19 November, 2011

ATP World Tour Final Oddsmaking

The ATP World Tour Final (heretofore known as the ATP WTF) is a curious event.  The round robin, featuring only the eight highest ranked players in the world, played in London's O2 arena has a jagged history debuting in its present form only in 1999 (versus the legs of the Grand Slam, the youngest of which, the Australian Open, debuted in 1905).  Even though this event doesn't necessarily have the history or prestige of the majors, the Davis Cup or the Olympics, the ATP has done a good job of building the WTF into a showpiece for their biggest stars, especially since the event's fortuitous move to London in 2009.  How will the ATP WTF play out?  Well, we think we have a pretty solid idea.

15 November, 2011

Little Legends

Our friends over at tennis.com, just posted this funny, dare I say, cute video of tennis legends as kids produced by the group behind the Stockholm Open. Funny, they got Nole's ball bouncing dead on, but they decided to avoid Rafa's wedgie pull, too bad.

13 November, 2011

Still The Best (Of The Rest)

When Roger Federer claimed the first Paris Masters title of his career, in a 6-1, 7-6 (3) win over home favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga it certainly revised the rap on Federer's 2011 from dire to at minimum, acceptable.  Coming into this fall season, Federer had only captured the crown at Doha back in January.  In the intervening months, he lost the Roland Garros final to his irrepressible younger rival Rafael Nadal; then watched Nadal's mojo, No. 1 ranking and a raft of titles get hijacked by another still younger rival, Novak Djokovic. With the surge of younger players, Federer turned 30, usually the age where players start thinking about retirement communities of tax haven nations.  Then to add insult to injury, Andy Murray, the black sheep of the Big Four, also passed him in the rankings after a strong Asian swing, winning titles in Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai while Federer sat idle.

05 November, 2011

Citizen Player?

The top 100 or so players on the WTA and ATP tours all have pretty impressive collections of passport stamps.  Both tours field events in more than 30 countries annually bringing this global game to fans from Canada to Australia and everywhere in between.  The game's stars are, not surprisingly, a similarly international lot.  World No. 2 Rafael Nadal is a hometown kinda guy, born and bred in Manacor, Mallorca.  On the other hand, his longtime rival Roger Federer might draw a lot of fans waving Swiss flags to the stands, but he's equally at home in his other base in Dubai.  WTA world No. 4 Maria Sharapova lives down the road from my buddy in Manhattan Beach, CA (he goes to her Starbucks), although she plays under the Russian flag.  To be fair, it's not just the superstars, lesser known WTA player Varvara Lepchenko was born in Uzbekistan and now, a naturalized citizen, plays for the US and is based in Allentown, PA, maybe a thirty minute drive from where I grew up.
The borderless nature of tennis raises an intriguing question.  In this sport, what exactly is the value of national identity?

03 November, 2011

Blacklabel Tennis November 2011 Power Rankings

Who's as hot as they come this fall?  Who's in absolute freefall?  Here's our take after the last month of tennis.  We call it the Blacklabel Tennis Power Rankings, enjoy.

1. Novak Djokovic (SRB) Last Month: (1)

The man is still the man.  A back injury may have truncated his planned fall campaign, it may lessen his credentials in the "best season ever" discussion;  but yeah, ho hum, who cares?  The Serbian superstar, aka Robo-Nole, is still the man to beat whenever he takes the court.  In part, because he's got that locker room intimidation factor that's worth a nervous break even if his game isn't completely firing.  He doesn't even need to show up the rest of 2011 to be the favorite in Australia.  Then again, there's nowhere to go from here, but down.  Well, at least, Nadal, Murray, Federer and err, every other man playing ATP level tennis hope that's the case.