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Aug 25, 2016

Five legends boasting 60 Grand Slam singles titles gather for Laver Cup

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal say they plan to play doubles together when the Laver Cup debuts at the O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic next year.

With a combined 31 Grand Slam titles, Federer and Nadal have committed to the inaugural event, which is an attempt to create a tennis version of golf’s Ryder Cup. The tournament will be played from 22-24 September.

Named after Australian tennis great Rod Laver, a team of European players will face off against a group from the rest of the world. Future Laver Cups will rotate between major cities across the globe. The three-day Laver Cup will be scheduled two weeks after the U.S. Open each year, except for Summer Olympic years.

Former rivals Bjorn Borg (representing Europe) and John McEnroe (representing World team) were announced Wednesday as captains.

Images by Laver Cup/Ben Solomon

Aug 12, 2016

Serena Williams eliminated from Olympics

Image via Zimbio

Top ranked women’s tennis player and defending Olympic champion Serena Williams was added to the list of upsets at the Rio Olympics this week after losing to unheralded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine in the third round of the tournament. With the tennis betting odds favorite on the women’s side eliminated, the Olympic Gold is up for grabs.

The loss by Williams comes a day after she and her sister, Venus, were eliminated from the doubles competition. Prior to the loss, The Williams sisters had been undefeated in Olympic doubles play, dating back to their first Olympics in 2000.

Against Svitolina, Williams was her own worst enemy, shanking all sorts of shots and committing 37 unforced errors and 17 forced errors. Things were so bad for the top ranked female player, she double faulted five times.

By the end of the match, Svitolina won 63 points, but only nine of them were from clean winners, the others were from Williams’ errors.

Williams, who won the Gold medal in singles and doubles at the London Olympics, goes home empty handed this time. Svitolina, who is ranked 22nd in the world, had never played in an Olympics before, and has been to the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam only once in her career.

However, the Ukrainian, who had lost her previous four matches against Williams, final defeated the 22-time Grand Slam winner.

Even though a lot of attention will be paid to the fact that Williams committed a lot of errors, Svitolina did what she had to do to defeat one of the most dominant female tennis player of all time. The Ukrainian was fearless, and used her groundstrokes to keep Williams where she wanted her.

Svitolina also did a great job of keeping her emotions in check after making big plays during the match, which was instrumental to her success.

Williams has been down in a few matches over the years, and has made a habit of finding a way to overcome her bad play and turn things around during a match. Svitolina’s emotional restraint helped her in the sense that she didn’t provide Williams with any added motivation by celebrating too much after winning points.

While the loss to Svitolina might have been surprising to some fans and even Williams herself, it is something that was eventually going to happen given how much Williams has played with fire recently.

During the Australian and French Opens, Williams found herself behind a few of her opponents because of unforced errors and other mental mistakes, but she was able to advance to the finals. However, it was obvious she wasn’t as confident in her game as she was in 2015, when she dominated her opponents on the way to winning three out of four Grand Slams.

When she played in the finals, Williams lost to opponents that she normally wouldn’t have had problems with because they were able to make her pay for her mistakes, which was what Svitolina did to her this week.

With Williams out of the picture, Svitolina has to be considered one of the favorites to win the Olympics since she just defeated the toughest player in the tournament. However, if she lets the win get to her head, she might be the next player heading home.

Aug 11, 2016

Novak Djokovic appears to have lost his edge at the worst possible time

Image via Zimbio

Top-ranked male tennis player Novak Djokovic recently lost his opening match at the Rio Olympics as well as his first round doubles match, prompting many insiders to wonder what is going on in the mind of the world’s best tennis player. With Djokovic out of the Olympics, Andy Murray is now the tennis betting odds favorite to win the Gold medal at the Olympics.

During his singles loss, Djokovic was outplayed by Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 winner of the U.S. Open. Despite the fact that he was unranked, del Potro has defeated Djokovic in the past, but the victory over Djokovic in Rio has to be among his top career achievements.

After the match, Djokovic called the loss one of the toughest in his career during an emotional press conference. While some people are speculating that the loss is what moved Djokovic to tears, what they fail to realize is that Djokovic was likely thinking long-term when he let his emotions get the best of him.

At 29-years-old, Djokovic might have missed his last chance to win the Olympic Gold. By the time the next summer games comes around, he will be 32, which will be the back end of his career, making it harder to compete with the younger players.

Djokovic, who won the Australian and French Opens this year, is likely suffering from some mental fatigue right now. Shortly after crashing out in Rio, he announced his plans to skip the Cincinnati Masters.

The move to skip the Masters is baffling to some people, who believe playing in it will help Djokovic get over the disappointment in Rio, and help him get his game back on track. The experts also believe playing in the Cincinnati Masters will provide Djokovic a great opportunity to prepare for a possible showdown with Milos Raonic at the U.S. Open.

However, since Djokovic decided not to participate in the Cincinnati Masters, it means he would go into the U.S. Open having played only one competitive game in the span of a month.

Djokovic remains in Rio to support Serbian basketball team during a men's round Group A basketball match between his home country and France. (Image via Zimbio)

While it might not make sense to those of us watching from the sidelines, Djokovic’s decision to skip the Masters isn’t something he would have made lightly. He could be nursing an undisclosed injury or just needs some time for his body to heal. He might also just want to get a little rest and relaxation before the U.S. Open begins.

