Busted Racquet

  • Isner, Mahut given special awards for 'greatest match ever'

    And just like that, it was over as quickly as it started.

    OK, that's a lie. The "greatest match ever," as Frenchman Nicolas Mahut called it, broke every possible record a tennis match could hold, but the Wimbledon marathon finally ended on a John Isner backhand that flew tauntingly past Mahut, ending the 11-hour, 5-minute match in the American's favor at — deep breath — 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (9-7), 7-6 (7-3), 70-68.

    [PHOTOS: Isner and Mahut's exhausting battle]

    The records have been beaten into the ground over the last day, but maybe the most telling part of the match was that when it ended, awards were presented to both players and chair umpire Mo Layani by English tennis legends Tim Henman and Ann Jones. The award ceremony was unusual but deserving for both players as they battled game and game again, holding serve for so long that many wondered if this match would ever end.

    As the realization of what happened hit him, Isner summed up everyone's thoughts in a televised post-match interview.

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  • Queen's embarrassing flub in first visit to Wimbledon in 33 years

    Thursday at the 2010 Wimbledon will forever be known as Queen Day, as Queen Elizabeth II visited the tournament for the first time since 1977, but something she said to a legend might highlight her visit to the All England Club.

    ESPN's Hannah Storm reported a funny exchange the queen had with nine-time Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova. Greeting the queen, Martina was asked by her majesty if she played Wimbledon often. Martina, humble as ever, politely answered yes, she'd won it nine times over her career. Obviously the queen isn't fixated on tennis history.

    [Photos: See slideshow of the Queen's visit to Wimbledon]

    Along with the flub, the queen had a lengthy itinerary on hand that included meeting and greeting some of the youngsters, a ton of the other players and a front row seat to Centre Court where she watched Andy Murray take down Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

    Among the players the queen was able to say hello to included Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Venus and Serena

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  • Isner and Mahut deadlocked at 59-59 in historic Wimbledon tilt

    Epic doesn't even begin to cover it.

    After 10 hours, 163 games and almost 1,000 points, American John Isner and Frenchman Nicolas Mahut were locked at 59-59 in the fifth set of their historic first-round match at Wimbledon when play was suspended for the second straight day due to darkness.

    You read the score correctly: 59-59. When the Wimbledon final had a 16-14 final set last year, that seemed like a marathon. In comparison, this match was like running to the moon.

    [PHOTOS: Isner and Mahut's exhausting battle]

    The pair started play on Tuesday, splitting four sets before play was halted due to a lack of light. They resumed Wednesday afternoon and figured to be on the court for around an hour to finish their fifth set. Improbably and amazingly, the men were still on Court 18 as the sun set at the All England Club seven hours later. Isner could barely move. Mahut looked punch-drunk. Yet they soldiered on, playing in front of a stunned crowd and a worldwide audience which grew by the

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  • Video: James Blake yells at ESPN commentator during match

    American tennis player James Blake shouted at ESPN commentator Pam Shriver during his match at Wimbledon on Tuesday because he felt the former tennis pro was talking too loudly during points.

    Shriver was live on the air on ESPN when Blake yelled at her following a key unforced error on a second-set break point:

    Shriver's voice is as soothing as a vuvuzela and equally as loud. She's practically shouting during the point. Watching this live, I assumed Shriver wasn't on Court 5 and was offering her commentary while watching a feed of the match elsewhere, and that was before Blake yelled anything. Golf and tennis announcers have always had to talk in a loud whisper. Did Shriver think she was in a crowded pub nearby the All England Club?

    [Photos: See James Blake's moves on the court]

    When Blake calls her out (with the perfectly-delivered line "I can't belive you played tennis, I can still hear you") Shriver sounds like she can't fathom why Blake would be mad. Then, to top it off, she

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  • What's love got to do with it? Venus dress inspired by Tina Turner

    Venus Williams is rollin' on the river with her latest dress.

    One month after drawing worldwide headlines for wearing a now-infamous Moulin Rouge outfit at the French Open, the American tennis star debuted a Tina Turner-inspired white, fringed tennis skirt in her first-round victory at Wimbledon on Monday afternoon.

    The dress is part of Williams' clothing line "EleVen", which is named in honor of the address of her childhood home in Compton, Calif.

    It's a vast improvement over the French Open get-up, as it manages to be both simple and fun at the same time. The other one seemed forced, like it was designed to get attention. (In which case: mission accomplished.)

