By Romi Cvitkovic
The rain at WTA Bad Gastein forced play to halt for most of the day Monday, but the players still attended a toga-themed Player’s Party in the evening before calling it a day. Tennis Grandstand photographer Rick Gleijm is on-hand in Austria all week. For the full scoop, check out his gallery below!
Not much occurred on-court today, but luckily, the last of the qualification round matches were able to finish before the heavens opened. One main draw match began between Mandy Minella and Alja Tomljanovic but was unable to finish, and the weather doesn’t look much better for tomorrow either. But that is not bumming out German Julia Goerges as she gets an extra day to relax, according to her WTA blog here.
Check out the full gallery from the player’s party below which features Julia Goerges, Yanina Wickmayer (did she not get the “toga” memo?), Alize Cornet, Jill Craybas, Marta Domachowska, Anna-Lena Groenefeld, Yvonne Meusburger, Petra Martic, Dia Evtimova, Sarah Gronert and Nicole Rottmann. Also catch a promotional photoshoot featuring Austrian players Barbara Haas and Yvonne Meusburger, as well as the main draw match between Mandy Minella and Alja Tomljanovic.
Men’s singles: Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer 7-5 3-6 7-6 (3) 3-6 6-2
Women’s singles: Serena Williams beat Dinara Safina 6-0 6-3
Men’s doubles: Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan beat Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 2-6 7-5 6-0
Women’s doubles: Venus Williams and Serena Williams beat Daniela Hantuchova and Ai Sugiyama 6-3 6-3
Mixed doubles: Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi beat Nathalie Dechy and Andy Ram 6-3 6-1
Junior Boys singles: Yuki Bhambri beat Alexandros-Ferdinandos Georgoudas 6-3 6-1
Junior Girls singles: Ksenia Pervak beat Laura Robson 6-3 6-1
Junior Boys doubles: Francis Casey Alcantara and Hsieh Cheng-Peng beat Mikhal Biryukov and Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-4 6-2
Junior Girls doubles: Christina McHale and Ajla Tomljanovic beat Alexandra Krunic and Sandra Zaniewska 6-1 2-6 10-4 (match tiebreak)
Women’s Wheelchair Singles: Esther Vergeer beat Korie Homan 6-4 6-2
Men’s Wheelchair Singles: Shingo Kunieda beat Stephane Houdet 6-2 6-4
Quad Wheelchair Singles: Peter Norfolk beat David Wagner 7-6 (5) 6-1
Benjamin Becker beat Karol Beck 6-4 6-4 to win the Heilbronn Open in Heilbronn, Germany
“Roger, sorry for today. I really know how you feel right now. Remember, you’re a great champion, you’re one of the best in history.” – Rafael Nadal, consoling a crying Roger Federer after winning his first hard court Grand Slam title.
“I love this game. It means the world to me, so it hurts when you lose.” – Roger Federer, after losing to Rafael Nadal.
“I always believe I’m the best, whether I’m number 1 or 100. Just having that extra bonus is pretty cool.” – Serena Williams, who moved into the WTA Tour’s number one ranking by winning the Australian Open.
“She played exactly the way she had to play and she was much more aggressive and she was just taking time out of me, so I didn’t have that much time to put myself back onto the court. She didn’t even let me come into the match.” – Dinara Safina, after losing to Serena Williams in the women’s final.
“All I know is Serena usually picks up the bill.” – Mike Bryan, discussing the co-celebration of the two doubles champions, brothers Mike and Bob Bryan and sisters Serena and Venus Williams.
“It’s always a dream to win a Grand Slam. That’s what we all play for. … It makes it more special because it’s with someone that I know for so long and so well.” – Sania Mirza, after teaming with Mahesh Bhupathi to win the mixed doubles.
“Let’s not kid ourselves. You’re down two sets to him and scraping, trying to survive.” – Andy Roddick, after losing to Roger Federer.
“I think I was maybe not aggressive enough and maybe I was playing not deep enough, which allowed her to be very aggressive and dictate the game.” – Elena Dementieva, after losing to Serena Williams 6-3 6-4, snapping a 15-match win streak.
“I just have a bad day. He’s Roger Federer (and) if you don’t be good, you lose.” – Juan Martin del Potro, who lost his quarterfinal match to Federer 6-3 6-0 6-0.
“I don’t think I put in a bad performance. She was just coming every time with a better shot to my shot. Sometimes you have to accept someone is just better than you.” – Marion Bartoli, after losing to Vera Zvonareva 6-3 6-0.
