Nalbandian preparing for Wimbledon

 

Injury hit Argentine David Nalbandian has said that he intends to be physically fit and ready for a return to Wimbledon as he sets his sights on competing once again at The Championships starting on June 21.

Nalbandian was forced to pull out of Roland Garros this year because of a hamstring injury and has featured in only five events this year since recovering from a recent hip operation that forced him to miss much of last season.

Under the guidance of his medical team Nalbandian, 28, who surprised everyone with an incredible run to the 2002 final in his first Wimbledon campaign, has made the decision not to accept an invitation to play in the ATP 250 grass court event held at The Queens Club in a bid to be 100% ready and able for a return to Grand Slam action on the lawns of SW19.

The popular Argentine said, “I am very focused on my recovery, I am training in double shifts to try to play Wimbledon.”

Step back in time with a modern twist

Memorabilia with a modern twist (© AELTC)

If there is anyone still labouring under the hopelessly outdated impression that museums are dusty and boring, one visit to the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum should put them right.

The sheer variety of items and information is fascinating, and the presentation never fails to spark interest. Above all, the marriage of tradition with 21st century technology perfectly showcases the Wimbledon experience. This is a journey from the sport’s roots in the 12th century French game jeu de paume, through its incarnations as battledore and shuttlecock, pelota and lawn rackets. It was even once known as sphairistike, a name that mysteriously failed to catch on. Who would have thought it?

The first section deals with the game’s history and includes many delightful tennis-themed antique artifacts. Spoons, china, cigar boxes and countless others are all here. On a larger scale a Victorian era dressing room from the All England Club’s original Worple Road site is a marvel.

Guided group tours take in the Centre Court and the still-astonishing marvel of the roof. There are also privileged viewings inside No 1 Court, the Press Interview Room and the players’ restaurant among other places usually out of bounds.

Back inside the Museum there are plenty of opportunities to learn about Wimbledon interactively. Find out exactly how horrendously heavy the pre-1996 court covers were by tugging them yourself. Learn whether you are as hot on the rules of tennis as you like to think with the umpire’s quiz. Give your view on issues facing the modern game with the Hot Topics interactive debate.

Moving images play a big part in the Museum, with film from the 1920s onwards. Especially don’t miss the 200-degree cinema experience, giving you a line judge’s wraparound view of the Centre Court, and featuring state-of-the-art sound and graphics. And everybody loves watching John McEnroe’s guided tour of the Gentlemen’s Locker Room as it was in his 1980s salad days.

Elsewhere wonderful clothing acquisitions are showcased, including ensembles made famous by Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams.

Those able to visit the Museum outside The Championships Fortnight benefit from even more information, taking advantage of the audio guides (in eight languages) and British Sign Language tour. They can also visit the Kenneth Ritchie Wimbledon Library containing an outstanding collection of books, annuals, periodicals and programmes, available for study or research by appointment.

By the end of your visit you are sure to have acquired your own personal ‘favourite fact’ to quote endlessly at those who have yet to visit. (My own is the information that the Centre Court’s retractable roof moves at 13 metres per minute, meaning – and this is the really good bit – that if it didn’t stop and just kept on going, then in theory it would reach Buckingham Palace in 24 hours.)

Public tours in eleven languages can be booked online or by telephone. But whenever you visit, the most important part is making sure you do come.

For more information telephone +44 (020) 8946 6131, email museum@aeltc.com or go to http://www.wimbledon.org/museum.

Tending Wimbledon’s grass roots

A groundsman tends Wimbledon's lawns (© AELTC)

The time is rapidly approaching when Wimbledon’s head groundsman, Eddie Seaward, will be looking forward to working a 17-hour day. Looking forward to it with relish, too, since it will mean that the 2010 Championships, his 20th year in charge of preparing the playing surfaces, is under way.

An indication of the mounting demand on his time and skills came after we chatted for half an hour over a coffee at the All England Club’s Wingfield Cafe. Eddie switched his mobile phone back on and announced that in that time he had received 13 phone calls and eight emails.

The harsh winter and recent spell of cold spring weather have taxed Eddie and his 14-strong permanent ground staff team. “Until two or three weeks ago I was a little concerned because the courts were a bit thin,” he said. “It has been so cold that we were not getting any germination of new seed.

