September 29, 2016

Archives for 2012

Tennis Channel Top 100 Countdown Names Roger Federer Greatest of All-Time

LOS ANGELES, CA. – MARCH 21, 2012 — Tennis Channel’s 100 Greatest of all Time  the five-night series intended to rank the top tennis players culminated on Friday night with Roger Federer being named the greatest tennis player of all-time.  The series, hosted by all-time sporting greats Jack Nicklaus, Jerry Rice, Wayne Gretzky, Lisa Leslie and Carl Lewis  aired for five consecutive nights this week at 7 p.m. ET with the #1 player of all time unveiled on Friday, March 23.

 

The Top 10
10 – Billie Jean King, F, USA
9 – Chris Evert, F, USA
8 – Margaret Court, F, AUS
7 – Bjorn Borg, M, SWE
6 – Rafael Nadal, M, ESP
5 – Pete Sampras, M, USA
4 – Martina Navratilova, F, USA/CZE
3 – Steffi Graf, F, GER
2 – Rod Laver, M, AUS
1 – Roger Federer, M, SUI

Full list: (#11-100)
100 – Michael Chang, M, USA
99 – Ann Haydon Jones, F, GBR
98 – Henry Bunny Austin, M, GBR
97 – Pat Cash, M, AUS
96 – Manuel Orantes, M, ESP
95 – Thomas Muster, M, AUT
94 – Andy Roddick, M, USA
93 – Nicola Pietrangeli, M, ITA
92 – Svetlana Kuznetsova, F, RUS
91 – Shirley Fry Irvin, F, USA
90 – Bill Johnston, M, USA
89 – Dorothea Lambert Chambers, F, GBR
88 – Amelie Mauresmo, F, FRA
87 – Mary Pierce, F, FRA
86 – Tony Wilding, M, NZL
85 – Yannick Noah, M, FRA
84 – Norman Brookes, M, AUS
83 – Jan Kodes, M, CZE
82 – Yevgeny Kafelnikov, M, RUS
81 – Vic Seixas, M, USA
80 – Marat Safin, M, RUS
79 – Gabriela Sabatini, F, ARG
78 – Ashley Cooper, M, AUS
77 – Molla Mallory, F, USA
76 – William Renshaw, M, GBR
75 – Pauline Betz Addie, F, USA
74 – Tony Roche, M, AUS
73 – Jaroslav Drobny, M, CZE
72 – Gottfried Von Cramm, M, GER
71 – Maria Sharapova, F, RUS
70 – Patrick Rafter , M, AUS
69 – Louise Brough , F, USA
68 – Helen Hull Jacobs , F, USA
67 -  Fred Stolle , M, AUS
66 – Bobby Riggs , M, USA
65 – Pancho Segura  , M, ECU
64 – Ellsworth Vines , M, USA
63 – Lleyton Hewitt  , M, AUS
62 – Hana Mandlikova , F, CZE
61 – Neale Fraser , M, AUS
60 – Virginia Wade , F, GBR
59 – Margaret Osborne Dupont, F,  USA
58 – Alice Marble , F,  USA
57 – Jennifer Capriati , F, USA
56 – Stan Smith, M, USA
55 -  Gustavo Kuerten, M, BRA
54 – Manuel Santana, M, ESP
53 – Tracy Austin, F, USA
52 – Jack Crawford, M, AUS
51 – Doris Hart, F, USA
50 – Tony Trabert, M, USA
49 – Ilie Nastase , M, ROM
48 – Frank Sedgman, M, AUS
47 -  Jean Borotra, M, FRA
46 -  Henri Cochet, M, FRA
45 -  Kim Clijsters, F, BEL
44 -  Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, F, ESP
43 -  Lindsay Davenport, F, USA
42 -  Jim Courier, M, USA
41 -  Guillermo Vilas, M, ARG
40 – Novak Djokovic, M, SRB
39 – Althea Gibson, F, USA
38 – Maria Bueno, M, BRA
37 – Evonne Goolagong Cawley, F, AUS
36 – Rene Lacoste, M, FRA
35 – Pancho Gonzalez, M, USA
34 – Jack Kramer, M, USA
33 – Mats Wilander, M, SWE
32 – Lew Hoad, M, AUS
31 – John Newcombe, M, AUS
30 – Martina Hingis, F, SUI
29 – Helen Wills Moody Roark, F, USA
28 – Arthur Ashe, M, USA
27 – Maureen Connolly Brinker, F, USA
26 – Justine Henin, F, BEL
25 – Stefan Edberg, M, SWE
24 – Suzanne Lenglen, F, FRA
23 – Fred Perry, M, GBR
22 – Venus Williams, F, USA
21 – Boris Becker, M, GER
20 – Ken Rosewall, M, AUS
19 – Monica Seles, F, USA
18 – Ivan Lendl, M, CZE
17 – Roy Emerson, M, AUS
16 – Bill Tilden, M, USA
15 – Jimmy Connors, M, USA
14 – Serena Williams, F, USA
13 – John McEnroe, M, USA
12 – Andre Agassi, M, USA
11 – Don Budge, M, USA

