Caroline Wozniacki beat Elena Vesnina 6-2 6-4 to win the women’s singles at the Pilot Pen in New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Fernando Verdasco beat Sam Querrey 6-4 7-6 (6) to win the Pilot Pen men’s singles in New Haven
Tatjana Malek won the EmblemHealth Bronx Open, beating Kristina Barrois 6-1 6-4 in The Bronx, New York, USA
“Now it’s my time. It’s my turn to win some tournaments. I just feel I’ve had a great year. I’m so happy that it’s my name coming up a lot of times now.” – Caroline Wozniacki, after successfully defending her Pilot Pen Tennis women’s singles championship.
“I never got a chance to go back there to defend my title in 2006 because I was injured with my left wrist and then pregnant in 2007. So while this does feel like a new beginning, I am looking forward to walking through those gates again for the first time in four years.” – Kim Clijsters, who won the US Open in her last appearance at the year’s final Grand Slam tournament.
“I am number three in the world, and the number three in the world should have a chance to win, no?” – Rafael Nadal, on his chances to win the US Open.
“I have to take it as a positive that I will have more time to get ready for the Open. It’s been a really busy summer for me so I’ll just take advantage of these (early losses) and keep training and preparing for the Open.” – Venus Williams, talking about early exits from her last two tournaments.
“I’m recharged. I know I can play and move well and compete with the top players as good as I was, if not better. The US Open is my main goal.” – Jelena Jankovic.
“With every tournament I feel physically I’m getting better and getting a good sense of the court, but it’s still a work in progress. I’d like to forget I was gone for a long time but you have to put things in perspective.” – Maria Sharapova, noting her chances of winning the US Open this year are slim.
“This year I equaled my best result in Australia (last 16), did two rounds better than I ever did at the French (quarterfinals) and got further than I have done at Wimbledon (semifinals). So now the slam is the last thing I need to do. I believe that I can do it.” – Andy Murray, saying he’s one of the favorites to win the US Open.
“Andy’s not under the radar anymore and that’s probably a good thing. Now that the expectations are there I think he’s ready to handle it. He is definitely one of the six guys capable of winning.” – Brad Gilbert, speaking about Andy Roddick.
“One of the important things he has over everyone, and he has it more than any other player I’ve seen since (Jimmy) Connors, is his love for the sport. Real love. He loves to be out there, to be around tennis, everything about it.” – John McEnroe, talking about Roger Federer.
“I’ve never had a normal life, so I don’t know what a normal life means.” – Fabrice Santoro, who, playing in his 20th season on tour, will retire after the US Open.
“I just look to be prepared for the Open. This is my first important thing for me is to just get there and be prepared for a fight.” – Flavia Pennetta.
“I think I’ve learned, especially in the last year, that it’s a lot simpler than I realized, playing professional tennis. There are no secrets. You got to do what you do well and you have to bring that to the table every day.” – Rajeev Ram, who won his first ATP Tour title earlier this summer…
“I don’t think I am going to do anything special because it is my last Grand Slam. I am not planning it. But you never know what can happen. I know I am not going to win, there is no chance. So we will just see.” – Marat Safin, the 2000 US Open champion who will retire at the end of this year.
“For the next year or so I’m not going to put any pressure on myself. I just want to stay healthy and enjoy my tennis.” – Katarina Srebotnik, whose US Open appearance is her first tournament in 10 months because of injuries.
“She was just playing with me like a pussy cat, one corner to other corner. In the second set I started to be more aggressive and I started serving a lot better.” – Elena Vesnina, after her three-set semifinal win over Amelie Mauresmo in New Haven.
“I elected to go with disaster control and the high powder-puff. Everyone asks did you bounce it. I just threw it over the catcher.” – Andy Roddick, talking about throwing out the first pitch at a New York Yankees baseball game.
“I contemplated things like whether I would be able to accept myself for not being on the level that I was in my teens, twenties, and when I was 25; whether I would be able to accept losing, moreover be able to accept a losing streak. I did spend a lot of time contemplating about this. Yet, after I made my decision to be back on court again and challenge myself, I haven’t really thought about it.” – Kimiko Date Krumm, who returned to the WTA Tour after a 12-year retirement.
“It makes for something special. You sit in the players’ lounge and you wait. It doesn’t rain so often here so I don’t think they should change anything.” – Dinara Safina, saying she thinks something might be lost if a roof is installed over Arthur Ashe Stadium and there were no rain delays to sit though.
“I’ve peeked at the draw and seen where some of the qualifying spots are. I’d love to play a Federer or Nadal or a Roddick. We’ll see. I just want to play in there.” – Michael Yani, who at age 28 qualified for his first US Open, pointing at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Twice Andre Agassi closed out the US Open by winning the men’s singles. This year, he is the headliner on opening day, being honored for “giving back.” In 1994, the year he won his first US Open title, Agassi established the Andre Agassi Foundation, which is dedicated to transforming public education in Las Vegas, Nevada. As part of the Opening Night celebration, the USTA is recognizing the 40th anniversary of the National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL), which was founded in 1969 by Arthur Ashe, Charlie Pasarell and Sheridan Snyder as a network of community tennis organizations seeking to develop the character of young people through tennis and education. Besides Agassi, others honored on opening night include Mia Hamm, David Robinson and Doug Flutie.
Andre Agassi’s autobiography, “Open,” will be published in November. The eight-time Grand Slam singles champion writes about his start in tennis, his relationship with his father and his failed marriage to actress Brooke Shields.
SAM THE MAN
There could be a USD one million dollar payday in Sam Querrey’s future. By winning the US Open Series, the American has a chance to earn a bonus of between USD $15,000 and $1 million, according to how he finishes in the US Open. Querrey reached the final of the Pilot Pen in New Haven, Connecticut, before falling to Spain’s Fernando Verdasco 6-4 7-6 (8).
The US Open wants players and their entourages to be careful about what they post on the social networking site Twitter. Signs at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center warn that Twitter messages could violate the sport’s anti-corruption rules. The signs say tweeting is not allowed on court during matches and warns about using Twitter away from the court, saying information about players, weather, court conditions, status, outcome or any other aspect of an event could be determined as the passing of “inside information.” The warnings say they apply to players, coaches, agents, family members and tournament staff.
Because of tropical storm Denney, the semifinals of the Pilot Pen tournament in New Haven, Connecticut, were moved indoors. After waiting in vain most of Friday for the steady rain to cease, the women’s semis were switched from a 13,000-seat stadium to an indoor college court where only 300 fans were able to be squeezed into the building and leaned over a balcony that overlooked the court or stood on adjacent courts. There, Caroline Wozniacki beat Flavia Pennetta and Elena Vesnina downed Amelie Mauresmo. The men’s semis followed suit Saturday morning, with Sam Querrey stopping Jose Acasuso and Fernando Verdasco defeating Igor Andreev. Both finals were played outdoors late Saturday as the storm finally subsided and the hard courts were dried.
SITTING IT OUT
Dominika Cibulkova won’t be able to match her French Open performance at this year’s final Grand Slam tournament. The semifinalist at Roland Garros pulled out of the US Open because of a rib injury. Her withdrawal allowed Alberta Brianti of Italy to move into the main draw, while Agnes Szavay becomes the number 32 seeded player.
SORE BUT THERE
Several players are nursing injuries as they begin their US Open run. Marion Bartoli retired from her match at the Pilot Pen in New Haven, Connecticut, because of a left thigh strain. A hand injury forced Agnieszka Radwanska to retire before the third set of her match in New Haven. And Nikolay Davydenko needed a doctor to look at his right wrist midway through his quarterfinal final loss to Sam Querrey in the Pilot Pen men’s singles. Davydenko said his wrist became sore from the force of Querrey’s serves hitting his racquet. Sabine Lisicki, who has been sidelined with a shoulder injury, will play in the US Open.
India’s Sania Mirza received acupuncture treatment on her right wrist before heading to New York and the US Open. The 22-year-old underwent wrist surgery in April 2008, but the problem flared up again at the Beijing Olympics, forcing her to miss the last year’s US Open. She had reached the semifinals of a challenger event in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, when she again felt pain in her right wrist. So she flew home to Hyderabad, India, to get treatment. “I’m much better now, but not absolutely pain-free,” she said.
Katarina Srebotnik is making her comeback at the US Open. She was ranked as high as number 20 in the world in singles and number four in doubles, and had posted victories over Serena Williams at Roland Garros and Svetlana Kuznetsova at the US Open a year ago. But pain in her Achilles tendon and a shoulder injury forced her off the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour for 10 months. It’s called the luck of the draw, and for Srebotnik it’s bad luck. Her first-round opponent will be 13th-seeded Nadia Petrova.
Ivo Minar of the Czech Republic has denied deliberating taking a banned substance. The 25-year-old tested positive for a derivative of the banned stimulant pseudo ephedrine following a Davis Cup quarterfinal match against Argentina in July. “I have never consciously taken a banned substance,” said Minar, who is ranked 66th in the world. “This is why I rejected the accusation of doping in my reaction sent to the ITF.” Minar cited an injury when he withdrew from this year’s US Open.
SERENA, THE AUTHOR
Serena Williams says she is telling all in her autobiography, “Queen of the Court,” which is going on sale during the US Open. Serena says it was important for her to give an honest account of her life because she has not been as open as she should have been since the shooting death of her sister, Yetunde Price. She said that while she told the press injuries kept her from playing, she was also beset by depression because of a delayed reaction to Tunde’s death. Serena says three things got her out of her depression: seeing a therapist, going to Africa where she began a school, and winning the 2007 Australian Open over Maria Sharapova. “It opened up a lot of doors I left closed to the public and to myself,” Serena said of writing the book.
SENSITIVITY COURSE ALUMNI
Brydan Klein promises to be on his best behavior after completing a racial sensitivity course. The former Australian Open junior champion was banned for six months and fined USD $10,000 by the ATP after making a racial slur against a black South African player during a tournament in England in June. The 19-year-old Klein has a history of clashes with officials, having been suspended from the Australian Institute of Sport for repeated on-court misbehavior. Ranked 223rd in the world, Klein said he has apologized to fellow player Raven Klaasen for the slur. He also said he cannot afford to slip up again. “I’m definitely on my last warning,” he said. “This has been a step back for me and it hasn’t been a nice experience.”
John McEnroe has always been a big man in New York City, but this is ridiculous. A 100-foot high by 35-foot wide (30.48m by 15.24m) banner of McEnroe hangs on the side of Madison Square Garden promoting prostate cancer screening guidelines. McEnroe’s father was diagnosed with the illness in 2006 but is now doing well. Now 50 years old, the younger McEnroe says he knows many men his age are reluctant to get screened for cancer for the same reason they don’t like to ask for directions: they may view it as a sign of weakness.
Billie Jean King and actor Alec Baldwin will be the spokespeople for the expanded environmental initiatives at the National Tennis Center named in her honor. The two will join the United States Tennis Association (USTA) in encouraging US Open fans and others to help preserve the environment. Expanded 2009 initiatives will include a site-wide recycling effort placing more than 500 recycling receptacles across the 42 acres of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. There also will be on sale an exclusive organic t-shirt designed by two-time US Open champion Venus Williams.
Venus Williams has been named to the first Power List of O, the Oprah Magazine. Selecting “20 remarkable visionaries who are flexing their muscles in business and finance, politics and justice, science and the arts,” the magazine picked Venus Williams as “The Power of Female Strength.” Noting her Grand Slam and Olympics medals as well as her voice in the lobbying effort to win equal prize money for female players, the magazine said: “Both on and off the court, Venus Williams embodies a perfect marriage of power and grace. In the singular artistry of her play, we see that beauty and brawn aren’t mutually exclusive.”
The US Open logo – a flaming tennis ball – accounts for about 42 percent of all sales at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during the year’s final Grand Slam tournament. Sarah Cummins, the USTA’s managing director for merchandising, told Bloomberg News that clothing, hats and other gear bearing the US Open logo brought in almost USD $14 million during the two-week tournament last year.
When James Blake debuts his new Fila line of clothes at the US Open, he will be thinking about his father. The logo on Blake’s new clothing is “TR,” and the line is called Thomas Reynolds, the first and middle names of his late father, who died in 2004. Fila will help capture the lessons instilled in James by his father through print ads and through hang tags on the line. While Blake will be wearing the clothes on a tennis court, there are plans for the Thomas Reynolds brand to be on golf, fitness and leisurewear as well. “I wanted to be part of something that wouldn’t necessarily have to always be tied to me and be more about the spirit that father embodied,” Blake said.
Following her third hip surgery, Jamea Jackson is retiring from the women’s tour and will become assistant tennis coach at Oklahoma State University. The 22-year-old from Lafayette, Louisiana, USA, will also be a student at OSU. Jackson was a member of the United States Fed Cup team.
STANDING FOR OFFICE
John Alexander’s new game is politics. The former tennis player and commentator has joined the Liberal Party and is running for a seat in the Australian parliament. Alexander is an advocate for preventive health and believes the decline of public tennis courts and other facilities in Australia has contributed to childhood obesity and health problems. He said he joined the Liberal Party at the invitation of a friend, who told him he would be more effective in securing change by trying to be part of a government. Ranked as high as eighth in the world, Alexander was the youngest player to represent Australia in Davis Cup. He played Davis Cup from 1968 to 1980 and has been captain of Australia’s Fed Cup team.
The US National Championships, known since 1968 as the US Open Tennis Championships, is the second oldest of the four Grand Slam tournaments and is the only one to have been played each year since its inception in 1881. This is the 129th version of America’s premier tennis event and has been played on three different surfaces: grass, clay and hard court. The tournament has been held on hard court at Flushing Meadows since moving from Forest Hills in 1978. The only major sporting event in the United States older than the US Open is the Kentucky Derby, which began in 1875.
