There was a time when publications like the ones shown above were the main source of information for hardcore tennis fans.

You could find some results in newspapers or hear them on TV and radio, but to get the draws or be uptodate on all the latest goings-on, World Tennis, Tennis Week, Tennis, the ATP’s International Tennis Weekly and occasionally, Sports Illustrated, provided the best way to get a satisfying tennis fix.

World Tennis, with Tony Roche on the cover top left, was the best magazine for information from the 1950s through the 1970s. From the 1980s until the 2000s, Tennis Week, which then came out twice a month, had the best coverage including writer Richard Evans (middle above) sending dispatches full of news, analysis and gossip from Milan, Melbourne or Montreal – and everywhere in between. But still, at least in Canada, Tennis Week arrived about a month after the fact.

To be able to look at complete results, you depended on the back pages of World Tennis (above showing Wimbledon 1966) or Tennis Week to get round-by-round scores.

Today, with live scores and all kinds of websites, all manner of tennis information is available almost instantaneously and from a wide variety of sources.

As for television coverage, there were times when American networks showed non-Grand Slam events, including some elite player exhibitions staged especially for TV, but mostly it was the majors and often just the final rounds…and forget about the Australian Open.

This all came to mind last week with the China Open (men and women) going on in Beijing and the men’s Japan Open taking place in Tokyo.

Beijing is 12 hours ahead of Canada’s Eastern Daylight Savings time zone, while Tokyo is another hour forward. So, any match starting in the afternoon in Asia was pretty well in the middle of the night for tennis fans in eastern Canada.

The epiphany about how fortunate we are nowadays came last Tuesday when yours truly woke up unusually early at 6 a.m. and was able to watch four matches on TennisTV.com’s ‘Catch-Up’ option before breakfast.

It was possible to see Rafael Nadal’s much-anticipated return from his left wrist injury. He played Richard Gasquet and pretty well demolished the Frenchman and I was able to see as much of that as I wanted. After that, again with TennisTV.com playback, I took quick peeks at the Maria Sharapova – Elina Svitolina and Novak Djokovic – Guillermo GarciaLopez matches.

Then it was Eugenie Bouchard against Sabine Lisicki and I basically watched start to finish – fast-forwarding during the changeovers to save time.

It was a tough 6-2, 6-4 loss for Bouchard against the big hitting German. But it was not completely unexpected after she had played the final against Petra Kvitova two days earlier in Wuhan and didn’t have much time to adjust – plus she had an upper leg issue which required a wrapping after the opening game of the second set.

So, within a matter of hours, and without having to get up in the middle of the night, four matches of my choosing were viewed without disrupting any sleeping habits.

The rest of the week was even better. I was able to see a replay on Wednesday morning of Vasek Pospisil’s 6-3, 7-5 loss (after having a set point in the second set) to Novak Djokovic in the second round in Beijing and Milos Raonic’s matches in Tokyo, including the final against Kei Nishikori. It could have been a challenging early Sunday with Raonic – Nishikori beginning at 1 a.m., the Sharapova vs. Petra Kvitova final at 4 a.m. and the Djokovic vs. Tomas Berdych final at 7:30 a.m., all times EDT.

But instead, with ‘Catch-Up’ allowing you to watch at your leisure, I woke up and watched Raonic – Nishikori while keeping an eye ‘live’ on Djokovic on Sportsnet One as he played out of his mind – having a match point for a 6-0, 6-0 victory – in a 6-0, 6-2 whitewash of Berdych.

A little later, I saw the Sharapova – Kvitova final ‘live-stream-delayed’ from Beijing.

An earlier morning on TennisTV.com, although this was ‘live,’ I had witnessed Martin Klizan’s 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-3 victory over Rafael Nadal.

That led to another epiphany – namely that the better the top players do, the better it is for the sport. Of course they can’t win all the time but, though some people suggested it was nice to have two ‘new’ players like Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori in the US Open final, I believe it would have been better if at least one of Djokovic or Federer had made it that far.

Here’s why – the Klizan upset of Nadal was a genuine thriller with the No. 56-ranked Slovak playing really well and really aggressively. Nadal was not at his best after being out of action and he would later be philosophical and say, “sport is not difficult…is easy. When one player plays bad (and) the other plays better, normally the one who plays better wins. That’s what happened today.”

But the reason what happened was so compelling is that Nadal is such a great player and anytime he loses it’s news – and it’s big news when he loses to a qualifier like Klizan.

If a Nadal or a Federer or Djokovic weren’t truly exceptional champions, there’s not nearly the same cachet, or as much at stake. So, you don’t want a merry-go-round of champions, you want superstars who, when they stumble, make it irresistible to watch.

