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Nick Bollettieri: What Makes Them Special

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TENNIS NICK BOLLETTIERI – I have been watching and consuming sports my entire life, and I absolutely cannot get enough of it. My wife, Cindi, often asks me how every single game whether it be baseball, football, golf, or tennis can be such a special game? My answer is very simple. By Nick Bollettieri

 

I have been watching and consuming sports my entire life, and I absolutely cannot get enough of it. My wife, Cindi, often asks me how every single game whether it be baseball, football, golf, or tennis can be such a special game? My answer is very simple – it’s special to me because I enjoy the excitement and observing athletes playing the same game, but with their own style of play and reaction to almost every move. Let’s take a look at some of tennis’ all-time greats and what makes them so unique and special…

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John McEnroe

Serve. His starting position of standing totally parallel to the baseline with his racquet and ball pointing directly at fans made them so nervous that they were just about ducking for safety every time he served. As a result he had one of the very best wide-slice serves to the ad court, and it didn’t hurt that he was a lefty!

Rafael Nadal

The majority of players in the 1960s hit their forehands with an Eastern forehand grip. Little by little, starting out with Jimmy Arias in the early 80s, grips began to shit to semi-Westerns, the power game, and then the extreme western grip hit by Nadal. He has perfected this shot and in the process, he has inspired so many youngsters to hit it as well.

Pete Sampras

Sampras had a very simple forehand (Eastern grip), beginning with the elbow of his hitting arm leading the backswing. Pete also had one of the top serves in the history of tennis. He wasn’t as powerful as the guys who hit them today, but he was as consistent as they come and his placement (including his wide slice to the forehand which was hit between 114 and 118 miles per hour) was incredible. In addition to this, he had a beautiful one-handed backhand, a devastating attacking slice, and one of the very best simple first volleys.

Roger Federer

I could write volumes of information about this man, but whatever and however much I write, I could not describe the totality of everything he does both on and off the court. He plays with very little physical effort and always respects his opponents. His movement across the board is absolutely beautiful and his charity work off of it is also fantastic to see.

Jim Courier

When Jim arrived at the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy at 14 years old, his mother sent me a letter asking to completely change his Western grip and baseball-swing backhand. I did just the opposite – I told him to forget about your backhand and hit forehands all the time! He did exactly what he was told and became No. 1 in the world!

Andre Agassi

Agassi was known for many things, but most of all for his incredible on-the-court play. He had unbelievable groundstrokes, superb footwork, and a few simple strategies that he would use. He would move his opponent side-to-side (Bradenton to Las Vegas and vice versa) and he’d never hit down the line with his backhand unless the ball was inside the baseline. Also, I ensured that Agassi didn’t hit the slice from the backhand side until he had the regular two-handed backhand shot perfected.

Monica Seles

Imagine a skinny, young girl at 12 years old hitting with two hands on both sides and standing smack on the baseline with great movement. This is what I witnessed watching Monica play at the Orange Bowl many years ago. What did I do? I offered her and her entire family a scholarship on the spot and never changed anything in her game, no matter what people thought I should do! Monica is one of the all-time greats of the game and she couldn’t be a nicer person off the court as well!

Maria Sharapova

Maria came to the Academy at nine, and I could tell then that she was a competitor. Her style was very simple. She stands on top of the baseline and pounds away from both wings with no spin. She will attack her opponent’s serve and come forward on defensive balls looking to hit winners without any concern about hitting errors. Lastly, no one is more determined in their mental approach to the game than Sharapova. Never count her out even if she is down a set and 5-0, love-40! That is what makes Maria so special.

Serena Williams

There is no other way to describe Serena other than saying the following:

1. She is a true athlete

2. She is big and strong

3. She can play offensive tennis from any position on the court

4. She has one of the biggest serves ever in the women’s game

5. She can hit winners from anywhere

6. She is very comfortable at the net When healthy, Serena is one of the best, if not the single best, players in the history of the sport!

