Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Rusedski’s picks for Wimbledon

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With Wimbledon starting on Monday, all eyes turned to the event in Eastbourne. It became very interesting because of Serena and Venus Williams participation. Serena has not played since winning Wimbledon last year because of a freak accident in Munich, were she stepped on broken glass while walking to her hotel room after a night out. She was walking bare foot and cut ligaments in her feet as well as cutting her feet up badly. It took her nearly a full year to recover.

On the other hand her sister Venus hasn’t played much due to a hip injury this year. I believe this is only her third event of the year. Serena played really well considering her lay off and beat Pirokova in the first round in 3 sets after starting very poorly. Pirokova was a tough match because she has made the semi-finals at Wimbledon and plays well on grass. Due to the long layoff Serena was not seeded at Eastbourne, because she has lost all her ranking points from last year. The ranking works on a 52 week calendar and if you don’t defend your points, your ranking disappears.

In the next round Serena lost to the top seed and world number 3 Vera Zvonerava. Serena actually served for the match in the 2nd set, but unfortunately did not come through. She is not that far off in her game considering she has been away for so long. Expect a good Wimbledon run from Serena and if the All England Club seeds her, she could be very dangerous. Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam that is allowed to seed players however they like because they say grass is a specialist surface. It is also based on your last 3 years’ performances at Wimbledon. I totally disagree with this and believe the seeds should be based on official rankings. Grass courts are not a specialist surface anymore because they have slowed down the courts by getting rid of the thistle in the grass, and changing it to rye grass a few years ago. They have also slowed down the balls through ball pressure and the cover on the ball. Grass plays more like a medium hard court and is slower than the French Open.

Venus looks very good at the moment even though she lost in the quarter-finals at Eastbourne. She will be a threat at Wimbledon. A lot of people’s favorite is Sharapova after her great run to the semi-finals at the French Open and also because she has won Wimbledon before. It is wide open on the women’s side again with other threats; Li Na, who became the first Chinese player to win a singles grand slam at the French Open two weeks ago, Petra Kvitova, the talented left handed Czech player, Victoria Azarenka from Belarus, and last year’s finalist Vera Zvonerava all contenders.

“Bring on Wimbledon!” – Rusedski

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The grass court season is finally underway. I love this time of year. We finally get to see some attacking tennis, but still not as much as during my era because the courts and balls are a lot slower.

The Queen’s Club Championships started with one of its best fields in the tournaments history with 15 of the top 20 in the world entered. The only big withdrawal was that of Novak Djokovic, sighting a knee problem, but I am sure he will be fine for Wimbledon. Nadal, the six time French open champion, arrived Monday evening after all his sponsor commitments at Disneyland Paris. He is such a professional; he had a 1 hour 45min intense practice session and entered the doubles event as well to get match practice before his first round match in singles on Wednesday.

Don’t bet against Serena defending Wimbledon crown

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For most players the idea of returning from a year out with injury and illness a week before Wimbledon and then defending your title would be impossible.

But, then again, Serena Williams in not any old player.

The 29-year-old American, the dominant force in women’s tennis for a decade, has taken a wildcard for next week’s Eastbourne grasscourt tournament and then will head to the All England Club, not just for appearances, but to win a fifth title there and draw level with older sister Venus who is also returning from a six-month lay-off.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

What’s behind Spain’s run of sporting success?

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CYCLING-TOUR/

Spanish sports fans have never had it so good.

The Iberian nation is celebrating its latest triumphs after a month of success that local media have called a golden age.

On Sunday, Alberto Contador sealed his third Tour de France title, Fernando Alonso won the German Formula One Grand Prix, and Jorge Lorenzo roared to MotoGP victory in the U.S.

Holding court with Greg Rusedski

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Wimbledon 2010 has been a great Championships, the weather for the two weeks has been absolutely perfect. Sun and more sun, not a drop of rain, the first time since 1995. They should have built that 40 million pound roof sooner! There were a lot of question marks going into this Wimbledon Championships for Andy Murray but fortunately for him he had a dream draw and took advantage in the first week to play himself into form.