“We put down blankets and tried to warm the courts up underneath because the soil temperature had been quite cold, only eight degrees on some parts of the courts when it should be about 16. That’s in the shaded areas, not the playing surface, but the grass needs to be thick there for line judges and ball persons who are standing on it all the time.”

Now, he says, everything is on schedule and on 15 May he opened up the courts for the All England Club’s members to play on in the run-up to The Championships. Only Centre Court and Courts One and Two are off-limits.

It comes as something of a surprise to learn that many of the courts which appear, on Day One of The Championships, not to have suffered an intruding foot in the past 12 months are in fact in regular use in the weeks preceding, and following, Wimbledon’s annual extravaganza.

“Members are required to stop using them only a couple of days before The Championships, but by then you have the professional players in here practising,” he pointed out. “We actually finish play on the match courts at half past six on the Saturday evening ready to start play on the Monday morning. So we’ve just got Sunday to sort everything out.”

And that includes the main show courts, where limited use is permitted to break them in. “We play on Centre just beforehand with four club members to test all the electronics and give the ball boys and girls experience.”

So how does he manage to have the place looking so pristine on the opening day?

“We permit some practice on Centre as late as the Saturday before, but if the grass is bruised you let it grow a little bit longer. Then you water it on the Sunday. The water lifts the bruises and you can cut them out.” And, hey presto, the world’s most famous stretch of grass has been rendered perfect for the world’s most famous tennis tournament.

But surely the winter’s heavy snowfall caused concerns? Not so, says Eddie. “The courts need to be open to the elements to a certain extent because that helps the grass, even in winter,” he explained. “And the snow didn’t do any damage. It actually helped the grass, pulling more oxygen out of the atmosphere with it, so it helped feed the grass a little bit.

“Every year, just before Christmas, as a matter of course we blanket spray everything with a fungicide as a preventative, knowing that it is the only time we are going to be away for three or four days. Fortunately the snow came when that fungicide was still active, so we knew we wouldn’t get any disease underneath it.”

Eddie also refutes the public perception that the installation of a roof over Centre Court has affected the light available to the grass. Apparently, when the static roof was redesigned to accommodate the sliding cover it was done to permit extra light levels. “So that lets the light in when I need it, in the spring and the autumn,” he said.

“During The Championships themselves the sun is overhead, so we don’t have any issues with the new roof.”

That said, the familiar Centre Court mobile cover, the famous “tent”, which is erected with such admirable alacrity whenever it rains, will continue to do service. “Where the roof takes eight minutes to close we can protect Centre Court with the old cover within a few seconds,” said Eddie. Which just goes to show how adept Wimbledon is at combining the old with the new.

Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail…

Centre Court Roof

The summer of 2011 will see The All England Club celebrate its 125th Championships but in the meantime another big milestone has just passed.

May 17 marked the first anniversary of the official opening of the Centre Court roof, that gloriously memorable Sunday afternoon when even the distinguished participants, Steffi Graf and her husband Andre Agassi, Tim Henman and Kim Clijsters, were well aware they were not the stars of the occasion.

It was the roof that a packed stadium had come to see. To find out whether it worked, how it worked  and what the place looked like when Centre Court, the world’s most famous patch of grass, was fully covered against the elements.

Just fine, was the verdict as Wimbledon staged another of its class acts. But  how has the roof fared over the past year?

Gary Mayle, the AELTC’s Long Term Plan Projects Manager, is the man with all the answers and he detailed them as we sat inside the roof’s control room, a windowless structure behind an unmarked door whose location inside the Centre Court building has to remain a secret because of counter-terrorism precautions.

“There have been small issues,” said Mayle. “Things wear out, for instance, and get replaced from site spare stock. But nothing untoward.”

Since the 2009 Championships the roof has undergone regular and stringent testing. The club’s maintenance staff opened and closed the 1,000 ton moving section of the roof every day to identify any glitches.

And every six weeks a five-strong squad of experts from the companies which designed and built the structure has visited to conduct more rigorous tests.

This same team will be back for The Championships to act as its operators. “It is too complex a mechanism to ask somebody from the Club to solve any problems that may arise,” Mayle explained.

