HAIL KOREA’S UNIQUE PROS: Two of South Korea’s fine ATP players have overcome major obstacles. Duck-hee Lee was born deaf. Hyeon Chung was visually impaired as a kid and that’s why he started playing tennis. He still wears hefty glasses on court.
JUST WONDERING: In the battle of the Sunshine Swing tournament directors, who wins – BNP Paribas Open’s Tommy Haas or the Miami Open’s James Blake? Other tournament directors who were great players include Charlie Pasarell, Ray Moore, Butch Buchholz, Ion Tiriac, Jack Kramer, Barry MacKay and Richard Krajicek.
THE TENNIS FAMILY – FEDERER PAYS TRIBUTE TO KEN FLACH: Inside Tennis asked Roger Federer about the recent passing of the great doubles champion Ken Flach, at age 54. “I remember him being an especially great doubles player,” said Federer. “They all used to play singles [too] back in the day, not like today where we have only some doubles experts per se…Paul Annacone knew him very well. It was his generation, and I know how sad he is. He told me a bit about him the other day when it happened, so I was very sad…The tennis family, we all get together in a moment like that.”
ONE-IN-A-MILLION SAM: Sam Querrey is not just the only American left in the men’s singles – he’s also the only player who is still in both the singles and doubles draws at the BNP Paribas Open. If he wins both, he’ll collect a cool one million dollars.
CHAMPIONS’ DROUGHT IN THE DESERT: Simona Halep is the only remaining BNP Paribas Open champion in the women’s draw. Now on a 15-match winning streak, Roger Federer is the only former Indian Wells champ left in the men’s draw, while Juan Martin del Potro and Milos Raonic are the only former Indian Wells finalists left.
GO FIGURE: Hyeon Chung reached his first Masters quarterfinal by beating Pablo Cuevas. Cuevas saved seven match points before going down…Kevin Anderson again beat Pablo Carreno Busta in their first meeting since their US Open semi last year.
FORTY LOVE – THE WILLIAMSES’ RICHES: Venus Williams’ earnings over the fortnight will enable her to become the second women’s player, after Serena, to pass the 40 million mark in career money. How ironic that Richard Williams was inspired to have his daughters play tennis when he saw Virginia Ruzici win a meager 40,000, just one percent of what both Serena and Venus have won.
EVEN WISE MEN HAVE NO IDEA: When asked how he handled the wind during his victory over Taylor Fritz, young Borna Coric said, “I have no idea.”
MAC TO SUPPORT THE KIDS: There’s a long tradition of players giving back to kids. Arthur Ashe was preoccupied with the importance of education. Andre Agassi has helped build over 77 charter schools across the country. Federer is empowering kids in Southern Africa. Now John McEnroe will be coming to the Menlo Circus Club on May 2nd to support EPATT East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring’s annual fundraising gala.
TAYLOR RISES – AND FALLS: Promising American Taylor Fritz, 20, battled bravely to force a third set against 21-year-old Borna Coric in the BNP Paribas Open’s fourth round, but then double-faulted on Coric’s fourth match point in the first ATP encounter between two stars of the future. Still, Taylor showed how his game has improved. He had ample opportunities to win before faltering. Afterward, he was blunt. “It obviously sucks to compete so hard and come back the way I did in the second-set tiebreak and save the match points just to double-fault it away,” he said. “It sucks. It’s probably the biggest match I have played in my career.”
HAWKING AND TENNIS: Rest in peace, Stephen Hawking. Yes, there is a connection between tennis and the master physicist who revealed so much about black holes. In 2011, Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli said her IQ (which is about 175) was higher than Hawking’s and Einstein’s.
TALL ORDER: There are certain advantages to being a tall man on the tennis court and the tour, but there are challenges too. Kevin Anderson, 6’8”, says he wished he wasn’t so tall on a recent flight back from Mexico. Nonetheless, tall guys are on the rise on the ATP tour and “[the] big guys are moving better than ever,” says Anderson, who grew up playing from the baseline. “Tennis has specific movements,” he adds, noting that some movement patterns are tougher for tall players than others.
SERENA AND FED ON THE STATE OF THE SPORT: Inside Tennis asked both Roger Federer and Serena Williams about the state of athleticism in tennis compared to how it was when they first emerged. Serena was quick and to the point. “Wow. I feel like obviously the game is faster, the players are much faster in terms of running, a lot of the players hit harder. The quality has gone up so much.” She added, “There’s a lot more camaraderie on the tour, as well. It’s just fun times.”
Asked about changes in speed and shotmaking, Roger said, “We’ve had to become across-the-board better movers from the baseline.
“Maybe back in the day we had better movers back and forth, serving and volleying, because that’s also footwork. It’s not easy to serve and volley for five hours…Now we’re better athletes side to side, because with racquet technology, with string technology, we’re able to find crazier angles at faster speeds, so you have to cover a bigger [amount of the] court. You have to adjust….
“I believe the best movers were always part of the best players in the game, but even more so today – the best players in the game have become the best movers. Movement has become a major key to success in our game today.”