New Haven (men): Julian Knowle and Jurgen Melzer beat Bruno Soares and Kevin Ullyett 6-4 7-6 (3)
New Haven (women): Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez beat Iveta Benesova and Lucie Hradecka 6-2 7-5
The Bronx: Anna-Lena Groenfeld and Vania King beat Julie Coin and Marie-Eve Pelletier 6-0, 6-3
SITES TO SURF
US Open: www.usopen.org
Kim Clijsters: www.kimclijsters.be/
Roger Federer: www.rogerfederer.com/en/index.cfm
Rafael Nadal: www.rafaelnadal.com/nada/en/home
Serena Williams: www.serenawilliams.com/
Venus Williams: www.venuswilliams.com/
Andy Roddick: www.andyroddick.com
Andre Agassi Foundation: www.agassiopen.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
ATP and WTA
US Open (first week), New York, New York, USA, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
ATP and WTA
US Open (second week), New York, New York, USA, hard
$120,000 Genoa Open Challenger, Genoa, Italy, clay
Men’s singles: Roger Federer beat Andy Roddick 5-7 7-6 (6) 7-6 (5) 3-6 16-14
Women’s singles: Serena Williams beat Venus Williams 7-6 (3) 6-2
Men’s doubles: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 7-6 (7) 6-7 (3) 7-6 (3) 6-3
Women’s doubles: Venus and Serena Williams beat Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs 7-6 (4) 6-4
Mixed doubles: Mark Knowles and Anna-Lena Groenefeld beat Leander Paes and Cara Black 7-5 6-3
Boys’ singles: Andrev Kuznetsov beat Jordan Cox 4-6 6-2 6-2
Girls’ singles: Noppawan Lertcheenakarn beat Kristina Mladenovic 3-6 6-3 6-1
Boys’ doubles: Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Kevin Krawietz beat Julien Obry and Adrian Puget 6-7(3), 6-2, 12-10.
Girls’ doubles: Noppawan Lertcheewakarn and Sally Peers beat Kristina Mladenovic and Silvia Njiric 6-1 6-1
Wheelchair women’s doubles: Korie Homan and Esther Vergeer beat Daniela Di Toro and Lucy Shuker 6-1 6-3
Wheelchair men’s doubles: Stephane Houdet and Michael Jeremiasz beat Robin Ammerlaan and Shingo Kunieda 1-6 6-4 7-3 (match tiebreak)
Oscar Hernandez beat Tiemurax Gabashvili to win the Nord/LP Open in Braunschweig, Germany
Potito Starace beat Maximo Gonzalez 7-6 (4) 6-3 to win the Trofeo Regione Piemonte in Turin, Italy
Polona Hercog beat Varvara Lepchonko 6-1 6-2 to win the Cuneo ITF Tournament in Cuneo, Italy
“It’s not really one of those goals you set as a little boy, but, man, it’s been quite a career. And quite a month.” – Roger Federer, who won his sixth Wimbledon title, and 15th Grand Slam tournament crown, just four weeks after capturing his first French Open title.
“He’s a legend. Now he’s an icon.” – Pete Sampras, talking about Roger Federer after the Swiss star broke Sampras’ Grand Slam tournament victory record of 14 titles.
“Sorry, Pete, I tried to hold him off.” – Losing finalist Andy Roddick, apologizing to compatriot Pete Sampras.
“I’d rather definitely be number two and hold three Grand Slams in the past year than be number one and not have any. I don’t know what to do to be number one. I don’t even care anymore.” – Serena Williams, who won Wimbledon to go along with her 2009 Australian Open and 2008 US Open titles, yet is ranked number two in the world.
“Do I feel invincible? I’d like to say yes, but I really do work at it.” – Venus Williams, after winning her semifinal but before losing the title match to her sister Serena.
“I think I will beat him in a marathon easy.” – Robin Soderling, on meeting Roger Federer in another sport after losing to the Swiss star for the 11th straight time.
“Oh, it is only because he is better than everybody else. That’s it.” – Ivo Karlovic, when asked about Roger Federer’s secret for success.
“I don’t play to break records but it’s great to have them.” – Roger Federer.
“It’s a wonderful achievement. She’s played so well so many times. You know, a lot of the times actually at my expense.” – Venus Williams, on her sister Serena winning an 11th Grand Slam tournament title by beating Venus in the final.
“There’s no easy [way] to losing, especially when it’s so close to the crown. Either way, it’s not easy. ” – Venus Williams.
“One of the first things I noticed was our name on the board, on the big plaque. Now we get it twice. It’s obviously going to be special to come back next year and see that.” – Daniel Nestor, after teaming with Nenad Zimonjic to win their second straight Wimbledon men’s doubles title.
“It’s a game of inches and when you’re playing two guys who are serving close to 130 (mph), and you’re not getting a lot of sniffs on your return, it’s a dice roll. They were the better team today and I have to give them a lot of credit.” – Bob Bryan, on losing the men’s doubles final.
“I was Santa Claus on the court, serving so many double-faults.” – Dinara Safina, after overcoming 15 double-faults to beat Sabine Lisicki in the quarterfinals.
“I wasn’t sure if it’s Serena or Andy Roddick on the other side of the net, 125 mph all the time.” Elena Dementieva, on Serena Williams’ big serves in their semifinal match.
“Venus played as if she had some place to go and she was in a major league hurry to get a great dinner.” – Father Richard Williams, on Venus’ 51-minutes semifinal victory over Dinara Safina.
“I think she gave me a pretty good lesson today.” – Dinara Safina, after losing to Venus Williams in 51 minutes.
“I’m still scared of Serena Williams. I find her very intimidating.” – Laura Robson, a 15-year-old from Britain, talking about the ladies’ locker room at Wimbledon.
“Roof! Roof! Roof!” –Centre Court crowd chanting as the new retractable roof was closed for the first time when a light sprinkle interrupted play.
He had to work overtime to do it, but Roger Federer became the first man in history to win 15 Grand Slam tournament singles titles. His record-breaking 15th was the longest men’s Grand Slam final in history at 77 games as Federer outlasted Andy Roddick 5-7 7-6 (6) 7-6 (5) 3-6 16-14. The previous record was 71 games in the 1927 Australian Championships, while the previous Wimbledon mark was 62 games last year when Rafael Nadal beat Federer. The Federer-Roddick battle also was the longest fifth set in a men’s Grand Slam tournament final, breaking the old mark of 11-9 set in 1927 at Roland Garros. Federer served 50 aces, the most he has served in a match and only one behind Ivo Karlovic’s Wimbledon record of 51 aces. Federer’s previous best was 39 aces when he beat Janko Tipsarevic at the Australian Open in 2008.
SISTERS DOING IT
Sisters Serena and Venus Williams tried to take home all of the hardware from Wimbledon. Serena beat Venus in the women’s final, snapping the older sister’s two-year reign at Wimbledon. The two then teamed up to win the women’s doubles for the second time.
Ana Ivanovic will rest for at least a week after she suffered a slight tear in her left thigh during her fourth-round match at Wimbledon. The 2008 French Open champion left the court in tears after the first game of the second set against Venus Williams, who won the first set 6-1. Ivanovic is not scheduled to play again until August 3.
SHUT MY TOP
It took a brief shower, but Wimbledon showed off its new roof. With the crowd shouting “Roof! Roof! Roof!,” the retractable roof over Centre Court was closed for the first time on the second Monday of the tournament. The light sprinkle had halted play during he second set of a match between top-ranked Dinara Safina and 2006 Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo. By the time the roof was closed and the match resumed, the rain had stopped. But officials decided to keep the roof shut for the final match of the evening, Andy Murray beating Stanislas Wawrinka in a five-set match that ended at 10:39 p.m., more than an hour later than the previous record. Wimbledon joins the Australian Open as the only two Grand Slam tournaments with roofs. The Australian Open has roofs over its two main courts and plans to cover a third. The French Open plans on having a roof over its center court by 2011, while the US Open is looking into the possibility of covering a court.
Twenty-eight staff members at Wimbledon were asked to stay at home because they were suspected of having swine flu. Two players – Michal Mertinak and Filip Polasek – also showed symptoms of the world-wide ailment. Mertinak withdrew from the second round of the mixed doubles because he was not feeling well. The two players were sharing a hotel room in London. All England Club spokesman Henry O’Grady said that despite the precautions, no one at Wimbledon is known to have swine flu.
India’s Prakash Amritraj and Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi hope their recent play will allow them to form a full-time doubles partnership. In only their third tournament together, Amritraj and Qureshi reached the third round before falling to the fourth-seeded team of Mark Knowles and Mahesh Bhupathi 6-4 5-7 7-6 (3) 6-0. “I’m glad we had these two weeks as a team,” Amritraj said. “I think we should take this partnership forward and we’re definitely a team to be reckoned with.”
Women’s tennis is returning to New York’s Madison Square Garden, if only for one night. Four top players will compete March 1 in the second Billie Jean King Cup featuring no-ad scoring, a one-set semifinal and best-of-three final. Serena Williams won the inaugural event earlier this year, besting her sister Venus in the final. The 2008 field also included Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic. This year’s four Grand Slam tournament winners will be invited to participate in next year’s tournament. Serena has won the Australian Open and Wimbledon, while Svetlana Kuznetsova captured the French Open.
Rafael Nadal won’t be there when Spain’s Davis Cup takes on Germany in a World Group quarterfinal. Nadal, who has been struggling with tendinitis in his knees, was left off the Spanish team, just as he was for last year’s final, which Spain won by defeating Argentina. Spanish captain Albert Costa has named Fernando Verdasco, Tommy Robredo, David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez for the tie that will be played on clay in Marbella, Spain, later this week.
Wimbledon quarterfinalist Ivo Karlovic and Marin Cilic will lead Croatia’s Davis C up team against the United States. Croatia, which won the Davis Cup in 2005, will stage the tie on an indoor clay court in Porec, Croatia. Led by Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick, the American team includes James Black and brothers Bob and Mike Bryan, marking the 12th time in the last 13 Davis Cup contests that the same quartet of players will be together. Croatia has beaten the United States twice in Davis Cup competition.
Andre Agassi will play World Team Tennis this summer for the Philadelphia Freedoms. He will play at home on July 10 against the Boston Lobsters and at Newport Beach, California, on July 17. While Agassi played World Team Tennis before – for the Sacramento Capitals from 2002-04 – there will be two veterans stars making their WTT debuts. Michael Chang will play for the Capitals, while Kim Clijsters will suit up for two matches with the St. Louis Aces. Clijsters plans to return to the WTA Tour after a two-year retirement. Other stars playing this season include Serena Williams (Washington, DC), Venus Williams (Philadelphia), Maria Sharapova (Newport Beach), Martina Navratilova (Boston) and John McEnroe (New York). WTT is getting a boost this summer from its new partnership with the United States Tennis Association and a new team in New York City. The USTA has become a 25 percent owner of the league in an effort to expand the USTA Junior Team Tennis program.
The Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Award will be awarded by the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum (ITHFM) to Tennis Channel for its ongoing contributions to tennis. The award will be given at the 28th annual “Legends Ball” on Friday, September 11, in New York City. The special night will also honor a host of tennis luminaries, including Rod Laver, who will receive a special Life Trustee Award, and the Hall of Fame Induction Class of 2009: Donald Dell, Andres Gimeno, the late Dr. Robert Johnson and Monica Seles. The Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Award was created in honor of an individual whose passion and generosity for the game of tennis inspired others to contribute to the advancement of the sport. Cullman served as president and chairman of the ITHFM from 1982-88. Previous winners of the award include BNP Paribas, Rolex and Sony Ericsson. Tennis Channel will be covering its first US Open this year. The network also covers Wimbledon, the French Open and Australia Open in high definition, as well as the US Open Series, Davis Cup, ATP Masters series, fEd Cup and top-tier Sony Ericsson WTA Tour championship competitions.
SITTING IT OUT
Anna Kournikova won’t be playing World Team Tennis this season. The Russian star has been sidelined with a wrist injury. A WTT spokesperson said Kournikova made her decision after experiencing pain from tenosvnovitis while practicing for what would have been her seventh season with the league. The St. Louis Aces player has not responded to therapy or a series of cortisone shots. But while she’s unable to play, Kournikova plans to travel with her team to matches in Philadelphia, Washington DC, Springfield and St. Louis.
Braunschweig: Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer beat Brian Dabul and Nicolas Massau 7-6 (2) 6-4
Turin: Daniele Bracciali and Potito Starace beat Santiago Giraldo and Pere Riba 6-3 6-4
Cuneo: Akgul Amanmuradova and Darya Kustova beat Petra Cetkovska and Mathilde Johansson 5-7 6-1 10-7 (match tiebreak)
SITES TO SURF
Davis Cup: www.daviscup.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$500,000 Campbell’s Hall of Fame Championships, Newport, Rhode Island, USA, grass
$100,000 Open Diputacion Ciudad de Pozoblanco, Pozoblanco, Cordoba, Spain, clay
$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
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
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$600,000 Catella Swedish Open, Bastad, Sweden, clay
$600,000 Mercedes Cup, Stuttgart, Germany, clay
$125,000 Bogota, Columbia, clay
$220,000 Internazionali Femminili di Tennis di Palermo, Palermo, Italy, clay
$220,000 ECM Prague Open, Prague, Czech Republic, clay
It was an historic day at Wimbledon Monday when the $225 million retractable roof was used for the first time, when it was closed for the conclusion of the women’s round of 16 match between No. 1 seed Dinara Safina and 2006 Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo. The roof stayed closed for Andy Murray’s “roof-raising” five-set, fourth-round win over Stan Wawrinka. Because the closed roof also features lights, Murray’s win also created history at SW19 as the first “night” match at The Championships and as the latest finishing match in the history of the tournament with an official 10:39 pm finish.
As for additional Wimbledon history on June 29, the following are events that will go along with Safina and Murray’s matches, as excerpted from the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.tennishistorybook.com). Excerpts from June 30 are also featured below.
1984 – Jimmy Connors wins his 65th men’s singles match at Wimbledon, breaking the men’s record set by Arthur W. Gore, defeating Marty Davis 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-4 in the third round. Says Connors, “It’s an honor to have won more matches at Wimbledon than any other male, but I play to win tournaments, not matches. Maybe if I’d won three more matches, I’d have won this tournament a lot more. For me, tennis is geared around two tournaments, the U.S. Open and Wimbledon. When I leave here, I go out preparing to win the next year.”
1991 – Twenty-nine-year-old Nick Brown of Great Britain scores a big upset at Wimbledon, beating 10th-seeded Goran Ivanisevic 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 in the second round. Brown, ranked No. 591 and the lowest-ranked player in the men’s championship, posts the biggest upset, based on comparative rankings, since the ATP began compiling world rankings in 1973.
1994 – Martina Navratilova sets a Wimbledon record, playing her 266th career match as she passes Billie Jean King’s record of 265 when she and Manon Bollegraf beat Ingelisa Driehuis and Maja Muric 6-4, 6-2 in the quarterfinals of women’s doubles.
