Sunday, March 27, 2011

A brief look at the Player Party: 2011 Sony Ericsson Open

Photo: AP

The 2011 Sony Ericsson Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in Miami, FL USA is now underway. Each year, this electrifying tournament draws all the top men and women players in the world, as well as over 300,000 tennis fans and guests.

It's one of the most glamorous stops on the professional tour. And it's been known to bring out some of the top stars in music, entertainment and other sports to visit and enjoy.

Here's a short video of Slovakian star Dominika Cibulkova's fun off-court interview of some of the game's top stars at the exclusive Player Party this year.


Monday, March 21, 2011

A Visit to Indian Wells - "The Fifth Grand Slam"

I had the unique opportunity to visit Indian Wells, CA USA (BNP Paribas Open) for three days this past week, and see some of the game's top players first-hand. It was a fantastic and fan-friendly experience at one of the top professional tournaments - often called the "Fifth Grand Slam."

Indian Wells, and it's new owner Larry Ellison, have tried to blaze a new trail for tennis pre-eminence this year. Among other things, the tournament boasted the ground-breaking "Shot Spot" technology on all courts, not just at the stadium courts for the big matches - thus enabling player challenges at every match and on every round.

All match courts are now lit - and lighting has been improved at several courts. There are now more practice courts with more fan seating, thus allowing for even more close-ups with players. And the big stadium court holds 16,100 fans - more people than any tennis stadium in the world after the U.S. Open's Ashe Stadium.

I enjoyed Roger Federer playing USA teen star Ryan Harrison, saw Maria Sharapova practicing and even caught Rafa Nadal relaxing by playing soccer in the practice field.

There were daily player autograph sessions, countless sponsor booths and tables, and food, prizes and fun throughout the Indian Wells Tennis Garden facility. A real treat for any tennis fan and follower!

This year's BNP Paribas Open, the 36th edition, broke all attendance records, with over 350,000 fans visiting over 2 weeks.

And yes. Congratulations to the winners of the Men's and Women's Singles Championships - Novak Djokovic and Caroline Wozniaki.

See you next year!

Friday, March 11, 2011

A few great serves in history, starting from the Year 1919

Here's a fascinating short video of a few great serves in history, starting from the Year 1919.

Gerald Patterson, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Pete Sampras, Boris Becker.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

The fastest serve ever. . . Dr. Ivo's blast

Photo: AP

Croatia - Big-serving Ivo ("Dr. Ivo) Karlovic (Croatia) set a new world's record in the Davis Cup tie between Croatia and Germany on Saturday, March 05, 2011 for the fastest serve ever: 156 mph (251 km/h).

The previous record was 155 mph by Andy Roddick (USA) in 2004 at another Davis Cup match.

Dr. Ivo hit the serve in the fourth set of his doubles match against Germany. Unfortunately, Karlovic and his teammate Ivan Dodig (Croatia) lost the doubles match in 5 sets to Christopher Kas and Philipp Petzschner (both Germany), 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 .


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Preview Video: BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells, CA USA 2011

Here's a short Preview Video for the upcoming BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells, CA USA 2011. . .


Friday, March 4, 2011

Playing tennis like the "wild thing" in D.H. Lawrence's poem

An interesting thing happened recently at a practice clinic.

One of the players was definitely not playing very well. It was not her best tennis.

Her timing and rhythm were off. Her footwork and quickness were not sharp. Her mind was not focused, and her strokes were tight. She started moping, groaning and just generally feeling sorry for herself.

The teaching pro then quoted a poem by the famous British poet D.H. Lawrence.

I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.

What did it all mean?

I think he meant to send a simple message:

Play tennis like that "wild thing" in nature.

Don't feel sorry for yourself on court. Live in the moment.
Accept whatever comes your way with grace and dignity.
Spring back from injury, hurt or temporary failure.
Exist and survive with natural strength.
Avoid self-doubt and remorse.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Is Jimmy Connors the greatest tennis player of all time?

The Wall Street Journal reports that the scientific journal PLoS One published a research study ranking tennis players on a measure different than the usual "most weeks at No.1" or "most Grand Slam championships" - a measure called "prestige scoring."

By 'Prestige Score,' Connors is Tops, Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2011

Based on this study's "prestige scoring" ranking, Northwestern University statistical researcher Filippo Radicchi argued that Jimmy Connors might be considered the "greatest tennis player of all time".

What is "prestige scoring"?

It refers to victories by a player over "quality opponents", as opposed to any win against any opponent. "What's really important is not to win many matches, but to win matches against other good players," explained Radicchi.

Radicchi reviewed and evaluated all matches in the Open Era from 1968 to 2010. He developed an algorithm and applied it to his tennis database. He ranked players based on "quality wins".

And he concluded that Connors enjoyed 178 quality match victories over his career - more than anyone else, and thus achieved 95.4 on his "prestige score". Ivan Lendl came in second with 134 quality wins, and John McEnroe was third with 129 quality wins.

For more reading, see:
Who Is the Best Player Ever? A Complex Network Analysis of the History of Professional Tennis (February 09, 2011)