Busted Racquet

  • Andy Murray narrowly avoided defeat Tuesday at the French Open, edging out 37-year-old Radek Stepanek for a 3-6, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3, 7-5 first-round win.

    Andy Murray avoided losing in the opening round of the French Open. (AP Photo)Andy Murray avoided losing in the opening round of the French Open. (AP Photo)

    Murray was taken to the limit by the 37-year-old Stepanek, who won the first two sets of the match on Monday.

    The deficit proved to be a wake-up call for Murray. The Scotsman won the third set in under 20 minutes and built up a 4-2 lead in the fourth before the match was halted for the night.

    Murray finished his comeback bid Tuesday, but not without more drama. Stepanek proved a tough opponent in the deciding fifth set, taking a 5-4 lead and once again pushing Murray to the edge of disaster.

    The world No. 2 remained cool under pressure though, and won three straight games to finally advance to the second round.

    Murray was the second top player to narrowly dodge defeat in the first round, as defending Roland Garros champion Stan Wawrinka also needed five sets to put away his opponent.

    Murray is looking for his first French Open title. He

    Read More »from Andy Murray dodges first-round upset at French Open
  • Angelique Kerber was bounced early from the 2016 French Open. (AP Photo)Angelique Kerber was bounced early from the 2016 French Open. (AP Photo)Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber became the first big name to fall at Roland Garros, losing 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to Kiki Bertens.

    The third-ranked Kerber struggled Tuesday, dealing with a shoulder injury and a determined opponent.

    Bertens broke Kerber twice to claim the game’s first set. Kerber, who toppled world No. 1 Serena Williams in Melbourne for a stunning upset, then responded with a 6-3 win in the second set to stave off elimination.

    But Bertens would not be denied, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the deciding third set before Kerber called for a medical time out to tend to her ailing shoulder.

    The time out briefly revitalized Kerber, as she staved off two match points. But, a failed drop shot bid would send Kerber home, while Bertens was through to the second round.

    "I'm disappointed that I lost the first round here," Kerber said after the

    Read More »from Aussie Open champ falls at French Open
  • Andy Murray (Getty Images)Andy Murray (Getty Images)Andy Murray has avoided a stunning upset in the first round of the French Open — for now.

    Radek Stepanek, the oldest player in the men’s singles draw at 37 years old, opened up a two-set lead over Murray at Roland Garros, putting the world No. 2 on the verge of elimination. Murray then roared back to win nine straight games before the match was halted for the night midway through the fourth set with the Scotsman leading 4-2.

    Stepanek, currently ranked No. 129, took it to Murray from the get-go, winning the first set 6-3. Murray looked sloppy at times, giving up 12 unforced errors.

    The two traded breaks in the second set and battled back and forth until Stepanek won two straight games to send Murray to the brink of a first-round exit.

    Read More »from French Open: Andy Murray’s upset scare will conclude Tuesday
  • Stan Wawrinka’s bid to defend his French Open title got off to a rocky start Monday. Wawrinka got all that he could handle from his first-round opponent Lukas Rosol in a five-set match that stretched over three hours.

    Stan Wawrinka (AP Photo)Stan Wawrinka (AP Photo)Rosol drew first blood, coming out aggressive to take the first set 6-4. Wawrinka then fought back, taking the second set 6-1. But Rosol would not go down easy, matching everything Wawrinka had to offer and then some. He downed the third-ranked Wawrinka in the third 6-4 to put him on his heels yet again.

    Playing upset wasn’t new to Rosol, as he knocked off Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2012. And Wawrinka and Rosol had met just less than a week ago in the Geneva Open semifinals. Wawrinka had an easier go in that match, winning 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the final of the French Open tune-up tournament.

    But at Roland Garros, Wawrinka suddenly found himself down 2-1 and needing to fight back to force a fifth set to avoid becoming the first defending Roland Garros champion in the

    Read More »from Stan Wawrinka survives first-round scare at French Open
  • Rain was the story of the day Sunday at the French Open, as inclement weather delayed and postponed the action at Roland Garros.

    (AP Photo)(AP Photo)Only 10 of the day’s 32 matches were completed as scheduled, with the rest pushed to Monday.

    After a nearly three-hour delay, organizers let competitors who were interrupted mid-match to return. Lucie Safarova, who finished runner-up to Serena Williams at last year’s tournament, was able to secure a win before rain once again forced play to come to a halt.

    A total of 66 singles matches will now be played at Roland Garros on Monday. Many matches scheduled for Monday, including Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams’ first round contests, were pushed to Tuesday.

    The five-day forecast for the area predicts a good chance for rain on Monday, but skies should clear up as the week goes on.

    Sunday’s inclement weather prompted @WimbledonRoof, a popular parody account for Centre Court’s retractable roof, to chime in with a playful jab. Now that a new retractable roof is

    Read More »from French Open openers for Serena, Djokovic pushed back due to rain
  • The opening day of the French Open was short on play, but not on controversy.

