Extract from The Rivals by Johnette Howard:

“Evert and Navratilova played the first of their eighty career matches in Akron, Ohio, to no fanfare. It was March 22, 1973, and Navratilova – who was merely hoping to make Evert remember her name – lost the first-round encounter 7-6 6-3 before a few hundred people.

It wasn’t until two years later in their sixth match, a 1975 quarterfinal in Washington DC, that Navratilova beat Evert for the first time. Navratilova was so thrilled, she didn’t sleep at all that night.

It wasn’t until 1976 and their seventeenth meeting – after Navratilova had dropped weight and improved her game – that Evert, by now Navratilova’s friend and sometime doubles partner, publicly betrayed her first scintilla of concern. Navratilova had just beaten her in Houston for the first time ever in a final.

“If she keeps this up, she could be pretty good.” Chris Evert

Martina Navratilova, Australian Open 1981

Extract from The Rivals by Johnette Howard:

“The first three majors of 1981 had been divided among Hana Mandlikova, Evert and Austin. Navratilova‘s Grand Slam title drought, meanwhile, had extended to twenty-eight months.

Yet as Navratilova and Evert walked out onto the court at Kooyong Stadium in Melbourne for the 1981 Australian Open final, Evert felt that “Martina had the momentum” – an odd remark considering that Evert hadn’t dropped a set. But Evert noticed that Navratilova had begun to display a fiercer edge, a more resilient confidence during her tournament run.

At times Evert felt sure she had struck unreachable shots – “Against anyone else they would’ve been winners” Evert said – only to see Martina somehow run down the ball or snare it at full stretch and crack back a volley winner.
“She would be on top of the net so quickly I would have to hit a perfect passing shot”, Evert said.
aEvert was magnificently up to the challenge. In the brillantly played first set, Evert and Navratilova were even at 5-5, then 6-6, then 4-all in the tiebreaker before Evert captured three set points to win it. Evert inched away to a 4-3 lead in the second set too. But Navratilova produced her best game of the match to hold at 4-all. Then Navratilova allowed only two points in the next two games, and the seesawing match was level at a set apiece.

Navratilova, seemingly exhilarated by her comeback, bolted off to a 5-1 lead in the final set, only to see something stir in Evert that was beyond fear and closer to self-loathing. It was that same stomach-turning thought that often drove Evert: the galling idea of having to make nice at the net with her overjoyed opponent after a loss. In that instant, the details faded and Evert quit thinking about how Navratilova’s net-smothering play had demanded almost impossible precision from her. Like Navratilova, Evert began playing on row emotion now.
“At that point you are so mad, you just find yourself going for your shots more subbornly”, Evert said. “My shots were hitting the lines. I was connecting with the ball as well as I could have.”

For the next six or seven games, she and Navratilova were like two fighters deep into a fifteen-round bout, weary but willing. Evert stormed back to 5-all. The tension was thick. Each rally had now become a test of nerve. Yet again, Evert didn’t feel safe. When Evert searched Navratilova’s body language or eyes right then for any familiar hint of tightness, none was there.

In this, their forty-fourth confrontation, Navratilova was suddenly an opponent Evert did not quite know. “Martina didn’t panic”, Evert said.
Evert was serving now at 5-5. With the score knotted at 30-all, Evert blasted a forehand long to give Navratilova a potentially decisive break point. Hoping to surprise Navratilova, Evert rushed the net first – only to end up in an eyeball-to-eyeball exhange of volleys that Navratilova won.

For the third time now, Navratilova began a new game serving for the match. Evert struck one last passing shot – long – and her shoulders sagged.

Navratilova had won the Australian Open 6-7 6-4 7-5. Her career total of major titles had finally ticked up to three.”

Novak Djokovic
Preview, recap and analysis:

Novak Djokovic first practice session
Roger Federer first practice session
Day 1 recap
Day 2 recap
Day 3 recap
Day 4 recap
Day 5 recap
Day 6 recap
Day 7 recap
Women’s semifinals highlights
Li Na and Dominika Cibulkova roads to the 2014 Australian Open final
Rafael Nadal and Stanislas Wawrinka roads to the 2014 Australian Open final
Li Na defeats Dominika Cibulkova, wins first Australian Open title

A trip down memory lane:

