Why do some people think Serena Williams career is over after the year she’s had?

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Watching the ESPN talk shows and many were ready to declare Serena Williams’ career over, or she might not win another major, etc.

It always seems to happen to all the great players when they suffer an upset loss and they are over 30-something.

Williams lost her semifinal match to Karolina Pliskova, who is No. 11 in the world and might have the biggest weapons on the WTA Tour, outside the Williams sisters.

But the overanalyzing of Williams began soon after the match.

So here’s my take on a few of the issues.

  1. HER DAYS OF DOMINATION ARE OVER: When the new rankings come out Monday, Williams will be No. 2 behind Angelique Kerber. This year, Williams reached the finals of the Australian, French and Wimbledon and the semifinals of the US Open. She won Wimbledon. And ask yourself, is there a player on the WTA Tour you would make a favorite over Williams? Kerber will be No. 1, but I still don’t think I would favor her over Williams just yet.
  2. WILLIAMS’ BEST DAYS ARE BEHIND HER: I felt this last year, when she completed the Serena Slam for the second time. Williams is not the same player she has been, but to her credit, she has evolved her game. She’s gone from intimidating power player to more of a cerebral assassin. What hasn’t changed is Williams’ fierce competitive nature. On the WTA Tour, no player really has elevated to Williams level, and the ones who have haven’t maintained it until Kerber. But it remains to see how long Kerber can keep up this level, and if some other players can rise.
  3. AGE HAS TO CATCH UP WITH HER: Williams turns 35 later this month, which is old for tennis players. Her shoulder hurt was an issue in the Rio Olympics and now her knee was giving her problems. This could be the most legitimate threat to her career. But for right now, we don’t know the extent of these injuries. But Williams says she plays for the majors, so we could easily see her take the rest of the year and relinquish the year-end No. 1 ranking to Kerber, rather than chase her. Williams has proven she doesn’t need a good seed to win a tournament, so she could lighten her schedule and still contend for majors.

In tennis, there is this desire to declare someone’s career over prematurely. When Pete Sampras went on a two-year slump, they thought he was done until he won the US Open. People thought Roger Federer was through last year because he hadn’t won a major since the 2012 Wimbledon, but he was No. 2 in the world and reached the finals of the US Open and Wimbledon.

We don’t always know when it’s over for a great player. But there should be real evidence. Although there will be a change at the top, Williams is still at the top of the tour.

Unless there’s something more, I anticipate Williams will be back next year contending for major titles and the No. 1 ranking.

 

 

 

Could Novak Djokovic lose out on Player of the Year honors in a year he completes the Grand Slam?

 

In a year where Novak Djokovic became the first player to win all four Grand Slam titles, there is a possibility that he could lose out on Player of the Year honors.

It’s unlikely, but plausible.

What makes is plausible is the way Andy Murray is playing of late. If Murray captures the US Open, then he will have a stronger case.

Currently Murray has a Wimbledon title and reached the finals of the Australian and French Opens, both of which Djokovic won. Then you throw in the Olympic gold medal, that’s an incredibly strong year.

What might give Murray an edge is how Djokovic had done at Wimbledon and the Olympics.

Djokovic lost in the third round at the All England Club to No. 41 Sam Querrey and the first round in Rio, although he did lose to the eventual silver medalist in Juan Martin Del Potro, who is currently No. 141 in the rankings.

It’s been a draining year for Djokovic, who has played at a superior level for an incredibly long time. But since the award is for accomplishments since January, he could be leaving the door open for Murray.

It won’t be easy for Murray. He would have to win the US Open, and he has never won two majors in the same season (depending on how you rank an Olympic gold medal). And the US Open is the most grueling Slam.

Now if Murray does win the US Open, that might still not be enough to surpass Djokovic.

In Masters 1000 events, Djokovic has won four of six events. Murray has won just one, but did reach two finals.

How much the Masters 1000 events count into Player of the Year honors, I’m not sure, but these are significant tournaments.

