US Open Tennis 2009 Winners

In a slew of late-in-the-tournament rain delays, the US Tennis Open 2009 provided two shocking winners for both the men and women’s tournament. Both sides produced what I might describe as wonder kids (or if you prefer wunderkinder), but with a twist.

On the Women’s side, the Belgian Kim Clijsters took full advantage of a wild card entry to sweep through 5 seeded players — not least of which both of the Williams sisters — to win in comfortable style 7-5, 6-3 against another surprise finalist, #9 seeded Caroline Wozniacki, from Denmark. Clijsters, who ‘retired’ prematurely in 2007, had taken off 2 years to have Jada, her daughter, who came on court (with father and basketballer Brian Lynch) to help her mother with the Trophy. Not since 1980, when Evonne Goolagong Cawley defeated Chris Evert at Wimbledon, has a mother won a Grand Slam title.  Along the way, Clijsters also became the first wild card entry to ever be crowned US Open champion.  The unseeded Clijsters jumped to 19th seed in the world immediately after the victory, now that she has completed her third professional tournament. A fairy tale tournament and year for Clijsters, whose father died at the beginning of the year.

In the Men’s draw, it was Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro, the 20-year-old sixth seed, who twice came back from a set down to win a monster five set match 3-6, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2 against the perennial favourite Roger Federer. Federer had been carrying a 40-match, 5 crowns-in-a-row unbeaten streak into this final. Ironically, another Argentine, David Nalbandian, was the last man to beat Federer at the US Open (in the fourth round of 2003). Del Potro joins Guillermo Vilas (1977) as the only other Argentine to have won the US Open. And it was the first time in 10 years that the final had gone to five sets. Federer was undoubtedly flustered yet again by the hawk eye, a technology that has earned Roger’s general disapproval (“I think it’s nonsense…”). So Federer will go down in history with five consecutive wins at the US Open, behind Bill Tilden’s 6 wins (each time over the feckless William Johnston) and Richard Sears (7 in a row at the end of the 19th century). Del Potro was an unlikely winner as far as I was concerned to the extent that he even managed to get beyond the high-potential Cilic in the quarters. Then he blew aside a lame #2 Nadal 6-2,6-2,6-2 in the semis.

For the doubles, on the men’s side it was the fourth seeded Leander Paes (IND) and Lukas Dlouhy (CZE) who beat third seeded Mahesh Bhupathi (IND) and Mark Knowles (BAH) in three sets 3-6,6-3,6-2, having also beaten the top seeded Bryan brothers (USA) in three sets in the semi-final.

And on the women’s side, the 4th seeded Williams sisters (USA) powered to victory over top seeded Cara Black (ZIM) and Liezel Huber (USA) by a score of 6-2,6-2, to redeem their singles performance.

Interesting fact on the men’s front: a right hander has won the title every year since 1985 (Lendl). However, from 1974 to 1984, it was a left hander who won (11 years in a row, and featuring four different players: Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Guillermo Vilas and Manuel Orantes). See more US Open Stats here.

Roland Garros French Open 2009 Winners – A Career Grand Slam signed Federer

Roger Federer Winning Roland Garros 2009
Roger Federer pulls off the Career Grand Slam

French Open 2009 Men’s Title
Roger Federer (#2) rolled over Robin Soderling (#23) in 3 sets, 6-2, 7-6 (1), 6-4, the ninth time in a row that Federer has beaten the surprising finalist. The young Swede had been the giant killer for four rounds in a row, but folded against history, horrid weather conditions and a hat-bearing intruder.