Australian Open trivia
The tragedy of Daphne Akhurst
The Norman Brookes Challenge Cup
1960 Australian Open: Neale Feaser, a costly volley
1960: first Grand Slam title for Rod Laver
1960-63 Australian Open: Jan Lehane four time runner-up
1974 Australian Open: Jimmy Connors first Grand Slam title
1981: First Australian Open title for Martina Navratilova
1987-1988 Swedes spoil the party
January 11, 1988: first day of play at Flinders Park
1994: First Australian Open title for Pete Sampras
1996 Australian Open: Mark Philippoussis defeats Pete Sampras in the 3rd round
1997 Australian Open: Pete Sampras defeats Carlos Moya
2001 Australian Open: Pat’s last chance
2001 Australian Open final: Andre Agassi defeats Arnaud Clément
2003 Australian Open: last Grand Slam title for Agassi
2005 Australian Open: Heartbreak for Lleyton Hewitt
2009 Australian Open: Rafael Nadal defeats Roger Federer

Fashion and gear:

Andy Murray adidas outfit
Ana Ivanovic adidas dress
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga adidas outfit
Caroline Wozniacki dress by Stella McCartney
Rafael Nadal signature shoes: the Nike Lunar Ballistec
Roger Federer signature shoes: the Nike Zoom Vapor 9.5
Novak Djokovic Uniqlo outfit
Venus Williams dress by EleVen
Rafael Nadal Nike outfit
Roger Federer Nike outfit
Serena Williams Nike dress
Maria Sharapova Nike dress
Victoria Azarenka Nike outfit
Li Na Nike outfit
Juan Martin del Potro Nike outfit
Lleyton Hewitt C’mon outfit
Kei Nishikori Uniqlo outfit
Eugenie Bouchard Nike outfit
Flavia Pennetta outfit by Stella McCartney

Polls:

Who will be the 2014 Australian Open champion?

  • Rafael Nadal (33%, 92 Votes)
  • Novak Djokovic (28%, 80 Votes)
  • Roger Federer (27%, 76 Votes)
  • Juan Martin Del Potro (4%, 11 Votes)
  • Andy Murray (4%, 10 Votes)
  • Stanislas Wawrinka (2%, 5 Votes)
  • Tomas Berdych (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Other (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Richard Gasquet (0%, 1 Votes)
  • David Ferrer (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 283

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Australian Open 2014 champion?

  • Serena Williams (49%, 70 Votes)
  • Victoria Azarenka (15%, 21 Votes)
  • Maria Sharapova (12%, 17 Votes)
  • Na Li (9%, 13 Votes)
  • Other (5%, 7 Votes)
  • Caroline Wozniacki (4%, 6 Votes)
  • Jelena Jankovic (3%, 4 Votes)
  • Agniezska Radwanska (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Angelique Kerber (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Petra Kvitova (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Sara Errani (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 144

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Lotto Sport turns 40 this year and celebrates its anniversary with a book retracing its rich history: Lotto, una leggenda italiana (Lotto, an italian legend).

Lotto was established in 1973 by the Caberlotto family (who were the properties of the football team Treviso) in Montebelluna, northern Italy. Tennis shoes signaled the beginning of production, followed by models for basketball, volleyball, athletics and football.
Over the years, Lotto sponsored top tennis players like Martina Navratilova, Boris Becker and Thomas Muster.

From 1973 to 2013, the book features 40 iconic images that each immortalize a key moment of Lotto, be it an event, a very special fan as Pope Francis, a team like Milan or Juventus, or an athlete of the caliber of Dino Zoff or Ruud Gullit, Martina Navratilova and Boris Becker, Dino Meneghin or Luca Toni.
Each picture is accompanied by a text in italian and english.

A few pics from the book: Martina Navratilova, Francesca Schiavone, Boris Becker and John Newcombe.

Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova

Francesca Schiavone

Francesca Schiavone

Boris Becker

John Newcombe

Lotto, una leggenda italiana is on sale on Amazon for 60€.

Photo credit: Lotto Sport

Roland Garros visitor’s guide:

How to buy Roland Garros tickets
Roland Garros 2013 FAQ
Get behind the scenes at Roland Garros – part 1
Get behind the scenes at Roland Garros – part 2
Take a seat: court Suzanne Lenglen
Take a seat: court Philippe Chatrier
Today at Roland Garros: Court Philippe Chatrier
Longines Smash Corner
Roland Garros store
Beach tennis and mini tennis at Roland Garros

Fashion and gear:

Rafael Nadal Nike outfit preview
Rafael Nadal Nike outfit
Nadal Nike Air Max Courtballistec 4.3
Roger Federer Nike outfit preview
Roger Federer Nike outfit
Federer Nike Zoom Vapor 9 Tour
Maria Sharapova Nike outfit
Serena Williams Nike outfit
Victoria Azarenka Nike outfit
Li Na Nike outfit
Juan Martin Del Potro Nike outfit
Caroline Wozniacki adidas dress
Andrea Petkovic adidas outfit
Ana Ivanovic adidas outfit
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga adidas outfit
Novak Djokovic Uniqlo outfit
Venus Williams dress by EleVen
Maria Sharapova footwear collection