1988 – In a match featuring the Wimbledon men’s singles champions from the previous three years, 1985 and 1986 Wimbledon champion Boris Becker defeats defending champion Pat Cash 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in the men’s quarterfinals. ”I watched on television and it hurt when Cash won,” Becker says of watching Cash win the 1987 title. ”My life changed after that Wimbledon. I realized I am a human being who plays tennis and that I’m beatable, and in the back of my mind, I thought that he was the one to beat to get the title back. But it is not over. This match has given me confidence but not the trophy yet.” Mats Wilander’s bid for a Grand Slam is ended as the Australian and French and Australian Open champion is defeated by Miloslav Mecir 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 in the quarterfinals. ”After the match, I was very disappointed,” Wilander says. ”I have been thinking of the Grand Slam a little bit. But I am going to get over that in a few days. I don’t think you can expect yourself to win the Slam.” Ros Fairbank nearly ends Martina Navratilova’s six-year grapple-hold on the Wimbledon women’s singles championship as she lets 4-2 leads in the second and third set slip away in a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 loss in the quarterfinals. Says Navratilova, “Several times today. I thought I was going to lose the match. I thought, ‘What a way to go. On Court 14, to Ros Fairbank, in the quarterfinals.” Says Fairbank, ”I thought about ending Martina’s streak all the time. Maybe that was my problem.”
1977 – Thirty-one-year-old Virginia Wade stuns No. 1 seed Chris Evert 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 to become the first British woman to reach the Wimbledon women’s singles final since Ann Jones won the title in 1969. An all-British Wimbledon final, however, is dashed by Holland’s Betty Stove, 32, who defeats Britain’s Sue Barker 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in the other women’s semifinal. Says Evert, “Virginia played more patiently than I did. I could see in her eyes how much she wanted to win. I just couldn’t reach deep down inside myself for what I need to win. I didn’t have it.”
1946 – Frank Parker wins the first 16 games of the match and defeats Rolando Vega 6-0, 6-0, 6-2 to help the United States to a 2-0 lead over Mexico in the Davis Cup second round in Orange, N.J. Parker, a two-time U.S. singles winner, had registered one of the three “triple bagels” in U.S. Davis Cup history in the previous round, defeating Felicisimo Ampon of the Phillippines 6-0, 6-0, 6-0 on June 14.
1977 – Bjorn Borg and Vitas Gerulaitis stage one of the great Wimbledon semifinals in the history of the event, with Borg edging out his good friend and practice partner by a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 8-6 margin. Playing as the first qualifier and youngest man in a Wimbledon semifinal, 18-year-old John McEnroe is defeated by No. 1 seed Jimmy Connors 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in McEnroe’s first major singles semifinal. Says Gerulaitis of the loss, “Maybe a couple of years ago I would have been happy just to play a match like that. But today I really wanted to win and get into the final. I didn’t let anything upset me. I had one intention and that was to win the match.”
1991 – For the first time in the 114-year history of Wimbledon, play is contested on the middle Sunday of The Championships, due to excessive rain the plagues the first week of the tournament. The tournament opens all of its seats to fans on a first come, first serve basis that creates a “People’s Sunday” as avid tennis fans, who normally do not have access to the prestigious and elite tickets, are allowed to enjoy the tennis – and do so in a carnival type atmosphere of singing, chanting, cheering and standing ovations. Derrick Rostagno and Jimmy Connors play their third round on Centre Court in front of a raucously appreciative crowd, as Rostagno follows up his second-round win over Pete Sampras by beating Connors 7-6, 6-1, 6-4, in Connors’ 101st match at Wimbledon. The most exciting match of the day comes when No. 3 seed Ivan Lendl comes from two-sets down to defeat Mal Washington 4-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in the second round.
1979 – No. 2 seed John McEnroe falls victim to Wimbledon’s infamous Graveyard Court No. 2 and No. 16 seed Tim Gullikson as the 20-year-old is defeated by Gullikson 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 in the round of 16. Says Gullikson of McEnroe, “He’s not playing nearly as well as he was. He’s not serving as well, and the whole match — just looking across the net at him all the time — he really seemed like he was unsettled. It just seemed like there were a lot of things on his mind. Maybe it’s the tremendous pressure that’s been put on him. He’s been kind of labeled as a bad boy, which he really isn’t. He’s only 20 years old, and really everybody thought he was going to win Wimbledon this year. That’s a lot of pressure on anybody, and you can’t play well all the time. There are a lot of good players out there.”
1987 – In one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the sports, Jimmy Connors trails Mikael Pernfors 6-1, 6-1, 4-1, but incredibly rallies to a 1-6, 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 round of 16 victory in 3 hours, 39 minutes.Writes Peter Alfano of the New York Times. “Connors added another page in a career that has required several volumes. The complete works of Jimmy Connors will now include what Wimbledon sages are saying was one of the more memorable matches in history, a comeback the equal of any staged here during Wimbledon’s 101 years.“ Says Connors, “I don’t think I’m surprised I won. I think I can still play. I didn’t have time to be embarrassed today. I was too busy trying to do something to win. If I didn’t want to win, I’d just lose, 6-1, 6-1, 6-1, and get off there.”
1988 – Controversy strikes the 78th meeting between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova as Evert’s cross-court forehand clips the top of the net and apparently lands on the line, only to be called out by the linesman, giving the 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 victory to Navratilova, advancing her into the Wimbledon final. After fighting off a match point in the 10th game of the final set, Evert faces triple-match point serving at 5-6 in the final set. Evert is able to fight off the first two match points, before her controversial missed forehand on the third match point. Says Evert, “But I was sure it was good and I was so happy that I just turned and walked back to the baseline. Then, I turned again and saw Martina with her hand out. I put two and two together and figured the ball was called out…Maybe it was a mixture of me hoping and seeing what I wanted to see. The umpire will rarely overrule on that kind of call. It was bad luck for me considering the match was so close.” Says Navratilova, “I cannot say that it was good or that it was out and there was nothing that I could do about it. It’s a shame it had to be like that because now, there will always be doubts in people’s minds. But we’ve never had a stranger ending in one of our matches than that.”
1983 – Thirty-nine-year-old Billie Jean King suffers her worst defeat in 110 Wimbledon singles matches as she is defeated 6-1, 6-1 in 56 minutes by 18-year-old Andrea Jaeger in the women’s singles semifinals. “She just cleaned my clock,” says King. In the other women’s semifinal, Martina Navratilova needs only 36 minutes to defeat Yvonne Vermaak of South Africa by the same 6-1, 6-1 score.
1982 –Thirty-eight-year-old Billie Jean King defeats Tracy Austin 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 for the first time in her career to advance to the semifinals of Wimbledon for a 13th time in her career. King’s achievement makes her the oldest Wimbledon women’s semifinalist since Dorthea Lambert Chambers reaches the last four in 1920 at 42.
1984 – Boris Becker’s first Wimbledon ends in injury as the 16-year-old upstart retires with torn ligaments in his left ankle in the fourth set of his match with Bill Scanlon. Becker returns to Wimbledon the next year and becomes the youngest men’s singles champion in the event’s history.
1987 – Thirty-five-year-old Jimmy Connors reaches the Wimbledon semifinal for an 11th time in his career with a 7-6, 7-5, 6-3 quarterfinal win over Slobodan Zivojinovic of Yugoslavia.
2003 – Mark Philippoussis fires 46 aces to defeat Andre Agassi 6-3, 2-6, 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-4 in the round of 16 of Wimbledon.
Caroline Wozniacki beat Virginie Razzano 7-6 (5) 7-5 to win the AEGON International women’s singles in Eastbourne, Great Britain
Dmitry Tursunov beat Frank Dancovic 6-3 7-6 (5) to win the AEGON International men’s singles in Eastbourne
Tamarine Tanasugarn beat Yanina Wickmayer 6-3 7-5 to successfully defend her Ordina Open women’s crown in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
Benjamin Becker beat Raemon Sluiter 7-5 6-3 to win the Ordina Open men’s singles in ‘s-Hertogenbosch
“When I start a tournament like Wimbledon, it is to try to win, and my feeling right now is I’m not ready to play to win.” – Rafael Nadal, withdrawing from Wimbledon and becoming only the fourth man in the Open Era to not defend his Wimbledon singles title.
“I love playing here.” – Tamarine Tanasugarn, after winning her second straight Ordina Open singles title at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands.
“That loss exhausted me mentally. I am still trying to recover.” – Novak Djokovic, on his three-set, four-hour loss to Rafael Nadal in Madrid, Spain, in mid-May.
“No girl likes to be compared to another. Ultimately, what we have in common is that we play tennis. I feel flattered that people like the way I look, but it doesn’t help you win points.” – Ana Ivanovic, who is constantly being compared to Maria Sharapova and Anna Kournikova.
“For me Roger is the greatest player ever who played the tennis game. It’s always good to see him play and win and we are going to see so much more of Federer in the future, he is going to win more grand slam tournaments.” – Bjorn Borg, picking Federer to win Wimbledon this year.
“The body of work is phenomenal and now he has got that French Open and I think he can just go on and sip Margaritas for the rest of his life.” – Martina Navratilova, on Roger Federer winning in Paris.
“I can play on grass. I just need time.” – Jelena Jankovic, after losing a first-round match at Eastbourne.
“It’s my first title on grass so that means a lot to me. I wish I could have closed it off a little bit earlier but it doesn’t matter how I won, so that is the main thing and I am happy.” – Caroline Wozniacki, after winning at Eastbourne.
“I am definitely going to try to come out, unless I am going to be on crutches. Even then I will try to come out.” – Dmitry Tursunov, on whether his ankle injury will prevent him from playing Wimbledon.
“On this surface, everything is opposite. For me, it’s too much to change in three days.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, losing her first match on grass after winning the French Open, a clay court tournament.
“It’s been a very surprising week for us because before this tournament we had only won four matches in our whole career on grass. So we’ve managed to double that this week.” – Marcin Matkowski, after teaming with Mariusz Fyrstenberg to win the men’s doubles at Eastbourne.
“We managed to beat the number one seeds and French Open champions in the first round, and then we played better and better as the week progressed.” – Mariusz Fyrstenberg.
“It’s Ralph Lauren, it has a bit of a tuxedo feel but it’s flattering. I’m having a good time with it.” – Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, about the outfit she wore to a pre-Wimbledon player party.
Because of his aching knees, Rafael Nadal became just the fourth player in the Open Era to not defend his Wimbledon singles title. Nadal announced his withdrawal after playing two exhibition matches on grass. He lost both, the first to Lleyton Hewitt, the second to Stanislas Wawrinka. “I didn’t feel terrible, but not close to my best,” the Spaniard said. “I’m just not 100 percent. I’m better than I was a couple of weeks ago, but I just don’t feel ready.” Nadal joins John Newcombe (1972), Stan Smith (1973) and Goran Ivanisevic (2002) as the only players who did not defend their Wimbledon titles in the Open Era; in 1973, Smith joined a player’s boycott against the tennis establishment. Nadal has complained about his knees since a fourth-round loss to Robin Soderling at the French Open on May 31 ended his streak of four consecutive championships at Roland Garros. “It’s not chronic,” Nadal said of his knee problems. “I can recover, for sure.”
Frenchman Gael Monfils pulled out of Wimbledon because of a wrist injury. A week earlier, he had pulled out of his scheduled match against Steve Darcis at Queen’s Club.
Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus has withdrawn from Wimbledon due to a knee injury. An Australian Open finalist in 2006, Baghdatis was carried off the court on a stretcher for the second time in nine months after injuring his knee during a match at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. He also was carried off the court on a stretcher last fall at the Open de Moselle in Metz, France, when he hurt his back.
SPOT ON TOP OPEN?
Roger Federer could reclaim the number one ranking by winning his sixth Wimbledon title. The Swiss star held the top spot in the rankings for a record 237 consecutive weeks until Rafael Nadal pushed him down to number two last August. Nadal has withdrawn from Wimbledon because of his injured knees. But anything short of a sixth Wimbledon title won’t be enough for Federer, who could actually be passed in the rankings by Andy Murray. If he became the first Brit to win the men’s singles since Fred Perry in 1936, Murray would move up to number two in the rankings behind Nadal, but no higher.
Ivan 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 dropped his racquet and ran to the court-side freezer to get bags of ice, which he then applied to Ljubicic’s ankle while officials summoned the trainer. Ljubicic had won the first set 6-3 but was 2-4 down when he fell.
Marion Bartoli is still in the Wimbledon women’s singles despite suffering a leg injury in the semifinals at the AEGON International tournament in Eastbourne. Bartoli had lost the first set to Virginie Razzano when she asked for a trainer. Her thigh was treated and strapped, but, after losing the first game of the second set to love, she retired from the match.
Although he lost the title match, Raemon Sluiter made history by becoming the lowest-ranked player to reach an ATP World Tour final. Ranked number 866 in the world, Sluiter gained entry into the grass-court tournament in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, via a wild card. It was the fourth final for the Dutchman in his career, all coming on his home soil. And when he fell to Germany’s Benjamin Becker 7-5 6-3, Sluiter still was left seeking his first ATP World Tour title. Becker was only the second qualifier to reach a final this season and the first qualifier to win the Ordina Open.
There’s something about Tamarine Tanasugarn when she plays the Ordina Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. Just ask top-ranked Dinara Safina. Tanasugarn upset Safina for the second straight year at the grass-court warm-up to Wimbledon. A year ago the veteran Thai player beat Safina in the final. This year, the 32-year-old Tanasugarn stopped Safina in the semis 7-5 7-5 before beating 19-year-old Yanina Wickmayer 6-3 7-5 to retain her championship.
Aces, a one-hour radio show dedicated to tennis, has begun broadcasting in Toronto, Canada, and on the Internet just in time for Wimbledon. Listeners in t4he Toronto area can tune into FAN 590 AM on the radio, while tennis fans around the world can listen online at www.fan590.com. Rogie Lajoie and Olympic tennis broadcaster Michael Cvitkovic will host Aces, which began by interviewing 10-time Grand Slam tournament singles champion Serena Williams, Sony Ericsson WTA Tour president Stacey Allaster and Toronto Globe and Mail tennis columnist Tom Tebbutt. Aces is currently scheduled for broadcast August 6 and 13.
STARS SHINE IN LONDON
The Ralph Lauren presents the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Pre-Wimbledon Player Party brought out the stars, and not just the tennis variety. Among the players in attendance at the Kensington Roof Gardens were Venus and Serena Williams, Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Vera Zvonareva, Ana Ivanovic, Anne Keothavong, Jelena Jankovic, Victoria Azarenka, Dominika Cibulkova, Alize Cornet, Anna Chakvetadze, Alisa Kleybanova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Sabine Lisicki and Gisela Dulko. Besides the host, Sir Richard Branson, other celebrities in attendance included Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child fame, as well as Branson’s son, Sam Branson. There was even a royal presence, with Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, attending with her two daughters, the Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.