One of the reasons people are so surprised about Djokovic’s loss in Rio is the fact that he is one of the most focused players on tour, but he appears to lack focus at the moment. Some believe the fact that he finally achieved his career Grand Slam when he won the French Open earlier this year, took away some of the edge he has been playing with for years.

At Wimbledon, Djokovic said all the right things, but his play wasn’t up to his usual standards, which is why it wasn’t very surprising that he lost.

With the time he has between now and the U.S. Open, Djokovic needs to figure out what is holding him back and resolve the issue if he wants to win the U.S. Open for the second consecutive year and the third time in his career.

Jul 30, 2016

Featured Poll: The Millennial Impact on the Future of Pro Tennis

 Image: Instagram/ @monstasart

The G Brief addressed sports as an "old piece of human culture", dated back to the ancient Greek era in 776 BC. For tennis sports fans like us, we can relate to Wimbledon, the oldest tennis championship which was founded back in 1877. For decades, Wimbledon has been maintaining itself as the gentleman's game and keeping the dress code to strictly white on all players. Fortunately tennis is constantly evolving, with new technologies are being integrated into the spectators experience (like hawk-eye and 360-degree video), gears and even balls.

The question is, are the millennials excited about tennis? How do we get them to be interested in tennis? Do we actually know a lot about the millennials? The survey below could probably help us to get an insight into those questions raised.

a sport for old people: If you're a tennis fan, your baby boomer relatives are most likely interested in tennis too. Your mom could be either a Federer or Nadal fan. When you attend a tennis tournament, chances are you'll see a lot more fans in their 30s and older adults. A research done in 2007 (I wish I could find a more recent statistics) shows that 73% of the respondents who watched the US Open are 34 years old and above. You'd probably say you've seen a lot of young fans (read: kids) too. Even these Gen-Z may eventually grow out of the sport because there are probably larger things in life than tennis e.g. online games, football, etc. which are more mainstream and reasons for them to be in synced with their peers.

a cool and fashionable sport: Maria Sharapova is no. 30 in the 2015 Millennials' Athlete Index. Unfortunately, the highest paid female athlete is tainted by the failed dope test and has been banned from competing in the next 2 years. Although Sharapova is the only tennis player in the Top 40 of the 2015 Millennials' Athlete Index, there are many other pro tennis players like Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray whom big brands like Nike, Uniqlo and Under Armour respectively are paying them millions to sign them on long term endorsement deals because of their significant influence to both young and adult consumers.

on television: According to a poll by Navigate Research, it was found that live sports viewing is down 16% among young viewers aged 6-17. One of the reasons millennials aren't all flocking to live streams of sports is that most sports streams are already tied to a paid TV subscription.

through online streaming: The New York Times reported that millennials just weren't getting TVs for their homes. The G Brief said based on the Forrester Research study, a relatively meager 52% of millennials were found to have watched live TV broadcasts recently. A particular graduate student told the New York Times that he thinks of TV as like a blender: “I may need one one day; it might be nice to have one. But it’s by no means essential". Furthermore, according to Poynter and The New York Times, millennials have shifted from watching sports on TV to watching online, which sports are one of the top ten topics millennials watch videos about online, with 25% saying they watched them. A focus group by Digitalist Mag shows, millennials are eager to gain easier access to online streaming, but don't want to commit to paid TV in order to do so.

live tennis match: Live sports experiences are getting more popular than ever. The Australian Open for example has recorded an attendance of 703k in 2015 smashing a previous record of 686k set in 2012. In 2016, 720k people attended the championship at Melbourne Park. Even more recent, the attendance at Wimbledon has increased from 484k in 2015 to 493k this year. Although the increase is not significantly high, it's enough to proof that live tennis experiences have not been affected by the influence of new media technologies.

social media: When it comes to choosing the best social media platform for real time tennis experience and engagement, nothing beats Twitter. The Australian Open itself has recorded 3.12mil tweets globally with a potential reach of 551,6mil in 2016. This is exactly how live tennis (or any other sports) are experienced these days. The ability to enable fans to comment and share special moments using GIF and Periscope on Twitter, and videos on Snapchat and YouTube has transformed how we watch and experience sports live.

In conclusion, tennis organisers need to be innovative when engaging with the millennials because they are participating in a more active kind of spectatorship through online streaming and social media. With the emergence of popular mediums such as virtual reality and 360-degree content, it's almost impossible to catch up and meet the demands of the tech-savvy young fans. Kudos have to be given to the Grand Slam tournaments for being able to execute their digital strategy in the most compelling and innovative manner making the tennis championships to stay continuously relevant.

Jul 16, 2016

Victoria Azarenka announces she is preggers!

Azarenka suffered a second round loss at Rome Open recently.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka has announced she is expecting a baby.

The Belarus player revealed the exciting news on Twitter.

Azarenka will not play for the rest of the season but is planning to return to tennis.

The 26-year-old who is currently ranked sixth in the world, wrote: "I have some exciting news to share with you. It's been a few weeks since you last heard from me."

"While recovering from the knee injury that I sustained at Roland Garros, I received news from my doctor that my boyfriend and I are going to become parents at the end of this year."

"We couldn't be happier and feel very blessed to begin this exciting journey of building a family together. While I will miss competing in the sport I love this season, I am excited for all that's ahead."

"I will take the time to improve myself in ways I've never been able to before. I have been truly inspired by so many strong female athletes who return to the very top of their sport after having children, and I plan to do exactly that."

To find out who is Azarenka's boyfriend and father of her baby, visit Women's Tennis Blog.

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