Michael Emmett: “Who Is Going to Win First – Tiger or Roger?”

Written by: Michael Emmett

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***Michael Emmett is the Director of Tennis Operations at all Mayfair clubs.  He is a certified Tennis Canada Coach 3 with a Journalism degree from the University of Texas. Michael spent several years working in sports television at TSN and Sportsnet.  Michael is a former National champion who finished his last year of junior tennis ranked #1 in Canada.  Michael has coached several National champions when he worked for the All-Canadian Academy at the National Tennis Centre at York University in the early 90s.  Michael spent 2 years traveling the world playing the ATP tour satellite circuit as a member of the Molson National Team in 1985 and ’86.***

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Over the next 5 months, fans of golf and tennis will get to see some spectacular shot-making as the two sports heat up just in time for the summer months. Seven major championships (including the Olympics) will take centre stage in North America and Europe, and will make for some dramatic viewing on your HD mega-sized television. As a sports fan, I am looking forward to this upcoming season, and the potential for some jaw dropping entertainment.

Tiger Woods and Roger Federer – both icons in the worlds of golf and tennis – are considered in many circles to be best to ever play their respective sport. And as we know, they share many things in common on the negative ledger – most notably, that neither man has won a major championship in quite some time. Their front page struggles, as they near the finish line, have added to the intrigue of the fascinating year that lies ahead.

They used to win on the same weekend – it happened several times back in the middle part of the last decade, when they seemed to win 60 percent of the time. Now it seems like they are losing together. But that may change in 2012. Both men played in Florida this past week playing in marquee events, which are not classified as majors. Tiger won  for the first time in 30 months, while Federer was shocked by Andy Roddick in the 3rd round at Key Biscayne.

Fed’s last significant victory took place over 2 years ago in Melbourne at the Australian Open. Woods has to go way back to Torrey Pines in 2008 to find his last major championship. Ultimately, both men want to lead the major championship chase in their respective sport. Woods has 14 to his name and sits 4 behind Jack Nicklaus, and The Fed-Express is already the top dog, as he hopes to add to his tally sometime in the next 5 months.  Federer also has the Olympics to look forward to, and as luck would have it – Federer gets to play for Switzerland on his favourite surface at the All-England Club at Wimbledon. Federer seems to be peeking at just the right time, and I would be shocked if he doesn’t continue his great run.

Ironically, both men might be considered to be in a slump. However, Roger Federer has won 6 of his last 9 events and has a match record of 39-3 in that time span. Federer is playing great tennis and will be a major threat to win Slam #17 in Paris, London or New York in 2012. So many story lines and so much drama in the days ahead!

Woods, prior to his victory last weekend, had been threatening all year to get back in the winner’s circle, and he came very close four weeks ago at the Honda Classic when he fired a final round 62 (a career best for Tiger) only to come up short against Rory McIlroy. Woods has changed his swing – thanks to Canadian coaching phenom Sean Foley – and is hitting the ball with unbelievable distance and accuracy. Frankly, he is playing far too well to not win a major in 2012. His statistics are off the charts, his confidence is back to where it once was – the only thing missing is a major.  And most of those “in the know” think a major is just around the corner.

I have no doubt Tiger will win multiple events this season – but for it to register on the golfing Richter’s scale, it MUST be a major. Tiger finished 4th at last year’s Masters, where he was playing sporadically, at best. This year he is striping the ball from all areas of the course – and needs a MAJOR WIN to justify all the hard work he has put forth in the last 18 months.

The question I have is who will win first?  Will they both win a major in 2012?  As a gigantic fan of both sports, as well as both athletes – will I be lucky enough to see multiple wins by either giant?  What win would be considered more spectacular – a Tiger win at the Masters or a Federer win at Wimbledon?  These are questions I don’t have the answers to, however, I feel like it’s going to be a super year to be a sports fan. We are still weeks away from the Masters and I simply can’t wait!  I look forward to every moment of the brilliant television coverage, and hope for a star-studded leaderboard.  Even that sappy, melodramatic music from CBS sports, as Jim Nance commentates over the beauty of the azaleas in Augusta, Georgia will make me smile.

From a tennis perspective, the game has never been better. The big three seem to get better and better as the events and majors go by. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer put on a show for the ages two months ago in Melbourne, where they played for an eternity and left the capacity crowd exhausted, as the matches seemed to never end. The talent level and athleticism is, at times, beyond comprehension. This trio of athletes – probably the best threesome to ever play the game – will lead the way for the upcoming season. It will be appointment TV – it will be electric in the various stadiums, and it will be deafening if Roger can get to #17.

So who is going to win first – Roger or Tiger? At this point, I don’t really care – but it would sure make for a memorable year on the sports scene if they are competitive right to the very end!

A deeper dive into second serve statistics

The two most widely reported second serve statistics in professional tennis are the number of double faults a player hit, and their second serve winning percentage. If we’re trying to understand the effectiveness of a particular player’s second serve, relying only on those statistics has significant drawbacks. Article by Michal Kokta.

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