All roads lead to Melbourne!

The season ending championships are edging closer on both the WTA tour and the ATP tour. The top 8 on the WTA tour will head to Singapore and on the ATP the O2 in London awaits but some high profile names will be missing.

There will be no Sharapova, Murray, Serena, Djokovic, Vika, Wawrinka, Petra and Nishikori to name just a handful of players missing for various number of reasons but no matter what they are up to right now all roads will lead and most likely end up in Melbourne.

Some of them will have to rely on wildcards most likely to play in Melbourne but for others a lower ranking will see them potentially seeded outside top 15 which sets up a number of potential early meeting against another top player.

At this time the only players we are unsure of seeing in Melbourne are Vika, Serena and Kei but i would be surprised if just one of them doesn’t make it to the first major of 2018.

Next year is still a few months away but it is shaping up to be an exciting year on the tour, you have the comebacks and the rising stars battling it out for what is set to be an incredible year beginning down under!

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Kvitova shows Singapore what they will miss after a stunning performance against Wozniacki

The season ender in Singapore is around the corner. One player who unfortunately won’t be there is Petra Kvitova. After missing half the season due to the horrible events she went through at home around Christmas the former Wimbledon champion has bounced back in style and her tennis has been incredible.

Incredible was the word to finish the match against Wozniacki, the Dane was pushed side to side throughout the match as Petra hit winner after winner after winner on route to the next round.

Wozniacki plays quite defensive behind the baseline and there is nothing wrong with this style but one thing I always say you have to do is ask questions but Caro never found anything to move her forward from the baseline and cause trouble or hit the ball deep and push her back it was too comfortable.

I believe during the second set Jo Durie on BTSport said it’s like she has a magnet with those lines she painted them time and time again but importantly it was her timing that did it for her and it wasn’t done to power as she timed the ball perfectly time and time again.

It is a shame Petra won’t be in Singapore but it gives us a lot to look forward to next season when the Race will be more intense as we expect to see more of Petra, Vika, Serena and Maria in 2018.

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Laver Cup exceeded expectations and firmly belongs in Tennis!

Set up by a legend, two more became captains, Roger and Rafa arrived with friends and made a weekend to remember in Prague.

The Laver Cup in honour of Rod Laver with team world v team Europe led by John McEnroe and Bjorn Bjorg and many top players on the ATP tour fought out for the first of what looks like being many Laver Cups.

When it was announced I have to be honest I thought ‘another exhibition’. There is nothing wrong with exhibitions as some do great for various reasons but there are some pointless ones about but this exceeded all expectations and this tournament belongs in tennis.

It brought smiles, emotion, unity and more importantly fun! Tennis needs this for many reasons, it can advertise the sport more worldwide seeing the best, the legends and the uprising stars play together as a team excites fans.

Seeing Rafa and Roger play together, the captains get involved it’s what the sport is about. These guys are rivals and it was amazing to see them have a laugh but be competitive!

The venue for next year has been announced and it will be held in Chicago and it will be the hottest ticket in town!

Going forward this can do so well travelling the world with this tournament and is something I would like to see on the women’s side of the tour but we will have hope on that one but the exposure the tour would get would open minds and inspire and with this format it certainly can do it.

If we see players having fun we engage and we remember and that’s how it creates a legacy.

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7 finals, 1 title but this season has been a success for Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki has not been a stranger to finals this year but has been a stranger to titles. Before arriving in Tokyo the Dane was 0/6 in the finals this year but for a player who has featured in almost 800 matches at 27 years old she has been through a lot.

This title in Tokyo was another landmark for Caro not only her 26th career title but also her 10th year running winning a title on the tour and wins against Cibulkova and Muguruza propelled her to 10 top 10 wins this calendar year which is a career high for her.

It’s too easy to look at the stats from the finals and see 7 finals and 1 titles and can quickly turn around and say a poor year but they would be unfair and naïve.

US Open last year Caro was outside top 60 in the world and is now guaranteed to be at the WTA Finals in Singapore next month and has managed to stay injury free and on a whole I would say it has been a success.

The only issue I would have is Grand Slams especially the US Open. Caro and the US Open is such a special time for her and it was in a fact that securing her 100th grand slam singles win and qualify for the WTA Finals for the first time in three years.

There is still so much to play for and picking up another titles, record number of top 10 years and a return to the WTA finals is a success a better run in New York would have been nice to see but no-one has a ‘perfect season’ but it can get better in the final 5 weeks.

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Confidence crisis for Mladenovic but she will be back!

In my last piece about Kristina Mladenovic I wrote that everything was coming together in her game and I stand by that despite a crisis of confidence for the 24 year old.

Ever since her defeat to Timea Bacsinscky at Roland Garros her home slam where many expected more it has fallen apart for her. It may be looked as the one that got away but she has to move on and for some players that could be one day, one week, one month or four you just don’t know.

If anything with no Serena, Maria (at the time) Azarenka players must put extra pressure on themselves!

