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More Than A Pretty Face



Bethanie Mattek-Sands (

By Cheryl Jones


When Bethanie Mattek-Sands first made an appearance on the professional tennis scene, she was something of a “freak-show”. It was the beginning of the new century. There was something about her though that was more trying to be hip and cool. She had managed to toss together outfits that were quite different from virtually anyone else on the tour. At first glance, it was the knee socks that are actually compression socks that older folks often wear to deal with swelling that might be a precursor to serious health issues for anyone – young or old. Then, there were the outlandish shorts or skirts and blouses that more than made a statement on their own.

It was more than fifteen years ago and she didn’t have a clothing contract. From the looks of things, that’s likely the case today. She was with Under Armour for a number of years and often played wearing decals that advertised the company, utilizing cheek bone black lettering – just like football players. Manly looking, she’s not. She’s not very tall by today’s tennis player standards. She’s just 5’6” tall and fit as can be.

This time out she’s been wearing a top emblazoned with giant strawberries. She has tattoos; but then these days, it’s the oddity to not have one if one is under the age of forty. She has received a good deal of publicity and has been called the “Lady Gaga” of tennis. (There haven’t been any beef steaks used for Malttek-Sands’ tennis garb, but I don’t want to give her any ideas.) A pre-Wimbledon party in 2011 gave her a chance to be decked out in a fluorescent green dress that was from designer Alex Noble. It was festooned literally covered with tennis balls.

Lest the world think that she is only out for a laugh; that’s not the case. She has been an outstanding doubles player who is now ranked Number One. Her singles ranking has been up and down repeatedly. Now it’s at 117 and she had to qualify to receive a place in the singles draw. Today, in her second-round match, she managed to eke out a win in two sets over a much more highly ranked player, Petra Kvitova, who had the horrendous injury to her playing hand after being attacked by home invaders. She had to work hard during both sets to take the match 7-6, 7-6.

Mattek-Sands spoke after the match and said, “I saw Petra before the tournament started. I gave her a big hug and I was really happy to see her back. You know she’s an inspiration. That’s what I told her at the end of the match (today). She not only came back from all of that; she came back playing well.” She followed that up with, “You know, we’re both competitors out on the court.” And that’s the thing with Mattek-Sands, she is all business when it comes to competition.

She plays mixed doubles, doubles and singles. That’s a tiring schedule for anyone, but as she said today, “You know what? I’m a competitor. I love playing matches.” She is a stickler for practice and beyond that, she loves to hear the fans while she marvels at the stadium in which she’s competing. She is a young lady from Minnesota, and she is hungry to see the world. She’s done it. And she’s done it her way; via a tennis court.

She loves Paris. She loves it in the spring when it drizzles as it did last year, and this year she loves it in the heat. She actually gushed with a litany of praise for the city that loves tennis and everything about it. And, to quote her once again, “I love red clay. I feel comfortable on it. I feel comfortable sliding.” And it’s apparent she does. She will face Sam Stosur in the next singles match. It won’t be easy for her, but with determination, she may just reach the Round of Sixteen that could lead her as far as she’s ever traveled in the singles bracket in Paris.

Reflecting on Stosur and the upcoming match, she said, “She’s coming off a win in Strasbourg. So she’s feeling confident on the red clay. Hits a big heavy ball. I’ll be ready for it.” And if the past is any indicator, she certainly will.



Canada Thumps Australia To Win Historic Davis Cup Title 

The dream of the North American team has finally become a reality.



MALAGA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 27: Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals 2022 at Palacio de Deportes Jose Maria Martin Carpena on November 27, 2022 in Malaga, Spain. (Photo by Silvestre Szpylma / Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis)

109 years after making their Davis Cup debut, Canada has finally claimed the trophy after producing two clinical wins over Australia in the final on Sunday. 


The duo of Denis Shapovalov and Felix-Auger Aliassime both shined in their matches to give the North American nation an unassible 2-0 lead in the three-match tie. It is the first time Canada has won the title with 2022 being only the second time they have reached the final. Three years ago they missed out on the title to Spain. 

“The emotions are tough to describe,” said Auger-Aliassime. “All of us here, we’ve dreamt of this. All of these guys grew up together dreaming of this moment, dreaming of winning the Davis Cup. It’s a great moment for me and my country…. I am happy we were able to get our first Davis Cup with this group.”

Shapovalov kicked-off the final with a 90-minute 6-2, 6-4, win over Thanasi Kokkinakis who also lost his semi-final match against Borna Coric. The world No.18 blasted 28 winners past his opponent and broke him four times in the match. Besides handing Canada the crucial lead, it was a much-needed confidence boost for Shapovalov who earlier in the week lost to Lorenzo Sonego and Jan-Lennard Struff. 

“I’m very happy with my performance today,” said Shapovalov. “I had a long one against Sonego yesterday and was struggling with my back a little bit. So huge credit to the medical staff for putting me back in shape. There were a lot of doubts if I’d be ready to play today. It was amazing to play pain-free today.”

Closing in on the title, Felix Auger-Aliassime secured victory for his country with a 6-3, 6-4, triumph over world No.24 Alex de Minaur. Producing a total of six aces and saving all eight break points he faced. 

Canada’s run to their first title occurred with a bit of luck on their side. Originally they were eliminated from the finals after losing to the Netherlands at the start of this year. However, they received a wildcard to play in the group stages following the removal of Russia from the competition. Russia and Belarus are currently suspended from team events due to the war in Ukraine. 

