Serbia and France name Davis Cup Squads, ATP Announce Longer off-season and Date Krumm sets Retirement date

*Serbia and France have both announced their squads for the forthcoming Davis Cup final in Belgrade taking place 3-5 December. Bogdan Obradovic has unsurprisingly chosen Novak Djokovic, who is unbeaten in Davis Cup singles play in 2010, to lead the Serbian attack with Viktor Troicki and Janko Tipsarevic vying for the second singles berth. Either player could also partner doubles expert Nenad Zimonjic in that field. French Captain Guy Forget has chosen Gael Monfils as France’s spearhead with usual number one Jo-Wilfried Tsonga injured. Monfils has a 100% record this year and has recorded wins over the likes of ATP WTF finalist David Ferrer and David Nalbandian. Michael Llodra is expected to take the second singles berth after showing great form in the previous two rounds. It will be his first Davis Cup Final appearance after missing out in 2001 and 2002. Gilles Simon will also be hoping for some game time. The draw for play will take place on December 2.

*Two of the sport’s most prominent voices in the debate for extending the tennis off-season have spoken about the decision by the ATP to increase the resting period to seven weeks. “With seven weeks you can take a break at the end of the year and that should help the longevity of everyone’s careers,” said British No. 1 Andy Murray in his column for BBC Tennis. “We’ve been trying for quite a few years to make it clear that it’s too short an off-season. I’m hoping this will make a difference.” World No. 2 Roger Federer was more cautious with his response. “I think it’s good to have a longer off-season,” said the Swiss No. 1. “I definitely think it’s a step in the right direction. But only time will tell. Will we have less or more injuries because the calendar is more packed? I don’t know.” A full interview with Federer on the subject can be viewed at the Eurosport website.

Andy Murray

*Kimiko Date Krumm has announced that the 2011 season will be her last. The 40-year-old Japanese defier of Father Time says she is targeting the Grand Slams during her swansong. The former Top 10 player returned to the Tour this year after a twelve year absence and finished the year ranked at No. 46. “I’m not a robot, I’m only human,” she told Sky Sports after losing in the semi-finals of the Asian Games in Guangzhou. “It’s been a good season but I’m exhausted now. I’m not sure whether or not I can manage to play until the end of next season. I need to recharge before I can think of competing next year. Hopefully I can have some good results at the Grand Slams.

*Roger Federer’s 6-1, 6-4 victory over David Ferrer at the o2 on Sunday was the thirtieth victory of his career at the ATP World Tour Finals. He has qualified for the season-ending Championships for nine straight years. “I think it’s wonderful,” said Federer, speaking of the event. “The players love it. We’re all here. It’s really prestigious. That’s what it’s supposed to be and has been for 40 years. I’ve been a part of them nine times already. Having the World Tour Finals here in London makes great sense because it’s in a great time zone, in a country that loves sports, especially tennis. I think it’s great for the fans to see that. All the sessions are basically sold out, there’s such a run on tickets. So it’s hard to choose a better place than London, I feel.”

*Day four of the ATP Finals saw temper tantrums on court in the match between Tomas Berdych and Andy Roddick. During the second set, with Roddick serving, the advertising banners on the front of the boxes where the line judges sit began flickering red before returning to their usual light blue. Roddick was broken for the second time and took his frustrations out on his racquet by beating his foot until the frame broke, earning him a reprimand, whilst also blasting a ball high in to the arena stands. “I was angry with myself and there wasn’t anybody else to talk to at that moment,” Roddick said. “The neons in the back weren’t quite to the settled position. They were still advertising fun stuff. When you’re trying to track a ball, it’s kind of neon lights and stuff. Then Tomas noticed it. A couple of them just went out before we played a point.”

*Former Aussie star Mark Philippoussis is reportedly having more financial difficulties despite playing recent events on the Champions circuit. He allegedly borrowed $1.2m to buy his Sydney home but has now been served with a mortgage default. He has also been talking of a return to the professional tour since 2009.

*Venus Williams has told Reuters she wants to play Fed Cup for the USA next season. She missed the recent final loss to Italy with a knee injury and claims that she was too upset to watch on. “It’s been tough to be out so I decided I couldn’t watch any more tennis,” said the elder Williams sister. “I desperately wanted to turn on the television and watch the Fed Cup but it was like: ‘At this point, maybe I should just let it go.’ It was frustrating. But I really want to play the tie next year, the U.S. against Belgium. I have to be healthy but I would love to be there.”

*Auckland’s ASB Classic is set to welcome a star-studded lineup during the first week of the 2011 WTA season. Three-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova heads the field with her debut appearance in New Zealand. She won her last major at the neighboring Australian Open in 2008. Two other Russians, former world No. 1 Dinara Safina and former No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova have also signed up to play. Kimiko Date Krumm, Yanina Wickmayer and Alona Bondarenko are also on the bill. The tournament will run January 3-8.

