Quantcast
nodot nodot
Wild Cards
September 2001 Article

Latest Wild Cards Article

Wild Cards Archives:
2004 - 2014
1998 - 2003

Tennis Server
HOME PAGE

Do You Want To Be A Better Tennis Player?

Then Sign Up For A Free Subscription to the Tennis Server INTERACTIVE
E-mail Newsletter!

You will join 25,000 other subscribers in receiving news of updates to the Tennis Server along with monthly tennis tips from tennis pro Tom Veneziano that won't be found on the web site.
 
Best of all, it is free!

Player Profiles:
 
Top Pros (Women)
tennis ball Serena Williams
tennis ball Na Li
tennis ball Agnieszka Radwanska
tennis ball Victoria Azarenka
tennis ball Simona Halep
tennis ball Petra Kvitova
tennis ball Angelique Kerber
tennis ball Maria Sharapova
tennis ball Jelena Jankovic
tennis ball Dominika Cibulkova
 ... more profiles
 
Top Pros (Men)
tennis ball Rafael Nadal
tennis ball Novak Djokovic
tennis ball Stanislas Wawrinka
tennis ball Roger Federer
tennis ball Tomas Berdych
tennis ball David Ferrer
tennis ball Juan Martin del Potro
tennis ball Andy Murray
tennis ball John Isner
tennis ball Richard Gasquet
 ... more profiles
 
Tennis Features Icon TENNIS FEATURES:

BETWEEN THE LINES - Ray Bowers takes an analytical and sometimes controversial look at the ATP/WTA professional tour.
 
PRO TENNIS SHOWCASE - Tennis match reports and photography from around the world.
 
TURBO TENNIS - Ron Waite turbocharges your tennis game with tennis tips, strategic considerations, training and practice regimens, and mental mindsets and exercises.
 
TENNIS ANYONE? - USPTA Pro John Mills' quick player tip.
 
WILD CARDS - Each month a guest column by a new writer.
 
TENNIS SET - Jani Macari Pallis, Ph.D. looks at tennis science, engineering and technology.
 
MORTAL TENNIS - Greg Moran's tennis archive on how regular humans can play better tennis.
 
MENTAL EQUIPMENT - Explore the mental side of the game with Dr. John Murray.
 
TENNIS WARRIOR - Tom Veneziano's Tennis Warrior archive.
 
HARDSCRABBLE SCRAMBLE - USPTA pro Mike Whittington's player tip archive.
 
TENNIS EQUIPMENT TIPS.

Tennis Community Icon TENNIS COMMUNITY:


Tennis Book, DVD, and Video Index
 
Tennis Server Match Reports
 
Editor's Letter
 
Become a Tennis Server Sponsor

Explore The Tennis Net Icon EXPLORE THE TENNIS NET:

Pro Tennis Calendar & Event Links
 
Tennis News and Live Tennis Scores
 
Tennis Links on the Web
 
nodot
Wild Cards
 
Green Dot
 
Tennis Warehouse Logo
 
Green Dot

 
nodot
2001 Tennis Masters Series — Cincinnati
by Vince Barr

The fact that Gustavo Kuerten, the 24-year old Brazilian sensation and undoubtedly that country’s most popular athlete since the days of Pele, earned the top seeding at this year’s U.S. Open, shouldn’t surprise anyone. The fact that he won the Tennis Masters Series -- Cincinnati event this year, played from August 6 -- 12, 2001, should. No South American had even reached the finals at TMS-Cincinnati since 1980. To find a South American winner, you have to go back to the closing chapters of the Eisenhower administration, when in 1960, Miguel Olvera of Ecuador defeated Crawford Henry 4-6, 9-7, 6-4.

The long period of time between South American finalists here is primarily because of the surface and the quality of the players involved. The TMS-Cincinnati is played on DecoTurf, the same surface that the US Open uses. For that reason (as well as the fact that the beginning of the event here is a mere three weeks away from the start of the Open), this event has perpetually had some of the strongest draws of any men’s professional tennis tournament in the world. In 1996, TMS-Cincinnati featured the best quarterfinal matches of any tournament, including the Grand Slams, in 11 years as seven of the eight players were ranked in the Top 10.

In 1999, Pete Sampras remarked after winning the title that in some ways, winning here was harder than winning a Slam: "From Krajicek to Andre (Agassi) to Pat (Rafter), back-to-back-to-back is -- you don't find that at a Grand Slam. So in some ways, you can have an easy match at a Slam with a fluke of the draw. And in some ways, this is -- I don't want to say tougher to win, but certainly you don't have many breaks. You don't have a day off..." This was especially true this year as Mother Nature intervened in a big way in the evening semifinals between Kuerten and Great Britain’s Tim Henman. Henman managed to serve the first two points of the match when play was halted due to rain.