Roger Federer Winning Roland Garros French Open 2009Federer’s win is a triumph overdue in many respects, but the overwhelming tears as he dropped to his knees upon winning, showed the pent up emotion. In the six matches leading up to the Final, Federer had pulled off two five-set victories, battling back from being down 2 sets to 1 against the Argentine, Juan Martin Del Potro (5th seed), in the semi-finals [3-6,7-6(2),2-6,6-1,6-4], and in the fourth round, from 2 sets to 0 down against the unseeded German, Tommy Haas. [6-7(4),5-7,6-4,6-0,6-2]. On top of that, Federer also had to see off two popular French players, Paul Matthieu (4 sets) in the third round and Gael Monfils (3 sets) in the semi-finals. With this win, Federer finally earns his record-tying 14th Grand Slam and closes out the last of Slam titles that hitherto had eluded him because of his Roland Garros nemesis, Rafa Nadal who had been eliminated by Soderling. In so doing, Federer becomes the sixth ever career Grand Slammer. Kudos. Proof that the title was a draining experience, he pulled out of the Wimbledon warm-up grass court tournament in Halle, Germany.

French Open 2009 Women’s Title
An all-Russian affair, Svetlana Kuznetsova (#7) outnerved Dinara Safina (#1), to claim her second ever Grand Slam title and first French Open title, 6-4, 6-2. It was an ugly game, loaded with unforced errors and not that much fun to watch. Kuznetsova has won two titles this year, and now has 11 overall. For Safina, it is the third Grand Slam final she has lost, victim of fragile nerves.


French Open 2009 Men’s Doubles: Lukas Dlouhy (Czech Republic) and Leander Paes (India) (seeded #3) fought back to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 over the unseeded Wesley Moodie (RSA) and Dick Norman (Belgian), who had themselves knocked off the Bryan Brothers coming back from losing the first set to 0, then winning the second set in a tie break.

French Open 2009 Women’s Doubles: Anabel Medina Garrigues-Virginia Ruano Pascual, Spain defeated Victoria Azarenka (BLR) and Elena Vesnina (Rus) in a fairly one-sideed 6–1, 6–1.
French Open 2009 Mixed Doubles: Liezel Huber-Bob Bryan, both US, overcame Vania King (US) and Marcelo Melo (Brazil) in a gargantuan battle: 5–7, 7–6(5), 10–7.

Tennis Wimbledon 2008 Winners

The grass may have slowed Wimbledon down, but the epics kept coming.

As with virtually any Wimbledon fortnight that I have known, there was a bit of rain to slow down the event. But, this year, the ‘new’ grass Wimbledon 2008which was introduced in 2001 just seemed to make the bounce rather too regular. According to this June 18, 2008, Time Magazine article (or Boschendal’s Wine Blog), the new grass is 100% perennial rye (rather than a mix of 70% perennial and 30% creeping red fescue). If English sense of humour is dry, then Wimbledon’s is rye. And the court’s speed means baseliners are ruling the day. Of course, it is true that a decade ago, at times, it felt like the serve-and-volley (Sampras, Ivanisevic…) was too expeditious.

Rafa Nadal wins Wimbledon 2008As slow and predictable as the grass may have been, the standout match — and another thrilling epic between the two men — was the amazing five-set men’s final between Roger Federer (#1) and Rafael Nadal (#2). Nadal jumped to a 2-0 set lead, which was erased by a combatant Federer to even up the match 2-2 with two consecutive serious tie-breaker sets. In the end, Nadal managed the momentum reversal, overcame 3 failed match point conversions in the fourth set, several rain delays, and eeked out a monumental 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7 (8-10), 9-7 win. Nadal won 209 points to Federer’s 204. Each had 13 breakpoint opportunities, with Nadal capitalizing on 4 of them to Federer’s one. While sending out 25 aces, Federer also committed 52 unforced errors (to 27 for Nadal). Therein lies the rub. Thus endeth Nadal’s Wimbledon drought and Federer’s magnificent run of 65 straight victories and 5 consecutive titles.

