AEGON

Roger Federer, Petra Kvitova Show Strength For Wimbledon – Mondays With Bob Greene

The following is the Monday column from www.WorldTennisMagazine.com called “Mondays with Bob Greene” that features a review from the past week in tennis, written by former Associated Press tennis writer Bob Greene. This column is featured here this week on TennisGrandstand.com due to maintenance work on WorldTennisMagazine.com.

 

26 June 2017

 

STARS

Roger Federer beat Alexander Zverev 6-1 6-3 to win the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany

Feliciano Lopez beat Marin Cilic 4-6 7-6 (2) 7-6 (8) to win the Aegon Championships in London, Great Britain

Petra Kvitova beat Ashleigh Barty 4-6 6-3 6-2 to win the Aegon Classic in Birmingham, Great Britain

Anastasija Sevastova beat Julia Goerges 6-4 3-6 6-3 to win the Mallorca Open in Mallorca, Spain

Marton Fucsovics beat Alex Bolt 6-1 6-4 to win the Aegon Ilkley Trophy men’s singles in Ilkley, Great Britain’

Magdalena Rybarikova beat Alison Van Uytvanck 7-5 7-6 (3) to win the Aegon Ilkley Trophy women’s singles in Ilkley, Great Britain

 

SAYING

“My goal was to keep myself 100 percent for the grass season.” – Roger Federer, who easily beat Alexander Zverev to win the Halle, Germany, tournament for the ninth time.

“I came to play, to improve my game, I didn’t really have any expectation. I wanted to play my best, which I showed today, and I hope I can keep doing that.” – Petra Kvitova, after winning the Aegon Classic.

“It’s the best week of my career, which is crazy when you’re 35.” – Feliciano Lopez, after beating four players ranked in the Top 15 to win Queen’s Club.

“I was pretty pumped. Beating the world number one and a Grand Slam champion, on grass at Queen’s, it’s definitely number one for me.” – Jordan Thompson, a first-round winner over top-ranked Andy Murray at Queen’s Club.

“I know Azarenka is coming back, but it’s always tough to play against her.” – Ana Konjuh, who handed Victoria Azarenka her first loss since returning to the women’s tour following the birth of her child.

“The season is very long and I must look at the bigger picture.” – Elina Svitolina, saying there’s a possibility her injured heel could keep her out of Wimbledon.

“My earnings are well publicized and it was clear that I have the means to repay this debt.” – Boris Becker, after a London court declared the former tennis star bankrupt for failure to pay a debt that dates to 2015.

 

SOLID PERFORMANCE

The king of grass appears ready to regain his throne. Roger Federer won his ninth Gerry Weber Open title by stopping Alexander Zverev in the final of the Wimbledon warm-up event. The victory – his 92nd ATP Tour level title, putting him just two behind Ivan Lendl on the all-time list – contrasted with his loss to Tommy Haas the week before in Stuttgart, Germany. “It was by far my best match of the week,” Federer said of his thrashing of the 12th-ranked Zverev. “After my long break, I’m feeling excellent and it’s a pleasure to be back and I’m fit for Wimbledon.” That might scare a lot of players: Federer will be going for a record eighth Wimbledon title. The 35-year-old Swiss skipped the entire clay-court season, yet still has lost only two matches this year. He won the Australian Open – his record 18th Grand Slam tournament singles crown – and hard-court titles in Indian Wells and Miami before the clay-court break. Until Halle, every time Zverev reached a final, he came away with the trophy. But Federer was ready for revenge, having lost a semifinal to Zverev last year at Halle. Zverev was on court for just 53 minutes as Federer was spectacularly sharp. The eventual winner began the day by winning the first four games. “I now hope that I’ll stay healthy in this second part of the season and we’ll see what happens,” Federer said. A scary thought for everyone else.

 

SHE’S BACK

Petra Kvitova has two Wimbledon trophies and appears ready to add another. The Czech left-hander won the Aegon Classic in just her second tournament back being slashed with a knife during a home invasion. The December attack left her with a damaged left hand. But it didn’t seem to bother her one bit as she beat Australian Ashleigh Barty in three sets. “It was an amazing week, an amazing tournament,” Kvitova said. “From my first hits on the grass I felt great. It was encouraging to get into the grass season.” The last time she was in a grass-court final was in 2014 when she won her second Wimbledon title, three years after her first. At Birmingham, Barty held her own to begin the match, losing just one point in her first four service games. But Kvitova found her rhythm and raced to a 5-1 lead before leveling the match at one set apiece. After they traded service breaks in the decisive third set, Kvitova broke her opponent one more time, then finished off the victory with her 13th match of the day. “I like to play finals on grass,” Kvitova said. “I wish I could have more. I won’t be sad if it is in a couple of weeks (at Wimbledon), but there is still a lot of work to be done.”

 

SPANISH TINGE

Three years ago, Feliciano Lopez had a match point in the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club, only to lose to Grigor Dimitrov. This time, the Spanish veteran needed three match points, but finally came away with the biggest title of his long career as he defeated Marin Cilic. “I can’t believe that I finally won it,” Lopez said. “I’ve been waiting for 15 or 16 years to hold this trophy.” At 35, Lopez is the oldest player to win Queen’s Club in the Open Era. And it wasn’t an easy path to the title. He defeated Stan Wawrinka, Tomas Berdych, Grigor Dimitrov and Cilic, four players ranked in the top 14 in the world. Cilic reached match point in the final-set tiebreak, but Lopez saved it with a stretching volley. Then the Spaniard had a match point, only for Cilic to slam his 22nd ace of the day. A Cilic volley staved off a second Lopez match point. But his 19th ace gave the Spaniard a third match point, and they time he came away with the title. “I thought that at the end of the tiebreak, after losing match points, I wouldn’t make it, but I managed to do it,” Lopez said. “It was tough to put that (match point in 2014) out of my mind, so it was difficult to handle my nerves. But I managed it.”

 

SHORT STAY

Now a mother, Victoria Azarenka returned to the tennis tour at the Mallorca Open. Her stay was cut short by seventh-seeded Ana Konjuh of Croatia 6-1 6-3 in a second-round match. “She’s one of the best players in the world,” Konjuh said of Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open champion who once was ranked number one in the world. “I was motivated, for sure, and I’m really glad that I could play so well today and win.” Azarenka also had problems in her first-round match. She saved match points in her win over Japan’s Risa Ozaki.

 

SICK BAY

A heel injury could keep fifth-ranked Elina Svitolina out of Wimbledon. The injury hampered the 22-year-old Ukrainian as she suffered a 6-4 4-6 6-2 second-round loss to qualifier Camila Giorgi in the Aegon Classic in Birmingham. “The heel feels painful and is very sensitive,” Svitolina said. “I am disappointed I am out of the tournament, but I am not disappointed with my performance because I could not show even 50 percent. Also, the court was slippery, which is bad for the foot.” Svitolina’s best results have come on clay. She won the Italian Open this spring and reached the French Open quarterfinals, losing to eventual runner-up Simona Halep. And the weather didn’t help. One day it was extremely hot. The next day there was drizzle and dampness. Giorgi adapted to the slick surface, while Svitolina didn’t.