And there is also the ATP finals in November. If Murray can win that, then people will have to look closely.

So US Open and ATP Finals titles, and with Djokovic still playing high-level tennis, is a huge mountain for Murray to climb.

But it is also possible.

 

How 1968 Olympians George Foreman and John Carlos influenced champion boxer Timothy Bradley

 

By Leighton Ginn

George Foreman said he has been impressed with the career of WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley, comparing him to legend Jersey Joe Walcott, and thought he was a boxer who came out of nowhere.

But Foreman didn’t realize that he had actually met Bradley early in his career.

In 2005, Foreman had flown out to California to do a favor for his 1968 U.S. Olympic teammate, sprinter John Carlos, who was a counselor at Palm Springs High School. During an event, Carlos had asked Foreman to take time out to talk to his friend Ray’s son, who happened to be Bradley.

When told of that event, Foreman remembered talking to Carlos’ friend who was a boxer. He just never realized it was Bradley.

“That’s who that was?” Foreman said during a telephone interview. “I didn’t realize that was Timothy Bradley at all.

“What a small world. Man alive.”

It is the friendship between Carlos and Ray Bradley that made the meeting possible for Tim Bradley and memorable for Foreman.

Back in 1968, Foreman was just a 19-year-old boxer with a lot of talent but little experience. Carlos was a world record holder in the 200 meters and one of the biggest personalities on the U.S team.  He was also a man Foreman looked up to.

Once the Olympics began, both athletes were busy preparing for their events and wouldn’t have time to catch up. They made a deal they would meet a few days after the Olympics to share their experiences.

“It was the day after the Olympics we were going to meet and go over what happened in our lives,” Foreman said.

“We didn’t get to actually sit and chat.”

John Carlos and George Foreman: Contrasting images, lasting friendship

Carlos won a bronze medal in the 200 while U.S. teammate Tommie Smith won the gold. At the awards stand, Smith and Carlos bowed their heads and raised their gloved fists during the national anthem to protest the lack of civil rights for people of color.

Afterwards, Carlos and Smith were ostracized and thrown out of the Olympic Village. Both were booked on the next flight back to America.

 

Days later, Foreman would win his gold medal as a boxing heavyweight. Immediately winning the gold medal, Foreman would pull out a small American flag that he would wave in celebration.

For many, Foreman’s celebration was interpreted as a response to Carlos and Smith’s protest. Foreman said that wasn’t the case.

Foreman said his flag waving was not a statement to contrast what Carlos and Smith had done. As a 19-year-old, Foreman had fulfilled a dream and he wanted to celebrate and show his patriotism.

“There I am, winning a gold medal, and I got to make sure everyone knew where I’m from,” Foreman said “In my ignorance, if I don’t raise this flag, they wouldn’t know where I’m from.”

Because the perception was Foreman was protesting Smith and Carlos, he encountered his own backlash. It became evident when he returned home to Houston.

“I’m a happy boy and I’m wearing my gold medal everywhere, the grocery store, everywhere. I didn’t take it off,” Foreman said. “One guy comes to me, and he was a neighbor for years and I knew him. He said, ‘How could you do what you did when the brothers were doing their thing?’ I didn’t understand what he was talking about, I really didn’t understand.

“Later on, I heard more about it and what the media was saying about it. I got a little mean about it and no one said anything about it again. I was waiting for it with a left-right. I wasn’t going to hear anything like that.”

The backlash would form Foreman’s surly and intimidating persona when he turned pro.

Foreman would ascend to the heavyweight boxing title and forged a legendary career, beating Joe Frazier for the title, losing the title to Muhammad Ali in the Rumble in the Jungle and the Rope a Dope strategy.

In his second part of his career, the kinder and gentler Foreman become the oldest heavyweight champion at 47 when he knocked out Michael Moorer in 1994.

Outside of the ring, Foreman became one of the country’s most successful businessman with his Foreman Grill.

Carlos faced his own backlash.  He regularly received death threats and was constantly followed by the FBI. In his book, “The John Carlos Story,” he said the harassment and constant surveillance put a strain on his family life that he separated from his first wife Kim.