Determined by an international panel of tennis experts, 100 Greatest of all Time Presented by Ally Bank ranks both men and women on the same top 100 list. Throughout the spring, Tennis Channel is supporting the 100 Greatest of all Timeproject with online activity on its Web site (www.tennischannel.com/goat), Facebook page (www.facebook.com/tennischannel), YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/tennischannel) and Twitter feed (@TennisChannel – www.twitter.com/tennishcannel.

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Tennis Channel Top 100 Countdown — Players #11-20

Tennis Channel’s 100 Greatest of all Time a five-night series intended to rank the top tennis players of all-time, presents players ranked #11-20 in Thursday night’s episode.   Now it’s time for the Top 10.  The series, hosted by all-time sporting greats Jack Nicklaus, Jerry Rice, Wayne Gretzky, Lisa Leslie and Carl Lewis  will air for five consecutive nights this week at 7 p.m. ET with the #1 player of all time unveiled on Friday, March 23.

 

Here’s a look at the players featured in Wednesday’s episode.

20 – Ken Rosewall, M, AUS

19 – Monica Seles, F, USA

18 – Ivan Lendl, M, CZE

17 – Roy Emerson, M, AUS

16 – Bill Tilden, M, USA

15 – Jimmy Connors, M, USA

14 – Serena Williams, F, USA

13 – John McEnroe, M, USA

12 – Andre Agassi, M, USA

11 – Don Budge, M, USA

 

Here are the 10 players that will be featured in Friday’s episode  

 

The Top 10 (in alphabetical order)

Bjorn Borg

Margaret Court

Chris Evert

Roger Federer

Steffi Graf

Billie Jean King

Rod Laver

Rafael Nadal

Martina Navratilova

Pete Sampras

Determined by an international panel of tennis experts, 100 Greatest of all Time Presented by Ally Bank ranks both men and women on the same top 100 list. Throughout the spring, Tennis Channel is supporting the 100 Greatest of all Timeproject with online activity on its Web site (www.tennischannel.com/goat), Facebook page (www.facebook.com/tennischannel), YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/tennischannel) and Twitter feed (@TennisChannel – www.twitter.com/tennishcannel.

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Tennis Channel Top 100 Countdown — Players #21-40

 

Tennis Channel‘s 100 Greatest of all Time is  a five-night series intended to rank the top tennis players of all-time, presents players ranked #21-40 in Wednesday night’s episode.   The series, hosted by all-time sporting greats Jack Nicklaus, Jerry Rice, Wayne Gretzky, Lisa Leslie and Carl Lewis  will air for five consecutive nights this week at 7 p.m. ET with the #1 player of all time unveiled on Friday, March 23.

 

Here’s a look at the players featured in Wednesday’s episode.