    Nick Kyrgios (Getty Images)Nick Kyrgios (Getty Images)During the first set between 17th-ranked Nick Kyrgios and Marco Cecchinato, Kyrgios was assessed a code violation for forcefully yelling at a ball boy to hand him a towel.

    Kyrgios took exception to the ruling by umpire Carlos Ramos, arguing that he had only raised his voice because of the noise of the crowd. Ramos was firm though and maintained that Kyrgios’ tone was enough to earn him a violation.

    Kyrgios went back to serve, but was interrupted by a cheering fan. After winning the service, the 21-year-old Australian again went up to Ramos.

    “But when Djokovic pushes a line umpire out of the way that’s alright,” Kyrgios said, referencing an incident at last month’s Italian Open. “Tell the whole world that’s alright.”

    During a semifinal match against Rafael Nadal, Djokovic swatted away a line umpire’s hand after becoming frustrated with his decision. Djokovic was not penalized at the time, but could face a fine

    Read More »from Nick Kyrgios got testy with chair umpire at French Open
  • It may have been a slow, rain-soaked opening day at Roland Garros, but that didn’t stop Dustin Brown from putting together a bit of magic.

    In the first set of his first-round match against Dudi Sela, Brown found himself racing backwards trying to return a shot. With no time to turn around, Brown was forced to try an acrobatic between-the-legs lobbing shot.

    Even more impressive than Brown getting to the ball was the fact that it landed in play and earned him the point.

    Brown and Sela’s match was suspended due to rain in the fourth set with Brown leading 2-1.

    Read More »from 2016 French Open: Watch Dustin Brown's between-the-legs shot
  • Before he begins his quest for French Open glory, Novak Djokovic took some time to celebrate his 29th birthday Sunday. While the action at Roland Garros was delayed due to rain, tournament organizer Guy Forget presented the world No. 1 with a birthday cake.

    Though he surely appreciated the gesture, there’s no doubt Djokovic would like to receive his true gift in a couple of weeks.

    Djokovic isn’t the only player looking for a bit of birthday magic. The tournament’s semifinals are scheduled for June 3, which just happens to be nine-time champion Rafael Nadal’s birthday. So, it’s possible we could see a birthday showdown.

    Barring any more inclement weather, Djokovic will start his French Open campaign Monday.

    Read More »from Novak Djokovic celebrates 29th birthday at French Open
  • Serena Williams is aiming to win her 22nd Grand Slam title at the French Open. (AFP Photo)Serena Williams is aiming to win her 22nd Grand Slam title at the French Open. (AFP Photo)After 13 years, ESPN has said farewell to the French Open. Starting this year, the Tennis Channel and NBC will be your homes for all the action from Roland Garros.

    The Tennis Channel will provide live coverage of the tournament all the way through to the semifinals. NBC will broadcast weekend matches, including the men’s and women’s finals.

    Tennis Channel subscribers can catch a livestream of the network’s coverage through its digital player. NBC will also broadcast a livestream of its coverage via NBC Sports Live Extra.

    2016 French Open TV Schedule (All Times Eastern)

    First Round

    Sunday, May 22: 4:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. (Tennis Channel); 1:00-4:00 p.m. (NBC)

    Monday, May 23: 5:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. (Tennis Channel)

    Tuesday, May 24: 5:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. (Tennis Channel)

    Second Round

    Wednesday, May 25: 5:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. (Tennis Channel)

    Thursday, May 26: 5:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. (Tennis Channel)

    Third Round

    Friday, May 27: 5:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. (Tennis Channel)

    Saturday, May 28: 5:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

    Read More »from 2016 French Open viewers guide: TV schedule, livestream info
  • From Novak Djokovic’s quest for elusive Roland Garros glory to Serena Williams’ return to form, the 2016 French Open is chock full of drama that will keep tennis fans salivating.

    Here are five storylines to watch as the game’s best converge on Roland Garros starting on Sunday.

    Will Novak Djokovic finally get a French Open win?

    Novak Djokovic (Getty Images)Novak Djokovic (Getty Images)Simply put, Djokovic needs a French Open title to be considered one of the game’s all-time greats. He’s had plenty of success on clay, but taking home the championship at Roland Garros has consistently escaped him. The world No. 1 has come up empty in 12 previous trips, finishing as runner-up in three of the last four years. He finally looked to have vanquished his curse last year after besting Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals, but then fell to Stan Wawrinka in a stunning upset in the final.

