Originally posted on Monaco Reporter:

Top seeded players on to the next round

It was another exciting day at the tennis masters where we witnessed the title defender Novak Djokovic defeat Spaniard Albert Montanes 6-1, 6-0 in just 45 minutes, a very easy task for the Serbian opener, with his trainer Boris Becker watching from the sidelines and tennis fans cheering for the champion in a sold out arena. The passionate David Ferrer did away with Jeremy Chardy in straight sets as expected. French No 1 Jo-Wilfred Tsonga had to labor hard and survived defeating Kohl Schreiber 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 in less than two hours. Tsonga said: “I just had a bad period. I felt my legs were stiff. I did not feel so well.” While Tomas Berdych played until sundown, beating Russian Tursunov in two sets. Italian Seppi put a good show dispatching Russian Tursunov in two sets.

Wednesday program promises to be exhilarating as it will see…

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Gallery  —  Posted: April 16, 2014 by Dan Martin in Uncategorized

Originally posted on Rafael Nadal Fans:

Rafael Nadal made his clay season debut at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters with a victory over Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia, 6-4, 6-1. He made another record by surpassing Brian Gottfried’s 679 victories on the all-time wins list. Rafa’s next opponent will be Andreas Seppi.

Our champion looked every bit the King of Clay today, and we wish him increasing success throughout the week. Vamos!

Photos: Getty Images

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Gallery  —  Posted: April 16, 2014 by Dan Martin in Uncategorized

Monte Carlo Quick Hits April 16, 2014

Posted: April 16, 2014 by Dan Martin in Monte Carlo
Tags:
  • Rafael Nadal starts his quest for 9 (NINE!) Monte Carlo titles in 10 years.  Under a lot of grading scales 90% is a B+ or A-, but if ATP Tennis is graded on a curve, Rafa just gave a failing grade to everyone else on tour.
  • Fabio Fognini’s 7-6, 6-4 win over Bautista Agut delivered a great Rd of 32 match.
  • Roger Federer will now add at least round of 16 points to his ranking total because he skipped Monte Carlo last year.
  • Stanislas Wawrinka’s 6-0, 6-2 demolition of Marin Cilic may mean that a surface change has snapped Wawrinka after his post-Melbourne hangover.
  • Grigor Dimitrov may be a strong clay court opponent due to young legs and a crafty game.
  • Seppi knocked out my man Pablo Andujar in 3 sets while hitting this shot.  

Monte Carlo Quick Hits April 15, 2014

Posted: April 15, 2014 by Dan Martin in Monte Carlo
Tags:
  • Roberto Bautista Agut vs. Fabio Fognini is the best round of 32 match one could expect on clay.
  • Rafael Nadal and Pablo Andujar are one match away from a re-match of the best clay court match of 2014 to this point.  
  • I don’t want to read too much into David Ferrer’s 6-3, 6-0 demolition of Jeremy Chardy, but I don’t think Chardy is ever going to be a top flight player.  He might sneak into the top 10 at some point in his career, but when I first saw Chardy in 2009 I thought me might just become a top tier guy.
  • Roger Federer has either added points or equalled his 2013 totals at every event he’s played in 2014.  That continues in Monte Carlo as he did not play the event last year.
  • Djokovic is defending 1000 points here so he and Rafa could have an 800 point swing if a rematch goes the other way this year.
  • After Indian Wells and Miami, Grigor Dimitrov has a chance to regain his early 2014 momentum.

Is Tennis in the US on Life Support?

On the WTA, I don’t think this is the case even if Serena Williams is not considered due to being over 30.  A group of young and talented US citizens play on the WTA Tour.  Odds are that someone of this group will emerge as a top flight player.  On the ATP Tour, things are much more grim.  Consider that Tim Mayotte lost 7 times in Grand Slam quarterfinals. US #1 John Isner has reached 1 Grand Slam quarterfinal.  Tim Mayotte also reached the 1982 Wimbledon semifinal round, and in 1983 he reached the Australian Open semifinal round.   Tim Mayotte was 2-7 in Grand Slam quarterfinal matches.  The entire men’s roster excluding Robby Ginepri is 0-3 in Grand Slam quarterfinal matches (Isner 0-1, Fish 0-2).  Is Tim Mayotte considered to be an all-time US great?  Mayotte’s results in this era would be viewed like an oasis.

Mark Cuban’s NBDL Plan for Tennis

Roberto Bautista-Agut of Spain has entered the top 50 this year by playing very solid and dogged tennis.  He also is 25 years old.  He did not breakthrough as a teen.  No teen has really done that since Rafa did it in 2005.  To break through in tennis players seem to need more physical maturity than in previous eras.  The US keeps waiting for Jack Sock or Ryan Harrison or Donald Young or …. to break through.   The landscape has changed.

Mark Cuban, the owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks makes the argument that top basketball prospects should play, and be paid to play, in the NBDL with the NBA providing funds to help players pursue their education at local college as well.

