May 4, 2016

James Blake Serves for a Cure to Raise Money for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center


(L-R Andy Roddick, James Blake and John Isner)

(L-R, Andy Roddick, James Blake and John Isner)

By Vito Ellison, Special to Tennis Panorama News

(December 6, 2013) NEW YORK CITY – The James Blake Foundation brought tennis to New York’s 69th Regiment Armory Thursday night for the 2013 edition of Serving for a Cure.  The event, first held in 2005, raises money for the Thomas Blake Sr. Memorial Research Fund, supporting early detection cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

As in previous years, the popular American was able to draw the support of some his high profile tennis pals including former World No. 1 and Fox Sports 1 host Andy Roddick as well as the current top-ranked American, John Isner.  The centerpiece of the event was a doubles match with Isner and Roddick taking the court for a light-hearted exhibition against Blake and Real Husbands of Hollywood actor Boris Kodjoe.  Kodjoe, though better known as an actor, is an accomplished tennis player in his own right, having been a four-year letter winner in the sport at VCU.  The actor held his own with the tennis champs, prompting Andy Roddick to crack at one point “If I could retire again, I would” after a Kodjoe passing shot whizzed by him. Though the mood was kept light by emcee Justin Gimelstob, there was still some competitive fire on display.  Roddick smacked his racquet on the court after an error that cost his side a game; while Isner briefly argued with officials over what he felt was a botched line call.

Read the rest here.


Related story: Blake: Mandela’s life a hundred lifetimes’ worth of accomplishments


Tennis Legends Gather At ‘No. 1 Celebration’ To Commemorate 40 Years Of Emirates ATP Rankings


From the ATP World Tour – AUGUST 24, 2013 -NEW YORK — ATP World Tour No. 1s past and present gathered to mark the 40th anniversary of the Emirates ATP Rankings at the ‘No. 1 Celebration’, Friday night at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.

Ilie Nastase, who became the first ATP World No. 1 on 23 August 1973, was present to be honoured on the night, along with successors John Newcombe, Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander, Stefan Edberg, Jim Courier, Marcelo Rios, Carlos Moya, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Gustavo Kuerten, Lleyton Hewitt, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Andy Roddick, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

The legends each took part in an on-stage Q&A with Justin Gimelstob and Guy Forget, sharing their experiences of reaching the summit of world tennis, before posing for a group photo with the ATP World Tour No. 1 trophy. Each year-end No. 1 received an engraved replica of the trophy.

No. 1 Celebration  Nadal, Federer

“It’s definitely an ultimate goal for any athlete, not just tennis players,” said current World No. 1 Djokovic. “Growing up, in early childhood, you are inspired to show that love and appreciation and passion towards the sport, and of course there is this big drive – waking up every morning, working so hard, developing skills to be No. 1 in the world. Not many players have achieved that and to sit with fellow champions, it’s an incredible feeling… I’m really honoured to be here.”

Watch Highlights Of No. 1 Celebration

Federer, who held the No. 1 ranking for a record 302 weeks, spoke about sharing the stage with the players who inspired him. “It was very important for me to have someone to look up to. Stefan was one of them, so it’s nice to see you here tonight and all the others players… We’ve put such huge effort in the game, and that’s a platform we can enjoy today. So it’s unbelievable. Thanks for being an inspiration Stefan, all of you here today.”

On a lighter note, a self-deprecating Roddick said, “It is an honour to be the worst player in the room.” Fellow American Courier added, “It’s a great honour to be here among friends. I dreamed of being in this arena, and to be part of this group is mind-blowing.”

Year-End No. 1s  McEnroe, Djokovic

The evening, part of the broader ATP Heritage programme, also included a tribute to former ATP Executive Chairman and President Brad Drewett, who passed away in May following a battle with Motor Neurone Disease. Drewett founded the ATP Heritage programme earlier this year.

“Brad cherished the history of the ATP and men’s professional tennis in general,” said Mark Young, CEO ATP Americas. “Tonight’s celebration is a reflection of that. It was his vision to see all the No. 1 players gathered together as we honoured their achievements.”

The ATP Heritage programme, with the support of its founding partner Rolex, will continue to serve as a platform to celebrate the rich history of the ATP and the remarkable achievements of the world’s greatest players throughout history.


Andy Roddick Announces Retirement after US Open

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Andy Roddick held a news conference at the US Open Thursday evening to announce that he is retiring from playing tennis after the US Open.

