Uncertainty as Tennis’ oldest women only tournament must find a new home!

The Bank of the West Classic in Stanford has been one of the highlights on the WTA tour for 46 years. The tournament in Stanford always brings in crowds and the best players on the tour at the only women’s only tournament on the calendar.

Previous winners in the tournaments history include Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Serena, Venus, Martina Hingis, Lindsay, Azarenka, Kim Clijsters and many more top players.

Now the pressure is on for the USTA to find a new home for the tournament which they hope to keep close by to Stanford.

A statement was sent out on social media which says;

“After 21 years of partnering with Stanford University, IMG has been notified by the University that it’s policy of hosting corporate sponsored events on campus has changed and Stanford will no longer be able to host a WTA event at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium.

IMG’s highest priority is to keep the event in the Bay Area and we are working on a plan to do so.”

Stanford

 

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How a lack of trust on the backhand led to Marin’s early exit

Marin Cilic is no stranger to London however the Croat was in all honesty one of the biggest disappointments of the world tour finals last month but where did it all go wrong? Trust is the issue.

Most of the field in London were first timers and that put more pressure on someone as experienced Cilic as for them it was a free hit but at the same time the trusted what they were doing.

You could argue one of his biggest weapons is the backhand. The two hander is such a strong weapon but he didn’t utilise it and became predictable and safe to play against and with his power and accuracy you shouldn’t feel safe as an opponent against one of the big shots on the tour.

The graphics below via ATP InfoSys says it all, just look the percentage. The two handed backhand should not be that short and safe.

Marin will be deeply disappointed with what happened in London as this looked a good shot for him this year but he fell short and now preparations for the new season shouldn’t entirely focus on his game but confidence.

Serena will be back but a decision on Melbourne awaits!

The best sportswomen in the world is on her way back. Not many players in world sport have done what she has done during her career and this wrote a chapter no one expected. The American won the Australian Open whilst pregnant and recently got married now the return is close but when will we see her?

I have nothing but admiration for Serena. What she has done for women’s tennis and women in sport is on another level. She fights, she proves people wrong and at the end of the day she’s the winner.

Serena has been practicing for a while now with a few pictures and videos on social media. She has recently been joined by a new hitting partner in Jarmere Jenkins whose brother is the hitting partner of big sister Venus.

Coach Patrick Mourataglou has said he will be joining Serena in Florida soon but he has said they will look at how her body is reacting and her level of tennis before a decision on Melbourne is made.

It may be Melbourne but if not you’d expect it to be a trip to Indian Wells as Serena rarely plays in February.

SW

Dominic Thiem admitted going “full power” is “safer” but will it win big titles?

After his win in London against Pablo Carreno-Busta in London Dominic Thiem was talking to Leif Shiras at the SkyPad and it was fascinating to hear the Austrian open up about his performance more interestingly his overall game.

He admitted to going for power as it feels safe to him but is it hindering his progress? I think so…

Thiem’s game is like playing at 100mph throughout the whole match there isn’t much le-way and once plan A is out of the window it’s like watching a capitulation.

Thiem is a very talented player and has shots on his racket to mix it up so the question is why the power?

Thiem said on SkySports;

“My strokes are even safer when I hit full power, they get a bit unsafe when I hold back.”

Maybe holding back isn’t a bad thing, you won’t win a major going 100mph all the time even on his favoured surface of clay where variety is key.

 DT return

Graphic credit to ATP Infosys

I think this graphic above shows that need to go for power that he has.

God knows why Thiem is 3.3 metres behind the baseline returning Dimitrov’s second serve when on first serve he was 0.6 metres behind. He wants the time to line up for power and sometimes points go on too long with Thiem, you see opportunity to kill it off but it’s this stubborn style of play focusing on going for that power all the time reduces his effectiveness which reduces his efficency which isn’t as effective on a hard or grass court.

Everyone’s game needs to adapt to become a champion, playing one way because it is safe won’t win big titles. To win big titles you need variety and playing safe won’t do it you have to win ugly at times and I think it speaks volumes about his top 10 wins this year that his only win against a top 10 player on a hard court was his last win of 2017 against Pablo Carreno Busta!

Is the ATP tour too demanding on the top players? Should the tour protect them or should they protect themselves?

The calendar continues to grow but time can’t be moved! From January to November next year there are 40 weeks of tournaments in the tennis calendar which doesn’t include the two weeks for majors of Indian Wells and Miami as well as the Grand Slams so there is 46 weeks of consecutive tennis.

The tour begins in less than 6 weeks time on the 1st of January but has it become too demanding for the top ranked players on the tour. The tour is designed to suit a player ranked top 10 or top 50 but the demanding schedule of the tour does take it’s toll on the big players.

Top 30 players will be at the majors, ATP 500 and of course ATP 1000 events and will also play a handful of 250 thoroughout the year but for those at the top has it become too demanding?

With the 4 majors and of course the 9 Masters events which are all but mandatory the players have their own schedules to work with as well with ATP 500 tournaments and even some 250’s which may have special connection with players.

The issue with the calendar is that there sometimes isn’t much time between tournaments. For the top ranked players the tournament may begin on a Monday but they won’t be playing until Wednesday night then if they reach the final then play 5 days running and then have a 24-48 turnover from Shanghai and then back to Europe, there is little recovery.

This effects the top players more as they reach the latter stages of tournaments more  often but for lower ranked players it wouldn’t have a bigger effect as they may not reach the latter stages regularly so the demand of the calendar won’t affect them as much but if anything benefits them as earning a sustainable living on the tour for a low ranked player is tough.

I do think the scheduling has had effects on players’ fitness lately with a number of top players missing from the final chapter of this season and going forward will players have to chose tournaments more carefully but that may mean missing some of these ATP1000 events which the tour and tournament directors will not want.

So where do priorities lie? Do we try to protect the top players so they can feature at the big tournaments or do they protect themselves?

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Flair, elegance, variety and personality! A deserving debut champion!

Grigor Dimitrov started the season in fantastic fashion. Finishing the year as the world number three it began in January ranked at 17 in the world and his triumph in Brisbane sent waves through  the tour.

This looked like a man ready to fight at the top, it did fizzle as the season went on but he turned it on to show he does belong in the big time and there will be plenty more big time moments for him.

To go a week undefeated in London is fantastic in such a competitive atmosphere against the best.

Unfortunately people will look at it and say he didn’t have to play Federer or Nadal but I’m  a big believer of you can only play who is in front of you and you could argue his form was better as they both lost to Goffin but Grigor beat him twice…

He brought elegance, variety, flair and a personality and if anything a show built up to be about Roger and Rafa was all about this man and he totally deserved it!

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Elegant Dimitrov cruises to 6-0 6-1 victory

Grigor Dimitrov treated us to some exceptionally elegant tennis this afternoon as he demolished David Goffin 6-0 6-1 to advance to the semi-finals in London on his debut at the tournament.

He plays some beautiful tennis and this year at glimpses we have seen how brilliant he can be and I think I speak as a collective when I say everyone is happy to see him playing so well.

In his press conference after his win against Thiem he said he’s been fighting his demons and it opens up what he has had to battle to get to where he is now and Annabel Croft on Sky Sports summed it up perfectly through his hard work, determination and graft he has gotten here and he deserves it with the younger players on the tour on around him he has stepped it up when he has to!

Semi-finals set for Dimitrov on the weekend with a match against Carreno-Busta in hand as well.

GG