Three former champions, including two-time defending king Fabrice Santoro, will compete in this year’s Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island, USA. Also in the field will be Robby Ginepri, the 2003 winner, and 2002 champion Taylor Dent. The ATP World Tour event is the only professional grass-court tournament played in the United States and begins the day after the Wimbledon men’s final.
Stefan Edberg, Jim Courier and Michael Chang, three former champions of the LA Tennis Open, will play in featured legends matches at the 83rd annual Los Angeles tournament that begins July 27. Edberg won a gold medal during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics on the same UCLA courts that now stage the LA Tennis Open. He also won the tournament in 1990. Chang captured titles in 1996 and 2000, while Courier won in 1997.
Brydan Klein of Australia has been fined USD $13,920 and suspended by Tennis Australia for using a racial slur against his South African opponent, Raven Klaasan, during their qualifying match at the AEGON International in Eastbourne, Great Britain. The ATP tour said in a statement that the 19-year-old Klein has been given the maximum penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and added that it is carrying out a fuller investigation which could result in an additional penalty for aggravated behavior. Tennis Australia said it has suspended Klein from the Australian Institute of Sport Pro Tour Program and could impose further sanctions after an investigation. Klein, the 2007 Australian Open junior champion, called Klaasan a “kaffir” and spat in the direction of Klaasan’s coach and another South African player. Use of the term “kaffir” is illegal in South Africa and is regarded as a gross racial insult, especially to black South Africans. Klassen is one of South Africa’s few black players and has represented his country in Davis Cup. Klein beat Klassen 6-7 (2) 7-6 (3) 7-6 (4) before losing in the second round of the main draw to Janko Tipsarevic.
Bjorn Borg won five consecutive Wimbledons. Now he’s trying to pick the men’s singles champion at Wimbledon for the second straight year. A year ago, Borg picked Rafael Nadal to win the grass-court major, which the Spaniard did. This year, Borg is picking Roger Federer. And he did it before Nadal withdrew from the tournament. “Coming into Wimbledon I think he is relieved in a way that he won Paris, because that was one of his main ambitions, goals to try and win Paris,” said Borg. “So coming into Wimbledon he feels very confident, he has equaled (Pete) Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slams.”
SEEKING HEAVIER PENALTY
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is considering an appeal from India, which is seeking a heavier penalty against Australia for forfeiting last month’s Davis Cup competition. The ITF said the appeal from the All India Tennis Association (AITA) will be discussed at a board meeting on July 15. Australia was fined USD $10,000 after refusing to travel to Chennai, India, for the zonal tie for safety reasons, but the ITF’s Davis Cup Committee decided not to ban Australia from the 2010 competition. India also wants the ITF to rule that the next two ties between the two nations should be played in India. Security for sports teams in the sub-continent had been questioned after the Sri Lanka cricket team’s bus was ambushed in Lahore, Pakistan, in March. That followed militant attacks in Mumbai, India, last November that killed 166 people.
The global credit crunch hasn’t affected Wimbledon. The 2,500 Centre Court debentures that were offered last month were snapped up at USD $43,830 each. Each debenture holder will receive one Centre Court ticket for every day of the two-week long Championships from 2011 through 2015. “We were heavily over-subscribed,” said All England Club chief executive Ian Ritchie. “We were very pleasantly delighted with the response. With a new roof over Centre Court, play is guaranteed there regardless of the weather.
It is a tournament Amelie Mauresmo would just as soon forget. The former Wimbledon champion squandered five set points in each tiebreak as she lost a quarterfinal match to Ekaterina Makarova 7-6 (8) 7-6 (13) at the Eastbourne International. “It was a very cruel match,” said Mauresmo, who received a warning from the umpire when she vented her frustration by hitting a ball high over a line of trees and into the street. “This one wasn’t for me, I guess.”
SET FOR WIMBLEDON
Could it be that Andy Murray is hoping his clothes will help him duplicate Fred Perry’s success at Wimbledon? Murray will play in a retro outfit at this year’s grass court Grand Slam tournament. The new clothes were designed specifically for Wimbledon by clothing maker Fred Perry. The company said the clothes were inspired by the shirts that Perry designed for clients and friends such as John F. Kennedy and Billie Jean King. Perry, who died in 1995, was the last Briton to win at Wimbledon, capturing three consecutive titles in 1934-36 and completing a career Grand Slam by winning the French Open in 1935. A week ago, Murray became the first Briton to win the grass-court tournament at Queen’s Club since Bunny Austin in 1938.
It is no surprise that Italy has decided to play November’s Fed Cup final against the United States on clay courts in Reggio Calabria, a city on the southern tip of Italy’s boot-shaped outline. The outdoor event will be held at the Rocco Polimeni club on November 7-8. Even on clay, the Americans are favorites since both Venus and Serena Williams said they hope to play in the final after missing the previous rounds.
SKIPPING DAVIS CUP
When Russia takes on Israel in a Davis Cup quarterfinal next month, Russia’s top player, Nikolay Davydenko, will be missing. Russian team captain Shamil Tarpishchev said he had allowed Davydenko to skip Russia’s first two ties in this year’s competition. The top-ranked Russians will still have Marat Safin, Igor Andreev, Dmitry Tursunov and Mikhail Youzhny for the July 10-12 encounter in Tel Aviv, Israel.
A 20-year-old UCLA tennis player was in a coma after being punched following a country music concert in Dallas, Texas, USA. Jeffrey Fleming was attending a Rascal Flatts concert with friends when a man hit him. Fleming’s family says he was sucker-punched as he was about to catch a taxi after the concert. The blow knocked Fleming to the ground where his head hit the concrete pavement. The attacker and others ran away.
The new men’s tennis coach at the University of Oklahoma is Andy Roddick’s brother. John Roddick was hired to take over the Sooners team that had been coached for the past 22 years by John Lockwood. Athletic director Joe Castiglione says Roddick has the ability to recruit top players and a reputation for being able to develop them. For the past seven years he has been operating a performance boarding academy for tennis players in Austin, Texas. John also helped coach his brother Andy, who is still ranked in the top 10 in the world.
The 83rd annual LA Tennis Open in Los Angeles, California, USA, has a new sponsor. The Farmers Insurance Group of Companies has reached an agreement with the Southern California Tennis Association to become the presenting sponsor of the ATP World Tour 250 and Olympus US Open Series men’s event. French Open semifinalist Fernando Gonzalez leads a group of early entrants to the 28-player field. Also entering the tournament are Tommy Hass, Radek Stapanek, Marat Safin, Marcos Baghdatis, Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey. In addition, a special exhibition match will pit Pete Sampras against Safin in a rematch of the 2000 US Open won by the Russian.
Eastbourne (women): Akgul Amanmuradova and Ai Sugiyama beat Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs 6-4 6-3
Eastbourne (men): Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski beat Travis Parrott and Filip Polasek 6-4 6-4
s-Hertogenbosch (men): Wesley Moodie and Dick Norman beat Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer 7-6 (3) 6-7 (8) 10-5 (match tiebreak)
s-Hertogenbosch (women): Sara Errani and Flavia Pennetta beat Michaella Krajicek and Yanina Wickmayer 6-4 5-7 13-11 (match tiebreak)
SITES TO SURF
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
ATP and WTA
The Championships (first week), Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
ATP and WTA
The Championships (second week), Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass
$100,000 Cuneo ITF Tournament, Cuneo, Italy, clay
Sony Ericsson Open
Samantha Stosur beat second-seeded Dinara Safina 6-1 6-4
Gisela Dulko beat third-seeded Jelena Jankovic 6-4 7-6 (5)
Li Na beat sixth-seeded Vera Zvonareva 6-4 3-6 6-2
Agnes Szavay beat seventh-seeded Ana Ivanovic 6-4 4-6 6-1
Ekaterina Makarova beat ninth-seeded Nadia Petrova 7-5 6-1
“I still have that craving.” – Kim Clijsters, saying she will return to professional tennis after a two-year retirement, marriage and motherhood.
“As a past U.S. Open champion and former world number one, Kim (Clijsters) has been a great ambassador for our sport. We are excited about Kim’s return to tennis and look forward to welcoming her to New York this summer.” – Jim Curley, US Open tournament director, confirming Clijsters will receive a wild card into this year’s event.
“It’ll be great for the game because she had such a great spirit and she’s such a good player. And, also she was just so nice. It’s good to have people like that around.” – Serena Williams, on Kim Clijsters’ return to the WTA Tour.
“I am amazed how many players I don’t even know. There are even many names I do not know how to pronounce.” – Kim Clijsters, who left the WTA Tour in 2007.
“Now is the right time for me to embrace a new challenge.” – Larry Scott, announcing he is stepping down as chairman and chief executive of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.
“We’re all sad. He had a special vision and the personality and character and talents and abilities to carry it out. It takes someone special like him.” – Venus Williams, about Larry Scott leaving the WTA Tour.
“There is a gap there right now. You can’t deny that. It’s very tough out here.” – Alexa Glatch, acknowledging there are no young American players currently ready to succeed sisters Serena and Venus Williams.
“We don’t have anyone right now. If you look at the rankings, with only Venus at age 28 and Serena at 27, it’s not a good state.” – Lindsay Davenport, agreeing with Glatch on the state of women’s tennis in the United States.
“She’s obviously a great player, and if I can beat her then that means I’m on top of the game, so I hope we can meet in the semifinals.” – Venus Williams, talking about her sister, Serena.
“I’ve been trying to get a win like this for a long time. I was happy I was able to do it and hopefully there will be more to come.” – Samantha Stosur, after upsetting second-seeded Dinara Safina.
“Obviously it’s nice to get to stay in your own bed at the tournament. That doesn’t happen too much throughout the year.” – Andy Murray, noting he has an apartment in South Beach, Florida, not far from the Sony Ericsson Open.
“I’m at the point where I just want to select the tournaments I’m going to enter and not play too much during the year, and really just try to do well in those tournaments.” – Amelie Mauresmo.
“I don’t have a preference. I prefer to go out with a nice and funny girl. Doesn’t matter if she is a player or an artist.” – Rafael Nadal, answering a reporter’s question.
“We have received advice from a variety of sources referring to traveling to India. It is on that basis of security concerns that we have asked for the tie to be moved out of India.” – Steve Wood, chief executive of Tennis Australia, in a statement.
“We’re a wonderful country as hosts. We’ll provide foolproof security and we want the Australian tennis players to come and play in India.” – Anil Khanna, secretary general of the All India Tennis Association and president of the Asian Tennis Federation.
“It is always important for me to be a good sportsman on the court and give the right example for others to follow and hopefully inspire the next generation. It also means the world to me to be the fans’ favorite player for the sixth year in a row. The support I receive from the fans around the world is so motivating.” – Roger Federer, who was named Sportsman of the Year and Fan Favorite on the ATP tour.
“I’m not going to clean off the court, for sure.” – Novak Djokovic, when asked what he will be doing at his own tournament, the Serbia Open.
Ending a two-year retirement that saw her get married and give birth to her daughter Jada, Kim Clijsters will return to the scene of her greatest triumph: the US Open. “I am not coming back to lose in the first rounds,” said Clijsters, who asked for a wild card entry into America’s Grand Slam tournament. “We have been in contact with Kim regarding her comeback and have committed a 2009 US Open wild card to her,” said tournament director Jim Curley. Clijsters also asked for wild-card entries into the hard-court tournaments in Cincinnati and Toronto that lead up to the US Open. The 25-year-old Belgian right-hander won the US Open in 2005 and was runner-up at four other Grand Slam tournaments, the US Open in 2003, the Australian Open in 2004 and Roland Garros in 2001 and 2003. She was ranked number one in the world in both singles and doubles I 2003.
Larry Scott is stepping down later this year as Sony Ericsson WTA Tour chairman and chief executive and will become commissioner of the Pacific-10 Conference, a college athletic conference in the United States. Under his six-year guidance the WTA Tour has attained equal prize money at every Grand Slam tournament, made sweeping reforms to its calendar and introduced innovations, including electronic line calling. Scott said he began thinking about leaving tennis when the ATP rejected his proposal for a merger of the men’s and women’s tours. “For a variety of reasons it wasn’t accepted,” Scott said. “It’s clear that tennis, for whatever reasons, isn’t ready for that vision to be realized. And then I realized, you know, I’ve done most of the major things that I could want to do. And if this coming together of the men’s and women’s tours is impossible right now, maybe it is a time to think about what else I could do that could be gratifying.” He will work with the WTA Tour board on the selection process for his successor.
Anil Khanna, secretary general of the All India Tennis Association, says Australia’s call for a change of venue of their upcoming Davis Cup tie is based on unfounded security concerns. Steve Wood, chief executive of Tennis Australia, said his country sent a request for a venue change to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) after receiving advice from “a variety of sources.” Khanna, who is also president of the Asian Tennis Federation, said he is expecting the ITF to reject Tennis Australia’s claims. The Asia/Oceania Group I series is scheduled to be played May 8-10, with the winner advancing to the playoffs for a spot in Davis Cup’s elite World Group. The Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket tournament was just moved to South Africa after the Home Ministry said it could not guarantee safety because the dates of the competition clashed with the country’s general elections. In a statement, Wood said: “We have received advice from a variety of sources referring to traveling to India. It is on that basis of security concerns that we have asked for the tie to be moved out of India.”
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has rejected Pakistan’s demand to move its Davis Cup tie against the Philippines to a neutral venue. In a letter to Dilawar Abbas, the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president, the ITF said the second-round tie will be played in Manila. The July 10-12 competition was originally scheduled to be played in Lahore, Pakistan, but was moved to the Philippines after a terrorist attack in Lahore on cricket players from Sri Lanka. Pakistan said it is concerned about its players’ safety in the Philippines, which also has been dogged by violence.
SERIOUS HE IS
John McEnroe lost a reported USD $2 million in what has been called an art investment scam. Art dealer Lawrence Salander was arrested in New York and he and his gallery have been charged with 100 counts, including grand larceny and securities fraud. Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said Salander faces up to 25 years in prison on the most serious charge. McEnroe lost his money by investing a half share in two paintings. Authorities said the share in the paintings was sold at the same time to another collector and McEnroe never recouped the money. The former tennis star was alerted to the scheme when he learned an art collector owned the same painting he had. Twenty-five other victims of Salander’s alleged scheme have been identified.
SERBIA OPEN PROBLEM
In a dispute with the father of Novak Djokovic, Niki Pilic has stepped down as tournament director of the Serbia Open. Pilic said his decision came after Srdjan Djokovic held a news conference “without previously consulting with me and spoke of things he has no place or capacity to talk about.” Pilic said he will remain as advisor to the Serbia Davis Cup team and “this will not influence my cooperation with Novak Djokovic, with whom I still have a great relationship.” Novak Djokovic is part owner of the Serbia Open, which will be held in Belgrade next month.