 

40 – Novak Djokovic, M, SRB

39 – Althea Gibson, F, USA

38 – Maria Bueno, M, BRA

37 – Evonne Goolagong Cawley, F, AUS

36 – Rene Lacoste, M, FRA

35 – Pancho Gonzalez, M, USA

34 – Jack Kramer, M, USA

33 – Mats Wilander, M, SWE

32 – Lew Hoad, M, AUS

31 – John Newcombe, M, AUS

30 – Martina Hingis, F, SUI

29 – Helen Wills Moody Roark, F, USA

28 – Arthur Ashe, M, USA

27 – Maureen Connolly Brinker, F, USA

26 – Justine Henin, F, BEL

25 – Stefan Edberg, M, SWE

24 – Suzanne Lenglen, F, FRA

23 – Fred Perry, M, GBR

22 – Venus Williams, F, USA

21 – Boris Becker, M, GER

 

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Tennis Channel Top 100 Countdown — Players #41-70

Tennis Channel’s 100 Greatest of all Time, a five-night series intended to rank the top tennis players of all-time, presenting players ranked #41-70 in Tuesday night’s episode.   The series, hosted by all-time sporting greats Jack Nicklaus, Jerry Rice, Wayne Gretzky, Lisa Leslie and Carl Lewis  will air for five consecutive nights this week at 7 p.m. ET with the #1 player of all time unveiled on Friday, March 23.

 

Here’s a look at the players featured in Tuesday’s episode.

 

70 – Patrick Rafter , M, AUS

69 – Louise Brough , F, USA

68 – Helen Hull Jacobs , F, USA

67 -  Fred Stolle , M, AUS

66 – Bobby Riggs , M, USA

65 – Pancho Segura  , M, ECU

64 – Ellsworth Vines , M, USA

63 – Lleyton Hewitt  , M, AUS

62 – Hana Mandlikova , F, CZE

61 – Neale Fraser , M, AUS

60 – Virginia Wade , F, GBR

59 – Margaret Osborne Dupont, F,  USA

58 – Alice Marble , F,  USA

57 – Jennifer Capriati , F, USA

56 – Stan Smith, M, USA

55 -  Gustavo Kuerten, M, BRA

54 – Manuel Santana, M, ESP

53 – Tracy Austin, F, USA

52 – Jack Crawford, M, AUS

51 – Doris Hart, F, USA

50 – Tony Trabert, M, USA

49 – Ilie Nastase , M, ROM

48 – Frank Sedgman, M, AUS

47 -  Jean Borotra, M, FRA

46 -  Henri Cochet, M, FRA

45 -  Kim Clijsters, F, BEL

44 -  Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, F, ESP

43 -  Lindsay Davenport, F, USA

42 -  Jim Courier, M, USA

41 -  Guillermo Vilas, M, ARG

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Tennis Channel Top 100 Countdown — Players #71-100

Tennis Channel’s 100 Greatest of all Time, a first-of-its-kind, five-night series intended to rank the top tennis players of all-time, kicked-off  on Monday night by presenting players ranked #71-100.   The series, hosted by all-time sporting greats Jack Nicklaus, Jerry Rice, Wayne Gretzky, Lisa Leslie and Carl Lewis  will air for five consecutive nights this week at 7 p.m. ET with the #1 player of all time unveiled on Friday, March 23.

 

Determined by an international panel of tennis experts, 100 Greatest of all Time Presented by Ally Bank ranks both men and women on the same top 100 list. Throughout the spring, Tennis Channel is supporting the 100 Greatest of all Timeproject with online activity on its Web site (www.tennischannel.com/goat), Facebook page (www.facebook.com/tennischannel), YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/tennischannel) and Twitter feed (@TennisChannel – www.twitter.com/tennishcannel.

 

Here’s a look at the players featured in Monday’s episode.

