1. COULD FEDERER BE FRENCH?

     

    Paris, France

    Federer

    ATPWorldTour.com takes a look at the news and talking points at Roland Garros on Tuesday.

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    A Question From… Donald Trump?
    Awaiting their first Grand Slam champion since Yannick Noah in 1983, some French fans are getting desperate. We submit this exchange in Roger Federer’s media conference.

    Q.  A question from your fans…You were born very close to the French/Swiss border. Are you certain you were born in Switzerland? 
    Federer:  I think yes. I can’t remember because I was very small, very little when it happened. (Laughter.) But my mother told me it was in Basel, so it was on the Swiss side and not on the French side. But if you want confirmation, ask my mother. She knows everything about it.

    Sorry For Tsonga
    Federer does have sympathy for French fans, however. He said that he would have relished a semi-final meeting with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who fell to World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in five sets Tuesday. “I’m very disappointed for Jo. I would have loved to play him here in Paris,” Federer said. “I have a feeling that the crowd would have loved to see such a match. For him, it’s a disappointment.”

    The Many Sides Of Tsonga
    After failing to capitalise on four match points with a spot in the semi-finals on the line, Tsonga sat in his chair and hid underneath a Roland Garros towel. When asked what went through his mind during those minutes, the Frenchman shared, “It was a bit of everything. I was tired; I was frustrated; I was disappointed. You get all kinds of feelings going through your mind. You want to break your racquet. You want to shout. You want to cry. You want to laugh and say, ‘Oh, come on, that’s a joke. How could I lose this match?’ You sort of want to wake up.”

    Despite his disappointment, Tsonga flipped the switch on the next question when asked to say a few words in English for his fans in the U.K. “Now is time to have a cup of tea,” he said with a laugh.

    Down, But Not Out
    It’s not every day that a player wins a Grand Slam tournament after saving match point along the way. But if Djokovic is looking for good omens, he will note that 50 years ago Rod Laver saved one match point against Marty Mulligan in the Roland Garros quarter-finals in 1962 and rallied to win the title (and eventually complete a calendar year Grand Slam).

    On Tuesday Djokovic saved four match points in the fourth set before going on to beat Tsonga. The 25-year-old Serb, who saved two match points against Federer in last year’s US Open semi-finals before winning the title, will now hope to join Laver as the only player to twice save match point and win a major. In 1960 Laver saved one match point against Neale Fraser in the Australian Open final.

    If Djokovic does go on to win the title, it will be the third time in 12 years that a Roland Garros champion has saved match point to lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires. In 2001 Gustavo Kuerten saved a match point in the fourth round against Michael Russell and in 2004 Gaston Gaudio saved two match points in the final against Guillermo Coria.

    Wilander: Novak Slam The Greatest
    Mats Wilander, the 1982, ‘85, ‘88 champion, believes that if Djokovic were to hold all four major titles at the same time by lifting his first trophy on Parisian clay it would be equal to anything achieved in the sport’s history. “You’d have to put him straight up there with a [Bjorn] Borg, maybe Rafa [Nadal] too, just as an achievement. You couldn’t put him past Roger,” stated Wilander.

    Wilander said a Djokovic non-calendar year Slam would “easily” equal Laver’s 1969 calendar year feat. “It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t make any difference (if it’s the same year). The thing about Rod Laver, three of them were on grass - so in that way, you can put four in a row and the calendar Grand Slam (together). They’re the same because they only played on two surfaces back then. Four in a row is what matters really.”

    Bob Bryan Walks In Bhupathi’s Shoes 
    If the adage holds that you shouldn’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, then Bob Bryan may have earned that right withMahesh Bhupathi. The American shared in the Bryans’ blog for USA Today that Bhupathi is usually his “go-to guy” for shoes. “We both have size 12. I hate traveling with a bunch of stuff when we’re over here for three months. I’m married. I’m not trying to impress anyone.”