One of the other highlight finals of Wimbledon 2008 will surely be the wonderful men’s doubles, won by the Canadian doubles veteran, Dan Nestor with his partner Nenad Zimonjic (2nd seeds), overcoming Jonas Bjorkman and Kevin Ullyet (8th seeds) 7-6,6-7,6-3,6-3 (who earlier had dispatched the #1 seeded Bryan brothers in the semi-finals in a tight-as-can-be 7-6,5-7,7-6,7-6 victory). Nestor and Zimonjic pulled off the first set 14-12 in the first tie-break.

Women’s Results

On the women’s side, the singles final came down, one more time, to the Williams sisters. [And, so too did the women’s doubles title.] Venus (#7) toppled her younger sister Serena (#6) 7-5, 6-4 to take her fifth singles title. Venus’ draw wasn’t particularly difficult, but to her credit she never dropped a set. It was the 7th time the sisters have met in a Grand Slam Final, with Serena having won the grand majority ever since Venus’ 2001 win at Wimbledon, including Serena’s two championship wins in the last two sisterly confrontations at Wimbledon. In the women’s doubles, the 11th seeded Williams’ beat 16th seeded Lisa Raymond USA and Samantha Stosur AUS 6-2,6-2.

And in the other final featuring sibling rivalry (the Byran brothers), Bob Bryan and Samantha Stosur (loser in the women’s doubles) upset top-seeded twin brother Mike Bryan and Slovakia’s Katarina Srebotnik in the mixed doubles in straight sets 7-5, 6-4.

All England’s Tournament was another fine fortnight of famous fights– despite the grass.

Double-handed backhand dominating if not dulling women’s tennis

The double-handed backhand: dominatrix of women’s tennis

I read with interest in USA Today, June 25, 2008, an article entitled, “Women’s one-handed backhand becomes mostly a dropped shot.” The article points out there are 7 women players in the top 100 that have a one-handed backhand and the highest ranked is Francesca Shiavone (20th). The ages of these seven players features one 19-year-old and the remainder are between 25 and 34. The precocious retirement of Justine Henin took out the only bona fide champion with a single hand backhand (and a beautiful one at that). A few women have a single-handed slice backhand (Ana Ivanovic, for example). However, the game, its style and creativity, seem to have run the single-handed backhand out of the system. Evidently, the Eastern European machine is fabricating top class double-handed backhanders (Serbia and Russia together own 7 of the top 10 slots). Kudos meanwhile to the Williams sisters for penetrating into that fold and dominating Wimbledon...again. Too bad Serena wasn’t named Mars though. How much more fun would it be to see Venus facing off against Mars? As we know, Mars never dominates Venus.

As much as the double-fisted Jimmy Connors was exciting to watch in the 1970s and 1980s, a double handed backhand in men’s tennis is common currency today–if not the norm as well (13 of the top 20 in the ATP men’s ranking today have a double-handed backhand). There are still many single-handed backhanders in men’s tennis, including Federer‘s; but, trailing Roger in the rankings are six straight double-handers. If it is a less common site in men’s tennis, a “beautiful” [single-handed] backhand has become an exceptional thing to see in women’s tennis.

As a single-handed backhander, I feel nostalgia for the era when single double-handed backhands and net games were common, since it was also when the game was far more varied in style and creativity. Is it possible that tennis, like music, needs some good old fashioned bases? For tennis’ sake, the game will need to find an edge to keep the larger public interested. The general elimination of net and finesse players is doing tennis a great disservice. The thumping 2001 Wimbledon men’s final between Goran Ivanisevic and Patrick Rafter (38 aces and lots of net action) seems to be in the distant past. I, for one, now watch much less professional tennis (would rather be playing, yes). Maybe the uncovering of the [oh so evident] doping among the top players (read: Nadal in particular) will help stem the tide of power. What else can be done? Change the rules? Make the balls lighter?

Roland Garros French Open Winners 2008

The French Open 2008 came to a close with yet another resounding victory for Rafael Nadal as the Men’s Champion and the win of Ana Ivanovic on the Women’s side coinciding with her ascension to the #1 world ranking.