Roger Federer continues to pile up the trophies off the court. Fellow players voted the Swiss star the winner of the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship award for a record fifth consecutive year, while fans selected Federer for the sixth consecutive year as their favorite. The only other person to win the Stefan Edberg award five times was Edberg himself, and he needed eight years to do it. Rafael Nadal, who became the first player since Bjorn Borg to win both Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year and the first left-hander since John McEnroe in 1984 to finish the year ranked number one in the world, was selected Player of the Year . Other awards went to: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic, Doubles Team of the Year; James Blake, Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year; Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Most Improved; Kei Nishikori, Newcomer of the Year; Rainer Schuettler, Comeback Player of the Year; Bob and Mike Bryan, Fans’ Favorite Doubles Team; and Alan Trengove, Ron Bookman Media Excellence Award.
SERENA’S THE ONE
For the second time in her career, Serena Williams has been voted the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour’s Player of the Year. Besides winning the US Open in 2008, the 26-year-old American took over the top ranking for the second time in her career. She also teamed with sister Venus to win the doubles gold medal at the Beijing Olympics. Cara Black and Liezel Huber earned their second award for Doubles Team of the Year, while Dinara Safina was named Most Improved Player. Other awards passed out during the Sony Ericsson Championships in Miami, Florida, went to Zheng Jie, Comeback Player of the Year; Caroline Wozniacki, Newcomer of the Year; Ana Ivanovic, Humanitarian of the Year; Elena Dementieva, Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award; and Liezel Huber, Player Service Award.
Dudi Sela, Israel’s top player, lost his qualifying match, yet still reached the main draw of the Sony Ericsson Open when Mario Ancic had to withdraw with an injury. Sela then became a “lucky loser.” Some luck. Sela, who is ranked 57th in the world, was drawn to face former world number one Lleyton Hewitt of Australia in the featured match of the tournament’s opening evening. Hewitt, who received a wild card into the tournament, lost the first set before handing Sela another defeat, this time 3-6 6-4 6-3.
Dick Enberg, ESPN’s lead commentator on Wimbledon, the French Open and the Australian Open, will receive the second Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting. The award will be presented by WFUV Radio at its second annual Spring Gala in New York City on May 6. Also receiving awards that evening will be newscaster Jim Lehrer and musician Paul Simon. The honorees were nominated by their colleagues in their respective field. The award is named for Scully, the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers who is an alumnus of WFUV and is now in his 60th season of broadcasting Dodgers’ baseball games.
Hall of Famer Butch Buchholz was honored at the International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHF) and First Serve festivities in Miami, Florida. The special evening also celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Sony Ericsson Open. Buchholz, who played key roles in the evolution of both professional and amateur tennis, was inducted into the ITHF in 2005. He was commissioner of World Team Tennis (1977-78), ATP executive director (1981-82) and a member of the International Men’s Pro Council (1981-83). He created the Sony Ericsson Open in 1985 and was also instrumental in setting up an ATP World Tour event in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Buchholz also teamed with Arthur Ashe in 1992 to form the “Good Life Mentoring Program” benefiting hundreds of elementary and middle school children in the greater Miami area. As a player, Buchholz was ranked number five in the world in 1960 and was a member of the United States Davis Cup team in 1959-60.
SAME OLD SPOT
For the third straight home tie, the Czech Davis Cup team will be playing at the CEZ Arena in Ostrava. The Czech Tennis Association announced the site for the Davis Cup quarterfinal competition against Argentina on July 10-12. Playing on the same court, the Czechs defeated Belgium in last year’s first round and France in this year’s opener. The
Czech Republic is looking to reach its first Davis Cup semifinal since 1996 against last year’s runner-up Argentina, which defeated Netherlands in this year’s first round.
A man suspected of being part of a betting scam was ejected from a tournament in Les Ormes, Jersey, Channel Islands, Great Britain. Carl Baldwin, the International Tennis Federation supervisor, confirmed that officials were alerted when a player spotted the man acting suspiciously and relaying scores from matches via his mobile phone. The man was asked to leave the Caversham International Tennis Tournament, and he complied without resistance. Britain’s Katie O’Brien won the tournament when Claire Feuerstein of France retired while trailing 7-5 1-0.
Jamshid Ehsani of Greenwich, Connecticut, has been named to the board of directors of USTA Serves, the philanthropic and charitable entity of the United States Tennis Association. Ehsani has served in senior leadership positions with a number of multinational corporations, including the World Bank, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, and UBS and Swiss Re Financial Services.
SITES TO SURF
Ponte Vedra Beach: http://mpsgroupchamps.net
Marbella, Spain: www.andaluciatennis.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$4,500,000 Sony Ericsson Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard (second week)
$116,000 Napoli Cup, Napoli, Italy, clay
$4,500,000 Sony Ericsson Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard (second week)
Asia/Oceania Group IV at Dhaka, Bangladesh: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Iraq, Jordan, Myanmar, Qatar, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Yemen
Europe/Africa Group IV at Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire: Armenia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Cameroon
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$550,000 Grand Prix Hassan II, Casablanca, Morocco, clay
$500,000 US Men’s Clay Court Championships, Houston, Texas, USA, clay
$220,000 MPS Group Championships, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, USA,. Clay
$220,000 Andalucia Tennis Experience, Marbella, Spain, clay
$100,000 Koddaert Ladies Open, Torhout, Belgium, hard
BNP Paribas Open
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat second-seeded Jelena Jankovic 6-4 6-4
Petra Cetkovska beat third-seeded Elena Dementieva 7-6 (2) 2-6 6-1
Urszula Radwanska beat sixth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2 4-6 6-3
John Isner beat ninth-seeded Gael Monfils 6-7 (5) 6-1 6-4
Shahar Peer beat tenth-seeded Marion Bartoli 1-6 6-4 7-5
John McEnroe beat Jim Courier 6-2 6-3 to win the Rio Champions Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
“Today one person came up to me asking me if I’m the sister for Marat. I’m like, ‘yeah.’ (And they said) ‘are you playing tennis?’ And I look at them like, well, ‘OK, yes, I’m also a tennis player.’ I’m still, I think, known more as his sister.” – Dinara Safina, who is ranked number two in the world.
“Everything is wrong. I need a lot of work. I wish I had a magic wand and could just fix my game and just play awesome tennis again. I would like it to be that way, but sometimes it’s not.” – Jelena Jankovic, after losing to Anastasia Pavyluchenkova.
“I’m excited. As long as you win you’re happy. But I tried not to be very overexcited because I still have to continue in this tournament.” – Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, after beating Jelena Jankovic.
“I’m completely excited. I’ve been thinking about something like this happening for the last two or three years. So for me, this is not a massive shock. But when it does happen (that) your girlfriend (or) wife is pregnant, it definitely changes your mindset.” – Roger Federer, revealing his girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec is pregnant with their first child.
“They talk about the age, but nowadays in the US 50 is the new 40. … I saw the other guys who are younger and how they were with their backs, calves, knees hurt, and here I am, happy that I am standing. I know that if I were doing what I was doing today when I was playing the pro tour, being serious about my physical conditioning, I could have won many more titles in my career.” – John McEnroe, after winning a senior tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“We asked them to be moved here to the Philippines because of the safety of our players and because of recent events in Pakistan, especially the cricket team of Sri Lanka getting attacked.” – Randy Villanueva, Philippine Law Tennis Association vice president, saying its Davis Cup tie against Pakistan should be moved.
“My chances are really small. What Rod Laver did was amazing. But at the same time it was a little bit easier in that moment than right now because in that moment I think they only had two different surfaces (grass and clay). Now we have three, and Australia and the US Open are not exactly the same.” – Rafael Nadal, playing down his chances of winning all four Grand Slam tournaments this year.
“I’m just going to focus on myself at this tournament, but that (number two) is the reward for the success that I’ve had this year. I’ve played in three tournaments and been in two finals. There is only one person in front of me and this is something big.” – Dinara Safina, who can become number one in the world by reaching the final of the BNP Paribas in Indian Wells, California.
“I probably didn’t find the answer to this question. I found the answer to the other question, which was do I want to stop, which was no. It was already quite a challenge when it happened in the summer of 2007, where I really asked myself whether I want to keep going or not. I didn’t find the answer quickly. It took me a few months to really feel that for some reason, I don’t have enough.” – Amelie Mauresmo, when asked why she keeps pushing herself at this stage of her career.
“I’m just playing tennis for myself and I always have put my health as a priority to everything. Tennis is probably my life at this moment, but it’s not the only thing in my life.” – Novak Djokovic, denying that he is a quitter because he withdrew from his Australian Open match because of heat exhaustion.
“As you get older, you start to understand that you’re not going to feel perfect every week and you try and find a way to get through the first couple of matches.” – Andy Murray.
“I learned a lot about my game and I learned it’s not all about rising. It’s also about learning how to fall and learning how to lose without being truly defeated, and that’s something that I want to take as a positive from last year and try to build up.” – Ana Ivanovic.
“Yes, it’s a dream job, and in tennis we have a very small window both as players and as coaches to make a mark. You make a lot of selfish decisions. But every time I pack the bags and walk out the door, it gets harder and harder.” – Darren Cahill, noting the need to travel almost constantly has kept him from coaching Roger Federer.
“On the court I’m a fighter. I will do anything to win. Outside, I’m actually very, very nice.” – Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, who is ranked number 11 in the world.
“I just wanted to test (the shoulder) out. I started training a couple of months ago. I just wanted to … test it out in a match situation and get a little different scenery than the practice court and play in front of the crowd, so that was exciting. The main goal for here was just to get out there and be in that atmosphere again.” – Maria Sharapova, after playing and losing her doubles match.
SAFINA TO THE TOP
If Dinara Safina reaches the final of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, she will supplant Serena Williams in the number one spot in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour rankings. The 22-year-old Safina lost to Williams in the Australian Open final in January. Neither Serena nor her sister Venus Williams are competing at Indian Wells, continuing their boycott of the tournament. They last played Indian Wells in 2001, where they were booed after Venus pulled out of her semifinal match against Serena at the last moment, saying she was injured. Serena Williams has won the last two Grand Slam tournament titles, the US and Australian Opens.
SWITCH IN ACTION
The Philippines might not have to go to Pakistan for its next Davis Cup competition. An International Tennis Federation (ITF) spokesman said the tie could me moved from Lahore, Pakistan, because of security concerns. Gunmen recently attacked the Sri Lanka cricket team bus in Lahore, killing seven Pakistanis and wounding six players. Three of the Filipino players, including Cecil Mamitt, are dual US-Philippine citizens who may be targeted because of their American passports, according to Randy Villanueva, vice president of the Philippine Lawn Tennis Association. Pakistan’s first-round Asia/Oceania Group Two tie against Oman was moved from Lahore to Muscat, Oman, because of security concerns. Pakistan won the tie 4-1, advancing to July’s tie against the Philippines.
SHARAPOVA BACK – SOMEWHAT
Maria Sharapova returned to competitive tennis for the first time in seven months, but her stay was very brief. The Russian was forced off the WTA Tour last August with a torn rotator cuff. She underwent surgery on her right shoulder two months later. She teamed with Elena Vesnina to play doubles at the BNP Paribas Open, but the pair lost their first-round match to Ekaterina Makarova and Tatiana Poutchek 6-2 4-6 10-7 (match tiebreak). Sharapova said she entered the doubles because she wanted to test her shoulder in a match situation and in front of a crowd.
A hip-bone injury has sidelined Carlos Moya. The 32-year-old won the French Open in 1998 and was ranked number one in the world the next year. But he is suffering from a lesion to a tendon and ischium on his hip-bone. “It’s still too early to know when I’ll be able to return to competition,” Moya said. “It’s certain that I want to return, but only when I’m firing at 100 percent physically and mentally.”
The return of four stars – Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Kim Clijsters and Tim Henman – will be a sellout. All the tickets for their exhibition matches on Wimbledon’s new Centre Court in May were sold out in just five minutes. There will be men’s and women’s singles matches and a mixed doubles match as officials test the new roof and ventilation system in front of a capacity crowd.
ST. LOUIS BOUND
Wimbledon won’t be the only stop for Kim Clijsters. The Belgian will play two matches for the St. Louis Aces in the World Team Tennis League. She will make her WTT debut July 21 in St. Louis and will play in Philadelphia on July 22. Once ranked number one in the world, Clijsters retired from the WTA Tour in May 2007 and gave birth to a daughter last year. Others who will compete in the WTT this July include Andre Agassi, sisters Venus and Serena Williams, John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova.
STOPPED BY INJURY
A left heel injury caused Nikolay Davydenko to withdraw from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California. Seeded fifth, the Russian had a first-round bye. His spot was taken by lucky loser Olivier Patience of France, who promptly lost to Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-7 (5) 6-3 6-3
When she’s not on the tennis court, Vera Zvonareva is focusing on something else. The Russian has been studying at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and hopes someday to be working with the United Nations. She enrolled in the school in 2007 when a wrist injury forced her off the tour for half the season. Zvonareva already has a university degree in physical education and is studying international economic relations and international affairs. “I got to know and meet a few ambassadors around the world and a few influential people and a few people who work for the UN,” Zvonareva said. “It’s great to be involved in something like this and also to give me a lot of different knowledge outside the court. I’m really enjoying it.”
The European Court of Justice sided with a tennis player who was kicked off his flight when airport security said he posed a terrorist threat because he was carrying his racquets. The judges ruled that the unpublished European Union register of hand luggage restrictions could not be enforced because passengers had no way of knowing exactly what was prohibited. The EU list shows that racquets are not specifically banned from the cabin, but the list contains a catch-all prohibition on “any blunt instrument capable of causing injury.” Gottfried Heinrich of Austria was on his way to a tournament when he was thrown off a flight at the Vienna airport in 2005 after having already cleared general security screening. One legal adviser called it the “fundamental absurdity” of European anti-terror regulations that outlawed a range of possible weapons from the aircraft cabin, but refused to make the list public for security reasons.
When the Outback Champions Series shows up in Surprise, Arizona, in October for the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships, Andre Agassi will be in the field of eight. Agassi is the first player announced for the 2009 tournament for players age 30 and over. John McEnroe won the inaugural event in 2008 in Surprise, defeating Todd Martin in the final.
Roger Federer and his girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec are expecting their first child. The baby is due in the summer. “This is a dream come true for us,” Federer wrote on his Web site. “We love children and we are looking forward to being parents for the first time. Mirka is feeling great and everything is going well.”