    Unfortunately, Bhupathi didn’t have his dress shoes with him in Paris, leaving Bob scrambling to find a pair ahead of Tuesday’s night ITF World Champions Dinner. “I’m going to try my agent. Or it might be sneakers,” he wrote.

    Lindsey’s Favourites 
    Olympic gold medal skier Lindsey Vonn, is a big Federer fan, and was quick to identify one of Roger’s finest moments as her favourite French Open memory in an interview with rolandgarros.com. “I was here when Roger won in 2009, so that was my best memory; having him win on a surface that isn’t his favourite was really fun. It was a very historic event, so I was happy to be here for that day.”

    Vonn also revealed that two fellow Americans were once her favourite players. “Andre Agassi – I always loved watching him. Pete Sampras, Pete was always my favourite until Roger came along.”

     
  2. DJOKOVIC SELECTED AS SERBIA’S OLYMPIC FLAG BEARER

    London, U.K.

    Nadal, Djokovic

    World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will serve as Serbia’s flag bearer during the opening ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

    Djokovic is the second ATP World Tour player to be selected for the honour, joining reigning Olympic gold medalist Rafael Nadal who will carry the flag for Spain during the Parade of Nations.

    “We are all very excited about the Olympic games in London, such a magnificent sporting event, and it goes without saying what a great honour it is for me to carry the flag for Serbia,” Djokovic told AFP.

    The Belgrade native was one of three Serbian medalists during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. He lost to Nadal in the semi-finals, and went on to defeat American James Blake in the bronze medal match.

    Two ATP World Tour players, Switzerland’s Roger Federer and Chile’sFernando Gonzalez, were flag bearers during the Beijing opening ceremonies. Both went on to win medals, Federer teaming with Stanislas Wawrinka to capture the gold in doubles and Gonzalez the silver in singles. 

     
  3. KEVIN ANDERSON Q&A: LOVE OF THE GREAT OUTDOORS

    Player Q&A

    Anderson

    World No. 34 Kevin Anderson advanced to the Roland Garros third round for the first time on Wednesday after beating Horacio Zeballos of Argentina 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-0. Afterwards the South African told ATPWorldTour.com of his love for the great outdoors and the importance of recovery during Grand Slam championships.

    Kevin, you’re through to the third round here for the first time, but what a battle it’s been. You went 11-9 in the fifth set against Rui Machado, saving four match points, and then went four sets againstHoracio Zeballos today. How are you feeling?
    I’m definitely happy that I was able to get through this match at all, but it was easier than my last match. Each match has its own challenges and I think after losing the second set today I was able to come back nicely to take the third and the fourth set. I’m obviously pleased to get through even my first match, just to give myself an opportunity in this match. I felt as though I played well and I’m definitely looking forward to my next match.

    When you’re going through a Grand Slam, how difficult and important is recovery after these five-set matches?
    I think that’s one of the most important things, especially after a match like I played in the first round, which was longer than most matches. Fortunately, actually, I had two days off, finishing the match we were only out there for 30 minutes or so, so it’s going to be nice having another day off tomorrow. I thought I was able to recover nicely today, my body felt healthy. I think for me, the main thing will be having a light day tomorrow, probably hit a little bit, but I think if I do that I’ll be able to prepare well for my next match.

    How do you face the challenge of Tomas Berdych?
    I’ve played him a couple of times now this year already and he’s beaten me both times. I’ve learned a few things from both times I’ve played him. I know I’m going to have to play well. He’s obviously a very good player. For me, it’s just going to be a pretty relaxed day tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to the challenge on Friday. I’m going to have to play well and that’s why I’m here. It’s going to be a fun match and something I’m looking forward to.

    Have you had the chance to enjoy Paris in your free time?
    A little bit. We were here for a whole week beforehand. I’ve been to Paris a few times. We’re staying right by the Eiffel Tower, which is nice. I haven’t done as much sightseeing as I have in previous years, but maybe tomorrow I’ll have a few hours to do something.

