Alex Bogdanovic

Blooming in to Life Once Again

All we have been hearing over recent months is negativity surrounding British tennis.

Tales of rotten apples in the barrel, failed youngsters, squandered millions and a country lost in a downward spiral of tennis faux pas which shows no signs of halting but for the increasingly confident performances of lone star Andy Murray.

Yet this week at the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships at the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, Rhode Island, a name nobody but the staunchest statisticians of British tennis will have been following is making a name for himself in the heat and humidity of east-coast America.

Current world No. 557 Richard Bloomfield will today (Friday) face young American Ryan Harrison in the last quarterfinal with the opportunity to face either American number 5 seed Mardy Fish (remember him from Queens?) or the Canadian Frank Dancevic in the semifinals.

Hang on, a Brit in the semifinals of a tournament other than Andy Murray? Continual sob-story Alex Bogdanovic failed to reach even the main draw here, going down in the final round of qualifying. So just who is this guy?

Richard Bloomfield was born April 27, 1983 in the small village of Alpington, just outside the beautiful Norfolk city of Norwich. He won the British Junior Tennis Championships in 2001, defeating that man Bogdanovic in the final, and picked up the equivalent title in doubles with Ken Skupski, now one half of the promising Flemski partnership alongside Colin Fleming.

He began playing on the senior tour that year and his first full ATP Tournament was the 2003 Wimbledon Championships where he gained a wildcard before losing to Anthony Dupuis in the first round.

In 2006 he reached round two of Wimbledon with a win over Carlos Berlocq which was investigated by authorities over strange betting patterns but no wrong-doing was ever discovered. That year he also reached the semifinals of the ATP Challenger Event at Rennes where he lost to rising French star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

2007 saw him reach his first ATP Challenger final in Wrexham, Wales, where he lost to Michal Prysiezny which saw him rise to a career-high 176 in the South African Airways ATP World Rankings. He then partnered Jonathan Marray to the third round of the 2007 Wimbledon doubles Championships.

His ranking fell considerably over the next couple of years until he qualified for the 2009 Open 13 where he agonisingly lost 6-7, 6-7 to the Italian Simon Bolelli in the first round. Back injuries hampered him and his ranking fell further but then he surprisingly qualified for this year’s Hall of Fame Championships where he is beginning to make a name for himself again.

In reaching the quaterfinals he has recorded his first wins on the ATP Tour since that 2006 Wimbledon Championships and at 27 this will be a welcome boost for a man whose confidence must have been looking at rock bottom.

And hasn’t he done well. He is yet to drop a set. A 7-6 (1), 6-1 first-round win over Belgian Christophe Rochus, brother of Olivier, set up a second-round clash with second seed and world No. 56 Santiago Giraldo which nobody would have expected him to come out of. But this might just be his week. He won 6-3, 7-6 (5) and now marches in to this quarterfinal with Harrison with a renewed vigour and swagger he won’t have been feeling for a long while.

It is high time we had something positive to shout about for Britain and it’s always great to see somebody who looked down and out have a moment in the sun (literally as the temperature gauges out there are showing). If he overcomes Harrison and then Fish/Dancevic then he will be in his first final since 2007, and his first ever on the full ATP Tour. There either Olivier Rochus will be looking to avenge the slaying of his brother Christophe or Argentine Brian Dabul will be looking to put his own name up in lights.

So march on Richard, your country is firmly behind you!

BRITISH WEATHER INDECISIVE BUT MURRAY AND RODDICK SHINE AT QUEEN’S CLUB

The indecisive British weather threatened for most of the day causing play to be held back until 1.30pm on Centre Court and the players to be pulled off for a break at 3.30pm during a heavy shower. However, the sunshine prevailed towards the latter stages, but unfortunately did not shine kindly on British No. 2, Alex Bogdanovic who lost the final set to talented Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 after a missed challenge and two double faults ended his campaign on Centre Court. Bogdanovic revealed his “disappointment” over having his funding cut by the Lawn Tennis Association after the match, but remained positive that he could still be “a top 100 player”.

Next up on centre was the talented Frenchman, No. 6 seed Gael Monfils against German, Rainer Schuettler, ranked No. 82 in the ATP world rankings. During the first game, Monfils appeared to twist his knee and looked extremely uncomfortable moving on the grass for the rest of the match losing in three 6-3, 6-7, 6-2, meaning the former Wimbledon semifinalist, Shuettler had pulled off his biggest win since beating Sam Querrey in the first round of this year’s Australian Open.

Performance of day two at Queen’s had to go to Andy Murray, who was next up on centre, playing Ivan Navarro. Surprisingly for a Spaniard, Navarro took his serve volley game to Murray who did well to get the first set to his first tiebreak at Queen’s since 2008. Murray managed to pull off some spectacular shots to take the first set, which must have thrilled his girlfriend, Kim Sears back watching on the side lines since rekindling their romance earlier this year. Murray started to see the ball a lot better in the second set, winning it convincingly 6-3. He came back at the end of the day’s play to partner his brother Jamie against Sam Querrey and Scott Lipsky of the USA. The pair looked impressive as they won in two in front of a more vocal home crowd after several glasses of Pimms. Murray was suitably grumpy in the post match press conference and I can see why he hasn’t always won many popularity points with the press.

Andy Roddick made easy work of Russian Igor Kunitsyn, thrashing him 6-2, 6-1 in a flash. Roddick revealed an interesting theory after the match, saying that he would “love three months of 1000 tournaments in the lead up to Wimbledon. We have a couple of 250s before Wimbledon. So for me that’s just a glaring issue, you know.” More Pimms and strawberries for three months before Wimbledon? I second that Andy, but what about the weather?

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.

NEWS, VIEWS AND GOSSIP FROM QUEEN’S CLUB

LONDON – As I walked from Barons Court tube station, feeling the buzz of excitement, I was pleased to dodge the long train of tennis fans snaking their way around Queen’s Club for ground passes and head straight for the dizzy heights of the media gazebo. I was immediately distracted by a dashing familiar stranger directly in front of me – former Wimbledon champion, Pat Cash. It never fails to amaze me how many famous faces you will see mingling with the public at both Queen’s and Wimbledon. That’s what I love about these tournaments.

While waiting for my press pass, BBC Commentator and Andy Murray’s former coach, Mark Petchey surprisingly needed to give his name to the girl behind the counter. Two famous commentators spotted and I hadn’t even entered the grounds yet.

I was led to the media centre directly behind centre court, shown where the press seats were situated and was greeted by the lovely Sue Barker, ex Davis Cup Captain, John Lloyd, commentator John Inverdale and former British No. 1, Annabel Croft congregating in the bar area – how surreal!

I found my way through the maze of stairs and corridors to the press seats to watch the first match on centre – Britain’s wild card entry, Jamie Baker versus Denis Istomin. Baker, ranked No. 254 in the ATP World Tour rankings failed to get any sort of grip on the match or the slippery grass surface as he lost 6-1, 6-4, falling no less than three times on his backside, repeatedly chastising his shoes for letting him down. In the post match press conference, he looked a little forlorn as he mentioned the difficulty of “stepping up to the level of the player” he was up against. It remained to be seen whether Brits, James Ward and Alex Bogdanovic would fare any better.