    [Photos: See more of Venus' white hot dress, inspired by Tina Turner]

    Venus said in a postmatch interview that she got the inspiration for the frills from the "What's Love Got To Do With It" singer:

    I love her. I love Tina Turner. Obviously, she's just an amazing, amazing artist, just a survivor. She reinvented herself. Plus

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  • Wimbledon organizers thankfully ban the vuvuzela

    The scourge of the World Cup won't be making an apperance at the All England Club during Wimbledon. In a pre-emptive strike against the vuvuzela, the ear-splitting plastic horn which has annoyed soccer fans across the globe during the World Cup, Wimbledon organizers announced last week that the instrument and similar noisemakers would be banned from the grounds during the tournament.

    In a statement released last Thursday, a club executive wrote:

    Out of courtesy to the players and their fellow spectators, we make a point of asking spectators not to bring items which could either cause a distraction or interfere with the enjoyment of the occasion.

    Rattles, klaxons and vuvuzelas all fall into that category and they will not be allowed into the grounds. Our message is do not bring them in the first place.

    It's unclear why Wimbledon organizers felt the need to explicitly ban vuvuzelas, as whispering is frowned upon during play and the wave is about as rowdy as it gets during downtime at

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  • Picture of the day: The grass is always greener

    ... at the start of Wimbledon.

    And say what you will about Wimbledon's stuffy dress code, but the white really does pop against the luscious green of the lawns.

  • Serves and volleys: Recapping a wild day one at Wimbledon

    "Serves and Volleys" is Busted Racquet's daily roundup of all things Wimbledon.

    If the rest of Wimbledon is anything like Day 1, we're in for a treat. The highlights of the first day of the fortnight:

    Love -- Three of the top five men in the world had to go five sets to advance to the second round. In addition to Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Nikolay Davydenko were pushed to the brink in their opening matches; Davydenko because he's coming back from an injury and Djokovic because he's Djokovic. The Serb's match ended in an enclosed Centre Court at 10:59 p.m., one minute before the Wimbledon curfew.

    15 -- Newfound fan favorite Andy Roddick earned an easy first-round win over fellow American Rajeev Ram on Monday on Court One. The Wimbledon crowd gave Roddick a standing ovation before the match, a continuation of the love he received following his epic five-set loss in last year's final to Roger Federer. Roddick later told reporters that he still hasn't watched the replay of that

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  • Video: Andy Murray's pre-Wimbledon street magic

    When most people think of street magic, they think of David Blaine. Don't let that stop you from watching this nifty viral clip of Andy Murray performing his own blend of tennis-related street trickery:

    The video was filmed in London. Judging by the World Cup results of the English soccer team, it contained the best ball-handling that city has seen in years.

  • To bow or not to bow? Wimbledon players discuss royal etiquette

    When Queen Elizabeth attends Wimbledon on Thursday for the first time in 33 years, players on Centre Court won't be required to bow or curtsy toward the royal box. Up until 2003, players were required to adhere to the protocol, but this week they'll be given the option of whether to show the gesture of respect to the sovereign.

    Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova have all said they'd do so if they play on Thursday, as expected. Scotsman Andy Murray, the player you'd most think would have reason to bow in front of the queen, was non-commital in his plans:

    "If the players want to, it should be personal preference, I guess. I'm sure all of the players might like to do it.

    "I'll have to wait and see. I'll have a chat with the guys. I don't want to be bowing and the person I'm playing with walk straight past. You obviously need to have an agreement before you go on. I'll have to speak to the organizers about it.

    "I don't want to get into some ridiculous argument over

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  • Federer escapes Falla, avoids biggest upset in Wimbledon history

    It would have been the greatest upset in the 133-year history of Wimbledon. Instead, it served as a reminder that Roger Federer is no longer invincible.

    The six-time Wimbledon champion stormed back from a two-set deficit against 65th-ranked Alejandro Falla to avoid an unprecedented first-round loss at the All England Club. Falla had Federer on the ropes in both the third and fourth sets, but was unable to close, as the world No. 2 held on for a 5-7, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (1), 6-0 victory.

    In the first two sets, Falla used his massive backhand to force Federer into uncharacteristic forehand errors. It was a bizarre sight, as the Swiss star was netting shots that he used to make look simple.