The lowest point, according to Carlos in his book, was a moment he was so lonely from the isolation that he asked the agent who was following him if he would like to share a cup of coffee one night.

By 1989, at the urging of his kids during a detour on a road trip, Carlos had moved to Palm Springs, Calif. What was supposed to be a short stopover became his home for over 20 years. Carlos raised his kids and worked for the Palm Springs Unified School District as an in-school suspension supervisor and a coach.

It was through his job he forged a friendship with Ray Bradley, who was a security guard for the district.

“Ray was always a true grit-type of guy,” Carlos said. “What I like about Ray, he’s a man’s man. He’s a damn good father to his kids, he’s good to his woman. He has loyalty to his staff, loyalty to his job, loyal to his wife and kids and loyal to his friends. It was a rare quality at that time. It might still be a rare quality today.”

Ray Bradley said he was 5-years old when Carlos made his protest. When he saw it on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, Ray Bradley said he didn’t understand the protest because he was so young, but developed an appreciation as he got older.

“That was a very powerful statement Mr. Carlos made in Mexico City,” Ray Bradley said. “Growing up at a young age I didn’t know what was going on. I saw a lot of racial tension and we just wanted equal.”

It was during those hot, lazy days in the Palm Springs desert when Carlos would share his experience of what happened after Mexico City.

“The stories he tells me, I go, ‘I don’t know how you are still here,’” Ray Bradley said. “Everyone wanted to hurt you for making a statement like that. He told me there was death threats, getting banned from the Olympics, kicked him out and sent him home.

“Then he goes, ‘They killed my first wife.’ Oh, that’s some heavy stuff.”

Carlos’ first wife Kim had committed suicide in 1977.

 

Feared and respected

 

There is a legend of Carlos that still stands today, Ray Bradley said.

Carlos had caught two kids ditching. When Carlos found them, they made a run for it, figuring they had several years on this middle-aged teacher and a few blocks head start. The student didn’t realize he was once one of the fastest men on the planet.

“He said, ‘Mr. Carlos ran me down. I had blocks on him and he smoked me. I thought it was a ghost,’” Ray Bradley remembered from the student. “He still had speed. As a mid-aged person, he still had speed.”

The kid asked who was the old man who ran him down. Carlos told the kid that if he was in class instead of ditching, he might learn who he was.

The kid would find Carlos in a history book.

But a young Timothy Bradley knows Carlos as a family friend.

He was a friend until Bradley got in trouble one day.

Mouthing off in class, Bradley was sent to Carlos by his teacher.

Bradley said he was scared.

“John Carlos didn’t pull any punches. He told you like it was. Don’t nobody want to hear the truth,” Bradley said. “That’s the reason why I was scared, I was scared about what he had to say.”

When Bradley walked into Carlos’ classroom, he said what he feared came true.

“I walked in, ‘What are you doing in here young blood? What are you doing in here? You don’t belong in here. Sit down. Get a magazine and write me an essay,’” Bradley remembered. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what am I doing in here?’ He was loud, he didn’t care if he hurt my feelings. He was real, and it was felt.”

At first, Carlos gave a different version of the incident.

“He was a pretty reserved kid,” Carlos said in a telephone conversation from his home in Georgia. “That wasn’t his style. My thing was to cheer him up, pick him up and make him feel good about who he is.”

When Carlos was told Bradley said he was yelled at and felt intimidated, Carlos quickly replied, “I scare them all when they first come in my room because I don’t want them coming back. That’s my stamp there.”

Bradley’s father was well aware of Carlos’ reputation. So when Tim returned home and told his dad about what happened, there was no further punishment.

“He already had his punishment. John Carlos jumped down his throat,” Ray Bradley said. “I didn’t have to do anything but give him that eye. ‘Do something again, I’m going to put something on you. I might have to go to jail, so don’t do it again.’”

Tim Bradley said he didn’t get in trouble again.