During the second set of Baker’s match, I couldn’t help but notice a tanned and gorgeous Novak Djokovic strolling nonchalantly to the practice courts beneath us – knowing how close you can get to the players practicing, I rejected the nonchalance and nearly broke my leg rushing down the several flights of stairs in heels to get a prime position to watch my favorite player’s tomfoolery on the beautiful grass.

He didn’t fail to disappoint with his series of jokes, trick shots and a well timed shirt change! I wished I’d brought my tennis gear and trainers, as I have a feeling he could have sneaked me on court for a quick rally or two – well, maybe in my dreams!

After the Djoker sadly left the practice courts, I wandered back to the press seats to see if Britain’s James Ward could fare any better. He was against stiff opposition in the form of American Robby Ginepri, who looked a little incongruous in his colored shorts and shirt on the grass. Ward put up a decent display and should have had a convincing 5-2 lead in the second set if he’d held his serve after breaking the American in the sixth game, but instead he allowed Ginepri to come back and secure a 6-3, 7-5 victory. Ward spoke of his relationship with the new British Davis Cup Captain, Leon Smith in the post match press conference, revealing, “I’ve been in contact with Leon the whole time I was in America. I was away for seven weeks. E-mails, text messages, BBM, everything. Since I’ve been back, he’s been to see me practice a lot, and I’m looking forward to working with him.”

A fellow journalist told me the Murray brothers were training on an outside court in preparation for their doubles match later that evening, so I nipped out of the media centre to watch Britain’s top hopeful. When I arrived I barely recognized his brother Jamie, who appeared to have had an argument with his hairdresser, as he was sporting a pretty horrific crew cut fit for the army. Apparently Andy commented on Twitter, saying he hoped Jamie had kept the receipt – who said he doesn’t have a sense of humour?

Team Murray were on good form as they practiced varying volley to ground stroke drills to a heaving crowd. A Spanish coach tried to get them off the court early – on home turf – adios! French maestro, Richard Gasquet was due on Centre court so I left the Murrays to it and headed back once again up the stairs to the press seats – who said being a reporter wasn’t hard work?

Eleventh seed, Gasquet faced Japan’s Kei Nishikori, who turned out to be no push over in a 6-3, 6-3 victory for the Frenchman, whose glorious backhand was really a sight to be seen first-hand. Gasquet often needed a translator to answer journalist’s questions, but revealed he believes the French have had such a great tradition on grass due to “good technique” and the talent needed to succeed on grass rather than clay.  No one could ever say he lacks talent, but it remains to be seen if he will ever weave his way like a cobra to the top ten again – his highest ranking was No. 7, but is now placed at No. 45.

Britain’s No. 2, Alex Bogdanovic was up next after getting through the qualifying rounds to play Bulgarian former Wimbledon junior champion, Grigor Dimitriv, currently ranked 360 in the ATP World rankings. Bogdanovic looked comfortable in front of his home crowd winning the first set convincingly 6-4, but lost the second 6-3. Rain stopped play at 2-1 in the third. If Bogdanovic loses the third, then Murray will be the only Britain left in the tournament – a situation he is very familiar with.

For the past eight years, a first round defeat at Wimbledon for Alex Bogdanovic following wild card entry has been as predictable as rain stopping play, but he still must have been a little bemused that he had been left out of the All England Club’s first batch of wild cards along with being denied one for the Aegon Championships at The Queen’s Club this week. He has also stubbornly refused to rejoin the Davis Cup fold following his miserable performances in the past. I really do hope that tomorrow brings some much needed luck for Alex and sunshine instead of rain for my second day reporting for www.TennisGrandstand.com Watch this space for more news, views and gossip from London.

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.

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.

FUNDING CUTS, COMEBACKS, WITHDRAWALS: TENNIS IN THE COMMONWEALTH

By Leigh Sanders

British No. 2 Alex Bogdanovic’s career looks in jeopardy after the 25-year-old was told he is one of eleven players cut from the list to receive the highest level of support from the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) next year.

He is ranked No. 164 in the world, 97 places above British No. 3 Dan Evans who has been retained on the LTA’s high priority list. But the LTA appear to be growing impatient with his lack of progress and had already informed him in June that he was unlikely to receive a wildcard entry to the 2010 Wimbledon championships following his eighth consecutive first-round exit this year.

He is, however, still eligible for a reduced level of support. Bogdanovic had his financial support cut in 2004 after the LTA questioned his commitment but he recovered to reach a career-high 108 in 2007. The news comes following his recent exclusion from the British Davis Cup Team after only one victory in eight singles rubbers.

British No. 7 in women’s tennis, Naomi Broady, has also been left off the list despite finishing 2009 with three straight ITF titles and a career-high ranking at No. 309. The 19-year-old hit the headlines in 2007 when she had her funding cut after posting “inappropriate” pictures and messages on a social networking website.

*The venues for the opening round matches of the 2010 Davis Cup World Group have begun to be announced. The ties, played March 5-7, have given India a tricky encounter as they travel to Moscow to face the formidable Russians. The Indians lead 2-1 in head-to-heads and they will hope for progression to the quarterfinals as the Commonwealth’s only hope in the top band of Davis Cup countries. It is India’s first year in the top group since 1998.

*Belgian former world No. 1 Justine Henin has been handed a wildcard for the Sydney International in Australia next month as she makes her return to the tennis circuit.

*Britain’s Anne Keothavong has announced her return from knee ligament damage will be Team GB’s Fed Cup match up with Portugal in February. “To make my comeback from injury at the Fed Cup will be tough,” the 26-year-old told BBC Sport, but hopefully we can perform well and move GB into the World Group.” She joins Elena Baltacha, Katie O’Brien and doubles specialist Sarah Borwell in being selected.

*Casey Dellacqua has recovered from injury to secure a wildcard for the 2010 Australian Open after winning Tennis Australia’s 2010 Australian Open Wildcard Playoff. The 24-year-old returned from shoulder surgery to recover from a 1-6, 2-5 deficit to beat upcoming star Olivia Rogowska 1-6, 7-6(9), 6-3. Alicia Molik was also in the draw but fell at the quarterfinal stage. In the men’s draw, Nick Lindahl defeated Bernard Tomic to book his place at the 2010 extravaganza.

*The 2010 South African Open in Johannesburg has been hit by a host of shuns after registration for the event closed on Tuesday. Defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France will be missing as a tough schedule including Davis Cup play after the Australian Open means he can not return to defend his title. South African tennis fans will be angered that their No. 1 star Kevin Anderson has also decided to miss the event, instead choosing to play in Challenger Events of lesser stature in Dallas and Hawaii. Anderson infuriated his countryman a few months ago when he refused to play in South Africa’s crucial World Group Davis Cup Playoff against India and this certainly won’t heal those bridges. However Tsonga’s compatriot Gael Monfils and Spanish Davis Cup hero David Ferrer have confirmed they will play the event at the Montecasino Entertainment Resort.

*The latest ‘Active People Survey’ in Great Britain has shown an increase across all age groups of people participating in tennis. Those playing tennis weekly and monthly as well as club memberships have all seen increases. Yorkshire, in particular, saw a huge rise in the number of weekly participants. The stats will please the LTA who rank increasing participation highly in their ‘Whole Sport Plan.’

*Tennis Canada has announced the addition of promising junior Steven Diez to its National Team Program. The Toronto native will now represent Canada on the world stage.

