28 July, 2012

Who "Deserves" Olympic Gold: Sentimental Favorites

Believe it or not, tennis bloggers are people too.  With apologies to Shakespeare, If you prick us, do we not bleed?  If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?  If you show us the Brian Baker story, do we not discreetly fist pump in the press seats when he wins?  A little something different today, with the Olympic tennis draws being released, we profile three players who we would love to see on the medal stand this Olympics.  We're not talking true favorites like Roger Federer or Serena Williams, but sentimental favorites; players, like 2008 gold medalist Elena Dementieva.  The two-time major finalist with the mind-bendingly horrendous serve capped off her fine career with an Olympic win and then said, "...the Olympic Games, they're so much more important to me [than majors]. Here are five players who might at least put the Olympic gold on par with a major win if they can pull off the feat in London.

20 July, 2012

Coeur Contre Corps (Heart Vs. Body) Again...

This isn't the way it's supposed to end, is it?  When we discuss sport, the word we often reach for is "heart." Less to describe the physical muscle that keeps a player upright and functioning than the concept of the heart as the athlete's storage place for "fight."  The central point in the athlete's body where the will to compete pulses, rises, falls and ultimately leads the way to his or her fate as a champion or an also-ran.  While we could never deny the impact of the figurative heart on the sporting landscape, days like yesterday remind us that there is far more than the heart at play.

17 July, 2012

Federer, Greatest, Case Closed (For Now At Least)

All seemed to be said and done, didn't it?  Sixteen majors, year-end ATP No. 1 five times, the Career Grand Slam and an Olympic gold (albeit in doubles).  That's not just a fine resume, it's arguably (but maybe only just), the best resume in tennis history.  That Roger Federer, in lieu of lying on his significant laurels, kept pushing for an ever greater seat on tennis' Mount Olympus is remarkable in and of itself.  That's he's succeeded in further distancing himself from the other greatest men of all-time is all but otherworldly, but them's the facts.  Now, with the Swiss having amassed his 17th major and his 287th week as World No. 1 as of today, can we once and for all, can we cut the crap and officially start calling Federer the Greatest of All Time (Male Division)?

11 July, 2012

Bloggers Bar Special Edition: Time Machine Predictions

We can't be the only ones who at the end of a major take deep breaths and can barely be arsed to think about tennis for a few days, can we?  A bit of travel, plus some important non-tennis stuff taking root elsewhere in life and voila, we've been silent for four days past the end of Wimbledon.  Let's start our penance here: First, since we've already feted ladies' champion Serena Williams, a hearty congrats to 2012 and seven time men's champion Roger Federer.  To say Serena and Roger emerging as the champions was unexpected, would be insulting; but we would say if you picked BOTH to win at SW19 this year, you're either in the minority or a time machine.

When we did our last Bloggers Bar post (random aside: what do you think of the name: Blacklabel Roundtable in the future?), we asked our fellow writers whether Serena Williams or Roger Federer was more likely to win another major.  On one hand, egg meet faces.  On the other, whichever player we selected, we were right!  Given the fact that both wound up winning their next time out, I thought it would be fun to see why we thought one of two was  more likely to claim another major.  Without further ado, here are our pre-Wimbledon takes on who: Serena Williams or Roger Federer was in our eyes, best positioned to win another major.  Here are the answers, from the four at the bar:

  • @AlvaroRama Alvaro Rama of EuroSport2 & Quality Sport (AR)
  • @TennisNewsViews Lisa Marie Burrows of TennisNewsViews.com & World Tennis Magazine (LMB)
  • @TheFanChild Chris Oddo of TennisNow.com & The Fan Child (CO)
  • @VBlacklabel Vito Ellison of BlacklabelTennis.com (VE)

07 July, 2012

Serena, Serene & Winning: 2012 Wimbledon Women's Final Recap

Just over two hours after taking the court, Serena Williams was crowned the Wimbledon ladies' singles champion for the fifth time.  Ten years after she first claimed the Venus Rosewater Dish, the American powered her way to a 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 victory over Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska.  Serena's opponent in that match ten years prior, older sister Venus, was in the stands, having been dispatched from singles earlier in the fortnight, but still alive with her baby sister in the doubles.  As much as the one-time grass court dominatrix Venus was in a different position than she was ten years ago, so too was her Serena.  The brash exuberance of Serena's youth having been replaced by the anxiousness of a veteran champion knowing that she only has so many chances to climb the sport's highest heights again and knowing that the tests would not be any easier because of who she was or what things she's done.  She knew she had to take the victory, and although there were nerves, ultimately that's what Serena did today.

05 July, 2012

2012 Wimbledon Mens Semifinal Previews & Predictions

It's almost the final four we expected: Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray.  Of the vaunted "Big Four," only Rafael Nadal failed to make the semifinals here at Wimbledon this year.  When one of them goes down, the others pick up the slack.  The last time fewer than three of the ATP Big Four made the semifinals of a major was way back at Roland Garros in 2010, when Nadal romped to the title. With three of the top four in the world in the semifinals, it seems odd that we could have a surprise champion, but we could.  Neither of the men on the bottom half of the draw, Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, were truly considered championship favorites, except in particularly hopeful quarters of Great Britain or France, but one of them will be in the final and in with a chance to claim the title on Sunday.  So who'll have Breakfast at Wimbledon on Sunday?  Read on:

04 July, 2012

2012 Wimbledon Ladies Semifinal Previews & Predictions

After a week and a half of tennis, we're at the business end of this year's Wimbledon.  In the ladies' event, AKA the Run for the Rosewater, our four semifinalists are Victoria Azarenka, Angelique Kerber, Agnieszka Radwanska and Serena Williams.  Two of these players have been World No. 1, hoisted major tournament trophies and played Wimbledon semifinals before.  Naturally, those two will play each other in the semifinals. The other two are (relatively) new entrants to the highest echelon of women's tennis, first time Wimbledon semifinalists and will vie against each other for their career-defining first major final.  How do we expect these ladies' semifinals to pan out?  Read on tennis lovers:

01 July, 2012

Wimbledon Middle Sunday Bloggers' Bar

It's the middle Sunday at Wimbledon.  Which means the punters can get back to that favorite British pastime, downing pints at the local pub.  For those of us not necessarily at the All England Club, following the tournament on TV and Twitter has almost the same feeling.  Our barroom conversations may take place over fiber optic cable, but it doesn't make them any less compelling.  Welcome back to the Bloggers Bar, this is a becoming a regular feature on Blacklabel Tennis where we pose questions to some of our favorite writers in a virtual roundtable.  Our esteemed bloggers and writers today are:

In this installment, we discuss some of tennis' burning questions:
  • Who had the most disappointing first half of 2012?
  • Who has been the biggest positive surprise of 2012 thus far?
  • Which man is most likely to end the Big Three's dominance?
  • Will Maria Sharapova bea dominant World No. 1?
Find out which question half of our panel didn't even hazard a guess at...