Rafael Nadal won his first Grand Slam title on a hard court and became the first Spaniard to win the Australian Open as he out-fought Roger Federer in a five-set, 4-hour, 23-minute struggle. It was Nadal’s fifth victory over his Swiss rival in seven Grand Slam finals, three of them on the clay at Roland Garros. The other came on grass at Wimbledon. The loss also denied Federer the chance to equal the men’s record of 14 Grand Slam singles titles set by Pete Sampras. It was the first five-set final in Melbourne in 21 years and was so close that Federer actually won more points in the match – 174 to Nadal’s 173. It was the Spaniard, though, who won the key points. “It is very special for me. It’s a dream win, one Grand Slam on a hard court,” said the 22-year-old Nadal. “I’ve worked very hard all my life to improve my tennis outside of clay. I’m very happy, very happy to win the title.” Nadal won a thrilling five-set match against fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the semifinals and became the first man since Goran Ivanisevic at Wimbledon in 2001 to win a Grand Slam title with five-set victories in the final two rounds.
Serena Williams crushed Dinara Safina 6-0 6-3 to win her fourth Australian Open women’s singles title and regain the number one ranking. She also teamed with her sister Venus to capture the women’s doubles crown and became the all-time leading money winner in women’s sports, her career earnings now above USD $23.5 million. Golfer Annika Sorenstam, who retired at the end of last season, was the previous all-time leader at USD $22,573,192. Safina won just eight points in the opening set as Serena won back-to-back majors for the first time since winning the Australian Open in 2003, when she completed her “Serena Slam” of four consecutive majors. The only other woman to win consecutive majors since then was Justine Henin.
The doubles was a sibling thing at the Australian Open as sisters Venus and Serena Williams won the women’s title, while brothers Bob and Mike Bryan captured the men’s crown. It was the eighth Grand Slam doubles title for Venus and Serena, who also won the Olympic gold medal in Beijing last summer. And it was their third title in Melbourne, having also won in 2001 and 2003. In winning their seventh Grand Slam title, the Bryans regained their number one ranking. Like the sisters, the Bryans also had won twice before in Melbourne, in 2006 and 2007.
Elena Dementieva was surprised the roof on Rod Laver Arena was not closed prior to the start of her quarterfinal match against Carla Suarez Navarro. Svetlana Kuznetsova was angry that officials closed the roof during her match against Serena Williams. Dementieva won her match 6-2 6-2 in the almost 100-degree-plus heat. But the extreme heat policy was not brought into play until later in the day. Kuznetsova was up a set against Williams when play was suspended and the roof was closed. Williams, who looked to be struggling in the intense heat, was rejuvenated in the cooler conditions. Kuznetsova, who served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, was visibly annoyed when the roof was closed after the first set. “Yeah I was definitely angry,” she said. “Why should I not be? The game was going my way. I’m fine playing with the roof open. … It’s two different games. One you play inside, one you play outside.”
Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic believe the women should not always go first when it comes to playing night matches at the Australian Open. After beating the 2008 champion Djokovic, Roddick said he believes men should play the first night match occasionally during the first week of a Grand Slam tournament. Djokovic and Marcos Baghdatis complained of a late start when their fourth-round match finished at 2:26 a.m. because the previous women’s match had last three hours. The men didn’t get on court until 11:10 p.m. “If all things are equal, then I feel like the scheduling should be the same,” Roddick said. All four Grand Slam tournaments pay equal prize money to men and women.
Jimmy Connors will be the lead analyst for Tennis Channel when it telecasts the US Open later this year. It’s the first time Connors has been an announcer on a US TV network since 1991, when he was working for NBC while still competing as a player. After he retired, the winner of eight Grand Slam tournaments worked for the British Broadcasting Corp. at Wimbledon from 2005-2007.
Jelena Dokic is back. After spending three years away from the top level of the sport, the 25-year-old Dokic reached the Australian Open quarterfinals where she took world number three Dinara Safina to three sets before falling. Once ranked number four in the world, Dokic had a very public split from her domineering father Damir, moved back to Australia and won a wildcard qualifying tournament to make the main draw in the year’s first Grand Slam tournament since 2006. Then she recaptured the hearts and minds of her adopted homeland with a series of contrite apologies for her previous behavior. It didn’t hurt that she beat 17th-seeded Anna Chakvetadze in the second round, 11th-seeded Caroline Wozniacki in the third round and 29th-seeded Alisa Kleybanova in the fourth round. “Everything is positive,” Dokic said. “I think I’ve shown that I can play with some of the best girls in the world, top 20 and top 10.”