    Yet even when he was down two sets and facing three break points in the third, it never felt as though Federer would lose. He's been too dominant on grass (Federer is 48-1 in the last seven years at Wimbledon) and too consistent in Grand Slams to lose to a guy who has never won a title on the ATP Tour. When

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  • Federer beats Nadal (in World Cup and Wimbledon seedings)

    The greatest rivalry in tennis took to the soccer pitch Wednesday when Roger Federer's native Switzerland faced off against Rafael Nadal's beloved Spanish national team in a World Cup pool game. And for the first time in what seems like a while, Federer came out on top.

    The Swiss pulled off the biggest upset of the 2010 World Cup on Wednesday afternoon in South Africa, stunning top-ranked Spain 1-0. Federer and Nadal are passionate supporters of their national teams. Nadal, in particular, is known as a big soccer fan and was said to have celebrated into the night against his coach's wishes in 2008 when Spain won the Euro Cup during Wimbledon.

    The small amount of soccer pride wasn't the only good news for Federer on Wednesday. In defiance of the current ATP rankings, Wimbledon organizers installed Federer as the No. 1 seed at next week's grass court Grand Slam. Nadal is the No. 2 seed, a flip-flop of the current rankings. Wimbledon is the only tournament that breaks away from the

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  • Federer loses second grass court match in seven years

    Roger Federer's loss to Lleyton Hewitt on Sunday in the finals of the Gerry Weber Open was unexpected, to say the least. After all, the Aussie star hadn't beaten Federer in their previous 15 meetings and he's long past his prime, having not advanced to the semifinal of a Grand Slam since 2005 and hovering around the 20s of the ATP rankings. Throw in the fact that Federer was 78-1 on grass since 2003 and the 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4 result becomes even more striking.

    But should it be? After all, even the most ardent Federer supporter wouldn't argue that the 16-time Grand Slam champion is still at his peak. He's been on a steady decline since a bout with mono robbed him of training time in 2008 and seemed to hasten the arrival of his tennis twilight.

    Since then he's been beatable. From 2004 to 2007, Federer lost a total of 24 times. He's dropped the same amount of matches since June 2008. In that dominant four-year stretch, Federer failed to win five Grand Slams in 20 tries. In the past 10

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  • Nadal goes down at Queen's Club, first loss in last 25 matches

    For the first time since March, Rafael Nadal walked off the tennis court a loser Friday in London. The new world No. 1 dropped his quarterfinal match at the Aegon Championships to fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez by a score of 7-6 (5), 6-4.

    The defeat is Nadal's first in 25 matches and comes in his first week as the No. 1 player in the world. All things considered, the result was probably as good as a loss can ever be for a player like Nadal.

    Rafa's goal for Queen's was to get some grass-court matches under his belt before Wimbledon. He accomplished that. Sure, everyone wants to win every time they go out on the court, but after playing five tournaments in the last two months, Nadal could use the rest.

    Quarterfinal losses at Queen's Club have been a harbinger of bad Wimbledon tidings for Nadal though. The Spaniard lost in the quarters in both 2006 and 2007 and then went on to lose in the finals of the grass-court major. When Nadal took the Queen's Club title in 2008, he beat Roger

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  • Andy Murray angry that his match was suspended for darkness

    It was gettin' dark, but not too dark to see in London for Andy Murray.

    The top British player was in the midst of a comeback from 3-0 down in the third set of his third-round match at Queen's Club when his opponent, American Mardy Fish, asked the chair umpire to suspend the match on account of darkness. Without so much as a glance in Murray's direction, Cedric Mourier, who worked the French Open final on Sunday, agreed with Fish and called the match. Fish immediately bolted for the locker room, while Murray vehemently argued his case on the court:

    "The only reason he didn't want to play is because it's three-all. Ten minutes ago, when it was 3-1, he was quite happy. I have never known this [a player not to be consulted] to happen before. It's ridiculous."

    It was ridiculous. There was plenty of light to continue. Fish saw an opportunity to stanch his bleeding and the umpire was only too happy to oblige. It was a fairly spineless move by both. At the very least, Murray should have

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  • Roddick out at Queen's Club, earliest exit since 2001

    Andy Roddick's Wimbledon tune-up sputtered to a premature conclusion Thursday when the top-ranked American was surprised by Israeli Dudi Sela in the third round of the Aegon Championships at Queen's Club.