For Nadal (at right with his bionic muscles), on the men’s side, it was hisRafael Nadal - Bionic muscles fourth title in a row, with the last three coming at the cost of Roger Federer. The score in this year’s final was particularly punishing: 6-1,6-3,6-0. Nadal has now won 28 matches in a row (he has never lost at Roland Garros), tying Bjorn Borg’s record of four French titles in a row. And, along the way this year, Nadal didn’t drop a set, including in the more hotly contested match with Novak Djokovic 6-4,6-2,7-6(3). For Federer, it’s back to the drawing board. He may need a steroid-induced injury to Nadal to allow him to conquer the elusive French Open.

The men’s doubles were taken by the South American duo, Pablo Cuevas (Uruguay) and Luis Horna (Peru), pacing to a 6-2,6-3 score against Canadian Daniel Nestor and Serbian Nenad Zimonjic. The 2008 winners probably deserved their title, having knocked off the Byran brothers (USA) in the quarterfinals in a thrilling three set match 6-3,5-7,7-6(1).

On the women’s side, Ana Ivanovic took the singles honours and along with it the women’s world number 1 ranking, displacing Maria Sharapova in what seems to be a field dominated merely by Russian and Serbian players. Having lost in the final last year, this was a strong performance and just reward for Ivanovic, trouncing the surprise finalist Dinara Safina 6-4,6-3.

The women’s doubles were won by the 10th seeded Spanish duo, Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual, 2-6,7-5,6-4 come from behind victory over Dellacqua (Australia) and Schiavone (Italy).

All in all, an Open with little by way of scandals or major surprises. Nadal will surely break Borg’s record at the start of 2009 in terms of consecutive wins.

Tennis 2008: Men’s Field Wide Open

Mardy Fish embraces his win over FedererThe defeat of Federer and Nadal in the semi-finals this Easter weekend at the Pacific Life Open 2008 (Indian Wells) has me thinking this year will be a wide open year in men’s tennis. Not only has Federer not won a tournament this year, but he is getting beaten by mere mortals. Mardy Fish (seeded 98th in the world ATP) produced the latest fine upset (see the BBC writeup). Federer, who won this tournament 3 of the last four years, is definitely facing a serious challenge to his authority. Kudos to Mardy’s run, where he posted consecutive wins on 5 seeds (Andreev #31, Davydenko #4 and Hewitt #24 and former two-time champion and before the Roger scalp, the unpredictably good David Nalbandian #7). Mardy Fish had lost his first four encounters against Federer, so this was truly a great performance on his part.

On the other side of the draw, Novak Djokovic’s (#3) defeat of Rafael Nadal (#2 and defending champion) is a little less surprising in itself, if it weren’t for the double whammy (ie Roger losing too). Djokovic is definitely a force to be reckoned with. Australian Open 2008 wunderkid Tsonga put in a good match against Nadal; we surely haven’t heard the last of him!

To make the weekend all the more surprising, both “upsets” were by the same score 6-3, 6-2.

So, it looks like this year, the men’s field is opening up and that the domination of the mighty Federer and the mighty-armed Nadal may be put into serious question. While equality makes the field wide open, the Game of Tennis will need to have some superstars in order to keep attracting a paying audience. Let’s see how 2008 shapes up then!

UPDATE on March 24th: The 20-year-old Serb, Novak Djokovic beat Mardy Fish 6-2 5-7 6-3, in a tight match with plenty of swings in momentum (BBC writeup). Djokovic’s win here means his third Masters Series title of his career. Great tournament by Mardy Fish all the same. On the women’s side, Ana Ivanovic (BBC writeup), another 20-year old Serb, won 6-4, 6-3, against Svetlana Kuznetsova. The Serbs keep marching on (see a recent post on Serbian tennis wave – Eastern Revolution).

Australian Open Tennis Winners 2008

Australian Open Tennis 2008Thus endeth the Australian Open 2008.