    You got married last November, how has the first six months of married life been for you?
    It’s been, I guess, interesting compared to most other married couples. We haven’t seen each other a lot. Luckily, my wife’s here with me this week, so we’re really having a good time. She was able to get some time off work. I think, hopefully, later this year we’ll be able to spend a little bit more time together.

    One of your hobbies is outdoor adventuring… Can you tell us more about that?
    I know it’s a pretty broad concept [laughs]. But I just love being outside. In the States, specifically when I go out west like California, I love doing the mountain trails, hiking. Even if it’s just scuba diving or stuff like that, I just find those things kind of fun. Specifically it has been sort of mountainous, but I’m up for everything.

    I spent the last few off seasons in Florida, so there’s not a whole lot of outdoor activities going on there! It was nice, during our honeymoon last year, we went to St. Lucia. There’s quite a bit of stuff we did there like zip-lining, we went up a couple of mountains, snorkelling and stuff. So it was a pretty active honeymoon. I just think that’s how I am.

     
  4. JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO AFTER WEDNESDAY’S WIN

     
  5. 16:21

    Notes: 32

    Reblogged from tennispics

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    RAFA LOOKING GORGEOUS, NOTHING NEW.

    RAFA LOOKING GORGEOUS, NOTHING NEW.

     
  6. LOPEZ STEPS OUT OF THE SHADOWS

    DEUCE

    Lopez© Getty ImagesNow 30, Feliciano Lopez has become a Top 20 player on the ATP World Tour after enlisting the guidance of long-time friend Alberto Berasategui.

    It’s time to take Feliciano Lopez seriously. Long overshadowed on court by his own good looks and his successful countrymen, the Spaniard is now a Top 20 contender with dreams of Olympic glory.

    From the Players’ Lounge at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia a call is placed to the Hotel Parco Dei Principi for Feliciano Lopez, who happens to be is sitting in the lobby. There is just one problem: The receptionist at the hotel does not know who Feliciano Lopez is, or even what he looks like. The voice on the other end helps her out a little.

    “Bello. Bello. Bellissimo!”

    Immediately, the receptionist locates Lopez.

    “As an athlete I would first like to be talked about for my tennis results”

    For such a long time Feliciano Lopezwas recognised more for his model good looks than his tennis game. Now, at the age of 30, he is playing the best tennis of his career. Having bided his time and honed his game, Lopez entered the Top 20 of the South African Airways ATP Rankings for the first time in his career last year. Now, Lopez has emerged from the shadows of Spain’s stable of tennis greats and served notice that he himself is a contender.

    “Yes, at times it can be a bit annoying,” admits Lopez, when asked about all the attention paid to his looks rather than his game. “Obviously, as an athlete I would first like to be talked about for my tennis results, and then whatever else. But I have to do my part on the court, too.”

    Up until last spring, Lopez was considered a career Top 35 player. But Lopez was not satisfied and he knew he needed something different if he was going to make a run at the top. Time was running out, and his search for a new coach took him way outside the box. Lopez called up a long-time friend and former Top 10 player, Alberto Berasategui, even though his countryman had been away from tennis for more than 10 years.

    Lopez“I was thinking about taking a new coach,” begins Lopez, “and the best person would be Alberto because we were always on the phone over the years. Plus, when I left the Federation as a junior and was in transition from the juniors to professional, I trained with him and his coach, Francisco Roig, for about a year. They helped me a lot then in many ways. But then Alberto retired from tennis and completely got away from the sport. Now he has a family with four kids. I never thought he would say yes, but he did. I was so surprised and happy.”

    “I never had the intention to return to the ATP tour as a coach,” says Berasategui. “I was going to work as a commentator last year at Roland Garros with Tomas Carbonell. Then Feliciano called me and asked if I could help him. We have been close friends for a long time. I thought the idea was interesting and that I could help him. The timing was good. Feliciano has arrived at a certain point in his life and he has matured greatly.”

    “I was very surprised when they started together,” admits Carlos Moya, “because Alberto had been gone for so long. But it turned out to be a good choice. Also, when you hire a new coach the player is always more open-minded. You tend to listen more and take information easier.”

