Tramlines

  • Where the top five can improve in 2011

    While everyone else was stuffing their faces with turkey and mince pies over the last few weeks, Tramlines instead engaged in its favourite Christmas tradition - gorging itself over the ATP Tour end-of-year stats sheets like the OCD-inflicted nerd that it is.

    There are so many dynamics that go into winning tennis matches, but looking at the cold hard numbers can be a good way to identify areas were players can improve just that little bit.

    So Tramlines has been looking at the stats for the clear top five players from last year - Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and

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  • Tramlines’s year in review

    Over the last 12 months, Roger Federer has dispelled the quite frankly ridiculous whisperings that he is a thing of the past.

    He began the year by wiping the floor with Andy Murray (more on him later) and finished it by lifting the ATP World Tour Finals trophy.

    Okay, so the middle of the year wasn't quite so impressive, with a limp French Open quarter-finals loss to Robin Soderling and a defeat at the same stage at Wimbledon to Tomas Berdych.

    But the Swiss 29-year-old roared into form in the back-end of the season, claiming wins in Cincinnati, Stockholm and Basel as well as at the O2 in

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  • Tramlines catches up with Elena Baltacha

    Tramlines recently caught up with British
    number one Elena Baltacha for a chat about the past 12 months.

    The Ukraine-born Scot enjoyed her most
    successful season to date in 2010 and moved up the rankings from world number
    87 at the beginning of the year to 55.

    The 27-year-old also racked up victories
    over top 10 players Li Na and French Open champion Francesca Schiavone in the course
    of the year, as well as reaching the quarter-finals in Memphis (before losing
    to eventual champion Maria Sharapova), Eastbourne (losing to world number five
    Sam Stosur) and Istanbul (where she was defeated by

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  • Sorry Andy, we’ve been here before

    Okay British tennis fans, panic is over, Andy's back, all is well with the world, now bring on the Tour Finals and the Australian Open - Andy's time is NOW!

    Snooze!

    Sorry, but forgive us here at Tramlines for not getting too excited about Andy Murray's victory over Roger Federer in the final of the Shanghai Masters. We like Andy in these parts, we really do, but this is not the victory that is going to get us purring about his renaissance.

    Before we explain the reason for our underwhelmed outlook, we must first of course say well done to Murray. He played outstanding tennis all week, he

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  • Rankings debate getting old

    Tramlines
    is tired. Tired as another long year stutters towards its climax and
    tired of wading into a debate that has been running in women's tennis for much
    of the past decade.

    As
    another WTA season drew to a close yesterday, little appeared to have changed when Caroline Wozniacki was beaten in the final in Doha despite having secured the end-of-year
    world number ranking without having won a major title.

    Just
    like Dinara Safina and Jelena Jankovic before her, the blame apparently lies at
    Wozniacki's feet, an argument TL finds a little harsh to be honest.

    After
    all, why should Wozniacki be

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  • Make sure you savour this rivalry

    When it comes to assessing the great battles between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal over the years you would have to rank last weekend's final at the O2 Arena in the upper echelons.

    Sure, it never quite reached the dizzying heights of their Wimbledon final battles or the 2009 Australian Open decider, but nevertheless it was still absorbing stuff to watch.

    Under Paul Annacone's coaching, Federer seems to have rediscovered that almost levitational ability to glide around the court, while the clearly not 100 per cent fit Nadal was still compelling viewing throughout the week at the O2 as he used

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  • Soderling’s strictly second tier

    When it comes to reflecting on the merits of different tennis players at any given time a number of people seem to stick on their hyperbole hats and jump to extremes.

    Thus Roger Federer regularly bounces from being completely washed up to back to his best, while Andy Murray hovers from future multiple Grand Slam champion to a mummy's boy who is destined to live a Henman-esque Slam-less existence.

    Invariably the truth lies somewhere in between. Tennis players are never as good, or as bad, as the people who passionately praise or grumble about their talents say they are.

    With all that in mind,

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  • Time is right for a tennis World Cup

    Serbia's Novak Djokovic lost to Roger Federer in the final of the ATP Basel tournament last weekend but you get the impression that he wasn't too bothered - as he said himself early in the tournament, his mind is already focused on the Davis Cup final next month.

    This week the Paris Masters takes place, but again you feel that most of the local fans in attendance will be chatting more about the forthcoming decider in Belgrade than the action taking place at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy.

    The question is, though, whether the rest of us really care about Serbia's final clash with France?

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  • Tennis’s teenage wasteland

    Do you recognise the player in the
    picture?

    If you correctly identified Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov then
    congratulations - you clearly know your tennis.

    The young Bulgarian has been touted as 'the new Roger Federer'
    for a few years now; he won the juniors at Wimbledon
    and the US Open, and is clearly a natural and exciting talent.

    However, don't berate yourself too much if you have never heard
    of him. He has only won seven ATP matches since then, and played a solitary
    Grand Slam match. He's not what you would call a household name.

    But his significance? Well, at the age of 19 and five months, he

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  • Brits lack Serb-style passion

    Serbia's stunning run to the Davis Cup final is one of the feel-good tennis stories of the year but it must have the LTA squirming with embarrassment.

    In the year that the British team suffered a humiliating defeat to Lithuania in the nether regions of Euro/African Zone Group II, Serbia, a country with a population of just seven million people and, until recently, no huge tennis tradition to speak of, is on the brink of the biggest team prize in the sport.

    And let's not forget that as well as creating Davis Cup finalists, Serbia has already developed two female number one players in recent

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