he kept talking and joking with the crowd and his opponent.

Ivan Lendl to Pat Cash:

Are you ok? I am supposed to be the old guy!

Cash attacked the net and Lendl demonstrated his back-court skills: drop shots, passing shots and powerful backhands. The Australian took the set 8-6.

Pat Cash, Andrew Castle, Ivan Lendl and Jonathan Ross:

Pat Cash and Ivan Lendl

Ivan Lendl

Ivan Lendl

Ivan Lendl

Pat Cash

Pat Cash

Pat Cash

Pat Cash

Below, Ivan Lendl being interviewed by fellow legend Mats Wilander:

Ivan Lendl

ITHF rings ceremony

The International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2014 was announced on Monday, newly elected Hall of Famers are: three-time Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport, wheelchair tennis pioneer Chantal Vandierendonck, former USTA President Jane Brown Grimes, legendary coach Nick Bollettieri and the “voice of Wimbledon”, John Barrett.
Chantal Vandierendonck and John Barrett were in attendance in London and were honored in a special ceremony.
One of the early stars of wheelchair tennis, Chantal Vandierendonck was the Esther Vergeer of the 90’s: she was the first Wheelchair Tennis World Champion in 1991, she won seven US Open and five Paralympic medals. She is the first Dutch tennis player to be inducted to the Hall of Fame.
A former British Davis Cup captain, John Barrett was the “Voice of Wimbledon” on the BBC from 1971-06. His wife, former top-ranked player Angela Mortimer Barrett, was inducted into the Hall in 1993. Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf are the only other married couple in the ITHF.

Shown below: ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti, Hall of Fame Chairman Christopher Clouser, Vice Chairman of the Nomination commitee Ingrid Lofdahl Bentzer, Chantal Vandierendonck and John Barrett.

Chantal Vandierendonck with John Barrett

They were then joined on court by Ivan Lendl, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi who received Hall of Fame rings.

Said Christopher Clouser:

“These one-of-a-kind rings are a symbol of all that they have accomplished and their legacy in the sport.”

Ivan Lendl

Pete Sampras

Andre Agassi

Gordon Reid vs Marc McCarroll

Next, British wheelchair tennis players Gordon Reid and Marc McCarroll took to the court to play a championship tie-break. World number 3 Reid won easily 8-3 over world number 12 McCarroll.

Wheelchair tennis follows the same rules as able-bodied tennis. Except the ball is allowed to bounce twice. The second bounce can be either inside or outside the court boundaries.

If you get the opportunity, don’t hesitate to go watch some wheelchair tennis, it is highly entertaining. You can read here and here about my day at the London Paralympics in 2012.

Gordon Reid

Gordon Reid

Gordon Reid and Marc McCarroll

Andre Agassi vs Pete Sampras

And finally, the match everyone was waiting for: Andre Agassi vs Pete Sampras.
With contrasting styles and temperaments, they played each other 34 times from 1989 through 2002, with Sampras winning 20 of their matches. They played some memorable matches like the 2001 US Open quaterfinal, 2002 US Open final. Their rivalry was the Nadal-Federer of the 90’s.

Of the four Grand Slam champions that played that evening, Pete Sampras was the only player I had never watch playing live before, and I enjoyed watching his smooth serves and volleys.
Sampras struggled a bit at the beginning but from what he said after the match, he doesn’t play much tennis these days. I guess it’s easier to find back your rythm when you play from the baseline than when you play serve and volley.
Agassi took the match 6-3 7-6 on a Sampras double fault.

There was not much interaction with the crowd and despite what they said it’s obvious these guys will never be friends, they just tollerate each other.

Pete Sampras, Elaine Paige and Andre Agassi:

Pete Sampras, Elaine Paige, Andre Agassi

Pete Sampras

Pete Sampras

Pete Sampras

Pete Sampras

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi

Sampras and Agassi lap of honor:

Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi

Despite the (really) high price of the ticket I really enjoyed this evening of tennis featuring four tennis legends. A suggestion for next year: what about Rafter-Ivanisevic and Becker-Edberg matches?

More pics and videos of the matches Cash-Lendl and Agassi-Sampras:

Andre Agassi will take part to the World Tennis Day Showdown in London on Monday, where he’ll meet archrival Pete Sampras – in another Wimbledon final rematch Ivan Lendl will face Pat Cash.
Prior to his return to London Agassi talked to Tennis Oggi about Wimbledon and its importance in his career.

Interview by Roberto Angelelli, translated by Tennis Buzz

22 years after his first Grand Slam triumph, Agassi recounts the historical moments on that magical green mantle, which helped him to grow as a player but also as a man.
“The last time I played in London – says Andre – was for the opening of the roof on Centre Court in 2009. But other times I came back just to enjoy the city.”

“I’ve always looked for an excuse to set foot on those courts again, and I think the best way is just that: play with Pete. Wimbledon makes me reflect and memories resurface. My career owes much to this tournament and to these people. I’ve learned so much here, I’m very fond of London. Here my wife shined and I grew up and matured, any excuse is a good one to come back and I look forward to it.”

My first experience in England was not good,” admitted Agassi. “It coincided with a particular period of my life, I felt overwhelmed by the big city and from different cultures. Playing for the first time on a totally different surface made ​​me feel like an intruder. I felt like I was in a dollhouse. I have lived a unique, bizarre experience that blew me away enough to not want to come back, because of a number of reasons, for three or four years.”