    From that point, Lopez started taking aim at the Top 20 and all standing in his way. He reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the third time, the semi-finals of the Shanghai Rolex Masters and the Round of 16 at theAustralian Open.

    “I think my tennis is better now than when I was younger,” explains Lopez. “I play more relaxed, I enjoy my sport, and in general I enjoy the tour more, even when I go to practice and when I have to take a plane. I did not expect at my age - I am going to be 31 in September - to be this healthy. All these things add up.”

    “Feliciano has arrived at as certain point in his life and he has matured greatly”

    “Maybe the most important improvement for Feli the last year has been the serenity of his mind,” says Berasategui. “We get along very well on and off the court. He loves to train, and not only in tennis but fitness, too. Yes, there might have been times in his career when he did not, but he has matured and he seems to be enjoying it again. No doubt there can be some things on the tour that are boring, but you get to a stage where it becomes fun again. On the technical side he has added more topspin backhands to his game and not just slicing so much.”

    It is no secret that the men’s game has gotten slower. The courts, that is. Players who approach the net early in the point are all but extinct. So, how does Feliciano Lopez manage to rise up the rankings with a throwback style of serve, slice and volley?

    First off, take a good long look at his body. Lopez stands at 6’2”, but he has been blessed with a large pair of broad shoulders that taper down into the perfect V-shaped back defined by thick obliques that bulge out from his abs. And that frame is powered by calf muscles from hell. Lopez is built like an Olympic 100 metre swimmer.

    Lopez“Feli is a great athlete,” says Moya. “He has a great serve and volley game. I think 15 years ago he would have been ranked much higher than today. He has matured a lot, and has been playing some good tennis. When he is playing well, it is very tough to play him because of his style.”

    Speaking of the Olympics, it is no secret that the Spanish Tennis Federation goes by rankings when selecting the four singles players for the Games. While few are openly talking about it, the final spot on Spain’s Olympic tennis team is surely on the minds of some. Rafael NadalDavid Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro have all wrapped up the first three slots. The fourth and final place is a running battle between Fernando Verdasco and Lopez, currently 16th and 17th in the South African Airways ATP Rankings.

    “The Olympics has not been the best for Feliciano’s tennis this year,” says Berasategui. “The last few months I think he has put too much pressure on himself and, as a result, not played as free as he can. Since the Australian Open, he has had too much in his head, trying to maintain his ranking. I think it has been counter-productive. The only thing that I can hope for is that we have a good campaign at Roland Garros and, win or lose, he qualifies or does not qualify. Let this be over and let’s get back to improving his tennis game.”

    “The most important improvement for Feli has been the serenity of his mind”

    “Obviously, since I knew the Olympic Games were going to be at WimbledonI was thinking about being there,” says Lopez. “It is a great opportunity for me as it is on grass. And at my age, maybe my last for singles. To be honest, I think it might have been too much pressure that I put on myself and kept me from playing my best. At Barcelona I had match points (against Ferrer). I had been playing great but could not close. There were three or four matches like this, and my attitude in Rome was not good because I lost so many matches in a row with so many chances and that pressure in my mind, it was too much. I should not have put that in my mind so much.”

    “Feliciano can still improve,” says Berasategui. “The main thing with his style of play is to be more bold when he is serving and winning the game. There is no need for him to get nervous.”

    Feliciano Lopez will do well to heed his coach Alberto Berasategui’s advice of staying relaxed and playing bold at Roland Garros if his dream of participating in the singles draw at the 2012 Olympics is to come true. If Lopez can somehow grab the spot on the team, we can expect big things from Spain’s newest star this summer.

     
  7. GILLES SIMON: THE CONTRARIAN

    DEUCE

    Simon

    Frenchman Gilles Simon is on the verge of the Top 10 again, determined to develop a big game to ensure he achieves success on the sport’s grandest stages.

