2014/08/30

John McEnroe and Michael Stich Help to Usher in a Green Future for Stuttgart

By Florian Heer

(July 7, 2014) STUTTGART – 2014 is an historic year for the ATP 250 Tournament in Stuttgart. This week is the last in which the Mercedes Cup will take place on clay. Due to modifications on the ATP World Tour calendar in 2015 with three weeks between Roland Garros and Wimbledon, the event will change its surface to grass. In co-operation with the All England Lawn Tennis Club, transition began on 12th August 2013 and this July the first court at the venue of the TC Weissenhof has become ready for some tennis action played on the green.

No other than seven-time Grand Slam Champion John McEnroe and former Wimbledon winner Michael Stich were the first to step on the new grass in Stuttgart for a show match on Monday afternoon. Both also captured the doubles title together at Wimbledon in 1992 and talked to the media earlier the day.

“Since the seventies the players wanted an extra week between the French and Wimbledon because it was very difficult to make that transition so quickly, as the courts were a lot different that time,” McEnroe said. “I think it will be great for the players as well as for events like Stuttgart to have the opportunity coming before the big events than after the big events,” the former world No. 1 added about the importance of the Mercedes Cup being part of the new “ATP Road to Wimbledon” project. “Obviously I was doing a lot of commentating at Wimbledon but I did have the chance to play with some juniors, which was nice. I also played with my brother, so yes, I did have the chance for some practice but only for about four hours a day and the grass looks greener here than in Wimbledon,” McEnroe added with a smile about his preparation for the show match.

“This transition to grass is a big chance for Stuttgart. The tournament has a long tradition and it is also a nice fact that the venue will remain the same with only the date and the surface changing,” Michael Stich said. “It is also quite a courageous act from the organizers to implement the project. For Germany it is a great story and I’m pretty sure that the players will like and accept the new surface. Furthermore, I’ll properly remain the last German winning this tournament on clay,” the Mercedes Cup champion from 1991 laughed.

The “Rasen – Premiere” took place in front of 2,000 spectators on former court 18 surrounded by terraces built from natural stones and even grass in the stands, which creates a special atmosphere. John McEnroe, nine years older than his opponent, emerged victorious winning 6-4, 5-7, 10-8. The US-American, who was born in Wiesbaden in Germany, was pretty satisfied with the outcome of the match and the experience on the new surface as well of its quality. “The grass is really great. You have a lot of grip on the court. I really enjoyed playing here. The atmosphere was fantastic, which will be even better when matches will be also played on centre court next year,” McEnroe said afterwards.

The entire show, with a doubles exhibition between former Mercedes Cup winner Henri Leconte and Alexander Waske and the two Wimbledon Champions following the singles match, lasted about four hours. Eventually a very special, yet unique day at the TC Weissenhof came to an end at 7.30 p.m. and it seems that the green future for the Mercedes Cup will be a bright one.

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit.  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.

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James Blake on a Roll as the Champions Shootout Comes to Sacramento

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

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

By Kevin Ware

(February 26, 2014) World-class men’s tennis returns to Northern California tonight with the Champions Shootout: the next stop on the PowerShares Series 12-city tour.  Featuring a roster of tennis icons and legends, the PowerShares Series combines the best of competitive tennis and fan appreciation in a condensed format that’s fun for both the players and fans alike.

The last PowerShares visit to the Bay Area saw Jim Courier, John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, and Todd Martin battling it out for supremacy (and rankings points) in San Jose. This time around, Sacramento is the battleground. And stalwarts Courier and McEnroe are joined by Pete Sampras and series newcomer, James Blake.

McEnroe currently leads the rankings, followed by Courier and PowerShares newcomer Andy Roddick. Blake, however, is quietly making a run for the top spot after picking up his first PowerShares title with a 7-6 (5) win over McEnroe in Salt Lake City.

It’s hard to believe that Blake only just retired from the pro ranks this past fall at the ripe old age of 28. Hard to believe, maybe, but understandable given the toll that injuries have taken on his body over the years.

