2017 Australian Open Previews

The first Grand Slam Tournament of 2017 is fast approaching! Here are a few expert opinions and insights on what we can expect from some notable names at the Australian Open.

Andy Murray: He may be the current number one and have scooped his second Wimbledon championship and defended the top Olympic honors in the same year, but it’s the Australian Open that Andy Murray can’t get out of his mind. The UK tennis star has never won in the land down under, and even though he has the chance to close out the calendar year as World Number One, he’ll be coming into January hungrier than ever before.

Novak Djokovic: Turn Murray’s Australian Open misfortunes into victories and you’ve got a good picture of Djokovic’s performance. The Serbian athlete has won the Open six times, five of them against Andy Murray. If you’re sticking with the odds, Djokovic is the clear favorite to win again this year. And although Murray is poised to end 2016 as the Number One, Djokovic could lay claim to that spot come 2017.

Nick Kyrgios: A wild card, but ESPN’s Mark Philippoussis thinks he has a shot. The Australian is strong and talented enough to get it done, but Philippoussis warns against his impetuous temperament and youth. The 21-year old Kyrgios has been penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct and tanking in the past, and winning a Grand Slam requires a tremendous amount of mental fortitude in addition to raw physical talent. He’s only 21 and has a lot of growing to do, but anything could happen!

Lizette Cabrera: Kyrgios may be the wild card pick to win, but his fellow countrywoman Lizette Cabrera is an actual wildcard draw. The 18-year old received her wildcard invitation during her time at a camp with some of Australia’s finest tennis players, meaning she won’t need to participate in the Australian Open Wildcard Playoffs. Cabrera still has youth on her side and is only getting better— she recently beat her first top 100 player, no. 75 Kirumi Nara of Japan.

The Novak Foundation

For decades, people have been arguing about whether or not sports figured should also be role models. But Tennis super-star Novak Djokovic is looking to put that to rest. He’s taken a fir stance on the issue, saying that athletes do serve as role models and have responsibilities to match.

And it’s not all talk, either. The Djoker and his wife Jelena have launched a foundation that bears the Tennis Star’s name. Their partnership was a perfect match— they are both passionate about charitable causes and Jelena has a business degree, which is a huge help since as she serves as director.

The mission of the Novak Djokovic foundation is making sure that Serbian children under the age of six have a fair educational community.

 

Why This Charity?

The 1990’s were a particularly devastating time for Serbia. The European country was involved in several bloody armed conflicts throughout the decade, including the Yugoslav Wars, the Bosnian War, the Kosovo War, and the Croatian War. Djokovic recalls that he was lucky enough to escape the violence and pursue his passion for tennis. But he acknowledges that many young children did not have that opportunity, and lacked the mental stimulation so crucial for our development. His foundation never wants to see that happen again.

It was actually this wish that helped him perform so well on the court. His desire to give back actually fueled his tennis goals, and he dreamed of the day that he could use his stardom to make a difference.

Djokovic became UNICEF’s Serbian ambassador in 2012, one year after he won the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and US Open; and topped the ATP rankings at #1.

US Open 2015 Preview

The 2015 US Open is set to begin at the end of the month. We aren’t entirely sure who’s participating (although the usual suspects are sure to make appearances), and the only guarantees so far are Wimbledon 2015 champion Novak Djokovic for Men and three-time defending champion Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova for Women.

But even with so much uncertainty, there is still much excitement to feel! The US Open signals the beginning of autumn and a ending to an exciting year for tennis. At the Australian Open, we’ve seen Djokovic take the crown from defending champ Stanislas Wawrinka, only for the wily Swiss to return to a champion’s Throne at Roland-Garros. We saw the living legend that is Roger Federer secure his 1,000th win at Brisbane, and fall to Djokovic in a classic Wimbledon showdown.

As for the women, the story has been of one player: Serena Williams. She’s been dominating the court with an unstoppable consistence, winning all three major tournaments this year with poise and superb athleticism. We watched her complete her second Serena Slam at Wimbledon, as she now holds all four grand slam singles titles at once.

So, what’s in store for the US Open? We’ll have a Djockovic looking to further assert himself as the men’s number one, and a Roger Federer looking for his first major singles title of 2015. Although he’s 34, you certainly cannot count him out! And then there’s Nadal who, struggling to return to a healthy form, has not been able to advance past the Quarterfinals. That kind of hunger can be dangerous on a tennis court, and make for very inspired play.

Will Serena stay miles ahead of the competition? No doubt it can be a privilege to see such a master play with such goodness, but it can also be exciting to witness an underdog David toppling a champion Goliath.

August 31 can’t come soon enough!

Wimbledon 2015: A Tournament to Remember

Wimbledon left many a tennis fan breathless this year. A furious back and forth between tennis champions brought many to their feet in the final moments of matches, but only one can step off the clay a champion. After the dust settled on Wimbledon 2015, several surprise names were left standing.

Facing well-known tennis champ Roger Federer is no small challenge. However, Novak Djokovic was more than able to meet the obstacle. Crushing his opposition during the games, Djokovic carried an unprecedented 48-3 by Slam’s end. Slated to win the upcoming U.S. Open, Novak is the odds on favorite to win in the men’s category. The former 2014 champion, Rafael Nadal, struggled early in the game, ultimately being knocked out early. Though many point to his injury as the cause of his struggle, analysts found that his lack of confidence and technical skill was his downfall.

The women’s side saw the return of powerhouse, Serena Williams, and another triumphant win in her long list of victories. The holder of all four tennis Grand Slams for the second time, Serena is the Wimbledon 2015 women’s champion. On the heels of her victory, however, came a series of biting remarks about the champion. Decrying her technique and physique as “belonging to a man,” former tennis champion Martina Navratilova came to the champions defense, stating “Serena is built like a man? I don’t think so. She has the curves of a woman. Her strength seems to have become an issue as she is perhaps, the most powerful tennis player.” With more than double her closest rival’s points, Serena is the top-ranked player ever.

Wimbledon may be over, but tennis fans are still buzzing over the action. Champions from all around the world are preparing for the next great tournament, and the final chance to prove themselves at the U.S. Open. In a few weeks, the courts will open, and heads will roll.