Tag Archives: Pete Sampras

Food for Thought 9-4-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Stephen Strasburg (pictured above) looked pretty sharp on Sunday against St. Louis. Sadly, his season will end on September 12th due to an innings limit placed on him by Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo.

By Josh Kramer

Operation Shutdown Strasburg” is an utter embarrassment.  Many MLB players go through an entire career and never make the playoffs once, much less contend for a playoff spot.  The Washington Nationals have failed to post a record better than .500 since making the move to the nation’s capital in 2005 (until yesterday).  There is only one way to describe Nationals GM Mike Rizzo’s September 12th expiration date on the Nationals star pitcher: A simple ego struggle.

That’s right, Washington is willing to risk a deep playoff run due to their General Manager’s ego.  I really have no other logical way to explain it.  Health concerns are are fine by me, but within reason.  There are always exceptions though.  Stephen Strasburg is a 24-year-old prized prospect who is in good health.  I realize that he had Tommy John surgery towards the end of the 2010 season.  But how many pitchers go through an entire career without a surgery such as Tommy John in this day and age?  Not many. Continue reading

History in the making

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Roger Federer (pictured above) handled world number one Novak Djokovic on Friday. Will he make history on Sunday against Andy Murray?

By Josh Kramer

On Sunday, history will be made at the All England Club.  Either Roger Federer will capture a record-tying 7th Wimbledon title, or Andy Murray will become the first native of Great Britain to take home the prestigious Wimbledon crown since Fred Perry did in 1936.  By stepping on the court, Murray is already the first native of the host country to play in the final since Bunny Austin back in 1938.  Lastly, if Federer wins, he will not only add a record 17th Grand Slam title to his portfolio, he will also make the leap to number one in the world and tie Pete Sampras’ record of 286 weeks as the top ranked player on the globe.

Talk about a historically significant match at the most tradition-filled tournament of them all.

Andy Murray has an entire country depending on him to end a 76 year drought.  Roger Federer is nearly 31-years-old and likely will not have another opportunity to win a Slam like this ever again.  The pressure is mounting.  Who will crumble under the bright lights of Centre Court at the All England Club? Continue reading

A major changing of the guard

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Serena Williams (pictured above) was pushed to the brink of elimination by Jie Zheng earlier today.

By Josh Kramer

First there was Venus in Round 1.  Then Rafa in Round 2.  Nearly Federer in Round 3.  And then Serena was pushed to the brink of elimination in Round 3 as well.  What is going to happen in Round 4?  These four players are all former number ones that have a combined 47 Grand Slam titles (including 17 singles championships at Wimbledon) between them and unparalleled popularity.  In a span of a mere 24 hours during Week 1, three of them almost bit the dust, while one (Venus) had already crumbled a few days earlier.

At a time not so long ago, guys like Sampras and Agassi dominated Men’s tennis, while Graf and Seles were doing similar things in Women’s tennis.  Then following short-lived reigns of a few others in between, Federer took over Men’s tennis, while the Williams sisters took over Women’s tennis.  Since, Nadal and Djokovic have had their turns on Federer’s throne, while the injury-prone Williams’ sisters have shared the wealth in recent memory as well.  Now these four superstars and former number ones are a mean age of 29.5 (30 is considered dinosaur age in tennis).

Despite the ripe age, I never thought I would see the day where all four superstars were nearly eliminated during Week 1 of a major.  Luckily, Federer once again demonstrated that he may be old, but he isn’t dead yet, in coming back from two sets down against Benneteau.  He still has the heart of a champion.  Serena also demonstrated outstanding mental fortitude in serving her way past Zheng.

So two of this fantastic four are still left standing as we head towards the Round of 16.  But how much longer are they really going to last (both here and in general)?  Venus has not won a major in over four years since handling business at the All England Club in 2008.  Serena has gone winless in the major tourneys since nabbing the title at Wimbledon in 2010.  Plus, Serena exited in the first-round of a Grand Slam for the first time in her illustrious career at Roland Garros a few weeks ago.  After winning at least one Grand Slam for eight consecutive years, Federer went Slam-less in 2011 and has not come out victorious at a major since the 2010 Australian Open.  Lastly, Nadal had participated in the finals of five consecutive Grand Slams before having his dreams of a third Wimbledon Championship dashed by little-known Lukas Rosol.

Though none of these four superstars have hinted much at retirement yet (especially not Nadal), times are changing.  Outside of Rafa at Roland Garros, none of these players are a sure bet to take home any of the major championships these days.  We have been blind to it, but this week has highlighted for us all that there is a major changing of the guard occurring right before our eyes in the tennis world.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

Tennis Night in America – BNP Paribas Showdown

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Maria Sharapova (pictured above) will be one of the stars taking center court at Madison Square Garden this evening.

By Toni Headley

Toni Headley is a tennis expert who worked at ESPN for 10 years and has been a freelance writer there for the past 2 years.  She also previously worked at CBS Sports and has covered every major tennis tournament in the world multiple times.

As a precursor to the start of the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament from Indian Wells California, tennis fans will be treated to some exhibition tennis from the world’s most famous arena Madison Square Garden or “The Garden,” as it is sometimes called. Billed as “Tennis Night in America,” fans will get to see the likes of four former number one players, Maria Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki, Roger Federer, and Andy Roddick.

Both matches will feature a best of three format. First up will be Maria Sharapova vs. Caroline Wozniacki, which begins at 7pm on ESPN3.com.  This will be followed by Roger Federer vs. Andy Roddick at 11:30pm on ESPN. Continue reading

Djokovic is quite the jokester

Photo courtesy of ontennis.com. In a recent commercial for Head tennis rackets, Novak Djokovic (right) impersonates women's tennis star Maria Sharapova (left).

