Hail to Thearle, a rare female ATP voice

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The ATP commentary has typically been universally male, and overwhelmingly British.

To the un-British ear, most of the boys they run through the booth are fairly indistinguishable, with varying degrees of quality.

So how refreshing to have a female voice in the booth for the Halle tournament this week.

Sue Thearle, 50, a former BBC presenter, not only has a mellifluous delivery, she also displayed solid knowledge – of the MEN’S game! – and let analyst Nick Lester do his thing. 

More, please. They don’t have to be former players if they’re good.

Despite 2-for-1, Mallorca crowd sparse

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Halle set an attendance record.  Queen’s Club added 2,000 extra seats.

But the WTA Tour events didn’t fare as well last week.

There was a very nice crowd for the Birmingham Premier final, no doubt helped by two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova making it.

In Mallorca, a second-year event, it’s been more of a struggle – as it always is for women’s tennis in Spain. Despite a “buy one, get one free” offer the last few days, the crowd was still pretty sparse for a very good final.

They’ve got work to do there.

Mattek-Sands gets singles wild card

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The last singles wild card awarded by Wimbledon was assigned to American Bethanie Mattek-Sands Sunday.

The 32-year-old’s third-round effort at the French Open brought her singles ranking back into the top 100. That’s more than good enough, had it not occurred too late for the deadline, to have gotten her in on her own merit.

As mainstream as Mattek-Sands’ on-court wear has become lately, she needs to commemorate the occasion with something special. The ball jacket pictured here (2011) complied with the all-white rule beautifully. Bring it back!

Marin Cilic – tough luck customer on grass

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Croatia’s Marin Cilic had a match point in the Queen’s Club final against Feliciano Lopez Sunday. And he lost.

It is the third consecutive grass-court tournament in which the 2014 US Open champion has found heartbreak at the 11th hour.

The previous week at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Cilic lost his semifinal match to countryman Ivo Karlovic in a third-set tiebreak.

And in the quarter-finals last year at Wimbledon, Cilic had three match points against Roger Federer.

Up two sets to love, he lost that match 6-7 (4), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (9), 6-3.

He’s certainly overdue for a grass karma turnaround.

Venus stumps for healthy choices in Oz

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Before Wimbledon, Venus Williams snuck a quick trip – well, not so quick – to Australia to headline a summit hosted by AIA Australia.

The major life insurance company put together a lineup of health and wellness experts to address what they consider Australia’s biggest threat: 4490.

The four sectors the 4490 name refers to are diet, exercise, alcohol consumption and smoking. The CEO of the company says poor choices in those areas contribute to “the four major non-communicable diseases in Australia.”

“It’s about finding a balance and living the life you want to live,” Williams said.

Foot puts Svitolina’s Wimbledon in doubt

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It wasn’t so much that Elina Svitolina lost in the second round at Birmingham to Camila Giorgi Thursday. The bigger-picture issue was a foot problem.

“I think I will have one week preparation for Wimbledon. But for me, I don’t want to endanger the end of the season. So that’s why it’s very tough to think about Wimbledon,” Svitolina said after the loss.

“It feels very painful on the foot because I need to walk, you know, sometimes,” she added. “All the time I stand up on the feet, it’s painful.”

 

Goffin takes wild card into Umag

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David Goffin couldn’t be ready in time for Wimbledon.

But he plans to be ready for Umag.

The Belgian, whose French Open ended with a nasty slip on a court cover that caused an ankle injury, missed the entire grass-court season.

It’s encouraging news that he plans to be back for the ATP Tour event in Umag, Croatia, which takes place the week after Wimbledon. He’s been given a wild card.

There’s plenty of season still to go – including the jam-packed North American summer with two Masters 1000 tournaments, plus the US Open.

But Seriously, Johnny Mac has a new book

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Some 15 years after his first memoir, “You Cannot Be Serious“, John McEnroe has a follow-up entitled “But Seriously” out next week. (Should there be a comma in there?)

From an advance review in the Daily Mail, it seems the 58-year-old will annoy many – especially women – with his new collection of musings.

McEnroe, who makes a nice living punditing during Wimbledon for the BBC, says the tournament is “so full of itself”. He says the women’s grunting is “so high it’s incredibly annoying”, but the men are okay. And those are just two anecdotes.

Tiafoe gets Real Sports treatment

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The rising young American was interviewed by Mary Carillo for a segment on the HBO sports magazine Real Sports. It aired on Thursday.

Tiafoe said he would tap the ball against the wall for hours on end. “I thought every rep I got, I felt I was getting better,” Tiafoe said.

By age 8 or 9, he would pretend to be facing his favourite player, Juan Martin del Potro.

A decade later, there he was, practicing with him at Indian Wells. It looked like the two really hit it off, too. Dreams do come true.

Felix Auger-Aliassime – instantly aging

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When the 16-year-old Canadian joined some exclusive ranks in winning a Challenger Tour event before his 17th birthday, he got a lot more looks at his ATP biography page.

It had been awhile since the ATP updated it. The photo looked like one from when he first caught people’s attention, a mere lad of, by qualifying for a Challenger event in 2015.

Even Auger-Aliassime joked to the ATP Twitter that it might be time to change it. Tennis Canada supplied the photo and – voilà – instant aging that’s better than a Snapchat app.