“I have decided that this is going to be my last tournament,” Roddick said. “I don’t know if I’m healthy enough or committed enough to continue another year. I’ve always wanted to, in a perfect world, finish at this event. I have a lot of family and friends here. I’ve thought all year that I would know when I got to this tournament. When I was playing my first round, I knew.”


When asked about what he will miss most he answered, “All you guys,” referring to the media

During his career Roddick won 32 career ATP World Tour titles. He became No. 1 in the world in November 2003 and ended the year as the youngest American to do so at 21 years and three months.

Roddick won the 2003 US Open and was a Wimbledon finalist 2004-05 and 2009.

Roddick was always a Davis Cup stalwart, helping to lead the US to the 2007 title.

 In his own words: exerpts from Andy Roddick’s news conference


I just feel like it’s time.  I don’t know that I’m healthy enough or committed enough to go another year.  I’ve always wanted to, in a perfect world, finish at this event.  I have a lot of family and friends here.  I’ve thought all year that I would know when I got to this tournament.

When I was playing my first round, I knew.

You know, certain parts throughout the year, I’ve thought about it.  You know, just with the way my body feels, with the way that I’m able to feel like I’m able to compete now, I don’t know that it’s good enough.

I don’t know that I’ve ever been someone who’s interested in existing on tour.  I have a lot of interests and a lot of other things that excite me.  I’m looking forward to those.

Q.  You’ve been talking about this for a couple years.  We’ve talked about 30 is not that old in tennis.  Obviously Federer is 30.  You’ve been a good athlete, very competitive.  In a sense, you’re sort of retiring early, no?

ANDY RODDICK:  Now you’re saying that (smiling)?

Q.  Yes.

ANDY RODDICK:  Well, it’s good.  I didn’t want to make it through this press conference without a direct comparison to Roger, so thank you for that.

I don’t know, necessarily.  A number is a number.  But I think wear and tear and miles is something that’s not really an age thing.  You know, if you look at my contemporaries that started with me, Roger is the only one that’s still going and still going strong.

It’s a matter of how I feel.  I feel like I’m able to compete at the highest level.  Frankly, these guys have gotten really, really, really good.  I’m not sure that with compromised health that I can do what I want to do right now.

Well, immediately we announced yesterday or the day before we’re building, with my foundation, a youth tennis and learning center in Austin.  I’d like to be hands on with that and not see it periodically.  I’d like to be kind of on‑site every day.  There’s some other projects, kind of side projects, that I’ve been doing.

Those excite me a lot right now.  So I’m looking forward to it.

I’ve always, for whatever my faults have been, felt like I’ve never done anything halfway.  Probably the first time in my career that I can sit here and say I’m not sure that I can put everything into it physically and emotionally.  I don’t know that I want to disrespect the game by coasting home.  I had plans to play a smaller schedule next year.  But the more I thought about it, I think you either got to be all in or not.  You know, that’s more kind of the way I’ve chosen to do things.

I’ve had some hard conversations with Brooke this year, with Doug and Larry.  You know, it was Brooke and I’s little secret over the last couple days.  I talked to Larry and Doug today.

We had talked about it throughout the year, obviously.  Talked to a bunch of my friends that are here.  It’s time.

You know, I’m lucky enough, there are a lot of players where I live.  I don’t think I’m one of the guys who won’t pick up a racquet for three years.  You know, I still love the innocent parts of the game.  I love hitting tennis balls.  I love seeing the young guys do well.

I’ll still have a lot of friends to watch.  I’ll miss the relationships probably the most.  As time passes, I’ll probably miss the tennis more.  But immediately that’s probably the thing that is toughest for me.

I think I wanted an opportunity to say good‑bye to people, as well.  I don’t know how tomorrow’s going to go.  I hope it goes well and I hope I’m sticking around.  I just imagine being off the court tomorrow in an empty locker room.

I think I wanted a chance to say good‑bye.  Also, if I do run into some emotions tomorrow or in four days or however long, I don’t want people to think I’m a little unstable, or more unstable (smiling).  That’s why I came to this decision.

There are a lot of different personalities.  Some people just want to play until they can’t play anymore, until they’re pushed out just by ranking, or they can’t get into tournaments.

I don’t think it’s fair to maybe generalize this moment for people.  Different people tick in different ways.  I don’t know that I looked at anybody else’s scenario when thinking about this ’cause I don’t know that I could pretend to relate to whatever they were thinking at a given moment.

I think so.  At the end of the day, I know that people view it as a career, last little while, of some hard knocks.  But I got to play.  I got to play in a crowd, play in Wimbledon finals, be the guy on a Davis Cup team for a while.  Those are opportunities not a lot of people get.