Probably the most shocking result in recent times was Nadal losing to Lukas Rosol in five sets in the second round of the 2012 Wimbledon. Of course Nadal wasn’t at his top and would not play another tournament for another seven months because of a knee issue, but he fought right to the end. Rosol was on fire and it was a thrilling match.

Nadal performed similarly in Montreal at Rogers Cup in 2011. Not at his sharpest playing his first tournament match after Wimbledon, he nonetheless gave a full effort against Ivan Dodig, but the gritty, rambunctious Croat prevailed 1-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(5) in a spellbinding encounter.

One of the top guys losing – for example Djokovic playing poorly and being beaten 6-2, 6-2 by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Rogers Cup in Toronto in August – is not necessarily exciting if it’s not competitive.

But even at that, when Federer loses – to Sergiy Stakhovsky at Wimbledon in 2013 and to Tommy Robredo at the US Open that same year – there’s an incredible buzz, even if his fitness may have been a factor in the outcomes. Whenever the great Swiss trembles on the brink…and then falls over, it’s a must-see event.

A few of this year’s biggest upsets – Stan Wawrinka over Djokovic at the Australian Open, Nick Kyrgios over Nadal at Wimbledon and Cilic over Federer at the US Open – were riveting occurrences because underdogs came through against living legends who have attained an almost mythical status.

So, while it’s okay to sometimes have new blood, the tried and true greats are what drive the sport to its highest level of both competition and entertainment.         





I was wondering why the flight attendants were laughing at me

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The person behind that sleeper’s mask, Eugenie Bouchard, has been assured of a spot in the women’s top eight for BNP Paribas WTA Finals in Singapore from October 20-26.

Bouchard is up to No. 6 in the rankings, equaling Milos Raonic’s high for a Canadian singles player, but she is really No. 5 because current No. 5, Li Na, has retired.

If Serena Williams is unable to play in Singapore because of her knee problem, Bouchard could even be as high as the fourth seed.

Mauricio Paiz

On the men’s side, with his runner-up finish in Tokyo on Sunday, Milos Raonic has moved into the eighth and final spot in the Race for the ATP World Tour Finals from November 9-16.

Here are the current Race standings with four weeks of tournaments remaining before the grand finale in London (‘Q’ means qualified).

   PLAYER                         POINTS

1.     Novak Djokovic-Q      8,650

2.     Roger Federer-Q          7,020

3.     Rafael Nadal-Q            6,735

4.     Stan Wawrinka            4,795

5.     Kei Nishikori               4,255

6.     Marin Cilic                   3,980

7.     Tomas Berdych            3,765

8.     Milos Raonic                3,740


9.     Andy Murray                3,565

10.  David Ferrer                3,535

11.  Grigor Dimitrov          3,405

While Cilic at No. 6 is within striking distance for Raonic, especially after he lost to compatriot Ivo Karlovic in his first match in Shanghai on Monday, the Croat is basically guaranteed a spot in the ATP World Tour Finals.  By the rules, as a Grand Slam champion (US Open), he gets a spot in the final eight unless he falls out of the Top 20. And that’s not going to happen.

So, basically Raonic is dueling (from behind) with Nishikori and Berdych, and from ahead with Murray, a jaded Ferrer and Dimitrov for three remaining positions in the top eight.

It has been a goal all year for Raonic, who played well in his loss to Nishikori in Tokyo, to make it to the O2 Arena in November, especially after being there a year ago as an alternate. On the subject of last Sunday’s final, Nishikori’s astounding service return of a 223 km/hr (138.5 mph) Raonic blast on set point in the first set tiebreak may have been the difference in an extremely competitive match that ended with the Japanese winning his home title 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4.



Eugenie Bouchard is the top seed for the WTA Internationallevel event going on in Linz, Austria, this week. The player party on Monday evening had a ballet theme – with Bouchard (above) showing off some kind of an exaggerated variation of a “demi pointe” move.


Wird geladen

Ready for #wtalinz players party. Ballet night…. Black swan!

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Seeded No. 2 is Ana Ivanovic, who suggested her ballet reference was the “Black Swan,” after posing before the party.

The chances are both won’t make it to Sunday’s final, but for the record Bouchard leads their H2H 2-0 – winning 6-3, 6-3 in Wimbledon’s second round last year and 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 in the quarters of this year’s Australian Open.



Mauricio Paiz

Here are the ATP leaders in aces so far this year, before the beginning of this week’s Shanghai Rolex Masters.

1.     Ivo Karlovic – 957

2.     Milos Raonic – 935

3.     John Isner – 910

The order changes slightly if it’s aces per matches played;

1.     Karlovic – 18.05

2.     Isner – 16.85

3.     Raonic – 16.40

Among the three, Raonic does lead in one dubious category – double faults.

1.     Raonic – 172

2.     Karlovic – 146

3.     Isner – 99