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Tue, July 23

Howard: What a great time to be a tennis fan
My Point

Being a student of the game of tennis, I’ve read about practically every tennis player in the history books since the humble beginnings of modern tennis started in 1874.

There have been many very talented players, and currently the best men players to ever have lifted a racquet are sweeping almost every Grand Slam title and it’s almost impossible to not have heard their names, Roger Federer (37), Rafa Nadal (33) and Novak Djokovic (32).

For the past 16 to 18 years these three players have dominated almost every tournament they’ve entered, and especially the Grand Slams.

Roger Federer at an age where most players are sitting back and enjoying the elder statesman part of tennis, he’s still competing at a level even he didn’t anticipate.

With 20 Grand Slam singles titles, 102 overall titles, $123-plus million in prize money and much more in endorsements, Roger has nothing to prove, but yet he still pushes into the second week of the largest tournaments in the world and has the capability to win more Grand Slam titles.

There is no better ambassador for the game of tennis and it’s practically impossible to not be a fan of his, as an all-round shot maker, great competitor and peer.

But just two Grand Slam titles behind the “FED” is Rafa Nadal of Majorca Spain. Uncle Tony may not still be coaching this 12 time French Open champion, but he is still the “Clay Court” king with twice as many French win’s as the all-time great Bjorn Borg.

Roger is the graceful player and Rafa is the beast. He hits with more RPM topspin than any other pro. With 82 titles and $109 million in prize money, not to mention an Olympic gold in 2008, Rafa could catch Roger in number of titles.

With the physical game he plays the question is always, “Can he stay healthy?”

Wimbledon will be a true test, especially after having won the French Open less than a month ago.

And the guy who is the current #1 player in the world and would of had two non-calendar Grand Slams had he won this last French Open tournament, is Novak Djokovic.

Novak was about to retire a little over a year ago. Between life situations and an elbow that was killing him, he had to quit playing for a while.

But he hung in there and won the last 3 Grand Slams which currently has him at 15 major titles.

With 74 titles and $131 million in prize money, the Joker could very well end up with more Grand Slam titles that Roger or Rafa in the long run.

Are we not blessed to get to see these three players still at the top of their games, the players to bet on, root for and copy their examples of play?

Many of us got to see the “Rocket,” Mr. Rod Laver, who won 200 titles, and two calendar Grand Slams (62-69). His left forearm was said to be the same size as prize fighter George Foreman’s. Kind of crazy for a guy who’s only 5-foot-7.

Pete Sampras who retired after winning his last U.S. Open, epic battles with Andre Agassi, 14 Grand Slam titles and $43 million in prize money.

Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Andre Agassi round out some of the best players ever list and each one of them is worth a book of stories and accomplishments each.

So with Wimbledon on the horizon we are lucky to get to watch Federer, Nadal and Djokovic yet again fight for another major title.

Next week, the women all-time greats.

Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 45 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or choward4541@gmail.com.

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