*The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) of Great Britain was in mourning this week following the passing of three of its highly respected names of past and present. Board member Sir Robert Phillips sadly lost his long battle with cancer this week and passed away in the early hours of December 22nd, aged 64. His distinguished career also saw him serve as Deputy Director-General of the BBC and most recently as the Chief Executive of the Guardian Media Group. This followed the sad news that Dick Robinson OBE had also passed away aged 93. He joined the LTA board in 1954 and served as Chairman in 1973. Another former LTA President, Ron Presley OBE, has also lost a long battle with cancer and has passed away aged 78. He was one of the first men to serve as a Past President in 1995 when the category was first introduced.

Murray, Baltacha British No. 1s: Tennis in the Commonwealth

By Leigh Sanders

Great Britain’s Andy Murray failed to improve on past ATP World Finals performances after suffering elimination in the group stages at London’s O2 Arena.

The Scot failed to capitalise on an impressive opening victory over the US Open Champion Juan Martin Del Potro and after defeat to world No. 1 Roger Federer, a victory over the Spaniard Fernando Verdasco was not enough and the British public had no home favourite to cheer on in the latter stages.

Murray began his second match against career Grand Slam winner Federer in style. After cruising through the first set he looked destined for another impressive victory. But Federer began showing his class and a third set collapse from Murray handed victory to the Swiss legend.

Victory over Verdasco looked like it had ensured progression but Del Potro obviously hadn’t read the script and his three set victory over Federer saw him progress as over the course of the three matches he had won one more game than the British No. 1. It was the tightest of margins and would have left the Scot heartbroken.

Del Potro then marched on to the finals but his run was abruptly halted by the Russian Nikolay Davydenko who crowned his impressive end to the season with the ATP World Championships title. It is the first time a Russian has lifted the trophy.

The doubles looked equally depressing for Commonwealth players. World No. 1 Daniel Nestor of Canada was also eliminated in the group stages with partner Nenad Zimonjic which saw the pair relinquish the title they won in 2008.

Also facing early elimination was Indian doubles legend Leander Paes as he and the Pole Lukas Dlouhy lost all three round robin matches.

Fellow Indian Mahesh Bhupathi fared better as he and partner Mark Knowles reached the semifinals before losing out to eventual champions the Bryan brothers – Bob and Mike – who lifted the end of season title for the third time.

*India’s top female tennis player Sania Mirza joined stars from the worlds of sport, the arts and civil society to speak at an anti-terrorism event in New Delhi, India. The event lasted an hour and was organised by the Indian home ministry. Mirza added to the program of music and readings by reciting Rabindranth Tagore’s famous poem ‘Where the Mind is Without Fear.’ The date of the event, November 29th, was an emotional one for all involved as it marked the year to the day that the Mumbai terrorist siege ended in 2008.

*Britain’s Andy Murray will end 2009 ranked No. 4 in the world, more than 1,300 points behind world No. 3 Novak Djokovic and over 3,500 points behind world No. 1 Roger Federer. Australia’s Peter Luczak rises one this week (30/11) to 77 while Carsten Ball climbs to 135. Fellow Aussie Chris Guccione is up to 137 and Marinko Matesevic continues to climb the rankings and now lies ranked 170. India’s Somdev Devvarman drops three to 127. Kevin Anderson of South Africa climbs three to 163 and Britain’s Alex Bogdanovic is now up to 165 in the world. Peter Polansky of Canada lies at 188.

*In the doubles (30/11), Canada’s Daniel Nestor is now ranked joint No. 3 in the world with his partner Nenad Zimonjic after Bob and Mike Bryan of the USA claimed a joint top spot after their victory at the ATP World Finals in London, England. South Africa’s Jeff Coetzee failed to reach the showpiece event and as a result drops to 10. India’s Rohan Bopanna has climbed eight to 82 in the world while his compatriot Harsh Mankad climbs one to 104. Britain’s Jamie Murray is one behind in 105. British No. 2 Jamie Delgado drops one to 112. Another Canadian, Adil Shamasdin, leapt 35 places to enter the top 200 in the world at 185.

*Elena Baltacha has become the top ranked British women’s star after her recent performances in the Far East. After her quarter inal appearance in a Japanese tournament last week she now sits at a career high No. 85 in the WTA rankings published this week. “I value the British number one spot so much more this time because we’re all much better than we were,” said Baltacha. “There’s a lot more value in it now.” It makes great reading for Scotland as Baltacha and Andy Murray are British No. 1 in both men’s and women’s tennis. Also in the WTA rankings, Katie O’Brien drops one to 89 while Anne Keothavong is now ranked 99 and faces dropping out of the top 100 players in the world as she continues to recover from injury. Canada’s Stephanie Dubois drops one to 105 while her compatriot Valerie Tetreault also drops one to 136. Australia’s Olivia Rogowska jumps eight to 146 after her recent fine form and her fellow Aussies Monique Adamczak (147) and Sophie Ferguson (149) now sit behind her.

*In the doubles (30/11), Australian Casey Dellacqua, with no ranking last week, finds herself placed 64 with 1244 points from three tournaments. Her previous best was No. 9 in May of this year. Her re-entry means Canada’s Marie-Eve Pelletier drops one to 67, as do Natalie Grandin (South Africa, 78), Sarah Borwell (Great Britain, 85) and Grandin’s compatriot Sharon Fichman (98).

*There were Australian winners in both the male and female events at the Goldfields St Ives International in Kalgoorlie last week. Alicia Molik claimed her second title on her comeback after overcoming Olivia Rogowska in the final. In the men’s final, John Millman overcame another Aussie, Matthew Ebden, 6-2, 7-6(1).

*The final lineup has been announced for the 2010 Brisbane International. The field includes four Grand Slam winners and five former world Number 1s and both fields are listed below. Each player’s nation and rank appear in brackets while Commonwealth players are in bold:

Men’s:

Women’s

Andy Roddick (USA, 6)

Justine Henin (BEL, wildcard)

Radek Stepanek (CZE, 12)

Dinara Safina (RUS, 2)

Gael Monfils (FRA, 13)

Kim Clijsters (BEL, 18)

Tomas Berdych (CZE, 20)

Nadia Petrova (RUS, 20)

Sam Querrey (USA, 25)

Ana Ivanovic (SRB, 22)

Jurgan Melzer (AUT, 28)

Daniela Hantuchova (SVK, 25)

Jeremy Chardy (FRA, 32)

Alisa Kleybanova (RUS, 30)

Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA, 33)

Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN, 35)

Thomaz Belluci (BRA, 36)

Melinda Czink (HUN, 38)

Andreas Beck (GER, 39)

Iveta Benesova (CZE, 39)

Marcos Baghdathis (CYP, 42)

Agnes Szavay (HUN, 40)

James Blake (USA, 44)

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS, 41)

Horatio Zeballos (ARG, 45)

Lucie Safarova (CZE, 42)

Richard Gasquet (FRA, 52)

Shuai Peng (CHN, 42)

Mardy Fish (USA, 56)

Sara Errani (ITA, 48)

Marc Gicquel (FRA, 58)

Olga Govortsova (BLR, 52)

Arnaud Clement (FRA, 62)

Timea Bacsinszky (SUI, 54)

Florent Serra (FRA, 66)

Sybille Bammer (AUT, 55)

Michael Llodra (FRA, 69)

Andrea Petkovic (GER, 56)

Juan Ignacio Chela (ARG, 76)

Jelena Dokic (AUS, 57)

Taylor Dent (USA, 77)

Tathiana Garbin (ITA, 59)

Peter Luczak (AUS, 78)

Ekaterina Makarova (RUS, 60)

Mischa Zverev (GER, 79)

Roberta Vinci (ITA, 64)

Philipp Petzschner (GER, 81)

Lucie Hradecka (CZE, 65)

Alejandro Falla (COL, 82)

Anna-Lena Groenefeld (GER, 67)

*Jelena Dokic has also announced that she will be joining fellow Australian Alicia Molik at the 2010 Moorilla Hobart International. It will be her second appearance there after competing in 2008. They will be joined by the American teenage giant killer from this year’s US Open; Melanie Oudin. The 18-year-old from Marietta, Georgia, defeated four Russians; Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, No. 4 seed Elena Dementieva, former world No.1 Maria Sharapova and No. 13 seed Nadia Petrova, before finally running out of steam against the No. 9 seed Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) in the quarterfinals.