After struggling in qualifying rounds through most of the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Blake made his official retirement announcement at the 2013 US Open, after a first-round loss to Ivo Karlovic.

With pro tennis seemingly behind him, Blake looked ready finally enjoy some quality time with his wife and young daughter. But the lure of competition proved too strong, so five months later he’s back on the courts: hitting blistering forehands as though he never left, and having a good time with his old friends.

Blake’s first outing in Denver ended in a finals loss to Andre Agassi. His second was another finals loss to his good buddy Roddick in Houston. The third time definitely proved to be the charm, however, with his win in Salt Lake City. At this rate, McEnroe had better watch his back in Sacramento!

The Champions Shootout begins at 3PM with a special “Play with the Pros” on-court hitting session with Sampras and Blake, followed by a second session featuring McEnroe and Courier at 4PM. Semifinal match play begins at 6PM, with the winners advancing to the finals immediately afterward.

Kevin Ware is in Sacramento covering the Powershares event, The Champions Shootout as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

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John McEnroe Expands Role at ESPN to that of Radio Show Host

John McEnroe

(February 17, 2014) ESPN tennis analyst and Hall of Famer John McEnroe will expand his role beyond tennis to include year-round, non-tennis appearances on television and radio.  The 17-time Major winner (seven in singles, nine in doubles, one in mixed doubles) has worked the US Open for ESPN since 2009 and Wimbledon since 2012.

 

In addition to his work on tennis, McEnroe will serve as an analyst on SportsCenter discussing major topics of all sorts and handling sit-down interviews with top sports stars.  He also will make regular appearances on ESPN2’s Olbermann and on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike, also seen weekday mornings on ESPN2.  In addition, he also will also be heard on ESPN Radio New York (98.7 FM).

 

“Before John was a superstar in tennis, he was a sports fan…with sharp opinions and wit, as we’ve seen on our tennis productions,” said John Wildhack, ESPN executive vice president, programming and production.  “His no-holds barred insights and personality will enliven whatever program or platform he is on,”

 

John McEnroe said, “I am excited about my expanded role with ESPN.  It should be interesting and fun, as a life-long sports fan, to be able to voice my opinions on a variety of sports programs and forums, alongside some of the most talented people in the industry. The broad platform offered by ESPN makes it the perfect place for me to bring my point of view to all sports, not just tennis. ”

 

McEnroe won 77 singles titles in his career, highlighted by four US Open titles and three at Wimbledon.  He also won 10 more major championships in doubles or mixed doubles.  Although a loss, his five-set duel with Bjorn Borg in the 1980 Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Final – highlighted by McEnroe surviving an 18-16 fourth set tiebreak – is one of the most memorable events in tennis history.  An avid Davis Cup participant, he led the U.S. to five championships and later served as the team’s captain.  He also won the NCAA singles and team titles while attending Stanford.  In 2010, John founded the John McEnroe Tennis Academy in his hometown of New York City, where he is now working daily to develop the next great group of American tennis players.

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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.

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BNP Paribas Showdown Debuts in Hong Kong with Wozniacki, Radwanska, McEnroe and Lendl

Wozniacki Radwanska at BNP Paribas Showdown Hong Kong

By Natalie Ho

(March 4, 2013) HONG KONG – The BNP Paribas Showdown exhibition matches held at Madison Square Garden has a new sister event this year, held 13 time zones away in Hong Kong. While Hong Kong has the same amount of sky scrapers to match the Big Apple, Hong Kong’s tennis development is a long way behind, especially after losing the city’s men’s tour event some years ago. It is therefore to local tennis lovers’ great delight that a star-studded lineup had been confirmed to play the BNP Paribas Showdown Hong Kong that is part of a marathon of tennis events held across the world today to celebrate World Tennis Day.

 

World Tennis Day is an ambitious ITF grassroots campaign aimed at popularizing tennis. The main event here in Hong Kong was the exhibition between John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl, followed by Agniezka Radwanska taking on Caroline Wozniacki. Still sidelined Li Na was originally slated to play, but World No. 4  Radwanska is an equaly matched replacement in rankings. The two close friends Waozniacki and Radwanska said in the pre-match news conference that they hadn’t had a chance to see the city. Shame that the media couldn’t get in their favorite shopping question!