Opposed to the dressing code of the tournament, which always requires a predominantly white clothing, Agassi ended his self-imposed exile in 1991. And one year after, he won the first of his eight Grand Slam titles. A real turning point in the career of the American tennis player, who then wrote some of the most memorable pages in the history of tennis.

“When I really understood what Wimbledon meant to our sport, I came back and was forgiven by the British people. I think it was a great relationship, something unique, that grew over time. Every time in my career I played in London, regardless of the outcome, I always felt people were ready to support me and this helped me a lot in my life and career, to realize most of my dreams.

Enjoy Mauro’s view on the EdbergMcEnroe final at Stockholm’s Kings of Tennis:

Who didn’t think that the worst was going to happen again? When Stefan Edberg was one set and a break up in the Kings of Tennis final against John McEnroe and started to walk with a limp, repeatedly touching his left thigh and asking for the physio, we all went back to the 2012 Zurich final against Carlos Moya, when the same kind of injury prevented him from winning the title with the match that seemed already over.

The fact that this time he went all the way in front of his home crowd, against an opponent 6 years his senior (that had struggled himself with a neck injury in the match before against Henri Leconte) can’t make us forget that almost twenty years have gone by since Stefan’s professional days and, inevitably, playing serve & volley tennis for entire matches in consecutive days on fast surfaces (stressing out articulations and muscles) is getting increasingly demanding for his body.

Yet it remains a show! Watching the final, all the lovers of vintage tennis can’t help noticing and appreciating the variety that Stefan can give his shots. When you see him use three different spins on three consecutive serves, you immediately think that, even though racquets and strings have developed becoming a technological weapon today, an alternative to exclusively power tennis would still be possible if the player’s arm and hand are educated and know the game’s history and secrets.

When you see two monsters like Stefan Edberg and John McEnroe apply today the same kind of strategies they played twenty years and more ago, you think that, it’s true, surfaces have been slowed down, but no way this is a factor to completely erase net play from the game.

At every interview Stefan keeps repeating that, had he played tennis today, he wouldn’t have served and volleyed at 90 per cent, but only half of the times. Still, when he enters the court, it’s so evident that the net remains an irresistible attraction for him. His touch is unchanged and the decreased speed makes it even more enjoyable to watch. His right side seems even improved and lower speeds this time can’t be the reason, because Stefan’s forehand has always been a counterpunching shot that gave him more troubles right when it was him who had to generate the power.

In the Stockholm final, instead, he looked unusually sharp on this shot, while he unexpectedly missed several backhand crosscourt passings.

For a good hour the final was top-level tennis. Since Stefan’s injury, I would say from the fourth game of the second set on, it went down. The two thousand spectators of the Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre didn’t notice it. They were delighted, because the loss of quality was balanced by an enthralling fight in the second half of the match.

At the end the audience were all on their feet. But the real question is: how can an Edberg vs McEnroe final, even today, be watched by just two thousand spectators? An event that, I’m sure, would have filled the Royal Albert Hall in London (5.500 seats) or the Stade de Coubertin in Paris (5.000)… And, remember, last June there were 10.000 persons in Halle (which is not a capital city) to watch four tennis glories, right in the Sunday of the French Open final…

The Waterfront Congress Centre may surely be the tennis facility that Stockholm was waiting for. It is central, modern and multifunctional. But at the same time, it is the clear evidence of the downsizing of tennis in Sweden. In the ’80s and early ’90s the Stockholm Open was played at the Globe Arena (14.000), then, from 1996, it moved to the Kungliga Tennishallen (5.000). Now, a senior event that puts together two former Swedish world number ones (and Borg was in the stands) plus two more Swedish top ten players and a world sports star like John McEnroe is hosted in a much smaller stadium. And it’s not sold-out…

The news of the winner has barely found some space on the Swedish most important online media, where the sport pages are now almost completely filled with ice hockey. It looks like the Kings of Tennis, more than revitalizing tennis in Sweden, reminds the Vikings of a past that can no longer be.

Visit Mauro’s website: STE…fans

Photo by Tim Edwards

Mardi 19 février, lancement de MCS Tennis, la 1ère chaîne française 100% tennis.

MCS Tennis proposera chaque année plus de 40 tournois en direct et en exclusivité:
– circuit WTA (22 tournois incluant les Masters)
– circuit ATP (Brisbane, Houston, Gstaad…)
– Hopman Cup
– circuits ATP Seniors et Tennis Classic

MCS Tennis proposera également chaque semaine de nombreux magazines entièrement consacrés à l’univers du tennis: entraînement, tennis, préparation… Grâce à des accords avec les tournois du Grand Chelem, la matinée sera consacrée aux grands matchs de l’histoire du tennis.

La saison débutera sur MCS Tennis avec les tournois WTA de Dubaï et ATP de Buenos Aires à suivre en direct du 19 au 23. Rendez-vous ensuite à Indian Wells du 6 au 17 mars et Miami du 20 au 31.

La chaîne s’appuiera sur l’expertise de Sandrine Testud, ancienne 9è mondiale. Sophie Amiach, Sarah Pitkowski et Patrick Proisy complèteront l’équipe.

MCS Tennis sera disponible su le canal 171 de Numericable.