Steffi Graf

Steffi was a fantastic athlete who built her game on a very aggressive forehand hit with very little spin. Her athleticism and movement made it possible to hit most of her strokes with her forehand from anywhere on the court. Her one-handed backhand was 90% slice and allowed her time to not only recover, but also break down the rhythm of her opponents. Her serve was also a weapon, including a very high toss which actually threw off her opponent’s concentration.

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P.S. People always ask me if I would have changed anything in Steffi’s game. I would have suggested she hit with a two-handed backhand, and I think if she would have done this she would’ve been unbeatable! If you could combine her forehand with Andre’s backhand, you would have the ultimate groundstrokes!

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‘I Know How To Get There’ – Karen Khachanov Targets Return To Top 10

The world No.31 has showed signs of his talent this season with a run to the Olympic final but a lack of consistency and changes to the ATP ranking system has hindered him too.

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Karen Khachanov - Credit: AELTC/Ian Walton

It wasn’t that long ago when Karen Khachanov was the highest-ranked Russian man on the ATP Tour and billed as the next big thing from his country.

 

A breakout 2018 season saw Khachanov claim three Tour titles with the biggest of those being at the Paris Masters which remains his most prestigious trophy to date. He also reached his first major quarter-final at the French Open during the same season and scored five wins over top 10 players. Those triumphs helped elevate him in the ranking to a high of eight.

However, since that breakthrough Khachanov has found himself on a a rollercoaster journey. He is yet to win another title since Paris but came agonisingly close at the Tokyo Olympic Games where he finished runner-up to Alexander Zverev. In his nine previous Grand Slam tournaments his best run was at Wimbledon this season where he reached the last eight before losing to Denis Shapovalov.

Now ranked 31st in the world, the 25-year-old is aiming to claim back up the ladder after the ATP changed their ranking logic to the method used prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The rankings turned out to be a big pun, it was frozen for a year and a half, only now normal counting has begun. I am not fixated on this,” Khachanov told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday. “My main goal is to get back to the Top10. I know how to get there. And the intermediate goals are to be healthy and motivated.”

Khachanov has been ranked outside the world’s top 20 since February and hasn’t been in the top 10 since October 2019. He is currently coached on the Tour by Jose Clavet who has previously worked with a series of top Spanish players such as Feliciano Lopez, Alex Corretja, Tommy Robredo and Carlos Moya.

“He travels with me everywhere, for which I am grateful to him. I trust him as a specialist, as a coach and as a friend,” Khachanov said of Clavet.

Khachanov has returned to his home country this week where he is playing in Moscow at the Kremlin Cup. A tournament he won three years ago by defeating Adrian Mannarino in the final. Seeded third in the draw this time round, he began his campaign on Wednesday with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, win over James Duckworth. In the next round, he faces another Australian in the shape of John Millman which he believes will be a far from easy task.

He is a fighter, a complete player, he does everything well, forehand and backhand with good intensity. He does everything at a good level, but the main quality is that he fights till the end, so it will be hard for me,” he said of his next opponent.

Moscow is the seventh tournament this year where Khachanov has reached the quarter-final stage.

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Filip Krajinovic To Skip Australian Open If Required To Quarantine For More Than Five Days

The world No.34 says he ‘sees no reason’ why vaccinated players should have to go through a long quarentine in Australia.

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Image via twitter.com/atptour (Alexander Scheuber)

The second highest-ranked Serbian player in men’s tennis says it would be ‘unacceptable’ for organisers of the Australian Open to require players to quarantine for more than a week if they have been fully vaccinated.

 

Filip Krajinovic has become the first player to publicly state that they will not be prepared to travel to Melbourne at the end of this season if they have to go through strict quarantine measures once again. All the players who participated in this year’s Australian Open were required to be quarantined in a designated hotel for 14 days upon arrival in the country. During their stay they were allowed to use training facilities but that was the only time they could leave the premises unless there was an emergency.