During the past winter, on the occasions when the temperature sank below five degrees centigrade, the roof was not operable so it remained open and snow fell on Centre Court, just as it had in previous, pre-roof years.

“But the roof has been designed to withstand unexpected snowfalls when closed, so it would not have caused a problem,” Mayle pointed out.

Currently, in the run-up to The Championships, the opening and closing tests have been reduced to once a week, clear enough indication that all concerned are happy with the new Wonder of Wimbledon. There will be more sophisticated changes for this year’s tournament, too. The software which made it possible to extend one of the trusses over the south end of Centre Court to offer shade to the Royal Box has been reconfigured to provide a mix of shade for spectators in other parts of the stadium.

However, the closing process will still produce a moment when everything comes to a complete halt, which last year evoked puzzlement and a worry about breakdown among the audience.

“It is just the controls going through the checking process for about 60 seconds to allow for recalibration and while the trusses are locking into position,” was Mayle’s reassuring comment.

At the 2009 Championships the roof was called into action just once, on the second Monday, to allow a women’s match to conclude and then to stage the first full match under its shelter, a fourth round men’s singles between Britain’s Andy Murray and the Swiss, Stanislas Wawrinka.

Murray’s five-set victory went on long into the night and produced a record late finish for The Championships, and the All England Club have taken steps to minimise the possibility of something similar happening this year, out of concern for nearby residents.

They will be hoping, of course, that fine weather will also minimise the use of this wonderful addition which has become, according to Mayle, an object of fascination.

“The roof is of major interest all over the world. People are always asking us how long it took to construct [five years is the answer, because work had to be planned around the tennis] and how it works.”

Although there was no cake to mark the occasion, and certainly no candles – security would not have permitted that – all concerned fervently wished Wimbledon’s wonderful roof a happy first birthday and a quiet time during the upcoming Championships.

Roland Garros starts today

Today sees the start of the French Open. Roger Federer and Svetlana Kuznetsova will be defending the titles they won last year, while two former champions, Rafael Nadal and Justine Henin, will be looking to reclaim the singles crowns they each won four times previously.

Although Federer and Nadal have pulled off the rare feat of winning the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year (Serena Williams is the only other current player to have done this), the red clay of Roland Garros has proven to be a stumbling block for a number of players who thrived on Wimbledon’s grass courts. John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg and Pete Sampras (who never even reached a final), among those who have been denied the great clay court prize.

The French Open is considered by many to be the most physically demanding of the four slams. Rod Laver, a French Open winner in 1962 and 1969, recalled: “I realised that this was the hardest championship for me to win and because of that it probably meant more than the other three. In Paris you know you have been in a fight, you come off the court exhausted, looking battle stained, your clothes and body smudged with red clay.”

Meanwhile, the late Lew Hoad said of Roland Garros:  “The balls are heavy. They water the courts. You’ve got to play some guy you’ve never heard of and you’re out there for three and a half hours. But it’s a great tournament.” 

Follow live coverage of the 2010 French open at the official website: http://www.rolandgarros.com

2010 French Open: 23 May – 6 June

2010 Roland Garros draw

The draw for the 2010 French Open was revealed today, with 2009 champions Roger Federer and Svetlana Kuznetsova present at the Roland Garros Tennis Museum, to draw the seeds for the women’s and men’s singles respectively.

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Wimbledon 2010: at a glance

Under the Centre Court Roof

Key facts about the 2010 Wimbledon Championships at a glance.

Dates: June 21 – July 4, 2010.
Venue: The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon.
Surface: Grass.
Official ball: Slazenger (since 1902).
Host broadcaster: The BBC.

KEY FIGURES
Patron: Her Majesty The Queen.
President: HRH The Duke of Kent.
Tournament director: Ian Ritchie.
Tournament referee: Andrew Jarrett.

DEFENDING CHAMPIONS
Men’s singles: Roger Federer.
Ladies’ singles: Serena Williams.
Men’s doubles: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic.
Ladies’ doubles: Serena Williams and Venus Williams.
Mixed doubles: Mark Knowles and Anna-Lena Groenefeld.
Junior boys’ singles: Andrey Kuznetsov.
Junior girls’ singles: Noppawan Lertcheewakarn.