Carlos said he would see Ray in the weight room, and was mesmerized by how hard he worked. It was as if he was bonding with the weights.

“I think he transferred that work ethic to his son when he was a baby and embedded this in them. Never say quit, never say die,” Carlos said. “It was a commitment all around. You truly had to be committed. When you see the momma and daddy get up early with their boy at 5 a.m. and have him training, they must have had a goal in mind. They had a program to reach that goal.”

And through the years, Carlos said he would see that same kind of commitment from Bradley.

“His work ethic is the same today as it was as a kid, because he would get up and run all over the desert. I used to see him out there on the road and I’d just be smiling,” Carlos said. “When I would see him now, I would picture a little boy running in the morning. He never went away from the foundation his parents gave him.

“You could see his determination when he fights people. He fights guys taller than him, heavier then him and he goes through them like they’re a piece of cardboard.”

For more on John Carlos, go to his website

So when Carlos was contacted by Foreman in 2005, it was the first time they had spoken since the 1968 Olympics. In Carlos’ mind, he wanted Foreman to meet Tim.

Palm Springs High School was planning an event for Black History Month. Carlos asked Foreman if he could show up. Because it was a last-minute request, Foreman chartered a private jet to make sure he could fulfill the request.

“He said, he’s coming, He’s coming, so bring your son. I want him to meet him because he’s a great man, a great person. Whatever he can tell him, he could use it. Your son will be big one day. He needs to hear from Big George,” Ray Bradley said.

When Foreman arrived, he was busy meeting people all day before his speech. But Carlos made sure the Bradleys were backstage, so when Foreman was through talking, they could meet.

“Meeting him, it’s how a champion should be. He was very charismatic,” Tim Bradley said. “It was an honor to actually meet him, especially early in my career. It gave me someone to look up to, someone to be like. It showed me how a top former fighter from a different generation or era was and how he carried himself.”

While the day was a whirlwind for Foreman, he said meeting the Bradleys stuck out because Carlos made them a priority. And then what Foreman saw also stuck with him, and that was Tim with Ray and his mom Kathleen.

“You meet a lot of boxers, and they come up with their trainer or manager or promoter. Very rarely do they come with their family,” Foreman said. “It makes them different, that they have people who love and care for him.

“That’s what I remember, he had people who loved and cared for him. That’s why I poured out the information.”

Editor’s note: This is a repost of a story that ran in April.

 

Andy Roddick will have his New York moment in World Team Tennis

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By Leighton Ginn

 

When Andy Roddick makes his return to World Team Tennis for the 2016 season, it will be in a place he never played but in a state where he had his biggest moments.

Roddick will play for the New York Empire at Forrest Hills, the longtime home of the US Open, on Aug. 9. The next day, the Empire will travel to take on the Philadelphia Freedom which will complete the season for Roddick, who is also part of the WTT ownership group.

Playing in New York is the highlight for Roddick, given his history in the Empire State.

“I feel like I’ve grown up in front of New York,” Roddick said. “I played doubles there for the first time in a pro tournament when I was 15 to retiring there and playing my last match in 2012. I had the highest of highs, and lowest of lows.

“But I just love New York. The fans are so fair all the time. If you give them everything you have, they’re going to give you everything they have. Conversely, if you play like a schmuck, they’re going to let you know about it. I’ve always kind of appreciated the honesty of the New York sports fan.”

Roddick said he has always been a fan of the unique style of WTT, and is always happy to participate. He believes the pacing is what makes it so exciting for the fans.

“Everything is quicker, faster, more in-your-face,” Roddick said. “The one-set matches keep your attention, or demand your attention during the 2-3 hours. I always liked it. It feels like the players are more interactive based on the format. It’s something I enjoyed when playing.”

Roddick also attributes World Team Tennis to his progression as a professional, while the format also provides something exciting for the fans. So when he was approached about investing in the league, Roddick said it was a no brainer.

