Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

19 Oct 2013

Over the past couple of years, I have consistently told myself at the end of every season that next year will be the year I return to my original blogging roots of posting much more often. While I have done some fun, longer form pieces over the past couple of years, this has never really happened, largely due to life being a bit crazy, moving to a new country (and moving back) and more. I can safely say that next year is going to be different, and the plan is to layout a pretty consistent style of posting. This will make things both easier for me and for you, the reader. You will know what you’re getting. Here’s the lay of the land, including both new and old posting formats…

The Bakery

The Bakery will be your one stop shop for all of your quick match review needs. These won’t be long, deeply tactical posts. Simply the odd tactical trend, key points or stats from a match and general thoughts on both players and their current form. Readable, interesting, and quick.

Monday’s Mailbag

Over the course of doing the podcast, we have often asked for questions, received some excellent ones, and not had enough time to get to them. I love the conversations I have on Twitter with people, and love continuing the discussion in longer forms. This will be a great way not for me to just answer questions, but to have a way to flesh out ideas in more than 140 character bursts. The plan is to have a post every Sunday asking for questions (you can leave a comment, e-mail or tweet them) and I’ll pick the best 5-8 depending on length and answer them sometime on Monday. I’ve always wanted to attempt my own mailbag and am looking forward to it!

A Drunken “Live” Blog…

Quite literally one of the craziest ideas I’ve ever had.

1) Pick a classic match to watch in its entirety. I’m thinking Nadal/Federer at Wimbledon, McEnroe/Borg, Nadal/Djokovic at Madrid, Federer/Safin… and maybe even that Cirstea/Wozniacki match I saw in Toronto.
2) Plan well ahead. I’ll pick a match and a time well in advance.
3) You can play along! The hope is to write text “updates” in a live blog format, but also have a chatbox type thing embedded on the blog, so if you want to watch the match as well, we can chat about it while it’s “happening”.
4) Enjoy fine beverages in the style of the amazing Drunk History videos (now a popular TV show).

Of course, since the match isn’t actually happening, the “live” blogs won’t be incredibly long, will include the scores in updates and be readable after the match has been watched at any time (and hopefully be a bit funny, too, obviously). I’m hoping to do one of these in December as a test run.

Tomorrow’s Picks

I’m still debating whether or not to do this, but the idea will be to pick three matches of the following day in which I feel most confident about the winner. Ideally, you could use them in a combo bet and get SUPER RICH obviously. Or just read a quick preview of tomorrow’s action. These would be incredibly brief but hopefully helpful, if you catch my drift.

Podcast

Duh! The podcast isn’t going anywhere. Monday wrap-ups and some Thursday topic specific Nerdcasts with Juan Jose. We have received such positive feedback on this thing and it has been a thrill to talk tennis with such cool and fun people.

A Tactical Tale

I’ve done a couple of these and received a lot of great feedback, particularly the Simona Halep one. I use my 10 point guide to tactics (see above) and break down a player’s approach in a specific match. They’re quite meaty, but hopefully helpful and interesting. I will definitely look to do more of these next year, particularly during slams.

10 Things We Learned From…

Always a favourite of mine, these are a great way to recap a tournament, a week, or a specific player’s deep run in a tournament. Look for more of these.

Ponder the Racket

I’m not sure why I ever stopped doing these. Largely designed to empty my brain out, pose some questions, and toss out some rapid fire ideas.

And that is largely it! I can cover just about everything I want to with these post formats, and hopefully you as the reader will get what you’re looking for as well. Any comments, questions, or other ideas are more than welcome in the comments or on Twitter at @MindTheRacket.

Thanks, nerds!

8 Apr 2013

New to tennis tactics? Curious how you can analyze a match? Wondering why your favourite player tends to win or lose against a specific style of opponent? You’ve come to the right place. The following is part 5 of the 10 Point Beginners Guide to Tennis Tactics. The explanation of the segment can be found above, as well as all other 10 parts as they are completed and archived.