 

STRAIGHT IN

Tommy Haas, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2009, 2016 junior champion Denis Shapovalov and three British women – Laura Robson, Heather Watson and Naomi Broady – have been given wild card entries into the main draw of the year’s third Grand Slam tournament. At 39, Haas is playing his final season on the ATP World Tour and beat Roger Federer at a grass-court tournament in Stuttgart, Germany, this month. Other men receiving wild cards into the main men’s singles draw were British players Brydan Klein, Cameron Norrie and James Ward. Other women wild-card entries are Britain’s Katie Boulter and Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.

 

SIMONA AT EASTBOURNE

After losing the French Open women’s singles final, Simona Halep pulled out of the Aegon Classic in Birmingham, Great Britain, with an ankle injury. But the Romanian is feeling better and received a wild card entry into the Aegon International this week in Eastbourne, Great Britain. “The quality of the draw is very high so I’m hoping for some great matches to give me the best possible preparation ahead of Wimbledon,” Halep said.

“”

SHOCKER

It was supposed to be an easy workout for top-ranked Andy Murray. Instead, it turned into a shocking defeat as he fell to Australia’s Jordan Thompson, a “lucky loser,” in a first-round match at Queen’s Club. It was the first grass-court match win in the Thompson’s career. “I signed in for the ‘Lucky Loser’ spot,” said Thompson, who lost in the qualifying. “I hung around. If someone was going to pull out, I was always going to be there. Then this morning I just got my transport, planning on doing the same thing, signing in, waiting around. Pretty much when I got here, someone pulled out. When I heard I was playing Andy, I was pretty nervous. I just wanted to go out there and enjoy it.” Thompson did enjoy the day; Murray didn’t. Murray had won Queen’s Club a record five times, including three times in the last four years. Thompson hit 12 aces and saved all three break points against Murray.

 

SET FOR EXHIBITION

The world’s two top-ranked players – Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal – will play two exhibition matches in Hurlingham, Great Britain, this week to get extra match play on grass before Wimbledon. Murray signed up for the Aspall Tennis Classic event after suffering a shocking loss at Queen’s Club. Nadal has not played since winning a record 10th French Open title. He has not played a tournament on grass since 2015. Speaking with the Spanish media, Nadal said the “level I have today is not sufficient for me to compete the way I would like at Wimbledon.” Each player is guaranteed to play two matches.

 

SHARAPOVA SET

Maria Sharapova will return to competitive tennis next month when she plays World Team Tennis. The Russian will play for the Orange County Breakers, a team she has played with for seven years. She recently returned to the WTA Tour after a 15-month doping ban. She pulled out of the Wimbledon qualifying because of an injured left thigh.

 

“SURPRISED AND DISAPPOINTED”

Boris Becker says he was “surprised and disappointed” when a court in London declared him bankrupt for failing to pay a long-standing debt. Lawyers for the three-time Wimbledon champion pleaded with a Bankruptcy Court registrar to allow Becker a “last chance” to pay off the debt, which dates back to 2015. But Registrar Christine Derrett ruled there was a lack of credible evidence that the outstanding payment would be made. Becker’s lawyers had argued there was sufficient evidence to show that the former player would be able to pay the debt soon through a refinancing arrangement involving remortgaging property in Mallorca. He said Becker was not likely to benefit from bankruptcy and it could have an adverse effect on his image., But the judge replied: “One has the impression of a man with his head in the sand.”

 

SETTLES

Former tennis star James Blake and the City of New York have reached an agreement that will set up a police watchdog agency. In exchange, Blake has agreed to drop his right to sue the city after he was mistakenly tackled by police and arrested. In exchange, a legal fellowship will be created in Blake’s name, with the fellow to serve two-year terms at the Civilian Complaint Review Board. The city will fund the fellow for six years with the salary to be commensurate with other staff there and will be no less than USD $65,00 a year. The fellow’s job will be to help navigate the system for people making complaints against police and to push for strong investigations. Blake was tackled and handcuffed outside a Manhattan hotel on Sept. 9, 2015. He had been ranked as high as fourth in the world before retiring after the 2013 US Open. In a statement, Blake thanked the city of New York. “It has been my intention since Day One to turn a negative into a positive, and I think this fellowship accomplishes that goal,” he said.

 

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Birmingham: Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua beat Chan Hao-Ching and Zhang Shuai 6-1 2-6 10-8 (match tiebreak)

Halle: Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo beat Alexander Zverev and Misha Zverev 5-7 6-3 10-8 (match tiebreak)

Ilkley (men): Leander Paes and Adil Shamasdin beat Brydan Klein and Joe Salisbury 2-6 6-2 10-8 (match tiebreak)

Ilkley (women): Anna Blinkova and Alla Kudryavtseva beat Paula Kania and Maryna Zanevska 6-1 6-4

London: Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares beat Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-2 6-3

Mallorca: Chan Yung-Jan and Martina Hingis beat Jelena Jankovic and Anastasija Sevastova by walkover.

 

SURFING

Antalya: www.antalyaopen.com/

Eastbourne: www.lta.org.uk/major-events/Aegon-International-Eastbourne

Wimbledon: www.wimbledon.com/index.html

 

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

MEN

$719,080 Aegon International, Eastbourne, Great Britain, grass

$555,305 Antalya Open, Antalya, Turkey, grass

 

WOMEN

$731,000 Aegon International, Eastbourne, Great Britain, grass

 

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

MEN and WOMEN

Wimbledon, London, Great Britain, grass (first week)

 

Rafael Nadal starts clay – grass adaptation

The World No.1 Rafael Nadal arrived in London in his own unique, but now customary way – as the French Open champion, via the Eurostar from Paris, and just in time to practise on the best grass courts in the world at the AEGON Championships.

At 7pm, he walked into The Queen’s Club with a big smile on his face. In the locker-room, player after player congratulated him on his success at Roland Garros. And then it was time to take to the grass for the first time in 2011.

As he fizzed forehands and backhands over the net, it was difficult to believe that he had just come through a 3 hour, 40 minute final in Paris just a day earlier. The contrast in the way he hit the ball was significant. Groundstrokes that previously looped high over the net and bounced over the heads of his opponents were now being whipped from just above the turf and clearing the net by inches.

“All my career I have loved trying to adapt to this surface,” said Nadal, afterwards. “At the beginning it is tough. The first day is not easy and I did not play very well but I spent more than an hour and a half on the grass and that’s the most important thing. I love to be here in London at Queen’s, and I’m going to try my best.”

Elsewhere, to read about Andy Murray’s first major grass-court practice session, and defending champion Sam Querrey’s first round triumph, click here: http://www.lta.org.uk/fans-major-events/AEGON-British-Tennis-Series/AEGON-Championships/News/2011/Defending-champion-Sam-Querrey-safely-through-to-second-round/

The AEGON Championships will be broadcast live, every day from 6th-12th June, on BBC Television and Eurosport.

For results, draws and the order of play for Tuesday, please go to the official AEGON Championships website: http://www.aegonchampionships.com

Nadal to Play Queens, Davis Cup Semifinal Debrief, del Potro Back

*World No. 1 Rafa Nadal has confirmed he will warm up for the 2011 Wimbledon Championships by returning to Queens Club. Nadal played at the 2010 Aegon Championships where he lost to compatriot Feliciano Lopez at the quarterfinal stage. “I love playing at Queen’s Club because it is a traditional club,” he said. “Every time I have played there I have felt very welcome because of the British people and their support, and because of the tournament organisers who are so good at their job. After the French Open, it is very important for me to feel the grass under my feet as soon as possible. I tried my best in every match this year (at The Queen’s Club) and was disappointed that I could not win the tournament, but I reached the quarter-finals and it definitely helped me to feel ready for Wimbledon.” Nadal has reached the final at Wimbledon every time he has preceded it by playing at Queens.