In Group B they scored wins over South Korea and Spain to secure a place in the finale this week. Before dismissing Australia, they beat Italy 2-1 in the semi-finals and Germany 2-1 in the quarter-finals. 

“From juniors it was our dream, growing up watching Vasek (Pospisil), Milos (Raonic), and [Daniel Nestor] taking Canada to new [heights],” Shapovalov said. “We wanted to grow up and help the country win the first title. It’s so surreal right now. After we lost in the final in 2019, we really wanted this bad. It’s such a team effort; everyone was putting in 120 percent every day.”

Canada’s team captain is former player Frank Dancevic who has held the role since 2017. 

 “This is a historic moment,” Dancevic commented on the achievement. “We’ve never won this title in the past. It’s the first time for us. It’s an incredible feeling.”

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Lleyton Hewitt Admits Pride After Australia Reach First Davis Cup Final For 19 Years

Lleyton Hewitt admitted he is proud after Australia reached their first Davis Cup final since 2003.



Lleyton Hewitt (@CopaDavis - Twitter)

Lleyton Hewitt admitted he was proud of his Australian Davis Cup Team after they reached their first Davis Cup final for 19 years.


Australia reached their first Davis Cup final for 19 years after defeating Croatia 2-1.

After singles wins for Borna Coric and Alex De Minaur it was Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson who pulled off the upset over Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic to seal victory for Australia.

The Aussie pairing were victorious in a 6-7(3) 7-5 6-4 victory as they sealed Australia’s place in the Davis Cup final for the first time since 2003.

It’s a proud moment for captain Lleyton Hewitt, who will be competing in his fourth Davis Cup final but a first as captain, “I just couldn’t be prouder of these guys and the heart and the passion and the pride that they are playing with out there,” Hewitt told Tennis Australia’s website.

“It’s great. Obviously Australia has a really rich history in this competition, and we have been fortunate enough to win it on a lot of occasions, back a long time ago.

“I know how much it meant for me as a player to get the opportunity to play in finals. So I’m thrilled that these boys get that opportunity on Sunday.”

Sunday will be Australia’s 48th Davis Cup final as they seek to win a 29th Davis Cup title.

The last time Australia competed in a Davis Cup final was back in 2003 in front of a full house at the Rod Laver Arena where Hewitt was influential in a 3-1 victory over Spain.

Although Hewitt admitted it would be nicer to play the final in Melbourne, the Australian captain said that winning the title would mean a lot, “I’d love it to be in Australia,” Hewitt said.

“I’m disappointed the boys don’t get to play in front of 15,000 at Rod Laver Arena. It would be very satisfying and especially if you do it with a lot of my good mates around in the coaching staff as well, it would mean a lot.”

The final will take place on Sunday with Australia facing the winner of the second semi-final between Italy and Canada.

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The Year-End Rankings: The Rise Of Alcaraz And The Eternals, Djokovic and Nadal

Image via ATP Twitter



By Roberto Ferri

Let’s start our last article on the ATP rankings by quoting the words which are said to be the last of emperor Augustus: “The play is over, applaud”.


We cannot but applaud Novak Djokovic, six-time ATP Finals winner just like Roger Federer. And we applaud the season, which, for good or ill, has been unique. Just consider the most striking events: Carlos Alcaraz rising to No. 1, Roger Federer’s retirement, all the issues involving Djokovic and the Wimbledon affair.  

The top positions of the ranking have been significantly impacted by Djokovic’s absence from two Majors (Australian Open and US Open), four Masters 1000 (Indian Wells, Miami Open, Canadian Open, Cincinnati) and by ATP’s decision to not award points for Wimbledon.

If we compare the ATP rankings published after the ATP Finals in 2021 and 2022, this fact is clearly noticeable. 

22 NOVEMBER 2021

19Bautista AgutSpain2260
20Carreno BustaSpain2230

14 NOVEMBER 2022:

13Carreno BustaSpain2495

Novak Djokovic ended 2021 with 4720 points more than Carlos Alcaraz; also Medvedev and Tsitsipas earned more points than the Spaniard, who would not have reached 7000 points even counting the 135 points he wasn’t awarded at Wimbledon.

A few comments on the 2022 rankings:

  • Casper Ruud, the ATP Finals finalist, concludes his excellent year in third place, overtaking Stefanos Tsitsipas with an impressive final rush.
  • Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are the only top 10 players born in the 80s; the other 8 were born in the second half of the 90s.
  • Cameron Norrie and Pablo Carreno Busta are the survivors of the lost generation, born between 1990 and 1995 and that was most overpowered by the Big Four dominance. 
  • Only North America, beyond Europe, is represented at the very highest: Auger Aliassime, Fritz, Shapovalov and Tiafoe.
  • Holger Rune has gained 92 positions since the start of the year. Carlos Alcaraz “just” 31.
  • A final note: Kei Nishikori ends 2022 without a ranking. Does this suggest he’s going to retire?


Owing to earned and dropped points, as well as results in the Challenger events, five players in the top 100 have achieved their career highest this week:

Emil Ruusuvuori – 40

Quentin Halys – 64

Christopher O’Connell – 79

Roman Safiullin – 89

Nuno Borges – 91

A special applause for the 20-year old Ben Shelton, a bright prospect for USA tennis, who has made his debut in the top 100. Thanks to his victory in the Champaign-Urbana Challenger he’s now ranked 97.

Is that all? Not yet! Just a quiz for everybody: which was the last year which saw the first two places in the rankings occupied at the end of the season by two players of the same nationality?

That’s really all for now. We’ll be back in 2023.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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