Congratulations! You’ve made it this far. You’ve picked a player and done some serious analysis of how they construct points. Ultimately, the following six points are really those relating to the precious four, particularly the creation and use of space section. It’s all related. However, sometimes it’s the finer things that can go unnoticed, and are the most important.

Pace (the speed the ball travels off of a player’s racquet) is a fascinating aspect of tactics.

Obviously, hitting the ball hard is, largely, a good thing. This is obvious to everyone. It allows the opponent less time, and eventually makes it easier for a player to simply hit the ball past an opponent. I don’t need to sit here and explain this to you. But what of pace that gets missed?

A player who hits the ball hard is often automatically described as an aggressive player. Likewise, less power players are usually described as defenders or returners, etc. This is often fair, but can be a dangerous leap of faith.

Juan Martin del Potro has one of the biggest forehands the men’s game has ever seen. He serves big and is all around a large, imposing human being. It might be easy to label Delpo as a “power” player, which largely implies that he’s an aggressive player. Truth be told, Delpo is not an incredibly aggressive player (less so than Rafa, Fed or Djokovic). At times, he can even be lulled into poor bouts of overly defensive form. He likes to have pockets of space to attack, but isn’t always the one to create those.

That said, his defence can also be excellent. It’s a type of game he can play, and you will almost never hear his defence mentioned.

On the other side of the coin, power players can often hurt themselves with their pace. The harder you hit the ball the less time you have until you must hit the next ball. While playing an aggressive, big on acute angles will “open” up the court, extreme pace may only compound the problem. This is where the idea of “counterpunching” truly comes from in my mind. A more defensive, better moving player uses the acute angles and the reduced time between strokes against their opponent; the other player quickly finds themself on the run – a problem they largely created on their own.

This can be particularly common with bigger hitting women’s players outside of the top 5-10. They’re used to hitting big and aggressively. However, they can suddenly found themselves run ragged, side to side against an opponent able to expose the space in the court. Compounded with unforced errors, it can get out of control quickly.

There are things these big hitting players can do to fix this, and you’ll find out in part 6!

2013 at Mind The Racket

Posted by Brodie under: Uncategorized

23 Dec 2012

Hello everyone. This is a very quick post to talk about some of the exciting things that are upcoming for the 2013 season.

To start, this will be my first full season out of university. Oh yes. Australian coverage will be tricky while I’m living in the UK, but after January should get much, much easier.

At this point I’d like to introduce our new contributor Devang Desai! Devang is a sports nerd of exceptional quality, and is able to fit 25 hours of sports watching within a 24 hour day. That, and he’s a damn good writer. He does his main work over at The Score’s Counter Attack football (soccer) blog, and has dabbled in other things over there. He also knows his tennis, and I’m incredibly excited to have him on board. Make sure to follow him on Twitter as well, over at @DesaiDevang.

Lastly, there are rumblings right now about me being on a new, regular running podcast. At this point I can’t give you much more information as things are still being ironed out, but keep an eye out for more information on that around the start of 2013!

Thanks everyone. I can’t wait for the new season.

The Blogman Returneth

Posted by Brodie under: Uncategorized

18 May 2012

Boom! I’m back! It feels good to be back. And this time, I won’t be going away. For those who follow, I’ve been back tweeting, and now turn my attention to the blog, and whipping this place back into place.

Lately, I’ve focused my attention on broader pieces on bigger issues. I still plan on doing that, but I also plan on doing match reports in the vein of what I used to do. Along with that, I’ll bring back my “The Week Ahead” (as well as week in review, also on TennisBloggers.com) as well as Ponder the Racket, answering Wertheim’s mailbag and other fun stuff. Keep an eye out and spread the word. Cheers!

Wimbledon Day 3 Round-Up

Posted by Brodie under: Uncategorized

22 Jun 2011

I’ll hopefully be doing one of these every day for the rest of the tournament, and individual posts on matches of particular intrigue.

