Doppelganger 1: tennis player Jack Sock, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age

3-15-17 Jack Sock

 

By Leighton Ginn

This blog is done as sort of a public service announcement for people attending the BNP Paribas Open. If you are out and about and think you see American tennis star Jack Sock, don’t assume it’s him.

He has a resemblance to Queens of the Stone Age lead guitarist and singer Josh Homme, who was also grew up in nearby Palm Desert.

I had covered Sock a little more closely the last few years, and only hit me at this year’s tournament his resemblance. So I was wondering if he ever got that.

“I don’t know who that is, and I hope that’s a compliment,” Sock joked.

Jack Sock continues his good vibes at BNP Paribas Open, this time in singles

So for the tennis fans who follow this blog, here’s a little background on Josh Homme:

He was originally in the band Kyuss before starting Queens of the Stone Age in 1997.

Their third album, 2002’s “Songs for the Deaf,” featured Foo Fighters front man and former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl. The album produced the hits “No One Knows” and “Go With The Flow.”

Their hit song “Little Sister,” from their fourth album, “Lullabies to Paralyze,” features a driving cow bell. It helped inspire a classic moment on Saturday Night Live in 2005 with Will Ferrell.

 

Six of their albums have been nominated for Grammys.

In 2009, Homme was part of the super band Them Crooked Vultures, that also featured John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin and Grohl. Their hit “New Fang” won a Grammy for best hard rock performance.

Homme also founded Eagles of Death Metal with high school friend Jesse Hughes. In 2015, Eagles of Death Metal were playing the Bataclan in Paris, France when terrorist came in and killed 89 people. Colin Hanks directed an HBO documentary “Eagles of Death Metal, Nos Amis (Our Friends)” that premiered in February.

The year Roger Federer is having, his preseason goals seem ridiculously low as a return to No. 1 seems possible

For more on Jack Sock, read my blog on his quarterfinal victory over Kei Nishikori at the BNP Paribas Open.

Jack Sock continues his good vibes at BNP Paribas Open, this time in singles

 

 

 

 

 

13-year-old Ben Jorgensen gets Roger Federer to list his favorites of his 18 Grand Slam singles titles

 

3-12-17 Roger Federer

By Leighton Ginn

Sometimes it takes asking a questions others wouldn’t where you will get an interesting and unexpected answer.

On Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open, Ben Jorgensen, a 13-year-old from Rancho Palos Verdes, asked Roger Federer if his Australian Open title, a record 18th Grand Slam championship, was his most special.

When it comes to comparison questions, players usually try to dance around it and not really answer the question. That wasn’t the case Sunday.

Federer ranked his victory over Rafael Nadal in February as one of his top five. And he listed other titles with out prodding.

“I don’t know if it beats my first one, because the first one, it was a dream come true, so that maybe beats everything,” Federer said of his straight sets win over Mark Philippoussis in the 2003 Wimbledon final.

“French Open, I chased that one. And then when it did happen, it was unbelievable what it meant to me and the support I got in Paris,” Federer said of beating Robin Soderling in 2009 for his only French Open title.

“I don’t know. Winning at the US Open against (Andre) Agassi, one of my big and best performance potentially, winning in that atmosphere, under that pressure, being World No. 1 and defending against him, who maybe people thought he was going to retire if he won,” Federer said of his 2005 title, which was his sixth.

“This one now after the comeback and the injury, it was by far the biggest surprise. It was more surprising than, say, my first one in ’03. But, yeah, every one is special. This one is right up there,” Federer said of his Australian Open title.

Jorgensen said he and his mother Christine were spending the day in Indian Wells, and he was at the Tennis Garden for 14 hours watching matches and asking questions in the press conferences all day.

3-12-17 Ben and Christine Jorgensen

 

 

Andy Murray’s No. 1 ranking is great for tennis, but is the timing bad?

By Leighton Ginn

It’s been a fantastic year for Andy Murray and firmly established him as one of the Big Four in what could be the greatest generation in tennis.