“Anytime you’re approached by someone on the iconic level of Billie Jean King, especially in the role she’s played and how important she’s been in the game of tennis, you always want to listen,” Roddick said. “We’ve had a great relationship for a long time. Her presence in this league and my memory of this league and the opportunity it gave me.

“I was 17 and had no ranking, kind of just trying to break through in the pro ranks when they let me play for the team in Boise, Idaho at the time. That experience of playing professionals day in and day out in a three-week sequence during the summer was a huge part of my development. It felt like something that was good to be apart of.”

 

Andy Roddick impressed with how far Novak Djokovic has come, but too early to rank him as GOAT

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By Leighton Ginn

Andy Roddick said when Novak Djokovic first burst into the consciousness of the ATP Tour, he wasn’t an obvious talent like he saw when contemporaries Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal debuted.

Yet if Djokovic can continue on the trend he is, he might go down as the greatest ever, surpassing both Federer and Nadal.

“I think with Novak, it’s a realistic conversation to have,” Roddick said on July 13 over the course of two conference calls to promote appearances at the International Tennis Hall of Fame on July 17 and World Team Tennis on Aug. 9-10. “And it’s a realistic question to ask, where you think he’ll fall in that line. It’s a complement to him that he’s forced his way into that conversation.”

For over a decade, Federer has been talked about as the greatest ever, and holds the record with 17 major singles title. Nadal is tied with Pete Sampras for second with 14. Djokovic is tied with Roy Emerson for fourth with 12.

Djokovic is 29 and playing the best tennis of his career. He had won all four majors consecutively until his upset loss to Sam Querrey in the third round of Wimbledon.

If Djokovic continues dominating the tour, five more majors is within the realm of possibility.

It’s time to talk about Novak Djokovic as one of the greatest ever in tennis

In comparison, Federer did reach the semifinals of Wimbledon, but has not won a major title since the 2012 Wimbledon. Nadal has struggled with injuries and hasn’t won a major title since the 2014 French Open.

But Roddick said it’s really hard to judge until Djokovic, Federer and Nadal complete their careers.

“It’s like comparing movies having not watched the last 20 percent of the great movies,” Roddick said. “Right now, if you look at the numbers, Roger is there and five slams (lead) is significant, but Novak is obviously trending. He’s the greatest right now.”

2013 Mylan World Team Tennis

July 13, 2013;Mylan World Team Tennis Springfield Lasers @ Orange County Breakers Andy Roddick (USA). Photo courtesy of CameraworkUSA.

 

Roddick is a contemporary with Federer, as they both won their first major titles in 2003, with Federer taking Wimbledon and Roddick the US Open, which would be his only major title. And Roddick, a mainstay in the top-10 throughout his career, also has a long history against Nadal and Djokovic.

Two years later, Nadal would come onto the scene and had an instant impact as a teenager in 2005.

Roddick said it was obvious from the start of both Federer and Nadal’s careers would be special.

“You look at Rafa and he’s a physical specimen, the weight of shot is amazing,” Roddick said. “You look at Roger  and the talent is instant to your eye. What he can do on a tennis court, and with the flare and the options he had on a tennis court, it created a little bit of jealousy.”

The first impression Roddick had of Djokovic was very different. While Djokovic was a promising young talent, Roddick saw enough weaknesses he could take advantage of.

“With Djokovic, I don’t think it was as obvious to the eye when he first came out, but he’s improved the most after the first four or five years of his career,” Roddick said. “To take something like his physical fitness, something I viewed as a weakness when I played him in 2008 and 09, he’s turned it into a bonafide strength for him now, which is a testament not only to his work ethic, but also to his ability to see what his weaknesses were.”

Roddick also points to Djokovic’s forehand, a shot that could be prone to errors in pressure situations earlier in his career. That’s not the case anymore, Roddick said.

“Early on, I knew I could go to that side and maybe get a couple of tight errors,” Roddick said. “With just little technical adjustments, now it’s a strength under pressure.

“I think his progress as a player is maybe the most obvious of those three guys. It’s really impressive what he’s become.”