As much as I was disappointed and frustrated at times, I’m not sure that I ever felt sorry for myself or begrudged anybody any of their success.

For the moments where it’s been hard, I’ve had 25 positive things that have come from it.  Again, anything that people may view as tough, I’ve been very lucky and very fortunate.  I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities.

I wouldn’t trade away a day of it.  I’ve loved every minute.

A lot of stuff with my foundation will probably be my primary focus from here for a little bit.  Obviously I’ve gone over to the dark side with you guys with the radio show a little bit.  So that’s fun.  It’s something I enjoy doing.  I’ll probably build on that a little bit.

There are some other things also.  I’m looking forward to it.

I feel clear.  If I’m being honest, I would have bet against myself on getting through this without tears today.  I must have already gotten them all out earlier.

I feel pretty good today.  This has been a huge part of my life always.  But I don’t know that it’s always been my entire life.  So I do feel very confident in the things and the people that I have to fall back on.

My first time?  I was here in ’98, I played Fernando González in the juniors first round.

I came here in I think it was 1990 with my parents as a birthday present.  I snuck into the players lounge without a credential.

I saw Pete.  He was playing video games.  I’m pretty sure I beat him at like Mortal Kombat or something.  That was fun.

I was here in ’91 when Jimmy was making his run.  We only had grounds passes, but I got into the stadium every day somehow.

Then playing here, I think I played professional in ’99 doubles for the first time.  There have been a lot of memories here.

It’s meant a lot.  It’s the highest of highs and probably the lowest of lows also.  It’s certainly never been boring.  I’ve always enjoyed the energy.  I feel like each Grand Slam is almost a microcosm of the place it’s played in.

This is a show.  It’s New York City in every way.  I’m glad that I’ve been a very, very small part of it.

I mean, it’s the most electric atmosphere in our sport.  There’s something about it.  There’s a lot of eyeballs on TV sets from people who don’t even normally watch tennis during night matches of the US Open.  I think I’ve played as many as anyone.

Again, it’s just something I’ll look back on with really fond memories.  Hopefully won’t be my last one.

You know, I don’t think I’m foolish enough to think that it’s all going to be easy for me.  I don’t know that I would be that presumptuous.

I love my home life, my friends, my wife.  My dog is going to be excited.  I’m not going to be a dead‑beat dad anymore (smiling).  It will be an adjustment, but hopefully if I ever want to come say hi to you all, they’ll give me a credential.


Made My Day – Videos from Cliff Drysdale’s Fundraiser During the Sony Ericsson Open

by Craig Hickman

The 2011 Sony Ericsson Open is now history. Before play was officially underway, Kim Clijsters, Andy Roddick, Caroline Wozniacki and Ryan Harrison supported the Greater Miami Tennis Club as part of Cliff Drysdale’s fundraiser at the Ritz-Carlton of Key Biscayne inside the tennis center that bears his name.

Last year, Clijsters and Roddick considered the same event their good luck charms as both went on to win the Sony Ericsson Open. I guess it’s true, then, that lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place. But the defending champions had a great time. Seeing tennis players doing what they love to do without the stress of a match was a beautiful thing.

The Ritz-Carlton of Key Biscayne is more like a palace than a hotel. I couldn’t help but thinking we were approaching royalty as we drove into the gated grounds. Perfectly designed and manicured landscaping all around, we finally found the tennis center valet. Once on the courts, I was able to see what Serena Williams once said about green clay being slower and grittier than the crushed red brick used in Europe and South America. It almost looks like gravel. On one of the outside courts, I recognized former Miami runner-up Guillermo Cañas playing a double’s match with other members.

The staff at the Ritz-Carlton gave customer service new meaning. Attentive, genuinely nice, they made us feel at home. Perfect weather, live musicians, an open bar, passed hors d’oeuvres, and the chance to test-drive Cadillac’s new models would have attracted anyone who wanted to support a worthy cause..

Even with the great atmosphere and fun tennis exhibition , the event highlight came at the end when I approached Drysdale, who’d kept the proceedings efficient and light-hearted with his infectious personality and wit. He’s practically a stand up comedian.

“Just in case I never have another opportunity to say this to you, I just wanted to let you know that you are the voice of tennis for me. Didn’t matter where I was in the house, if I heard your voice on the television, I knew tennis was on. I enjoy your commentary, your humor, and the personality you bring in the booth is always a perfect foil for your colleagues.”

His face lit up more than it naturally does. “Wow. Thank you so much for telling me that. You have made my day,” he replied with an outstretched hand. Next thing I knew, he touched the side of my face as though I were his son. He made my day, too.