*In Australia, the Sweeney Sports Report has found tennis to be the sport of most interest in the country once more this year. The report found that 58% of Australians were interested in the sport which saw it rank first in TV viewing, third in participation (up 1%) and equal fifth in attendance. “Four years ago we embarked on a thorough assessment of how we deliver the sport and then made some major structural changes,” said Tennis Australia Director of Tennis Craig Tiley. “We are now starting to see the results of these changes.

*Official meteorologist to the Australian Open, Bob Leighton, has predicted that the 2010 tournament will witness “an average Melbourne summer,” giving the tournament “perfect weather.” The news will delight players and fans alike who endured four days of high-40s temperatures during the second week of the 2009 event.

*Tennis Canada has announced a change to their Fed Cup Team as of February 2010. Sylvain Bruneu will take over from Rene Simpson-Collins as Team Captain.

*Tennis Canada has also announced the recipients of their 2009 Excellence Awards handed out to the calendar year’s outstanding competitors. Unsurprisingly, Daniel Nestor has picked up the Male Player of the Year award for the seventh time as well as Male Doubles Player of the Year for the eighth year running. Top ranked female star Aleksandra Wozniak netted the Female Player of the Year and Female Singles Player of the Year awards. Frank Dancevic picked up the Male Singles Player of the Year award for the sixth time and Vasek Pospisil won Most Improved Male Player of the Year after a fantastic end to the season. Marie-Eve Pelletier won Female Doubles Player of the Year while Sharon Fichman received Most Improved Female Player.

*Wheelchair tennis has collected a brace of awards at the 2009 WheelPower British Wheelchair Sports Awards at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium, Aylesbury. The stadium is the home of wheelchair sports and the birthplace of the Paralympic Games. Great Britain won team of the year after their victory at the Invacare World Team Cup in August. Their coach Steph Trill won coach of the year.

Tennis In The Commonwealth: Stosur Wins, Birmingham Restored

By Leigh Sanders

The following is Leigh Sanders’ weekly look at tennis headlines in “The Commonwealth” or the traditional tennis powerhouses that were former members of the British Empire, most notably Australia, South Africa, India, Canada and, of course, Great Britain.

Revered British tennis centre, the Edgbaston Priory Club in Birmingham, has been handed a boost by the confirmation that the WTA Tour’s AEGON Classic will be returning in 2010. It was feared the tournament would be moved as part of the new British Tennis Series.

But the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has agreed a contract for a further year with a view to extending that providing the centre makes substantial improvements to its facilities.

Discussions have now begun between the LTA, the club and Birmingham City Council to see how the site and future events can be improved.

A pre-Wimbledon event has been held here every summer since 1982 and past winners include Maria Sharapova, Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova.

Priory Club Chief Executive Robert Bray said: “We have a long tradition of hosting international tennis and we are delighted to have reached an agreement with the LTA.”

* Samantha Stosur of Australia picked up her maiden singles WTA title at the Japan Open on Sunday. She beat Francesca Schiavone 7-5, 6-1, Schiavone now losing 10 of her last 11 singles finals. Stosur dropped only one set throughout the tournament, in the semifinal to Caroline Wozniacki. She has previously won 22 doubles titles and has stated her intention to break in to the world top 10 singles following her first triumph.

* It was Wozniacki who had been the conqueror of new number two Brit Katie O’Brien in the second round. The Danish world No. 6 needed only 44 minutes to wrack up a 6-0, 6-1 victory over 94th ranked O’Brien.

* Britain’s Andy Murray dropped to 4th in this week’s ATP Rankings (10/19) following Novak Djokovic’s win in Beijing while Lleyton Hewitt of Australia climbed one place to 22nd. Fellow Aussie Peter Luczak dropped 19 places to 83rd and Chris Guccione also dropped 2 places to 109th.

* In the doubles rankings (10/19) Canada’s Daniel Nestor remains No. 1 despite his early exit from Shanghai (see below). Mahesh Bhupathi of India remains sixth after his semifinals berth at the same tournament. Aussie pair Jordan Kerr and Paul Hanley rose to 29th and 30th respectively while Jeff Coetzee of South Africa fell 9 places to 35th.

* In the WTA Rankings (10/19), Samantha Stosur’s win in Japan sees her climb two places to 13th in the singles while India’s Sania Mirza climbs to 58th after her semifinals berth at Osaka. Australia’s Jelena Dokic climbs from 69th to 62nd while Britain’s injured No. 1 Anne Keothavong continues to fall during her recovery, now down in 79th place. Katie O’Brien is now Britain’s number two after jumping above Elena Baltacha after her exploits in Japan.

* In the doubles rankings (10/19) Samantha Stosur dropped to 9th place after her singles exertions this week while India’s Sania Mirza climbed two places to 36th. Marie-eve Pelletier of Canada is up one to 66th and Britain’s Sarah Borwell is also up to 79th. Canada’s Sharon Fichman also climbs one place to 98th in the world.

* Andy Roddick has become the sixth player to secure his place at the ATP World Tour Finals to be held in London, England next month despite his withdrawal from Shanghai.

* Two Aussie women failed to follow the lead of Stosur this weekend by losing their respective ITF finals. Jelena Dokic went down to the Swede Sofia Arvidsson in the Joue-les-Tours event in France while Alicia Molik fell to Sacha Jones of New Zealand in the Port Pirie Tennis International, Port Pirie, Australia.

* French duo Julien Benneteau and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga picked up their first doubles title as a partnership in Shanghai this week having seen off the top seeds and world No. 1 and No. 2, Canada’s Daniel Nestor and partner Nenad Zimonjic in the second round and India’s Mahesh Bhupathi and his partner Mark Knowles, of the Bahamas, in the semifinals.

* Aussie tennis legend Evonne Goolagong Cawley received a strange tribute this week as the town of Barellan, where she spent most of her childhood, unveiled a giant statue of the wooden Dunlop racquet she used to win 7 Grand Slam singles titles. Seven-thousand people attended the launch that also saw the 58-year-old hosting tennis clinics and a crayfish-gathering activity known as ‘yabbying.’

* Philip Brook has been named as the new Vice Chairman of the All England Tennis Club, Wimbledon, England from December 2009. He has been a member at the club since 1989, serving on many sub-committees during that time. The decision follows the announcement by current Vice Chairman Tim Phillips indicating his intention to step down in December 2009 following ten years in the role.

