Wed Dec 18 08:19am EST
In a surprise hire by the No. 2 player in the world, Novak Djokovic has added Boris Becker to his team of coaches for the 2014 season and will bring Becker with him when he heads to Melbourne next month to defend his Australian Open title.
Djokovic, who is coming off a solid season that saw him snag his third straight Aussie Open title, lost in the finals at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and is bringing Becker in to help him win more Grand Slams, something Becker knew a lot about during his prime.
“I am really excited to have the opportunity to work with Boris. He is a true legend, someone who has great tennis knowledge and his experience will help me win new trophies from the Grand Slams and other tournaments. Becker is a great person, too, and I am sure he will fit in our team in the best possible way. Boris brings new fresh approach, and together with Vajda he will make a winning combination. My goal for 2014 is to play my best tennis and to get in shape for the Grand Slams and Masters 1000. These tournaments have the most weight in our sport, and I want to prove my worth at them. The team is now strengthened and we hope for maximum results," Novak said on his website.
The addition of Becker doesn't mean that Marian Vajda will be shoved out, as the coach plans to enter his eighth season alongside Djokovic and Becker and hopes that the addition of a new face will help bring something fresh to the now 26-year-old as he continues his quest for not only more majors, but a career Grand Slam with a win at the French Open.
The move seems like a smart one for Djokovic, who played some great tennis in '13 but was outplayed in two important finals at Wimbledon and at the U.S. Open. With Andy Murray taking his tennis to new heights over the last 18 months and Rafael Nadal returning to the game stronger than ever, a lot of people are looking at Novak and wondering when he will go back to competing, and beating those two guys in the matches that count.
Novak plans to bring Becker to the Australian Open, Dubai, Miami, Monte Carlo, Rome, the French Open, Wimbledon, Cincinnati, the U.S. Open, Shanghai, Paris and London in 2014, so expect to see a lot of the 46-year-old in the coming year.
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Wed Dec 04 10:48am EST
A pretty easy way for celebrities to measure their level of fame is by asking the simple question, "if someone dressed up as me, would people freak out?"
Meet Donnie, a man that probably doesn't have a jaw-dropping backhand, but did take it upon himself to hit the streets of Shanghai in hopes of impersonating Roger Federer.
It's worth pointing out that Donnie doesn't really look like Federer, talk like him or even have the flowing locks like him. If you watch the video below, you'll see he even signs all the "autographs" with his left hand, not really what I'd expect from the right-handed Federer.
But Donnie's experiment was simple; he wanted to see if people would think he was Roger simply by throwing on some Nike gear and hiring a few bodyguards to follow him around. Notice him they did, and the droves of fans flocked to get a picture with fake Roger, get his autograph and even have him pose with their baby.
I do feel a bit bad for some of the people that got actual stuff signed by this man, but the idea was all in good fun and reminds us that the mind sees what the mind wants.
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Tue Dec 03 04:14pm EST
Think back to when Serena and Venus Williams turned professional. Two African American sisters with wacky hairstyles and incredible talent, the Williams sisters burst onto the scene, changing the sport of tennis for the better, and they know it.
In Argentina for an exhibition, the Williams sisters were asked about their legacy and said they know what they've done for the sport in the present and for the future.
"We changed tennis," Serena told the media. "We brought passion and fashion wearing extravagant clothes. And also style, power as a new skin color as we are African-Americans. We improved tennis."
"I think that totally changed the dynamic of the game," Serena continued. "I remember in particular Venus started wearing all these amazing outfits and I was so influenced by that. … I definitely think we had a huge impact on tennis in that way. As well, of course, bringing such power into tennis, and bringing a new color."
It would be hard to argue with what Serena said here considering how much they've both won and what they've done for the game in parts of the world that might never have tuned in to watch this sport if not for both of them.
Serena has won 17 Grand Slam titles and Venus has added seven herself, and the two have teamed up to snag 13 doubles titles in their free time, but the impact both have had goes beyond the trophies.
Venus had the height and dominated on grass while Serena just overpowered anyone that got in her way, and when Serena seemed locked in at the Grand Slams it always appeared she was unbeatable. Both have gone through the highs and lows of being a professional athlete in the spotlight, but both sisters have done to tennis what other big names have done for their sports over the years.
"Being African-American, and playing successful tennis and winning Grand Slams, that hadn’t been done in a long time,” Serena added. "I think that got so much excitement involved in tennis as well."
Serena, now 32, is still competing at an incredibly high level and sits just five Grand Slam titles short of catching Steffi Graf for most wins in the Open Era. The Australian Open kicks off in just over a month, and there Serena will have a chance to add to that legacy and win her first title in Melbourne since 2010.
Fri Nov 29 11:13am EST
The tennis world might be in deep hibernation, but that doesn't mean that some of the behind the scenes people are taking days off.
The great Wimbledon Twitter account sent out this Vine on Friday showing the ball boys getting some serious training at the All England Club.
While most of the time you only see the ball boys when they make ridiculous catches like this one, it is a very serious job that takes training and discipline.
Wimbledon especially knows this, so the training is taking place and the ball boys are hard at work even though we won't see tennis on these grounds until June 23.
