Tramlines

  • The Magical Mystery WTA Tour

    There is an old saying about that most British of obsessions - the weather - that goes "the only thing that is predictable about the British weather is its unpredictability."

    You could certainly apply the same adage to the WTA Tour which has enjoyed the type of rollercoaster year that might have led to even the shrewdest tennis gambler filing for bankruptcy.

    At times, the quality on show has been as up-and-down as the results, but the true joy in following women's tennis this season has rested in the fact that you never quite know what is going to happen next.

    When Dominika Cibulkova won the

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  • ‘Lady Gaga of tennis’ endures bad romance

    Bethanie Mattek-Sands was at it again as she belatedly took to the
    court today for her first round clash.

    The self-titled "Lady Gaga of tennis", who was once fined
    for wearing a cowboy hat at the US Open, stunned people in a yellow number to
    the players' party made out of tennis balls.

    And after promising that "Wimby has never seen something like
    this" about her jacket for the tournament, Mattek-Sands was in a jovial
    mood when she turned up on the court.

    "I'm not hitting a ball in this, don't worry," she
    shouted as she stripped off her tennis-ball jacket to reveal a skin tight dress
    with a

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  • The race to exit early in London hots up

    Forget the
    fact that Andy Murray turned in one of his finest performances to date to come
    from a set down to destroy Rafael Nadal in the Japan Open final - the significant
    action last week was in China.

    Yes, that's
    right - Tomas Berdych went and wrapped up the title in Beijing, which puts him
    in a strong position to finish in the top eight for the season and thereby
    compete in the season-ending World Tour Finals at the 02 Arena in London.

    With the
    Grand Slams decided, the tournaments being contested over the next six weeks or
    so will all be reported in the context of the race to London.

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  • The rebel rocker of tennis finally wins

    The size and grandeur of his trophy may have been pretty pathetic, but no one could wipe the smile off the face of Janko Tipsarevic after he won the Malaysian Open.

    At the ripe old age of 27, the resplendent rock star of tennis has been forced to sweat it out in waiting for his first ATP Tour title.

    The world number 17 finally captured his maiden title at the fifth attempt as he beat Marcos Baghdatis 6-4 7-5 in Kuala Lumpur to become the 10th first-time winner on the ATP World Tour this season.

    The Serb was previously the only player in the top 20 not to have won an ATP Tour title, with four

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  • Li and Schiavone to rescue women’s French Open

    Just
    four months after making history when she became the first Chinese player to
    reach a Grand Slam final, Li Na is at it again.

    This
    time she is the first Chinese player to reach a French Open final
    , two short
    days after becoming the first Chinese player to reach a French Open semi-final.

    A
    quick caveat to that stat should be raised; Chinese American Michael Chang, who
    was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, won the title in 1989. Born to
    Taiwanese parents Chang was nonetheless American by nationality.

    Way
    back in 2004, Li was the first Chinese player to win a WTA Tour event when she
    triumphed at

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  • Greatest male hardcourt players

    As the hardcourt season comes to a close, Tramlines takes a look at some of the players to have mastered the surface in the Open era - starting with the men's game.

    There have been some dominant players on the surface, especially in the period from the late-1970s to mid-80s, when most grass tournaments were replaced with low-maintenance hard courts.

    The Australian Open is the most high-profile example of this, switching from grass to 'rebound ace' rubber hardcourts in 1987 then switching to a medium-paced plexicushion court in 2008.

    Ivan Lendl

    Many refer to Ivan Lendl as the 'father of modern

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  • Should players be obliged to turn out for their country?

    It happens more in women's tennis, seemingly, than men's where a
    country's major stars opt out of the Davis or Fed Cup in order to concentrate
    on their own career.

    With the exception of Andy Murray, who has only sporadically turned
    out for Great Britain
    in the Davis Cup since 2008, most of the men's top players make themselves
    available for their country. Most of the time, at least.

    Women's tennis is a different story, however. Serena and Venus
    Williams rarely play Fed Cup tennis. Mind you, particularly recently, they
    rarely play tennis outside of the Grand Slams either.

    And just last weekend,

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  • Can Serena really be considered a favourite?

    Like her older sister Venus yesterday, Serena Williams returned to
    action at Wimbledon today in dramatic
    circumstances.

    Unlike Venus, Serena was unfortunate enough to have been drawn against a tricky
    opponent in former world number 15 Aravane Rezai, someone she very nearly lost
    to in their only previous meeting.

    It would be stupid to count Serena out as a potential winner of the
    tournament in 10 days time. But from what we saw today, do people really
    believe she can become the first woman since the legendary Steffi Graf in 1993 to
    win the title in three consecutive years?

    Tramlines is

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  • Punter shortchanged by Djokovic brilliance

    Given the truly masterful display of tennis given
    by Novak Djokovic during his late match against Carlos Berlocq, it was a
    surprise that not everyone went home from the Arthur Ashe Stadium a happy
    camper.

    Djokovic was at his imperious best against the
    unseeded Argentine, racing to victory in not a minute more than an hour and a
    half and dropping just two games along the way.

    It was thrilling, breathless stuff - and that was
    exactly the problem at least one person had, complaining that Djokovic's utter brilliance
    had cut short his big night out. How rude.

    Nole said after the quick-fire

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