Kim Clijsters and the 20 Most Likable People in Tennis
In the world of tennis, many of the people involved with the sport, ranging from the players to the coaches, are good natured, humorous, humble and therefore well-liked.
Certainly, all of the players have at least one likable factor in them. But who makes the top 20?
Let's take a look (hopefully the title and the picture on this slide didn't give one of them away).
20. Andy Roddick
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He definitely may not be the nicest guy around; when losing, he can be slightly immature and treats the chair umpire like a fool, but hey, that's what a lot of top players do.
Besides, Roddick's meltdowns are often more entertaining than those of someone like Federer.
Plus, he's extremely funny. Ever watch those post-match interviews?
19. Sam Querrey
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Sam Querrey's not on this list because he plays spectacular tennis, has a fiery attitude or anything like that.
He's on this list because he's a gentleman who respects others and is honest about his affairs.
Remember his loss at the French Open last year?
“I just got tired,” he had said. “Mentally not there. Just did not enjoy myself out there. It’s been like that on and off for like a while. So I’m going home tomorrow.”
You've got to appreciate his honesty.
18. Larry Stefanki
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What? A coach?
Indeed. Although we hardly ever hear him say anything or get his direct input on anything, he is responsible for some high quality matches that we have seen. For example, Roddick's run to the finals at Wimbledon in 2009 was largely due to the fact that Stefanki had helped him improve his fitness and ground strokes.
The final result? An epic battle with Roger Federer that ended 16-14 in the fifth set with his serve being broken only once.
17. Patrick McEnroe
There are a few reasons to like this guy.
For one, he knows what's going on in the game, with all the experience he has had, so he understands perfectly well what happens in a point, which makes him a wonderful commentator.
Secondly, he's the last United States Davis Cup captain to have led the team to victory (back in 2007).
Third of all, he genuinely cares about the status of American tennis and works hard to improve it.
Lastly, his book, Hardcourt Confidential, is a wonderful read.
16. Gil Reyes
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Similar to the reason why Larry Stefanki is likable, Gill Reyes is likable for, as DEUCE magazine on the ATP site put it, the Reyes effect.
He was for sure a big part of Agassi's success. Therefore, he is the reason why we got to see Agassi play amazing matches back when he was on tour.
Now he's the reason why Verdasco has gotten better over the past two years. Without Reyes, we would not have gotten to see that semifinal match at the Australian Open two years ago with Rafael Nadal. Without Reyes, we would not have seen that high quality match between Ferrer and Verdasco at the U.S. Open just last season.
You've got to love him for all that he has done for the game.
15. Francesca Schiavone
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She's not likable just because she's risen to the top of the women's rankings recently.
It's more about why she's risen to the top of the women's rankings. She plays aggressively, without thinking about the consequences, without hesitating. At last year's French Open final against Sam Stosur, she just went for every single shot, and she ended up taking the title.
Perhaps what has made her even more likable now though is her recent four-hour match with Kuznetsova. This epic between the last two people to win at Roland Garros is now the longest women's match in history.
But the reason that one should like Schiavone more after this match is because she again went for it, fought as hard as she could in this battle of wills, staved off match points, stayed focused even though she blew a chance to serve for the match and ended the battle with a gutsy volley at net.
14. Brad Gilbert
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I know what you're thinking. The commentator who never stops talking? How can he be on this list?
Well, it just happens that perhaps his non-stop talking is what's likable. As a commentator, he divulges all the knowledge that he holds regarding the game of tennis (but just enough, as he wouldn't want to confuse the average fan).
Regardless though, he still creates the sense of a being a know-it-all, which, mind you, is a good thing and causes the viewers to feel comfortable with listening to him. Maybe the fact that he's an avid sports fan, and doesn't stop with the analogies with other sports to relate viewers to tennis, has something to do with it.
Like when he says, "That's a yellow card in the coaching department" when referring to Garcia-Lopez's stubborn game plan in serving to the backhand of Murray at the Aussie Open, there's no way on earth that you'd feel uncomfortable with him talking.
13. Melanie Oudin
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It's been a while since Melanie Oudin has made some noise at the U.S. Open in 2009, with her fairy-tale run to the quarterfinals. Small in stature but big in heart, the effort she put into those matches is unforgettable.
Although not much has been heard about her lately, one should remember that she fights as hard as she can, and that she is as likable as she is competitive.
12. Ana Ivanovic
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Yes, Ivanovic's looks are probably what makes her popular amongst the players of the WTA.
However, her game is appreciable as well. Effortless strokes, a formidable forehand and a powerful serve all make her game very much likable. It's just too bad her self-confidence has dropped.
