Risk tennis a lost art form

Earlier this year I wrote an article about the pace of indoor surfaces and the demise of indoor carpet on the ATP and WTA tours. (see article here) Quick indoor carpet has been completely phased out in favour of medium paced indoor hardcourts based on the plexicushion surface. The slowing down in surfaces has led to a convergence in style of play and allowed defensive minded players to get to the very top of the game and stay there.

Recently Roger Federer called for surfaces to speeded up once again “It’s an easy fix. Just make quicker courts, then it’s hard to defend,” Federer said. “Attacking style is more important. It’s only on this type of slow courts that you can defend the way we are all doing right now.”

Roger Federer

When I spoke to the ATP spokesman back in February, he clearly gave the view the surfaces were slowed down and carpet phased out because there were too many complaints that the big serve was dominating tennis. That is a pity because my article clearly dispelled the myth that faster surfaces were only dominated by big servers, I pointed out that many baseliners loved the quicker surfaces.

Players like Ivan Lendl won over 30 tournaments on indoor carpet, much more tournaments on one surface than most players win in an entire career. Lendl won 5 year end Masters titles (ATP World Tour) and played in 8 straight finals between 1982 and 1989. Also Lendl won these titles against the likes of John McEnroe, Boris Becker, and Stefan Edberg.

Monica Seles was another player who excelled on indoor carpet, and yet both she and Lendl won multiple titles at the French Open, the slowest surface on tour. Martina Hingis also excelled on indoor carpet. In the mens game, Andre Agassi, Gustavo Kuerten, Lleyton Hewitt and Alex Corretja won the year end championships indoors whilst Jim Courier played in finals in 1991 and 1992 and Michael Chang in 1995.
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At the 2012 Australian Open back in January, Roger Federer debuted the Nike Zoom Vapor 9 Tour, his most advanced tennis shoe to date. Created by Tinker Hatfield, the shoe was an instant classic, featuring a foot frame for increased support, Lunarlon and Zoom Air in the heel for lightweight cushioning, and finally Adaptive Fit that wraps around the midfoot for a personalized fit.

The shoe now makes its customization debut at NIKEiD in Men’s, Women’s and Kid’s sizes. You can now create your own personal version of the Zoom Vapor 9 Tour.

Get started at NIKEiD now.


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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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Roger Federer

No Miami, no Monte Carlo and no Basel for Roger Federer who has published his 2013 schedule on his website.
And of course no Davis Cup.

For a player who aims to be the greatest player of all time, this disinterest for the Davis Cup is quite surprising. If Berdych and Stepanek can reach the Davis Cup final two years in a row, there’s no reason Federer couln’t have done one thing or two in Davis Cup with Wawrinka.

Federer’s 2013 schedule:

Australian Open, Melbourne
ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, Rotterdam
Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, Dubai
BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells
Mutua Madrid Open, Madrid
Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome
Roland Garros, Paris
Gerry Weber Open, Halle
Wimbledon, London
Rogers Cup, Montreal
Western & Southern Open, Cincinnati
US Open, New York
Shanghai Rolex Masters, Shanghai
BNP Masters, Paris

“Roger Federer’s Tennis Challenge” – that’s the name of the iPhone and iPad tennis game that Crédit Suisse has launched in its Les Amis du Crédit Suisse app.
Each week, between November 5 and December 2, the best and most active players have the chance to win a prize autographed by Roger Federer.

Download the app on itunes.

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Arena

All players play three round-robin matches against rivals in their group to determine a winner and runner-up from each group, who advance to the knockout stage of the tournament.
In the semi-finals the winner of Group A plays the runner-up of Group B and the winner of Group B plays the runner-up of Group A. Semi-final winners advance to the final.

Singles:

- Group A: Novak Djokovic (1), Andy Murray (3), Tomas Berdych (5), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (7)

- Group B: Roger Federer (2), David Ferrer (4), Juan Martin del Potro (6), Janko Tipsarevic (8)

Doubles:

-Group A: Bob and Mike Bryan (1), Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek (3), Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez (6), Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Rojer (7)

-Group B: Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor (2), Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau (4), Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna (5), Jonathan Marray and Frederik Nielsen (8)

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