* Mixed fortunes for Great Britain this week as Alex Bogdanovic won the 42.5k Euros Challenger event in Denmark while Jocelyn Rae prevailed in the £10k event in Mytilini, Greece, beating fellow Brit and doubles partner Jade Windley in the final. Not so much luck in the doubles as Jonathan Marray and his partner were beaten in the doubles final in Denmark while Rae and Windley were edged out of the doubles final in Mytilini. Colin Fleming/Ken Skupski and Jamie Murray/Jamie Delgado, have progressed though to the quarterfinals of the ATP Challenger Event in Orleans, France.

* Also at Orleans, Australia’s Carsten Ball fell in the R32 of singles to Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.

* Australian Peter Luczak has lost in the first round of the If Stockholm Open doubles paired with Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. They lost 7-5, 6-3 to Brazilian Bruno Soares and Zimbabwean Kevin Ullyett in 71 minutes. Fellow Aussie Jordan Kerr and American Travis Parrott are through though after victory over Brazilians Marcelo Melo/Andre Sa.

* Canadians on the march this week are Aleksandra Wozniak and Peter Polansky. Wozniak is through to the second round of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow after her first-round opponent, Sara Errani of Italy, retired after just 30 minutes. She’ll play the winner of Maria Kirilenko and Agnieszka Radwanska in the next round. At the Copa Petrobas Challenger in Santiago, Chile, Polansky is through to the second round of both singles and doubles. He beat Diego Alvarez of Argentina 6-1, 6-4 in the singles and with American Alex Bogomolov Jr. overcame Brazilian duo Ricardo Hocevar and Joao Souza in the doubles.

* Brit Dan Smethurst lost in the quarterfinals of the $15k ITF event in Dubrovnik, Croatia to Italy’s Simone Vagnozzi who was ranked 216 places above him in the rankings.

* The Canadian Junior Fed Cup team placed a respectable fifth at the recent Fed Cup finals held in Mexico. After narrowly missing out on the main draw they beat Croatia and China to top the bracket competing for fifth to eighth spot.

* Aussie Marinko Matosevic was beaten in the Round of 32 at the Royal Bank of Scotland Challenger in Tiburon, Calif., by America’s Vincent Spadea 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-0.

Mondays With Bob Greene: Well, I tried to be quiet for you guys today

STARS

Wimbledon (First Week)

Lleyton Hewitt beat fifth-seeded Juan Martin Del Potro 6-3 7-5 7-5

Sabine Lisicki beat fifth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2 7-5

Melanie Oudin beat sixth-seeded Jelena Jankovic 6-7 (8) 7-5 6-2

Ivo Karlovic beat ninth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (5) 6-7 (5) 7-5 7-6 (5)

Gisela Dulko beat 2004 Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova 6-2 3-6 6-4

Jesse Levine beat 2005 Australian Open champion Marat Safin 6-2 3-6 7-6 (4) 6-4

SAYING

“It is the best place to be when you are a pro tennis player and I savor every blade of it. I’ve had that crown for several years and I want to make it mine again.” – Defending champion Venus Williams.

“I come here every year expecting myself to win.” – Alex Bogdanovic, whose career record at Wimbledon is now 0-8, the second worst in tournament history only to Joe Hackett of Ireland, who went 0-9.

“Losses are tough. More here than at any other tournament. But, you know, it puts some perspective into your life.” – Maria Sharapova, after her second-round loss to Gisela Dulko.

“If I can win with only one shot, I don’t know, I’m a genius.” – Ivo Karlovic, responding to criticism that he has a one-dimensional game with his huge serve.

“Well, I tried to be quiet for you guys today.” – Michelle Larcher de Brito, who made headlines at the French Open for her on-court screeching.

“I think some people are just too noisy. For me it’s extra effort to do it, so I’d rather not do it.” – Ai Sugiyama, about players who screech on court during play.

“Everyone is from Russia. Sometimes I think I’m from Russia, too. I feel, like, you know, OK, all these new ‘Ovas.’ I don’t know anyone. I don’t really recognize anyone. … I think my name must be Williamsova.” – Serena Williams, noting the number of top women players from Russia.

“I need to get out of my brain and start from a new page.” – Marat Safin, after losing in the first round in his 10th and final Wimbledon.

“I’ve never met Serena. I haven’t even walked past her, like ever, almost. I’ve seen her, but she always has tons of security guards around her all the time, at least four or five people. But Venus, she walks around with, maybe, one person, that’s it.” – 17-year-old Melanie Oudin, who upset Jelena Jankovic.

“Women’s tennis is more speedy and more powerful. It’s tough, very tough … but I enjoy the challenge.” – Kimiko Date Krumm, who retired from the women’s tour in 1996, only returning last year.

“I remember the first time I played on grass, I think I just wanted to dive. That was the highlight, I guess, trying to dive. I don’t remember if I did or not, but when you’re growing up, you see all the players diving, and you think, I want a part of that. So that’s the first thing you want when you’re little.” – Venus Williams, remembering his first match at Wimbledon in 1997.

“Sometimes people need more respect for their opponents. When (Novak) Djokovic lost in the second round last year, (people were surprised, but) it was Marat Safin he was up against – and he can play a bit of tennis! And then Safin lost in the first round here (to Jesse Levine), so it shows that you should always have respect.” – Roger Federer.

“We should have a tiebreak at six-all in the fifth like in the US Open. All the Grand Slams should have this. That’s my personal opinion. When you’ve played so much tennis… it’s really draining.” – Tommy Haas, whose match against Marin Cilic was halted by darkness at 6-6 in the fifth set. Haas completed his 7-5 7-5 1-6 6-7 (3) 10-8 win the next day.

“I don’t think a lot of them would last five sets.” — Lleyton Hewitt, when asked about women playing best-of-five-set matches at the Grand Slam tournaments.

“I always said maybe if I was a guy I would play cricket.” – Sania Mirza, India’s top female tennis player.

STREAK STARTER

Not only is Venus Williams seeking her third straight Wimbledon women’s singles title and sixth of her career, the American has won 29 consecutive sets dating back to a third-round match against Akiko Morigami in 2007. That’s the last time Williams has dropped a set as she beat her Japanese opponent 6-2 3-6 7-5. Morigami actually led 5-3 in the final set. “That was an intense match and she was playing so well,” Venus recalled. “She played low ground strokes. I just remember playing very aggressive from 3-5, just returning aggressively. When the chips are down, I start to force the issue even more. Usually it works. You live and learn. I attribute it to that match.” If she wins, Williams would become the first woman to win three straight Wimbledon singles titles since Steffi Graf in 1993. She also would pull to within one title of Graf’s total of seven and within three of record-holder Martina Navratilova.

SPECIAL MESSAGE

Queen Elizabeth sent a message of congratulations to Andy Murray for becoming the first Briton to won the Queen’s grass court tournament in London since Bunny Austin in 1938. The last time the monarch visited Wimbledon was in 1977, where she presented the trophy to Virginia Wade after the Briton won the women’s singles title in the Queen’s Jubilee year. Buckingham Palace said Queen Elizabeth has no official engagements on the day of this year’s Wimbledon men’s final. Murray is trying to become the first British player since Fred Perry in 1936 to win the men’s singles at Wimbledon.