Wed Nov 27 11:10am EST
With Thanksgiving upon us, each Yahoo Sports blog is taking stock of what they're thankful for while also providing menu suggestions and a sport-specific viewing guide for when you hit your couch. Share what you're thankful for on Twitter with the #YSBThanks hashtag or in the comments below. Have a safe and happy holiday!
The ageless wonder that is Serena Williams: I would mention that someone should tell Serena Williams that 32-years-old means retirement for most professional tennis players, but I doubt it would do any good. This season alone she won the French Open and the U.S. Open, took home titles in Miami, Madrid, Rome, Toronto and Beijing and looked as dialed in as she has been in years.
The best part about Serena? She doesn't look like she's slowing up at all, and 2014 might just be her best year yet.
The Big Four on the men's side: Forget the fact that Roger Federer is not the same man he once was (we will get to him in a minute), but between him, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, the big four in the men's game is as talented as any we've ever seen go up against each other.
That we still get to enjoy Roger Federer: I debated about including something about Federer, my favorite tennis player to watch ever, because a part of me gets depressed these days seeing him lose to opponents he used to dominate, but I figured I'd be positive and simply enjoy the last few years of Federer as a tennis icon.
History will follow him around the rest of his life, and generations to come, but we should all be thankful that we still get to see Federer out there competing for Grand Slams and putting himself in big matches time and time again.
Strawberries and Cream, Wimbledon: Going to Wimbledon and not getting strawberries and cream is like visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa and not taking one of those pictures where it looks like you're keeping the building from falling over.
It is the one food tradition in this game that is a MUST, and it would make a solid Thanksgiving dessert if you ask me.
A doughnut: If you're interested in one I bet Serena Williams would serve you one, because she served up a lot of them to her opponents this season.
Oh, no big deal, just two men with the most Grand Slam trophies in men's tennis history enjoying a nice Thanksgiving spread together.
Sadly, if you want to see some live tennis you best go down to the local gym and hope to catch some youngsters battling each other, but there will be replays on Thanksgiving day.
Tennis Channel is showing the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters semifinals replay at 3 PM ET on Thanksgiving and the the Barcelona Open Final at 5 PM ET, so if you must have some tennis in your life after consuming thousands of calories, that is the place to go.
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Wed Nov 13 11:30am EST
Rafael Nadal will be ending his 2013 season with the No. 1 ranking in both tennis and practical jokes on other stars after he pulled this fast one on Andy Murray in New York.
Murray was on The Jonathan Ross Show (video below) and told a pretty interesting story about a prank Nadal played on him when they were both in New York. Apparently Nadal is funnier than one would expect, and sent some sexy text messages to Murray while he was out to dinner with his girlfriend, Kim Sears, and Murray apparently had no idea who was sending them and got a little nervous.
“Basically I was sitting at dinner with my girlfriend and, during the meal, which I probably shouldn’t have done anyway because it’s rude to check my phone, anyway, I was checking my phone and I looked at one of the messages and it was from a number I didn’t recognize and it said something like, ‘Oh my God, Andy, you look so sexy tonight. It’s a shame you’re here with your girlfriend.’ So I obviously I didn’t tell my girlfriend at first I didn’t want to ruin the meal so I put it back in my pocket. Then on the way back from the meal it clicked who it was. He’d obviously been the whole time watching me from a distance looking at this message and seeing my face and also not telling me.”
I'm not exactly sure what clicked in Murray's head to tip him off that it was Nadal (maybe Nadal accidentally typed *grunt* at one point in the conversation), but it is definitely a good play by the Spaniard to drop a couple of inappropriate text messages to the current Wimbledon champion in hopes of spooking him.
If you've read Nadal's book you don't see a ton of comedy in there, but the guy is rich and famous and is around guys like Murray and Novak Djokovic more than he probably is his family so playing a joke or two on them is necessary to keep your sanity.
I'm assuming after the year and a half stretch that Murray has been on, with two Grand Slam victories and a gold medal at the Olympics, you can say just about anything to him and he will simply return your comment with a smile.
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Mon Nov 11 07:12pm EST
In exactly the match that should have been played to all but end the 2013 tennis season, Novak Djokovic took down Rafael Nadal relatively easy at the ATP World Finals in London on Monday.
Djokovic, who will end the year as No. 2 in the world behind Nadal, won 6-3, 6-4 to defend his ATP World Final title from a season ago and remind everyone that despite the recent success Nadal has had against Djokovic, the Serbian can still beat the best in the world when he's hitting the ball as cleanly as he did in London.
What was the moment that changed the match? That is Djokovic hitting an absolutely stunning cross-court lob on break point, fending off Nadal, one of the only people in the world that could have returned that shot Djokovic pulled off, and eventually winning the point to give himself the break that ended up winning him the first set.
It was a good example of the ability, speed and downright bloodhound-ness of both Djokovic and Nadal that they could continue to find some way to sniff out these balls and return them with pace and depth.
Nadal ends his season with the French and U.S. Open titles, not to mention that No. 1 ranking, while Djokovic will leave '13 with the Australian Open title and a final match win against the only man ranked ahead of him in the world.
