Category Archives: tennis

Why Serena Is Not Celebrated More

serena_williamsCongrats to Serena Williams on winning her 20th Grand Slam title.  Congrats goes to her on winning her third French Open title.

Most of all, congrats goes to Williams on moving into second all-time for most Grand Slam ladies’ singles titles in the Open Era.

And that’s the most you’ll hear of it.

After Saturday’s French Open women’s final, most of the talk in the sports world has been centered around American Pharoah (sic) becoming the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown after winning the Belmont Stakes and the heroic efforts of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers sans Kyrie Irving AND Kevin Love – and rightfully so.  Hell not many folks were even talking about the men’s French Open final.

So of course the obvious question is the following: why is Serena not getting the love that she deserves?

Not to be over-complicated, but it’s a question that yields many answers.

First of all, tennis is not nearly as popular in this country as much as it used to.

Anyone remember the golden years of the 1980s and 90s?  Evan Lendl, Boris Becker, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras (who I think is better than the overrated Roger Federer), Andre Agassi, Michael Chang, and Jim Courier?  And how about Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, and Monica Seles on the women’s side?  That’s a who’s-who of tennis whose talents we may never see again.

I also think that the lack of American stars has a lot to do with, especially on the men’s side.  I mean if we are honest about it, all we knew of and cheered wildly for was Andy Roddick.

Secondly, we all take Serena for granted.

After all, she is SUPPOSED to win.  What active player can consistently take out Serena?

Maria Sharapova?  She is only 2-16 lifetime against Serena.

Big sister Venus?  WAAAAY past her prime, and even Serena dominates her as of late.

Li Na and Sloane Stephens?  Please.

And that leads to the third reason: the field is not deep.  At least Serena once had to deal with the likes of big sis Venus, Martina Hingis, Lindsey Davenport, and Justine Henin while she was ascending into her prime.

Who is there now?  The combined total of Grand Slam winners from active players is 21.  Again, Serena alone has 20.  The most remarkable thing about that is Serena will be 34 years old in September and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Is it fair to hold the lack of depth in women’s tennis over Serena’s head?  Hell no, but it is what it is.

A third reason is people tend to hate on her attitude, or what they perceive as an attitude problem.

I remember so many people would knock her and Venus for not being humble enough.  “Show more class when winning!” people would yell at their TV screens whenever Serena would bag another win.

Memo to delusional sports fans: do you REALLY think most superstar athletes are humble?  Do y’all think Michael Jordan was humble?  How about Agassi and Sampras?  And don’t even think about Kobe Bryant.

That’s life.  Get over it.

The last reason is a sensitive one, and may only have to do with a scintilla of the issue, not one that many people would feel comfortable with: Serena is not a blond-haired white woman.

Don’t believe me?

Look at how many endorsement opportunities Sharapova has.  Now Sharapova is a beautiful (and quite lovely) statuesque blond Russian with a marketable personality.  However, she’s won only five Grand Slam titles, 15 less than Serena.

And what is my biggest trump card of all, look at the number of endorsement opportunities Anna Kournikova has (or at least had).  Her net worth was once upwards of $50 million!

As with Sharapova, Kournikova is a very beautiful woman.  Hell bump that, the woman was fine as hell.  But you know what, Kournikova did not win as many Grand Slam singles titles as Serena.  In fact, she didn’t win ANY such titles.

It’s unfortunate thing to say or even postulate, but could you imagine Serena as a blond-haired white woman (and American) winning Grand Slam singles titles year after year in this day and age?  There would be so many tribute sites to her on the web, the damn internet would stay broke.  Serena would be on so many one-handed magazine (dudes know what I am talking about) covers, she’d make EVERY men’s magazine some money.

The sports world may not hype Serena as much as she deserves, and that’s a damn shame.  And the day she walks away from tennis will be the day sports fans will miss her immensely.

Once Again, Rafa Is Better than Federer

French-Open-Logo1Rafael Nadal accomplished a lot of things in winning the 2014 French Open.

Nadal is the first dude to win nine titles at the same major tournament.  He won his fifth French Open title.  He has won 66 out of his last 67 matches at Roland Garros.  Oh, and he has won his 14th Grand Slam title, tying Pete Sampras for second all time and trailing only Roger Federer’s 17 Grand Slam titles.

What was more impressive was that he beat down a guy who is in the midst of his prime in Novak Djokovic.  Djokovic is not only the world’s #2-ranked player, he’s also had Nadal’s number as of late.  Before today’s French Open final, he won three of his last four Grand Slam tournament matchup over Nadal – all resulting in titles.  However, with today’s French Open win, Nadal is 23-19 overall against Djokovic.

What’s even more impressive is that Nadal is 28 years old, which is considered “old” in professional tennis.  Generally speaking, tennis players are said to be approaching the end of their careers when they are over the age of 27.  Given the knee problems that Nadal has suffered, no one counted on this “old” guy to be winning tournaments – let alone a Grand Slam title.

Here is one more thing where I think Nadal’s French Open win was special.  It came during a time where there are more than three dominant male tennis players.  Aside the aforementioned Federer and Djokovic, Nadal has to contend with the likes of Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, David Ferrer, and Gaël Monfils either entering or in the midst of their primes.

The only tennis great who could best that was Sampras.  His 14 Grand Slam titles came against the likes of fierce rival Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, Michael Chang, Patrick Rafter, and Jim Courier.  In other words, Sampras dominated during the Golden Age of ATP men’s tennis.

As for Federer (and yes, I will say this again), most of his 17 titles came against a much greener Nadal, an underachieving Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, and a bunch of other stiffs.  And now Federer is 10-23 against Nadal.  Yup, PRETTY damn great if you ask me (a shout out to my main man/Federer honk “Big Al”).