    Djokovic has since played stronger than ever, winning the next three Grand Slams and opening 2016 with an ATP-best five titles. But, his momentum was recently halted with a

    Read More »from Five storylines to watch at the 2016 French Open
  • While most sports still see a large gap in pay when it comes to gender, the top female tennis players hold their own with the men when it comes to earnings. Forbes released their list of the highest-paid tennis players and over 40% of the top earners are women.While most sports still see a large gap in pay when it comes to gender, the top female tennis players hold their own with the men when it comes to earnings. Forbes released their list of the highest-paid tennis players and over 40% of the top earners are women.

    While the gender pay gap among professional athletes is striking, male and female tennis players appear to be on a more level playing field.

    The male and female champions at the upcoming 2016 French Open will receive equal prize money, standard practice for all Grand Slam tournaments. And, according to Forbes, women made up over 40 percent of the game’s highest-paid players in 2015.

    Roger Federer (left) and Novak Djokovic. (AP Photo)Roger Federer (left) and Novak Djokovic. (AP Photo)Roger Federer was tennis’ top earner, bringing in $67 million in prize money, endorsements, appearances and exhibitions from June 1, 2014 to June 1, 2015. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was next on the list, pulling in $18.8 million less than his Swiss foe.

    Maria Sharapova was the fourth highest-paid player, and top female-earner, at $29.7 million, but she’s taken a serious financial hit due to a doping scandal earlier this year that has lost her lucrative endorsement deals with Nike and TAG Heuer.

    Coming in behind Sharapova is Serena Williams, whose three Grand Slam victories and endorsement deals with

    Read More »from Infographic: Gender pay gap narrower on professional tennis circuit
  • Roger Federer will miss his first Grand Slam since 1999, another step in the steady decline of one of the sport's greats.

    The winner of a record 17 Grand Slam titles said he is not fully recovered from a back injury suffered during practice at the Madrid Open earlier this month. Federer announced his decision via Facebook, saying he wanted to avoid taking "unnecessary risk" by playing before he feels like he is 100 percent healthy.

    Federer has struggled to stay healthy this season, having suffered a meniscus tear that required surgery in early February. After reaching the Australian Open semifinals, Federer has played in just five matches in 2016.

    Roger Federer (REUTERS)Roger Federer (REUTERS)The 34-year-old has made changes to his coaching staff and his equipment in recent years, but regardless of whatever tweaks he makes, it's clear that barring a tremendous run, Federer's days of winning Grand Slams are likely behind him.

    Now, this is not to say that Federer is completely washed up. He won five tournaments in 2015 and finished

    Read More »from Federer out of French Open; will he win another Grand Slam?
  • Indian Wells chief Raymond Moore resigns after coming under heavy fire for saying women's players "ride on the coat-tails of the men" (AFP Photo/Robyn Beck)Indian Wells chief Raymond Moore resigns after coming under heavy fire for saying women's players "ride on the coat-tails of the men" (AFP Photo/Robyn Beck)One day after making controversial, sexist comments demeaning women's tennis, Indian Wells CEO and tournament director Raymond Moore has resigned.

    Sunday morning prior to the finale of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, Moore offered his opinion on the Women's Tennis Association: "In my next life when I come back I want to be someone in the WTA," Moore said, "because they ride on the coattails of the men. They don't make any decisions and they are lucky. They are very very lucky. If I was a lady player, I'd go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport. They really have."

    Shockingly, the comments didn't go over well, either with the public at large or tennis players. Serena Williams spoke of the sacrifice of players like Billie Jean King: "I feel like that is such a disservice to her and every female, not only a female athlete but every woman on this planet that has ever tried to stand up for what they

    Read More »from Indian Wells CEO resigns after sexist comments
  • This is 2016, yes? Just making sure. Because Raymond Moore, the director of this weekend's BNP Paribas Open tournament at Indian Wells, apparently set his watch back about four decades prior to a media Q&A Sunday. Moore answered a question about the Women's Tennis Association by basically chopping female tennis players off at the knees. 

    "In my next life when I come back I want to be someone in the WTA," Moore said, "because they ride on the coattails of the men. They don't make any decisions and they are lucky. They are very very lucky. If I was a lady player, I'd go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport. They really have."

    Yep. You hear that, "lady players"? Stop complaining about equivalent purses and start thanking the men like good women should!

    That in itself would be enough to land Moore in hot social-media water, but Moore followed that up by discussing, yes, the physical attractiveness of

    Read More »from Serena Williams unloads on tournament director for sexist comments
  • Maria Sharapova announced Monday that she failed a drug test at the Australian Open earlier this year.

    Sharapova received a letter from the International Tennis Foundation several days ago informing her that she had failed the test for a substance that had been legal until Jan. 1 of this year. Sharapova did not indicate what the penalties would be or how long she might be away from the game of tennis.

    She had begun taking the substance Meldonium in 2006 to aid in a variety of health problems. However, the drug was added to a banned list starting at the beginning of 2016. Sharapova conceded that she did not look at the list of newly banned substances for 2016 from the World Anti-Doping Association, and thus indicated that she failed the drug test because of ignorance.

