A great tennis year is coming to an end, but not before we saw some amazing stories thanks to the best players on the planet!
On the men’s tour, Rafael Nadal holds on to win his 19th major title and is now closer to Roger Federer in the all-time race than he’s been in 15 years. It’s what I believe to be the greatest chase in the history of tennis: Who out of the Big Three … Fed with 20, Nadal with 19 and Novak Djokovic with 16 … will end up with the most major titles when all three decide to hang up their rackets?
I have a gut feeling that Fed will be haunted by the Wimbledon that got away earlier this summer when he had match points and was serving against Djokovic.
On the women’s side, Serena continues to be the most consistent player in the majors, but just can’t play well enough in the finals of those majors. I was speaking with International Tennis Hall of Famer Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and we discussed how this last Wimbledon will haunt Fed in his pursuit of having the most major titles all-time. She said something very interesting: Sanchez-Vicario, a 14-time Grand Slam winner, recalled that, as a veteran player, she felt MORE pressure to win the big matches because there was always a doubt whether she still had the ability at an older age to win at the highest levels of competition.
The only pressure I felt in tennis where I felt I HAD to win was waking up just hours before my French Open final alongside my brother, Murphy. I had this overwhelming feeling that if I didn’t win on this day, I may not return to this stage again. Pressure is an amazing thing and Billie Jean King’s quote, “Pressure is a Privilege,” hangs on the walk out to Arthur Ashe Stadium as a reminder to all who walk into the area to embrace it and fear it. Will the tennis gods like Fed and Serena still perform at their best when the pressure is most? Will the new players on the block find the confidence to make the biggest shots when the defining moments call for them?
The new year will answer so many of the questions and I can’t wait to watch! Rod Laver celebrated his 50th anniversary of winning the final leg of the 1969 calendar Grand Slam at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, N.Y., and spoke about the ability to focus during the biggest moments of matches was the difference between winning and losing. Every champion has their own unique approach towards winning the big moments. What is yours?
Until next time, go for the lines!!!
Raised in Ludington, Mich., Luke Jensen’s resume includes 10 ATP Tour doubles titles. He was also a member of the U.S. Davis Cup teams that reached the finals in 1991 and won in 1992. His ambidextrous play, including his ability to serve the ball with either hand at 130 mph, earned him the nickname “Dual Hand Luke.” Luke is currently director of racket sports at West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, N.Y. He may be reached by phone at (315) 403-0752 or e-mail LukeJensen84@yahoo.com.