    Sela beat the four-time Queen's Club champion 6-4, 7-6 (8) in the third round of the Wimbledon tune-up. Roddick had two set points in the extended second-set tiebreak, but Sela held them off and won the match on his second match point with a diving volley at the net.

    "I played OK I thought," Sela told BBC Sport in the understatement of the year. Roddick, for his part, thought Sela played a "perfect match."

    Roddick had advanced to the semifinals at Queen's Club in every year since 2001, winning a record-tying four titles. (John McEnroe and Boris Becker are among the other six players who won four times at the event.)

    On the bright side, at least Roddick got in a little practice on grass before Wimbledon. Injuries this spring prevented the world No. 7 from playing any clay-court

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  • Dinara Safina is not your odds-on favorite to win Wimbledon

    It's not that we need another example of the ignominious fall of Dinara Safina. But here's one anyway:

    Last year, the Russian entered Wimbledon as the No. 1 seed and was an 8-1 favorite to win the championship. This time around she's likely to be the seeded in the 20s and on some sites you can wager on her to win at 149/1. Non-exchange sites like Bodog have 66/1 odds for Safina, which is just as demeaning. Remember, this was a woman who was No. 1 in the world as recently as November! She has an 8-11 record since before the U.S. Open, though, and has seen her ranking plummet to No. 20.

    Among the many players getting shorter odds at Wimbledon than Safina: Agnieszka Radwanska, Marion Bartoli and Ana Ivanovic. Yes, Ana Ivanovic.

    The Williams' sisters, who have combined to win eight of the last 10 Wimbledons (Venus has five, Serena three), are the oddsmakers' favorites for the tournament. Serena is currently receiving 9/4 odds, while Venus is at 4/1.

    Justine Henin is getting 7/1 odds,

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  • Roger Federer is still the favorite to win Wimbledon

    In a span of one week, Roger Federer had his streak of 23 straight Grand Slam semifinal appearances snapped, was replaced atop the ATP rankings and saw the bulk of the pre-Wimbledon hype shift toward Rafael Nadal. Despite all that, Federer is still the odds-on favorite to hoist the Gentleman's singles trophy next month at the grass-court tournament.

    At the moment, oddsmakers are listing Federer as an 11/8 favorite to win, compared to 5/2 odds for Nadal. It makes sense; Federer is 48-1 in the last seven years at Wimbledon with that lone loss coming, of course, to Nadal in their legendary 2008 final. The Swiss star has won the title six times in his career.

    It's not that Nadal is a grass-court slouch though. Since the Spaniard burst onto the tennis scene and improved his clay-court game enough to compete on grass, he's 19-2 at Wimbledon with his only losses coming in the finals to Federer. He'll likely be the top seed at the championships thanks to his No. 1 ranking.

    Last year's

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  • Game Point: The grass court season is underway

    The French Open is over, which means we get a nice, long break of relaxing tennis before Wimbledon begins in ... 12 days. I better do some laundry so I have my white blogging clothes ready.

    Love — You may be surprised to hear that it's raining in London. Rafael Nadal's second-round match at Queen's Club has been delayed a little, but the French Open champion and new No. 1 has looked completely at ease against Marcos Daniel. Andy Murray and Andy Roddick have also advanced at the Aegon Championship.

    15 — Roddick has a newfound popularity in London, likely stemming from his epic Wimbledon final against Roger Federer last year. He had hundreds of fans watch his practice sessions at Queen's Club and received a standing ovation following a routine 6-2, 6-1 early round victory.

    30 — Just started "Strokes of Genius," L. Jon Wertheim's book about the 2008 Wimbledon final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and I can't recommend it enough. The paperback edition is out and at 208 pages, you

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  • Video: Austrian player chokes opponent during changeover

    A league tennis match in Austria was halted earlier this month after a player grabbed his opponent by the throat during a changeover.

    Stefan Koubek, ranked No. 121 in the world, was disqualified after choking Daniel Koellerer (No. 109) following a heated mid-match exchange in which Koellerer reportedly insulted his opponent and knocked a racquet out of his hand:

    My German is a little rusty non-existent, so I don't know what was being said in the clip. It's telling, however, that the fans booed Koellerer as he left the court while cheering the aggressor, Koubek. Not that physical contact with another player is ever acceptable, but given Koellerer's terrible reputation on tour (he's widely disliked and known as an instigator) and the crowd's reaction, I'd say Koubek wasn't completely in the wrong. Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands. Literally, in this case.

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