100 – Michael Chang, M, USA

99 – Ann Haydon Jones, F, GBR

98 – Henry Bunny Austin, M, GBR

97 – Pat Cash, M, AUS

96 – Manuel Orantes, M, ESP

95 – Thomas Muster, M, AUT

94 – Andy Roddick, M, USA

93 – Nicola Pietrangeli, M, ITA

92 – Svetlana Kuznetsova, F, RUS

91 – Shirley Fry Irvin, F, USA

90 – Bill Johnston, M, USA

89 – Dorothea Lambert Chambers, F, GBR

88 – Amelie Mauresmo, F, FRA

87 – Mary Pierce, F, FRA

86 – Tony Wilding, M, NZL

85 – Yannick Noah, M, FRA

84 – Norman Brookes, M, AUS

83 – Jan Kodes, M, CZE

82 – Yevgeny Kafelnikov, M, RUS

81 – Vic Seixas, M, USA

80 – Marat Safin, M, RUS

79 – Gabriela Sabatini, F, ARG

78 – Ashley Cooper, M, AUS

77 – Molla Mallory, F, USA

76 – William Renshaw, M, GBR

75 – Pauline Betz Addie, F, USA

74 – Tony Roche, M, AUS

73 – Jaroslav Drobny, M, CZE

72 – Gottfried Von Cramm, M, GER

71 – Maria Sharapova, F, RUS

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Jamie Reynolds of ESPN on Approach Shots

Jamie Reynolds (Photo by Rich Arden/ESPN)

Tennis Panorama News had the unique opportunity to visit the ESPN broadcast compound  and spend time in the control room in Melbourne during coverage of the Australian Open back in January. Senior Vice President of Event Production for ESPN Jamie Reynolds took time out from his extremely hectic schedule to speak to us about the logistics, technologies, philosophy and personalities of ESPN’s Australian Open coverage.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News: How are the logistics of planning different for the Australian Open versus the other slams?

Jamie Reynolds: The way that we approach the Australian Open is similar in the way we do all four majors. And ESPN is unique in the aspect that we literally take apart our entire operation, our entire family, our entire circus and we take it three continents and an island.

We go to Australia and then go on to Paris, we then go up to the UK for Wimbledon and them back down to New York at the end of the summer. The nine month rip is pretty aggressive. So we probably pick up 115 people, and literally land on these hotspots for these events, move them in for three weeks. And I think we are probably the largest broadcaster who does all four majors at that level of commitment or the magnitude of the production assets that we bring. So it’s pretty challenging.

The biggest thing, the hardest thing for us, relative to the Australian Open, candidly is that we are upside down on the time zone to our audience and the fact that we don’t start until 9pm and we run the overnight hours, that’s great, but when we are trying to grow the sport, it’s a little challenging. How do you get people to stay up all night long or want to get invested, either TIVO, record, DVR the matches, because they are that much of a tennis fanatic to take advantage of what we are doing versus what they getting immediately either texting, news reports, Morning wheel of the news, they can get all that social currency to get up to steam.

So our challenge really, for this particular event is probably more editorial that logistic.

 

TPN: What is the biggest technological challenge in covering the Australian Open?

JR: This event is technically, is one of the easier events for us to handle technically. We’ve got a partnership going with Channel 7 Australia, who is also the host broadcaster. So ESPN comes in and effectively we are a world feed embellisher. We put our own character, our own personality, our own voices, graphics, music. Pick the asset that can actually tailor the world feed presentation to look and feel like a standard ESPN product.

So perhaps our biggest challenge is what if we don’t necessarily agree with you on covering a match? Or perhaps the isolation plan for Tomic or for Federer or for Roddick or for Rafa perhaps. That assignment of cameras may not be perhaps the level or the rate or philosophy that we might bring to a match. So how do we cover that chasm?

Technology wise we continue to push the envelope by bringing assets like the Spidercam, the aerial system that you see out on Rod Laver, that’s a device that we on ESPN brought to the tennis world and introduced at the majors at the US Open three years ago, convinced Tennis Australia, Channel 7 that it might enhance their coverage, convinced all the parties to come together and bring it down and fly through Rod Laver.

This year we’ve been very aggressive in trying to help Channel 7 understand how that could be an asset to enhance the coverage package. I think that everyday we chip away at it and get a little bit bolder with its flight pattern and we kind of rely on it a little bit more. I think that it enhances the value of its coverage.