SPOTLIGHT ON WHEELCHAIRS
The International Tennis Hall of Fame will begin inducting wheelchair athletes and administrators into the Newport, Rhode Island, shrine this year. Founded in 1976, wheelchair tennis is one of the fastest growing wheelchair sports in the world, helped by the fact it can be played on any regular tennis court with no modifications to racquets and balls. The rules are also the same, with one exception: wheelchair tennis players are allowed two bounces of the ball. The wheelchair category is in addition to the traditional Hall of Fame induction categories of Recent Players, Master Players and Contributors.
Retired player Wayne Black has urged the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to help develop young talent in his home country of Zimbabwe. Black, who had been coaching in London since retiring from the doubles circuit in 2005, said he now intends to help develop players in Zimbabwe. Since the retirement from Davis Cup by Black, his older brother Byron Black and tour doubles partner Kevin Ullyett, the Zimbabwe team has fallen from the World Group to the Euro/Africa Zone groups. His sister, Cara Black, is ranked number one in the world in doubles on the WTA Tour.
Tennis Week is ceasing publication as a magazine after 35 years. Begun by International Tennis Hall of Famer Eugene Scott, the magazine was acquired by IMG in 2006 after Scott’s death. While it no longer will publish the magazine, it will continue providing news online at www.tennisweek.com. Calling it a “strategic restructuring,” Tennis Week said the move will not include any layoff of its staff.
The reason the ATP will be rebating USD $3 million to tournaments as “financial relief” is because the men’s tour failed to line up a tour-wide sponsor to replace Mercedes-Benz. The sponsor money goes directly into the pockets of the tournaments. However, if the tour gets a new global sponsor, those tournaments that take the rebate money will not get any of the new sponsor dollars.
When Pauline Callaghan celebrated her 90th birthday in Sydney, Australia, a surprise guest showed up. Mrs. Callaghan’s five children arranged for a surprise phone call for their mother. While talking to Evonne Goolagong Cawley on her mobile phone, Mrs. Callaghan looked up to see the former world number one player and her husband Roger Cawley walking towards her. Goolagong has known the Callaghan family since she was in primary school. She began calling Mrs. Callaghan “mum” when a spectator asked if Goolagong was her daughter. Callaghan’s oldest son, Tony, 62, played Wimbledon five times and has coached a number of players, including Brad Drewett, Wally Masur, Jelena Dokic, Sandon Stolle and Samantha Stosur.
SITES TO SURF
Indian Wells: www.bnpparibasopen.org
Rio de Janeiro: http://championsseriestennis.com/rio2009/
Los Cabos: www.championsseriestennis.com/cabo2009/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard (second week)
$125,000 Bancolombia Open, Bogota, Colombia, clay
$125,000 BMW Tennis Championships, Sunrise, Florida, USA, hard
$125,000 Marrakech Challenger, Marrakech, Morocco, clay
$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard (second week)
The Del Mar Development Champions Cup, Los Cabos, Mexico
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$4,500,000 Sony Ericsson Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard
$4,500,000 Sony Ericsson Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard
Andy Roddick and Radek Stepanek have has a mini rivalry over the last two weeks – Stepanek beating the American 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the semifinals of San Jose two weeks ago, while Roddick avenged his loss to the Czech in the final in Memphis on Sunday by a 7-5, 7-5 margin. Roddick and Stepanek had a memorable – and humorous – match a year ago on Tuesday as excerpted below from my book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY (which you can buy at www.tennishistorybook.com for $19.95) Appropriately, Roddick’s current coach, Larry Stefanki, has his career highlight – described as something out of a Steven Spielberg movie – on this day in 1985. Read below and enjoy events that happened on this day in tennis history.
1985 – Twenty-seven-year-old Larry Stefanki, ranked No. 143 in the world, caps off an incredible week of upsets, defeating David Pate 6-1, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to win the Pilot Pen Classic in LaQuinta, Calif. Stefanki, the touring pro at the LaQuinta Resort, is given a last minute wild-card entry in the tournament when bigger name players – namely Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg – decline opportunities to play in the event. Stefanki rides a string of upsets to win the second pro title of his career to go with a 1981 title in Lagos, Nigeria. Writes Mike Penner of the Los Angeles Times, “In fact, the Larry Stefanki Story is almost too good, too sensational. This is the stuff of comic books, Steven Spielberg movies and prime-time TV drama.” “Unbelievable,” says Stefanki of his run. “I’ve never experienced anything like this. You dream about this.” Tournament Director Charlie Pasarell says to the Times, “I’m not sure the match would have been any better than this. If we could’ve written the script, we couldn’t have done it any better…I have a tremendous responsibility to this event and to the ticket buyers to bring in some big names. We wanted Wilander and Edberg, but after today’s match, I walked over to Larry, shook his hand and said the worst mistake I could’ve made was getting Wilander and Edberg.”
2007 – Justine Henin claims her 30th career WTA Tour title – defeating Amelie Mauresmo 6-4, 7-5 in the final of the Dubai Open in the United Arab Emirates. Henin’s 2007 title in Dubai is her fourth to go with her titles in 2003, 2004 and 2006
2008 – Andy Roddick beats Radek Stepanek 6-4, 7-5 to win the SAP Open in San Jose, Calif. Roddick celebrates the win by wiggling his right leg and left arm, mimicking Stepanek, known for performing the belly-on-the-ground dance called “The Worm” on court after big victories. Says Roddick, “Everybody’s asking me about the Worm. All I hear is the Worm. I wanted to find something as cheesy if not cheesier to go with, which was tough. I figured one bad leg kick and I’d be on par.” Says Stepanek of Roddick’s celebration, “I don’t know what that was. ”
1984 – John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors join forces on the U.S. Davis Cup team for only the second time in their careers as Connors defeats Florin Segarceanu 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 and McEnroe defeats Ilie Nastase 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 as the United States takes a 2-0 lead over Romania in Bucharest.
2007 – Playing in her first tournament since the previous October, 26-year-old Venus Williams shows no sign of her injured left wrist in defeating No. 1 seed Shahar Peer of Israel 6-1, 6-1 in the final of the Cellular South Cup in Memphis, Tenn., The title is the 34th of her career. Says Williams, “I’m so excited.”
2007 – Mikhail Youzhny fends off three match points to defeat Novak Djokovic 3-6, 7-6, 7-5 in the semifinals of the ATP event in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Youzhny goes on to win the title, defeating Croat Ivan Ljubicic 6-2, 6-4 in the final. Says Youzhny, “Last week I beat Djokovic in Marseille and that helped me today when I was a break down in third set. It was a tough match but sometimes in a tournament it is better to play matches like this on your way to the final.”
Andy Murray beat Rafael Nadal 6-3 4-6 6-0- to win the ABN Amro World Tennis in Rotterdam, Netherlands
Amelie Mauresmo beast Elena Dementieva 7-6 (7) 2-6 6-4 to win the Open GDF Suez in Paris, France
Radek Stepanek won the SAP Open in San Jose, California, by beating Mardy Fish 3-6 6-4 6-2
Vera Zvonareva won the Pattaya Women’s Open, beating Sania Mirza 7-5 6-1 in Pattaya City, Thailand
Thomas Robredo beat Thomaz Bellucci 6-3 3-6 6-4 to win the Brasil Open in Costa Do Sauipe, Brazil
Pete Sampras won the Champions Cup Boston by beating John McEnroe 7-6 (10) 6-4 in Boston, Massachusetts
“The feeling you have when you conclude a tournament with the title is different than a good week with a defeat. It’s a special feeling. It gives you an extraordinary confidence.” – Amelie Mauresmo, after winning the Open GDF Suez in Paris, France.
“The whole week Amelie was playing very solid. She really picked up her game and played her best, especially today. … She has had some difficult times with all of those injuries, and it’s really great to see her win here, especially since it’s at home.” – Elena Dementieva, who lost the Paris final to Amelie Mauresmo.
“He made it difficult as he was hitting the ball so hard and being aggressive on every shot to try and keep the points short. It just shows how good he is that he can beat me on one leg.” – Andy Murray, after beating an injured Rafael Nadal to win in Rotterdam, but losing the second set.
“I had a problem with the injury, but I don’t want to talk about that. Andy played very well today and he deserved to win the tournament.” – Rafael Nadal.
“I’ve been playing a lot of tennis. Maybe it’s just a sign that I need to take a day off or two and get ready for the next event.” – Serena Williams, after pulling out of a WTA Tour event in Paris.
“The Tour is reviewing appropriate remedies for Ms. Peer and also will review appropriate future actions with regard to the future of the Dubai tournament. The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour believes very strongly, and has a clear rule and policy, that no host country should deny a player the right to compete at a tournament for which she has qualified by ranking.” – Larry Smith, Sony Ericsson WTA Tour CEO, on the refusal of the United Arab Emirates to give a visa to Israeli Shahar Peer.
“This is my second tournament this year after six months of injury last year. I couldn’t ask for a better start by winning the mixed doubles in the Australian Open and making it to the final here in Pattaya City.” – Sania Mirza, who lost to Vera Zvonareva in the Pattaya Women’s Open title match.
“Everything went – starting with my leg, my feet. You stop moving, you get a little tight. … To say it doesn’t creep in your mind that you remember some of those losses you have in all those finals – I have 10 losses in all those finals – that’s a lot.” – Mardy Fish, the losing finalist in San Jose, California.
“It was an amazing week for me. It never happened to me to win the singles and doubles in the same week. It seems like there is some magic around here. I’m always playing well here.” – Radek Stepanek, who won both singles and doubles at the SAP Open.
Shahar Peer was denied a visa to compete in the Dubai Tennis Championships, a move that could damage Dubai’s efforts at fostering an image of full openness in business, sports and other high-profile events. Peer broke barriers last year when she became the first Israeli to play a WTA Tour event in Qatar. But the visa denial could prove to be a blow to Dubai. “Ms Peer has earned the right to play in the tournament and it’s regrettable that the UAF is denying her this right,” said Larry Scott, WTA chief executive. Scott said WTA tour officials will take a close look at the event’s future. Peer’s brother said the 21-year-old player applied for a visa months in advance and was assured by tournament organizers that she would be allowed entry.
Amelie Mauresmo returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in two years when she beat Elena Dementieva in the final of the Open GDF Suez in Paris, France. A two-time Grand Slam tournament winner, Mauresmo has been beset by several injuries. Her last title came in Antwerp, Belgium, in February 2007.
Losing to Andy Murray in the final at Rotterdam, Netherlands, was the least of Rafael Nadal’s problem. The Spaniard hurt his knee in the first game of the second set and received treatment from the ATP trainer after the third game. Then came eight successive service breaks as Nadal went for broke on Murray’s service games. The strategy worked for awhile as Nadal won the second set to level the match. But after that it was all Murray, who kept the ball in play and cut down on his own errors. Murray’s victory was the first in Rotterdam for a British player, while the final pitted the top two seeds against each other for the first time since Ivan Lendl played Jimmy Connors in 1984.
SERBIA VS SPAIN
Serbia will travel to Spain for their World Group playoffs in April. In other matchups, with the winners qualifying for next year’s World Group competition, Slovak Republic will be at France, Germany and China and Ukraine an Argentina. The losing nations of the April 25-26 competition will drop to the World Group II in 2010. In World Group II playoffs, Canada will be at Belgium, Estonia at Israel, Poland at Japan, and Switzerland at Australia.
A right knee injury forced Serena Williams to withdraw from her semifinal match at Elena Dementieva at the Open GDF Suez tournament in Paris, France. “My left knee always hurts, but this time it’s my right knee,” said Williams. “When I woke up this morning it wasn’t feeling good. I wasn’t moving well at all in practice.” Williams said she hurt her knee during a victory against Emile Loit and was in too much pain to compete.
Three tennis players – Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, Maria Kirilenko of Russia and Tatiana Golovin of France – are appearing in the 46th edition of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. Joining some of the world’s top supermodels, the players spent five days shooting on the secluded beaches of the Dominican Republic. While Hantuchova, Kirilenko and Golovin are making their SI Swimsuit debuts, several other players have been featured in the publication, including Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Anna Kournikova, Steffi Graf and Ashley Harkleroad.
In a bid to regain the form that brought her the French Open title a year ago, Ana Ivanovic has hired Craig Kardon as her new coach. The 47-year-old Kardon has coached a number of other top players, including Martina Navratilova, Lindsay Davenport, Mary Pierce and Jennifer Capriati. Ivanovic, who had been coached by Sven Groeneveld, took over the number one ranking when she won at Roland Garros, but has since dropped to number eight in the world.
Brazilian tennis is turning to Spain in a bid to reinvigorate the sport in the South American country. Emilio Sanchez Vicario, who led Spain to the Davis Cup title last year, will oversee a project to find new talent and reorganize the structure of the sport in Brazil. “The project will focus on high level in all spheres of the confederation, from youths to professionals. I chose Brazil because it has a very large base to work with,” said Sanchez Vicario, who won 15 singles and 50 doubles titles on the ATP tour. The only Brazilian player to reach number one in the world was Gustavo Kuerten, the three-time French Open champion who retired last year. There are currently no Brazilian women ranked in the top 100.
Tommy Haas helped out tournament officials of the SAP Open by playing two singles matches on the same day. The German downed Lars Poerschke 6-1 7-6 (8) in a first-round match, then returned to the court to play an exhibition match against Pete Sampras. “Tommy saved the day,” said Sampras, who had been scheduled to play James Blake. But citing back spasms, Blake withdrew from the exhibition match less than 15 minutes before the scheduled state. “Pete asked me and I said sure, why not?” Haas said. “A lot of people came to see Pete tonight, and not who he played. It was fun. Pete still has an unbelievable serve.” For the record, Haas beat Sampras 6-7 (4) 6-4 12-10 (match tiebreak).
Jelena Jankovic is a little ticked off at Roger Federer. Last month, Federer criticized the WTA rankings, saying a player who has never won a Grand Slam tournament should not be ranked number one in the world. Jankovic, who has been number one and has never won a major singles title, told Reuters that she could not understand why Federer felt he needed to hit out at women’s tennis while Rafael Nadal was, in her words, “so humble.” Jankovic said Federer should not criticize fellow players. “I don’t think it’s nice to attack other players,” the Serbian right-hander said.
Maria Sharapova is now looking at the end of March before returning to tennis. Her shoulder injury has caused her to miss the last two Grand Slam tournaments as well as the Beijing Olympics. Writing on her web site, Sharapova said she hopes to return by March 25 at Key Biscayne, Florida, “depending on how things shape up.” The Russian has been recovering from a torn rotator cuff tendon in her right shoulder.