*Both Serbia and France have understandably expressed their delight at reaching the final of the 2010 Davis Cup. But it is perhaps the Serbs, in their first final, who are looking forward to the occasion more. “This was a fairytale end to the tie, I have to thank the crowd for their fantastic support because they brought us back from the dead,” said Janko Tipsarevic, whose win over Radek Stepanek handed the young country victory over the Czech Republic. “Finally, it was my turn to shine for the national team after the others, mostly [Novak] Djokovic, proved to be instrumental so many times. I am glad I saved my best tennis for the national team in a match of this magnitude. I had to finish it in three sets today because I was getting tired towards the end and Stepanek was getting back into the match.” France coach Guy Forget was also delighted at his team’s achievements but is wary of the threat posed by the Djokovic-led Serbs. “We’ve been lucky enough to just play at home so far,” said Forget, after Serbia were given home advantage. “The final was already very hard and now it will be even harder because Djokovic and Tipsarevic are very talented. They will probably have 20,000 people behind them. It will be tough. Novak is in great form at the moment after his final at the US Open. Whenever they needed him, he responded. When he plays for his country, he surpasses himself every time. There’s also Tipsarevic, who saved his team against the Czech Republic. But we beat the Australians at their place a few years ago [in the final in 2001], so why not repeat the feat?”

*The injury nightmare looks like it’s finally over. According to his Twitter page, Juan Martin del Potro will finally return to the courts in Bangkok next week at the PTT Thailand Open. “I am extremely happy to tell you: I WILL PLAY AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!” exclaimed the man who has not featured since the Australian Open back in January. “Will be in the BANGKOK tournament next Monday. Thanks so much for everything!” Also on the draw will be new US Open Champion Rafa Nadal and French Open semifinalist Jurgen Melzer.

*David Nalbandian has denied any friction between himself and Argentine Davis Cup captain Tito Vasquez following their annihilation at the hands of France in last weekend’s Davis Cup semifinal. After losing the opening singles rubber to Gael Monfils it was reported that Nalbandian was unhappy that he was not selected as the top singles player which would have meant facing Michael Llodra instead. That task befell Juan Monaco. “It was a valid decision” he said. “It was all uncertain [who would play singles for France]… we did not know what would happen. Tito decided like this, sometimes can be good and other times not. If you want to win the Davis Cup, you have to beat Monfils Monday, Tuesday or Thursday.”

*As previously reported by Tennis People, Pakistani US Open men’s and mixed doubles finalist Aisam-Ul-Haq Quareshi has been awarded for his humanitarian work in a ceremony in Lahore last week. The doubles specialist has won worldwide praise for promoting harmony between his own country and India and has recently been raising money for the flood victims left homeless by recent events in Pakistan. “All my life I’ve tried to do something to make my country and my parents proud,” he said. “It’s been a long, tough journey. I want to thank my relatives, friends and family for being with me through my ups and downs. One should never give up on dreams.”

*The 2010 edition may not have reached its conclusion yet but the draw has already been made for Davis Cup play throughout 2011. India and Kazakhstan (for the first time ever) can look forward to World Group play and what will the likes of Italy and Switzerland have to overcome to re-enter the prestigious section? Head over to the ITF Website to check out the full draws.

*Chilean Fernando Gonzalez faces a long injury layoff after he announced he will undergo hip and possibly knee surgery next month. The world No. 44, his lowest ranking since 2002, was forced to retire from his first round US Open match against Ivan Dodig and could be out for eight or nine months which would place his return, possibly, at midway through the European clay-court season.

*It’s always quiet in the rankings at this stage of the season but there are a couple of significant changes in the South African Airways ATP World Rankings. American No. 1 Andy Roddick has re-entered the Top 10 at the expense of Spain’s David Ferrer. Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas has leapt 17 spots to No. 70 while Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq (No. 98) and the Russian Igor Andreev (No. 99) are in to the Top 100.

*Two women in particular are celebrating in the Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings this week. Jarmila Groth picked up her first tour title in Guangzhou last week which sees her at a career-high No. 41. 19-year-old Tamira Paszek won in Quebec City and she has leapt from No. 151 to No. 92.

*Interested in the whole ‘interfering parent’ row surrounding young tennis prodigies? American tennis writer Greg Couch had an interesting run-in with the parents of 21-year-old Donald Young at the US Open regarding comments former US Davis Cup Captain Patrick McEnroe had made in his recent book about dealing with them. It opens up a huge can of worms on the lack of communication and name calling that sometimes goes on between the coach and the parent. It’s an excellent read. Check it out at the Fanhouse website.

*One story that really caught my eye this week was that of Iraqi tennis hopeful Zainab Khadim Alwan. She used to skip school as a youngster to watch Venus and Serena Williams playing in the hope that she could one day emulate them. Losing both legs in a rocket blast four years ago, a lot of youngsters would give up on the dream there and then. Not Alwan. Now she hopes to star on the wheelchair tennis circuit. “I choose tennis because it’s a difficult game,” she said. “I wanted to prove despite losing my legs, I haven’t lost my mind.” “Tennis relieved Zainab’s suffering,” said her father, Khadim Alwan Jassim. This touching tale can be read at the News Sports Today website.

*Former Andy Murray coach Miles Maclagan has returned to work quickly as the coach of the German world No. 21 Philipp Kohlschreiber.

*Brit teenage star Laura Robson has announced that her and coach Martijn Bok will part ways at the end of the season. It is believed Bok did not wish to increase travelling commitments as Laura looked to push on further with her WTA tour next year.

*Bob Bryan is the latest tennis star to get engaged this week. He proposed to girlfriend Michelle Alvarez on Tuesday. “Just got engaged… at Pfeifer Falls in Big Sur, CA,” he posted on his Twitter account. She replied: “So happy to spend the rest of my life with the most amazing person. We’re engaged!” Awwwwwwwww!

*Indian star Mahesh Bhupathi has also got engaged to former Miss Universe Lara Dutta this week. Bhupathi divorced his former wife of six years earlier this year.

MURRAY GIVEN TOUGH ROAD TO TITLE DEFENSE

By Melina Harris

The heat will certainly be on Britain’s Andy Murray as he attempts to defend his AEGON Championships title at The Queen’s Club this week. I am gladly returning to the club I trained at as a Middlesex County Junior with a press pass for days one and two of the tournament and will be updating you with all the news, quotes and gossip as it happens.

Murray has been given an extremely tough draw as he might need to overcome the world No.12 Marin Cilic, the top seed Rafael Nadal and the second seed Novak Djokovic if he is to successfully defend his title.

Murray, who last year became the first British player since Henry ‘Bunny’ Austin in 1938 to win the title at The Queen’s Club, received a bye in the first round and will face either Austrian Daniel Koellerer or Ivan Navarro in the second round. The talented American Mardy Fish could be his round three opponent, with Cilic in the quarters, Nadal in the semi’s and Djokovic in the final.

Nadal, fresh from his French Open victory, who won the title in 2008, also enjoys a first round bye, with Marcos Daniel of Brazil or Slovenian Blaz Kavcic waiting in round two. The Spaniard is seeded to face his good friend and eighth seed Feliciano Lopez in the quarterfinals.