 

TPN: Now that we are down to one American left in the singles draw, what are your angles going to be?

JR: Without the Americans doing well for the first time in the open era and not get to the round of 16, that’s challenging for us. Because we’ve got a lot of personalities and lot of what we do look at from the access to a lot of these players, what the interest is back home. Our particular productions have migrated to a new way of thinking. Specifically this is truly an international event with so many great personalities form around the globe, and because we do reach a lot of countries with ESPN, we think a little bit broader in how we are actually in going after a Hewitt story, a Roger or a Rafa or a Raonic or Tomic and any of the ladies as well.

That our goal now is to make that as personable, as desirable, in terms of wanting to understand the back story, getting our audience invested inn them, just trying to figure out the best way to convey that to our audience so they don’t mind that there are no Americans. We don’t have to put the red, white and blue all the time but there’s really great tennis out there that is fun.

 

TPN: Any new technology being implemented at this year’s Australian Open.

JR: The Australian mindset is very unique. They are gregarious fun loving good folks down here. They tend to be incredibly open-minded in terms of progressive introductions of new ideas to help convey the event and one of the initiatives they’ve helped us achieve is what we call our behind-the-scenes franchise. And that behind-the-scenes franchise as effectively as I describe to our teams is this: “Take behind the velvet ropes. Give me discovery and access. Take me places I couldn’t get to if I had a ticket or if I had the ability to watch every hour of what ESPN puts out, I need to feel like I actually in the event and going somewhere where no one else can go.”

And with that kind of mindset and philosophy with Tennis Australia, “where can you give us access to?” Well we can go to the workout room, we can go to the locker room, we can go to the hallways, the waiting rooms for the players, the player lounges. We can go to the car park area, where a lot of them just go and out their headsets on and just get into a zone and just kind of shut the world out to deconstruct their match. They’re very open-minded, progressive in terms of allowing that access. With that comes the ability to kind of shape the way we convey this event as opposed to just a rectangle on a screen, two players back and forth, three-hit rally or a 17-hit rally. It’s a little sexier, a little bit more valuable, more attractive presentation. I actually feel like I’m part of it, a part of the community, behind the velvet ropes and going somewhere where I couldn’t even go if I were on site.

 

TPN: What would surprise tennis fans about being behind the scenes?

JR: There’s an incredible amount of camaraderie and I think that what doesn’t convey that whether it’s the ATP or the WTA, these athletes and personalities do travel the circuit week after week and what you actually see behind-the-scenes is the feeling of family amongst the players themselves. As combative or as aggressive as they can be with each other out on a court there is sincere appreciation, chemistry, commitment to one another, whether they are having a good year or a poor year. There’s respect but there is a dynamic that these athletes share with each other. It’s not as adversarial as it might convey over an 11-hour show window where we are just showing guys beating back and forth with each other.

 

TPN: What is a typical day for you and the talent?

JR: This is probably the most challenging because of the sheer number of hours that we televise. When we say first ball to final ball, it is a very solid commitment to coverage of the most important matches from front end to back end. That really requires commitment of literally hours per day. So when you look at the first ball starting at 11am and often times ending like New York ending after Midnight, if not later, keeping people motivated through that 14-day stand is challenging. And with a roster of  personalities, our talent roster, keep them enthusiastic, keeping them invested and focused on being “on” for that 10 hours a day waiting for a match, getting ready for one that is coming up tonight,  and you really gotta go through your head for 2 hours and come back with the same enthusiasm, that’s challenging. You are asking a lot of people.

So what happens behind the scenes to help that? It’s the sense of community, family and respect for each other we all try to create. This isn’t just a group of specialists, assassins coming into do a single job. We’ve got to keep everybody working with the chemistry and taking advantage of that. So we’ll rotate teams. You might see Chris Evert working with Pam Shriver today or you will see Patrick McEnroe and Darren (Cahill) or Patrick and Chris Fowler so we can actually keep them involved with each other because they don’t have to always rule out “ Oh God I’m just sitting with my partner for this match and I’m doing every single match him for the next 14 days.” It changes up the dinner table a little bit.

