Martina Navratilova, WImbledon 1978

Extract from Inside tennis – a season on the pro tour by Peter Bodo and June Harrison:

On Friday, the morning of the women’s final between Navratilova and Evert, the air is cool and crisp; the packed galleries of the Centre Court hum with anticipation.

The women exchange breaks to start the match, then play the next few games lightly and elegantly. It is elevated, pleasant tennis, free of corrosive personal antagonisms. Breaks in the sixth and eight games give Evert the first set. The match is reminiscent of the Navratilova-Goolagong semifinal, with the Czech again taking the first game of the second set. Again, she is extended in the next game. But this time she mistimes an easy overhead at deuce and misses the ball completely. Disconcerted, she hits a poor volley and is handily passed by Evert to give the break back.

But the overhead blunder awakens Navratilova. She takes Evert’s serve at 15 in the next game and then holds at love. The match has climbed a level; the ethereal beginnings have yielded to tennis that takes on increasing grandeur. Evert holds to trail, 2-3. At 15-30 in the next game, with both players at the net, Evert hits a backhand volley that strikes her opponent in the head. Navratilova collapses, more from embarrassment than pain. When she gets up, smiling, Evert is waiting at the net to give her head a friendly rub. Again, the fluky occurrence stimulates Navratilova’s game. She forces Evert into an error and then makes short work of an overhead to reach deuce. Although Evert wins an advantage point, three crushing volleys by Navratilova take the game. There are no more breaks; Navratilova takes the second set, 6-4.

Evert begins the final set with a tentative game; a double fault for 15-30 and a flurry of errors give Navratilova another break. Two games go by routinely before Evert stirs again, holding four break points against her opponent. The game is a classic, with Navratilova’s booming serves and forcing volleys offset by Evert’s uncanny anticipation and precise passing shots under acute pressure. In the end, Evert finally gets the break when Navratilova floats a sliced backhand approach shot too deep in her eagerness to get to the net.

It has become one of those matches in which breaks cease to matter because the level of skill is so high. Although Chris breaks again for a 4-2 lead, Martina is unflappable. It seems as if this match will go to the player who mounts the most furious assault through the closing games, and that proves to be Navratilova. She hits her peak with a love game that levels the score at 5-all, and she takes twelve of the last thirteen points. Evert simply lacks the mental and physical stamina to stay with her, and when Navratilova hits yet another winning backhand volley right to the corner of court, it is over.

While club officials unrolled the crimson carpet for the presentation ceremony, Evert and Navratilova stood by the umpire’s chair.
“How come you’re not crying?” Evert asked.
“I don’t know,” Martina replied with embarrassment. “I don’t want to, not in front of all these people.”
“I did, the first time,” Evert said.
Navratilova was speechless.
“I can’t believe it,” Evert continued. “I hit you in the head with the ball and you started playing better.”
The winner remained incapacitated.

When the Duchess of Kent presented the trophy, she offered to assist in Navratilova’s efforts to win travel privileges for her parents.
Nobody on earth can conduct a ceremony as briefly and decorously as the English. Within minutes it was over. When Navratilova came to the pressroom, she was surprisingly coherent. She said she did not know whether to cry or laugh; all she wanted to do was share her joy with her family, whom she would call later. She felt a chauvinistic flush of pride, the first since her defection, because she considered her victory a triumph for the Czech people.

By the time the formalities were concluded and Navratilova returned to the Inn on the Park, the champion was able to get right through to her parents on the telephone.
The televised image of Martina was the first her parents had seen of her in over two years. However, the first topic of conversation between Martina and her father was the forehand volley. He told her that she was starting her backswing too high. She laughed and told him that she wasn’t calling for a lesson.

Roland Garros 2017: ten is Rafa

Rafa Nadal dispatched Stan Wawrinka in straight sets 6-2 6-3 6-1 to win his 10th Roland Garros title, his 15th Grand Slam overall. He only lost 35 games in 7 matches en route to his Decima.

To further honor Rafa’s latest record, Nike is releasing commemorative T-shirts and a limited number of pairs of NikeCourt Tennis Classic El Decimo shoes, available June 12 exclusively at Nike Paris Champs-Élysées.

Rafa Nadal shirt la Decima

Rafa Nadal shirt la Decima

Rafa shoes la Decima

Novak Djokovic signs with Lacoste

There were rumours since January that Novak Djokovic would sign with French brand Lacoste once his contract with Uniqlo over, it is now official: Djokovic is the newest member of the Croc family.

Lacoste has developed for Novak Djokovic an eponymous clothing line to be worn on the court. These outfits have been specially designed to kit out the champion during the Grand Slam’s tournaments as well as dress him for the other tournaments of the season. The Novak Djokovic collection will be available in Lacoste boutiques, starting May 2017.

Novak Djokovic outfit for Roland Garros

Let’s have a look at Novak’s outfits for the upcoming tournaments.

Roland Garros:

Novak Djokovic outfit for Roland Garros 2017

Novak Djokovic outfit for Roland Garros 2017
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Pablo Carreno Busta, winner of the Estoril Open 2017

Finalist last year, Pablo Carreno Busta defeated Gilles Muller in straight sets 6-2 7-6 to win his third career title.

“It’s my first title on clay, so I’m really happy,” said Carreno Busta. “It wasn’t an easy match today because of his serve and also the volley, but I was confident with my serve. He served better in the second set, but I played better in the tie-break.”