The man who Nadal beat in the final two years ago, Novak Djokovic, opens up against Spain’s Pere Riba or Paolo Lorenzi of Italy after a bye in the first round, and could meet big-serving American Sam Querrey in the quarterfinals.

Grass court aficionado, Andy Roddick, who is aiming for a record fifth title at the AEGON Championships this year, meets either Igor Kunitsyn of Russia or Ukraine’s Ilya Marchenko in the second round, with  Frenchman Gael Monfils a potential quarterfinal opponent. Roddick is seeded to face Djokovic in the semifinals.

The British No.2 Alex Bogdanovic made an impressive comeback from a set down to defeat Ilija Bozoljac, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 and qualify for the main draw of the AEGON Championships.

On the first day of the tournament I will see a number of British players in action, with wild cards Jamie Baker and James Ward attempting to claim notable victories against 16th seed Dennis Istomin and American Robby Ginepri respectively on Centre Court.  After those matches, Kei Nishikori takes on Richard Gasquet on the Centre Court, followed by Bogdanovic against Dimitrov.

Last but not least, I will then get the rare pleasure of seeing the Murray brothers, Andy and Jamie against Scott Lipsky and Sam Querrey in doubles action. I can’t wait for the tournament to begin!

Melina Harris is a freelance sports writer, book editor, English tutor and PTR qualified tennis coach. For more information and contact details please visit and subscribe to her website and blog at http://www.thetenniswriter.wordpress.com and follow her twitter updates via http://www.twitter.com/thetenniswriter.   She is available for freelance writing, editing and one to one private teaching and coaching.

WILL MELBOURNE HAVE A SPANISH FLAIR IN 2010?

The 2010 tennis season is now getting in to full swing with the first Slam of the year, the Australian Open, underway in Melbourne this week.

The usual names are being touted for Grand Slam glory this year but question marks are being placed over the head of Spanish giant Rafael Nadal after his injury ravaged 2009 ended with some pretty poor displays by his own high standards.

The man is one of the few things keeping tennis competitive as his rivalry with Roger Federer has meant R-Fed hasn’t led a Pete Sampras-like domination over the sport this past decade.

Nadal’s native Spain has been in fine form during the “noughties,” lifting the Davis Cup on four occasions in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2009. They had never won the prestigious tournament before.

So is Nadal Spain’s only chance of Grand Slam glory this year? Many would say no.

Juan Carlos Ferrero is a former world No.1 with the French Open title (2003) and a U.S. Open final (also 2003) under his belt. However, 2009 started badly for him with early exits, including the Australian Open, seeing him drop outside the world’s Top 100 for the first time in ten years.

However the grass courts saw a mighty resurgence and only the aggression of Andy Murray halted his progress at the semifinals of the AEGON Championships and the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. His ranking climbed from 90 to 37 in a month.

From there he kicked on and looked to be getting back to his best tennis. Age is against him now and this could be his last major push to add to that solitary Slam.

Then there’s Tommy Robredo. The 2009 season was a good one for the Girona boy with career-best-equaling performances at the French, Wimbledon and US Open.

Another clay-court specialist, it is often his performances against the top ten players which let him down. In 2009, it was Andy Roddick who knocked him out in Australia, then Juan Martin del Potro in Paris before Roger Federer ousted Robredo on his way to the US Open final.

But at the Hopman Cup a couple of week’s ago he led Spain to victory with partner Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez. It was his dominating play against Britain’s Andy Murray in both their singles and mixed doubles rubbers which got tongues wagging and if he can keep that sort of performance up against the top seeds then the latter rounds of the Slams won’t be far out of reach.

The Spanish youngsters look promising too. The success of eight-time Grand Slam champion Nadal has seen tennis flourish again in the Mediterranean and there are some big hitting youngsters to look out for too.

Nicolas Almagro is looking to build on his quarterfinal appearance at the French in 2008 while Marcel Granollers and Daniel Gimeno-Traver both posted career-best results at three of the four Slams in 2009.

Add David Ferrer, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco to that mix and Spanish fans are rightfully licking their lips at the bevy of talent they have to cheer on throughout the season.

But there is one name in particular that will get the imagination racing and will pull on the heartstrings as they chase one final hurrah.

Along with Roddick, Federer and Lleyton Hewitt he is one of only four stars currently playing to have wracked up over 500 ATP level wins. He graced the final of the Australian Open in 1997 and went on to lift the French in 1998, his only Grand Slam thus far. Ravaging injuries and a loss of form mean he has not reached a quarter final since the 2007 French and US Opens but after taking a hiatus to recover from injured tendons and ischium in his hip Carlos Moya has returned to the tennis circuit.

A hit with fans in all countries his style of play is loved by the male fans while his style and rugged good looks keep the females in tow too.

A first round exit to Janko Tipsarevic at the Chennai Open last week may not have been the return he would have been dreaming of but it takes time to regain that match practice.

How is it looking for the Spaniards in the Australian Open draw (seedings in brackets)?

Ferrer (17) faces a first-round encounter with Federico Gil of Portugal while Verdasco (9) faces home-boy Carsten Ball. Ferrero (23) has to overcome Croatia’s Ivan Dodig while Moya faces Illya Marchenko of Ukraine.

Gimeno-Traver will have to overcome third seed Novak Djokovic if he wants to see the second round while Robredo (16) faces Columbia’s Santiago Giraldo. Almagro (26) and Granollers face Xavier Malisse and Robin Soderling respectively.

In the bottom half of the draw Feliciano Lopez faces Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas while Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka awaits Garcia-Lopez. Second seed Rafael Nadal yesterday (Monday) was the first Spaniard to play and he quickly overcame local boy Peter Luczak 7-6(0), 6-1, 6-4, a good omen?

With thirteen Spaniards overall in the draw there is a high chance of a competitor in the final. And how many betting men are brave enough to go against Nadal? It’s now up to the players to live up to the hype. Watch this space!

Tennis In The Commonwealth – Murray and Robson To Play For GB In Hopman Cup

By Leigh Sanders

Andy Murray and Laura Robson have confirmed they will represent Great Britain at the Hopman Cup, the official mixed team competition of the ITF, in Perth, Australia in January. Murray will use the event to prepare for the 2010 Australian Open. He is looking to improve his record at Melbourne Park and has decided to use the same tournament that Novak Djokovic (2008) and Marat Safin (2005) played on their way to victory Down Under. They will be the first British representatives at the tournament since Jeremy Bates and Jo Durie lost in the first round in 1992. Each match consists of a men’s and women’s singles and a doubles. The hosts will be represented by Lleyton Hewitt and Samantha Stosur. Melanie Oudin and John Isner have been confirmed as the American team while Russia will be represented by Elena Dementieva and Igor Andreev while Tommy Robredo and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez will compete for Spain.

Robin Soderling is a doubt for the ATP World Tour Finals in London, England, after the world No. 10 was forced to withdraw from his semifinal in Stockholm against Cyprus’ Marcos Bagdhatis with an elbow injury. The Swede would have made up points on the Spaniard Fernando Verdasco who currently holds the eighth and final qualification place for the Championships. Soderling has not yet pulled out of his scheduled tournaments in Valencia and Paris ahead of London hoping he will be fit to fight for his place in the end-of-season tournament.