SLIPPERY CONDITIONS

Michael Llodra was knocked out of Wimbledon by being, well, almost knocked out. In his second-round match against Tommy Haas, the Frenchman was sprinting towards a drop shot when he was unable to stop and slammed into the umpire’s chair before collapsing on top of ball girl. Llodra quickly stood up and helped the startled girl back to her feet. After asking if she was OK, Llodra hugged her and returned to the baseline to resume the match. When the game was completed, Llodra clutched his side and asked for a trainer as he hobbled back to his chair. Following a medical timeout, Llodra played another game before being worked on by the trainer again. He attempted one more serve before retiring from the match.

SAYONARA

Two veteran players returning to Wimbledon found their stay to be short ones. Kimiko Date Krumm, a 38-year-old who last played Wimbledon in 1996, fell to Caroline Wozniacki 5-7 6-3 6-1. The Japanese player made her Wimbledon debut in 1989, a year before Wozniacki was born, and reached the semifinals in 1996. Jelena Dokic, who made her career breakthrough at Wimbledon in 1999, lost to German qualifier Tatjana Malek 3-6 7-5 6-2. Dokic, playing Wimbledon for the first time after a five-year absence, complained of feeling dizzy at the end of the second set and had her blood pressure taken at courtside.

SMASHING TIME

Ninth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was bombarded out of this year’s Championships. Ivo Karlovic slammed 46 aces to upset the Frenchman 7-6 (5) 6-7 (5) 7-5 7-6 (5). The ATP tour leader in aces in 2009, Karlovic hit a modern-era record 55 aces in a loss at the French Open last month. While he is best known for upsetting 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt in Wimbledon’s first round the following year, Karlovic had lost his opening matches at the All England Club from 2005 to 2008.

SLOWED

Ivan Ljubicic never made it to his first-round match at the All-England Club. The former world number three player from Croatia withdrew from Wimbledon with an ankle injury on the opening day of the tournament and was replaced in the draw by Danai Udomchoke of Thailand. The week before Wimbledon, Ljubicic fell heavily in his match at the Eastbourne International, injuring his ankle. Racing to the net to reach a delicate shot by his opponent, Fabrice Santoro, Ljubicic skidded on the grass, fell and cried out while clutching his left ankle. Santoro ran to the court-side freezer to get bags of ice, which he applied to Ljubicic’s ankle while officials summoned the trainer.

STARRING

There’s a new star in Lindsay Davenport’s house. The three-time Grand Slam tournament winner has given birth to her second child, a girl named Lauren Andrus Davenport Leach. Lindsay and her husband Jon Leach have a 2-year-old son, Jagger. The 33-year-old Davenport won the 1998 US Open, 1999 Wimbledon and 2000 Australian Open singles titles. She pulled out of this year’s Australian Open when she learned she was pregnant. At the time, Davenport said she would be putting tennis on hold “for the foreseeable future.”

SIGNED UP

Tommy Haas will be seeking his third title when he begins play at the 2009 LA Tennis Open Presented by Farmers Insurance Group. Haas is one of six players committed to the California tournament who are seeded in the draw at Wimbledon. “Tommy is a fan favorite, a great addition to our already strong field, and has played LA more than anyone else in the field,” said tournament director Bob Kramer. The 83rd annual LA Tennis Open will be held July 27-August 2 at the LA Tennis center on the campus of UCLA. Haas won the Los Angeles title in 2004 and again in 2005. Others already in the field include 2007 champion Radek Stepanek, Marat Safin, Mardy Fish, Fernando Gonzalez, Dmitry Tursunov, Marcos Baghdatis and Sam Querrey.

STILL TOP TICKET

Don’t look now, but the All England Club is not going through a recession. While the rest of the world grapples with the global financial downturn, Wimbled has sold more tickets than ever. “It seems people are saying, `Forget about the recession. Let’s go to Wimbledon and have some fun,” said All England Club spokesman Johnny Perkins. “People are sitting down and trying to decide what to spend their hard-earned money on. The good news for Wimbledon is, they seem to be spending it here.” The first day’s attendance was 42,811, an increase of nearly 3,500 from the previous opening day record set in 2001. While organizers will not release figures for pre-tournament ticket requests, they say they have received about 20 percent more than last year. The All England Club recently sold out 2,500 Centre Court seats in five-year blocks for USD $45,600 each.

SWITCHING BETS

No wrongdoing is suspected, but tennis wants to look into the betting pattern on a first-round Wimbledon match. When a TV commentator remarked that one of the players was injured, more than six times as many wagers as normal were placed on the match between Wayne Odesnik of the United States and Jurgen Melzer of Austria. The British bookmaker Betfair alerted tennis corruption investigators about the unusual betting pattern, but company spokesman Mark Davies said it did not suspect any wrongdoing. Melzer’s odds shortened significantly after a TV announced mentioned that Odesnik had a thigh injury. Betfair received about USD $980,000 in wagers on the match, while the average for a first-round Wimbledon match is less than USD $163,000. Melzer won 6-1 6-4 6-2.

SITES TO SURF

Wimbledon: www.wimbledon.org

Braunschweig: www.nordlb-open.org/

Cuneo: www.countrycuneo.com

Davis Cup: www.daviscup.com

Serena Williams blog: http://www.serenawilliams.com/blog(underscore)message(underscore)detail.php?msg=93

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP and WTA

The Championships (second week), Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass

ATP

$150,000 Nord/LP Open, Braunschweig, Germany, clay

$100,000 Trofeo Regione Piemonte, Turin, Italy, clay

WTA

$100,000 Cuneo ITF Tournament, Cuneo, Italy, clay

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$500,000 Campbell’s Hall of Fame Championships, Newport, Rhode Island, USA, grass

$100,000 Open Diputacion Ciudad de Pozoblanco, Pozoblanco, Cordoba, Spain, clay

WTA

$220,000 GDF Suez Grand Prix, Budapest, Hungary, clay

$220,000 Collector Swedish Open Women, Bastad, Sweden, clay

$100,000 Open GDF Suez de Biarritz, Biarritz, France, clay

DAVIS CUP

World Group Quarterfinals

Czech Republic vs. Argentina at Ostrava, Czech Republic

Croatia vs. United States at Porec, Croatia

Israel vs. Russia at Tel Aviv, Israel

Spain vs. Germany at Puerto Banus, Marbella, Spain

Americas Zone Group 1 Playoff

Peru vs. Canada at Lima, Peru

Americas Zone Group 2 Second Round

Venezuela vs. Mexico at Maracaibo, Venezuela

Dominican Republic vs. Paraguay at San Francisco de Marcons, Provincia Duarte, Dominican Republic

Asia/Oceania Zone Group 1 Playoff

Thailand vs. Kazakhstan at Nonthaburi, Thailand

Korea vs. China at Chun-cheon City, Korea

Asia/Oceania Zone Group 2 Second Round

Philippines vs. Pakistan at Manila, Philippines

New Zealand vs. Indonesia at Hamilton, New Zealand

Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 Playoffs

Belarus vs. FYR Macedonia at Minsk, Belarus

Europe/Africa Zone Group 2 Second Round

Slovenia vs. Lithuania at Otocec, Slovenia

Latvia vs. Bulgaria at Plovdiv, Latvia

Mondays With Bob Greene: I’ve had good times and bad times

STARS

Tommy Haas beat Novak Djokovic 6-3 6-7 (4) 6-1 to win the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany

Andy Murray won the AEGON Championships in London, Great Britain, defeating James Blake 7-5 6-4

Magdalena Rybarikova beat Li Na 6-0 7-6 (2) to win the AEGON Classic in Birmingham, Great Britain

Stanislas Wawrinka beat Potito Starace 7-5 6-3 to win the BSI Lugano Challenger in Lugano, Switzerland

Iona-Raluca Olaru beat Masa Zec-Peskiric 6-7 (4) 7-5 6-4 to win the Open GDF Suez de Marseille in Marseille, France

SAYING

“I’m a long way from winning Wimbledon, but I feel confident. I’ll try and not get too far ahead of myself and focus on my first match there, but if I play my best like I did this week, I’ve got a chance.” – Andy Murray, after winning at Queen’s Club.