11. Marat Safin
This list just wouldn't be right without him. Sure he's gone from the game now, but his exuberant personality that he brought to it while he was still playing is forever missed.
Who can ever forget him smashing racquets, kissing the line judges, silly outbursts at the chair umpires and pointless challenges?
10. Ernest Gulbis
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Now just because Safin is gone doesn't mean that there isn't anybody left to charm fans with their personality and produce a funny quote every once in a while.
In a manner similar to Safin, Gulbis can play stunning tennis (watch his run in Rome last year). But also like Safin, he can quite easily give away important points in such a silly manner that it is almost funny.
If this doesn't make you like him, perhaps you should go look at some post-match interviews with him as well...
9. Kim Clijsters
Now the new No. 1 of women's tennis, along with a rock solid game, an amazingly competitive attitude on court and an easy-going attitude off it, how could one not like her?
Plus, that interview with Todd Woodbridge back at the Australian Open a couple weeks ago regarding how she looked pregnant was just hilarious, although it may have been slightly awkward and uncomfortable to watch.
8. Darren Cahill
Well, by now you may have guessed I watch ESPN. But the reason Cahill is on this list isn't just because he commentates on the channel that I watch. His analysis of the game is spot on, he isn't afraid to hold back what he knows and, as Agassi said in his autobiography Open, he has a soothing Australian accent that almost puts you to sleep, and no, it's not because it's boring.
7. Gael Monfils
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Monfils plays every point with unparalleled passion and amazing athleticism, often pulling off impossible shots, causing amazing rallies and long points, thus, high quality matches.
He plays off the energy of the crowd, and pumps them up with these so-called impossible shots. Even if you don't like him at first, after attending one of his matches, you will like him.
Or rather, he'll make you like him.
6. Jim Courier
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To be honest, I had not thought much about him before this year's Australian Open.
But as the chair umpire for the Rally for Relief, he sure was funny, making snide comments about Federer and Nada's games. When asked by Federer whether or not that is how he does his job as a commentator, Courier merely answered: "Yes".
If that didn't make you laugh, then surely his post-match interviews with Federer must have, first getting the answer wrong to the question that he asked Federer before questioning him about stealing towels.
How in the world did, at one point, Andre Agassi not like him?
5. Novak Djokovic
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Although many players fear him, there is much to like about him as well. True, he can be overly arrogant, his crew in his player's box may be at times disrespectful and his long ball bouncing irritates others.
But his amusing antics, such as imitating other players, making jokes in on-court interviews or looking up to the sky to either yell at it or be grateful towards it, make up for all that is annoying.
4. Maria Sharapova
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Like Ivanovic, for sure many fans like Sharapova because she's attractive and fashionable with well-fitting tennis dresses and the innovative style she has contributed to tennis wear.
But she's also an executioner on court whose strokes, although are quite mechanical and ugly, can completely blow the opponent off the court. Plus, her focus is amazing. One second she can be shrieking like a little girl, and the next she is as calm as a toad in the sun, just fixing her strings and keeping her poker face.
3. Caroline Wozniacki
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Wozniacki has a wonderful style of play. She has great legs which help her get to every single ball. She plays with wonderful variety, using every trick in her bag, all the while having a powerful backhand that she is willing to go up the line with at any time.
But that's not all to the world No. 2. She sticks to a positive attitude, always flashing a bright white smile, and she's attractive. And when you're talented at the sport while at the same time being attractive and at the top of women's tennis, it's quite hard not to be likable.
2. Rafael Nadal
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Mild-mannered and humble off court, yet ferocious and raw on court.
Nobody hits the ball like Nadal; so powerful, yet at the same time so consistent. He kills the ball with his weaker hand, overpowers his opponents.
But what makes him likable is that below all this ferocity, he too has a heart, as witnessed from the tears that he showed during a changeover with his match against David Ferrer at the Aussie Open.
Even if you do not like him for that, you may like him out of pity, since everyone knows he could accomplish so much more, was it not for all his injuries.
1. Roger Federer
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There are almost too many things to like about Federer.
From a statistical point of view, he has the record for most singles Grand Slam Titles in the men's game with 16 major titles. He had a streak of 23 semifinals in a row at the majors, and he's been at the top for 285 weeks: one week shy of Pete Sampras's record.
From an aesthetic point of view, he's dominated while playing beautifully, using his whip-like forehand with unanticipated variety, all the time keeping his poker face.
As if that wasn't enough, generally he is a nice guy who speaks humbly and makes sure to think about others as well.