    You’ll know where to find Gilles Simon at Roland Garros, shortly before his match is called onto court. He’ll be one of the players sleeping on the sumptuous burgundy-coloured leather sofas in the locker room. Relaxed, saving his energy, he’ll be topping up the 10 hours of sleep he needs per day. He will have eaten his favoured “original” meal of meat, rice and pasta hours before, while the Head racquets in his bag will have been re-gripped and the frames strung at his desired 24.5 kilograms (54lbs) tension. Thierry Tulasne, his full-time coach since 2007, will have not left anything to chance, discussing Plans A, B & C. Physical trainer Paul Quetin’s job will be complete.

    “It is very rare to find a player as relaxed as Gilles before matches”

    “It is very rare to find a player as relaxed as Gilles before matches - in the locker room or at lunch,” Tulasne told DEUCE at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. “As a player, I tried to be nice and relaxed before I played, but I felt butterflies in my stomach. Sometimes Gilles’ mind isn’t on the match early enough. He should feel the pressure. An hour before the match, I sometimes ask him to ‘feel the pressure’, to be ready the minute he steps on the court.” There is no doubt, with Tulasne by his side, Simon has the right man. “There was an enormous amount of pressure on every French player when I played,” explained the former World No. 10. “That is why, I feel, we work well together. Everything he feels, I felt. I can help him deal with those pressures. Yannick Noah found the right way to play in Paris. He is one of my best friends and I use his experience for Gilles.”

    In the 30 minutes until Simon strides out on the court all French players love, Court Philippe Chatrier, he will be nervous. He’ll be happy with his preparations, but anxious he may not perform as he will hope. “I am nervous when I play at Roland Garros,” Simon told DEUCE, in the players’ lounge, at the Foro Italico. “It is a very important tournament to me and I care about how I perform there. When the tournament is important, you want to do something good. That is why it is difficult, because sometimes you don’t perform well.”

    SimonThat fear, has distracted him - and every French player down the years - the most. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will be in the locker room, having spent time on the physio’s table; his great friend from juniors, Gael Monfils, will be stretching with resistance ropes, bouncing around or applying strapping up his knees, while Richard Gasquet will be getting loose and mentally preparing. Simon’s wife, Carine, and their son, Timothé, will be in the stands and the World No. 12 will have none of his beloved PlayStation computer games to let his mind drift. Just himself and the vision of player activity as he counts down the minutes to the Referees’ call to action.

    Simon handled the pressure admirably 12 months ago, in victories overJeremy Chardy and Mardy Fish on Roland Garros’ main show court, en route to the fourth round. Over the past seven years, the patriotic Frenchman has gotten used to the attention he has received. “I have gotten used to the pressure and the attention surrounding it,” said Simon. “I feel much more confident and stronger on the court. I am improving every year. Last season, I had a great feeling on the court reaching the fourth round.” But the start of each Roland Garros is different. As each year passes, the shadow cast by the emotional scenes surrounding Noah’s triumph in 1983, grows. Ten Frenchman are listed in the Top 100 of the South African Airways ATP Rankings. Each player hopes to shine in late May on their grandest stage.

    “Gilles doesn’t suffer from the attention Jo, Gael and Richard receive”

    Among his compatriots, Simon is ‘Mr Consistent’. He has won 10 ATP World Tour singles titles - the most among active Frenchmen - which includes a run of trophy-winning success over six straight seasons (2007-2012). But Simon doesn’t have the personality of Tsonga or Monfils, whose power and athletic games ignite galleries worldwide, nor does he possess the elegance of Gasquet, whose classic technique pleases the sport’s purists. As a result, Simon is happy with the attention he receives. “With their personalities they attract crowds,” he said. “I am okay with it.”

    Edouard Roger-Vasselin told DEUCE, at the Estoril Open, “He doesn’t get the headlines like Jo, Gael or Richard, but he remains at the top of the game. He plays from the baseline. He doesn’t have spectacular shots like Jo’s serve, Richard’s serve or Gael’s flare. But whenever you play against Gilles, you know it’s going to be a tough match.” Tulasne confirmed to DEUCE, “Gilles doesn’t suffer from the attention Jo, Gael and Richard receive. He knows why. Jo and Gael are black, tall, big, strong and are charismatic. Gilles knows, for him, it is about his results. If he has a big result and portrays the right image, he will get the attention. He wants to be himself, he doesn’t want to be someone else.” 