At the moment Kiki is on a seven match loosing streak and lost her last match in Tokyo 6-0 6-0.

Watching the match you can tell the game is there but she doesn’t look confident at all and it will turn around at some point and sometimes you have to win against a good opponent playing badly in all honesty and think this is coming back together.

For me a match can be summed up by a point and this was match point. Down 0-6 0-5 we saw her approach the net and the play leading up to her approaching the net was good but when Quang played that forehand it went straight past her in what looked like a lack of confidence.

Every top player has been there, the ranking drops and it then requires more work and I believe she will get back to the level we saw in the first half of the year.

Unfortunately reading on social media some seem to find the ‘funny’ side of a player being on a run like this which is sad but that is the world we live in now where having a laugh at someone else’s expense seems to be the ‘cool’ thing and it isn’t.

The run is unfortunate for Kiki but it’s about believing and I believe she will get out of this run soon and this time next year will be easily a top 15 ranked player.

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Why Shapovalov will be the future star of Canadian tennis!

For some time Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard were tipped as the leading stars in Canadian tennis but for one reason or another that has fallen flat. Over the last few months we have witnessed a new star on the scene and that is Denis Shapovalov.

At the age of 18 Denis has brought enthusiasm and energy to the tennis court. He first caught the attention of the public in Davis Cup when he got defaulted for hitting the ball in anger which then hit the umpire in the eye.

To Denis’ credit he has reacted well to what happened and does all his talking with his tennis.

His game is a unique one and being a left handed player opens himself up with a various number of shots. His favoured shot is the forehand which he bounces off and he can use down cross court to pull opponents about and down the line as seen below the cross court forehand helped him set up the forehand down the line.

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Unusually for a left handed player as well he does play with a one handed backhand and has the ability and confidence to go with it to pull off some stunning flat backhands but also when pushed to it we will see that two handed backhand so having variety on the backhand is unusual but effective.

Denis has that likable factor, he turns up and plays his game. The emotion is real and this is something I hope sticks and he is left to get on with his tennis without too much pressure put on him.

The win against Nadal in front of a home crowd in Montreal was special and more of those moments look to follow.

 

Nick’s being himself and I admire that greatly!

I’ve been meaning to write this piece for a while. After reading Nick’s open interview the other day via his Twitter account the one emotion I felt after reading it was admired and I think people should open their eyes more and see the bigger picture.

One of Nick’s points was the media attention especially social media and his career and social media pretty hit off at the same time and just imagine if it had hit off when Federer, Nadal or many other world class sports men and women had been beginning their careers when social media and media attention was as high as it is now it would be a nightmare.

Nick started off this piece by saying he is not the professional tennis needs him to be but is it what the sport needs him to be and like I have already said look at the bigger picture. Ok players you can say do have a responsibility on court but we need that personality as well as that responsibility and in the pressure of the match you can get frustrated easily.

Growing up we all fell in love with sports for a reason. For me I watched Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Andy Roddick, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray and not only their games but their personality on their pitch was what stood out for me. If anything I’d put Nick in this category, I like Nick he has brought a new style to tennis which is what the sport is about and it’s broadened minds to what can be done on the court. He’s a passionate player which deep down shows that he cares about what he is doing.

I play tennis once a week with friends and it is true what they say we try and replicate what we see. I’m left handed but I feel more comfortable with a two handed backhand, the sliced forehand and sometimes the left forehand. It’s weird I know but it isn’t just about forehands and backhands. My favourite word in tennis is variety and Nick has inspired that and when playing it makes me think ahead in rallies to play those slices and follow the ball into the net or drop shot from the back of the court, lob from a running position he’s inspired that.

Nick gets a rough time and it kind of reminds me of what Murray received over here in Britain. At the end of the day they are just interested in selling a story and ride the wave when it goes well but when it crashes they are the first to jump on their back, maybe they should learn the word ‘support.’

Andy got criticised all the time even when he did nothing, once because he said he was Scottish not English that made the headlines of the national newspapers and that influences people’s minds but he went about his business and won majors and those doubters are suddenly his biggest fans. It’s a shame that to start with media just want to bring you down but it sells.

It’s a shame people don’t try to get to know Nick and reading his piece on playersvoice.com I admired how open and honest he was and that was refreshing. Some may think the tour life is a dream to travel the world and that aspect excites many but it probably can be lonely especially being away from loved ones all year round and losing a close member to the family is tough.

The future. Nick said one motivating thought he has is “to earn enough money to build a centre for kids who are homeless, having problems at home or don’t have the financial means to play sport” He went on to say the most satisfying thing he has done is build a little shelter in Lyneham Tennis Centre (where he played) in tribute to his Nan.

Nick is being himself and I admire that, it may not be want people want to see and I’d love to see him go on in the next few years and win titles but one thing you have to continue doing is supporting and believing.

It doesn’t get written about enough but he’s doing his bit to give back, he may not be the professional people want him to be but he’s doing his thing and I for one admire that greatly!

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