- It was one hell of a day for Canadian tennis. All three remaining Canucks in the singles are done. The most devastating of all is Milos, who went down with a nasty tumble early in the first set versus Muller and was unable to continue on for more than a game. Not only does this knock him out of the tournament, but it also nixes a chance for Milos to play in the biggest match of his life versus Rafa on centre court. There will be other chances, however, and Milos will be back. Here’s hoping it’s not too serious and his summer isn’t in jeopardy.

- Both remaining Canadian women, Marino and Dubois, went out to Vinci and Petkovic respectively. The Marino match wasn’t on a show court, but the scoreline definitely showed off the error of youth. Up 5-2 in the first, she was unable to close it out, lost it in a tiebreak, and went down in the second without much of a fight. Dubois fought well to claim the second set, but ran out of gas against the power of Petko.

- Round of applause for Kimiko and Venus. Hell of a match, regardless of age, regardless of health. Women’s tennis is alive and well.

- I still think ya’ll better watch out for Richie.

- It’s been a rough year for T-Berd, who not only lost semis points from RG, but now has finals points to defend. Nice to see that he’s moved through the first two rounds without issue.

- Good and bad news for the British youngsters. A great win for Laura Robson, who toughed one out against Kerber after a huge momentum swing in Kerber’s favour in the third. Tough stuff for Watson, however, who was in cruise control in a set and a half, and then had some elbow issues on her right arm and lost in a close three sets, 6-4 in the third. I know it’s a bit silly to hype players up, but in my opinion, both of these ladies have a real shot at being constant fixtures in the top 20, and eventually top 10.

- Sabine still hasn’t lost a set on grass all year. She plays Nails tomorrow on centre court. Be there.

Strong Is Beautiful

Posted by Brodie under: Uncategorized

12 May 2011

The WTA has launched a new advertising campaign “Strong Is Beautiful”, the first major one since “Looking for a Hero?” And I’m all for it.

To start out, the “Hero” campaign was definitely fun. Images of Ana, JJ, Masha and company running around and switching into Mighty Morphing Tennis Hotties was all good for possible new audiences. The problem with it was that it put the onus on the person watching the ad. It also did little for people who already were fans or planning on going. We weren’t looking for heroes, we all already have our favourite players.

And that’s where this new campaign comes in. I dare say that it’s in your face for the WTA, showing a variety of players mid stroke with bold, all caps STRONG IS BEAUTIFUL. To start, this just kicks ass. It grabs your attention. “Hey, look at these chicks kicking ass!” “Woah, sweet.”

At the same time, it also turns the “females in a male dominated sports market” on its head. To a certain extent, you can’t blame the WTA for trying to sell their sport through their players looks. Sports is a male dominated industry, there’s no doubt about it. The awesome part of this campaign, however, is that it’s far from “hey, isn’t Maria Kirilenko hot in a bikini?” Instead it shows the players in their “natural” beauty (in the sense that they’re swinging a racquet) and lets you know that their strength, determination, and skills on the court are what own. Are they photoshopped? Yes. Are they wearing outfits that would never be seen on a tennis court? Sure. But even ATP ads are photoshopped (what ads today aren’t?) and the outfits are, for the most part, tasteful and appropriate. Regardless, I bet a lot of the players would rather wear something nice in the shoots than their regular on court gear.

Nice touch having players speak in their native tongue, too. Vids after the jump.
Read the rest of this entry »

Oh. Hello There, Blog

Posted by Brodie under: Uncategorized

7 Apr 2011

It is with great excitement that I must announce… I’m baaaaaaack in the saddle again!

It’s been a rather grueling few months for me, finishing up my university degree, working, and trying to get tennis and sports watching in, let alone finding the time to blog. It really didn’t make sense for me to try and throw up posts every now and then just to keep this thing above water, so I let it sink a bit… Regardless, the essays are done, exams will soon be done, and I’m ready to get dirty (with clay, silly).

Regular programming will return, and I’m super pumped for Monte Carlo and the dirt. I’m also thinking about turning my Ponder The Racket tidbit series into quick 10 minute podcasts that I could do every once and a while, and would also encourage discussion, would be easy for everyone to grab via iTunes etc. etc. We’ll see.