    Simon has never hidden behind a mask. For Gasquet, Tsonga and Roger-Vasselin their abiding memory of “Gilou” as a junior is of a battler, prepared to endure any hardship to earn a win. Gasquet, who first met Simon when he was nine years old at a tournament in Bretagne, told DEUCE, “We played for three hours and I was destroyed. I had to pull out before my next match the following day.” Tsonga recalls, “I first met Gilles when I was 14 or 15 in Brest. We played a very long match!” Roger-Vasselin said, “I didn’t know him and he came over to me and started to say, ‘We’re playing our match over there.’ I thought he was a ball kid or something. He came back again and told me to go play.”

    SimonYet, his talent wasn’t recognised by the French Tennis Federation until he was 19 years old. Gasquet remembers their first meetings, saying, “He always had the loopy forehand backswing and the same strengths as he has today. He never missed a ball. Gilles was quiet, friendly and very clever guy - even then.” Roger-Vasselin adds, “He was very small. I also won the next match against him, but his game was improving all the time. His game has always been based on his mental approach and the fact he can run for five hours without tiring.”

    Of his junior career, Simon honestly admits, “I wasn’t good enough. I always played players far stronger than me. But I managed to improve my game and maintained the progression, despite being very skinny and small compared to other players. I always had my ability to anticipate; my feel for the game and see what was going on. As I wasn’t powerful, I was very aggressive when I was young. I played close to the baseline to control the point. But if my opponent was dominating, then I found it very tough and it was too difficult. I couldn’t do what I do right now, playing two to three metres behind the baseline, but I still hit powerful strokes.”

    “I know if I can run then I have a good shot at winning”

    In 2004, when the French Tennis Federation recognised Simon’s talent aged 19, Tulasne was charged with coaching a small group of players. He remembers his first impression, saying, “I was very surprised. He had a strange game. But he had one strength: he was an unbelievable runner. He was very fast and could maintain his on-court fitness for a long time. When I asked him what was his strength, he said, ‘I can run a lot, very fast.’ He was looking very confident. His physique and his confidence made me feel he could become a very good player.”

    But it’s funny. Simon doesn’t like running too much off the court. “I just play my matches,” he confessed. “My game asks of me a lot. I have to run and cover the court. I don’t like running outside of the court.” Simon concedes that he may run for 45 minutes per day during a rare training block, but most of the time Quetin gets him to undertake 20-second interval training at different paces. Cycling is also favoured, but he isn’t a regular in tournament gyms. “I don’t like lifting weights too much [although he can lift 100 kilograms]. As tennis players you must work to your strengths and weaknesses, if a player is quick or powerful. My strength is I am able to cover the court unlike many players are unable to do. My body frame is slight and I know I will never be as naturally powerful as [Juan Martin] del Potro, for example.”

    Today, one thing is certain, Simon makes the most of his 70-kilogram frame. Only Kei Nishikori, at No. 18 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings, is the same weight among the Top 50. Simon can absorb pressure and dictate play with his flat backhand, while he has the ability to apply tremendous spin on his forehand wing. His net game is also an asset now. “One of his strengths is that he wants to improve his technique,” explains Tulasne. “He can do it, because he is talented. Because he doesn’t have the power, he has to win matches tactically. He may have to play for one hour, but once he gets the tactics right, he’ll win. He plays good first sets and the third sets, when his superior fitness counts.”

    SimonIt comes as a surprise to Simon, a player so tactically adept and confident in debating a variety of subjects, that he does not know he possesses an exceptional record in winning first sets. According to the FedEx ATP Reliability Index, Simon has compiled a 23-1 record after winning first sets during the 2012 ATP World Tour season (as of 22 May) and is 193-27 (.877) lifetime. He insists, “Most of the time, I don’t get off to a good start. When my opponent is taller and stronger, hitting harder than me, I do find it tricky and complicated. When their levels drop, I am able to turn the matches around. That’s when, even when I win the first set, I know that if my opponent does come back, I will be ready to play long matches.”