KEY DATES
June 7, 2010: Wild card announcements start, LTA wild card play-off begins.
June 14, 2010: Qualifying begins.
June 16, 2010: (12-noon) Seedings announced.
June 17, 2010: Qualifying ends.
June 18, 2010: (10 am): Official draw.
July 3, 2010: (from 2pm, weather permitting): Ladies’ singles final, men’s doubles final, ladies’ doubles final.
July 4, 2010: (from 2pm, weather permitting): Men’s singles final, mixed doubles final.

DRAWS
Men’s Singles: 128 players (including 104 direct entries, 16 qualifiers, up to eight wildcards).
Ladies’ Singles: 128 players (including 104 direct entries, 12 qualifiers, up to eight wildcards).
Men’s Doubles: 64 pairs (including four qualifying pairs and eight wildcards).
Ladies’ Doubles: 64 pairs (including four qualifying pairs and eight seven wildcards).
Mixed Doubles: 32 pairs (including up to seven wildcards).
Boys’ Singles: 64 players.
Boys’ Doubles: 32 pairs.
Girls’ Singles: 64 players.
Girls’ Doubles: 32 pairs.
Men’s Invitation Doubles: Eight pairs, round-robin format.
Senior Men’s Invitation Doubles: Eight pairs, round-robin format.
Ladies’ Invitation Doubles: Eight pairs, round-robin format.
Men’s Wheelchair Doubles: Four pairs.
Ladies’ Wheelchair Doubles: Four pairs.

COURT NUMBERING
With the new Court 2 now in place, the southern courts have been re-numbered. The old Court 2 is now Court 3, Court 3 is now Court 4, and so on up to Court 12. The show courts are Centre Court, No.1 Court, Court 2 and courts 5, 12 and 18. There is no Court 13 in 2010.

PRIZE MONEY
The men’s and ladies’ singles champions will each receive £1,000,000 at this year’s Championships, an increase of £150,000 on 2009. The total prize money at Wimbledon 2010 is £13,725,000, an increase of £1.175 million on 2009.

SEEDINGS
The Committee seeds the top singles players and doubles pairs on the basis of their computer rankings, with consideration given to players’ previous grass court performances.

TROPHIES
Men’s singles: Gentleman’s singles trophy inscribed “The All England Lawn Tennis Club Single Handed Champion of the World”, a cup standing 18.5-inches tall with a diameter of 7.5-inches.

Ladies’ singles: Venus Rosewater Dish, an 18.75-inch silver salver made by Messrs. Elkington and Co Ltd in 1864.

Roger and Rafa: normal service resumes

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

Federer & Nadal in 2008 (© Professional Sport)

After a 12-month hiatus, Sunday’s Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open final saw the eagerly anticipated resumption of Roger Federer’s rivalry with Rafael Nadal.

Nadal and Federer have spend their on-court lives trying to knock lumps out of each other and yet, when the dust has settled, they form a remarkable double act. Respectful and amicable, they appear as the best of chums.

But, as with many relationships, one personality dominates – and when it comes to clay court tennis, the man in overall charge is Nadal.

As Nadal won his 18th Masters trophy at the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open, so breaking Andre Agassi’s record of wins at this level, he defeated Federer for the 10th time in 12 meetings on clay. He also beat him for the 14th time in 21 meetings overall. He won 6-4, 7-6 and for all that Federer launched a decent comeback in that second set, no one at the Caja Magica really thought the result would be any different. When it comes to playing on the red dirt, Federer is very much Nadal’s deputy.

And when the professional hostilities were over, Federer described Nadal as “supreme” (cue much cheering in the Spanish crowd) while Nadal called Federer “amazing”. Theirs is truly is a mutual admiration society and, after watching their latest encounter, it is obvious to all that the membership is exclusive and limited to just two. Nadal knows that he only has one true rival: Federer. Others may try but no one can come close to breaking up Federer and Nadal’s duopoly at the very top of the game. And, just to prove the point, as of today, Nadal has been restored to the world No.2 position behind Federer.

It had been 12 long months since the pair had met, a year in which Federer had been elevated to greatness by winning his career Grand Slam at the French Open and following that up by breaking Pete Sampras’s record of grand slam titles by winning his 15th at Wimbledon and then winning his 16th major at the Australian Open. At the same time, Nadal was sidelined for a couple of months last year with severe tendonitis in both knees and then spent the second half of 2009 trying to put his game back together.