The final line-up for the Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha was decided this week without one representative from the Commonwealth making the final cut. Jelena Jankovic sealed the eighth and final spot despite crashing out of the quarterfinals of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow and she joins Venus and Serena Williams, Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Dinara Safina, Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka in the battle to find the top player for 2009.

This weeks ATP singles world rankings (26/10) saw Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt climb two places to 20th while his compatriot Peter Luczak held on to his ranking of 83. Chris Guccione, also from Down under, climbed five places to 104th. Britain’s Andy Murray remained in 4th place and India’s Somdev Devvarman climbed three to 121st. In the doubles, Daniel Nestor of Canada remains No. 1 despite his early exit from Shanghai recently but Mahesh Bhupathi of India drops one place to 7th. Paul Hanley of Australia climbs four places to 26th after his finals appearance in Stockholm (see below) while South Africa’s Jeff Coetzee remains 35th after his semifinals berth at the same tournament. Australia’s Ashley Fisher is below him in 36th while Britain’s Ross Hutchins and Aussie Stephen Huss both fell this week to 49th and 50th respectively.

This week’s WTA rankings (26/10) saw Australia’s Samantha Stosur remain at 13 as she continued her climb towards the world top 10 while Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada climbed one place to 30. Another Aussie, Jelena Dokic, dropped to 64th and Britain’s Elena Baltacha jumped from 93 to 86 after her semifinal appearance at St. Raphael (see below). Her compatriot Katie O’Brien was also up one to 91st.

In the WTA doubles rankings (26/10) Australians Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs find themselves tied for 5th spot after Stosur jumped three places while Sania Mirza of India drops two places to 38th. Sarah Borwell, British No. 1 for doubles, jumps one place to 78th while South Africa’s Natalie Grandin is up two to 80th.

Daniel Nestor of Canada suffered his third straight first-round defeat with partner Nenad Zimonjic at the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy. The top two doubles players in the world fell to John Isner and Australian Jordan Kerr 4-6, 7-6(8), 10-6 in just over 90 minutes. It is the eighth first-round defeat the pair have suffered this year.

Jeff Coetzee of South Africa and Australia’s Stephen Huss reached the semifinals of the If Stockholm Open before going down to Kevin Ullyett and Bruno Soares. It was the 500th doubles victory for Ullyett making him only the 31st man in ATP history to reach that landmark. In the final they faced Australia’s Paul Hanley and Sweden’s Simon Aspelin. Soares and Ullyett won through 6-4, 7-6(4) to break the hearts of the Australian and the Swede.

In the doubles event at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow India’s Rohan Bopanna partnered Janko Tipsarevic to a semifinals berth where they were eventually defeated by Frantisek Cermak of the Czech Republic and Slovakia’s Mikal Mertinak. Metinak/Cermak went on to win the tournament and improve their chances of appearing in the doubles bracket at the ATP World Tour Finals in London, England next month.

Geoff Pollard has been re-elected as the President of Tennis Australia for another twelve months following this year’s Annual General Meeting held in Melbourne on Monday.

More doubles joy for Great Britain this week as Colin Fleming and Ken Skupski were victorious at the ATP Challenger Event in Orleans, France. They defeated the French pair of Sebastian Grosjean and Olivier Patience 6-1, 6-1 who had beaten another British pair, Jamie Murray and Jamie Delgado, in the semi finals to prevent an all-British final. In Glasgow, Scotland, Chris Eaton and Dominic Inglot picked up their third Doubles title of the month. They defeated fellow Brit Dan Cox and Uladzimir Ignatik of Belarus.

Peter Luczak of Australia was defeated in the round of 32 at the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy on the hard courts of Vienna by the Spaniard Nicolas Almagro. After taking the first set Luczak battled hard but it wasn’t quite enough and he went down 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-1.

Rising teenage star Bernard Tomic of Australia will warm up for the 2010 Australian Open by partnering Aussie tennis legend Pat Cash at the World Tennis Challenge in Adelaide next January. The novel tournament, which concludes just four days before the Open begins, sees a retired tennis star partner a modern-day pro in a team format. The 17-year-old Tomic will represent Australia with Cash, 27 years his senior. Representing America will be John McEnroe and Robby Ginepri, while Henri Leconte will represent Europe with an unconfirmed teammate. Finally, world No. 14 Radek Stepanek will head the Internationals team with an unconfirmed retired player.

Britain’s Elena Baltacha reached the semifinals of the $50k Event in St. Raphael, France before going down to the No. 3 seed Sandra Zahlavova of the Czech Republic. Meanwhile in Glasgow, Scotland, Melanie South was defeated in the final of the AEGON Pro-Series Event. 5th seed Johanna Larsson of Sweden was too much for the British No. 4, winning in three sets. But South made amends in the doubles, teaming with Emma Laine of Finland to defeat the Mayr sisters of Italy 6-3, 6-2 and bring home the Championship. Future tennis starlet Heather Watson crashed out of the first round of the singles, going down 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(2) to Tunisian veteran Selima Sfar.

Tennis Canada has announced that former Chairman Harold P. Milavsky will be inducted in to the Canadian Tennis Hall of Fame in the Builder category with a dinner in his honour on December 3rd at the Glencoe Club in Calgary.

Philippoussis To Make ATP Champions Debut In London

Former Wimbledon finalist Mark Philippoussis is to return to the city that he so nearly conquered when he plays in the AEGON Masters Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall in London, December 1-6.

Philippoussis, who also reached the final of the US Open during his career, will be making his debut on the ATP Champions Tour when he lines up alongside fellow grass-court greats Goran Ivanisevic, Pat Rafter and Stefan Edberg at the season-ending event. For Philippoussis, who beat Andre Agassi on his way to the 2003 Wimbledon final before losing to Roger Federer, it will be an opportunity to renew rivalries and rekindle his relationship with the British public.

“I get goosebumps every time I go to the UK because of the British crowds,” said Philippoussis, who is universally known as ‘Scud’ for the power of his serve.

“The British fans are incredible – they have such a great appreciation for tennis. I’ve always enjoyed a lot of support from them and I hope they are looking forward to seeing me again. I certainly can’t wait.”

Philippoussis has visited the Royal Albert Hall once before back in 2006 when he played a charity exhibition match against Tim Henman, and the Australian is looking forward to experiencing the world’s most unique tennis court for a second time.

“I really can’t wait to play at the Royal Albert Hall again,” he said. “It is one of the prettiest tennis venues I have ever seen, it really is gorgeous. It’s perfect in terms of how close the crowd is to you when you’re playing and the atmosphere that creates.”

Philippoussis will join an eight-man singles line-up that already includes the 2001 Wimbledon Champion Ivanisevic, former World Number One Edberg and two-time Wimbledon finalist Rafter. The AEGON Masters Tennis could give Philippoussis the chance for revenge against Rafter, who beat him in the final of the US Open in 1998.

“I’m so looking forward to seeing all the guys again,” said Philippoussis.

“The line-up is really amazing so every match should be good. I’d love to play against Edberg, and I’m looking forward to seeing Goran again because he’s just a great guy. Then obviously Pat’s a fellow Aussie, so it should be great fun. I just can’t wait to get down there and get out on court.”

