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Sports & Fitness
May 19, 2014

All you need is love?

Text by Nittal Chandarana

One court, two players, a zillion fans. Brush up on your tennis before the French Grand Slam and see who’s coming to Mumbai for the International Tennis Premier League!

It’s a beautiful sport. It’s amazing to see a perfect slice land neatly over the net or clods of vermillion rise up with every bounce of an unforgiving ball. Some rallies are akin to choreography. The opponents dance their little dance divided by a net pausing only to rejoice gaining a point or utter curses over a lost one. The pressure is intense. All shouldered by the player. It’s no wonder that Agassi laments that tennis is a lonely sport.

Watch these tournaments
The world of tennis is divided into four Grand Slam Tournaments and numerous ATP tournaments sprawled across the year. We had the Australian Open (played on hard court) in Jan ’14. Wawrinka nicked the title right under Rafael Nadal’s nose. Li Na destroyed Dominica Cibulkova acquiring an impressive bagel* set in the process.

Coming up is a personal favourite – the French Open. Scheduled to begin on May 25, this one’s a clay court counterpart. Native to this country, tennis, ironically is toughest played at Roland Garros, on clay. Tennis veterans Roger Federer, McEnroe, Venus Williams have amassed one or no French Open titles in their impressive record. Nadal and Serena Williams are the defending champions. Rafa can be easily described as the best player on clay court – 8 of the 13 titles he holds are from here.

It is followed by Wimbledon next month, played on grass. It’s royalty. Every player wants a Wimbledon title to his name. Not only is the tournament held in high prestige, the spectators reinforce class by turning up in their finest dinner party attire. But wouldn’t you too? After all, the Queen’s watching.

Moving on to the last leg of the season, the US Open. A hard court offering, this was the one tournament that was earlier played on grass but was later shifted to a hard court.

The absolute last championship of the season this year, is hopefully going to be the International Tennis Premier League. Bangkok, Dubai, Mumbai and Singapore will play host to this glorious sport. The likes of Rafa, Sampras and Bopanna will grace the courts of Mumbai come November. Other players who are rumoured to be a part of this are Djokovic, Agassi, Serena Williams, Murray, Wozniacki and a whole list of stalwarts. Federer has respectfully stayed out. The greatest player of our times is going to sit the French Open out too. That’s a big disappointment. Dwell on that, while we indulge in a happy dance. The Spaniard’s coming to the bay. Tennis is coming to the bay.

Watch the legends
Let’s begin with the undisputed champion – Steffi Graf. 22 Grand Slam titles to her name, known for her signature shot – the Steffi slice. She holds THE Grand Slam – all four titles in the same calendar year of 1988. No other player has achieved this.

Not even Mr. Greatest Player of our Times, Roger Federer. 18 major titles and a fiercely quicksilver forehand and serve, Federer’s grace and poise on the court remain unmatched. He’s a tennis God. Feared and loved equal parts, he’s impossible to beat when in form.

Then come the Williams sisters. They’re fabulous individually of course, but together they’re a brute force. Winning 13 major doubles titles together, both are aggressive and feisty on court.

Rafael Nadal is a clay court maniac. Current World No. 1, he’s got 13 majors and a Career Gold Slam – an Olympic Gold including at least one of each major title.

There’s a volley of others like Borg, McEnroe, Djokovic, Davenport, Sharapova, Sampras…. More than the actual game, it’s the rivalries in the Tennis world that are truly exciting. McEnroe-Börg, Agassi-Sampras, Nadal-Federer are legendary and even a practice match between them makes news.

Watch what you wear
Tennis is also the one sport where sporting fashion is considered. Fluorescent colours, lace, catsuits – everything’s been tried. Anna Kournikova and Maria Sharapova led the women’s brigade in giving tennis a stylish air. The Williams sisters did all that they could in bringing edgy fashion to the sport.

The men wouldn’t want to be left behind. Agassi played in jeans! He also wore a wig. Once, he lost a final because his wig wouldn’t hold and he didn’t want to deal with the apparent embarrassment of a bald head. Vanity is always fair.

*A bagel is a colloquial term for a set lost 6-0, which means that the opponent couldn’t win a single game.

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