Well, on the men’s side, Novak Djokovic pulled off the win against Federer and then saw off Tsonga in a closely contested 4-set final match (4-6 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7-2) – see the BBC report here). It was the first ever Grand Slam men’s singles victory for a Serb. Kudos. As Djokovic said in his post-victory conference, it was a strange match with ups and downs; but “[t]he difference is if you stay focused in the end.” This was a great example of the importance of psychology since, as the favourite between the two suprise finalists, Djokovic had to get over a blistering start from Tsonga. As for Jo-Wilfried, a great tournament having laid claim to some heavy scalps along the way, including 9th seeded Andy Murray in the first round, then Gasquet (8th seed, no respect!), Youzny (14th) and last but not least the big-armed Nadal (2nd). Not bad for the 38th ranked player.

On the women’s front, Maria Sharapova took the honors over Ana Ivanovic, avoiding a Serbian sweep in the singles. Note that Serbian Nenad Zimonjic (and female partner Sun) won the Mixed Doubles title. Also, local boy (Aussie that is), Bernard Tomic, won the Junior Boy’s Title… but you know that with such a name, he might just also have some Serbian blood.

All in all, a great tournament with some revelations in the men’s side. Still, I ask myself when are they going to start getting serious about cleaning up the drug trade?

Australian Open Tennis 2008

Australian Open Tennis 2008This would appear to be a great Australian Open 2008. Even though I haven’t been able see anything other than a few measly highlights, two comments come to mind:

1/ Bravo to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the discovery of the tournament… and hopefully, the beginning of a new era for him. And good luck against Roger (unless Djokovic pulls out the jokervich). mrgreen

2/ The Eastern Revolution. I don’t know where I have been recently, but I missed the complete overtaking of women’s tennis by the eastern European countries. Some statistics from this year’s Australian Open tournament:

  • In the singles, ten out of 16 women in the fourth round were from Eastern European countries.
  • In the singles semi-finals, all four women were from E Europe, with 2 from Serbia.
  • In the doubles final, three of the four participants were from Eastern Europe and none of those three even figured in the fourth round of the singles competition.
  • And, just veering back to the men, 5/16 in the fourth round were from Eastern Europe and 2/8 in the quarters… 1/4 in the semis… final?

I haven’t dared to evaluate the juniors, but it seems like something of a monopoly, no?

And I do just have to wonder about the nagging issue of doping, still.

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UPDATE ON MONDAY JANUARY 28th…

Well, on the men’s side, Novak Djokovic pulled off the win against Federer and then saw off Tsonga in a closely contested 4-set final match (see the BBC report here). It was the first ever Grand Slam men’s singles victory for a Serb. Kudos. As Djokovic said in his post-victory conference, it was a strange match with ups and downs; but “[t]he difference is if you stay focused in the end.” This was a great example of the importance of psychology since, as the favourite between the two suprise finalists, Djokovic had to get over a blistering start from Tsonga. As for Jo-Wilfried, a great tournament having laid claim to some heavy scalps along the way, including 9th seeded Andy Murray in the first round, then Gasquet (8th seed, no respect!), Youzny (14th) and last but not least the big-armed Nadal (2nd). Not bad for the 38th ranked player.

On the women’s front, Maria Sharapova took the honors over Ana Ivanovic, avoiding a Serbian sweep in the singles. Note that Serbian Nenad Zimonjic (and female partner Sun) won the Mixed Doubles title. Also, local boy, Bernard Tomic, won the Junior Boy’s Title… but you know that with such a name, he might just also have some Serbian blood.

All in all, a great tournament with some revelations in the men’s side. Still, I ask myself when are they going to start getting serious about cleaning up the drug trade?

Formula 1 Brazil Miracle GP, RWC 2007 Final & Tennis Masters wrap up

Formula 1 Miracle meets Mighty Masters Nalbandian Victory meets Boks Clean Sweep at RWC 2007.