Thanks for continuing to follow me on Twitter (@MindTheRacket) and I look forward to seeing a few more of you around here now that regular posts will be back up. Cheers everyone.

Tennis Pool Opens!

Posted by Brodie under: Uncategorized

21 Dec 2010

Come on in, the water is warm.

For those who have no idea what tennis pool is, here’s a quick intro. First off, it’s not affiliated with ATP or WTA and is entirely for fun (and there are a few prizes). You have a team of 20 players, 10 ATP, 10 WTA. Each week you are awarded points to your team for the amount of real life ranking points each player on your team gets in real life. Each week you are allowed to swap out 3 ATP and 3 WTA players for new players. The key is that each player costs a certain amount depending on their ranking points and spot in the rankings, and both of your ATP and WTA sides have caps. This means that you have to budget your money (you obviously can’t just pick the top 10) and time (sometimes you might keep a couple players through the weeks leading up to a slam because there are more points to be gained there).

Overall, it’s a great game that serves a variety of purposes. First off, it’s just damn fun. Second, it’s hella fun to compete against friends as well as the broader (and generally huge) world of tennis pool. Third, it gets you really digging through draws in a way you might not other do, specifically for slams. Fourth, it will get you into matches you might not have cared about otherwise, and lastly can get you interested in (or at least keeping an eye on) smaller tournaments, especially later in them.

There’s a lot to be gained, and like I said in an earlier post, it’s a great way to go from being a tennis fan to a full on nerd. That being said, it is a bit of a commitment, but they’re generally pretty good at opening it up early enough that you’ve got the weekend to change over your team. Plus, once your team is set on Sunday for the week, you don’t have to worry about it again until next weekend, and you’re only swapping 6 players a week (other than 4 key spots at ends of “seasons” where you get to re-do your entire team).

Two final things. First, when you sign up, just pick a random team. You’ve got time to adjust it freely until January 2nd, so there’s plenty of time.

Lastly, I’ve got a Mind The Racket club set up for all of us to join into. Check that. The group is now “Twitter Tennis Addicts”. It’s a public group, so just find it and join. And no, you don’t have to be on Twitter to join. Last year we had a great turn out and I’d love to see that again. Being in a club doesn’t really do anything other than create a convenient way of grouping us together and to see how you’re doing against fellow friends/twitterinos, etc. The group is a private group so I don’t have randoms clogging it up, so just drop me a comment/tweet me/e-mail me your username and I’ll add you in, it takes two seconds. You can also do likewise if you have any questions, I’d be more than happy to help.

Thanks! Good luck, and hope to see you in the pool!

23 Sep 2010

Somewhat lost in the ZOMGDELPOISBACKpalooza, some rather depressing injuries.

Gonzo has really effed stuff up with his knee and is being shut down for a whopping nine months. Really too bad. Doubt he’ll retire, but gotta feel that he’s running out of time.

JZ is done for the rest of the year with a bum wrist. Which wouldn’t be so depressing if all of the tournaments for the rest of the year weren’t in Asia. Boo. Nails needs you girl.

Oh, and Monf is out of Metz with an adominal strain that he got after jumping out of bed in excitement and sliding into his dresser. At least that’s what I’m presuming it’s from. The actual unfortunate part of this is that Monf would have been defending the Metz tourney in hometown France. Boo.

Davis Cup Weekend Preview

Posted by Brodie under: Uncategorized

16 Sep 2010

France vs. Argentina

Palais des Sports de Gerland, Lyon
Stadium Capacity: 5,910
17 September – 19 September 2010
Day 1: 13.30 hrs (11.30 hrs GMT)
Day 2: 15.00 hrs (13.00 hrs GMT)
Day 3: 13.00 hrs (11.00 hrs GMT)
Surface: Hard (Gerflor Masters 1000) – Indoors

R1 – M.LLODRA (FRA) v. J.MONACO (ARG)
R2 – G.MONFILS (FRA) v. D.NALBANDIAN (ARG)
R3 – A.CLEMENT / M.LLODRA (FRA) v. E.SCHWANK / H.ZEBALLOS (ARG)
R4 – G.MONFILS (FRA) v. J.MONACO (ARG)
R5 – M.LLODRA (FRA) v. D.NALBANDIAN (ARG)

PICO! Ahem…

Really, a fantastic tie that is going to feature some great match-ups and some close matches.

