February 3rd, 2017

Friday Tennis Blog: Serena GOAT? | Venus Upset | Davis Cup | More

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When 36-year-old Serena Williams won the Australian Open on Sunday it set the record books ablaze — Open Era records, and records with giant asterisks next to them.

Serena’s 23rd Grand Slam title broke a tie with Steffi Graf to put her in front all time in the Open Era. Now pre-Open Era, prior to 1968, is another matter. Margaret Court remains one singles Slam ahead of Serena with 24. Her titles, won from 1960-73, contain 11 Australian Open wins. These weren’t the Australian Open tournaments we know today, but were “Grand Slam”-level in name only. Most of the top players didn’t travel to Australia back then, as the tournament lacked grandeur, and was in December and overlapped the Christmas holiday. As opposed to the 128-player draws of today, many years the tournament had 32 players, most of which were Australian.

Court, however, can not be penalized for living in her time. Two years into the Open Era, in 1970, she won all four Slam titles. Her achievements were monumental, especially her 62 total Grand Slam titles in singles and doubles, which many experts agree will never be beaten. Serena is now No. 1 again on the WTA rankings, and will look to tie Court’s singles Slam mark at the French Open, where she will be the prohibitive favorite at the unheard-of age of 36. It’s hard to argue against the fact that women’s tennis now has its GOAT (Greatest of All Time) in the Open Era, or any other.


Early work converting the skate park to 36-foot courts

The City of Margate, Fla., partnered with a local tennis organization to turn an abandoned skate park into four new 36-foot courts for kids.

Now partnering with a former coach of Serena and Venus Williams, the tennis center at Firefighters Park in the town northwest of Ft. Lauderdale is planning on expanding its efforts to get more kids on the fun kids-sized 10 & Under Youth Progression Pathway.

“With the addition of these four 36-foot permanent courts to go along with the 60- and 78-foot courts, this makes Firefighters Park a true full-service tennis center that can provide tennis learning and play opportunities for kids, adults, seniors and families of all skill levels,” says USTA Florida Associate Executive Director Andy McFarland. “This is what the future of tennis facilities must look like for tennis to continue to be relevant in the future.” Read More


Stars of the WTA tour also went crazy for the Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal Australian Open final…If Serena Williams is the Michael Jordan of tennis, it was confirmed following the Australian Open when she received a special gift from His Airness…Florida Governor Rick Scott on Thursday presented the USTA with the Governor’s Business Ambassador Award for creating jobs…USTA Florida Hall of Fame member and former Wimbledon doubles winner JoAnne Russell is getting a national USTA women’s tournament named after her…It had been 13 years since a player won three five-setters en route to a Slam title as Roger Federer did last week…The ATP World Tour says TV rating have grown 100 percent for men’s tennis over the last nine years, attributed to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal…Need more Roger & Rafa? The Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal final had the highest Australian Open ratings in 10 years in Europe, and 12 years in the U.S…No man born in the 1990s or later has won a Grand Slam title…An ESPN tennis commentator has been fired over “guerilla” vs. “gorilla”…Ft. Myers, Fla., was on ESPN’s rank of Top 6 markets for the men’s and women’s Australian Open finals…Roger Federer after winning then partying the night away spoke to TIME magazine about his “epic 12 hours” in Melbourne.


Venus Upset in Russia; Davis Cup Underway Today

The men (or most of them) take a break from ATP World Tour play this week for the first round of the 2017 Davis Cup, while the women are at WTA events in Taiwan and St. Petersburg, Russia.

Venus Williams on Thursday was the last American to exit from either tournaments as the No. 4 seed was upset by France’s Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 6-1.

“Venus is a top player, a top champion,” Mladenovic said after defeating last week’s Australian Open runner-up. “It must have been difficult for Venus to come here after playing back-to-back weekends. I was just trying to play aggressive tennis.”

In Davis Cup play the U.S. hosts Switzerland beginning today in Birmingham, Ala. Other first-round ties are Italy at Argentina, Belgium at Germany, the Czech Republic at Australia, France at Japan, Britain at Canada, Russia at Serbia, and Spain at Croatia.


They Said It

“People say, ‘You retired too young.’ And I counter that by saying, ‘I got a head start on the rest of my life.'”
Andy Roddick, who this summer will be enshrined in the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

“If she beats my record, she deserves it. I’m not going to lose any sleep over it…Nobody will ever hit my 62 [total Grand Slam titles].”
Margaret Court on Serena Williams being one Grand Slam title away from tying her singles record, speaking to the New York Times

“The final between him and Nadal is one of the sports hallmarks of the year, going beyond tennis itself, as it’s been one of the greatest rivalries of all time.”
Novak Djokovic on the Australian Open final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, speaking to tennisworld.org.


Tennis on TV This Weekend

(EST, times subject to change)

1am — Davis Cup AUS vs. CZE (live), Tennis Channel
9am — Davis Cup CRO vs. ESP (live), Tennis Channel
4pm — Davis Cup USA vs. SUI (live), Tennis Channel

6am — Davis Cup AUS vs. CZE (live), Tennis Channel
3pm — Davis Cup USA vs. SUI, AUS vs. CZE (live), Tennis Channel

noon — Davis Cup USA vs. SUI, CRO vs. ESP (live), Tennis Channel