    Maria Sharapova speaks at a news conference in Los Angeles. (AP)Maria Sharapova speaks at a news conference in Los Angeles. (AP)"I don't want to end my career this way," Sharapova said. "I really hope I will be given another chance to play this game."

    Meldonium aids in athletes' endurance and rehabilitation. Doctors prescribe it to treat ischemia,

    Read More »from Maria Sharapova failed a drug test at Australian Open
  • Bud Collins attends the 2013 US Open. (Photo by Uri Schanker/WireImage)Bud Collins attends the 2013 US Open. (Photo by Uri Schanker/WireImage)Bud Collins, one of tennis's most flamboyant and outspoken journalists and historians, has died at age 86, the Boston Globe reports. Collins, known as much for his outlandish outfits as for his vast knowledge of tennis lore, died Friday at his Brookfield, Mass. home.

    Collins began his journalism career writing for several Boston-area newspapers, and then moved over to television coverage of tennis for CBS and later NBC. He was a fixture on broadcast television tennis coverage from 1968 to 2007, and then moved to ESPN and satellite radio. 

    Collins authored several memoirs and biographies on tennis, as well as multiple tennis encyclopedias. His habit of wearing outlandish bow ties and pants came from collecting swatches of fabric on his world travels, which he would then send to a Cambridge, Mass. tailor for fashioning into outfits. During last year's U.S. Open, the United States Tennis Association christened the media center in Collins' honor.

    “No media figure in history in my mind has

    Read More »from Bud Collins, famed tennis historian and journalist, dies at 86
  • (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)MELBOURNE, Australia - Novak Djokovic left no room to question his dominance on Sunday night. The 28-year-old Serbian defeated No. 2 Andy Murray in straight sets, 6-1, 7-5, 7-6, en route to his third-straight Grand Slam title and 11th overall. 

    This is his sixth Australian Open title, a record among the men's singles field. Four of those six have come against Murray.

    Djokovic has now won 21-straight matches in Grand Slams, dating back to the start of Wimbledon last year. He only lost one Grand Slam match in 2015, when Stan Wawrinka beat him in the French Open final. The only thing missing from Djokovic's trophy case is that elusive French Open crown.

    Murray was playing in his fifth Australian Open title. The two-time Grand Slam champion and Olympic gold medalist told the media Friday that he knew he had a huge task ahead of him, but anything could happen in any given match. Djokovic was 21-9 in their career head-to-head and had won 10 of his last 11 matches against the Scot, but Murray

    Read More »from Djokovic's dominance continues, wins 11th Grand Slam title
  • MELBOURNE, Australia – In 1991, Australian Open champion Boris Becker celebrated his victory buy jumping in the river that runs right along the road lining the Australian Open grounds. The next two years champion Jim Courier and his coach took their own dives into the murky waters. It's been a tradition for champions ever since.

    Some just stand along the river bank posing with their trophies. Angelique Kerber, who defeated Serena Williams in an major upset on Saturday night to win her first Grand Slam title, woke up Sunday morning and followed Becker's lead. 

    From there, the champion went on the traditional trophy tour of the neighboring Royal Botanical Gardens,

    Read More »from Angelique Kerber takes her celebratory swim in the Yarra
  • MELBOURNE, Australia - Asked if he'd watch his brother Jamie Murray compete for the men's doubles title, men's singles finalist Andy Murray said he would not. It would be too stressful, he said. He'd settle for looking at the final results online.

    Andy seemed to be staying true to his word as Jamie and doubles partner Bruno Soares win their first Grand Slam title. But as the trophy ceremony started, Andy appeared in the players' box. 

    "Andy, you should be in bed, but we'll be in bed to support you tomorrow," Jamie joked during his speech on court. Their mother, Judy Murray, had already flown home to Scotland, to attend to U.K. Fed Cup team responsibilities. But she, too, was awake for the win. 

    Andy recorded the entire speech on his iPhone,

    Read More »from Andy Murray shows up to celebrate brother Jamie's title
  • (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)(AP Photo/Aaron Favila)MELBOURNE, Australia – Serena Williams showed pure class after losing to Angelique Kerber in Saturday night's final. She smiled for the cameras. She hugged Kerber. She talked about being happy for the new champion.

    It was an unexpected loss, but these things happen. In her news conference, she asked that everyone stop assuming she's perfect. 

    "I think I did the best I could today. Would I give my performance an A? No. But this is all I could produce today," the 21-time Grand Slam champion said to the media. 

    "Every time I walk in this room I'm expected to win. I'm not a robot. I do the best that I can. I try to win every point but realistically I can't. Maybe someone else can."

    If there is any silver lining to this loss for Williams, perhaps it's that this year she'll won't have to face the constant buzz that comes with the potential of winning a calendar year Grand Slam. 

    Read More »from Serena: 'I'm not a robot'