 

TPN: Who are the practical jokers behind the scenes?

JR: I think that those in the tennis community and those of us who are running the sport know what kind of personality a Brad Gilbert brings. And we know, we look loving and fondly at Cliff Drysdale. He’s the godfather of our team, the elder statesman. As a perspective, he is the longest running talent on ESPN, bar none. He’s been with us since 1979, so we look at that history, having done Davis Cup that year, he is the man who is the franchise longer than anyone.

And then you look at Darren Cahill. Cahill with the Aussie wit, terrific personality. Patrick McEnroe, that’s pretty good – an acerbic wit. And McEnroe has a pretty good timbre to work with. Look at the gals – Mary Joe (Fernandez) and Pammy (Shriver) are well respected. Pammy can be polarizing, she’s got a great personality, she will go off on a flyer and make us all laugh and look at things a way many of us would never think about. She connects the dots on a lot of different stories and a lot of personalities. So that’s kind of like a really valuable spark. It’s a good roster.

Follow ESPN’s tennis coverage on ESPN2, ESPN3.com, on twitter @ESPNTennis and @ESPN10S and online on their tennis home page.

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On the Green Carpet – Photos from the BNP Paribas Open Players’ Party

 

INDIAN WELLS, California (March 8, 2012) – The BNP Paribas Open held their players’ party at the IW club on Thursday night. Driving up to the “Green Carpet” in classic cars included the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitova, Andy Murray, Ana Ivanovic, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, John Isner, Agnieszka Radwanska, Jelena Jankovic, David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez and a host of others.

Photos by Curt Janka and Jennifer Knapp.  Follow Tennis Panorama News’ BNP Paribas Open coverage here an on our twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

 

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Friendly Fribourg – The Swiss City Did Itself Proud As a Davis Cup Host

By Junior Williams

FRIBOURG, Switzerland — When I heard that the United States had drawn an away tie against Switzerland for the first round of Davis Cup World Group 2012, I assumed it would end up in a large city such as Geneva or Zurich. Then the word came down: Fribourg.

Huh?

The announcement expanded my education about Switzerland. I had never heard of Fribourg, but learned that it’s halfway between Geneva and Zurich, has centuries of history and is in a region famous for fondue and Gruyere cheese.

I arrived in Fribourg Wednesday after a 90-minute train ride from Zurich Airport. At the train station: Buses everywhere, snow flurries and below-freezing temperatures. But I immediately warmed up to the Swiss people who were happy to answer my questions even though they noticed I was butchering my attempts to speak French. We’d converse in English and they didn’t give me that “Ugh – typical American” look.

After checking in at the hotel, I went back out and walked around the Fribourg Centre mall, right across the street from the train station, to get one of life’s necessities for a foreigner in Switzerland — a universal adapter for circular three-prong outlets — necessary so I could write this column. The shocker for me was that the mall closes at 7pm during weekdays, much earlier than back home in the U.S.

Thursday was my big sightseeing day, so I hopped on the city bus, which costs 2.90 CHF ($3.17 US) and you have to buy a ticket from the machine at the bus stop before boarding. But each time I took a ride, the driver never asked for the ticket. One Fribourg native explained to me that there was an honor system where passengers were expected to do the right thing and pay. He said that “on occasion, someone might follow up” to make sure the fare was paid. This system wouldn’t work back home in New York City.

Walking around the Place de Tilleul — near the Town Hall — I made my way to the Cathedrale St-Nicolas, which was completed in the 15th century after two centuries of construction. There was something peaceful about being alone inside the cathedral, with gorgeous stained glass windows and huge organ pipes near the ceiling.

I continued my trek through the narrow streets and walked up the Route de Alpes, where you get stunning postcard views of centuries-old villages below, with snow-covered buildings and parks. Minutes later, I was back into modern times, near the train station.