There is no final decision regarding the travel requirements for the 2022 tournament but there are concerns that unvaccinated players may not be allowed to enter the country. The Victorian government recently issued a mandate ordering all essential workers to be vaccinated, including athletes. However, the regional government will not have the final say concerning tennis players arriving in the country with the national government being the ones in charge of that decision.

“They are very rigorous there and honestly, if I have to be in quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Melbourne, I will not go to Australia,” Krajinovic told Serbian newspaper Blic.
“I was vaccinated, I did everything in my power to protect myself and the people around me, so I really see no reason to sit there for 14 days in a room.’
“If they (the organisers) say that after arrival I need, say, five days to be in isolation, that’s OK for me, but anything beyond that is unacceptable to me. With the season ending late, I will have 20 days to get ready and go. Charter flights will be organized again and the last one is planned for December 28 for the players and that is the final date when I can go to Australia. I will see what the final decision from Melbourne will be, so I will cut what is the best thing to do.”

Earlier this week Victoria’s Sports minister Martin Pakula urged players to be vaccinated because it give them ‘the best opportunity to play in the Australian Open.’ It is expected that if unvaccinated players are allowed to attend, they will be subjected to stricter restrictions. This might include a longer quarantine period upon arrival and limitations of where they can go during their stay.

Last year, all of those players had to do their 14 days of quarantine. Right now there looks like there will be different rules for people who enter this country who are vaccinated as against unvaccinated and I don’t think the tennis will be any exception to that.” Pakula told the Sports Entertainment Network (SEN).
“In terms of what rules apply for people to enter Australia, whether unvaccinated people are allowed in at all, I don’t the answer to that yet. That’s going to be the subject of discussion at national cabinet and among the federal cabinet … those rules are not set by state governments.” He added.

Krajinovic is currently ranked 34th in the world and has a win-loss record this season of 18-18. At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells he reached the second round before falling in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev. His best run so far this year was at the Hamburg Open where he reached the final.

“When we look at the whole of 2021, I played one final, one semifinal, there were good victories, but also worse results,” the 29-year-old commented.

Krajinovic is currently without a coach but is currently in ‘negotiations’ with somebody without elaborating further about who that person is.

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Alexander Zverev Secures Place In ATP Finals With Indian Wells Win

Zverev will be seeking to win the season-ending extravaganza for the second time in his career.

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Alexander Zverev (GER) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Germany’s Alexander Zverev has become the fourth player to officially qualify for the ATP Finals after reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

 

The world No.4 defeated America’s Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, in his second round match on Sunday which pushed him over the points threshold to secure his spot in the end-of-season event. It is the fifth year in a row he has qualified for the ATP Finals which he won back in 2018. He is one of only three German players to ever win the title after Boris Becker and Michael Stich.

This year’s tournament will take place in Turin, Italy for the first time in history after being held at The O2 Arena in London for more than a decade. Only the eight highest ranked players are eligible to play in the round-robin tournament which has on offer up to 1500 rankings points for an undefeated champion.

“My first time in Turin. I’ve been to London four times before. London is obviously very special to me because I won there, as well. I think the stadium is incredible, one of the most special events that we had,” Zverev told reporters on Sunday.
“But I also love playing in Italy. I had great success in Italy. I won my first Masters in Rome. I’m looking forward to being there. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Italian fans. It’s going to be a great week.”

The 24-year-old approaches the final quarter of this season with four titles already won this year. He has won two Masters 1000 trophies, an ATP 500 event in Mexico and a gold medal in singles at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Zverev, who has recorded seven wins over top 10 players, also reached the semi-finals at both the French Open and US Open.

Zverev joins Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas as the players who have qualified for the ATP Finals so far. It is the third straight season the quartet has qualified for the event.

This year’s ATP Finals will get underway on November 14th. Medvedev is the defending champion.

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