 

As for the matches, they were fun, lighthearted, and an opportunity for the players to try some flashy shot making.  Old rivals Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe met on court again after 17 years, with Lendl leading their head-t0-head record 21-15. This time it was McEnroe who won the pro set match 8-5. As usual he’s good money for any exhibitions, throwing his famous tantrums, questioning line calls, complaining about bad ball bounces that got the crowd into the match. Lendl responded in kind and the two together showed off some volleys, passes, dropshots and huge forehands that earned oohs and ahhhs from the audience.

Radwanska versus Wozniacki had more intense rallies but the mood was equally flamboyant. The good friends were uninhibited when it came to trying out fancy shots. A long groundstrokes and volley exchange in practice mode drew huge applause, and the ladies offered great entertainment with their exchange, dancing and inviting an former Hong Kong  player to play. In the final game Wozniacki requested coaching from her dad. It turned out to be futile as Radwanska closed it out 6-4, 6-4.

 

Again it was all smiles at the post-match news conference. McEnroe joked that this was the most memorable match in his rivalry with Lendl, who said he hoped his pupil  Andy Murray didn’t watch this match as it was 3:30am in California. The ladies were happy to be in Hong Kong despite their short stay. So that wrapped up the Hong Kong leg of World Tennis Day’s BNP Paribas Showdown, only to be continued immediately with the activities in New York City!

This is an exhibition but it’s still interesting to hear what the ladies had to say about playing friends on court as this pretty much happens week in, week out. To this Wozniacki said, “once you’re on court it’s a fight, and you fight for your life basically, and then when you’re off the court you’re friends agains and probably an hour or two after the match you just want to cool down, but then it’s a toss.”

 

Radwanska agreed, “We’re good friends because I think we can separate our private life and tennis and when we go on court, we both focus and we both want to win and then we shake hands and we’re friends again. We’ve been friends for 15 years!”

 

Naturally there were a lot of questions for Lendl about coaching strategies for Andy Murray. In typical Lendl manner he kept it tight-lipped. “My job is to coach Andy not to assess him in public. If I have something we need to work on, or I think Andy needs to work on, we do that. I never discuss it with anyone other than Andy.”

 

World Tennis Day is about helping tennis reach a bigger audience so as to ultimately benefit the sport. On trying to find the next big thing in America, McEnroe said, “Everyone in America, as well as many other countries, are looking for that next great player and the more that the game becomes accessible to youngsters and hopefully sexy in the way for kids to want to play in America. I can’t speak for every country, but it’s not that affordable.”

 

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Azarenka is Ready for Melbourne, Looking Forward to Madison Square Garden

Victoria Azarenka serving china Open

( January 10, 2013) MELBOURNE/NEW YORK -  Prior to her participation in the Australian Open draw in Melbourne on Friday morning, No. 1 Victoria Azarenka took time out for an international conference call to promote taking part in the BNP Paribas Showdown on March 4, 2013 in Madison Square Garden where she’ll take on Serena Williams.

Azarenka who pulled out of the Brisbane International last week due to a big toe injury says she ready to go in Melbourne: “I’m feeling really good. If you’re asking about my foot, it’s feeling much better … the last couple of days. The scary part is in the past as it happened in Brisbane. I’m really glad … I can practice full time right now.”

This will be the sixth annual BNP Paribas Showdown as part of Tennis Night in America on World Tennis Day. In the opening match, Victoria Azarenka will take on Serena Williams followed by Rafael Nadal’s return to action in the US after an injury layoff as he plays Juan Martin del Potro.

For Azarenka this will be her first time playing in “the world’s most famous arena. ” I’m very excited and once I heard about this opportunity I said yes right away, Said Azarenka. “It’s something really magical to be a part of this event and play at such an amazing facility.”

Coming into the Australian Open as the defending champion and into the 2013 season in general, is she under the pressure of expectation?