    Simon is certainly ready to make his move back into the Top 10.Currently at World No. 12, six spots off his career-high South African Airways ATP Rankings of No. 6 on 5 January 2009, the 27 year old has already lifted his third BRD Nastase Tiriac Trophy in Bucharest last month. To play his best tennis, Simon confessed, “The conditions have to be good. For example, I need to be fit physically, so then I know I can run everywhere. As soon as I don’t have that feeling, then I know I can’t play my best tennis because my ability to cover the court is the key to my game. I am not two metres tall, so unlike most players, not hitting my serve well doesn’t affect my confidence. It doesn’t matter what court I play on, or who the opponent is, I know if I can run then I have a good shot at winning. If my opponent starts to hit winners, then I have to run and find solutions: to be more aggressive, if I am defending too much.”

    “If I only do what I know, I will never become a better player”

    And there is the rub. How do you transform a natural defender into an attacker overnight? You can’t, but after the US Open in September 2011, Simon started experimenting, explaining to Tulasne, ‘If I want to get better than No. 5 and I don’t try things, then I won’t become better than I was before.’ Tulasne, who previously coached Sebastien Grosjean and Paul-Henri Mathieu, confirmed this plan to DEUCE. “He tried to attack and be more relaxed during the match. He still feels the Top 4 are a level above the rest and that is why he is working hard to get to No. 5. He says, ‘If I only do what I know, I will never become a better player.’ So he is trying more things on the court, both tactically, technically and mentally. He wants to be more confident. Now, he has developed greater strengths and I do feel he will get to a higher level.”

    Tsonga confesses, “Gilles’ greatest strength is getting to every ball. Even balls that are impossible. He makes his opponents play one extra shot, which maybe they don’t want to play.” Mikhail Youzhny told DEUCE, “He is a very good player and is always close to the Top 10. The level of his game is very high and it is admirable he has returned to near the Top 10 after his injuries. It shows the calibre of the player, just like del Potro. He has very good hands and he is quick and athletic enough to counteract the big servers.”

    SimonSimon has always liked to make it difficult for his opponent’s to beat him, but now, “I just think my level is high, between a ranking of No. 8 and No. 15. I have to work hard on my game to be in the group between No. 5 and No. 8. At the moment, No. 12 is my level, but if I am able to play a full season, without any injuries, I know I can make the second group in the Top 10. Some weeks will be harder than others. I think the Rankings are very good in tennis, because you have the points you’ve won for one year. I feel like you have the ranking you deserve, as it shows the level you’re game is at. You can’t be a World No. 1 or No. 20 through luck, it is because of your consistency. You can’t be No. 10 because of three good weeks in one year. The ATP World Tour, now, is very difficult, but I like the challenge.”

    For Simon, the goal is not to take media attention from Tsonga, Monfils and Gasquet, but to harness his on-court energy and fulfil his desire to regain “the capacity to win every match that I felt in 2008”. Only then, can dreams of major championship glory, performing well for France at the Olympics and Davis Cup, or qualifying for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, be potentially realised. “I need to find it again,” he said. “If I can, I know I will do even better and improve my career-high No. 6 ranking.”

     
  8. THE LAST TIME… WITH JOHN ISNER

    DEUCE

    Isner

    American John Isner reveals the last time…

    I cooked for myself or others? 
    A few weeks ago when I was at home. My speciality is anything with sweet potatoes and meat.

    I flew economy class? 
    I flew from Tampa to Houston. I always fly economy domestically.

    I missed a flight? 
    It’s been a long time. I am usually very anal about being on time. I’ve cut some flights close, but I can’t remember the last time I missed one.

    I met a childhood idol? 
    Last December, I met WWE wrestler Shawn Michaels.

