From Sport’s Illustrated‘s “Beyond the Baseline” Blog
At the end of the day, tennis is a sport and sport is about competition. The gladiatorial battle between two players armed with nothing more than a racket and two cans of balls should be enough to keep any fan entertained. The level of tennis being played by the pros these days is nothing short of jaw-dropping.
But there are a small group of players who seem to be able to elevate the game beyond just the competition. They are players who, regardless of the stakes, can whip a crowd into a frenzy and create an unforgettable moment. They have displayed time and time again that if you spend a couple of hours with them, they will endeavor to show you something you have never seen before.
Here are five players you just have to watch regardless of who they’re playing, where they’re playing or when they’re playing.
It doesn’t get more unorthodox than the man they call “The Dog.” From his quick-fire service motion to his almost two-handed slice backhand, his game looks different from anyone else’s on Tour. He combines imaginative shot making with the courage (stupidity?) to try to pull off ridiculous shots when he sees an opening. When it works, his game is a revelation, as it was when he shocked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Robin Soderling at the Australian Open this year. When it doesn’t work, he tends to get overpowered and runs himself out of the match by going for too much.
But his game is so interesting to watch regardless of whether he’s winning or losing. You know you bring something new and unique to the game when the media plan their viewing schedules around where you land in the order of play. Dolgopolov has that back-room buzz. Even those who have been around the game for years line up to watch him.
2. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Tsonga uses his athleticism, but, unlike the other Frenchman on the list, he doesn’t flaunt it. And he still does it all with that French flair that is so endearing coming from a quiet guy who’s built like a running back.
Everyone was forced to take notice when he demolished Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open in 2008, flashing a game that was equal parts power, speed and touch. Want to see a leaping smash? Jo’s your man. Want to see some touch? How about a tweener-drop. Want to see him do a little jig to try to distract Roger Federer? Been there.
The soft-spoken Frenchman loves the crowd and he thrives on the stage as an underdog (his two wins over Federer this year attest to that). Granted, you never know which Tsonga will show up on any given day. When he gets distracted and starts wallowing in negativity, it can all be about as entertaining as a train wreck. But like Dolgopolov (though for different reasons), Tsonga’s game — an explosive mix of size, speed and agility — just looks and sounds different from everyone else’s.
For the whole article and all the video’s CLICK HERE
The remaining players are Gael Monfils, Francesca Sciovone and Novak Djokovic