The AEGON Masters Tennis runs from the 1st to the 6th of December at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The tournament uses a round-robin format, with all players playing at least three matches each. Each day of the tournament, except the final Sunday, features two sessions – an afternoon session starting at 1pm and an evening session starting at 7.30pm. All sessions will feature a combination of singles and doubles matches. The event is the final tournament in 2009 on the ATP Champions Tour – a circuit of former World Number One tennis players, Grand Slam singles finalists and Davis Cup winners.

For more information, visit: http://www.aegonmasterstennis.com/

For tickets, go to: http://www.aegonmasterstennis.com/tickets.asp

Federer commemorative stamp launched in Austria: This Week in Tennis Business

From the Austrian Postal Service launching a commemorative Roger Federer stamp to the Andre Agassi Foundation raising $8 million during the Grand Slam for Children event in Las Vegas to former top-ranked doubles player Ai Sugiyama retiring from professional tennis to Li Na signing with IMG to tennis icon Jack Kramer being remembered at a memorial service at Starus Stadium at UCLA to John Isner and Melanie Oudin agreeing to team up in January to represent the United States in Hopman Cup, these stories caught the attention of tennis fans and insiders this week.

  • According to a report by AFP, the Austrian Postal Service will launch a commemorative stamp honoring Roger Federer and his record 15 Grand Slam singles titles. About 400,000 Federer stamps will be issued.

  • The Andre Agassi Foundation’s Grand Slam for Children event raised $8 million over the weekend in Las Vegas. The Engelstad Family Foundation also pledged another $7.5 million to Agassi’s Foundation over a five year period.

  • Ai Sugiyama of Japan has retired from the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour following a first round defeat to Nadia Petrova at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. Sugiyama was honored on court during a special ceremony put on by WTA Tour officials and players to honor her remarkable career, which included speeches by her regular doubles partners Daniela Hantuchova and Katarina Srebotnik. Throughout her career, Sugiyama won six singles titles, 38 doubles titles and earned more than $8 million in tournament prize money.

  • Li Na, the highest ranked Chinese player ever on the WTA Tour, has signed a representation deal with IMG. “We are very pleased to have Li Na as an IMG client,” said Max Eisenbud, the Senior Vice President of IMG.

  • Tennis legend and the first executive of the ATP Tour Jack Kramer was remembered on Saturday during a memorial service at the Los Angeles Tennis Center on the campus on UCLA. Hundreds of people were in attendance during the service, as former WTA Tour star Pam Shriver and Los Angeles Times reporter Bill Dwyre acted as hosts of the ceremony. Barry MacKay, Tracy Austin, Donald Dell, US Open tournament director Jim Curley and former player Charlie Pasarell were among the speakers during the service.

  • John Isner and Melanie Oudin will represent the United States at the Hopman Cup from January 2-9, 2010 in Perth, Australia.

  • The inaugural Maria Sharapova South American Tour will take place from November 29 to December 4 and will feature the former Grand Slam singles champion and Argentine Gisela Dulko. The tour will feature exhibition matches between the players in San Paulo, Brazil on November 29, Santiago, Chile on December 2 and Buenos Aires, Argentina on December 4. Fashion shows, charity appearances and tennis clinics for the local children will also be a part of the three-city exhibition series.

  • The USTA and Levy Restaurants, the official restaurateur of the US Open, combined to donate more than 21,000 pounds of unused food from the US Open to City Harvest. City Harvest, which is based in New York City, is a food rescue organization that feeds people in need of food. “We are very thankful to the USTA and Levy Restaurants and for this generous donation,” said Jilly Stephens, the Executive Director at City Harvest. “Our long-standing partnership with the US Open demonstrates their commitment to helping us feed hungry New Yorkers.”

  • AEGON signed a five-year deal until 2013 to become the title sponsor of the prestigious Masters Tennis at Royal Albert Hall in London and will now be called the AEGON Masters Tennis. The tournament has featured former Wimbledon champions such as Pete Sampras, John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg. “We are delighted to welcome AEGON as our new title sponsor,” said Peter Worth, the Senior Vice President of IMG.

  • Defending US Open champion Kim Clijsters has announced her 2010 tournament schedule. Clijsters will play at Brisbane, Australian Open, Fed Cup, Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, French Open, Eastbourne/Rosmalen, Wimbledon, Cincinnati, Montreal, US Open, Beijing and possibly the year-end championships in Doha.

  • The 2010 Davis Cup World Group opening round ties have been announced:

      • Spain vs. Switzerland

      • France vs. Germany

      • Russia vs. India

      • Sweden vs. Argentina

      • Croatia vs. Ecuador

      • Serbia vs. United States

      • Chile vs. Israel

      • Belgium vs. Czech Republic

  • Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu has signed a sponsorship deal with Lagardere.

  • Romanian Andrei Pavel officially retired from the ATP World Tour following a straight sets loss to Pablo Cuevas in his hometown tournament last week in Bucharest. Pavel, who lives in the United States, will continue to be the captain for the Romanian Davis Cup team and has plans to open a tennis academy in Arizona.

  • Argentine tennis player Sergio Roitman has announced that he will retire from the ATP World Tour at the conclusion of the Copa Petrobas Challenger tournament in Buenos Aires. Roitman reached a career high ranking of No. 62 in October 2007 and has won more than $1.2 million in tournament prize money. “It is a strange moment for me, but the time has come for me to leave professional tennis,” said Roitman.

  • A lawsuit filed against Frenchman Richard Gasquet has been dismissed in Parisian courts stating no finding whether he took cocaine or if somebody else was responsible.

  • A Serbian court has confirmed that Jelena Dokic’s father has been sentenced to 15-months in prison for threatening to kill the Australian Ambassador to Serbia.

  • The Tennis Industry Association (TIA) is set to launch the website, www.playtennis.com. The website is designed to allow people to join the sport, learn more about tennis and get on a system to become a frequent player. “PlayTennis.com will be the first step,” said TIA President Jon Muir. “We’ll get key messaging out there through this site. It’s a wonderful opportunity for all stakeholders to get behind.”

  • Nine tennis professionals earned the distinction of Master Professional by the USPTA. The nine honorees were honored during the recent USPTA World Conference on Tennis at the Marriott Resort, Golf Club and Spa in Marco Island, Fla. Only about one percent of the 15,000 USPTA members have achieved the Master Professional merit.

  • Cory Ross of Littleton, Colo., won the men’s open division $30,000 USPTA International Championships on Thursday in Marco Island, while Marina McCollom of West Des Moines, Iowa won the women’s open division title.

  • Robert Greene Jr., of Rangeley, Maine, who is the Director of Tennis at the Balsams Grand Resort Hotel in Dixville Notch, N.H., earned the USPTA’s Alex Gordon Award for the Professional of the Year.

Mondays With Bob Greene: Mirka and I became proud parents of twin girls

STARS

Robby Ginepri beat Sam Querrey 6-2 6-4 to win the Indianapolis Tennis Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Nikolay Davydenko beat Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4 6-2 to win the International German Open in Hamburg, Germany

Dinara Safina won the Banka Koper Slovenia Open in Portoroz, Slovenia, beating Sara Errani 6-7 (5) 6-1 7-5

Andrea Petkovic beat Ioana Raluca Olaru 6-2 6-3 to win the Gastein Ladies in Bad Gastein, Austria

SAYING

“I have some exciting news to share with you. Late last night, in Switzerland, Mirka and I became proud parents of twin girls. This is the best day of our lives.” – Roger Federer, announcing the births on his Web site and Facebook page.