    I shared a hotel room with another player or a coach? 
    Two years ago, my coach [Craig Boynton] and I were going to Madrid and had to re-route to Barcelona for one night.

    I had to pay to use a tennis court? 
    New York City, two years ago, when it rained.

    I strung a tennis racquet? 
    High school. I normally string from 60-63 lbs when I play on clay.

    I dressed formally for a dinner? 
    It would have been last month’s United States Davis Cup tie versus France in Monte-Carlo.

    I slipped on my diet? 
    This morning I had a croissant.

    I forgot a family member/close friend’s birthday? 
    I forgot my brother’s wife’s birthday last week. I don’t keep a diary.

    I lost something important? 
    I’m pretty good at taking care of my possessions. Wallet? No. Cell phone? No… Chapstick! My chapstick is very important.

    I asked someone for their autograph?
    Shawn Michaels? No! I was probably in middle school.

    Being recognised helped me? 
    In Houston, a lot of things happened there…

    I visited a country for the first time? 
    Monaco for the Davis Cup tie. I loved it and visited the casino.

    I was asked if I was a tennis player?
    If people have no idea who I am, I never get asked that.

     
  9. TOPLESS RAFA IS ALWAYS GOOD :)

    TOPLESS RAFA IS ALWAYS GOOD :)

     
  10. IVO KARLOVIC: FINDING THE RIGHT HEIGHT

    by Matt Fitzgerald

      | 

    Karlovic

    Has there ever been a time when you felt like you couldn’t move your legs on a flight? Or have you had trouble readjusting the height of a stationary bike at the gym?

    Then spare a thought for Ivo Karlovic, who at 6’ 10’’, has really got it tough! The 33-year-old Croat, known for his imposing serve and presence at the net, not only has to find solutions to everyday problems such as travelling and sleeping, he has to work overtime in the gym just to keep his lengthy frame in shape.

    Below, Karlovic talks to ATPWorldTour.com about the areas of fitness he works on the most, and the pros and cons of being the ATP’s tallest player.


    Compeed 

    How do you manage the intricacy in travelling long distances, given the combination of your height and the amount of leg room airplanes offer?
    It is not easy. On the airplane, there is not a lot of leg room. I’m fortunate enough to be able to fly in business class. I remember when I was younger flying in economy class, it was very hard to fit my legs. I try to move around a lot during the flight and drink a lot of water.

    As a taller player, what areas of fitness do you have to address more compared to your peers?
    My legs of course. It isn’t easy to move on the court. And also endurance, because of my weight, it isn’t always easy to carry it. I always have to run with it, so it is a challenge. I try and work on endurance a lot.

    Are there any particular exercises/stretches you do to help with your booming serve?
    I stretch a lot to loosen it. And I do a lot of exercises with my upper body to stay strong.

    What physical advantages and disadvantages do you possess as being the tallest guy on tour?
    I’m stronger than a lot of the other guys. That’s what I like to think! I also have a lot more reach. I can hit the serve from a much higher point. But the big disadvantage is that I also have to go down. It can be hard to go up and down with how far I have to do it. And then movement is also tough.

    Why do you think you’ve been able to find longevity on tour?
    It’s because I didn’t start really young. I started as a professional when I was almost 22. It also helps that my game does not involve a lot of long points.

    You like to come in to net. How has stretching helped you get down for the lower volleys?
    I do a lot of stretching exercises, because of that reason, and because it also helps prevention from injuries. It’s very important overall for my game and body.

    For taller recreational players, what would you recommend he/she add to their training program?
    They should do a lot of exercises for the back. It is an easy place to injure when you’re tall. Also work on the knees. Weightlifting and endurance should also be addressed.

    Which player on tour do you think…
    Is the most flexible?
     Novak Djokovic
    Has the strongest core? Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
    Has the best balance? Novak Djokovic
    Is the quickest? Gael Monfils
    Has the greatest muscular endurance? Gael Monfils
    Has the best footwork? David Ferrer