Mark Philippoussis, Jim Courier and Goran Ivanisevic will headline the field at The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Legends Championships to be held April 24-26 in Grand Cayman. The tournament is the fourth of eight events on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over. The event’s other three competitors will be announced in the near future.
SUCH HIGH HOPES
Grigor Dimitrov, who won the Junior Boys titles at Wimbledon and the US Open last year, is moving to France where he will be coached by Peter Lundgren, the man who has coached Roger Federer and Marat Safin. A native of Bulgaria, Dimitrov will train at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in France.
Rotterdam: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes 6-2 7-5.
Paris: Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Kveta Peschke and Lisa Raymond 6-4 3-6 10-4 (match tiebreak)
San Jose: Tommy Haas and Radek Stepanek beat Rohan Bopanna and Jarkko Nieminen 6-2 6-3
Pattaya City: Tamarine Tanasugarn and Yaroslav Shedova beat Yuliya Beygelzimer and Vitalia Diatchenko 6-3 6-2
Costa Do Sauipe: Marcel Granollers and Tommy Robredo beat Lucas Arnold Ker and Juan Monaco 6-4 7-5
SITES TO SURF
Buenos Aires: www.copatelmex.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
576,000 Open 13, Marseille, France, hard
$600,000 Copa Telemex, Buenos Aires, Argentina, clay
$1,226,500 Regions Morgan Keegan Championships, Memphis, Tennessee, USA, hard
$2,000,000 Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, Dubai, United Arab Emigrates, hard
$220,000 Regions Morgan Keegan Championships & the Cellular South Cup, Memphis, Tennessee, USA, hard
$220,000 Copa Colsanitas, Bogota, Colombia, clay
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$2,233,000 Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, Dubai, UAE, hard
$1,226,500 Abierto Mexicano Telcel, Acapulco, Mexico, clay
$500,000 Delray Beach International Tennis Championships, Delray Beach, Florida, USA, hard
$220,000 Abierto Mexicano Telcel, Acapulco, Mexico, clay
Marin Cilic beat Mario Ancic 6-3 6-4 to win the PBZ Zagreb Indoors in Zagreb, Croatia.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won the SA Tennis Open in Johannesburg, South Africa, beating Jeremy Chardy 6-4 7-6 (5)
Fernando Gonzalez beat Jose Acasuso 6-1 6-3 to win the Movistar Open in Vina del Mar, Chile
Michael Berrer defeated Alexandre Kudryavtsev 6-3 6-4 to win the KGHM Dialog Polish Indoors in Wroclaw, Poland
Italy beat France 5-0, Russia beat China 5-0, Czech Republic beat Spain 4-1, United States beat Argentina 3-2
World Group 2
(Winners advance to playoffs April 26-27)
Slovak Republic beat Belgium 4-1, Germany beat Switzerland 3-2, Serbia beat Japan 4-1, Ukraine beat Israel 3-2
“Before the tournament I was wishing that I would make the final here. That wish came true and especially today I played really well. It’s a really nice feeling to win here at home.” – Marin Cilic, who won the PBZ Zagreb Indoors by beating fellow Croatian Mario Ancic.
“To me, (this decision) is unacceptable. There are no limits anymore in the behavior a player can have with an umpire. It is unbelievable.” – Amelie Mauresmo, after Italy’s Flavia Pennetta gave the umpire the finger during their Fed Cup match in Orleans, France.
“I lost control of myself. It’s the first time it happened to me.” – Flavia Pennetta, who received a verbal warning and a USD $2,000 fine for her obscene gesture during her Fed Cup match against Amelie Mauresmo.
“I disagree with the top players talking on shortening the season because they have a choice to play in tournaments. Perhaps they can shorten their season of playing in selective tournaments.” – Vijay Amritraj, a former ATP president and player, disagreeing with Rafael Nadal’s demand for a shorter season.
“I have never said I would boycott tournaments in India. All I said was I don’t want to play in this meet. As a tennis player I’m allowed a week off if I’m tired.” – Sania Mirza, on not playing Fed Cup for India.
“When I was younger, I had a dream of being a tennis player and I have managed to keep the dream going. It’s the same for these small kids. The important thing is for them to realize their dreams.” – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, while coaching youngsters at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in Soweto, South Africa.
“I am happy with the way I have handled matches mentally this week. I didn’t play well, but you have to win even if you don’t play well. I won the key points, so I am happy with that.” – Jelena Dokic, after leading Australia to a spot in the Fed Cup World Group II playoffs.
“I’m really thrilled that I was able to pull the third win off and help my team get through this tie. It was amazing atmosphere, amazing energy out here and the crowd was really behind me the whole time.” – Jelena Jankovic, who teamed with Ana Ivanovic to lead Serbia over Japan 4-1 and a spot in the World Group playoffs.
“The only thing I can have in my mind is ‘This is me.’ This is how I am. At zero-four, zero-five, it doesn’t matter, I’m still there. I was also a set and a break down in the second – so that’s it.” – Israel’s Shahar Peer, who rallied from a 0-4 deficit in the final set to beat Alona Bondarenko and force the Fed Cup tie into the decisive doubles match, which Ukraine won.
“The bank and beef business is where I put my energies now. There’s still a scoreboard, but it’s just not public.” – Alex O’Brien, the 1999 US Open men’s doubles champion and the latest inductee into the Texas Panhandle Hall Sports Hall of Fame.
“Obviously the title is great, but what I am happier about is the way we have played and the way we have glued so far because it doesn’t always work so well when you have a new partner.” – Martin Damm, after teaming with Robert Lindstedt to win their second ATP title in their first year as teammates.
“We wanted it to come down to the doubles. When Liezel’s on the court I feel really confident every single time.” – US team captain Mary Joe Fernandez, on Liezel Huber spearheading the doubles victory that gave the United States a come-from-behind 3-2 Fed Cup victory over Argentina.
SURFACE A NO-NO
Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal is calling for playing fewer tournaments on hard courts – the surface on which both the Australian and US Opens are contested. “This surface – hard court surface – is tougher than grass or clay for the body, and all the time we are playing more on this surface,” said Nadal. “In my humble opinion, we have to change that a bit more.” Nadal’s previous Grand Slam tournament wins have come on clay at Roland Garros and grass at Wimbledon. “When I say this, I think about the best for the players and for the future,” Nadal said. “It’s not possible to have a lot of injuries on tour like this. So we have to try to change something.”
While playing in South Africa, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga took time to coach children at a Soweto tennis center that had been built with money from Arthur Ashe. “I have African blood, so … I am happy to help sport in Africa and especially to improve the tennis,” the Frenchman said. “It was great what Arthur Ashe did and these sort of clinics are really important. This is the school of life and I am very happy to be able to help improve sport in Africa.” Tsonga’s father, Didier, was born in Congo. Joining Tsonga at the clinic were South African doubles specialists Jeff Cotzee and Wesley Moodie. The Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre was built in 1976 with funds donated by the first black man to win the US Open and Wimbledon. It was refurbished in 2007 and construction is underway to increase the number of courts from 10 to 16 and build a new clubhouse and grandstand.
SHARAPOVA STILL OUT
The shoulder injury she suffered last August is still bothering Maria Sharapova. The Russian withdrew from the Paris Open this week and the tournament in Dubai next week. Once ranked number one in the world, Sharapova’s ranking had dropped to number 17 in last week’s Sony Ericsson WTA Tour rankings. The 21-year-old Russian was not able to defend her Australian Open title last month, the second straight Grand Slam tournament she has missed. She also skipped the US Open last year.
SPEAKING WITH HANDS
Flavia Pennetta spoke with her hands, and that got the French quite upset. Pennetta reacted angrily when the umpire overruled a backhand passing shot that had been called in, giving Amelie Mauresmo a match point in their Fed Cup encounter. Pennetta reacted angrily to the call and received a verbal warning and a USD $2,000 fine. Alize Cornet, who watched the incident on television, said, “I must admit I was very shocked by Flavia’s behavior. Showing the middle finger is the worst possible insult, especially on a sports court.” Pennetta said it was the first time she “lost control” like that. The Italian came out on top, however, as Mauresmo double-faulted the match point, then proceeded to lose to Pennetta.
Jelena Dokic teamed with Samantha Stosur to lead Australia to the Fed Cup World Group II playoffs in April for the right to join the top 16 countries in next year’s Fed Cup. The Australians clinched the Asia/Oceania Zone I playoff as Dokic won all three of her matches in the competition held in Perth, Australia. Casey Dellacqua and Rennae Stubbs played doubles as Australia, the only team able to call on three players in the world’s top 100, swept all four ties, winning all 12 matches that were played.
While Australia moved up, India, playing without its top player, Sania Mirza, was winless in the competition, losing to Taiwan 3-0 in the relegation tie. India will drop to Asia/Oceania Zone Group II next year and will be replaced in Group I by Kazakhstan.
Estonia and Poland advanced to the World Group II playoffs by winning their Europe/Africa zonal groups. Estonia downed Belarus 2-0, while Poland beat Great Britain 2-1. Luxembourg and Bulgaria were relegated to Europe/Africa Zone Group II after losing to Austria and Bosnia & Herzegovina, respectively.
In the Americas Zone Group I, Canada defeated Paraguay for a spot in the World Group II playoffs. Puerto Rico and Bahamas were relegated to Americas Zone Group II for 2010.
Jelena Jankovic denied recent reports that she and Mladjan Janovic, a water polo player from Montenegro, were considering marriage. The two have been dating since the Beijing Olympic Games. “I’m still young to get married,” Jankovic said. “My career is still in the first place in my life and I want to devote myself to it. Of course I want to have a family one day, but not for now.” Janovic also denied any wedding plans.
“Jelena and I love each other,” he said, “but it is still too early for marriage. When I decide to get married, I will first tell my family and friends, not the whole world.”
SAYS “I DO”
Jarmila Gajdosova and Samuel Groth, who reached the second round of the mixed doubles competition at the Australian Open, are now married. The couple met in 2007 at the Australian Institute of Sports in Canberra while training. Gajdosova, a native of Bratislava, Slovakia, will assume her husband’s surname and compete on the WTA Tour as Jarmila Groth. She is currently ranked number 90 in the world, while her husband is ranked number 284.
Kateryna and Alona Bondarenko were forced to play doubles to give Ukraine a narrow 3-2 victory over Israel in a Fed Cup World Group II tie. The sisters, who won the 2008 Australian Open doubles, were not scheduled to play doubles against Israel. But Shahar Peer beat both sisters, giving Israel a 2-1 lead. In her match against Alona, Peer trailed 0-4 in the final set before winning 4-6 7-5 6-4. Kateryna then was stretched before beating Tzipi Obziler 6-1 4-6 6-0, making the doubles the clinching point. So the sisters went back onto the court and beat Peer and Obziler 6-3 6-2, advancing Ukraine into the World Group playoffs in April.
With a record Fed Cup crowd watching, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic powered Serbia into the World Group playoffs for the first time. A crowd of 15,118 showed up on opening day and Jankovic and Ivanovic, both ranked in the top 10 in the world, crushed their Japanese opponents in straight sets. Serbia had an insurmountable 4-0 lead in the best-of-five-matches competition when Japan’s Rika Fujiwara and Aiko Nakamura won the doubles when Jankovic and Ivanovic retired with the match tied after two sets. It was the first time Serbia had played a Fed Cup tie at home.
Branko Horvat, the tournament director of the PBZ Zagreb Indoors, says he received a death threat after Croatian Antonio Veic upset heavily favored Argentine Guillermo Canas. The e-mail Horvat received reportedly said: “This was your last tournament. I’m bankrupt because of you.” Anti-corruption authorities in Australia investigated the betting, but reported nothing unusual. Veic, who was wild-carded into the tournament, pulled off another surprise in the second round by beating Evgeny Korolev of Russia. Veic finally fell to eventual tournament champion Marin Cilic.
So what if Iran lost every match in its Asia/Oceania Group II Fed Cup competition. It was the first time in 37 years that Iran had fielded a women’s team. Their participation came after the International Tennis Federation (ITF) accepted their team uniform, a modified burka that allowed the players to observe their religious beliefs. When Shadi Tabatabaei, the team’s oldest player at 32, lost 6-2 6-1 on the final day, it was the first time in the three-day competition that Iran had won even a game in singles. Tabatabaei is the only member of the team not living in Iran, having earned Masters and PhD degrees at the University of Colorado and practiced at Nick Bollettieri’s tennis academy in Florida. She has played for Iran before, but only in the World Muslim Games held every four years in Tehran. The Fed Cup team was selected from approximately 500 women who are playing tennis in Iran.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has denied an appeal by a former men’s tennis coach at Texas Christian University (TCU) over violations of telephone contact rules with international players. Joey Rive argued that there wasn’t enough evidence to conclude he made 105 improper calls to recruits from 2002 to 2006. Rive also said the NCAA erred in classifying the violations as major. TCU reported the violations and was placed on two years’ probation a year ago. Rive resigned in 2006 when the allegations became public.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has begun a full-service Spanish-language version of its Fed Cup website. The new website, www.fedcup.com/es, will provide Spanish-speaking fans with current news and information in their own language. It also will feature original content in Spanish from ties around the world. Last year the ITF launched a Spanish version of its Davis Cup website.
SERENA TOP PICK
No surprise here. Serena Williams was the top pick in the World Team Tennis marquee draft. The winner of the last two Grand Slam tournament women’s singles titles, Serena will return to the Washington Kastles, who enter their second season in the 10-team summer league. She will play four matches, one at home in Washington, DC, and road matches at Philadelphia, Boston and Randall’s Island in New York City, the new home of the New York Sportimes. Also selected in the draft were Venus Williams (by Philadelphia), John McEnroe (Sportimes), Anna Kournikova (St. Louis), Michael Chang (Sacramento), Bob and Mike Bryan (Kansas City) and Martina Navratilova (Boston). The season runs July 2-26. The coed league, co-founded by Billie Jean King, enters its 34th season. Navratilova will play a league-record 20th season. Last month, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) became a minority owner of the WTT.
SAMPRAS IN MEXICO
Pete Sampras will return to the Outback Champions Tour next month when he joins the six-player field at the Del Mar Development Championship Club in Los Cabos, Mexico. Sampras, playing in Mexico for the first time in his professional career, will face two of his biggest rivals, Jim Courier and Patrick Rafter. He beat Courtier to win his first Wimbledon title in 1993 and topped Rafter in 2000 to win his seventh and final Wimbledon crown. The Del Mar Development Champions Cup, which will be played at the Palmilla Tennis Club, is a first-year event on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over.