Roddick said he got a chance to know Djokovic a little more during a trip to South Korea for an exhibition they were playing.

Djokovic approached Roddick to see if he would like to go early to hit and work off the jet lag.

Roddick agreed and showed up 30 minutes early. He didn’t see Djokovic in the locker room and was wondering if he would be late.

When Roddick walked to the court, he found Djokovic, who had arrived 30 minutes before Roddick and was in the middle of his stretching routine.

“I think it gives you a peak into why he is where he is right now,” Roddick said.

 

 

 

 

Andy Roddick returns to grass for first time since 2012 Olympics as he plays in Hall of Fame exhibition

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Andy Roddick shakes hands with former US Davis Cup teammate James Blake following a PowerShares match. Roddick and Blake will compete in the PowerShares event on July 17 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame prior to the men’s final.  Photo courtesy of PowerShares Series.

 

By Leighton Ginn

Andy Roddick said one of the appeals of playing in the International Tennis Hall of Fame exhibition on July 17 is the opportunity to return to his favorite surface, grass.

Roddick was a three-time finalist at the most storied grass-court tournament, Wimbledon. But Roddick has not played on the surface since the 2012 Olympics, which was held at the All England Club, the home of Wimbledon. A few weeks later, Roddick would retire from the tour, but continues playing on the seniors’ PowerShares Legends Series, which is part of the July 17 event in Newport, R.I.

PowerShares Series

“There’s not a lot of grass court tennis available for retired players,” Roddick joked during one of two conference calls on July 13. “Grass was my favorite surface to play on, so any excuse to get back on that court and play on grass is a win all the way around for me. I’m excited about it.”

Roddick will join James Blake, Mark Philippoussis and 2016 Hall of Fame inductee Marat Safin in the exhibition. Joining Safin as an inductee will be Justine Henin. Two other honorees, Yvon Petra and Margaret Scriven, will be inducted posthumously.

It will be the first time Roddick will play in Newport, R.I., as he missed the ATP event during his career.

Although he never made it to Newport, Roddick is knowledgable of the history, which makes it appealing for him this weekend.

And grass is the perfect surface, as much of the history of tennis was played on grass.

It also helps that grass was one of the surfaces that suited Roddick’s game, featuring a rocket serve and power forehands.

“On some other surfaces, the slower surfaces, I had to make more adjustments than I did on grass,” Roddick said. “What I did well as a player translated well on grass, and it just made sense to me.”

Roddick’s shoes from his 2003 US Open title are on display in the museum. In the future, Roddick hopes more than his shoes will be displayed in the Hall of Fame.

In addition to his US Open title, Roddick was a former No. 1 and led the US to a Davis Cup title.

“That’s the goal of any tennis player because it’s the pinnacle achievement for what can happen to you post-career,” Roddick said. “I almost feel weird talking about it, because you feel undeserving when you look at the people who have been inducted. But it’s natural to think about. I certainly hope to be considered.”

 

 

 

Serena Williams has been so good that we take her greatness for granted

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By Leighton Ginn

We tend to forget Serena Williams is dominating the sport of tennis while on the brink of 35, out classing the swarm of talented millennials.

We tend to forget Serena Williams is doing things never seen on a tennis court. No player in the sport has the blend of power and finesse that she has.

We tend to forget that Serena Williams have beaten many of the sports all-time greats from various generations.

What we do know is that Serena Williams is the most dominating force the sport has ever seen, and we all set the bar extremely high. Sometimes it seems unrealistic what we expect from Serena Williams until we see how much she dominates the sports, beating players who were toddlers when she launched her career.

So when Williams captured Wimbledon for her 22nd Grand Slam title to tie Steffi Graf for the Open era record, it was almost ho-hum. Or maybe people shared my unfair opinion about it — It’s about time.

Williams fans will say we are unfair and we don’t appreciate what we see.

I do.

Williams has dominated the game like no other.

No other player has had two “Serena Slams,” or winning all four major titles at once.

