November 13th, 2015

Friday Tennis Blog: Lendl to Help USTA; ATP Finals Groups Released

Friday Blog


ATp finals graphicFears of a “group of death” were allayed on Thursday evening in London when the groupings were drawn for the ATP World Tour Finals, the year-end championship featuring the Top 8 players at London’s O2 Arena from Nov. 15 to 22. The Stan Smith Group will contain world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, former No. 1 Roger Federer, Tomas Berdych and Kei Nishikori. The Ilie Nastase Group will feature world No. 2 Andy Murray, former No. 1 Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka and David Ferrer. After round robin play the top two from each group will advance to the semifinals. Djokovic has run away with the No. 1 ranking this year after becoming the first player to ever win six Masters titles in a single season, capturing 10 titles overall, winning his last 22 matches, reaching a record 14 straight tournament finals, and winning or reaching the final of all four Grand Slams. The Serb is the defending champion at the event, last year receiving a walkover from an injured Federer in the final.



Ivan Lendl is lending his keen coaching eye to the USTA

Who better to offer training and inspiration to upcoming U.S. juniors than former top pros? The USTA national body announced this week that Mardy Fish, Ivan Lendl and Jill Craybas will begin coaching with the USTA Player Development team in Boca Raton, Fla., and in Carson, Calif., on a part-time basis beginning this fall and winter. Lendl, the former No. 1 and eight-time Slam champ, is already working with a group of 15-16-year-old boys in Vero Beach, Fla. “I enjoy working with younger players. You can form them and help them the most,” Lendl told The Associated Press. “It’s just fun watching how they try to learn. They ask a lot of questions. They try different things. They’re just eager to get better.” Lendl, Fish and Craybas will be involved in 2016 pre-season training camps for the U.S. players. “You evaluate and establish what the weaknesses are,” the no-nonsense Lendl said. “And then you design a program to work on those weaknesses.”


An artist's rendering of the USTA National Campus in Orlando

An artist’s rendering of the USTA National Campus in Orlando

What will be the biggest impact of the $60 million USTA National Campus being constructed in Orlando? “Thousands of coaches, providers and organizers of all types to come through the facility and learn to promote and teach the game,” says the USTA’s Kurt Kamperman. “That’s the legacy.”…Serena Williams finished the year No. 1 for the third year in a row and fifth overall, and Venus Williams finished in the Top 10 for the first time in four years…Russia (headed by Maria Sharapova) and the Czech Republic (Petra Kvitova) will face each other in the Fed Cup final this weekend, but meanwhile Russian athletes are looking at a possible ban from the 2016 Rio Olympics…Buds Caroline Wozniacki and Ana Ivanovic hung together at an exclusive Katy Perry concert…From a stats perspective, Roger Federer seems like a pretty good bet at the ATP Finals…Vote for the 2015 Sports Illustrated Sports(wo)man of the Year…The Florida-based Bryan brothers were the recipients of the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award for their off-court philanthropy with their charitable foundation, Bryan Bros. They are also in the fight to end the year No. 1, which they have done 10 times previously (2003,‘05-07,‘09-14)….Serena also wants to be a holistic healer, and covets the Nike CEO job…January 2016 in Australia will feature another FAST4 tennis exhibition featuring Rafael Nadal, Lleyton Hewitt, Gael Monfils, John McEnroe, Nick Kyrgios and Pat Cash.

They Said It


Serena’s social share from her dinner with her sponsor Nike

“I said ‘What are you doing between matches?’ She said, ‘I’m taking some pre-med courses.'”
Mark Parker, CEO of Nike, on texting with Serena Williams during Grand Slam tournaments

“Highlighting the extent of Russian state involvement in the efforts to dodge anti-doping rules alleged by the report, the authors describe cases where agents of the FSB, the successor to the Soviet-era KGB, visited and even posed as staff at a key [drug testing] laboratory.”
— CNN on a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency and a possible ban of Russian athletes at the 2016 Rio Olympics

“If Hillary [Clinton] doesn’t win, Ilana [Kloss, World TeamTennis commissioner] said to me, ‘Let’s move to a different country.’ I think that’s hilarious. I said, ‘Where are we going to go?’ And she said ‘Canada has more women involved.'”
— World TeamTennis league founder Billie Jean King speaking to The Desert Sun


Tennis on TV This Weekend

(times subject to change)

8am-noon — Fed Cup Final (live), Tennis Channel

6-7am — Fed Cup Final (live), Tennis Channel
7-11am — ATP Finals (live), Tennis Channel
11am-1pm — Fed Cup Final (delay), Tennis Channel
1-5pm — ATP Finals (live), Tennis Channel
5-6pm — Tennis Channel Live, IPTL Preview (live), Tennis Channel