Thu Nov 07 11:42am EST
A year ago, nobody in the world knew what to make of Rafael Nadal, the Spaniard that came into our lives a clay court champion and left a guy that could dominate every surface.
Nadal plays tennis like Derrick Rose plays basketball, with absolutely no regard for his self or his body, a mentality to simply get to every single ball hit to him and get it over the net with a ferocious pace and insane spin. Nadal was the opposite of Roger Federer and he embraced it, but the toll his body took finally caught up to him, and a knee injury kept him out of both the 2012 Olympics and the U.S. Open.
Health continued to be a problem as the tennis world flipped the calendar to 2013 and the Australian Open, a second Grand Slam that Nadal would skip, this time for a stomach virus.
Tennis is a cruel game, and no matter how special you once were, the fans and eyeballs and sponsors can move on as fast as age can catch up to a champion, so with Nadal gone it was Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic that took over as the best in the world. Federer's reign was slipping faster than most had hoped, and the '13 Australian Open finals gave us what looked like the future of Grand Slam finals with Murray and Djokovic going at it.
Nadal had become a question instead of a factor, with most wondering if we'd ever see the then 11-time Grand Slam champion return to the form that made him the best in the world.
Those questions were answered rather quickly when Nadal made his return to the VTR Open and made the finals. It was the start of a ridiculous '13 for the 27-year-old, who made 13 finals in 16 completed events this year including 10 titles, none more important than the U.S. Open at the end of the season.
Nadal's win at the French Open coupled with that triumph at the U.S. Open over Djokovic not only meant he was back, but that the Spaniard has an outside shot at catching the 17 Grand Slam titles of Federer before his career is done (Nadal sits comfortably at 13 right now).
Now, with his win over Stanislas Wawrinka on Wednesday at the ATP World Finals, Nadal locked up the No. 1 ranking for the year, becoming just the third player ever to finish the year with the top ranking after relinquishing that spot to another player.
When he's locked in, Nadal is still the best tennis player in the world, and as long as he can keep that health up for two more years I definitely think he has a shot at tying, and possibly passing, Federer with those 17 majors.
Even if he doesn't, the return to form for Nadal has been absolutely incredible and the story of the year on the men's side of tennis.
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Tue Nov 05 11:13am EST
It has been a dream year for Andy Murray, the 26-year-old Scottish tennis star who picked up his second Grand Slam win in 2013 and first Wimbledon trophy.
Murray transformed himself over the last year from talented tennis player that couldn't get over the major hump to one of the best players in the world and a force to be reckoned with at every Grand Slam.
All that was enough to land him the prestigious Best British Sports Star away from the Radio 1 Teen Awards. Murray couldn't make the show, but he did film this entertaining video where he accepted the award while getting pummeled with tennis balls.
It made the speech a little tougher, but Murray got through it, despite getting a few balls to the dome as he was speaking.
Murray, who most expected to be playing at the ATP World Tour Finals this week in London, had to withdraw because of a back surgery he underwent to prepare for the 2014 season. Still, a fun video with the No. 4 player in the world who will never forget this 2013 season.
Wed Oct 23 12:15pm EDT
One of the strangest changes in the rules of a sport is the men's Grand Slam format. All season the best men in the world are playing best-of-three matches, but when the Grand Slams roll around they have to completely change their mentality with a best-of-five format at the Wimbledon and the French, Australian and U.S. Opens.
Golf doesn't make majors 90 holes, football doesn't make the Super Bowl five quarters, and the NBA doesn't push their finals to a best-of-nine series, but for men's tennis, the rules do change.
Victoria Azarenka wishes this wasn't the case. The No. 2 player in the world was asked about the push for women to play a best-of-five format starting at the majors, but went another way with her thoughts. While she said she would roll with whatever punches the WTA and others decided, she thinks it is the men that should come down to their level.
"I think there has been a lot of talk about (women playing best-of-five)," Azarenka said after her first match at the WTA Championships. "I think we can stand by one opinion that all the women have: We’re ready to play whatever it is. … I just think that playing five sets can be very challenging for the scheduling. I actually think men should play three sets. It would be more interesting."
The tennis reporter battles with the tennis fan inside of me on this issue, mostly because I love seeing the matches go long and the guys struggle to keep all their emotions and mental anguish under wraps. These matches can last hours upon hours, go over two days and bring guys to pull out because they can't handle it physically, and to me that is a lot of what the five set idea is about at the Grand Slams.
In that same sense, the idea of it being "more interesting" is definitely true.
One of the crazy things about men's tennis is how often the names you expect to make the finals actually make the finals (or at least two of the four you have on your short list). In five sets, the cream simply rises to the top and upsets late in the second week of a Grand Slam are few and far between.
If the format went to a best-of-three for the men, it would bring a lot more names in the game that have the ability to win a couple of sets off someone like Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray.
Roger Federer and Andy Roddick have both said they think a move wouldn't be a terrible thing for men's tennis, but I expect this doesn't change.
Still, a cool idea to speed up the game, speed up the matches and give fans and viewers a better idea of when certain matches are actually being played at an accurate time.