A truly gripping weekend of sports. And if that weren’t enough, on Saturday night, the Boston Red Sox won again to bring back to even (3-3) the Best ofFormula 1 Brazil Final GP Seven series against the Cleveland Indians in the ACLS (baseball ‘semi finals’ for those who don’t know) after being down 3-1. The clinching seventh game is Sunday night.

The F1 race at the Brazilian [Sao Paolo] Grand Prix today was quite astounding. But, if you didn’t watch it, surely it was because there just was too much good sports to watch all over the globe. The two other contests of the weekend (not over) that commanded my attention involved the wilting of the Roses of England against the indomitable South African Springboks and the fact that Nalbandian broke the Federer voodoo in the Masters Finals.

Turning to the Formula 1 final race of the season, three racers wereAlonso, Hamilton & Raikkonen - 3 GP Finalists jockeying for the World Champion F1 title: Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), Fernando Alonso (McLaren) and ‘teammate’ and Formula 1 rookie Lewis Hamilton. The way the cards were laid out after the last Grand Prix (GP) in Shanghai, you begin to wonder whether there wasn’t an element of rigging going on to heighten the suspense in the final GP of the season. Hamilton’s mistakes in China meant that he lay 4 points ahead of Alonso and 7 points ahead of Raikkonen. What transpired was hard to imagine to conjure up even Kimi Raikonen Brazil Championfor a fairy tale (from Kimi’s perspective). Hamilton’s messed up start and mistake at the first turn meant that he was pushed sufficiently way back such that he finished seventh. Alonso finished third, stymied behind both Ferraris, with Raikkonen winning his sixth GP of the season. The net of it? Raikkonen (pictured left) wins his first ever F1 championship, ending up with 110 points, ahead of Alonso AND Hamilton (who got second because of his higher number of second place finishes), both on 109. The final score: 110-109…More like a basketball game, won at the buzzer. But it feels a little too exciting, if you know what I mean. BCC Report; Indian Cricket League Info (love that title; despite the title, the analysis is very complete!); F1 Fanatics.

As for the Rugby World Cup Finals, I am a little dejected by not overly surprised to see England finish second behind the South African Springboks. My son, Oscar, and I went to the Stade de France last night (Saturday night) to try to find some last minute tickets at a reasonable price (after the kickoff). Wishful thinking which turned into a fun and rowdy night in the neighbouring Saint Denis village to watch the game (at least the first half) on a big screen with new found Aussie mate, ASpringboks win RWC 2007 Finalndy, and a few other England supporters. Cueto’s near try and Wilkinson’s two missed drop kicks kind of say it all. England played a great tournament, beating two favorites to get to the Final. And, just like Oscar and me, we were close to the final objective. But no cigar. England had 55% possession and were in the Boks’ 22 for nearly 7 minutes (compared to just over 3 minutes for the Boks in the English 22). But the Boks’ defense was strong and stingy in penalties. All said, hats off to the Boks who deserved the victory. If not a trying final, a tryless RWC final (for the second time in a row) is not a good sign for rubgy, though. BBC Report; Bleacher Report Blog; Life is Grand Blog.

And, the final sporting achievement of the day, was David Nalbandian’s victoryFederer beaten at Masters in Madrid over Roger Federer (pictured right) at the Masters in Madrid which was simply epic. Fact #1, unseeded Nalbandian had to beat both the number 3 and (Novak Djokovic) number 2 (Rafa Nadal) seeds before meeting World number 1 Roger Federer. Fact #2, Nalbandian had lost 8 times against Federer in their last 9 encounters, although the record is 7-8 lifetime. Fact #3, it was Federer’s first loss since the finals of the Montreal Open in August and just his 7th defeat this year. Enough to say, kudos to another Argentine (whose Pumas destroyed France on Friday night 34-10 at Parc des Princes in the “little final” of the RWC). BBC Report< /a>; Protennis Blog; the Sports Journal.

