Tramlines

  • Enjoy the inspiring Williams sisters while you can

    Venus Williams played 11 matches of tennis in all of 2011, has had six months out as she comes to terms with an illness, and is now in the last 16 of a major event. How?

    Her comeback run in Miami, during which she has dumped out the Wimbledon champion and world number three Petra Kvitova, has been described in some quarters as 'inspirational'.

    It's certainly a remarkable story. Venus, now 31 years old, had been struggling with injury and fatigue for some time.

    After a schedule in 2011 that Tramlines would generously term 'limited', Venus turned up for the US Open, won her first-round match

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  • The new kid on the block

    Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have shared out the last eight Grand Slams, but watch out, tennis — there's a new contender in town.

    He's scored more rankings points than any other player in 2012, he's won three tournaments in a row, and lost just one individual singles match all year long.

    Can he shake up tennis, win Grand Slams, maybe even usher in an era of dominance like the great Roger Federer once did?

    Well, he's certainly got the know-how. Because he is Roger Federer.

    The Swiss may well be the wrong side of 30 now but he's back to playing as well as he ever has, with the purpose and

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  • The week tennis stars had fun

    The ongoing Indian Wells Masters has been hit by a widespread viral infection which has already seen eight players withdraw from the competition.

    A lesser-known disease, referred to in the medical world as "sudden disappearance of talent syndrome", is also said to be lingering around the Palm Springs area - but so far Andy Murray is the only person known to have succumbed to it.

    A local medical centre said that the stomach-bug illness "is transmitted by air and direct contact and not passed via food".

    It might as well have been caused by the world's top tennis players having just a little bit

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  • Top 15 unique tennis trophies

    Roger Federer, David Ferrer and Sara Errani did not just win tournaments this weekend but they also got their hands on three of the more unusual tennis trophies.

    It inspired us to trawl through our photo libraries to look at some more prizes dished out to tennis players, because it has increasingly become a sport where an old tin pot is not sufficient if you really want to reward the hero of the week.

    Sure, none of the below can replace the true iconic class of - say - the Gentlemen's Singles Trophy  at Wimbledon, but from the sublime to the ridiculous will give you the top 15 unique trophies

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  • Andy Murray: The $20million man

    Andy Murray at 2012 Australian Open

    There is a sarcastic song from Randy Newman called "It's Money That I Love" where he tackles the old adage of "money can't buy love" by talking about all the hedonistic alternatives a man can purchase if he has the means.

    After singing about cruising around in a limousine on a hot September night with a young girl and a bag of Class A drugs, he tells his audience.

    "Now that may not be love but…it's all right."

    Now we would never suggest that Andy Murray would get up to those kinds of shenanigans but he certainly now has the coinage to spend a lifetime off the rails.

    Until he wins a Grand Slam

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  • The champion who almost quit the sport

    When we reflect upon Victoria Azarenka's rapid rise to prominence, it should be remembered that just 12 months ago the Belarusian was on the verge of quitting the sport.

    After she lost to Daniela Hantuchova in the first round at the Qatar Open a year ago, the defeat appeared to be the culmination of a crisis of confidence that threatened to end her career.

    Azarenka rushed home, ready to tell her family that she wanted to quit the sport she had grown to despise and loathe, and was on the verge of ending a self-destructive downward spiral.

    The ebullient Azarenka said at the time: "It was just

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  • Dan Evans finally comes of age

    The weekend saw an incredible transformation in the career of Great Britain's Dan Evans: from much-maligned underperformer to lauded hero.

    There was also a remarkable role-reversal between James Ward and Evans. Ward was the toast of West London as he thrived at the Queen's Club last summer, while Evans continued to struggle; the change in fortunes was stark in the tie with Slovakia.

    A perusal of Simon Reed's blog early last week shows how unlikely and improbable Evans's exploits were. The fact was, the world number 273 was not expected to produce anything in the way of resistance to Slovakia's

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  • Britain back on world stage

    Team GB celebrate in IsraelThe all-too-familiar questions were being asked after the first day of the Australian Open last month, when every British contender barring Andy Murray was dumped out of the first Grand Slam of the year. In straight sets.

    But despite the occasional setback, British women's tennis has not been in such rude health for some considerable time — and that was proved over the course of four impressive days in Eilat, Israel.

    The context of the Fed Cup Euro/Africa Zone Group I play-offs might not sound spectacular, but the performance was.

    First to be swept aside in Group C were Portugal. Anne

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  • Djokovic can be the greatest

    Novak Djokovic clasps his Australian Open trophy

    So how was it for you? Has there ever been a match so painfully pleasurable? Five hours and 53 minutes of blistering tension that seemed like it would never end.

    Such raw emotion, such unpredictablity, such effort, such athleticism and such heroism. Such beauty yet such brutality. It truly was something to behold.

    The 2012 Australian Open tennis final will be remembered as an item of real drama that is unlikely to be easily upended in the cluttered world of professional sport. Certainly not this year.

    Of course, it is easy to get carried away after such happenings yet it is much more

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  • Azarenka maturity pays dividends

    What a difference two years can make. Against Serena Williams in the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park in 2010, Victoria Azarenka was a set and 4-0 up and playing some fantastic tennis. She somehow conspired to lose.

    This year, having made it to the final against Maria Sharapova, the Belarusian again led by a set and after a couple of early breaks in the second she found herself in exactly the same situation.

    But this time around Azarenka is a completely different beast to the immature, emotionally-driven player that imploded back then. She held her nerve, took the set to love and deservingly

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