Murray’s has been steady all year, reaching the finals of both the Australian and French Opens. But then it went into overdrive with his Wimbledon title, following by his repeat as an Olympic gold medalist.

Last week, Murray won the year-end ATP Tour World Finals to clinch the No. 1 year-end ranking.

However, the timing could be bad for the rest of the sport.

This has nothing to do with Murray, so don’t mistake this as a criticism of him.

But Novak Djokovic was having a historic year at the start. By winning the Australian and French Opens, Djokovic clinched the Nole Slam as he won four consecutive majors, a feat that hasn’t happened since Rod Laver in 1969.

What Djokovic had done elevated him past the standard bearers of this generation — Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

After the French Open, Djokovic was in the conversation of the greatest ever.

Djokovic will finish the year No. 2, but his fall was significant. He only won one title since the French Open.

Earlier, his coach Boris Becker blamed the drop to the fact he wasn’t pushed by Federer nor Nadal. There is validity to that theory most times, but not in this case.

Djokovic wasn’t just chasing history, he had a chance to rewrite it.

During Wimbledon, Djokovic alluded to personal issues in his family life.

Whatever the case, Djokovic’s slip was disappointing because it could have meant so much for tennis.

Again, don’t mistake this as a shot at Murray, who is one of the top personalities in tennis. His story is great, and who isn’t charmed by the push to get him knighted in England.

Actually, why hasn’t he been knighted already for ending the curse of Fred Perry when he won Wimbledon in 2012, or his US Open title in 2011?

Murray is a great No. 1. It’s a great story.

But Djokovic was at such a high level that his success would provide more crossover attention.

Djokovic was challenging how we defined greatness in tennis. The run he was on was unprecedented.

Historically, when we look back on 2016, more likely, we will talk more about Djokovic than Murray.

And what could have been.

 

 

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.

 

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 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.”

 

 

 

National Hispanic Heritage Month: Rosie Casals talks about her chemistry with Billie Jean King

September 12, 2015 – Billie Jean King (left) and Rosie Casals pose together at The Tennis Hall of Fame Legends Ball at Cipriani in New York,

September 12, 2015 – Billie Jean King (left) and Rosie Casals pose together at The Tennis Hall of Fame Legends Ball at Cipriani in New York,

It is the chemistry between Billie Jean King and Rosie Casals that made them a legendary duo.

Together, King and Casals, a San Francisco native whose family came from El Salvador, won seven major titles, including five at Wimbledon.

But their chemistry went beyond the tennis court. King and Casals helped spearhead a group of nine women players who helped start the professional women’s tennis tour, which has evolved today into the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).

For National Hispanic Heritage Month, Casals talks about what made her and King so special.

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

 

Hall of Famer Rosie Casals picks Serena Williams to complete Grand Slam

For Rosie Casals, picking the favorite for the 2015 US Open is pretty easy — It’s Serena Williams’ title to win or lose.

This year, Williams has dominated the tour like no other and has won four consecutive major title for her second Serena Slam. But a victory in the US Open will give Williams her first calendar-year Grand Slam, which is winning all four major titles in a single season. If Williams accomplishes the Grand Slam, she will be the first player to do so since Steffi Graf in 1988.

Despite all the pressure that comes with trying to complete the Grand Slam, Casals, who was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1996, believes Williams is well equip to handle any situation.

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.

As for the rest of the field, Casals doesn’t seeing anyone capable of beating Williams.

But Williams can be vulnerable in the early rounds, and that’s what Casals warns again.

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Simona Halep will be the No. 2 seed, but Casals doesn’t feel she has the weapons to threaten Williams.

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Sharapova is the No. 3 seed, and the only other player who is a multiple major winner and a former US Open champion. But Williams has her number.

In the clip, Casals also breaks down Caroline Wozniacki, a finalist last year, former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, and 2014 darling Eugenie Bouchard.

 

Who do you think will win the women’s title? Click on the link below to vote for your favorite

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