The Rocket Rod Laver

Rod Laver

From Love Thirty: Three Decades of Champions, by Rex Bellamy, published in 1990:

Rodney George Laver was the most astounding player I ever saw, and may have been the greatest ever. His record is without parallel. Consider what that record might have been but for his exclusion from 21 Grand Slam tournaments when he was, presumably, at his physical peak, between the ages of 24 and 29. Had professionals been eligible for those events, Lew Hoad might have had the better of laver for a year or so and Ken Rosewall would always have been worth an even-money bet. But one has to believe that from 1963 to 1967 Laver would have collected another bunch of major championships and perhaps a third Grand Slam. Laver overlapped and dominated two Grand Slam eras separated by seven years. He did so because he had it all. Because he was adventurer and artist in one. Because he could raise his game to any level demanded of it.

Laver was only 5ft 8 1/2in tall and usually weighed around 10st 71lb. But he had gigantic left arm and his speed and agility were breathtaking. The circumference of his left forearm was 12in and the wrist measured 7in. The strength of that wrist and forearm gave him blazing power without loss of control, even when he was on the run at full stretch. The combination of speed and strength, especially wrist-strength, enabled him to hit ferocious winners when way out of court – often when almost under the noses of the front ow of spectators. And he was a bow-legged, beautifully balanced, and as quick as a cat. He had some glorious matches with Rosewall – and with Tom Okker, who could match Laver’s speed and panache but was second-best in terms of strength and technical versatility. Laver also had the eyes of a hawk and fast anticipation and reactions. Like Budge, he was feckle-faced and had copper-coloured hair. Another distinguished feature was a long nose that, in spite of the kink in it, gave a false impression of hauteur. For much of his career Laver was confessedly shy and self-conscious, but there was no ‘side’ to him. He was easy going – except on court.

Marty Riessen once summed up Laver admirably: “To look at him walking around, you wouldn’t think he was world champion. He doesn’t stand out. His stature isn’t something you expect, like a Gonzales or a Hoad. Off the court, his personality seems almost retiring. But it’s as if he goes into a telephone booth and changes. On court he’s aggressive. Such a big change of personality – when a lot of players play the same as they act. What impresses me is his quickness. Speed enables him to recover when he’s in trouble. And the thing I learned from playing Laver is how consistent one can be with power. It’s amazing how he can keep hitting with such accuracy. He combines everything. There are a lot of good competitors. But he’s fantastic.”

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1991 Davis Cup final

Extract from Hard Courts by John Feinstein

Anyone who cares about tennis had to be warmed by the performance of the French in Lyon. After retiring as a full-time player at the end of 1990, Yannick Noah was named captain of the French team. When they reached the final, they were given little chance against the US team.

Noah took a bold gamble, choosing Henri Leconte as his second singles player along with Guy Forget. Leconte had undergone his thid back operation in the summer and was thirty pounds overweight six weeks before the match. But, given a chance by Noah, he worked himself into shape and then became the hero of the final, first by beating Pete Sampras to tie things up at 1-1 on the first day (Andre Agassi had beaten Guy Forget in the opener), and then by pairing with Forget to beat Ken Flach and Robert Seguso in the doubles. That made it 2-1 and set the stage for Forget’s victory over Sampras that clinched the Cup.

It was the first time since 1932, in the days of the French Musketeers, that France had won the Cup, and the celebration the French victory set off was a stark contrast to the ho-hum-who-cares victory celebration the Americans had staged a year earlier in St. Petersburg after beating Australia.

To France, this was a crusade, not the kind of crude, win at-all-costs crusade staged by then USTA President Markin in 1990, but a crusade filled with hard work, self-confidence, and remarkable spirit. To the American players, it had been a chance to pick up some extra dough in perfomance bonuses and endorsement deals. Agassi (who for all his problems in ’91, emerged as a solid Davis Cup player) managed to insult the host country by complaining about the weather in Hawaii. Leave it to Andre to head for McDonald’s in the gastronomic capital of the world.

Czech Republic defeats Netherlands: 3-1

Robin Haase def Radek Stepanek 3-6 6-4 6-7 6-2 6-1
Tomas Berdych def Igor Sijsling 6-3 6-3 6-0
Tomas Berdych/Radek Stepanek def Robin Haase/Jean-Julien Rojer 7-5 1-6 7-6 7-6
Tomas Berdych def Thiemo De Bakker 6-1 6-4 6-3

The Czechs have not lost since suffering a huge upset against Kazakhstan in the first round in 2011. The last time the Dutch won a World Group tie was in 2005 against Switzerland. That’s quite a long time ago…

Japan defeats Canada: 3-1

Kei Nishikori def Peter Polansky 6-4 6-4 6-4
Franck Dancevic def Go Soeda 6-4 7-6 6-1
Kei Nishikori/Yasutaka Uchiyama def Franck Dancevic/Daniel Nestor 6-3 7-6 4-6 6-4
Kei Nishikori def Franck Dancevic 6-2 1-0 ret

Lead by 18th ranked Kei Nishikori, Japan sailed into the Davis Cup quarterfinals for the first time with a 3-1 victory against an injury-plagued Canada: Milos Raonic pulled out with a left-foot injury on Thursday while Frank Dancevic retired with a stomach injury in the fourth rubber.