Michelle Payer, the media relations director who invited us to cover the event, insisted that I pose with Drysdale for a photo. As we posed, I told him of my sister’s home in South Africa and JD, who’s originally from the Netherlands, asked him if he spoke any Afrikaans, the Dutch dialect spoken by the Dutch who settled there centuries ago. Personal connections make every experience more memorable.

The entire event benefited the Greater Miami Tennis and Education Foundation and like last year, kids from the foundation attended the event as ball boys and girls. They earned that privilege based on their report cards, attendance, leadership and other factors. The $13,000 raised will benefit these socially and economically challenged Miami children, will help them learn tennis and valuable life skills by participating in free, affordable GMTEF tennis and education programs throughout the school year, as well as during the summer.

Next year’s event promises to be even better.

Craig Hickman covered the Sony Ericsson Open for Tennis Panorama News. He is the  founder and editor of Craig Hickman’s Tennis Blog

Photos by JD Blom

Videos by Craig Hickman and JD Blom.


Video Highlights




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Kourtin’ Karen’s Sony Ericsson Open Week 1



Welcome to Miami

Tennis Panorama News was in Miami this week covering the Sony Ericsson Open. Craig Hickman of Craig Hickman on Tennis and JD Blom were on site covering all the on-court and off-court action.


Breaking News at WTA All Access

Due to Craig Hickman’s and JD Blom’s skills with the Flemish language they broke the “Clijsters won’t play in Asia” story on twitter first and with a complete translation later in the day.  Heads up to Chris Chase for recognizing this in Yahoo’s tennis blog Busted Racquet. It was interesting to see media outlets report the story without verification or source attribution.

Of  War and Radiation: Kim Clijsters Speaks



Soccer/Football Jinx

Photo courtesy of

Has anyone noticed that most of those players who participated in the charity soccer match for Japan earlier in the week have already lost in Miami?  The list so far includes Andy Murray, Fernando Verdasco, Marcos Baghdatis, Stanislas Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori.


Look out for Falling Seeds

On Saturday alone 10 seeds including Andy Roddick lost in Miami – 6 men  and 4 women.


Serena Sighting

From Serena Williams‘ twitter account, Williams and Caroline Wozniacki took in a Miami Heat game earlier in the week.



Losing Streak

Andy Murray (Photo of

Andy Murray is officially in a slump. He was a second round victim to Alex Bogomolov Jr. This marks his fourth consecutive loss beginning with the final of the Australian Open. Despite the loss, Murray will climb to No. 4 in the world due to Robin Soderling’s third round exit at the Sony Ericsson Open.


Doubles Point of the Week!




Swimming with the Fish(es)

Mardy Fish has a sense of humor to volunteer to participate in two photo-ops this week – swimming with the dolphins..

Mardy Fish and Dolphins Cheerleaders (Getty Images)

and posing with the  Miami Dolphins cheerleaders. Good news for Fish – not official yet but a Fish win in the next round, paired with Andy Roddick’s early loss will make Fish the top ranked US male.



Dance of the Week

Video and photo courtesy of Forty Deuce

Ana Ivanovic has paired up with Andrea Petkovic in doubles this week at the Sony Ericsson Open.  Needless to say Petkovic has shown her how to do the victory dance.


Photo-Op of the Week

NBA All-Stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat perfomed the coin toss at Saturday evening’s Rafael Nadal-Kei Nishikori match at the Sony Ericsson Open.


Do you wanna ride in my Mercedes boy?

Photo courtesy of

Kudos to who caught Roger Federer driving to the Sony Ericsson Open in a Mercedes.  Mercedes is one of Federer’s sponsors.


Parties and Events of the Week

Tennis Family Unites To Raise Funds for Japan Disaster Relief

Sony Ericsson Open Players Party – Welcome to the Oscars

New Experience with Sharapova and the Hot Shots

GR8 Friends For Japan Fundraiser with Novak Djokovic

Slideshow: GR8 Friends For Japan Fundraiser

Game, Set, Match, Videos and Photo Galleries!

JD Blom and Craig Hickman were all over the Sony Ericsson Open  from the matches to the “Party Patrol” events this past week. Here are links to videos and photo galleries. Also check out the live tweeting of the red carpet events they covered thorughout the week– here

Articles with Videos:

Videos – GR8 Friends For Japan Fundraiser with Novak Djokovic

Video – Roger Federer Practice Session at the Sony Ericsson Open

Video – Andy Roddick Practice Session at the Sony Ericsson Open


Photo Galleries