All in all, a fascinating weekend of sports. The underdog that triumphed against three top dogs in a row. The underdogs that lived up to their name only after the third match in a row against three successive favourites, only to go down to the Boks down under. And, finally, the dogs that nipped at each others’ heels all season for a supreme FINNish.

Getting even with tennis ranking systems

tennis ranking systemHow good are you at tennis? When you set out to play tennis with a person whose level you have never seen, there exist multiple rating systems that are supposed to help render objective your level. Putting a number behind “how good are you?” makes a lot of sense. Of course, it gets complicated when one uses different ranking systems and/or have decided to auto-evaluate your own level.

I have posted to Craigslist and OLX that I am looking for tennis partners here in Paris. The process has been rather interesting. I classify myself unofficially as a 15-2 (with the help of my local sparring partners) in the French system. Since the French system is extremely elaborate, you end up splitting strings to figure out where you stand (there are no less than 23 different levels). Not a lot of love lost if you get it wrong — besides the way to get ranked officially is to play lots of tournaments and the results speak for themselves.

Meanwhile, the USTA NTRP ranking system — where there is much more self-assessing going on it seems to me — I am the equivalent of a 4.0. Though I must say that when I read the USTA description of a 4.0, I feel undervalued.*

There is a movement afield to move to a consolidated international ranking system (International Tennis Number). Certainly would make life simpler for us who like to play in multiple countries. According to the 15-2 ranking, I am ITN level 5. Again, if I refer to the verbal description, I feel more like a ITN level 4. Meanwhile, for a very clear comparison chart, that maps out all the different rating systems around the tennis playing world, go to page 8 on this ifttennis.com pdf file. I found a few chat threads on the same topic.

So, getting back to the reason for this posting, over the course of the last few weeks, I have been approached by 6 different people via Craigslist. Of the six players, 4 declared themselves to be lower than my level, so, as carefully as I could, I declined. One player ascribed himself as a USTA 5.0-5.5. I eagerly accepted. When we finally played, it was a disappointingly easy game (6-1, 3-0…). A case of overoptimistic self-ranking.

The last person to contact me had the tact and humility to say that she had a slightly lower level and said “I’d understand if you don’t want to play with me.” I indulged, considering her graceful way of asking. And we had a very agreeable game.

Tennis players generally always want to play with better players, in the spirit of improving. At least, that’s what I seek. So, the key is the strategy employed. As far as I am concerned, I am glad to be given points by the better player to make the score more competitive. What’s your strategy?

By the way, if you have never seen it or heard of it, wheelchair tennis is a phenomenal activity. There is even ITN ranking for wheelchair players. At my favoured club here in Montreuil, I have seen several very talented players. Sometimes, an able-bodied player stands using roller blades. The play is all in motion. Very impressive to watch.

On a less impressive level, many of the websites around tennis seem particularly poorly made. And the US Open site (be careful Tennis is .org, Golf is .com) is hideously slow at coming up. Way too much animation and flash. Ugh. BTW, with a wounded Nadal, odds have to be with Roger, yet again. Who do you think will win?

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* USTA NTRP says the following:

4.0
(equivalent to ITN 5)
You have dependable strokes, including directional control and depth on both forehand and backhand sides on moderate-paced shots. You can use lobs, overheads, approach shots and volleys with some success and occasionally force errors when serving. Rallies may be lost due to impatience. Teamwork in doubles is evident.

4.5
(ITN 4)
You have developed your use of power and spin and can handle pace. You have sound footwork, can control depth of shots, and attempt to vary game plan according to your opponents. You can hit first serves with power and accuracy and place the second serve. You tend to overhit on difficult shots. Aggressive net play is common in doubles.

5.0 (ITN 3)
You have good shot anticipation and frequently have an outstanding shot or attribute around which a game may be structured. You can regularly hit winners or force errors off of short balls and can put away volleys. You can successfully execute lobs, drop shots, half volleys, overhead smashes, and have good depth and spin on most second serves.