“It’s incredible, I can hardly believe it myself when I think of the highs and lows I’ve been through in the last year and a half.” – Tommy Haas, after winning his first grass-court title.

“I was so excited last night after I beat Sharapova I forgot I had a match today.” Li Na, who lost in the final after upsetting Maria Sharapova in the semifinals of the AEGON Classic in Birmingham, Great Britain.

“I still felt like I had many chances in this match, but I have played five matches in the last six days and after that you just hope you wake up with that intensity you need. Against her you need that.” – Maria Sharapova, after losing to Li Na.

“Winning today is the best feeling of my career so far. It’s unbelievable. Just like a dream.” – Magdalena Rybarikova, after winning her first WTA title, the AEGON Classic in Birmingham, Great Britain.

“I had a good week. Playing on the grass, I always have a lot of fun playing here. I feel great. I’ve been working with my coach and trainer, and I know I’m doing the best preparation possible for Wimbledon. I’ll be ready to play and feel great about my chances.” – James Blake, after reaching the final at Queen’s Club.

“A problem a lot of people in this country have is expecting huge things, thinking that it’s just going to happen.” – Andy Murray, concerning the British public hoping he can win Wimbledon.

“I think he’s over the biggest hurdle in his tennis with the French under his belt. Pete Sampras, Boris Becker, John McEnroe, great players, never did. The monkey is off Roger’s back and he’ll play, not with abandon, but with excitement, enjoyment and freedom. He’ll be Wimbledon champion again next month unless someone catches fire like Robin Soderling did against Nadal.” – Rod Laver, on Roger Federer winning the French Open.

“I’ve had good times and bad times. That’s me. That’s how I am. I’m really lucky and I’m happy that the ATP has allowed me to do what I want to do on the court. They’ve been nice to me throughout the years and that’s made it much easier for me to play this way.” – Marat Safin, talking about his career.

“I have now, after a lot of thinking, decided to put an end to my professional tennis career.” – Thomas Johansson, announcing his retirement from competitive tennis.

“There comes a time in every man’s life when he needs to settle down. In my case, again.” – Boris Becker, after marrying Dutch model Sharlely “Lilly” Kerssenberg, his second marriage.

SUCCESS, FINALLY

When Andy Murray beat James Blake in the AEGON Championships final, he became the first British player to win at Queen’s Club since Bunny Austin in 1938. “I was quite nervous,” Murray admitted. “People were telling me that no (Briton) had won here for 70-odd years, so that got the nerves going, especially when I was serving for the match.” The fact he won on grass will only increase the belief – and the pressure – that Murray, ranked third in the world, will win Wimbledon. A Brit hasn’t won on the grass courts of the All England Club since Fred Perry did it in 1936.

SLOVAKIAN SURPRISE

Magdalena Rybarikova could be called the women’s champion of China. The little-known Slovakian won her first WTA title at the AEGON Classic in Birmingham, Great Britain, stopping China’s Li Na 6-0 7-6 (2) in the final. In the quarterfinals, the 20-year-old Rybarikova upset top-seeded Zheng Jie of China 7-6 (10) 6-4. “I was very nervous in the tiebreak, but she looked more nervous than me, so that helped me concentrate even harder,” Rybarikova said of Li. In the semifinals, Li upset Maria Sharapova, her first victory over the Russian in six career meetings.

SPECIAL ENTRY

Japan’s Kimiko Date Krumm will play at Wimbledon for the first time in 13 years. The 38-year-old Date Krumm was given a wild card into the main draw. Once ranked as high as number four in the world, Date Krumm reached the semifinals in 1996, the last time she played on the grass of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. She retired from her first-round qualifying match at the French Open last month because of a calf injury.

STRAIGHT IN

Can Laura Robson match the exploits of Martina Hingis? Thanks to a wild card, Britain’s 15-year-old junior Wimbledon champion will be the youngest player in the women’s main draw since Hingis in 1995. Hingis went on to become number one in the world. Robson is ranked 482nd in the world, but was given a wild card via a clause that allows juniors to be included under “exceptional circumstances.” Others receiving wild cards into the women’s main draw include Elena Baltacha, Alexa Glatch, Michelle Larcher de Brito, Katie O’Brien, Georgie Stoop and Melanie South.

Juan Carlos Ferrero, the 2003 French Open champion from Spain who has been ranked as high as number one in the world, has been given a wild card entry into this year’s Wimbledon men’s draw, along with 2008 Wimbledon and US Open junior champion Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria. Also given wild cards into the men’s singles were Britons Alex Bogdanovic, Daniel Evans, Joshua Goodall and James Ward.

SQUEAKER

Although he ended up winning the tournament, it didn’t appear in the semifinals that Tommy Haas had a chance of advancing in the Gerry Weber Open. In an all-German semifinal in Halle, Germany, Haas trailed 5-2 in the third set before edging Philipp Kohlschreiber 2-6 7-6 (5) 7-6 (3). A year ago, Kohlschreiber beat Haas in the second round en route to the final at Halle. This year, Kohlschreiber served for the match while leading 5-3 but played a sloppy game. Haas made him pay for it, serving his 15th ace of the day on his third match point. It was the first tournament Haas has won since Memphis, Tennessee, USA, in 2007.

SWAN SONG

Sweden’s Thomas Johansson, who won the Australian Open in 2002, retired from competitive tennis at the age of 34. Besides his surprising win in Melbourne, where he beat Marat Safin in the title match, Johansson won eight other ATP titles and reached the semifinals at Wimbledon in 2005, where he lost to Andy Roddick. Last year, Johansson teamed with Simon Aspelin to win the silver medal in doubles at the Beijing Olympics, losing the gold-medal match to Switzerland’s Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka.

SWEDISH PRISON

A 24-year-old man was sentenced to nine months in prison and fined USD $17,200 for rioting outside the Davis Cup match between Israel and Sweden. The Swede was one of 10 people arrested after protesting Israel’s offensive in Gaza. Earlier, an 18-year-old was sentenced to 15 months in prison for rioting. A third man has been acquitted because of lack of evidence.

ST. MORITZ WEDDING

Boris Becker has married for the second time. The German tennis great and Dutch model Sharlely “Lilly” Kerssenberg tied the knot in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Attending the wedding were Becker’s two sons, 15-year-old Noah and 9-year-old Elias. along with Prince Albert of Monaco, supermodel Claudia Schiffer, cyclist Jan Ulrich and his wife Sara, and soccer stars Franz Beckenbaur and Oliver Kahn, among others. The newly-weds had announced their plan to get married when they appeared on a German television show in February.