SUITING UP AGAIN
Patrick Rafter, who won the US Open in 1997 and 1998, will make his debut on the Outback Champions Series tennis circuit next month in Los Cabos, Mexico. Rafter will compete in the Del Mar Development Champions Cup to be held March 18-22, a first-year event on the tennis circuit for champion players age 30 and over. Now 36, Rafter is best known for becoming the first Australian man to win the US Open since John Newcombe in 1973.
Former Yugoslavia Davis Cup coach Radmilo Armenulic says Serbia’s three leading players need to work harder if they are to survive at the top. Armenulic said Novak Djokovic and Jelena Jankovic traveled to Australia too late to become acclimatized to the summer heat. He feels they should have gone to Australia at least one month in advance of the Australian Open. Armenulic called for Jankovic to improve her second serve, which he said is easy prey for her rivals, and said Ivanovic is falling prey to distractions, including questions about her private life.
Esther Vergeer ran her winning streak to 357 matches as she once again won the women’s wheelchair singles at the Australian Open, beating Dutch compatriot Korie Homan 6-4 6-2. Vergeer says she has no problems staying motivated, noting: “It’s not that I’m aiming for this one title or tournament, even though I’d like to go to Wimbledon. It’s more about getting the best out of myself.”
STARS OF INDIA
Sania Mirza became the first Indian woman to win a senior Grand Slam tournament title when she teamed up with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi to capture the Australian Open mixed doubles, beating Nathalie Dechy of France and Andy Ram of Israel 6-3 6-1. The year’s first Grand Slam tournament also saw Yuki Bhambri become the first player from India to win a Grand Slam junior singles title. Bhupathi, who has now won 11 majors in doubles play, including seven in mixed competition, was runner-up in the men’s doubles with Mark Knowles of the Bahamas.
Besides India, other Asian countries are providing winners in tennis. Francis Casey Alcantara of the Philippines teamed with Hsieh Cheng-Peng of Taiwan to win the junior boys’ doubles at the Australia Open, besting Mikhal Biryukov of Russia and Yasutaka Uchiyama of Japan in the title match, 6-4 6-2. It is Hsieh’s third junior Grand Slam doubles title, winning at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon last year.
Gustavo Kuerten has returned to school. The three-time Roland Garros champion, now 32 years old, will study theater at UDESC, the state university of Santa Catarina in Brazil. Kuerten was admitted to the university after he finished his exam in fifth place among the Arts Major contenders. He is interested in writing screenplays and directing movies. He retired from tennis last year after struggling with a right hip injury.
Heilbronn: Karol Beck and Jaroslav Levinsky beat Benedikt Dorsch and Philipp Petzschner 7-6 (3) 7-5
SITES TO SURF
Vina del Mar: www.movistaropen.cl/
Fed Cup: www.fedcup.com
Costa Do Sauipe: www2.uol.com.br/tenisbrasil/brasilopen/
Pattaya City: www.pentangelepromotions.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$581,850 PBZ Zagreb Indoors, Zagreb, Croatia, hard
$500,000 SA Tennis Open, Johannesburg, South Africa, hard
$496,750 Movistar Open, Vina del Mar, Chile, clay
$137,704 KGHM Dialog Polish Indoor, Wroclaw, Poland, hard
Russia vs. China at Moscow, Russia
France vs. Italy at Orleans, France
United States vs. Argentina at Surprise, Arizona, USA
Czech Republic vs. Spain at Brno, Czech Republic
World Group 2
Slovak Republic vs. Belgium at Bratislava, Slovak Republic
Switzerland vs. Germany at Zurich, Switzerland
Serbia vs. Japan at Belgrade, Serbia
Ukraine vs. Israel at Kharkiv, Ukraine
Europe Zone Group 1
At Tallinn, Estonia
Austria, Belarus, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Great Britain, Hungary, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Sweden
American Zone Group 1
At Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Paraguay, Puerto Rico and Venezuela
Asia/Oceania Zone Group 1
At Perth, Australia
Australia, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Thailand, Uzbekistan, India, New Zealand and Korea
Asia/Oceana Zone Group 2
At Perth, Australia
Kazakhstan, Hong Kong China, Iran and Singapore
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$1,877,000 ABN AMRO World Tennis, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, hard
$600,000 SAP Open, San Jose, California, USA, hard
$562,500 Brasil Open, Costa Do Sauipe, Brazil, clay
$700,000 Open GDF Suez, Paris, France, carpet
$220,000 PTT Pattaya Women’s Open, Pattaya City, Thailand, hard