Shortly after the players left the court, torrents of rain cascaded down from the heavens, along with strong winds, thunder and lightning. The poor electronic scoreboard didn’t stand a chance: it absorbed a direct hit by a bolt of lightning, which fried its circuitry and completely shut it down. The downpour was so intense that up to six inches of standing water was on center court! Amazingly, the delay only lasted a bit under two and a half hours, and play resumed. Kuerten won the first set 6-2 and Henman was up 5-1 in the second before rain interrupted play again. Finally, the match was suspended just after midnight and scheduled for 11:30 am the following day. Because of national television arrangements, the final was going to be played as scheduled at 1 pm, regardless of how much rest the semi-final winner had.

Henman won the second set 6-1 but lost the third set in a tiebreaker to Kuerten 6-7 (4). A reporter asked Tim if the rain delay stole whatever chance he had of beating Kuerten. Henman admitted that "When you have the delay overnight and then coming out just to play one set, I think you lose a little bit of the energy that is created. (However) you’ve got to do the best you can." The point was obviously made: the weather affected both players equally and the fact that it went to a third-set tiebreaker negated any advantage or disadvantage to the other player. Kuerten benefited from breaking Henman’s serve twice in the breaker to go up 5-2, and then held on for a 7-4 final margin. Twenty minutes later, it was showtime against the solidly pro-Rafter crowd.

Instead of a disadvantage, Kuerten used the final set against Henman as a warm-up for the title match. "I started with a great rhythm and played the first set, maybe the best I’ve played all week long. I kept him guessing as to what I was planning to do, whether I was coming in for the next shot." Rafter won his first service game of the match, then Guga held his own serve and broke Patrick three times for the 6-1 score. Time for a new game plan, Patrick? "I just tried to go back to the basics after the first set: first serve, serve and volley and first volley, but my strengths weren’t strong enough today," Rafter concluded.

Kuerten went on to beat Rafter 6-3 in the final set and Rafter kept looking at the clock, as if not believing he was going to get bounced from the final in under one hour. "Today was a little bit confusing. The match went very quickly," Rafter said. "I was trying to work my way back into it, but you run out of time very quickly in those situations."

Kuerten’s change from being a mere "clay-court specialist" to a threat on hard courts really began in 1997, his first full year on Tour. That year he broke through and won the French Open for the first time. On the hard courts, he lost to Chris Woodruff in the finals at TMS-Montreal, 5-7, 6-4, 3-6. He finished 1997 on outdoor hard courts with a 16-7 record (.696 winning percentage), which is a fairly respectable number for a player’s non-native surface. The following year, he posted his best results at Key Biscayne, getting to the quarterfinals and losing to Tim Henman, 2-6, 4-6. That year, he went 10-8 (.556) but played one more outdoor hardcourt event than he did the previous year. In each of the last two years, he has averaged 10 outdoor hard court events each year and went 18-10 (.643) in 1999 and 23-10 last year (.697).

Along the way, he lost in the finals at the Ericsson to Pete Sampras in a very hard-fought, Davis Cup-like atmosphere, 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (5), 6-7 (10) and he won the finals at Indianapolis over Marat Safin, for his first-ever hard court title. In fact, over the last four years, Kuerten has played more matches (and tournaments) each year, on outdoor hard courts, than either Pete Sampras or Andre Agassi have played on clay, taken individually or together. And that statistic includes Agassi’s surprising 1999 French Open crown. Memo to Mr. Sampras: it would seem that the best way to improve one’s performance on a weak surface is to play a lot of tournaments on it. It’s a pretty radical idea, but it seems to work for most players. But I digress...

At the TMS-Cincinnati, Kuerten played a "revenge" match against Andy Roddick, who had beaten him in the Round of 16 the previous week at TMS-Montreal. The first set went to a tiebreak, which Guga won 7-3. Part of that lopsided tiebreak score was due to the fact that Roddick re-injured his ankle (the one he broke at the French Open this year during his 3rd round match with Lleyton Hewitt) and eventually lost the match 6-1 in the second. "At first, I didn’t think it was that bad," Roddick said. "But then the next point I played, I had to move to my forehand side and I was like oh, this is going to be a long day."