For me though, the match of the tournament and the first week was John Isner versus Nicolas Mahut. I asked the BBC to schedule me on a short match so I could watch the all important England vs Slovenia qualifying match for the knockout stage of the Football World Cup. They said “No problem, we’ll put you on the Isner/Mahut match, they only have one set to finish”. So off I went with a rookie tennis commentator by the name off Ronald MacIntosh to finish the match he had started the day before. I joked that the outcome would be 27/25 in the final set to Isner, 8 hours 30 minutes later, over two days; I had been part of tennis history. We broke all records; longest match, longest set, most games ever played, most aces, longest match ever commentated on etc etc. It finished 70/68 in the 5th set for John Isner. This is a record which will never be broken. So much for watching the football, England did go on to win 1-0 though.

from Photographers' Blog:

Center Court – A 30 year wait

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Gary Hershorn poses on center court at Wimbledon June 30, 2010.

Wednesday finally saw the culmination of a 30 year dream of mine to shoot a match on the famed center court at Wimbledon. After 30 years of being a photographer, 25 of those spent with Reuters covering every conceivable sports championship around the world, there were still two things I always wanted to photograph, but for one reason or another never had the opportunity to do so. One was shooting a match on center court and the other, covering a British Open golf championship at St. Andrews.

This year is not my first at Wimbledon, I have been here a number of times editing the great pictures our photographers take during the fortnight of tennis. There is no tennis tournament that produces the beautiful images that Wimbledon does. From the simple white clothes that the competitors must wear, to the light that seems to illuminate the court in a magical way, to the darkish backgrounds of spectators the perfect distance away from the player and to the history that has played out on the grass year after year, one can only describe the chance to be here as special.

Greg Rusedski on Wimbledon

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Following is a question and answer session with former British tennis ace Greg Rusedski.

1. How have you come to be involved with Thomson Reuters?

I joined up with Thomson Reuters just before the AEGON Championships; they’re involved due to their partnership with the LTA. I really enjoyed meeting the various Thomson Reuters guests at the tournament, many of them were obviously huge tennis fans as they were grilling me about my predictions for the week! Thomson Reuters is the Official Statistics and Information Partner to the LTA and we’re really hoping that their technology might be able to help the other coaches and I down at the National Tennis Centre.

from Photographers' Blog:

The match that time forgot

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Nobody goes to Court 18 expecting to stay long.

Right on the edge of the All England Tennis Club, and very much in the shadow of Centre Court, number 18 is a no-go area for seeded players and fans at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. Matches are usually as brief as they are inconsequential -- and then everyone moves on.

So when someone suggested I drop in on Court 18 to check out a match between two largely unknown players – John Isner from the United States, and Nicolas Mahut of France – I can probably be forgiven for thinking I’d be in and out of there pretty quickly.

Shall I compare thee to a topspin lob?

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SPORT-DECADE/TENNISSport has been known to reduce grown men to tears but inspire them to poetry…?

The All England Club seem to think it can and in collaboration with The Poetry Trust have appointed an official poet for Wimbledon for the first time.

As Championships Poet 2010, Matt Harvey will serve up a poem a day on all things Wimbledon.

Can Federer complete a calendar slam?

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TENNIS-OPEN/

Received wisdom heading into the Australian Open was that the combined effects of fatherhood and a record-breaking number of grand slams would reduce Roger Federer’s hunger for success to the point where mere mortals on the tour need fear him no longer.

Instead, the message remains: Beware of the GOAT.

The possibility no one seems to have considered is that the Wimbledon title that saw him overtake Pete Sampras as the most successful player in grand slams, coupled with the certain knowledge he now possesses that there are far more important things in life than tennis, might take every ounce of pressure off his shoulders and make him a more formidable opponent still.

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