The number one seed didn’t drop a set all week and had convincing wins over Tommy Robredo, defending champion Nicolas Almagro, and David Ferrer. With this victory, Pablo makes his return to the top 20, climbing three positions to number 18 in the world.

Gilles Muller who captured his first ATP title earlier this year in Sydney, was also pleased with his performance:

“My performance was fine in the second set, but I had a really tough time getting into the match in the first set. He was putting pressure on me and not missing many balls,” said Muller. “I think I could have played better, but he was just too good.”

Estoril Open, 07.05.2017 - The Finals!

Estoril Open, 07.05.2017 - The Finals!

Estoril Open, 07.05.2017 - The Finals!

Estoril Open, 07.05.2017 - The Finals!
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Australian Open 1995: centre court floods

Extract from Tennis’s strangest matches by Peter Seddon:

‘It was hard to tell whether Andre Agassi looked more like the Pirate King, Sinbad the Sailor or Popeye,’ wrote Alan Tengrove in Australian Tennis Magazine in 1995 after he had seen the Las Vegas-born 24-year-old bludgeon his way through the field to win the Australian Open at his first attempt.

Maybe Agassi knew something nobody else did because in his semifinal against fellow American Aaron Krickstein, his newly adopted seafaring style certainly ended up looking more appropriate than anyone could possibly have predicted.

Turning up at Melbourne’s magnificent Flinders Park (now Melbourne Park) wearing gold earrings in both ears, a bandana and sporting a goatee-stye beard certainly made Double ‘A’ look like something that had wandered in from the set of a Peter Pan movie, but the high-seas look hardly seemed appropriate for an antipodean summer at a stadium where play had been known to have been suspended on the grounds of it being too hot.

That’s not to say that the Australian Open hadn’t known rain before. Indeed when the pressure built up, heavy tropical storms were apt to erupt, but that sort of natural phenomenon couldn’t scupper the organizers at Flinders Park because they had a major secret weapon of their own up their sleeve.

Their famous retractable roof over the stunning centre court meant not even the heaviest rain could damper their spirits.

As the crowd settled for the start of the Agassi-Krickstein semi on Friday 27 January 1995 they had every reason to believe they’d see a full-length match with no unforeseen weather problems. In the event they were wrong on both counts.

Some rain had already been forecast so the roof was closed prior to the start of play. Agassi captured the first set 6-4, a set in which Krickstein tweaked a groin to add to the hamstring injury he was already carrying. Obviously affected but hanging in there, Krickstein again limited Agassi to 6-4 in the second as rain began drumming down relentlessly on the roof above.

As the crowd willed Krickstein to keep going as he trailed 3-0 in the third, the fact that they had been denied a classic was at least balanced by the knowledge they’d cheated nature, so often the tennis killjoy. If the Agassi game finished quickly there would surely be another match scheduled.

Five minutes later hopes were shattered on both fronts. As the sky was lit an almighty lightning flash and the faintest trickle of water had begun to creep into one corner of the court, Krickstein decided he could no longer carry on because of the injury. Maybe he foresaw the deluge that followed.

As the crowd applause rippled and the players began to leave court, ripples of a more watery kind seemed to be getting larger. Had the unbreachable roof failed? No. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.

The elements decided to attack from below and seep up from underneath the court. Within five minutes of the players’ departure the entire court was under water and play was abandoned fir the day.

‘It soon rose to knee-height,’ stated The Times under the masterful headline ‘AGASSI TIDE ROLLS ON AS KRICKSTEIN REACHES LOWEST EBB’.

‘Dozens of people, including Wimbledon champion Conchita Martinez, went paddling in the instantly created pool,’ added the Guardian.

There have been tennis floods but never one quite so unexpected or impossible as this one. All was revealed to the equally soggy press shortly afterwards as many reporters perched atop desks marooned in the state-of-the-art pressroom which had also meekly succumbed.

The lighting had caused a partial power failure which shut down the pumping equipment that usually conveyed surplus stem water into the River Yarra adjacent to the grounds. As pressure in the drains intensified a number of them simply blew and opted to disgorge themselves on Centre Court.

‘You would think that with a roof over the stadium, you’ve got all the angles covered,’ mused Agassi, ‘but I hope the court is dray for Sunday and it’s going to be fun.’
It was and it was. Pistol Pete Sampras was made to walk the plank as Agassi triumphed in four sets.

Photo credit: Clive Brunskill / Getty Images Sport / Getty

2016 US Open Angie Kerber

“When I was a kid I was always dreaming to one day be the No. 1 player in the world, to win Grand Slams. And today is the day. All the dreams came true this year.” — Angelique Kerber

What a year indeed for Angie Kerber: 3 Grand Slam finals, silver at the Olympics and the number one spot. Here’s a look at Kerber’s career by the numbers:

2003: Kerber turned pro in 2003, aged 15

2012: she wins her first WTA tournament, the Open GDF in Paris, defeating Marion Bartoli in the final

10: Kerber has won 10 tournaments in her career so far

0: she has never won a Premier tournament (the WTA’s equivalent to the ATP Masters 1000)

10: her rankings at the start of the season

8730: her number of WTA points

22: Kerber became the 22nd player to reach the number one spot since the WTA ranking was introduced in November 1975.

1: at 28 years old, she became the oldest female player to debut at the top spot.

2: she’s the second German player to reach number one, 21 years after her idol Steffi Graf.

3: she’s only the third left-handed player, after Martina Navratilova and Monica Seles.

A few pictures from the final thanks to Satoshi Tsuboi:

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