Mondays With Bob Greene – Roger Federer Wins His First Tournament of the Year

21 April 2008

STARS

Roger Federer won his first title of the season, the Estoril Open, when Nikolay Davydenko retired with a leg injury while trailing 7-6 (5) 1-2 at Estoril, Portugal.

Serena Williams defeated Vera Zvonareva 6-4 3-6 6-3 to win her third tournament of the year, the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina.

David Ferrer captured the Valencia Open, downing Nicolas Almagro 4-6, 6-2 7-6 (2) at Valencia, Spain.

Marcel Granollers-Pujol upset top-seeded James Blake 6-4 1-6 7-5 to capture the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston, Texas.

Maria Kirilenko won the Estoril Open women’s singles by stopping Iveta Benesova 6-4 6-2 at Estoril, Portugal.

Stephanie Cohen-Alora beat Jelena Kostanic Tosic 6-2 7-5 to win the $100,000 ITF clay court event at Saint-Malo, France.

Jim Courier defeated Wayne Ferreira 7-6 (3) 7-6 (1) to win the $150,000 The Residences at The Ritz Carlton Legends Championships in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.

SAYINGS

“It’s not the way you want to win a tournament, but that’s just the way it goes sometime.” – Roger Federer, who won his first title of 2008 when Nikolay Davydenko retired with a leg injury.

“I feel like someone stole the title from me.” – Nicolas Almagro, seeking his third straight Valencia Open title, led the final set 5-2 before losing to David Ferrer 4-6 6-2 7-6 (2).

“My main goal is just to stay healthy. If I’m healthy and playing my best, it’s hard to beat me.” – Serena Williams, who won the Family Circle Cup, her first clay court title since 2002.

“It was the toughest tournament of my life.” – David Ferrer, who saved two match points in his quarterfinal match, then rallied from a 2-5 third-set deficit in the final to beat two-time defending champion Nicolas Almagro and win the Valencia Open.

“It’s the best day of my life, I think. I’m very happy for this.” – Marcel Granollers-Pujol, after upsetting James Blake to win his first ATP title, the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships.

“It wasn’t good for my tennis, not playing, but I had something to focus on while I was out. This was good and I used my time well.” – Mario Ancic, who while sidelined for nearly six months because of mononucleosis, used his time to study and just received his law degree from the University of Split, Croatia.

“The chances are very good that I will play. I’d love to get Switzerland back into the World Group.” – Roger Federer, announcing he will play Davis Cup against Belgium in the World Group Playoffs in September.

“She gets a lot of balls back, and those kind of players are usually around for a good 20 years.” – Serena Williams, about 18-year-old Alize Cornet of France, who reached the semifinals of the Family Circle Cup before falling to Williams 7-5 6-3.

“Oh, my God, if I play Serena tomorrow I hope not to be ridiculous.” – unseeded Alize Cornet, after winning her Family Circle Cup quarterfinal.

“I felt like I was playing in a bar. You play a long point, you try to get your breath back and all you’re breathing in is smoke.” – Marty Fish, who lost to Oscar Hernandez of Spain 6-2 7-6 (5) in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship where smoke from a concession stand wafted into the stadium.

“She’s one of the world’s top players. I just tried everything that I didn’t try in Miami, I guess, and it worked better for me today.” – Vera Zvonareva, after upsetting Jelena Jankovic in the Family Circle Cup quarterfinals 6-3 3-6 6-2. Zvonareva had lost to Jankovic in Miami.

“What else can I say. It has been a fantastic week.” – Maria Kirilenko, who won the Estoril Open women’s singles title after teaming with Flavia Pennetta to capture the doubles.

SNAPS SCHNEID

It wasn’t pretty, but the world’s number one player finally has a 2008 title. Playing in his first final of the year, Roger Federer won when Nikolay Davydenko retired with a leg injury while trailing 7-6 (5) 1-2 in the final of the Estoril Open. Davydenko, who received treatment on his left leg between sets, came up with the only service break of the match to begin the second set. His first career victory in Portugal gives Federer titles in 17 countries.

SNAPPISH

Rafael Nadal is upset with the ATP over what he called a “crazy calendar.” The Spaniard is upset that there are three Masters Series events within a four-week period, and said the schedule is not fair to European and clay court players. The prestigious Monte Carlo tournament is being played this week, and by May 18 the players will also have played the Rome and Hamburg Masters Series. Noting the Miami Masters Series was played earlier this year because of the NCAA basketball finals, Nadal said the men’s tennis governing body is more sensitive to interests in the United States.

SW19

Britain’s Tim Henman is returning to Wimbledon this year as a member of the BBC commentary team. As a player, Henman reached the semifinals at the All England Club four times. He retired last September after playing in a Davis Cup tie on the grass at Wimbledon.

STUDIOUS

After winning both singles matches and partnering Marin Cilic in a winning doubles effort to lead Croatia into the Davis Cup World Group Playoffs, Mario Ancic added another title to his resume: attorney. Ancic received his law degree from the University of Split, completing a nearly five-year study while rising to as high as number seven in the world. Mario’s older brother, Ivica, who also played on the ATP tour, earned a degree in economics, while younger sister Sanja, who was a Top Ten junior, is majoring in pharmaceutical studies in Zagreb.

SPORTSBALL GALA

Billie Jean King will be honored by the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health at its 14th annual Sportsball Gala in New York City this week. Also being honored are Bryant Gumble, host of HBO Real Sports; Richard D. Parson, CEO of Time Warner; Terry McDonell, group editor of Sports Illustrated; and educator Dr. Dawn Morton-Rias. Funds raised at Sportsball support the institute’s community health education programs and research initiatives.