After the match with Roddick, Guga next faced Germany’s Tommy Haas, who was having a fairly good year at 32-15. After winning the season-opening tournament at Adelaide, Australia, Haas’ best showing has been two semi-final appearances in Memphis and in the previous week’s TMS-Montreal. Kuerten owned Haas in head-to-heads, going 4-1 in their previous five meetings. This match, however, was perhaps the toughest of the week for Kuerten to get through (an eventual 7-6 (4), 7-6 (8) win). With the exception of the first tiebreak, neither player lost a game on their serve. Haas had his chances to break Kuerten on four occasions throughout the match but was unable to do so; his first serve percentage of 60% was better than Kuerten’s (49%) but he could not hold on to a 4-0 lead in the 2nd set tiebreak.

Kuerten’s night match against the mercurial Goran Ivanisevic was over almost as soon as it began. Evidently, the "bad Goran" took over and lost the match in a near-record 42 minutes by a score of 6-2, 6-1. The match was not as close as the score indicated. Goran attributed his poor performance to the lighting. "I’d rather play during the day, I have better vision," Ivanisevic said. "But unfortunately, you can’t say you don’t want to play at night (because) you have to... I don’t remember the last time I played at night, because I was playing on the courts nobody could watch, out in the parking lot... Today was the worst match I’ve played for the last couple of years. I just couldn’t adjust with the change of lights... When I toss the ball in the light, I don’t know if I toss it high or low; I don’t have a clue. And then my serve went into the net and everywhere... When I serve bad, I start to panic sometimes (and) have a lot of unforced errors."

Yvgeny Kafelnikov was Kuerten’s next victim (6-4, 3-6, 6-4). This match was another close one for Kuerten and Guga thought the reason for that was because they play similar styles of tennis. "He can come with all different shots and pace. Normally, I can play different speeds, balls cross-court or down the line. It’s like a chess game: moving each other here and there, and one move can be it." The third set was pivotal as Kuerten greatly improved his first serve percentage from 48% to 60% while Kafelnikov’s dropped from 50% in the 2nd to 30% in the final set.

Kuerten showed flashes of brilliance throughout the week. He played six feet behind the baseline in order to give him more reaction time against some of the players he faced. He returned some fantastic volleys with sniper-like focus, laying some shots down the line with scientific precision. He also threw in a couple of beautiful drop shots from the baseline, which is, needless to say, highly unusual for any player.

Kuerten went on from Cincinnati to play at Indianapolis, where he faced a similar situation due to weather and had to play two matches in one day (the semifinals against Ivanisevic and finals against Rafter). Kuerten had to retire at 1-4 in the first set against Rafter due to an upper rib cage muscle strain. If that injury has healed before play begins at Flushing Meadow, Guga might well be hoisting the trophy in two weeks.


If you wish to provide a comment to the author of this Wild Cards column, please use this form. Tennis Server will forward the comment to the author.

Green DotGreen DotGreen Dot

Wild Cards Archives:
1998 - 2003 | 2004 - 2014


If you have not already signed up to receive our free e-mail newsletter Tennis Server INTERACTIVE, you can sign up here. You will receive notification each month of changes at the Tennis Server and news of new columns posted on our site.

This column is copyrighted by the author, all rights reserved.


 

nodot
nodot
Google
Web tennisserver.com
nodot nodot
The Tennis Server
Ticket Exchange

Your Source for tickets to professional tennis & golf events.
 
Wimbledon Tickets 6/22-7/6
 
Rogers Cup Tickets Toronto 8/4-8/10
 
Western & Southern Open Tickets Cincinnati 8/9-8/17
 
US Open Tickets 8/25-9/8
 

 

Tennis MindGame

 
Popular Tennis books:
 
Smart Tennis by John Murray
 
Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis-Lessons from a Master by Brad Gilbert, Steve Jamison
 
The Best Tennis of Your Life: 50 Mental Strategies for Fearless Performance by Jeff Greenwald
 
The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey
 
Most Recent Articles:
 
Tennis Warrior: Who's in Charge on the Tennis Court? You or Your Emotions? by Tom Veneziano.
 
April 2014 Tennis Anyone: Set, Lay, Press and Brush by John Mills.
 
April 2014 Turbo Tennis: The Concept Of Control In Tennis by Ron Waite.
 
April 2014 Wild Cards: Revenge of the Yankees! Great Britain Dominates The U.S. In San Diego by Vince Barr.
 