“We can get rid of all the hypocrisy and improve the education,” Cuban said. “If the whole plan is just to go to college for one year maybe or just the first semester, that’s not a student-athlete. That’s ridiculous.

“You don’t have to pretend. We don’t have to pretend. A major college has to pretend that they’re treating them like a student-athlete, and it’s a big lie and we all know it’s a big lie. At least at most schools, not all. … But we can put more of an emphasis on their education. We can plan it out, have tutors. We can do all kinds of things that the NCAA doesn’t allow schools to do that would really put the individual first.”

Couldn’t the USTA do what Cuban Advocates? 

The USTA could select 5 male and 5 female players per year to receive a 5-6 year contract. The USTA could then contract with a college or university near their training facility. Players would train and practice together.  They would take some number of courses year-round so as to be pursuing a degree.  The USTA could supply tutors and help students take on-line or hybrid courses when traveling to play challengers or futures events.  This would allow promising talent to mature as bodies mature.  Between 18-23 a promising talent would have financial security, coaching, training and education.  This security would allow for growth.  A player could receive a 6th year of funding if progress is apparent and if the player wants 1 more year of work.  Players could travel to minor league events in the US, Mexico, and Canada.  By traveling and training as a group, some degree of teamwork could also help each player progress.  Because this is a much better deal than what NCAA tennis can offer to most players, talent would also accumulate.  A critical mass of talent will likely help champions emerge.  Finally, if a player is ready to move on to the main tour, that slot and funding would freely open up to draw in yet another promising talent.

If Players Bloom Later, Doesn’t Development have to Last Longer?

I think if the USTA uses junior tennis to identify great talents and to work on these talents in their late teens and early 20s, something akin to Bautista-Agut’s success might become common place for US citizens trying to make it in tennis.  One thing is for sure, US born players routinely crashing out prior to the round of 16 at Grand Slams is eventually going to hurt the profile of a sport we live within the US.  The USTA should take the money it makes at the US Open and find a way to create a critical mass of talent rather than to simply hope for another Chang, Courier, Sampras or Agassi to breakthrough at a young age.

Fourth Tennis Power Ranking 2014

Miami Crowns a New Number One

  1. Novak Djokovic - Nole ended 2013 on a streak.  He’s back to his winning ways.  Winning back-to-back Masters 1000 events by beating Federer and then Nadal in each final has Novak back to my top spot. Change since last ranking +1
  2. Rafael Nadal – He’s never won Miami despite a lot of fan support.  Being a runner-up to Novak is no crime, but Novak’s recent form has pushed Nadal to second place.  Change since last ranking -1 
  3. Roger Federer - Roger’s loss after twice leading by a set and a break is a cause for concern.  He has not played all that well in Miami (especially at night) in recent years.  The clay season will be interesting for Roger.  One wonder if Edberg and he want to save his legs for grass.
  4. Stanislas Wawrinka - His Australian Open title has him at #4, but his recent results have not been great.
  5. Tomas Berdych – He’s had a quietly good year in 2014.  It is too bad he could not play his semifinal in Miami.  
  6. Milos Raonic - The big Canadian beat Murray at Indian Wells and then took a set off of Rafa in Miami.  There is a gap between the top 5 and everyone else.  Milos appears to be #6 for the time being.  Change since last ranking – Not Ranked  
  7. Andy Murray - He splits with Lendl and has another pre-semifinal loss.  Still, he showed some fight in a strange loss to Nole.  Change since last ranking +1
  8. Kei Nishikori - Can he stay healthy? Change since last ranking – Not Ranked
  9. Alexandr Dolgopolov - His Indian Wells form continued to some extent in Miami.
  10. Kevin Anderson - The clay court swing will likely cause him to drop, but he has had a nice 2014.  Change since last ranking – 3

Biggest Mover – Kevin Anderson – 3

Entered the Poll – Milos Raonic – Milos has had an interesting 2014.  What can he do on clay?  Kei Nishikori - He has game.  Can he stay healthy?

Dropped Out of the Poll – Grigor Dimitrov - will he make good on his promising start to 2014?

What We Learned From The Sony Open

Posted: April 2, 2014 by Dan Martin in Uncategorized

Originally posted on Weekly Perpective:

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If March taught us anything it’s that Novak Djokovic is on fire showing signs reminiscent of his 2011 run.  He’s still a ways away from taking the number 1 ranking back but year to date points shows they are much closer than the rankings actually show.  Now that the first quarter of the year is behind us and with the clay court season approaching how does everyone stack up?

Novak Djokovic

After having his streak of 14 consecutive grand slam semifinal appearances broken earlier this year by Stan Wawrinka, and coming into March without a single title the world number 2 didn’t seem like as big of a force as he usually is to take in all the big titles this year.  Since then he persevered through several rough matches at Indian Wells to win the 1st masters event of the year, and steamrolled through the Miami draw to become…

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