“The twins certainly come from good tennis stock. If they are half as good as their dad they will still be a potent force on the court.” – Nick Weinberg, spokesman for British bookmaker Ladbrokes on the twin girls one day winning Wimbledon.

“When you have a lot of losses, you start questioning if you can play at this level. It creeps in the back of your mind, so this is definitely a confidence boost for me the rest of the summer.” – Robby Ginepri, after winning the Indianapolis Tennis Championships.

“It’s been a great week for me. Of course, when you are in a final you always want to win but it has been a great week for me.” – Paul-Henri Mathieu, after losing in the Hamburg, Germany, final to Nikolay Davydenko.

“I know I am good enough to beat most players on this level.” – Andrea Petkovic, after reaching her first career WTA Tour final, which she won.

“I played better each match this week. I beat two Top 30 players this week, the best wins of my career. I’m sorry about today: I wish I could have done more, but there’s always next tournament.” – Ioana Raluca Olaru, who lost in the Gastein Ladies final to Andrea Petkovic.

“I am a hundred percent. I mean, if I wasn’t at that point, I certainly wouldn’t be playing.” – Maria Sharapova, who played for the Newport Beach Breakers in a World TeamTennis match against Kansas City.

“There’s always a lot of pressure against Korie (Homan) because I have not lost a set at this tournament since 2000 and of course I have the winning streak.” – Esther Vergeer, after stretching her unbeaten singles record to 364 matches in wheelchair tennis by again beating world number two Korie Homan.

“Andy’s presence really does give a boost to County Week and British tennis in general. It proves to 12-, 13- and 14-year-old children that if the world number three can be bothered to show up and compete for his county, then they can do it, too.” – Ian Conway, captain of the North of Scotland team, on Andy Murray playing an amateur event.

SUCCESS, FINALLY

It’s been awhile since Nikolay Davydenko took home the biggest check at a tournament. The Russian won his first ATP World Tour title in over a year when he trounced Paul-Henri Mathieu at the International German Open in Hamburg. Davydenko last appeared in a final at the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai last November, and he hadn’t won a title since Warsaw, Poland, in June 2008. Davydenko also became the first Russian to win in Hamburg.

SONY TOPPER

Until this past week, Andrea Petkovic had a 3-8 lifetime record in WTA Tour-level events, with all three match wins coming at Grand Slam tournaments. That changed in Bad Gastein, Austria, where Petkovic won five straight matches and her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title, the Gastein Ladies, when she stopped Ioana Raluca Olaru. The unseeded German dropped only one set all week, that to seventh-seeded Anna-Lena Groenefeld in the quarterfinals. “It’s the best moment of my career,” Petkovic said. “I hope I can keep playing like this and build on it.” Olaru was also appearing in her first Tour singles final, having upset third-seeded Sybille Bammer, sixth-seeded Magdalena Rybarikova and top-seeded Alize Cornet en route to the title match.

SURE BET

It didn’t take the British bookmakers long. Just a day after their birth, Roger Federer’s twin daughters were given 100-1 odds for either to win Wimbledon. Charlene Riva Federer and Myla Rose Federer are 50-1 to win a Grand Slam as part of the same doubles team and 200-1 to capture the Wimbledon women’s doubles. Andy Roddick, who has lost the Wimbledon final three times to the twins’ father, agreed with the bookies. The American sent a message from his Twitter page, which read: “Wimbledon women’s champs in 2029-2040 … the Federer girls: congrats to the new parents!”

SUPER TIEBREAKS

Playing together for the first time, Dmitry Tursunov of Russia and Ernests Gulbis of Latvia won all four matches in third-set super tiebreakers to capture the doubles title at the Indianapolis Tennis Championships. “They’re obviously better as a team, but when there’s a lot of firepower against you, there’s not much you can do,” Tursunov said after the pair beat top-seeded Ashley Fisher and Jordan Kerr 6-4 3-6 11-9 (match tiebreak). Not one to break up a winning pair, the two plan to play together in Los Angeles this week. “It’s kind of like beginner’s luck in poker, so we’ll see how it goes,” Tursunov said. “If we’re having success, it makes sense to continue to play.”

STEPPING IT UP

The knee injury must be better. Rafael Nadal has returned to training for the first time since he was sidelined by tendinitis in his right knee. Nadal is planning on returning to the ATP tour at the Montreal Masters next month. He has been out since losing to Robin Soderling in the fourth round of the French Open, where he was seeking his fifth straight title. The injury also kept him from defending his Wimbledon crown. With Nadal not there, Roger Federer won both Roland Garros and Wimbledon to record his 15th Grand Slam trophy and reclaim the number one ranking.

STRUGGLING

Leander Paes was named the league’s male MVP as he led the Washington Kastles to their first World TeamTennis Pro League championship. Paes teamed with Scott Oudsema to win the men’s doubles and with Rennae Stubbs to win the mixed doubles as the Kastles downed the Springfield Lasers 23-20. Oudsema beat Springfield’s Raven Klaasen in the men’s singles, while Washington’s Olga Puchkova downed Vania King in women’s singles. King and Liezel Huber captured the women’s doubles. King was named the league’s female MVP.

STANDING TALL

Cara Black is only 5-foot-6 ( 1.67m) but she stands tall in the tennis record book. The Zimbabwean player is second only to Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova in the number of weeks spent as the number one doubles player in the world. When Black recorded her 125th week at number one spot, she moved past Natasha Zvereva. The 30-year-old first took over the top spot on October 17, 2005, staying there for 16 weeks. She regained the spot on June 11, 2007, before relinquishing it two weeks later to Lisa Raymond. But Black began her third and current stint at number one on July 9, 2007, after winning Wimbledon. Navratilova led the doubles rankings for 237 weeks.

SPOTLIGHTED

Austria’s national anti-doping authorities are investigating Tamira Paszek after she received a medical treatment for a back injury that allegedly violated doping regulations. Authorities say that during treatment earlier this month, blood was taken from Paszek for enrichment, then later injected back into her, which is not allowed under international anti-doping rules. Paszek said she was not aware that the treatment was possibly illegal until a reporter told her. Paszek then alerted the Austrian anti-doping agency NADA, which began its investigation. The Austrian right-hander has struggled with back problems since last season. She has not played since retiring during her first-round match at Wimbledon.

STAYING HOME

Argentina’s David Nalbandian and Croatia’s Mario Ancic won’t be playing in this year’s US Open. According to the United States Tennis Association (USTA), the 15th-ranked Nalbandian is still recovering from recent hip surgery, while Ancic is battling mononucleosis. Their spots in the men’s main draw were taken by Ivan Navarro of Spain and Karol Beck of Slovakia.

An injury has caused Li Na of China to withdraw from China’s National Games in Shandong. The 27-year-old said she felt a recurrence of her right knee injury. Li will undergo tests in Beijing to determine whether she will be able to play the North American hard court season, including the US Open. “We have signed up for it and got the visa,” said Li’s husband and coach, Jiang Shan. “If she is OK by then we will go to play.”

SUSPENDED

John McEnroe seems to be a lightning rod for problems on a tennis court. His World TeamTennis club has been fined for what the league called “unprofessional conduct.” During the men’s doubles match between McEnroe’s New York Sportimes and the Washington Kastles, a shot by Washington’s Leander Paes hit New York’s Robert Kendrick. McEnroe and Sportimes coach Chuck Adams went to Paes’ side of the court and yelled at him. Four points later, Kendrick hit Paes with a serve, prompting more confrontations. The league suspended and fined Adams the next day, then, after reviewing the video and getting the umpire’s report, issued fines on both teams. Kendrick and Kastles player Olga Puchkova received individual fines.

