Sunday Serve – April 7: Todd Woodbridge maybe a little biased, Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, but he is a good judge of character.

And when this week he said Miami Open champion Ash Barty could be a future world No.1, people, quite rightly sat up and listened.

 

Woodbridge is a former Wimbledon semi-finalist and nine-times doubles champion at the All England Club.

So he has some form, and since retiring has worked for TV covering the game worldwide. But what interested me the most from an interview he did with a news network, was the fact he thought Ms Barty could challenge on both clay and grass.

“She’s really comfortable with her results. She believes obviously that she’s good enough now to beat any player in the world,” Woodbridge told AAP.

“Her celebrations weren’t over the top last week. She could have really have gone a bit nuts over knowing she’d made the top 10.

“But that didn’t happen. That to me is an indication that ’okay I’m nowhere near what my goal is and I’m just taking each step now to becoming ever so closer to reaching whatever her goal might be, whether that’s to win a slam or potentially even get to No.1’.

“They’re lofty goals but, gee, they look like they’re reachable.”

Barty’s 2019 season has gone from good to superb in three short months.

Last year a minor event win in Zhuhai pushed her up the rankings. Then she was a quarter-finalist in Melbourne in January.

 

Federation Cup success in the US for Australia followed, before her remarkable coolness in the steamy Miami heat catapulted her into the top 10.

As Woodbridge is quick to point out, the WTA rankings are extremely tight right now. Less than 2000 points will get to that top spot.

“Getting from 11 to nine was a big jump. Now getting from nine to three is not as much in terms of one more good result,” he said.

The kid from Ipswich in Queensland (a couple of hours drive west of Brisbane) really is knocking on the door.

So can she win Wimbledon? Woodbridge thinks so.

He cites her slice backhand and her quick feet, which then gives her the ability to get to the net fast, as a distinct advantage.

And then, interestingly, he says that maybe it’s her slice and an ability to spin high that might actually win the French as well – or even before.

Barty has ability galore, the best young Aussie player in a long while – Sam Stosur was the last Slam champion, but Barty has the credentials to be even better.

And with the Serena Williams era fading in o history, women’s tennis has entered a period of unpredictability.

Watch this space.

 

FORMER world No. 4 Greg Rusedski, remember him? Well the Brit come Canadian appeared on Amazon Prime this week to say he didn’t believe Roger Federer could win the French Open.

Rusedski thinks it is going to be Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic or “some of the other guys who are going to win Paris”.

On Federer’s possibilities to lead the rankings again, Rusedski added: “He is No 4 in the world right now and does not care about being No 1. But he is still continuously winning. He is the only player to win two titles this year.”

Yep, at 37 years of age, and as long as her is enjoying his tennis, he doesn’t have to be No.1.

Federer, meanwhile, scored a victory off the court this week – winning back his RF logo.

When Federer signed a massive deal with Uniqlo last year, he walked away from long-term sponsors Nike, who owned his iconic ‘RF’ logo.

They designed it back in 2010, so it stayed with them – until now.

“‘The RF logo is with Nike at the moment, but it will come to me at some point,” Federer said last year. “They are my initials. They are mine.”

Nike stopped selling ‘RF’ branded merchandise in their online stores recently. so get set to see the RF logo on Roger’s apparel at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

CANADIAN young gun Felix Auger-Aliassime’s Miami fewest haven’t gone unnoticed. The 18-year-old was this week granted a wild card into the Madrid Open, May 5-12.

But the event he really wants to get a wild card for is Monte Carlo, which starts on April 14. Auger-Aliassime jumped to No. 33 from No. 57 in this week’s world rankings after reaching the semifinals in Miami last week.

But entry deadlines for tournaments are often weeks before play, so leap up the listings won’t get him an automatic entry. Auger-Aliassime is fourth on the alternate list for Monte Carlo, so there’s still a chance he gets a main-draw spot through dropouts.

  • FITNESS equipment company Tonal announced this week a $45 million round of funding that included an investment from Serena Williams’ Serena Ventures. Tonal is a home fitness system that incorporates personalised video into a series of workout routines.

AS we edge closer to Paris and the French Open, take a look at the latest video from Roland Garros after a multimillion-dollar rebuild of the Simmone-Mathieu court.
Pretty impressive as RG undergoes a major rebuild that will be completed in two years time.

 

BUT what of this latest social media image, promoting one Novak Djokovic? With news that another Batman franchise movie is about to hit our screens … you have to love the marketing guys and their sense of humour as we prepare for clay court season and the delights of Paris.

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