By Josh Kramer

Novak Djokovic has continued to make good on his number one world ranking as he heads into match play today with an astounding 55 and 1 record on the year.  This record includes a crazy good 31 and 0 clip on hard courts (his US Open chances continue to look better with each victory).

Over the years, many complained about the lack of personality from former number one ranked tennis players like Pete Sampras and Roger Federer (I did not agree with these complaints).  Well have no fear people, the very outgoing and fun personality of Novak Djokovic is here.  Over the years, Djokovic has been known as a “jokester” for his impersonations of other players on the tour and comical interviews.

Well in this recent clip, he continues to live up to the name via a hilarious impersonation of the lovely Maria Sharapova.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

American golf in the woods?

Photo courtesy of currentlyhot.com.

By Josh Kramer

Tiger Woods has been in the “woods” for nearly three years now.  The once most iconic figure in all of sports (yes a golfer) has hit rock bottom.  Today, arguably the greatest golfer of all time finished off the 2nd round at a +10 clip and missed the cut at the PGA Championship.

Tiger Woods is now 35 and does not look to be close to regaining his old form.  Could the days of the dominant Tiger we once knew be over?

We all are more than aware that American tennis has struggled for a good five plus years now following the retirements of Sampras and Agassi.  Well now, the other lifelong sport, which is typically dominated by American players, is not looking so great.

Americans are in the midst of their longest drought at the majors (6 without a title).  Luckily for golf, there are four Americans ranked in the world top ten at the moment.  In addition, Tiger could play the worst round in the history of golf, and he would still get more attention than the leader on that particular day.  Tiger is as close as any athlete has ever come to being bigger than the game itself  (Brett Favre and LeBron James should take notes).  In tennis, there is just one American cracking the top ten.

The top of the leaderboard is littered with American hopefuls.  Eight of the top ten at the end of Round 2 are Americans.

Will an American come out victorious come Sunday?  Or has American golf gone into the “woods” with Tiger Woods?

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

Isner: The “it” American tennis player

Photo courtesy of SI.com. John Isner (pictured above) is best known for an epic first round match at Wimbledon in 2010. Could he be the new American "it" player?

By Josh Kramer

It is not too difficult to get the attention of the American public regarding men’s tennis these days.  If an American goes deep into a major tournament, or dare I say wins one, they are the next American hope.  Expectations have never been lower as the American public waits for that next great American tennis prodigy.  Sadly, the future of American tennis does not look bright.

After being spoiled by the McEnroe/Connors era, and then the Sampras, Agassi, Chang, Courier era, no American has stepped up to the plate.  Different players have become the “it” guy of the moment.  The guy that many hoped could be the next great American Grand Slam Champion.  But none of the “it” guys have lasted the test of time. Continue reading

Sports would be like watching a DVD

Photo courtesy of topnews.in. Andy Roddick (pictured above) was not a happy camper following his surprising 3rd round exit from Wimbledon yesterday.

By Josh Kramer

Yesterday was not a great day for American tennis by any means.  First Ryan Harrison, the “Great American Hope,” was dismantled by 7th seeded David Ferrer, in a second round match that was resumed on Friday.  Then Alex Bogomolov Jr. was wiped off the court by the very talented Tomas Berdych.  Berdych could easily shock one of the “Fantastic Four,” and find his way into the semi-finals, though he would most likely have to defeat Rafa to do this.  And to cap off an All American day at the All England Club, Andy Roddick, who typically thrives on the grass courts of Wimbledon, was dismantled by Feliciano Lopez, a guy he had previously never lost to.

At least Mardy Fish saved face and now is the lone American left in the Men’s draw.  But it was not a good day for American tennis.  Things have gone from good, to bad, to ugly.  We are at the fourth round at Wimbledon, and there is one American left in the draw.  Where is Pete Sampras when you need him (Sampras won 7 Wimbledon titles)? Continue reading

American hope for the future?

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Ryan Harrison (pictured above) appears to be the future of American Men's tennis.

By Josh Kramer

19-year-old American Ryan Harrison was the talk of the tennis world today.  People just seem to really love this fiery young American.  And let’s be honest, American tennis needs a male player to carry the torch for the next decade.

As I have said before, we were spoiled all through the 90s by Sampras and Agassi.  Even in the 70s/80s, we had Connors and then McEnroe. Those days are long gone sadly.  Roddick has done all in his power to carry the torch of American’s men’s tennis.  But he appears to be heading towards the twilight of his career as well.  And with the Williams’ sisters reign appearing to be over, American tennis is really lacking. Continue reading

Williams sisters no longer dominant forces

Photo courtesy of Mail Online.

By Josh Kramer

A “Williamsless” Grand Slam final?  Over the better part of the past decade, a Grand Slam final without both or at least one Williams’ sister has been an absolute rarity. Now I realize that it has been a very odd year for the WTA.  Nobody knows who is going to win the next tournament, much less the next match.  The WTA tour is the most parity filled sport on the market these days.  Especially with the NFL entering the 100th day of their strike.

After the first few days at the Championships though, one thing is obvious.  The Williams sisters are not nearly what they once were.  Now I realize that both Serena and Venus have had a very tough year where they have dealt with various injuries and rust is to be expected.  But over the past decade, both sisters have made it seem effortless while cruising to Grand Slam final after Grand Slam final.  With 20 Grand Slams between the two, and 9 of the last 11 Wimbledon titles, it has just come to be expected to see at least one Williams, possibly two, playing in the finals at the All England Club. Continue reading