Tennis Prose



Delray Scoops (Thursday)

Wilander on Wheels is on site. I rollerbladed the town this morning and saw Mats Wilander was playing doubles with his partner and two locals at 9 am. The former world #1 and seven-time grand slam champ travels around the country in a Winnebago doing clinics with kids and adults, growing the sport at the grassroots level. It’s amazing to see Mats on court, teaching players at all levels, of any age (see photo below). He is fit as anyone in tennis, still plays exquisite tennis, and he’s astoundingly down to earth, friendly and approachable. A true champion. After he was finished playing, he picked up the balls himself and even clears the green clay with the broom himself.

I asked him for his memories of Marcelo Rios for my book and he gave me a five-minute answer that will be one of the best entries of the entire book. He is an absolutely brilliant man with a fascinating mind for tennis. Mats leaves town tomorrow in his Winnebago which has Idaho license plates.

Mats played the senior event here and defeated Pat Cash but lost to Mark Philippoussis and Michael Pernfors.
For more info: Check out the web site or call 787-GET-GAME.

Kevin Anderson was practicing early with his coach Louis Vosloo. Sans shirt on this hot day, Anderson is in great condition. Before hitting, they worked on quickness reflex drills, Anderson set up on the baseline without racquet, running side to side catching tossed balls from Vosloo. Anderson was impressive doing this. Then they started hitting, and the big man who is 6-7 has a major game. He won the Johannesburg ATP event earlier this year.

I hit with a ballboy named Jagger who is in his first year working the tournament. He told me the two nicest players were Pat Cash and Ivo Karlovic. However Jagger, stationed at the net, said he got hit by a shanked Karlovic serve dead square on his right ear. Dr. Ivo came up to him and apologized but Jagger said it really didn’t hurt that much.

Jamie Murray was playing shadow tennis in the fan area adjacent to the grandstand court, minutes before taking center court with partner Ken Skupski (they take on Ram/Lipsky). Murray won here in 2008 with Max Mirnyi (defeated the Bryans).

Boss scribe Dan Markowitz arrived on site straight from a one-on-one interview up the road in Boca Raton with Chris Evert…

“Red” as Markowitz is known by many tennis readers, watched Kei Nishikori practice and was thoroughly impressed and did not laugh or mock when I re-stated my previous opinion that Nishikori has top five potential. Nishikori will play Sweeting tomorrow for a spot in the semifinal.

For a random surprise quote, I asked Lennox Lewis if any tennis players remind of himself. Then when I suggested Pete Sampras, he agreed. “Pete Sampras. He was simply the best, carried himself with grace and dignity, and let his tennis skills do his talking.” Lewis and Sampras were dominant together, Lewis reigned as world heavyweight champion for much of the 90’s, the same decade that Pete Sampras reigned for six years as the ATP world #1.

Stay tuned for more live updates…

– Minutes after Ram/Lipsky defeated Murray/Skupski, Gabashvili went out to a side court with a box of balls to practice some serves by himself. From there I came into the media center and there was Del Potro doing his warm up running drills in the hallway outside the media room. Gabashvili vs. Del Potro is next on center court. I mentioned the oddity of Gabashvili’s pre-match routine to ATP rep Austin Nunn who was aware of it and said many of the players have their unique ways to prepare for a match. I will try to obtain a few examples from Nunn who was a Division 1 player at Northern Colorado.

– Some of Blake’s comments at his post match press conference after losing to Nishikori 6-3 6-4.

‘I feel 31. If I’m healthy for the entire year, I can get a better picture of how I’m playing and how well I’m doing. I don’t want anything to be skewed just on playing injured. If I’m playing at 90%, I’m not going to beat hardly any of these guys.’

‘I knew at some point either my body or my mind would go and that’s when everyone has to say it’s time to stop and look back and enjoy what they’ve done on the Tour. But I don’t feel like I’m there yet. I feel like I’m still enjoying it.’

‘I would love to finish (college, though not necessarily at Harvard University in Boston). Throughout most of my life, tennis has been my passion. It’s been my life, so I would love to go back to school and find out what else I’m passionate about.’

– Taylor Dent is in Newport Beach California shooting day two of the Tennis Channel Academy show which is associate produced by Brett Connors.

– An almost but not quite yet top form Delpo pulverized Gabashvilii 6-1 6-1, on the way back to the player’s locker room, Gabashvili passed through the crowd and one blond girl said to him, “Congratulations.” Gabashvili responded, “For what? Losing?”

Unexpected sighting #1 – Renowned tennis photographer Art Seitz told me in the press room after Gabashvili vs. Delpo that former world #1 and Olympic gold medalist Yevgeny Kafelinkov was in the house but only stayed for the first set. The Russian great was in Chile this past weekend, playing in the “Maestros of Tennis” exhibition which of course featured Marcelo Rios. My sources in Chile told me the event was packed to see Chino who is the all-time #1 sports star of Chile.

#2 – Bernard Tomic in the house. Bernie, who lost in qualies here, shooting hoops in the player’s lounge area during the Anderson-Serra match, wearing some funky white Flavor Flav style eyewear.

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