In the absence of Nadal as a rival, Federer has dismissed the challenges of almost everyone. Only Juan Martin del Potro managed to beat him when it mattered, prising the US Open trophy from his grasp. But del Potro has not played a match since the Australian Open and, following wrist surgery, may not fit enough to play again until the US Open. Alas for him, his moment in the spotlight was all too brief.

Others, like the Andys: Roddick and Murray, have faced Federer in major finals and come away with no more than a bitter memory and second place.

Now, though, Nadal is back. By winning in Madrid, he became the first man to win all three of the clay court Masters titles in one year. He now heads to Paris as the undisputed favourite to win a fifth Roland Garros trophy. After he won the Rome title (on clay, unsurprisingly) last year, he had to wait for 11 miserable, grim months before he lifted another piece of silverware. But from the moment he did win again – in Monte Carlo last month – there has been no stopping him.

Federer tried everything he could think of to counter Nadal’s march to the title in the Spanish capital – he even wheeled out his drop shot, to pretty good effect, in the second set – but it was not enough. The Madrid courts are not to the Nadal’s liking (the bounce is dodgy, the footing is treacherous and the altitude makes the ball fly) yet, even so, he was unstoppable.

Provided both Nadal and Federer stay fit and injury free, it is hard to see anyone else appearing in the French Open final.

Will this resumption of normal service at the top of the men’s rankings roll onto Wimbledon?

Poet serves up Wimbledon chapter and verse

Matt Harvey

Matt Harvey

The Wimbledon Championships will have an official poet in residence for the first time in 2010, capturing the tournament’s every “triumph and disaster” in verse.

In 2009, contributions by poets Niall O’Sullivan, Nii Parkes and Roger Robinson proved hugely popular on official website http://www.wimbledon.org.

This year ‘Championships Poet’ Matt Harvey will depict every facet of Wimbledon from umpires and racket stringers, to ball boys and girls; the grass and its bounce to rain and the roof; strawberries and cream to the drama unfolding on court, with a poem a day from the All England Club.

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Tickets for tennis at the O2 go on sale

There was a warm welcome from Wimbledon’s six-time champion Roger Federer and the All England Club chief executive Ian Ritchie at a media conference in London to announce the opening of ticket sales for the 2010 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena from 21-28 November.

In a filmed message Federer reaffirmed that London, where he has enjoyed perhaps his most emphatic success, was one of his favourite venues. His assertion that the ATP Finals, which staged the first of a five-year contract at the O2 at the conclusion of the last tennis season, had been a resounding success was endorsed by Ritchie.

“It is different from Wimbledon and that was one of the objectives,” said Ritchie in confirming the All England Club’s ongoing intention to offer its expertise and experience in helping to boost the success of the World Tour Finals, which last November set an all-time indoor tennis attendance record of 256,000 in eight days. “The All England Club is dedicated to promoting tennis as and when the opportunity arises and when this event was brought to London we were very keen to help.

“From our point of view the World Tour Finals was a plus all round, good for tennis, good for the United Kingdom. We must hope that the next four years will be as successful as the first one. “Normally in Britain people’s interest in tennis centres around the Wimbledon fortnight, but this event demonstrated that’s not true.

“If you put on the best players in the world and show them in a fantastic venue, people will come. And from my point of view that is excellent news.” While acknowledging that Wimbledon remains a highly popular sell-out, Ritchie stressed, “Our dominance in tennis should never be taken for granted. You always want more and you want to see the younger people as committed to becoming tennis supporters as their parents are.

“Every year at Wimbledon we try to look at things from a different perspective, always trying to improve. There are people who have been involved at The Championships for 30 years and they say every tournament every year is different. “We at Wimbledon were pleasantly surprised at how successful the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals was. It is the biggest indoor tennis event in the world and we are happy to be associated with something which has proved to be so successful.”

Click here to buy tickets for the 2010 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals

Federer keen to kick-start season at Madrid

The Madrid Masters proved to be a turning point for Roger Federer last year: by winning the tournament, he established himself as a serious contender on clay which was realised in his victory at the French Open. A couple of weeks later he underlined his pre-eminance on the tour by regaining his Wimbledon title on the grass courts of the All England Club.

