Category: Tennis

Why Marion Bartoli deserves our respect

The women’s game in tennis can struggle to get any meaningful attention, for a number of reasons connected to, and independent of, the sport itself.

Overshadowed | Women's tennis is often ignored for a number of reasons, but the treatment of Marion Bartoli rightfully caused outrage. (Image | The Guardian)

Overshadowed | Women’s tennis is often ignored for a number of reasons, but the treatment of Marion Bartoli rightfully caused outrage. (Image | The Guardian)

Having to deal with the lack of great rivalries compared to previous years, the incomparable brilliance currently on show in the men’s game, and pervasive sexism that still exists in society, it looked as though the 2013 Wimbledon Championships women’s singles final might end up being an eminently forgettable affair.

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Andy Murray clung on to beat Fernando Verdasco in the quarter finals - but the Spaniard made him work for it (Image | Reuters)

Andy Murray clung on to beat Fernando Verdasco in the quarter finals – but the Spaniard made him work for it (Image | Reuters)

Having not lost a set in Wimbledon 2013, Andy Murray would have felt confident coming up against a 29-year-old with a far from notable recent record. Fernando Verdasco gave the Scotsman the fright of his life on Centre Court this afternoon, but Murray continues to advance one step at a time towards that inevitable Final against Novak Djokovic.

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Fresh from his US Open crown last year, Andy Murray headed to Brisbane for the Australian Open hoping to follow up his first ever Grand Slam with a victory Down Under to assert his credentials ahead of another packed year of tennis.

Making a point | Andy Murray looks up to the heavens after beating Ričardas Berankis to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open. (Image | The Telegraph)

Making a point | Andy Murray looks up to the heavens after beating Ričardas Berankis to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open. (Image | The Telegraph)

Scotsman Murray sailed through the opening rounds, seeing off Robin Haase, João Sousa, Ričardas Berankis, Gilles Simon and Jérémy Chardy in straight sets, before taking on old enemy Roger Federer in the semi-finals.

Having become accustomed to losing against the Swiss when it matters, such as in the 2008 US Open final, 2010 Australian Open final and Wimbledon final last year, Murray instead held his nerve against Federer to take the final set in a thrilling match last week.

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As another sporting year begins there may be a certain feeling that nothing could top the unforgettable year of 2012, which saw a magnificent Olympic Games, the European Championships, a British Grand Slam winner after so long and much more.

Mario Balotelli | Why, oh why is it always him? (Image | Manchester City FC)

Mario Balotelli | Having once again hit the headlines after a row with manager Roberto Mancini in training, we ask: why, oh why is it always him? (Image | Manchester City FC)

However, there are more than enough prizes to be decided over the next 12 months, some of which are fairly easy to predict, while others remain very much open to debate.

The Armchair Pundits, therefore, has taken a look at the calendar and pinpointed five “sure-fire successes”, some of which are bound to be as controversial as Mario Balotelli and about as likely as Tom Daley being handed his own diving-themed show on televi… Oh, hang on.

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A sensational year in men’s tennis is drawing to a close, which has featured four separate Grand Slam winners and once again been dominated by the big four: Novak Djoković, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.

Champion | Novak Djoković lifts the ATP World Tour Finals trophy at the 02 Arena earlier this month. (Image | Yahoo)

With the ATP World Tour Finals having been won by the Serb earlier this month, it is time to look back on how each of the leading lights performed over the calendar year. It has been quite a 12 months after all.

Novak Djoković

After a record-breaking season last year, it would have been extremely optimistic to expect Djoković to remain at such an auspicious standard.

However, in the early part of the year, it appeared that he may be able to surpass his previous achievements. Particularly when the 25-year-old triumphed at the Australian Open in January, which was arguably the greatest tournament Melbourne has ever seen.

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Champion | Novak Djokovic stopped Roger Federer making it three ATP World Tour wins in a row at the O2 Arena. (Image | The Times)

World number one Novak Djokovic reclaimed his place at the pinnacle of tennis with a straight sets win over Roger Federer last night in a magnificent final lasting more than two hours.

The Serbian, who despite his ranking has had an altogether disappointing year, reminded fans everywhere just why he is its leading light in the (7-6, 7-5) triumph.

For there had been some debate after he went to the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open and returned empty-handed having set the pace early on in Australia.

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Murray’s summer of glory is just the beginning

The face of a champion | Andy Murray holds the US Open trophy aloft after seeing off Novak Djokovic to win his first Grand Slam. (Image | Huffington Post)

There were some that thought it may never happen. Rather like peace on earth, an end to global warming, honesty from politicians and trains that run on time, Andy Murray winning a Grand Slam has for so long been a conceptual idea. A “wouldn’t it be nice if…” pipe dream. Until last week, that is, when the Scot triumphed in New York, beating Novak Djokovic to win the US Open title.

This splendid slice of success, in a sport so dominated by one man, Roger Federer, occasionally shaken and bruised by those that choose to take him on, came weeks after Murray won the men’s singles gold medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

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Restoring some pride to British women’s tennis

Laura Robson’s run to the last 16 of the US open has reignited interest in, and optimism for, British women’s tennis (Image | Getty)

Andy Murray will once again be the main British hope for a Grand Slam title heading into the final eight of the US Open, off the back of a comfortable victory over Canada’s Milos Raonic. But it’s his Olympic mixed doubles partner, Laura Robson, who turned the most heads in Week 1 at Flushing Meadows, knocking out first Kim Clijsters and then Li Na before finally succumbing to Sam Stosur in the round of 16.

Robson was the first British woman to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam in the 21st century, though, and that achievement deserves some serious applause.

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A long road | As the Olympic torch has been transported up and down the country, Olympic fever has slowly begun to take hold, despite the negative press surrounding the Games. (Image | The Sun)

It really has been a vintage summer of sport. The superb entertainment offered by the 2012 European Championships, England notwithstanding, Andy Murray reaching the Wimbledon final and Bradley Wiggins‘ dominance of the Tour de France will live long in the memory of sports fans everywhere.

Not only this, but arguably the most prestigious, and potentially exhilarating sporting event of the summer, is yet to even begin. It is the London 2012 Olympic Games to which that reference pertains, which unofficially begin tonight (with Women’s Football group games) and have already been hitting the headlines, albeit for all the wrong reasons.

Away from transport dilemmas, the issue of packing an extra 10 million visitors into London and the G4S debacle, the Olympic Games celebrate the greatest sporting talents of athletes from across the world. If you claim to be a sports fan, yet this somehow fails to excite you, may I suggest a quick examination of your pulse.

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Roger Federer: the greatest of all time

Seventh time lucky | Roger Federer played Andy Murray off the court after a shaky start, the mark of a true champion. (Image |

There can be no doubting that, after today’s triumph and Roger Federer’s seventh Wimbledon Championship, the Swiss is the greatest tennis player of all time. After the match, during which the 30-year-old broke British hearts by dispatching Andy Murray in four sets, Federer oozed class as he accepted his winner’s trophy.

At times today, Federer was majestic and unbeatable. Murray had no answer for the world number three as he dominated the second set, narrowly defeated the Scot in the third, and gathered all the momentum he needed to power through under the roof on Centre Court.

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