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.

 

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.”

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Rosie Casals picks Roger Federer to turn back the clock

The US Open men’s field looks to be a three-man race, and Rosie Casals likes the old man of the group, 34-year-old Roger Federer.

At Cincinnati, Federer showed a more aggressive game and dominated No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the final.

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“My choice is always going to be Roger,” Casals said. “He played (Djokovic in Cincinnati) the way he should be playing tennis, serve-and-volleying. His serve is worth a million dollars when he gets that first serve in. When he gets that first serve in, everything else is gravy.”

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As the top-ranked player in the world, Djokovic will be the favorite.

Djokovic is considered the best hardcourt player in tennis, particularly because of his domination of the Australian Open and the American hard court circuit in the spring, which includes Masters series events the BNP Paribas Open and the one in Miami.

But Djokovic has only won one US Open title.

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Andy Murray will have some momentum going into the US Open, having beaten Djokovic in the Rogers Cup finals in Canada. Casals said she also likes what she’s seeing from Murray’s coach Amelie Mauresmo.

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As for Nadal, Casals thinks he has to have a better serve. She also wonders if Nadal can adjust his game like Federer did to find longevity.

Who do you think will win the US Open? Here’s a chance to be heard. You can vote on the link below.

//www.pocial.com/embedme/who-do-you-think-will-win-the-2015-us-open-mens-title

 

Drake, are you sure you want to date Serena Williams now?

Serena Williams talks to the media during the BNP Paribas Open in March, 2015.

Serena Williams talks to the media during the BNP Paribas Open in March, 2015.

It’s a tricky thing, dating a tennis player.

The latest It celebrity couple is now Serena Williams and the hip hop artist Drake.

For weeks, Williams and Drake were trying to play down anything was going on with them. And Williams even used the dreaded F word to describe Drake — friend.

Then they were caught making out in a restaurant by TMZ.

Drake might think he’s the Godfather of Love, but he might become another thing — scapegoat.

Williams is about to embark on a historic achievement in her Hall of Fame career. With a US Open victory, she will complete the Grand Slam, or winning tennis’ four major titles in the same season.

This year, Williams has been incredibly dominant. She played through sickness in her toughest major, the French Open, and still won the title.

The US Open is Williams’ best major. If she doesn’t win, guess who might get the blame.

It’s not as if Williams wasn’t going to get enough media attention in Flushing Meadows when the US Open begins next Monday. Now that she’s dating Drake, there will be even more attention on her. Will it be enough to derail her bid? Drake better hope not.

Blaming a tennis player’s significant other is not unusual. Remember when Brooke Shields dated and then married Andre Agassi? In 1997, Agassi’s career hit a low point as he dropped to 141 in the world. About the time Agassi and Shields finally called it quits, Agassi had a career revival, starting with his 1999 French Open title to complete the career Grand Slam. Agassi would then become the No. 1 ranked player at the end of the year to snap Pete Sampras’ streak of six consecutive years as the top-ranked player.

It’s not fair, and it might not even be accurate to say Shields was Agassi’s downfall. But that comes with the territory and it can be a terrible distraction.

Is the glass half full or half empty for Novak Djokovic going into the US Open?

Novak Djokovic speaks during a press conference at the BNP Paribas Open in March, 2015.

Novak Djokovic speaks during a press conference at the BNP Paribas Open in March, 2015.

Another week, another final that slipped through No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

Heading into the US Open, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Taking the good side, Djokovic played well to reach back-to-back finals in Masters Series, losing to Andy Murray in the Rogers Cup and Roger Federer on Sunday in Cincinnati. Obviously he’s playing well enough to reach the finals, beating a lot of top players.

Djokovic created momentum heading into the US Open with all those matches. And he’s won many despite not playing his best, by his own accounts.

But the bad side is that Djokovic hasn’t dominated the hard court season in the summer like he did in the spring. At the start of the year, he won the Australian Open, the BNP Paribas Open and Miami for a very impressive trifecta. By Djokovic’s high standards, he’s a little off.

Many have called Djokovic the best hard court player, but he has never won the title in Cincinnati despite five appearances in the finals. And in Flushing, Djokovic has been very good, but only has one US Open title, which came in 2011. He also reached the US Open finals in 2007, ’10, ’12, and ’13.

Prior to these two weeks, Djokovic looked like the head-and-shoulders favorite to win the US Open, coming off his Wimbledon title and his dominant spring. And with their victories, Federer and Murray look like much more dangerous contenders for the title than two weeks ago.

At 34, Federer has fought off father time to remain a serious contender. In Cincinnati, Federer used an aggressive attack, and his service game has been dominant. If he keeps that up, Federer will be tough to stop.

Murray, who had been struggling to regain his form since back surgery at the end of 2013, the year he won Wimbledon. While Murray hasn’t yet played as well as he did in 2013, he has been playing good enough to win a major, and his Rogers Cup title could give him enough confidence to get over the hump at the US Open.

So instead of looking like the clear favorite, Djokovic will now be in a three-man battle for the title. And there will be some dangerous floaters in the field, including Stan Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal and last year’s US Open finalists Kei Nishikori and defending champion Marin Cilic.

It should make for an exciting US Open.