As Federer prepares to defend his Madrid title, he will be keen to address the lack of consistency he’s shown on the tour this year and for the event to have a similar turnaround in his fortunes this year.

Since capturing the Australian Open in January, Federer has won five matches and lost four, including his surprise defeat by the world 34 Alberto Montanes in the Estoril Open semi-finals last week.

However, Federer has been able to successfully raise his game for the big tournaments in the last couple of years, regardless of his results elsewhere on the tour.

In contrast to his three Grand Slam victories in the past 12 months, his best performance in a non-Slam or Masters tournament was as a runner-up at Basel. The last time he won a tournament outside of the Masters and Slams was in 2008 (also Basel).

“I’m doing well in training, I’m only lacking a bit of match time,” said Federer before the start of the Madrid Open. “I’m hitting the ball cleanly, but maybe not as clean as I did to win in Australia though. But it’s not far away. I’m doing the right things and I’m not worried.”

“For me, the Madrid title in 2009 was the key to Paris. Winning the event by beating fellow rivals was very important. But no matter what happens here [at the Madrid Masters], I’ll be prepared for Paris.”

Murray looking forward to Wimbledon

Andy Murray
Andy Murray during Wimbledon 2009 (© AFP)

 

The 2010 Championships, an occasion Andy Murray is eagerly anticipating, will present a different sort of challenge for the Scot this time round. A year ago, the 22-year-old surged into Wimbledon at the peak of a devastating run of form.

He had won 41 of his 48 matches in the first five and a half months of the 2009 season and collected four titles along the way in Doha, Rotterdam, Miami and the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club, where in becoming the first British champion there since Bunny Austin in 1938, he surged through the week without dropping a set.

What a difference a year can make in the life of an athlete. So far in 2010, Murray’s win-loss record stands at 11-6 with no tournaments won. The closest he came was at the Australian Open, where six of those 11 victories took him to the final, only to fall in straight sets to Roger Federer, just as he had done in the 2008 US Open final.

“Australia and Wimbledon are the best chances
I will have to win my first Grand Slam”

His last three tournaments, the ATP Masters Series 1000 events in Miami, Monte Carlo and Rome, have seen him win just one match and Murray readily acknowledges that  his 6-4 6-4 loss to the 101st-ranked Mardy Fish in Miami was his low point of the year to date.

Yet his optimism and confidence remain undimmed. In his previous four Wimbledons (he missed 2007 with a wrist tendon injury), Murray had always played down his prospects of becoming the first Briton since Fred Perry in 1936 to win the title, saying that grass was not his best surface. That, he insisted, was the hard courts of North America.

Now it seems the emphasis has changed. Announcing his intention of defending his Aegon Championships title in June Murray, who will turn 23 on 15 May, said “Australia and Wimbledon are the best chances I will have to win my first Grand Slam.

“Wimbledon is all about pressure”

The things I can do on grass give me more confidence about being successful,” explained the man who went out in the semi-finals at the 2009 Championships, beaten in four hard-fought sets by an inspired Andy Roddick.

As the lone British man with any prospect of landing the most coveted prize in the game, Murray has needed to prepare himself for the vast weight of expectation which so burdened Tim Henman in his annual pursuit of Wimbledon fame.

“Wimbledon is always about pressure,” said Murray. “Once the tournament starts I don’t care too much, but it is what goes on beforehand. It would be nice this year if people didn’t follow me around or put a camera into my face and speak to me about the pressures of life. When that doesn’t happen it makes things much nicer.”

“When there is no football during Wimbledon the build-up
is always more demanding, more difficult”

On the subject of pressure, there is another factor at the 2010 Championships which he feels will lower those expectations. “The World Cup might make it a little easier for me. When there is no football during Wimbledon the build-up is always more demanding, more difficult.”

Having sparked outrage among the football community by jesting before the 2006 World Cup that he supported whoever England were playing against, Murray is treading more carefully this time. “No more jokes about England,” promised the young man from Dunblane. “If England are successful it will definitely help me.”

Meantime, Murray plans to deal with any pressure by claiming there is no rush for him to win his first Grand Slam after those two runner-up finishes at the US and Australian Opens. “In that respect there is no pressure, time is on my side,” he said.