“My approach to this year is the same as every year,” said Azarenka.  “I try to do my best; you set up priorities and goals for the tournaments. I don’t really want to defend anything I’m here to try and win another title. That’s how I look at it…and at the end of the year try and get to the championships because that is the point we all know that you we are being pretty consistent throughout the whole year. My main focus and attention will be on the Grand Slams.”

“The season has started already and the Grand Slam season starts here right now. I think women’s tennis is great, competitive atmosphere right now… There are a lot of girls who can show some great tennis. For me personally, I’m very excited to be a part of this competition. As for who I have my eyes on, I’m not sure. I’ll have my eyes on the ball (laughs) and on me. The top ten and the rest of the players are the ones to watch for. I’ll be looking forward to whoever I play.

The most I’m looking forward to is having a great match and I hope the crowd enjoys it and I can’t wait to be a part of this match, Azarenka said about he future BNP Paribas Showdown match versus Serena Williams. “I visited Madison Square Garden during the US Open and it was under construction and I was absolutely amazed. As a kid you watch all those events coming up – concerts and the games and you dream about it. I have it locked in my mind and for me to actually be there will be an honor.”

The BNP Paribas Showdown is part of Tennis Night in America and the inaugural World Tennis Day.  More information about World Tennis Day events and the BNP Paribas Showdown matches in New York and Hong Kong can be found online at www.WorldTennisDay.com. The Hong Kong event will feature John McEnroe against Ivan Lendl and Caroline Wozniacki against Li Na.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

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Third Season of “World of Tennis” to Debut on Tennis Channel December 5

(November 29, 2012) NEW YORK, N.Y. – StarGames and MSG Sports have announced that the third season of “World of Tennis Presented by BNP Paribas” will debut next week. The first of seven episodes of the bi-weekly series will premiere on Tennis Channel at 7:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, December 5.

The 30-minute show will feature “Holding Court,” a profile segment hosted by Justin Gimelstob that this year will include interviews with tennis legends Jimmy Connors and Boris Becker as well as Olympic gold medal skier and tennis fan Lindsay Vonn. In the first two years of the show, Gimelstob’s guests included Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick and “American Idol” judge Randy Jackson.

The hot topics of tennis will also be covered on each episode during a round table discussion with Sports Illustrated Senior Writer Jon Wertheim and the editorial staff at Tennis.com.

Tennis Channel will debut a new episode of the magazine show every other Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. EST, until February 27. Each show will then re-air on Tennis Channel.

“We’re happy to have the new season of World of Tennis back on Tennis Channel again,” said David Scott, vice president, programming, Tennis Channel. “Since its inception the series has allowed our viewers to get an insider’s look at some of the most exciting players and pressing issues in the sport today.”

The season finale on February 27 will be a preview of World Tennis Day, which includes BNP Paribas Showdown events in New York City and Hong Kong on March 4. The sixth annual event in New York at Madison Square Garden is part of Tennis Night in America (TNIA) and will feature Victoria Azarenka, Serena Williams, Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal. TNIA is an annual celebration of the sport in the United States which encourages 10-and-under tennis.

The BNP Paribas Showdown at AsiaWorld-Arena will mark the event’s first year in Hong Kong and will feature Li Na, Caroline Wozniacki, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe.

“There is a lot of tennis on television, but I think ‘World of Tennis’ separates itself as a unique look at the personalities and stories in the game,” said Jerry Solomon, executive producer and president of StarGames. “It is only possible to present this show with the help of our partners at MSG and BNP Paribas. Collectively, we want to present tennis to the widest possible audience, and this show is a chance to not only showcase tennis but also to give fans a real inside look at the stories and personalities that make the game so compelling.”

Long-time tennis producer Jennie Silverstein will produce “World of Tennis Presented by BNP Paribas” for StarGames and MSG Sports. BNP Paribas, a leader in banking and financial services and the world No. 1 tennis partner, will be presenting sponsor, with additional support being provided by Tennis Magazine, Wilson, Getty Images, USTA, Tennis Night in America and the BNP Paribas Showdown.

Video highlights and uncut versions of the interviews from “World of Tennis Presented by BNP Paribas” are found on www.stargamesinc.com.