April 7, 2014 Between The Lines: Becoming A Superstar -- Risers Of First Trimester 2014 by Ray Bowers.
 
March 2014 Turbo Tennis: Seven Universal Strategies, Tactics and Tennis Principles by Ron Waite.
 
March 2014 Tennis Anyone: Position of Receiver's Partner by John Mills.
 
Tennis Warrior: Coping with adversity in tennis by Tom Veneziano.
 
March 2, 2014 Between The Lines: The Power Nations In Pro Tennis by Ray Bowers.
 
December 2013 Wild Cards: Tennis Channel's Top 100 Players Of All Time List Constitutes A Double Fault! by Vince Barr.
 

 

 

 

 
 
Featured events in the Tennis Server Ticket Exchanges:
 
  Featured Tickets:
BNP Paribas Open Tickets Indian Wells CA Tennis Garden
Sony Open Tennis Tickets Miami Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
 

  Featured Tickets:
AT&T National Golf Tickets Bethesda MD Washington DC Congressional Country Club
US Senior Open Golf Tickets Omaha NE Omaha Country Club
Bridgestone Invitational Golf Tickets Akron OH Firestone Country Club
PGA Championship Golf Tickets Rochester NY Oak Hill Country Club
Dick's Sporting Goods Open & Tim McGraw Tickets Endicott NY Enjoie Golf Course
Solheim Cup Tickets Parker Denver CO Colorado Golf Club
2013 Presidents Cup Tickets Dublin Columbus OH Muirfield Village Golf Course
Masters Golf Tournament Tickets Augusta GA National Golf Club
2014 US Open Golf Tickets Pinehurst NC Resort
2014 Ryder Cup Tickets Auchterarder Scotland UK Gleneagles Golf Course

  Featured Tickets:
PGA Championship Golf 7 Day Pass Tickets Rochester NY Oak Hill Country Club
PGA Championship Golf Monday Tickets Rochester NY Oak Hill Country Club
PGA Championship Golf Tuesday Tickets Rochester NY Oak Hill Country Club
PGA Championship Golf Wednesday Tickets Rochester NY Oak Hill Country Club
PGA Championship Golf Thursday Tickets Rochester NY Oak Hill Country Club
PGA Championship Golf Friday Tickets Rochester NY Oak Hill Country Club
PGA Championship Golf Saturday Tickets Rochester NY Oak Hill Country Club
PGA Championship Golf Sunday Final Tickets Rochester NY Oak Hill Country Club

  Featured Tickets:
Masters Golf Tournament Tickets Sunday Competition Augusta GA National Golf Club
Masters Golf Tournament Tickets Saturday Competition Augusta GA National Golf Club
Masters Golf Tournament Tickets Friday Competition Augusta GA National Golf Club
Masters Golf Tournament Tickets Thursday Competition Augusta GA National Golf Club
Masters Golf Tournament Tickets 4 Four Day Badge Augusta GA National Golf Club
Masters Golf Tournament Tickets Wednesday Practice Round Augusta GA National Golf Club
Masters Golf Tournament Tickets Tuesday Practice Round Augusta GA National Golf Club
Masters Golf Tournament Tickets Monday Practice Round Augusta GA National Golf Club

  Featured Tickets:
US Open Golf Tickets Final Round Sunday Fourth 4th Pinehurst NC Resort 2014
US Open Golf Tickets Third 3rd Round Saturday Pinehurst NC Resort 2014
US Open Golf Tickets Second 2nd Round Friday Pinehurst NC Resort 2014
US Open Golf Tickets First 1st Round Thursday Pinehurst NC Resort 2014
US Open Golf Tickets Wednesday Practice Round Pinehurst NC Resort 2014
US Open Golf Tickets Tuesday Practice Round Pinehurst NC Resort 2014
US Open Golf Tickets Monday Practice Round Pinehurst NC Resort 2014
US Open Golf Weekly Pass Tickets Pinehurst NC Resort 2014

 
 
"Tennis Server" is a registered trademark and "Tennis Server INTERACTIVE" is a trademark of Tennis Server. All original material and graphics on the Tennis Server are copyrighted 1994 - by Tennis Server and its sponsors and contributors. Please do not reproduce without permission.

 

Tennis Server
Cliff Kurtzman
Editor-in-chief
2323 Clear Lake City Boulevard
Suite 180-139
Houston, Texas 77062-8120
Phone: (281) 480-6300
Fax: (281) 480-7715
Online Contact Form
How to support Tennis Server as a Sponsor/Advertiser
Tennis Server Privacy Policy