SHORT STICH STAY

Michael Stich’s return to competitive tennis lasted only 62 minutes. The former Wimbledon champion lost his first-round doubles match at the German Open in Hamburg. The 40-year-old Stich, who retired from the sport 12 years ago, and 21-year-old Mischa Zverev were beaten by Simon Aspelin of Sweden and Paul Hanley of Australia 6-4 6-2. Stich won Wimbledon in 1991 and reached the final at both the French Open and US Open. His best ranking was number two in the world. As tournament director of the German Open, Stich gave himself and Zverev a wild card into the tournament. Stich is not the only retired player to make a brief doubles comeback. John McEnroe was 47 when he and Sweden’s Jonas Bjorkman won the doubles at San Jose, California. That came 14 years after his previous title.

SAYING AU REVOIR

Nathalie Dechy is calling it a career. The 30-year-old Frenchwoman is expecting a child and wants to devote her time to family life. Dechy reached the Australian Open semifinals in 2005, but is currently ranked 88th in the world. She won two US Open women’s doubles titles, with Vera Zvonareva in 2006 and Dinara Safina in 2007. She also won the French Open mixed doubles in 2007 with Israel’s Andy Ram. Dechy won her only WTA Tour singles title at the Gold Coast tournament in 2003 and reached her career-highest ranking in January 2006 when she rose to 11th in the world. She played for France in the Fed Cup in singles and doubles from 2000 until this year.

STRIKE IT WASN’T

Robby Ginepri had an unusual way of throwing out the game’s first pitch when he was a special guest at the Triple-A baseball game between the Indianapolis Indians and the Durham Bulls. In Indiana where he was competing in the Indianapolis Tennis Championships, Ginepri used his racquet and a tennis ball to serve to the Indians catcher. The umpire called balls on both of Ginepri’s “serves,” but the American was delighted with his performance. “It was very close to a strike,” Ginepri said. “It is quite different to have to serve at a catcher’s glove. The target is just very small.”

SCHOLARSHIPS BY MARIA

Maria Sharapova is continuing to give back. The former world number one has launched the Maria Sharapova Foundation to distribute scholarships among first-year students at Belarusian State University throughout the 2009-2010 academic year. The USD $3,500 scholarships will be available to Belarus residents attending BSU who come from areas formally recognized as affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident. According to the BSU press office, recipients should actively participate in public, research and volunteer activities, and should have a high average grade in their general education school diplomas. It’s not the first time the tennis player has given generously. In February 2007, Sharapova, who serves as a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Development Program, donated USD $100,000 for eight Chernobyl relief projects in Belarus and Ukraine. Sharapova’s father and pregnant mother fled Homyel, a town 80 miles north of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, shortly after the accident in April 1986. She was born in a Siberian city months later.

SUMMER COUNTY CUP

Forget the ranking. Andy Murray took time to compete in the AEGON Summer County Cup, a 115-year-old amateur team tennis competition. With no umpires, line judges or ball-persons, the players call their own lines in the last amateur grass-court competition in the United Kingdom where senior professionals mix with junior players to represent their county in a competitive team environment. It was a huge surprise to the other players and the 300 spectators at Eastbourne when Murray showed up to play for North of Scotland. “Andy has come down to Eastbourne under his own steam, paying for his transport and lunch out of his own pocket,” said North of Scotland captain Ian Conway. “I was surprised and delighted, and his presence has given the rest of the team a huge boost.” While Murray and Owen Hadden won all three of their matches for the North of Scotland, Hertfordshire won the tie 5-4 when Andy’s brother, Jamie Murray, and his partner lost the deciding match 6-3 6-7 (3) 10-8 (match tiebreak).

STILL WINNING

Esther Vergeer is not slowing down. The Dutch woman won her ninth consecutive women’s wheelchair singles title at the British Open in Nottingham, defeating Korie Homan. Ranked number one in the world, Vergeer stretched her winning streak to 364 matches.

Shingo Kunieda of Japan won the men’s main draw singles, while American David Wagner captured the quad singles titles. Kunieda beat Stephane Houdet for his third successive men’s main draw singles title. Wagner won his second British Open quad singles in three years as he beat world number one and home favorite Peter Norfolk.

SIGNED ON

Nicole Pratt has been appointed Australian national women’s coach. A former junior Australian Open champion, Pratt will work with Australia’s Fed Cup team and on player development, according to Tennis Australia. Pratt’s highest ranking on the WTA Tour was 35th in the world.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Indianapolis: Dmitry Tursunov and Ernests Gulbis beat Ashley Fisher and Jordan Kerr 6-4 3-6 11-9 (match tiebreak)

Hamburg: Simon Aspelin and Paul Hanley beat Marcelo Melo and Filip Polasek 6-3 6-3

Bad Gastein: Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka beat Tatjana Malek and Andrea Petkovic 6-2 6-4

Portoroz: Julia Goerges and Vladimira Uhlirova beat Camille Pin and Klara Zakopalova 6-4 6-2

SITES TO SURF

Los Angeles: www.latennisopen.com/

Gstaad: www.allianzsuisseopengstaad.com/e/

Umag: www.croatiaopen.hr

Stanford: www.bankofthewestclassic.com/

Istanbul: www.istanbulcup.com/

Washington: www.leggmasontennisclassic.com/

Segovia: www.teniselespinar.com/

San Marino: www.atpsanmarino.com/

Vancouver: www.vanopen.com/

Los Angeles: www.latennischamps.com/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$700,000 Countrywide Classic, Los Angeles, California, USA, hard

$500,000 Allianz Suisse Open, Gstaad, Switzerland, clay

$450,000 Studena Croatia Open, Umag, Croatia, clay

$100,000 Orbetello Challenger, Orbetello, Italy, clay

WTA

$700,000 Bank of the West Classic, Stanford, California, hard

$220,000 Istanbul Cup, Istanbul, Turkey, clay

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$1,402,000 Legg Mason Tennis Classic, Washington, DC, USA, hard

$150,000 ATP Open Castilla y Leon, Segovia, Spain, hard

$120,000 San Marino CEPU Open, San Marino, clay

$100,000 Odlum Brown Vancouver Open, Vancouver, Canada, hard

WTA

$700,000 LA Women’s Tennis Championships presented by Herbalife, Los Angeles, California, USA, hard

The ultimate in player consideration

ballgirls-fila-queens09a

Floating heads: The lines/ballfolks at this week’s AEGON Championships (aka the Queen’s Club tourney in London) are decked out in Fila blue, matching the backdrop and the furniture of this Wimbledon warmup.

Goings on: Top seed Andy Murray is through to the round of 16 after beating Andreas Seppi in the second round. (Up next is Gigi Lopez.) Meanwhile, a record is on the line with the next match between Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt; both have won this event four times in the last nine years – Hewitt in 2000-2002 and 2006; Roddick in 2003-2005 and 2007. Whoever wins that battle should end up in the finals and with a fifth Queen’s Club title.

And yes, we are saying that Murray will be in the final. (Maybe JC Ferrero?)

Browse: Tourney website here.