Add Petra Kvitova to Czech list
If Petra Kvitova wins the Wimbledon final against Maria Sharapova on Saturday, she will share a distinction with two other Czech-born former Wimbledon champions.
"I got to thinking now with Kvitova in the final, potential winner, she would be the third lefty Czech to win this with [Jaroslav] Drobny," said Martina Navratilova, who fills out the roster as the other Czech southpaw to win at Wimbledon.
Navratilova, who has been a commentator for the Tennis Channel and is playing in the Wimbledon Ladies' Invitation Doubles, is impressed at how many great players have come from her native country.
"Really, if you think about the Czech Republic and Slovakia, [Martina] Hingis came from there originally, [Ivan] Lendl, myself, [Jan] Kodes won here in '73," Navratilova said. "It's astonishing. And [Tomas] Berdych in the finals last year. Now Kvitova potentially winning. Hana Mandlikova. So many great players came out of a very little country, consistently."
Navratilova believes the country's culture is responsible for that long list of quality Czech players.
"You know, a lot of hungry kids and opportunities," she said. "I think the club tennis makes a big difference. You go to the club and hang out all day, become a little gym rat, a tennis rat."
Ticket To Victory
If you want to win a tournament on the women's circuit these days, the good luck charm seems to be a victory over Victoria Azarenka along the way.
At the last five tournaments Azarenka played before Wimbledon, the person who defeated her went on to win the title. The trend started at Stuttgart, where she lost to Julia Goerges in the second round. It continued from there: a final loss to Kvitova at Madrid, a quarterfinal loss to Sharapova at Rome, a quarterfinal loss to Li Na at the French Open, and a quarterfinal loss to Marion Bartoli at Eastbourne.
"I actually haven't lost to anybody who didn't win the tournament since March," said Azarenka, after being defeated in her first career Grand Slam semifinal appearance, losing to Kvitova 6-1, 3-6, 6-2, on Thursday.
"So if you can say it's bad luck, I don't know. Maybe I'm the one who gives so much confidence or whatever [to the other players]. I think I'm playing always somebody in great form," she said.
The Bryan Bunch
For many tennis players, their career turns into a family affair. That's certainly the way it is for brothers Bob and Mike Bryan, the world's No. 1 doubles team.
The Bryans say that even their paternal grandparents are actively immersed in every match they play.
"My 90-year-old grandma charts every single point of every single match we've played," said Mike Bryan, after the duo reached the Wimbledon semifinal with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over defending champions Jurgen Melzer and Philipp Petzschner on Thursday.
"I mean, every serve, missed serve, double faults, and she keeps a book on it. My parents keep saying it's what keeping them [the grandparents] alive."
The Bryans' parents rarely travel -- Wayne and Kathy are both teaching pros, and dad also is an attorney -- and their whole lives revolve around the sport.
The Bryans say that from the minute they touch down at the airport, the Bryan Bunch's topic of conversation is tennis.
"When we get picked up at [LAX] and all the way up to Camarillo, it's all tennis," Mike Bryan said.
The Bryans have won 10 Grand Slam titles but have won Wimbledon only once, in 2006.