No other player has dominated the sport like Williams.

So I expect a lot, because I’m sure everyone expects a lot.

Williams is so great, it would be a shame if she didn’t have the numbers to back it up.

She needed to win 22, or that makes it harder to proclaim her as the greatest ever.

You can argue Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer ever, but when he falls short of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major titles, then it’s no longer a valid argument.

The fact of the matter is, Williams has been that good, and she should have been better. Her numbers should have been grander.

Unfair expectations for other players, but reasonable for Williams.

Why is it reasonable?

Williams is just that good.

Andy Murray’s amazing year that people are starting to notice

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By Leighton Ginn

The bar has been set extremely high this year by Novak Djokovic, but Andy Murray’s season has reached cosmic highs that might be overshadowed.

Murray won his third major title when he captured the Wimbledon title for the second time in four years, and first this year.

This season, Murray has reached the finals of all three majors, losing to Djokovic in the Australian and French finals.

Any other year, Murray will be talked about as a possible player of the year winner.

But the fact is, Djokovic has played at a phenomenal level this year. Djokovic has been so good that it makes the No. 1 ranking and player of the year honors highly unlikely, even if Murray wins the US Open.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be awed by Murray’s year. His victory at the All England Club is something this country probably needed after all the Brexit news and uncertainty.

After winning Wimbledon in 2013, Murray had back surgery, and for a while, it looked unlikely he could reach the heights Djokovic has. It took him over a year to return to top-10 levels and until this year to reach elite status of the Djokovic and Roger Federers.

And don’t try to water down Murray’s title. Just because he didn’t have to face Djokovic or Federer, his finals opponent, Milos Raonic, has the classic power game that traditionally succeeds on the grass courts.

Murray dominated him.

It’s good to see Murray playing at this level, because he’s had bad luck with injuries. About 10 years ago, Murray appeared to be ready to make a breakout, but then he started to suffer ankle injuries while Djokovic started to ascend to the top levels.

And before Murray’s 2013 back surgery, he was right there with Federer, Djokovic and Rafael Nadal to create tennis’ fearsome foursome.

With Federer and Nadal hampered by injuries this year, tennis needs Murray to win majors to keep up this unprecedented level.

The next question for Murray is when he will be knighted. Two Wimbledon titles, as well as a US Open and Olympic gold medal, after no Brit had won a major since Fred Perry in 1936 and it’s inevitable we’ll be calling him Sir Andy.

Wouldn’t it be funny if it happened soon, so his opponents will have to call him Sir Andy at Wimbledon?

 

 

 

If Novak Djokovic wins Wimbledon, there’s no good reason for him to play the Olympics

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By Leighton Ginn

There’s no question that Novak Djokovic is a very patriotic person and cherishes representing his beloved Serbia whenever he can.

So the Olympics will be a huge goal for him.

But if I was advising him, I’d tell him to ditch Rio, especially if he wins Wimbledon.

More history on hand for Novak Djokovic as he heads into Wimbledon

The obvious reason is Djokovic will be one victory away from achieving the calendar-year Grand Slam, which has only been accomplished by two male players. He would be the first since Rod Laver in 1969.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment.

There’s no question that Djokovic’s heart is to compete in Rio and represent his country. In Djokovic’s previous two Olympics, he’s won a bronze in Beijing and didn’t medal in England, having lost to Juan Martin del Potro in the bronze medal match.

I’m sure he’s driven to win the gold, and he will be the overwhelming favorite. If Djokovic doesn’t play this year, he’ll be 33 by the time the next Olympics roll around, so the consequence could very well be never winning a gold medal.

It’s time to talk about Novak Djokovic as one of the greatest ever in tennis

At the French Open, Djokovic said it would be “unthinkable” to cancel the Olympics. But Djokovic was answering the question about the Zika virus, which is a good reason to avoid Rio.

This was before Djokovic won the French, to put him halfway to the Grand Slam. If Djokovic wins Wimbledon, then he should pull out of Rio immediately. I’m sure when he made his “unthinkable” comments, he wasn’t taking into consideration he would have a shot at the Grand Slam.