That night, I had to get my fondue fix, and the folks at Cafe du Midi did not disappoint. I savored a nice big pot of “moitie-moitie” — a mixture of Gruyere and Vacherin cheeses — with boiled potatoes instead of bread for dipping. The meal was pricey as many things are in Switzerland, but it was worth the cost.

Yes, there are cheap eats in town. For lunch I enjoyed the Xpresso Cafe in the Fribourg Centre, home of tasty crepes (ham and cheese for 7.50 CHF did the trick).

The buses were packed for the trip to the arena Friday. To my surprise, there were tickets still available for the Davis Cup tie. Two men told me they were on line at 6pm and successfully snagged tickets three hours later, after standing outside in sub-zero Celsius temperatures. It’s a sign of how the Swiss love their team. Fans showed up wearing afros, the signature Swiss cowbells, and just about anything red-and-white.

Chants of “Hop Suisse” and “Allez” filled the arena for three days, especially when it came to rooting for their hero Roger Federer. But it ended up being a rough weekend for the home team — no wins. Nonetheless, the Swiss fans were gracious in congratulating their American counterparts, even taking pictures together in the true spirit of Davis Cup. The workers at the venue were also very courteous and friendly.

Of course, there’s a lot more to see in Fribourg, and hopefully one day I’ll get the chance on a return visit to Switzerland. Even though the country’s Davis Cup team lost, the class and friendship shown by the Swiss people make them big winners in my book.

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He was in Fribourg, Switzerland covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the US and Switzerland for Tennis Panorama News.

U.S. Completes Davis Cup Sweep of Switzerland

Bryan, Fish win doubles over Switzerland’s Federer, Wawrinka to Send USA to Davis Cup Quarterfinals

Davis Cup Stunner in Switzerland – Isner upsets Federer, Fish outlasts Wawrinka to put U.S. up 2-0

Nethead Photo Album from US-Switzerland Davis Cup Tie

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Double Delight for Townsend: Wins Australian Open Girls’ Doubles Crown with Andrews and Advances to Girls’ Singles Final

MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – A pair of 15-year-olds from the United States, Taylor Townsend of Stockbridge, Ga., and Gabrielle Andrews of Pomona, Calif., captured the Australian Open junior girls’ doubles title on Friday by defeating Irina Khromacheva of Russia and Danka Kovinic of Montenegro, 5-7, 7-5, 10-6.

Townsend and Andrews have known each other since they were 8-year-olds in tennis camp and have been friends  since. “They used to bring us out into the Home Depot Center and they have the eight high-performance camps and so they brought people from all over,” Townsend said.  “We just decided to play doubles. Easter Bowl was the first time when we were 14.”

Earlier in the day Townsend advanced to the junior girls’ final with a 7-6 (3), 6-4 win over Krista Hardebeck  of Santa Ana, Calif., in a 90-minute slugfest.

“She played really well, I came out playing really well,” Townsend said. “I went up, 2-0, and then she came back and got up, 3-2, and then from there it was really tight and no one could really break serve. A lot of return errors really killed me because she was holding serve and holding serves at love, because I was missing my second serve returns.

“I stayed in the points and I was just fighting at the end. She gave me some free shots, I hit some good shots, good severs, when I needed them. I made sure to keep coming into the net. I couldn’t stop doing that. And in the second set I think I did that more than in the first.”

Hardebeck, 17, defeated  Townsend last week in the Loy Yang Traralgon International quarterfinals, 6-4, 6-2, and went on to win the tournament.

“I was really excited about it,”  Hardebeck said of that win. “I actually played Taylor last week and I beat her there. It was a great match and a great week there. This week was pretty good as well, so I’m happy.”

Townsend said: “The biggest thing for me was that I competed today. Last week, I feel like I kind of less settled because it was a warm-up tournament quarterfinals like. It was very very tough conditions. It was windy outside.”

“But today I definitely came out really hard and that was the biggest thing keeping myself pumped.”

Townsend led off the match with a break of serve and Hardebeck returned the favor in the fourth game. Both held serve until the tiebreak, which Townsend won, 7-3, by playing aggressive tennis. She ended the tiebreak with an ace.