More information on the BNP Paribas Showdown events in New York and Hong Kong can be found on www.worldtennisday.com.

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McEnroe, Courier, and Rafter Discuss Anti-Doping Efforts in Tennis

By Amy Fetherolf‏

(November 6, 2012) Since the release of the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s report on how Lance Armstrong gamed the system to avoid testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, many have questioned whether something similar could happen in tennis.

 

Indeed, one of the doctors implicated in the Armstrong case for orchestrating a doping regime for the entire United States Postal Service cycling team also treated tennis players, including Sara Errani and Dinara Safina.

 

When asked about doping in tennis at a PowerShares Series event in Philadelphia, John McEnroe expressed confidence in the International Tennis Federation’s anti-doping program.

 

“I think you can take any sport, but I think it’s as rigorously tested as any sport other than the Olympics that I’m aware of,” McEnroe said. “Maybe more so than any other sport, whether it’s football, basketball. I’ll bet you there’s way more testing and way more stringent testing in tennis than in any of those team sports.”

 

Jim Courier also backed the ITF’s anti-doping program.

 

“We use WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency), and we’re on the Olympic Code, which is a pretty stringent code. Players do out-of-competition testing that’s unannounced. They have to give their whereabouts for one hour of the day, every day of the year. If they’re not where they say they are, that counts as a positive test against them. We have the rules in place. We have, I think, the best drug testing system around that I’m aware of.”

 

“No idea [if it’s a problem in tennis]. I hope to think there’s not,” Patrick Rafter said. “I think there’s always a case here and there, but I don’t think it’s a big problem like cycling was. I hope there’s not an issue, but there’s always the potential.”

 

Though Courier put his support behind the ITF’s testing program, he acknowledged that there was opportunity for players to take advantage of the system.

 

“I think that given the great rewards that are out there in tennis, and given human nature, people will cut corners where you give them leeway to do so. I think you have to put your head in the sand to think that people wouldn’t try and cut corners given what’s on the line if you do well in our sport. Look at Wall Street. People cut corners there because there are great monetary rewards. Anywhere you go in the world, this is human nature. We’re not immune to that. I don’t think we have a problem, but we’re not immune to that.”

 

“Everyone wants to see a situation where there’s a level playing field,” McEnroe said. “So it continues to be something that would be an issue for all sports, I would think.”

Amy Fetherolf‏  was in Philadelphia covering the PowerShares event for Tennis Panorama. She is the founder of the tennis news site Drop Shot Dispatch and a co-founder of the new tennis site The Changeover.  Follow her on twitter at @AmyFetherolf.

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Rafter Rallies Past McEnroe To Win NASDAQ Indexes Cup in Madison Square Garden

(November 5, 2012) NEW YORK, NY– Two-time US Open Champion, Australia’s Patrick Rafter won his second PowerShares Series title in four days by defeating hometown boy John McEnroe, 8-3 in the championship match of the NASDAQ Indexes Cup Monday night at Madison Square Garden. Rafter won last Friday’s event I Philadelphia. Rafter, down 1-3 in the final, won the next seven games to take the match.

 

“It’s just a thrill for me to be back out here competing in front of the fans again,” said Rafter. “I had never played in this building, so what an added thrill, and a dream come true for me. I can’t thank the fans enough for coming out tonight to watch us play, in light of what this part of the country has been through lately. I hope we were able to provide some good entertainment.”

Rafter who promised before the match that he would serve and volley on every chance he could, used his aggressiveness to take down Pete Sampras 6-3 in the first semifinal of the night. Sampras was sporting knee-high socks due to a calf strain.

 

In the second semifinal, New York’s own John McEnroe, zoomed out to a 4-0 lead over Andre Agassi. Agassi eventually gained back the two service breaks to draw even on serve at 4-5, but McEnroe broke him to seal the match 6-4.

 

For Rafter, this was his first time playing in Madison Square Garden. “I’m excited,” he said before the matches began. He said that had attended the Knicks game on Sunday and it made him very nervous. He said that he’d hope to play well and that he did.

The win moves Rafter into a tie for third in the 2012 PowerShares Series rankings with Jim Courier.

