Clijsters ousted by Dutch youngster, Myskina back as coach and Mauresmo makes comeback? – The Friday Five
By Maud Watson
That’s exactly what fans and tennis pundits were asking of Kim Clijsters when she announced that she would play Roland Garros. Unfortunately for her, it was too big of an ask, as she crashed out in the second round to Dutch player Arantxa Rus. After building a set and 5-2 lead that included holding two match points, the former World No. 1 went crashing out as she began leaking errors from every part of her game. This is not to take away from Rus. As her opponent began to crumble, Rus sensed her opportunity and began playing with more confidence to emphatically take the deciding set. But with upwards of sixty errors, Clijsters greatly helped Rus’ cause. The good news for Clijsters is that this loss is unlikely to have any lasting effect on her. She knows she came in on very little preparation and absolutely no clay court matches under her belt. Couple that with the fact that clay is admittedly her worst and least favorite surface, and there was always the chance that her French hopes would fizzle. Look for her to bounce back for the grass court season.
Off with a Bang
It didn’t take long to inject some excitement into the 2011 edition of Roland Garros, as on day three, the unthinkable nearly happened. American John Isner pushed five-time champion Rafael Nadal to his first five-setter at the French Open and led the reigning champion two sets to one before Nadal was able to turn it around. It’s difficult to label this opening match as an indicator regarding where Nadal’s game is at the moment. As a former Top 20 player last year with a big serve and attacking game, Isner was always going to be a dangerous floater, irrespective of who was waiting on the other side of the net. If anything, Nadal’s performance against Pablo Andujar, a match that he managed to win in straights, should have been more disconcerting for the Nadal camp as far as where his confidence and game are. But if Nadal can grind out a few more victories, he will become all that much more difficult to beat as he works his way towards the final. And if nothing else, Nadal’s thriller against Isner created the kind of buzz around the grounds that you normally don’t see until week two to really get this tournament underway.
Old Balls, Please!
One of the hottest topics (and gripes) among the players in Paris this week is the switch to the new Babolat tennis balls. Many of the players have commented that the balls zip through the air faster, with some stating that the speed of the ball makes the game comparable to playing in the altitude of Madrid. But for many players, the issue isn’t so much the fact that the balls are faster, as it is that they’ve just spent the entire clay court season leading up to the second major playing with one kind of ball, only to have to adjust to something different at Roland Garros. It’s certainly a head scratcher, and one wonders why the French felt the need to speed up the game. Clay court tennis is beautiful to watch, and those who have the patience and clay court prowess deserve to be rewarded. This switch to faster balls seems to make about as much sense as Wimbledon slowing down their grass courts. That decision only added to the demise of serve-and-volley tennis, and it’s ridiculous when more than one player is able to confidently state that the French Open plays faster than Wimbledon. Hopefully the French Open will listen to the players, and fans can once again look forward to true clay court tennis at its finest.
The French crowd nearly had another reasonably strong tandem to cheer, and Amelie Mauresemo nearly had a legit shot at winning some type of a title at Roland Garros. The former Grand Slam champion had been slated to compete in the mixed-doubles competition with fellow French compatriot Michel Llodra when the two were granted a last-minute wildcard. Their plans were nixed, however, when tournament organizers learned that Mauresmo was not eligible to play due to her being out of the sport’s anti-doping program. No word yet on whether Mauresmo will opt to come out of retirement and subject herself to the anti-doping program in order to possibly compete with Llodra at future Grand Slam events. It’s hard to imagine her choosing to make this decision for so few events, but fans would undoubtedly enjoy watching these two make a formidable duo for the rest of the competition.
Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova informed a group of reporters that Anastasia Myskina would be making a trip to Paris to help coach her compatriot at this year’s Roland Garros. Myskina defeated Kuzetsova in her Roland Garros title run in 2004, when she became the first Russian woman to win a singles major. For sure Myskina should be able to provide Kuznetsova with valuable insight and perhaps put a spark back into her fellow Muscovite’s game.