SITTING IT OUT

Saying he was “overwhelmed” and “exhausted” after winning his first French Open title, Roger Federer pulled out of the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, his usual grass-court warm-up for Wimbledon. “I sincerely apologize to the tournament organizers, my competitors, and my fans in Germany. I only hope they will understand that I still feel emotionally overwhelmed and exhausted by the incredible events of the past few days,” Federer said on his Web site.

Before he began his victorious run at the Gerry Weber Open, Tommy Haas withdrew from Germany’s Davis Cup quarterfinal against Spain, saying the clay court matches would put too much strain on his body. Haas, once ranked as high as number two in the world, did not play in the last Davis Cup World Group against Austria after being sidelined with a shoulder injury for much of 2008.

SIGNAGE

No longer will the Swiss Indoors tournament be held at St. Jakobshalle in Basel, Switzerland. Oh, it will be held at the same venue, but the name of the hall is being changed to Roger Federer Arena. Basel sports director Peter Howald said the city had discussed ways of honoring the new French Open champion, who completed a career Grand Slam and tied Pete Sampras’ record of 14 major singles title with his clay court victory at Roland Garros. Federer is a three-time defending champion of the Swiss Indoors.

SPLITSVILLE

The team didn’t last long at all. Ana Ivanovic has broken up with coach Craig Kardon. Ivanovic had hired Kardon, once a coach for Martina Navratilova, in February as a replacement on a temporary basis for Sven Groeneveld. But the Serb, who won Roland Garros last year, continued her fall in the WTA rankings. Once ranked number one in the world, she dropped out of the top ten following her fourth-round French Open loss this year. Ivanovic said she will use a temporary coach when she plays at Wimbledon.

SENTENCED

Damir Dokic has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for making death threats against the Australian ambassador to Serbia. “The sentence is inappropriate and we are going to appeal,” said Dokic’s lawyer, Bosiljka Djukic. “We hope that the higher court will annul this sentence.” The father of tennis player Jelena Dokic, Damir Dokic was arrested in early May after he reportedly said he would “attack the ambassador and her husband with a stinger missile.” Police found two hand grenades and 20 bullets in his house for which Dokic had no permit, in addition to seven hunting rifles and a handgun which he owned legally. The alleged threats came after Jelena, once ranked fourth in the world, was quoted in Australia’s Sports & Style magazine describing the torment she endured under her father.

START DELAYED

The start of the third-round match at Queen’s Club between Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt was delayed by a bomb threat. Both players stayed on court while officials searched the entire site but found nothing. Roddick and Hewitt were seen laughing and talking with each other during the break in play. Roddick ended up winning the match.

SCOTT AWARD

The late Arthur Ashe and his widow, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, will be recognized with the Eugene L. Scott Award by the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum (ITHFM). Presented annually since 2006, the award honors an individual who embodies Scott’s commitment to communicating honestly and critically about the game and who has had a significant impact on the tennis world. “Arthur and Jeanne have used their voices, which have been amplified through the game of tennis, to change the world in so many ways that it’s fitting to present them as one with the Eugene L. Scott Award,” said Christopher E. Clouser, chairman of the ITHFM. “Humanitarians like Arthur and Jeanne are few and far between and we should recognize them for the contributions they have made to help enact change.” The award will be presented at the 29th annual “Legends Ball” on September 11 in New York City. Also being honored will be Rod Laver and the four newest members of the Hall of Fame: Donald L. Dell, Andres Gimeno, the late Dr. Robert Johnson and Monica Seles.

SELLING LIKE HOTCAKES

The 2009 US Open is a hot ticket. The first day of ticket sales to the general public for this year’s final Grand Slam tournament was the second-best opening day in US Open history. With nearly 35,000 tickets sold, it is only the second time that opening day ticket sales topped 30,000 tickets. This year’s total trails only last year’s event. In the six days leading up to the public sale, the US Open pre-sale for American Express members set an all-time sales mark of more than 31,000 tickets.

SPONSOR LOSS

The Australian Open is continuing to lose sponsors. The latest is Qantas, which is ending its 21-year agreement with the year’s first Grand Slam tournament. In the past few months, the Australian Open has lost several other major sponsors, including Master Card, Garnier and GE Money. Three major sponsors say they will continue, including Kia Motors, Rolex and Lacoste.

SLICING FINE

The Swedish Tennis Association (STA) has had its fine reduced by the International Federation of Tennis (ITF) Board of Directors. The board agreed to reduce the fine from USD $25,000 to USD $5,000, but upheld the original decision by the Davis Cup Committee not to waive the gross receipts payment of $15,000. The Committee took the action following Sweden’s first-round Davis Cup tie against Israel, which was played behind closed doors in Malmo, Sweden.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Birmingham: Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears 6-1 6-4

London: Wesley Moodie and Mikhail Youzhny beat Marcelo Melo and Andrew Sa 6-4 4-6 10-6 (match tiebreak)

Halle: Christopher Kas and Philipp Kohlschreiber beat Andreas Beck and Marco Chiudinelli 6-3 6-4

Marseille: Tathiana Garbin and Maria-Emilia Salerni beat Timea Bacsinszky and Elena Bovina 6-7 (4) 6-3 10-7 (match tiebreak)

Lugano: Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer beat Pablo Cuevas and Sergio Roitman walkover

SITES TO SURF

Eastbourne: www.lta.org.uk/Watch/

s-Hertogenbosch: www.ordina-open.nl/

Wimbledon: www.wimbledon.org

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$600,000 Ordina Open, s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, grass

$600,000 AEGON International, Eastbourne, Great Britain, grass

WTA

$600,000 AEGON International, Eastbourne, Great Britain, grass

$220,000 Ordina Open, s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, grass

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP and WTA

The Championships (first week), Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass

No chance for GB after Andy’s AWOL

This weekend’s Davis Cup tie between Argentina and Great Britain was always going to be difficult. Since that glorious weekend in late September when Tim Henman bowed out of the game after sending his country back into the higher echelons of the competition, Argentina have been looming.

The joy soon turned to a knowing dread that all the hard work would ultimately be in vain against a squad boasting one of the most formidable and compatible Cup teams.

Nalbandian, Canas, Chela and Monaco all ranked within the top 25 and all except Nalbandian clay court specialists the surface on which the tie would be played.

Of course, since then the Argentines have also been weakened after the injury/loss of form of Canas, Chela and most recently Monaco who sustained an ankle injury last week in the Movistar Open in Chile.

The revised South American squad now includes lower ranked players like Agusten Calleri (41), Jose Acasuso (50) and 31-ranked doubles player Sebastian Prieto.

As flimsy as this may be against any other team, the GB outfit, without the services of main talisman Andy Murray is now the least impressive set of players in the group. Yes doubles maestro and disgruntled sibling Jamie Murray will prove invaluable but it is Alex Bogdanovic who is ranked the highest of the UK’s competitors. At 188 in the world Bogdanovic rests below no less than 19 Argentine players.

Jamie Baker and Davis Cup debutant Ross Hutchins will play some superb tennis despite being undoubtedly awed by the occasion and stature of their opponents, but the result is a foregone conclusion.

Once again the lack of commitment to an increasingly unimportant tournament and indeed the struggling state of British tennis when compared to every other nation in the world will be agonisingly exposed.