BBC BLOGS - Jonathan Overend

Archives for November 2011

Is Roger Federer playing better than ever?

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Jonathan Overend | 08:11 UK time, Monday, 28 November 2011

Before we start, a prediction; you will find below, unless you are the first poster, a rather lively debate. It's going to be argumentative, and it could get a little rough in there, but it's going to be passionate and that's what these pages are all about!

The debate began on the radio last week, leading to a minor stir in the press and replies to @5livetennis in a total twitter-tizzy.

The question is about Roger Federer, the six-time ATP World Tour Finals champion who sealed the 2011 title at the O2 in London with a three set win over brave Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a stirring final on Sunday.

Whether now, at the age of 30 and with a world ranking of three, Federer may actually be a better player than, say, five years ago as the undisputed world number one.

Before you hurl blog-bog in my direction (please, my suit needs to stay fresh for our end of season lunch) remember I am simply posing the question rather than put my neck on the chopping board. For now.

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Murray blow highlights need for ATP leadership

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Jonathan Overend | 09:02 UK time, Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Andy Murray's withdrawal from the ATP World Tour Finals in London was a hugely disappointing end to his best ever season.

He didn't want to let anyone down - even mentioning his back-up team as well as supporters and event organisers - but it was a sensible decision and the only viable one from the moment he aired his doubts during Monday's post-match press conference at the O2 Arena.

In the final tournament of the year, the risk of aggravating his groin strain - sustained in practice last Monday - was too great. Had the strain become a tear, his off-season training, an unseen yet essential part of his year, would have been wrecked.

The first major of the year, the Australian Open in Melbourne, comes in the third week of January and he can't jeopardise his chances by being undercooked in any way.

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Tennis stars heading for O2

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Jonathan Overend | 06:47 UK time, Wednesday, 16 November 2011

It wasn't quite Bryon Butler introducing Graham Kelly at Lancaster Gate for the FA Cup draw - a nostalgic reference which will mean nothing to most international readers - but it was a privilege to help conduct the draw for the tennis season finale live on BBC Radio 5 live.

I must confess to being a little nervous.

As the names were pulled from an old circular vase, normally at home in a Shepherd's Bush flat (these things aren't just thrown together), the two groups for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals took shape.

Novak Djokovic, the top seed, was drawn with Andy Murray, David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych in Group A, while Rafael Nadal, the number two seed, came out alongside Roger Federer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mardy Fish in Group B.

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So what would you do?

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Jonathan Overend | 17:21 UK time, Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Your shoulder hurts after a long year and probably needs further rest to let it fully recover ahead of the World Tour Finals, yet one match here in Paris can earn you $1.6m.

This has been playing on Novak Djokovic's mind ever since the world number one lost to Kei Nishikori in Basel last week.

I'm talking about the ATP "bonus pool", the incentive scheme to make sure all the top players compete in the mandatory Masters 1000 tournaments.

Djokovic is clearly nowhere near full fitness. The shoulder problem which has bugged him since the American hard court summer still persists and forced him to lose a final set 6-0 to Nishikori, yet there is enormous financial pressure for him to appear in the French capital.

He may have won more than $10m in prize money this season but the dangling bonus-pool cheque is almost impossible to ignore.

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Why being British number one matters

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Jonathan Overend | 21:13 UK time, Wednesday, 2 November 2011

In tennis we often talk about "British number one" when domestic rankings don't technically exist. What we're dealing with, of course, are world rankings and some players are keener than others to sort them by nation.

Greg Rusedski appeared so keen to finish the 2005 season ahead of Tim Henman and Andy Murray he flew to Ukraine to play a bonus challenger tournament.
That was the autumn of metaphorical batons, or torches, or whatever cylindrical objects one is supposed to pass at moments of sporting abdication.

Henman didn't really care. He knew his time was up.

Murray couldn't understand the fuss. For him, the status of British number one meant next to nothing. Even less now, with nobody else within 151 ranking places.

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