SWINGING AWAY

Ryan Harrison became only the 10th 15-year-old to win a match on the ATP tour when he defeated Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-4 6-3 in the opening round of the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships. At 15 years, 11 months, Harrison is the oldest of the group, which includes Franco Davin, Tommy Ho, Jimmy Arias, Michael Chang, Andre Agassi, Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander, Richard Gasquet and Rafael Nadal. Davin was the youngest at 15 years, one month when he won a match in 1985.

SHOWING THE BEST

Wimbledon will remain on ESPN through at least 2013. The network agreed to a six-year contract extension and will air about 100 hours of the tournament each year, including one men’s and one women’s semifinal. As part of the new deal, ESPN will show matches online. Last year NBC and Wimbledon agreed to a four-year contract extension through 2011.

SCOTT HONORED

Sony Ericsson WTA Tour chairman and CEO Larry Scott is a new inductee into the Eastern Tennis Hall of Fame. Past inductees include Arthur Ashe, Althea Gibson, Don Budge, Mary Carillo, Vitas Gerulaitis, John McEnroe and Gladys Heldman. Scott has been CEO of the women’s tour since April 15, 2003.

SAY WHO?

With Lindsay Davenport and sisters Venus and Serena Williams sitting on the sidelines, the United States will send teenager Madison Brengle, former South African player Liezel Huber, Vania King and Ahsha Rolle into the Fed Cup semifinal against Russia. Huber, who spent four years on the South African Fed Cup team, became a U.S. citizen last July. The Russians will counter with Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anna Chakvetadze, Dinara Safina and Elena Vesnina on an indoor clay court in Moscow.

SEMIS FOR CHINA

Spain will travel to Beijing, China, for this weekend’s other Fed Cup semifinal, which will be contested on an indoor hard court. Represented by Peng Shuai, Zheng Jie, Yan Zi and Sun Tian-Tian, China will be playing in the Fed Cup semifinals for the first time. The Spanish team is composed of Nuria Llagostera Vives, Carla Suarez-Navarro, Maria-Jose Martinez Sanchez and Arantxa Parra-Santonja.

SWIFT DESCENT

Eight years after playing in the Davis Cup World Group, where it almost beat an Andre Agassi-led United States team, Zimbabwe has dropped all the way into the Europe/Africa Group Zone IV for 2009. Playing in Europe/Africa Zone Group III in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, Zimbabwe lost all three matches against Turkey, Montenegro, Madagascar and Bulgaria. Zimbabwe won one of its three matches against Cote D’Ivoire. In 2000, playing at home in Harare, Zimbabwe took the Americans to the decisive fifth match which Chris Woodruff won in four sets.

SWIMMINGLY GOOD

When Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis and Germany’s Rainer Schuettler won the doubles title at the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships, the two took a celebratory swim in the pool at the River Oaks International Country Club, site of the tournament, much to the surprise of the club members. It was the first time Gulbis and Schuettler had teamed up, and it was Gulbis’ first career ATP title of any kind.

STAMP OF APPROVAL

Jelena Jankovic has her own postage stamp in her home country of Serbia. The stamp showing Jankovic was released in honor of the five-player Serbian National Tennis Team that will compete this summer in the Beijing Olympic Games.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Doubles Champions

Estoril Men: Jeff Coetzee and Wesley Moodie beat Jamie Murray and Kevin Ullyett 6-2 4-6 10-8 (Match TB)

Estoril Women: Maria Kirilenko and Flavia Pennetta beat Mervana Jugic-Salkic and Ipek Senoglu 6-4 6-4

Charleston: Katarina Srebotnik and Ai Sugiyama beat Edina Gallovits and Olga Govortsova 6-2 6-2

Valencia: Maximo Gonzalez and Juan Monaco beat Travis Parrott and Filip Polasek 7-5 7-5

Houston: Ernests Gulbis and Rainer Schuettler beat Pablo Cuevas and Marcel Granollers-Pujol 7-5 7-6 (7-3)

Saint-Malo: Maria-Jose Martinez Sanchez and Arantxa Parra-Santonja beat Renata Voracova and Anastasia Yakimova 6-2 6-1

SITES TO SURF

Monte Carlo: http://montecarlo.masters-series.com/1/en/home/

Fed Cup: www.fedcup.com/

Barcelona: www.opensabadellatlantico.com

Munich: www.bmwopen.de

Fes: www.frmt.ma/

Prague: www.pragueopen.cz

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

ATP

$2,270,000 Monte Carlo Masters, Monte Carlo, Monaco, clay

FED CUP

(April 26-27)

World Group Semifinals

United States at Moscow, Russia, clay

Spain at Beijing, China, hard

World Group Playoffs

Ukraine at Olbia, Italy, clay; France at Tokyo, Japan, hard; Germany at Buenos Aires, Argentina, clay; Czech Republic at Ramat Hasharon, Israel, hard

World Group II Playoffs

Colombia at Mons, Belgium, hard; Switzerland at Dornbirn, Austria, hard; Uzbekistan at Bratislava, Slovak Republic, clay; Serbia at Zagreb, Croatia, hard

SENIORS

BlackRock Champions Cup, Barcelona, Spain, clay

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$824,000 Open Sabadell Atlantico 2008, Barcelona, Spain, clay

$370,000 BMW Open, Munich, Germany, clay

WTA TOUR

$145,000 Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem, Fes, Morocco, clay

$145,000 ECM Prague Open, Prague, Czech Republic, clay

SENIORS

$150,000 Outback Champions Cup Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, hard