Players Back Kendrick Over Ban, Safina to Miss Season’s Close and Federer Not Ready to Stop

Players Back Kendrick:

Many of tennis’ big stars have rallied behind American Robbie Kendrick after he was banned from tennis for 12 months last week by the ITF for failing a doping test. He is set to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport as he claimed he unwittingly ingested the banned substance in a capsule of Zija XM3 he took to help him with jet lag. Amer Delic is one pro to speak out in Kendrick’s support. “Robert will be first one to tell you that he made a mistake, but everyone will tell you that he didn’t do it with an intent to cheat and everyone will also tell you the punishment that he got is way too harsh,” Delic told “Especially if it’s compared to what Wayne Odesnik has served. Even three months and repaying the money is ridiculous, but he is willing to compromise because all he wants to do is play his last US Open.” In a statement issued by his attorneys, Kendrick also counts players and coaches John McEnroe, Tom Gullikson, John Isner, Robert Ginepri, James Blake, Bobby Reynolds and Michael Russell as supporters. The ITF said that they believed Kendrick hadn’t inhaled the substance deliberately but that it was each player’s responsibility to check all medicines to ensure they don’t contain banned substances. Kendrick hopes to get his ban reduced to three months.

Safina to Miss Season’s Close:

Russian former world No.1 Dinara Safina will miss the rest of the 2011 tennis calendar with a back problem. The 25-year-old has suffered a torrid couple of years and many questioned her dedication to the sport after a humiliating 0-6, 0-6 defeat to Kim Clijsters at the Australian Open in January. “I’m sorry to report that my back is still acting up. I will not be able to play until at least the end of the year,” she told her official website. Earlier this year she had spoken of a possible break, saying: “I’m just tired of fighting with myself. At the moment I can’t do anything tennis-wise. When I can do certain moves without feeling lots of pain, then I would consider resuming my training.”

Robbie Kendrick

Ageism no problem for Federer:

Roger Federer may have turned 30 this week but he says he is nowhere near ready to quit. Past greats such as recent Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Andre Agassi have excelled past their 30s; Agassi winning 15 titles, including two Australian Opens, past the big three-o. “I [have] inspiration [from] guys that played for a very long time, like Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, Ken Rosewall, Rod Laver, as it’s very inspiring to see what they’ve been able to do,” said Federer. “People tend to say that after a certain time or when you have kids you can’t win any more. I don’t want to say I’m a special case, but I’ve won so much, I feel like if I put myself in the right position, do all the right things, I’ll definitely get a shot again of winning big tournaments.”

Serena Back in the Big Time:

Serena Williams overcame early trouble to secure her first title in over a year after beating France’s Marion Bartoli 7-5, 6-1 in the final at Stanford. The Bank of West Classic is Williams’ 38th title on the WTA Tour and her first tournament in her native America since 2009. She will be delighted with her week, securing a double bagel over Anastasia Rodionova in the first round before securing comfortable wins over Maria Kirilenko, Maria Sharapova and Wimbledon semi-finalist Sabine Lisicki on her route to the championship match. “I haven’t won a tournament that isn’t a Grand Slam in forever, so this is cool,” Williams said. “I’m taking every tournament much more seriously now – not that I didn’t before, but now even more so. “I definitely want to take this whole [US series] swing seriously. Believe it or not, I don’t love the grass and I do love playing on hardcourts, so this is a good time for me to be playing right now.” And speaking of her ranking, she added: “I hated the triple digits. I’ve got to get to single digits though.”

Nadal Up for the Cup:

Spain’s Rafael Nadal says he will be available for his country’s Davis Cup semifinal with France next month. The French Open Champion missed their quarterfinal with the USA to recover from the clay season, but he says if captain Albert Costa wants him, “I’ll be there”.

Petrova Reaches Dizzy Heights at Citi Open:

Russia’s Nadia Petrova won the tenth WTA title of her career last week as she overcame Shahar Peer to win the Citi Open 7-5, 6-2. It completes a remarkable turnaround for the 29-year-old who has suffered a bad 2011, including missing the month before Miami suffering with vertigo. “Before Miami I had vertigo for six weeks. It knocked me off my feet,” she said. “I couldn’t defend my points in the clay court season and felt a little down. I wasn’t in a happy place, but Wimbledon was a turning point for me.” She reached the fourth round at SW19, eventually losing to Victoria Azarenka. “I knew Shahar wasn’t able to hurt me with her serve, especially her second serve, so even though I was broken early in each set I knew I could turn it around,” Petrova said of the final. “I’m happy with my record against her. And today was an important match, going for the title – all I had in my mind was to fight for every point and at the end of the day walk away with the beautiful trophy.”

Oudin to Blame for Form:

2009 US Open quarterfinalist Melanie Oudin says that nobody but herself is to blame for her recent poor form which culminated in a horrendous 0-6, 1-6 loss to Elena Baltacha at San Diego this week. Oudin won the hearts of her nation after beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Elena Dementieva, Maria Sharapova and Nadia Petrova before losing to Caroline Wozniacki at Flushing Meadows in 2009, aged just 17. Since then, though, she hasn’t exactly set the world alight and has complained previously of the pressure America thrusts on her before all the big tournaments. “I feel like it’s about my figuring it out and I can’t get down on myself every time I lose,” she told of her recent struggles. “I don’t feel like it’s somebody else’s fault. Some players when they [don’t] do well, they just blame the coach. But I’m smart enough to realise that it’s not the coach. It’s all on me.”

Blake Ignores his Rising Star:

Despite breaking back in to the Top 100 this year after a horrid stretch of injuries former Top 5 player James Blake says that he doesn’t even look at his own ranking anymore. “It would be like watching the stock market every five minutes: You’d go crazy watching it go up and down and up and down,” the 31-year-old told the Washington Post. “So I just look every once in a while and hope it’s a steady incline.”

Jovanovski Far, Far Away from Home:

Serbian tennis player Bojana Jovanovski ended up 900m away from the tennis center she was supposed to be playing at this week when she traveled to Carlsbad, New Mexico instead of Carlsbad, California for the San Diego Open. She said she only realized her mistake when her transport was not waiting at the airport she landed at. “They said they were at the airport and looking for me,” the world No.53 explained. “I said I was the only person here.” When she eventually got to the right destination, she lost to Italy’s Roberta Vinci 6-3, 4-6, 1-6.

Rankings Watch:

The year is slipping away from us before we know what happened and the first South African Airways ATP World Rankings for August see American Mardy Fish climb above Tomas Berdych to become the new world No.8, equalling his career-best. Spain’s Albert Montanes is in to the Top 50, while Ernests Gulbis climbs 29 places to No.55. Sam Querrey’s decline continues as he drops 23 places to No.72 and Andrey Golubev, Diego Junqueira and Julien Benneteau are all in to the Top 100. The biggest winner in this week’s Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings is former world No.1 Serena Williams who jumps from No.169 to No.79 in the world on the back of her title at Stanford. Italy’s Irina Falconi also has a big leap from No102 to No.81, while Marina Erakovic jumps from No.121 to enter the Top 100.