There are a lot of questions going into this tie. No Jo (again) and no Richie or Jules. This means that the Frenchies will call on Clement to play with Llodra for their doubles, likely a far less effective team compared to the Jules/Llodra team that won the clincher against Spain in the quarters. Other questions? Which Gael is going to show up? Will Nalby last 5 sets? How is Pico’s health?

These questions are actually quite answerable (is that a word? It is now) in my eye. Gael is a different beast in Davis Cup. Don’t expect any stupid backwards tweeners. Oh, and in case you haven’t noticed, he feeds off the crowd… and the crowd is going to be basically entirely French. That doesn’t hurt.

On the other hand, Nalby is also an different beast in Davis Cup. I’ve joked that he’d rather win this trophy than a grand slam one… but that’s not much of a joke. Nalby wants that damn thing, and he wants it before he’s rusted and broken. He’ll show up big time (he always does).

Unfortunately, while Pico gives the Argies the obvious nod in the hotness department, his health and general lack of playing in the past months is what is going to give France the edge before this has even started. On indoor hard courts, behind a French crowd, over five sets… Llodra and Monf are going to feast on poor Pico. Their serves will likely be enough to beat him.

Elsewhere, things are a bit fuzzy. Nalby digs indoor hard courts, they let him turn around pace with zero resistance. He’s also one of the best returners in the game, meaning that Monf and specifically Llodra will get far fewer free points on serve than they would like. Also, it’s friggin’ Nalby in Davis Cup. The dude just comes alive.

I really think the two matches that will make this tie will be Monf/Nalby and the doubles. Nalby should be able to dismantle Llodra, but Pico will probably lose both of his. I think Argentina hold the upper hand on both the other matches, though. Schwank and Zeballos have been dynamite as a team this year, and not just in Davis Cup action (they made the Wimbley QFs and just came off a semis appearance in New York). That’s a huge advantage.

In other words? The defining match may be tomorrow, when Nalby takes on Monf. It should be a fantastic match regardless, don’t miss it.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m way biased, but I think Nalby will squeak those wins out, and the dubs team will come down hard after flying on the US Open high. Argentina in a squeaker, 3-2.

Serbia vs. Czech Republic

Belgrade Arena, Belgrade
Stadium Capacity: 16,842
17 September – 19 September 2010
Day 1: 15.00 hours local time (13.00 hours GMT)
Day 2: 15.00 hours local time (13.00 hours GMT)
Day 3: 14.00 hours local time (12.00 hours GMT)
Surface: Hard (RuKortHard) – Indoors

R1 – N.DJOKOVIC (SRB) v. R.STEPANEK (CZE)
R2 – J.TIPSAREVIC (SRB) v. T.BERDYCH (CZE)
R3 – V.TROICKI / N.ZIMONJIC (SRB) v. J.HAJEK / I.MINAR (CZE)
R4 – N.DJOKOVIC (SRB) v. T.BERDYCH (CZE)
R5 – J.TIPSAREVIC (SRB) v. R.STEPANEK (CZE)

In my eye, there is only one real question for this tie: how is Steps going to do? The guy has only won 8 matches all year and has been nearly useless since returning from his time off. The guy is a Davis Cup hero, but in 5 sets against the home team? The Czechs are going to have a hell of a time against the Serbs.

The interesting thing is that Nole is coming off a pretty long couple of weeks, mentally more than anything, and if Steps can squeak out a singles win, things get a bit more interesting. Berd is totally capable of winning both his matches, which could be the tie. Unfortunately for them, Serbia has a really clear upper hand in the doubles. On a hard court, big serving Zimo and Viktor should take care of business easily.

I like Serbia, 3-2.

The Changeover Podcast:

Episode #56 – Indian Wells Wrap