Though there is little possibility that this year Murray will come back strongly enough to approach his 2009 win-loss ratio of 66-11, he remains fourth in the rankings, the level at which he ended last season.

“Every player goes through a bad patch,” he said. “But if I play my best I’ve got a chance at successfully defending my Aegon title and doing well at Wimbledon. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Hingis and Kournikova to play in the invitation doubles at Wimbledon

Former champion Martina Hingis has announced she will be teaming up with Anna Kournikova in the ladies’ invitation doubles at this year’s Wimbledon Championships.

Twenty nine year-old Hingis won five singles grand slam titles during her career, including the ladies’ singles title at Wimbledon in 1997. En route to the final that year, the Swiss beat Kournikova in the semi-finals in the Russian’s best singles performance at The Championships. 

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Nadal given new lease of life in Masters wins

The sight of red brick dust staining his socks and scuffing his shoes seems to have given Rafael Nadal a new lease of life.

Victories in Monte Carlo and Rome mean the 2008 Wimbledon champion has now won two consecutive clay court Masters titles in the space of three weeks. Perhaps more importantly for his chances at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, Rafa says he’s not being troubled by the knee injuries that have dogged him for the past year.

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The New Court 3

New Court 3 building work

Building the new Court 3

Building work on the new No.3 Court remains on schedule, with the outer structure of the stadium now largely complete.

Construction has been continuing since the end of the 2009 Championships, with the 2,000 seater stadium – built over the old Court 2 and Court 3 – ready for the 2011 Championships.

The London Tennis Show

On Friday 30th April, the London Tennis Show opens its doors for three days, welcoming visitors to an exciting and new event featuring exhibitors providing products and services to players of all standards and clubs.

All club members pre-registering at www.londontennisshow.com before April 17 will receive free entry to the show, which is organised by the Golf Show Group in conjunction with the Tennis Industry Association and with the support of The Lawn Tennis Association.

Roger Draper, Chief Executive of the LTA, said: “The event will provide a one-stop shop for tennis enthusiasts to see, try and buy a range of tennis products – we are delighted that the show is free to every tennis club member in the country.”

Players will be able to purchase products from Prince, Babolat, Wilson, Head, K Swiss, Asics, Nike and Adidas through the official retailer FitCo while club secretaries will be able to view products for their clubs from companies like JB Corrie and Sunbaba.

A full size court will provide a focal point for a variety of activities including mini tennis exhibitions organised by the LTA, plus slots where visitors can play-test the various rackets.

Visitors to the Tennis Show will also be able to visit the adjacent Golf Show at no extra cost.

Visiting Wimbledon for the first time

Stephen Fry, a Wimbledon lover himself, once said that when you visited New York for the first time it was exactly what you were expecting but this wasn’t a disappointment. He meant that every wonderful thing you had ever seen and imagined about New York – the sky scrapers, the yellow taxis, the mass of humanity – were all there and were only enhanced in real life.

The same, I believe, is true of Wimbledon. I grew up in a country town in Australia watching highlights of The Championships late at night and early in the morning. Unlike any other sports event in the world, with the exception of a Lord’s Test match, I felt I understood Wimbledon. And on my first visit to the All England Club in 2001, I was right.

Having to queue for several hours was completely expected and if the British were to make queuing their national sport then the queue at Wimbledon would be, well, the Wimbledon of queuing. The courts, especially in the first couple of days, looked immaculate, like billiard tables. And all the players wore white; again this is no surprise, but when you see the contrast of white on green you wonder why players would want to wear any other colour anyway.

What do you remember about your first visit to Wimbledon? Any advice for people making their first trip this year? Or perhaps you are one of those people coming here for the first time in 2010?

2010 Australian Open

The names engraved on the honour’s board after the 2010 Australian Open may be familiar but the eventual winners aside, the year’s first Grand Slam suggested a changing of the guard may soon be upon us.

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Wimbledon at the Australian Open – week two

UPDATE! The Australian Open fourth round is upon us and there are a host a mouth-watering match-ups.

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A round-up of 2010 tennis predictions

What will 2010 bring to the sport of tennis? That is the question that has been rallying inside the minds of writers and fans at the start of another season.

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