Germany defeats Spain: 3-0

Philipp Kohlschreiber def Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2 6-4 6-2
Florian Mayer def Feliciano Lopez 7-6 7-6 1-6 5-7 6-3
Tommy Haas/Philipp Kohlschreiber def Fernando Verdasco/David Marrero 7-6 6-7 7-6 6-3

Five-time champion Spain will face a World Group playoff in September for the second year in a row. Playing without Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer and Tommy Robredo, Spain was ousted by Germany 3-0.

France defeats Australia: 3-0

Richard Gasquet def Nick Kyrgios 7-6 6-2 6-2
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga def Lleyton Hewitt 6-3 6-2 7-6
Richard Gasquet/Jo-Wilfried Tsonga def Chris Guccione/Lleyton Hewitt 5-7 7-6 7-5 6-2

Arnaud Clément relied on his two top players Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to get past Australia, lead by Lleyton Hewitt. Hewitt and Guccione were previously undefeated in the Davis Cup as a doubles team, but they were overpowered by the French pair.

Great Britain defeat USA: 3-1

Andy Murray def Donald Young 6-1 6-2 6-3
James Ward def Sam Querrey 1-6 7-6 3-6 6-4 6-1
Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan def Colin Fleming/Dominic Inglot 6-2 6-3 3-6 6-1
Andy Murray def Sam Querrey 7-6 6-7 6-1 6-3

Great Britain are into the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup for the first time since 1986. It is also the first time Britain have beaten the USA since 1935! The hero of the tie is James Ward, ranked 175, who beat former top 20 Sam Querrey on Friday.

Italy defeats Argentina:

Carlos Berlocq def Andreas Seppi 4-6 6-0 6-2 6-1
Fabio Fognini def Juan Monaco 7-5 6-2 6-2
Simone Bolelli/Fabio Fognini def Eduardo Schwank/Horacio Zeballos 6-7 7-6 7-6 6-4
Fabio Fognini def Carlos Berlocq 7-6 4-6 6-1 6-4

With his third victory of the weekend, Fabio Fognini sent Italy through to its second quarterfinal since 1998. It is Argentina’s first opening round defeat in 13 years.

Kazakhstan defeats Belgium: 3-2

Mikhail Kukushkin def Ruben Bemelmans 6-4 6-7 6-2 6-3
Andrey Golubev def David Goffin 7-6 3-6 4-6 6-2 12-10
Ruben Bemelmans/Olivier Rochus def Evgeny Korolev/Mikhail Kukushkin 6-2 6-7 6-3 7-6
David Goffin def Mikhail Kukushkin 4-6 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-0
Andrey Golubev def Ruben Bemelmans 6-2 6-3 6-1

Switzerland defeats Serbia: 3-0

Roger Federer def Ilija Bozoljac 6-4 7-5 6-2
Stanislas Wawrinka def Dusan Lajovic 6-4 4-6 6-1 7-6
Marco Chiudinelli/Michael Lammer def Filip Krajinovic/Nenad Zimonjic 7-6 3-6 7-6 6-2

Roger Federer made last-minute decision to play the Davis Cup tie in Serbia and he joined forces with recent Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka and doubles pair Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer to oust Djokovic-less Serbia 3-0.
The Davis Cup has never been a top priority for him and it remains a true hole in Federer’s impressive curriculum vitae.

The quarterfinals:

Japan – Czech Republic
France – Germany
Italy – Great Britain
Switzerland – Kazakhstan

Which team will win the Davis Cup this year?

  • Switzerland (67%, 31 Votes)
  • France (20%, 9 Votes)
  • Czech Republic (7%, 3 Votes)
  • Great Britain (4%, 2 Votes)
  • Italy (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Germany (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Japan (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Kazakhstan (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 46

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Novak Djokovic Australian Open outfit

UNIQLO has announced it will open a pop up store in the heart of Melbourne, ahead of its official launch of the company’s very first Australian store.

To celebrate its first retail offer in Australia, UNIQLO will also let Australian sports fans be the very first in the world to get their hands on the 2014 Australian Open replica matchwear as designed for UNIQLO Global Brand Ambassador, Novak Djokovic.

For the first two weeks of opening, the UNIQLO POP UP STORE will feature Novak Djokovic’s new range, before then showcasing a variety of signature clothing ranges from UNIQLO over consecutive four week periods.

UNIQLO pop up store:
171 Swanston Street, Melbourne
From January 18 to March 31

Queensland has a long history of tennis, producing world class tennis champions, including Rod Laver and Pat Rafter. Tennis in Queensland is set for resurgence with the completion of the new Queensland State Tennis Centre in Brisbane.

Set on the banks of the iconic Brisbane River at Tennyson, the $82 million state-of-the-art facility, built in 2009, includes:
Pat Rafter Arena, a 5 500 seat under cover centre court, named in honour of the Australian tennis hero Patrick Rafter
– 23 International Tennis Federation-standard courts built with all three Grand Slam surfaces (clay, grass and plexicushion)
– public amenities including pro-shop, cafĂ©, change rooms
– administrative offices for Tennis Queensland

Since January 2009 the Queensland Tennis Centre has been the host centre for the Brisbane International, a combination of the former Next Generation Adelaide International event in Adelaide and the Mondial Gold Coast Women’s championships.

This year, the combined tournament has attracted big names such as Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka. Follow all the matches on brisbaneinternational.com.au

brisbane3

Queensland Tennis Centre, Brisbane

Queensland Tennis Centre, Brisbane

Queensland Tennis Centre, Brisbane

Queensland Tennis Centre, Brisbane

Queensland Tennis Centre, Brisbane

Queensland Tennis Centre, Brisbane