Tennis Birthdays – Nov. 3, 2015

A legend, and more.

Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS), 28

The personable Russian has begun to make a nice living in doubles, surviving a partnership with Russia-turned-Aussie Anastasia Rodionova (they won three titles in 2014, including Brisbane and Dubai) before pairing up with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova this year. The two were alternates in Singapore.

She’s currently ranked No. 29 in doubles (career best was No. 15 just over a  year ago) with eight career titles. In singles, she’s hanging in at No. 161; her best was No. 56 about five years ago, but she’s not giving up. She has one career singles title to her credit, at Tashkent in 2010.

Kudryavtseva-Rodionova_new

The most memorable Rodionova-Kudryavtseva match had to be the “Concussion-Commotion” vs. the Chan sisters last year. Epic Rodionova drama; pretty much an eye-roll from Kudryavtseva.

 

Lukas Lacko (SVK), 28

Lukas Lacko_new

Quite an ATP mugshot

Quite an ATP mugshot

This guy probably should be better. While there’s no way of really knowing how hard he works and how much he wants it, it just seems like he’s never quite fit enough, or never quite motivated enough and ready to take on the grind week after week to get where he could be.

Currently ranked No. 115, Lacko got to No. 44 just before the 2013 Australian Open. He has won just three matches on the ATP Tour level this year (3-12) – none until June, and all three, oxymoronically, on grass.

That’s actually better than he was a couple of weeks ago, when at No. 139, he got to the final of the Tashkent Challenger. He might well get straight into the Australian Open if he can finish strongly in the remaining 2015 Challengers.

His straight-sets loss to Canadian Philip Bester at the Granby Challenger this year, as the No. 2 seed, was the height of desultory – to say the least.

Roy Emerson (AUS), 79

LOOK AT THOSE QUADS!

LOOK AT THOSE QUADS!

Emerson-olderThe legendary “Emmo”, born in the visually hilarious-sounding down of Blackbutt, Queensland, is part of the Hall-of-Fame Aussie contingent that worked its craft through the late amateur era and early pro era.

Emerson’s official ATP Tour stars are a career high of No. 12 in 1973, with 15 titles.  He was in his late 30s, then.  He actually played doubles at Indian Wells in 1987, when he was 50, losing a close three-setter with compatriot Desmond Tyson to Johan Kriek and John Lloyd, who were 29 and 32, respectively.

Emerson was part of eight winning Davis Cup squads in the 1960s, an achievement we’re pretty confident will never be matched (I know, REALLY going out on a limb there).

He won 28 majors in all, including six Australian Opens, two French Opens, two Wimbledons and two US Opens. In historical context, 10 of those came during that 1963-68 period when many of the best players, including compatriot Rod Laver, were barred from competing because they were professionals. Emerson only turned pro in 1968, and by then the standoff was about done.

Such a different time.

The 12 singles majors went pretty well unnoticed until Pete Sampras started getting close, later surpassed by others including Roger Federer. But it brought his name back into the conversation, which is always a good thing.

Emerson still looks like a million bucks. He makes his home in Newport Beach, Calif. but spends some time in Gstaad, Switzerland every summer where he has a long-standing relationship with a hotel resort there, and still dispenses wisdom.

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