A trip down memory lane:

1956: First time at Roland Garros for Rod Laver
1969: Rod Laver defeats Ken Rosewall
1982: At the request of Monsieur Wilander
1982: first Grand Slam for Mats Wilander
1984 French Open: Ivan Lendl defeats John McEnroe
1985 French Open: Chris Evert defeats Martina Navratilova
1990 French Open: Opposites attract, Gomez defeats Agassi
1991 French Open final: Jim Courier defeats Andre Agassi
Steffi Graf – Martina Hingis Roland Garros 1999
1999 French Open: Agassi-Graf, two days, one destiny
2005: Rafael Nadal defeats Mariano Puerta
2008: Rafael Nadal defeats Roger Federer
A look back at Roland Garros 2011

Recap and analysis:

Heading to Roland Garros
Day 1 recap part 1: Ana Ivanovic, Serena Williams and Roger Federer
Day 1 recap part 2: Laura Robson, Ernests Gulbis, Tommy Haas…
Pics of Serena Williams first round match
Pics of Roger Federer first round match
Pics of Ana Ivanovic first round match
Day 2 recap: Mikhail Youzhny, John Isner, Svetlana Kuznetsova…
Tommy Robredo practice session

Polls:

Roland Garros 2013 men's winner?

  • Rafael Nadal (49%, 91 Votes)
  • Novak Djokovic (26%, 48 Votes)
  • Roger Federer (17%, 31 Votes)
  • Juan Martin Del Potro (3%, 5 Votes)
  • Other (2%, 3 Votes)
  • David Ferrer (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Tomas Berdych (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Andy Murray (1%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 185

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Roland Garros 2013 women's winner?

  • Serena Williams (41%, 66 Votes)
  • Maria Sharapova (35%, 56 Votes)
  • Victoria Azarenka (9%, 15 Votes)
  • Other (4%, 7 Votes)
  • Li Na (3%, 5 Votes)
  • Sam Stosur (3%, 5 Votes)
  • Agniezska Radwanska (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Angelique Kerber (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Petra Kvitova (1%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 162

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Which French player has the best chance to win RG 2013?

  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (66%, 56 Votes)
  • Richard Gasquet (21%, 18 Votes)
  • Benoit Paire (6%, 5 Votes)
  • Other (5%, 4 Votes)
  • Gilles Simon (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Paul Henri Mathieu (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Jérémy Chardy (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Julien Benneteau (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Michael Llodra (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 85

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During the recent ATP world tour semifinal, I listened with interest to the radio commentary between Roger Federer and Andy Murray.

Andy Murray came out of the blocks all guns blazing playing aggressively and going after Federer, taking an early break and controlling the match. Federer sounded a bit rattled, not too dissimilar to the start of the Wimbledon final in July. The commentators then got into an interesting discussion where they claimed that Murray was targeting the Federer backhand and Murray thought he could get to it and be almost “dismissive” of it. Federer’s one hander somehow wouldn’t cut it at the very top level they mused.

Roger Federer

My ears pricked up instantly for two reasons, the first was I thought the commentators were taking liberties; and the second was that I have heard it all before. There is no doubt the two hander has major advantages in the modern game, and has done since the 1970s when Jimmy Connnors, Bjorn Borg and Chris Evert changed the game with that stroke. However, the way Federer turned the match around confirmed to me what I thought from the moment the discussion was made by the commentators.

For sure, the pundits will look to Federer’s forehand as to why he came out on top in that particular encounter. After all, the Federer forehand is deadly especially when his feet are moving well. However, what changed the match was Federer’s versatility, and his one hander was a big part of that. Federer changed the tempo of the rallies often, using the one hander when stretched to slice the ball and float it, allowing him to get back into position.
Federer also chipped the backhand return on Murray’s 2nd serve, and on breakpoint in the 1st set, used the old chip and charge tactic to great effect, breaking Murray’s serve in the process. Federer also used the backhand down the line whenever possible to stretch Murray.

These were exactly the same tactics Federer used to turn around the Wimbledon final, on that occasion Federer also drove the backhand return often and took to the net more than he usually does. When those tactics work, the forehand is the icing on the cake. The fact that Murray thought he could win the match by attacking the backhand was a mistake, a mistake many players have made over the last five or six years. Nadal’s lefty topspin has always been a big problem but other opponents hit flatter and into his hitting zone.

Roger Federer
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