Naturally, Djokovic is a competitor. As well as he’s playing, he could do something only Steffi Graf has done, which is complete the Golden Slam if he could win the gold medal.

Keep this in mind with Graf. The Olympics came after the US Open, so there were no scheduling conflicts. And the Olympics was more an afterthought anyways.

Djokovic would have two weeks following the end of the Olympics and the start of the US Open.

It’s doable.

But you also have to consider that Djokovic will have the physical mileage of reaching the finals in just about every tournament he plays. Then you throw in the mental toll from the pressure he will face at each tournament.

The US Open is the toughest Grand Slam on the calendar and it comes at the end of a season, and the whole season is a grind already.

I’d have Djokovic look at the Golden State Warriors. They went after the regular-season record and set it at 73-9. A great accomplishment and a feather in their caps.

But they didn’t achieve their ultimate goal of winning the NBA title.

Kind of makes that 73-9 record an afterthought. And assistant coach Luke Walton admitted that going after the record took a toll on the players as they ran out of gas. And many of the pundits were speculating about it anyways.

Only time will tell if Garbine Muguruza will be the next great thing or next flameout

Now let’s get back to the Zika issue.

This is a major health risk. Djokovic has a chance to become the greatest ever.

You heard me, the greatest ever.

Zika is no joke and many athletes are struggling about going.

These are athletes who have spent their whole life training for the Olympics, which is the defining moment of various sports.

For tennis, it’s really just another tournament.

So Nole, just say no to the Olympics if you win Wimbledon.

 

 

 

 

Only time will tell if Garbine Muguruza will be the next great thing or next flameout

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By Leighton Ginn

If your name is not Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova or Victoria Azarenka, odds are you are not a player built to last.

There’s a long list of one-Slam wonders who do nothing to follow-up on their success. And there are others who are flash in the pans who can’t muster up any more than 15 minutes of fame.

That brings us to the case of Garbine Muguruza, the powerful Spanish star who captured the French Open title by beating Williams in the finals. She avenged a loss to Williams in the Wimbledon finals in 2015.

It sounds like the makings of a possible rivalry for Williams, who at times looks light years ahead of the rest of the players on the WTA Tour, even though she hasn’t won either of the first two majors.

Muguruza is only 22 and has shown to be incredibly streaky. She’s lost her opening matches in four tournaments this year, Mallorca in her first match since winning the French. It was her home country and on grass, where she was in the Wimbledon final a year ago.

This is becoming a familiar trend.

Much like Muguruza, Kerber upset Williams in the Australian Open final to start the year. After that victory, Kerber would lose five opening round matches.

Going into Wimbledon, Muguruza is No. 2 and Kerber is No. 4.

And there were other players who were getting hot, but didn’t win a major, such as Caroline Wozniacki and Genie Bouchard.

There are a few two-time Slam winners like Samantha Stosur and Petra Kvitova.

What gives?

There’s a few theories.

  1. The women’s field lacks elite players. Serena is in a class by herself. Azarenka has lacked the consistency in her comeback. Kvitova can’t match her Wimbledon success.
  2. Too much too soon. Once a player wins a major, the demands come quick. Kerber didn’t say no too much and found herself stretched thin and now is trying to regain her form. Muguruza, who many want to be the next It Girl, probably is facing the same kind of suffocating demand.
  3. Girls can’t adjust to having a target on their backs. One you have a Grand Slam title to your credit, no one will ever sleep on you, so the gimme’s become fewer.

So why should we care? Well, Serena Williams is closer to the end of her career. She’s still dominant, but how much longer can she go?

When Williams retires, who will carry the baton?

Unless she wins her appeal, Sharapova won’t be back for a while.

Azarenka has shown signs of getting back on top, but hasn’t done it yet.

Who else can carry the tour?

Hopefully at Wimbledon, someone will emerge to start the next era.

And for right now, Muguruza is the latest, greatest hope.