From The Ruthless Court to the Clay Courts

05/04/2011 at 8:42 pm (Tennis, The Ruthless Court) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Who'll win big in Monte Carlo?

The aristocratic and regal characters populating the late 19th and early 20th centuries in The Ruthless Court are exactly the type to grace the high-stakes world of Monte Carlo and may even have heard of the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters tennis tournament, as the event debuted way back in 1906.

Sadly the tennis-playing Catherine Verkhovnova—one of TRC’s present day characters–isn’t eligible for the tournament as it’s strictly men allowed (or aloud, if you’ve ever heard their grunting). Never mind—in The Ruthless Court, Catherine wins 6 straight matches on grass to reach the Wimbledon final against GB’s Georgie Gent, so she’s obviously more suited to grass than clay anyway. For those who can’t instantly recall, Georgie, (the player formerly known as Georgie Stoop) as well as being a character in The Ruthless Court, is also a very real person, as her sometime doubles partner Laura Robson will testify.

But back to Monte Carlo. The first tournament of the European clay season, this event is a favourite playground of player and fan alike, thanks to the Monte-Carlo Country Club being a ball’s throw away from a postcard-perfect sea. This casino of clay has boasted a royal flush of great champions over the decades with the roll of honour including Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl and Rafael Nadal. Attendance this year is guaranteed to be well in excess of 120,000 and each spectator is licking their lips at the prospect of an elite 56 man draw featuring many of the world’s best players.

Rafael Nadal will be chasing down an amazing seventh successive title here, after crushing compatriot Fernando Verdasco 6-0 6-1 in the 2010 final. Although World No. 3 Roger Federer has failed to win the tournament in his previous nine attempts, his participation in 2011’s proceedings is worth the gamble. After giving last year’s event a miss, Fed doesn’t have any points to defend—unlike many other visitors to Monaco, Roger’s coming to the table with nothing to lose.

No longer the djoker in the pack, Monte Carlo resident and man-about-town Novak Djokovic is pottering into the clay season off the back of a 26 match-winning streak stretching all the way back to last December and  including his January 2011 Australian Open victory.  Djoko has proven himself to be 2011’s King of the Hard Courts so far, but his hard-fought Miami Masters win against Nadal in the final on Sunday shows that an easy time against the King of Clay is something Djokovic knows better than to ever bet on. This is especially the case in Monaco’s best known place-to-be, where the Serb took his turn at losing the final to Nadal in 2009. Last year, Djokovic reached the semi-final, going down to Verdasco.

And what of Fernando Verdasco this year? He’ll once again be in the Principality, looking to build upon 2010’s run to the final, which was the first Masters final of his career. Other super players in the draw include Andy Murray and David Ferrer.  Murray’s wild card entry was announced on Monday, after it was originally thought that the Briton would be skipping Monaco’s delights and starting his clay season in beautiful Barcelona instead. After reclaiming his world 4. status in the latest rankings, Murray will be looking to stem a losing streak of four defeats. Ferrer lost to Nadal in last year’s Monte Carlo semi-final but has proven to be dangerous on clay.

Nadal, Ferrer and Verdasco will be joined by compatriots such as Nicolas Almagro and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Meanwhile expect the home crowd to cheer on the likes of Frenchmen Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon. Canadian young gun Milos Raonic, a revelation in the early part of this year, is aiming to use Monte Carlo to launch the European leg of his journey up the rankings.  Like Murray, Tomas Berdych is a top ten player with a wild card in his hand and a glint in his eye. But who’ll be left holding all the cards after the clay swing’s curtain-raising event? The only thing you can put your chips on is an amazing week of tennis with as many twists and turns as The Ruthless Court. The fun properly gets underway on Sunday 10th April, with the final bound to cause fireworks on Sunday 17th April.

This post is recycled from an article written by Autumn as ‘mrsshakeyjake’ and posted on My Tennis Lounge.


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Forget Ivan the Terrible—Andy Murray Needs a Really Ruthless Coach

30/03/2011 at 12:14 am (Great Britain, History, Royalty, Russia, Tennis, The Ruthless Court) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Murray and Lenin--A Match Made in The Ruthless Court?

Upon seeing this tweet by David Law, giving a shout out to Jonathan Overend’s wit and wisdom, what else were we at The Ruthless Court going to do other than reflect upon which Russian historical figure would suit British world no.5 Andy Murray best as a coach?

For weeks now, the great and the good of tennis have been advising Andy to ‘get a coach’ (presumably they mean a coach other than BFF/glorified hitting partner Dani Vallverdu). The alleged need for a coach seems all the more acute now that Andy has parted company with part-time consultant Alex Corretja. The recent waterfall of cries for Andy to employ a full-time coach was initially prompted by Andy’s…interesting form since this year’s Australian Open. It’s interesting in the sense that he hasn’t won a match since his defeat in the AO final at the hands of the since-unbeaten Novak Djokovic. Yeah, that kind of ‘interesting’. But never fear, because we can reveal right here, right now that Andy will win Wimbledon 2011—it’s in The Ruthless Court so it must be true.

If, for some strange reason, you’re not comforted by this news and you still think Andy should just, you know, get a coach, may we suggest that neither the great Ivan Lendl nor the terrible Ivan the…Terrible are ruthless enough to guide the young Briton to his first grand slam? No, if you’re looking for the kind of ruthlessness that a Wimbledon-champion-in-the-making needs alongside him, then there’s no better place to look than The Ruthless Court. Move over Mr. Terrible–which of the iconic Russian figures who are actually in The Ruthless Court is best suited to getting Andy out of the small scrape he currently finds himself in?:

Tsarina Alexandra—Whilst she’s the perfect combination of Germanic efficiency and Russian eccentricity, her judgement isn’t too sound if her adoration of Rasputin is anything to go by. Also, as The Ruthless Court reveals, she has enough men in her life without having to worry about lanky tennis players.

Tsar Nicholas II—Er, there was a reason why he was the last Tsar of Russia. You’d be better off asking the captain of the Titanic to manage Manchester United.

Rasputin—Now we’re getting somewhere. Here’s a man who can understand Andy’s reluctance to stick to the rules and social norms. His wildness and passion would no doubt reignite a fire in the young Braveheart’s belly. And, if you believe the hype, good ol’ Rasputin is also a faith healer, so the next time Andy gets a bit of a wrist strain or sore ankle, he can just ask Coach to lay hands on him. Think of all the medical bills he’ll save on! Just one thing though, Andy is teetotal, whilst our man Rasputin…isn’t. So that could be a point of friction.

Lenin—Now then. A master tactician with no fear of or respect for the status quo. He’ll help Andy upset the cosy Grand Slam monopoly of Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Djokovic by giving him the shrewd tactics that any cunning revolutionary would be proud of.  Forget Peace, Land, Bread—how about Game, Set, Match?

If you’ve got something to add to the debate, why not vote on this week’s brand new poll?

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