The second set saw Hardebeck  take a 4-2 lead and in the sixth game of the match she saved four break points.  It looked as though Hardebeck was going to send the match to a third set.  But Townsend picked up her game by mixing up baseline and net play and won the next four games in a row to win the match, 7-6, 6-4.

Towsend served seven aces in the match in contrast to Hardebeck’s  seven double faults.

“My serve was a little bit shaky today,” Hardebeck said. “It wasn’t in its best form but Taylor played really well, so there really wasn’t much I can do anyway.”

Townsend will face the Russian Yulia Putintseva for the junior girls’ title Saturday.

“She’s a very tough opponent, very competitive,” Townsend said. “She tries to get in your head with ‘c’mon’s’ to pump herself up. She kind of plays better when she’s down. I’m going to have to keep the pressure on her and keep playing my game and being aggressive and, hopefully, I’ll come out on top.”

Karen Pestaina is the founder and editor of Tennis Panorama News.

This article originally appeared in the Straight Sets Tennis Blog of the New York Times.

 

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Michael Llodra – The Last of the Serve and Volleyers

MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – In an age which players bang away from the baseline, France’s Michael Llodra is a man who stands alone – at the net. He remains one of the last pure serve and volley players on the ATP World Tour.

 

When I asked him about this in a news conference, Llodra replied, “I am the last one, no?”

 

“I learned tennis, I play like this, my idol was (Stephan) Edberg and (Henri) Leconte. For me it’s too difficult to play from the baseline. It’s boring.”  Does he think serve and volley will ever make a comeback:”I don’t know it’s difficult,” said the 6’3″ Frenchman, “because now all the surfaces are slow.”

 

“So when when you want to play good you have to serve well. And also you have to be good because serve and volley over five sets. It’s getting difficult to do serve and volley” says the 31-year-old left hander who reached a career high rank in singles of 21 in September 2011.

 

On Thursday the 46th-ranked Llodra survived being broken four times in the fifth set to upset the No. 32 seed and new Russian Alex Bogomolov Jr 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 5-7, 6-4.  “I stayed positive and I fight,” said Llodra.

 

Next match-up for Llodra on Saturday will be World No.4 Andy Murray. “I have nothing to lose. Everybody is going to think that Murrray is going to destroy me, so we’ll see on the court.”

 

“Nothing change for me when I play my game.”

 

The last time Llordra played Murray was back in 2008 at the US Open when Murray won in a fifth-set tiebreak in the second round. “It’s tough to play against him, slow fast, he can do whatever he wants. I have to play my game,” noted Llodra.

 

When asked if serve and volley is a  good tactic to play against Murray, Llodra quipped,”that’s my only option.”

 

Murray has a current winning streak against French players at 10 in a row and 37-3 since January of 2008, “but he never beat me in doubles,” bragged the Frenchman.

 

“Have to attack and put pressure on him. He’s good at the baseline, he’s also good at the net.”

Murray was asked about playing Llodra after his win over Roger‑Vasselin 6‑1, 6‑4, 6‑4 to advance to the third round on Thursday.  “He’s got one way of playing, and he’ll keep playing that way up at the net.

“He’s very good at it as well.  He’s been a great doubles player, been very good at singles for a long time.  He’s got a lot of experience.  He makes it difficult because of the way he plays.

 

“You don’t see guys playing like that much nowadays.  When you do play against them, it normally takes a little while to adjust.

 

“It’s going to be tough.  But I’ve always enjoyed playing guys that come forward in the past.  Hopefully I can play a good match against him.”

 

Llodra is also a rarity in the fact that he plays both singles and doubles. Llodra has won five career ATP World Tour singles titles and 22 doubles crowns.   Some days he’s playing both singles and doubles matches within hours of each other such as he did on Thursday when he played a total of seven sets – five in singles and two in doubles. To do this “have to enjoy being on the court,” laughs Llodra. When asked about what is more important to him, singles or doubles he replied “both of them.”

 

 

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

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