Let’s face it folks, at this point the only thing preventing Nadal from becoming the greatest of all time is Nadal himself.

Federer Loss Signals a Changing of the Guard in Men’s Tennis

FedererHey Big Al, this one is for you.

Al is one of my college buddies from waaaaay back who has served as my main antagonist when it comes to Roger Federer’s legacy in tennis (check out his awesome comments on my last rant on Federer, and this one and this one).

Al is a tennis aficionado who really knows his stuff.  He thinks Federer is far and away the best men’s tennis player of all-time.  I, on the other hand, disagree and believe that Pete Sampras is the best ever.

At any rate, I say all of that to let my friend Big Al and other tennis fans know that the Federer era of dominance has officially ended after his five-set loss to Andy Murray in the Australian Open semifinals this morning.  I would argue that his era ended in 2010 after his win at the Australian Open, though he did win Wimbledon last year.

I will say that I do not think we will ever see another era of dominance in men’s tennis such as Federer’s in his prime, despite of my continued criticism of his level of competition.  And I do not care what anyone says, if Rafael Nadal were healthy, he would have run Federer’s ass out of “tennis town” a long time ago.  However, credit to Federer for his staying power, regardless of the circumstances he cannot control.

So have at it Big Al (and other tennis/Federer fans).  While you excoriate me yet again in all things tennis, I will be enjoying the Novak Djokovic – Murray final this weekend.

Serena Is Carrying Women’s Tennis

Serena Williams rallied for a three-set victory over top-seeded and top-ranked Victoria Azarenka (who?) to win the U.S. Open.  If you’re scoring at home, that’s major title #15 for Williams.

Could you imagine if Serena didn’t have outside interests that caused her to step away from tennis for a while about a decade ago?

Williams may be 30 years old, but she’s not losing her edge.  In fact, she is not losing it any time soon.

And that is a good thing for women’s and American tennis.

Let’s face it, other than maybe Maria Sharapova, why in the hell would anyone watch women’s tennis?  No one moves the needle like Williams.

Now that is not to say that women’s tennis will falloff completely.  As I said before, Sharapova is still winning matches and some minor tournaments and she is in her prime.

I just don’t know it would have that same draw and buzz when Serena decides to walk away.  Women’s tennis will miss her when she does…

Roddick: a Victim of Circumstances

Andy Roddick lost the last tennis game of his career earlier today to Juan Martin del Potro in four sets 6-7 (1), 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-4.  He used the US Open as his swan song, partly because it is the site of his only major tournament title.

Now the question we must ask of Roddick, what should his legacy be?  I think he legacy should be described with one question: “what if?”

What if his prime did not coincide with Roger Federer’s domination in men’s tennis?  What if Roddick won half of the finals vs. Federer in majors, notably his last Wimbledon final a few years back?  In fact, what if Federer didn’t arrive on the scene at all?

We may have been mentioning Roddick among the greats in men’s tennis if it weren’t for Federer.  During Roddick’s prime and Federer’s domination, both men were clearly the top two male tennis players in the world.

Instead, I look at Roddick’s career and view it for what it is: a potentially great tennis player who played during the wrong possible time.

An Apology from Me to Federer

I owe Roger Federer an apology.

In beating Andy Murray 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 to win his 7th Wimbledon title earlier today, Federer became the first player at least 30 years of age (he will be 31 next month) to win there since Arthur Ashe in 1975!  This was after many people (including yours truly) thought that Federer’s run at major titles was done.

Speaking of titles, this marked Federer’s 17th major title, three ahead of Sampras.  It also helped Federer regain the #1 ranking in the world, allowing him to equal Pete Sampras’ record of 286 weeks as the top-ranked player.

Yes, I was the same dude who once said that Federer was overrated.  I was the same guy who said on many occasions that he was not the best player ever.  While I still believe he is not the best player in the Open era (that would be Sampras boys and girls), I will acknowledge greatness when I see it.

I mean sure his competition while Federer was in his prime was suspect at best.  His main competition during his prime was an overrated and underachieving Andy Roddick.  And sure he couldn’t beat a then-green Rafael Nadal at the French Open in 2005 and 2006.  And Federer won his only French Open after Nadal pulled out with an injury in 2009.

But Federer beat a hot Novak Djokovic in this year’s Wimbledon, so that has to count for something right?  Besides, though Federer has not beaten Nadal at a major tournament in a good while, he still is the 2012 Wimbledon champ.

So congrats to you Roger Federer on a job well done…

Hey Federer Fans, Where Are You Now?

Another major, another loss for Roger Federer.

Federer lost in four sets to my man Rafael Nadal 6-7, 6-2, 7-6, 6-4 in an Australian Open semifinal on Thursday night.  As Federer was again dominated by an arch-rival, I have one thing to say…

I am so, SO very sick and tired of the talk of him still being the among best men’s player on the tour as well as the best tennis player of all time.  STOP IT!

I said once before, and I’ll say it again: Federer is not the greatest men’s singles player of all time.  Hell he is not even the best player on tour right now (that would Novak Djokovic), and hasn’t been that way for the last five years (that would be Nadal).

A lot of Federer apologists would always say that you cannot punish him for playing against inferior competition during his prime.  Uh, yes you can!!!  Dig this: Federer’s biggest challengers during that time were an underachieving, overrated Andy Roddick and a gritty, yet inferior Lleyton Hewitt.  That’s it!!!

Now that he has some competition in Nadal and Djokovic (hell, Federer got his ass kicked in Wimbledon by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga).

Again, I will say that Pete Sampras is the greatest men’s singles player because dominated MUCH stiffer competition during his prime.  Do you honestly think that Federer would dominate Andre Agassi, Michael Chang, and Jim Courier the way Sampras did?

I didn’t think so…


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