*Aussie legend John Newcombe has told prodigy Bernard Tomic to work more on the physical side of his game off the court and to get in to immediate contact with Pat Rafter and Tony Roche about how he can work towards being a part of their Davis Cup squads. “I’m not privy to enough inside knowledge, but what I hear is he doesn’t do enough of the physical training on the running side, off the court, to get his body into that sort of shape,” said the seven-time Grand Slam winner. “If he got himself into 100 percent physical shape, there’s no reason why he couldn’t be top 30, top 20. But we don’t know yet what he can do, because we haven’t seen it.” The full interview can be seen at Tennis.com.

*Serena Williams has pulled out of January’s Hopman Cup, the third time she has done so in her career. She has cited failure to recover from her foot injury as the reason and was recently photographed leaving an NFL game on crutches. Williams was due to play the event with John Isner.

*Doubles specialist Leander Paes says he will pursue an acting career when his playing days are over. The 37-year-old Indian star is looking forward to starting shooting on a film called ‘Rajdhani Express.’ “It’s something exciting. It’s something new,” he said. “I can’t keep playing tennis for the rest of my life. In India, I’m very lucky. I have a big following. I have a lot of people that enjoy what I do. Movies for me was a natural progression, to go from tennis to movies to entertain my fans. With the movies I’m just learning, I’m an apprentice. Right now I’m doing a serious drama movie, there’s not one song where I have to dance in it. Thank God.”

*Roger Federer’s coach Paul Anacone has said that the difference between the Swiss at 29 and Pete Sampras at the same age is vastly different. “I felt like I was with a 23-year-old or 22-year-old again [with Federer],” said Annacone, who has coached both stars. “He loves the life. He loves the tennis matches. He loves the travel. He has all the ingredients, including and most importantly good health in mind and body, to keep going for a number of years. I think in retrospect Pete at this age was a lot more tired—a lot more tired mostly emotionally, not physically. At the end of Pete’s career, he rejuvenated himself for that great push at the [2002] U.S. Open, but the last couple of years, for a multitude of reasons, were a bit emotionally draining for him. Roger is not anywhere near that state.”

*The world’s Top 2 men’s players, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer, will face off in two exhibition matches this winter, in Zurich on December 21 and in Madrid on the following day. Proceeds from the best of three matches will go to their charities. “I always enjoy playing Rafa on the big stages and it is especially exciting when we can do it to help raise monies for our foundations,” said Federer in a statement to Reuters last Thursday.

*Rafa Nadal has won the ATP Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award, ending Roger Federer’s six-straight winning streak. However, Federer picked up the Fan Favourite Award for the eighth year running. The Bryan brothers picked up the Fan Favourite Award for doubles for the sixth year in a row.

*The charity SOS Children recently hosted two round tables entitled “Breaking the poverty cycle: Strengthening communities and families” at the European Parliament on November 18 and 19. Kim Clijsters and her husband, Brian Lynch, spoke at the event and begged EU policy makers to strengthen families and end child poverty. “Children not growing up in a family face a heightened risk of emotional insecurity, educational failure, abuse and violence,” said three-time US Open winner Clijsters. “These are the harsh facts. Not only in third world countries, but also here in Europe. That’s why you’re here, at the very heart of the European Institutions, debating. That’s why we’re here, supporting your debate. It should be a basic right for every child to grow up in the warmth of a family.”

*Tennis Canada have named Rebecca Marino their female player of the year. The 19-year-old rose 80 slots in the rankings this year to No. 102.

*James Blake will hold his annual Reception to benefit the Thomas Blake Sr. Memorial Cancer Research Fund at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre on November 30th, at the Lincoln Centre in New York City. Guests will include Andy Roddick and his wife Brooklyn Decker, Anna Wintour, Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Michael Jordan, Patrick McEnroe, Pete Sampras and Sugar Ray Leonard, as well as a surprise musical guest performance (Bob Larson’s Tennis News).

*The Art of Success charity auction has been a massive hit at the o2 Arena during the ATP World Tour Finals as self-portraits and signed racquets of the top stars have been raising huge sums of money on EBay. The portraits were painted by players hitting balls of paint at a stenciled canvas of their outline with one of their racquets. Robin Soderling’s was the first to close last Thursday and his self-portrait and racquet fetched $5,100. David Ferrer’s then closed on a value of $3,350. Andy Murray’s is the next to close on Nov. 25 and his lot stood at $6,600 at the time of going to press. Tomas Berdych (Nov. 27) is standing at $2,700. The final four close on Nov 28 as play in London draws to a close. Andy Roddick currently stands at $5,600 with Novak Djokovic at $4,150. But the worlds Top 2 players are making the biggest splash of all. Rafa Nadal’s work currently has 26 bids and stands at £26,000 and the greatest player of all time, Roger Federer, has his at $25,700. The proceeds will be split 50/50 with half of each sale going to Save the Children and the other half going to a charity of the player’s choice.