SELECTED TO HALL
Alex O’Brien is the 148th inductee into the Texas Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame. O’Brien won high school state championships in doubles and singles, three NCAA team titles as a four-time All-American at Stanford, the 1996 Pilot Pen International singles, 13 ATP Tour doubles titles, and the 1999 US Open men’s doubles with Sebastien Lareau, where they beat India’s Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes. He played for the United States in Davis Cup competition five times and was on the US doubles team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. O’Brien currently is CEO of Littlefield Ranch, which sells prime steaks nationally, and president of The Bank of Commerce of Amarillo, Texas.
Zagreb: Martin Damm and Robert Lindstedt beat Christopher Kas and Rogier Wassen 6-4 6-3
Vina del Mar: Pablo Cuevas and Brian Dabul beat Frantisek Cermak and Michal Mertinak 6-3 6-3
Johannesburg: James Cerretani and Dick Norman beat Rik De Voest and Ashley Fisher 6-7 (7) 6-2 14-12 (match tiebreak)
Wroclaw: Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana beat Benedikt Dorsch and Sam Warburg 6-4 3-6 10-8 (match tiebreak)
SITES TO SURF
San Jose: www.sapopentennis.com/
Costa Do Sauipe: www2.uol.com.br/tenisbrasil/brasilopen/
Pattaya City: www.pentangelepromotions.com
Buenos Aires: www.copatelmex.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$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
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
576,000 Open 13, Marseille, France, hard
$600,000 Copa Telemex, Buenos Aires, Argentina, clay
$1,226,500 Regions Morgan Keegan Championships, Memphis, Tennessee, USA, hard
$2,000,000 Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, Dubai, United Arab Emigrates, hard
$220,000 Regions Morgan Keegan Championships & the Cellular South Cup, Memphis, Tennessee, USA, hard
$220,000 Copa Colsanitas, Bogota, Colombia, clay
Andy Murray won the Qatar Open, beating Andy Roddick 6-4 6-2 in Doha, Qatar.
Elena Dementieva beat Elena Vesnina 6-4 6-1 to win the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.
Victoria Azarenka won the Brisbane International, her first WTA Tour title, by beating Marion Bartoli 6-3 6-1 in Brisbane, Australia.
Marin Cilic beat Somdev Devvarman 6-4 7-6 (3) to win the Chennai Open in Chennai, India.
Radek Stepanek beat Fernando Verdasco 3-6 6-3 6-4 to win the Brisbane International men’s singles.
Venus Williams beat Vera Zvonareva 6-2 6-2 to lead Team Americas to victory in the World Team Challenge in Hong Kong.
Dominika Cibulkova and Dominik Hrbaty won their singles matches as Slovakia beat Russia in the Hopman Cup final in Perth, Australia
“I love my job. I love hitting balls, running and jumping, chasing after that ball. I love what I do, so I think that’s what keeps me motivated.” – Venus Williams, saying she has no plans to retire from tennis.
“Everybody says the third time is the charm, but for me it’s the fifth. I’m just glad I finally got it!” – Victoria Azarenka, after winning her first WTA Tour title in her fifth final.
“I am one of the top guys, but I don’t know if I am the favorite at the Australian Open. There is Roger, Rafa and Novak, who won last year.” – Andy Murray, after beating Roger Federer in the semifinals and Andy Roddick in the final to win the Qatar Open.
“He’s in top form right now. I think he is capable of winning the big ones.” – Andy Roddick, on Andy Murray’s chances of winning the Australian Open.
“My shoulder is doing great but I just started training a few weeks ago and I am just not near the level I need to be to compete at the highest levels.” – Maria Sharapova, announcing she will not be defending her Australian Open women’s singles title.
“I had an almost perfect start to the match and I played well on most points. I didn’t allow him to settle down.” – Gael Monfils, after upsetting top-ranked Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-4 at the Qatar Open.
“Today wasn’t my day. .. I knew it won’t be easy at the start of the season, but I am happy with my game.” – Rafael Nadal, after losing to Gael Monfils.
“I need more time to adjust, to get my rhythm and feel the court, feel the ball. You could see, I was very, very slow out there. My reactions were quite slow.” – Jelena Jankovic, after losing to Venus Williams in Hong Kong.
“I’m having acute pain in my left heel that flared up last week … I now need to fix this before playing any more tournaments. It’s obviously serious since I’ll even miss the Australian Open.” – Nikolay Davydenko, after pulling out of the Chennai Open and the Australian Open because of an injured left heel.
“It is probably one of my best wins, but best game I don’t think so. I have had some beautiful losses.” – Ernests Gulbis, after upsetting Novak Djokovic in the opening round at Brisbane, Australia.
“I have nothing to do with this. I’m Shahar Peer. I came here to play tennis. I know I’m from Israel and I’m proud of my country and that playing tennis is what I’m going to do tomorrow.” – Shahar Peer, rejecting calls for her to withdraw from the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, because of Israel’s invasion of Gaza.
“I’m sure it was a tough day for her because of the situation in her country. I just know she can play better tennis next week.” – Elena Dementieva, saying protests by peace activists probably affected the play of Israel’s Shahar Peer, who lost 6-3 6-1 to the top-seeded Russian.
“Our only previous encounter was in the US Open, where I lost a very tight match to him after leading by two sets. I was confident from the beginning and knew that I could beat him.” – Flavio Cipolla, after upsetting second-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka in the opening round of the Chennai Open.
“I got in trouble in Moscow … I wasn’t in the right place at the right time, put it this way. I won the fight. I’m good, I’m OK.” – Marat Safin, explaining his condition after media in Perth, Australia, reported that Safin’s left eye was black and he had what appeared to be a cut near his right eye.
“I kind of took it for granted, you know the tournaments and everything. Then once you stop traveling you have to face a reality that I can’t do this any more. I was lucky that I was so young.” – Sesil Karatantcheva, who at 19 has returned to the WTA Tour following a two-year ban for testing positive for steroids.
“I sent a message to him that I just wasn’t going to go away.” – Somdev Devvarman, who upset Carlos Moya in the second round at the Chennai Open, 4-6 7-5 6-4.
“It’s a long time. I was thinking about it when I came off the court. It’s showing I’m still there.” – Amelie Mauresmo, after beating top-seeded Ana Ivanovic 6-3 6-2 in the Brisbane International for her first victory over a top 10 player in two years.
Maria Sharapova won’t be defending her Australian Open women’s singles title. The Russian right-hander withdrew from this month’s Grand Slam tournament, saying she took longer than expected to recover from a shoulder injury. She said she didn’t begin training until a few weeks ago and is unable to compete right now. The 21-year-old Sharapova won her first 18 matches in 2008 and rose briefly to the number one ranking before she hurt her shoulder. She also withdrew from the Beijing Olympics and the US Open.
Jelena Jankovic pulled out of her only warm-up event before the Australian Open, citing the flu. Ranked number one in the world, Jankovic lost in straight sets to Venus Williams in her opening singles, then struggled visibly through a doubles match before pulling out of the event in Hong Kong. “I have been trying my best to get on the court, but I feel slow, I have no reactions and it has been a struggle for me,” Jankovic said.
An injury will cause Nikolay Davydenko to skip the year’s first Grand Slam tournament. Ranked fifth in the world, Davydenko withdrew from the Chennai Open, where he was the top seed, because of acute pain in his left heel. He said the injury also bothered him last season, but it became acute the week before Chennai. “I need to check my heel, and that’s why I’m going home to see what’s happening and what’s wrong,” Davydenko said. “The problem started last year, but I thought I could still continue playing. It was (painful) even when I played the Shanghai Masters in November.”
It was the fifth time she had played in a final, but Victoria Azarenka came away with her first WTA Tour title, beating Marion Bartoli 6-3 6-1 at the Brisbane International. The Belarusian completely dominated the third-seeded Bartoli, breaking serve six times and needing only 71 minutes to wrap up the crown. “The way I was thinking on court was very different from before. I wasn’t thinking about the fact that I was playing in a final,” said Azarenka, who was seeded second. “I was thinking it was a regular match, regular points.”
Because of the global financial crisis, the singles finalists at this year’s Australian Open will find a bonus in their paychecks. Tournament officials said they are increasing total prize money for the event to $23.4 million Australian (USD $15.7), with the bulk of the increase going to the singles finalists. Both men and women champions will receive $2 million Australian, while the runners-up with earn $1 million Australian. Organizers had announced in October that they were increasing the first prize from $1.37 million Australian to $1.62 million, but decided to raise it again to counter the drop in exchange rates.
Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer refused to withdraw from the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, because of Israel’s invasion of Gaza. A New Zealand protest group, Peace and Justice Auckland, wrote to Peer asking her to withdraw from the WTA Tour event. But Peer said that while she is proud of her country, she takes no responsibility for her nation’s military action. She said this was the first time she had been the focus of protests and noted that she was the first Israeli to play in the Muslim country of Qatar, where she was warmly received. Yet she noted that the protesters had the right to express their view. “It’s their choice and they are choosing what they want to do,” she said. Peer eventually lost to top-seeded Elena Dementieva 6-3 6-1.
SEEKING THE TOP
Instead of considering retirement, Venus Williams says she wants to regain the top spot in women’s tennis. Currently ranked sixth in the world, Williams has won seven Grand Slam singles titles, including five Wimbledon crowns. “This year I feel I’m in a great position to move forward to number one, but of course I’ve got to do it, and that will be the fun part,” she said. “I will try to get there.” Dismissing thoughts of retirement, Venus said she plans on playing at least until the 2012 London Olympics. And she said she and her sister, Serena, will play doubles this year in all four Grand Slam tournaments. “We love winning those titles and I think if we could play more often we could just keep getting them,” Venus said.
Jelena Dokic has been named to Australia’s Fed Cup team, which has been called one of the strongest squads in recent years. Dokic last played for Australia in April 2000 against Russia in Moscow. Then, after her father Damir moved his family back to Belgrade in 2001, she played for Serbia-Montenegro in 2004 in the Europe-Africa zone. Also selected to represent Australia in the February 4-7 Group II round-robin competition at Perth are Sam Stosur, the country’s highest-ranked woman, Casey Dellacqua and Rennae Stubbs. Besides Australia, other nations participating will be Taiwan, India, Indonesia, Korea, New Zealand, Thailand and Uzbekistan.
Shikha Uberoi, who has played 21 matches for India’s Fed Cup team, won’t be allowed to compete this year. The reason? She’s a citizen of the United States, and new rules by the Indian government bar non citizens from competing. Uberoi says she’s “eating too many chocolates out of depression from not being allowed to play for India.”
At the age of 19, Sesil Karatantcheva says she feels like a grandmother. The Bulgarian has returned to the WTA Tour after serving a two-year ban for testing positive for steroids. Then 16, she tried to blame the positive test on being pregnant. Karatantcheva says it was her own stupidity that helped her make it through the suspension. “In my case, I had nothing else to do, so I just kept practicing. It takes to be kind of stupid,” she said. While she reached a career-high ranking of 35 in the world, Karatantcheva has never played many of the women now on the tour. “As much as I feel like a rookie, I feel like a grandmother on tour – you know, seeing all these 14- and 15- year-olds coming. I remember when I was 14, 15. They probably think I’m slow and old. But I still have some time left.”
Eight players have won wild card spots in the main draw of the Australian Open, including Yuan Meng of China, Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan and Adrian Mannarino and Kristina Mladenovic of France. Earlier, Americans John Isner and 16-year-old Christina McHale won wild-card berths into the year’s first Grand Slam tournament. The wild cards were granted under exchange agreements with tennis federations from the United States, France and Asia. Colin Ebelthite and former Wimbledon semifinalist Jelena Dokic won the Australian wild-car tournament. Istomin, who will be playing in his third Australian Open, is hoping for a better draw. He lost to Roger Federer in his debut in 2006, then to Lleyton Hewitt in a second-round match last year. Yuan qualified for last year’s Australian Open before losing to Serena Williams in the second round. Also awarded wild cards were Australian teenagers Brydan Klein and Isabella Holland.
Citing a wrist injury, Rainer Schuettler withdrew from his semifinal match against Somdev Devvarman at the Chennai Open. “During yesterday’s doubles match, I started feeling pain in my left wrist,” the German said. “As I warmed up for the semifinal, I wasn’t able to hit a double-handed backhand. I felt a strong pain. I would only be able to slice and I am also afraid that the injury would get worse.” A semifinalist at Wimbledon last year, Schuettler also withdrew from the Medibank International this week in Sydney, Australia.
Racquet Sports Industry magazine has selected Dave Haggerty as “Person of the Year” in its January issue. Haggerty is chief executive officer of Head USA, president of Penn Racquet Sports and just beginning a two-year term as vice president of the United States Tennis Association (USTA). Haggerty led off the magazine’s eighth annual “Champions of Tennis Awards,” which honors people and organizations dedicated to improving the sport and business of tennis.
The father of former world number one Kim Clijsters is dead. Lei Clijsters was 52 when he died after a year-long battle with lung cancer, according to Derniere Heure newspaper. Clijsters played 40 matches for Belgium’s national soccer team, participating in the 1986 and 1990 World Cups. In 1986, Belgium reached the semifinals. He captained FC Mechelen when it won the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1988. After retiring from soccer in 1993, Clijsters managed his daughter’s tennis career until she retired in 2007. Kim Clijsters won the US Open in 2005.
Sidney Wood, who in 1931 became the only uncontested winner of a Wimbledon final, has died in Palm Beach, Florida. He was 95. Wood won Wimbledon when he opponent, US Davis Cup teammate Frank Shields, was unable to play the final because of an ankle injury. Wood, who made history four years earlier when at age 15 he became the youngest male to ever play Wimbledon, losing in straight sets to French great Rene Lacoste, was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1964. He had been the oldest living Hall of Famer.
Auckland: Nathalie Dechy and Mara Santangelo beat Nuria Llagostera Vives and Arantxa Parra Santonja 4-6 7-6 (3) 12-10 (match tiebreak)
Doha: Marc Lopez and Rafael Nadal beat Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic 4-6 6-4 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Brisbane (women): Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Vania King beat Klaudia Jans and Alicja Rosolska 3-6 7-5 10-5 (match tiebreak)
Brisbane (men): Marc Gicquel and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Fernando Verdasco and Mischa Zverev 6-4 6-3
Chennai: Eric Butorac and Rajeev Ram beat Jean-Claude Sherrer and Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3 6-4
SITES TO SURF
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
$484,750 Medibank International, Sydney, Australia, hard
$480,750 Heineken Open, Auckland, New Zealand, hard
$600,000 Medibank International, Sydney, Australia, hard
$220,000 Moorilla Hobart International, Hobart, Australia, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
ATP and WTA TOUR
Australian Open, Melbourne, Australia, hard