Monday Night Scores
Semifinal 1: Rafter def. Sampras, 6-3
Semifinal 2: McEnroe def. Agassi, 6-4
Final: Rafter def. McEnroe, 8-3

UPDATED 2012 POWERSHARES SERIES RANKINGS
1.            McEnroe              1200
2.            Sampras               1100
3.            Courier                 800
Rafter                   800
5.            Lendl                     400
6.            Chang                   200
7.            Agassi                   100
Martin                    100

More to follow

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McEnroe, Courier and Rafter Weigh in on Big Four Debate

By Amy Fetherolf‏

(November 5, 2012) PHILADELPHIA - Ever since 2003 when Roger Federer burst onto the tennis scene and began an era of domination, which now extends to the so-called “Big Four” of Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, and Novak Djokovic, the tennis world has questioned how long it can go on.

As the 2012 tennis season wraps up, with just the World Tour Finals left, that question remains unanswered. Each of the Big Four captured one Slam title apiece this year.

“At some stage, things will change. It’s not a question of if, it’s when,” John McEnroe said at a Philadelphia stop on the PowerShares Series Tour. “But it’s hard to say when exactly that will be. Obviously Nadal’s health is an issue, and Roger’s not getting any younger. I suspect that you’ll see these guys hopefully around for a couple more years.”

Jim Courier expressed admiration for the way the Big Four have sustained their success, winning an astonishing 30 of the last 31 Majors.

“I think what the top four have done has been unprecedented as far as the level of consistency they’ve shown, and the level of dominance they’ve shown over the field,” Courier said.

“I just don’t know how they can keep it up. Honestly, the physical taxation that the game takes from them, the mental toll it takes, all the sponsorship requirements, all the pressure that’s on them to perform every week. I’m in awe of their consistency.”

The second tier of players stands separated from the top four by a Grand Canyon-like gulf. The three strongest contenders, Juan Martin del Potro (the only non-Big Four man to win a Slam since 2005), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Tomas Berdych, struggle to earn wins over the Big Four. In 2012 against Federer, Djokovic, Nadal, and Murray, Tsonga was 0-7, del Potro was 2-8, and Berdych was 2-7.

“You’ve got guys like del Potro, Tsonga, Berdych, Ferrer,” Patrick Rafter said. “Roger’s not playing like he was five years ago, that’s just a simple fact. He’s still putting himself in contention to win Grand Slams, but he’s not going to be as dominant as he was. And Nadal is having problems as well. You can see Djokovic and Murray certainly hanging around, but Nadal’s a big question mark, and Roger’s slowing down, but I think he’ll still be around in the mix. There’s definitely room for the new guys coming up.”

But Courier was reluctant to write off a few more years of Big Four domination.

“We haven’t seen any cracks in that façade, really,” Courier said. “It’s been again a year where the Big Four won all the Majors, and this year it’s been a true split. So I think it’s even more interesting from that standpoint. Who’s going to wrestle control the way Novak did in 2011? This year was more up for grabs, and Murray certainly has become a bigger part of the competition.”

McEnroe feels that del Potro is the most promising non-Big Four contender to win a Major in 2013.

“If I had to pick one guy that would win a Major if he remains healthy, it would probably be del Potro,” McEnroe said. “He’s won one, so it wouldn’t be a total shock. He’s put himself back in the position to do that. There’s a handful of guys who could do it, and someone’s going to do it, but he’d be the one guy I’d have to pick over anyone else.”

Courier agreed with McEnroe’s sentiment on the Argentinian.

“I love del Potro’s game,” Courier said. “I think he’s one of the few guys who really has the weaponry to stand up against those top four guys on a consistent basis. He needs some good fortune with his health, that’s been a problem for him. If he can stay healthy, I think he certainly has the tools to be in that conversation.”

Amy Fetherolf‏  was in Philadelphia covering the PowerShares event for Tennis Panorama. She is the founder of the tennis news site Drop Shot Dispatch and a co-founder of the new tennis site The Changeover.  Follow her on twitter at @AmyFetherolf.

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