*Caroline Wozniacki has capped a fantastic 2010 by ending the year as the world’s No. 1 star after she defeated Franchesca Schiavone to qualify for the semifinals in Doha. Her 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 victory ensures she will stay ahead of Vera Zvonareva in the rankings no matter what happens from hereon in. She will be disappointed not to have broken her major duck and the old debate about “worthy” number ones has re-arisen, but she can’t have too much to complain about from this calendar year. She becomes the 10th woman to finish the year as No. 1 since the rankings began in 1975 and is the fourth youngest, behind Martina Hingis, Steffi Graf and Monica Seles, to do so. She had some words for her “worthy” doubters too: “It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little girl and I’m really happy and really proud about what I’ve achieved this year,” she said. “To be honest, there will be always sceptics. There are always people saying you’ll never reach the top 10, never reach the top five and you’ll never win a big tournament. If you win a Grand Slam, people will say it was a lucky shot or an easy draw. For me, the most important thing is that I know I had a great season.” Zvonereva has also become the fifth Russian, after Anastasia Myskina, Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Dinara Safina, to crack the Top 2.
*Jim Courier has been named the new US Davis Cup captain. The 2005 Hall of Fame inductee follows Patrick McEnroe who stepped down in September after ten years in the hotseat. “I definitely thought that being the captain would be something that I’d enjoy and now I get to see if I will,” said the two-time winner as a player. He also lifted both the French and Australian Opens twice. “There’s been a great camaraderie amongst the guys playing for Patrick over the past decade, and if we can keep that same spirit, I think we’ll have a great chance to win,” he continued. “There’s a lot of diversity in the squad. You’ve got veteran players, with Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish, the Bryans, and hopefully James Blake can get back in the conversation.”
*1987 Wimbledon winner Pat Cash has given his full backing to the appointment of Pat Rafter as the Aussie Davis Cup captain in his bid to lead Australia back to the World Group. “It came as a surprise to me because I didn’t even know Fitzy was moving on,” Cash told the AAP in an interview from China. “It’s always been Fitzy’s job, but I’m sure Pat will do a great job. I’m sure he’ll get the best out of his players. He played a lot of great Davis Cup matches and put his heart and soul into it and it’s always been a great Australian tradition to have great Davis Cup players as captains.” For the full interview, including his views on Australia’s reliance on Lleyton Hewitt, visit The Sydney Morning Herald website. Rafter also gives his views on the challenges facing him at Tennis.com.
*Roger Federer is now tied with Pete Sampras at fourth in the all-time ATP titles list after beating Germany’s Florian Meyer to lift the Stockholm Open. The world No. 2 said: “It’s amazing that I’m there where Pete’s ended his career.” He still has some way to go to be the best ever though. Jimmy Connors holds the record with 109 titles ahead of Ivan Lendl (94) and John McEnroe (77). That was also his 50th win of the year, making him the fifth man since the Open Era began in 1968 to achieve this feat in at least nine straight years. “Early on, I think that feeling of wanting to prove yourself to the world and all the doubters is a very strong one,” the Swiss continued. “So you’re very aggressive in your ways of winning and not enjoying them. Today it’s much more of the enjoyment part because I don’t need to prove myself to anyone anymore, except to myself.”
*Britain’s top doubles pair, Colin Fleming and Ken Skupski, have announced they are splitting to “freshen things up” following a disappointing end to 2010. They entered the world’s Top 50 earlier in the year after reaching the final at Eastbourne but things have not gone so well since. However they have not ruled out playing doubles for Great Britain in Davis Cup. Fleming said: “We’ll always be friends but it will be best for both of us to freshen things up. We came through Futures and then Challengers to win two ATP titles, play all four Grand Slams and represent Great Britain in Davis Cup.” Skupski added: “Colin and I decided it was best if we got a fresh start with someone new in 2011. We have had a lot of success over our time together and we really have enjoyed it. Things have been tough for us over the past few months and we thought it was the best move for both our careers.” For reaction to the news check out the Lawn Tennis Association website.
*Juan Martin del Potro, Tommy Haas and James Blake have added their names to the list of confirmed stars for the 2011 SAP Open in Northern California. World No. 7 Fernando Verdasco, No. 15 Gael Monfils and current US sweetheart Mardy Fish are already confirmed as are Aussie pantomime villain Lleyton Hewitt, Sam Querrey and Japanese No. 1 Kei Nishikori. It has also been confirmed that two-time SAP Open winner Pete Sampras will return to play a special one-off singles exhibition against Monfils. “We are thrilled to welcome James Blake, Tommy Haas, Juan Martin del Potro and Pete Sampras back to the 2011 SAP Open,” said Tournament Director Bill Rapp. “Each of these players has had a tremendous amount of success here in San Jose and we look forward to having them back in the Bay Area.”
*Russian pinup Maria Sharapova and Sasha Vujacic of the LA Lakers have announced their engagement. It was confirmed by Sharapova’s agent; Max Eisenbud.
*Strange injury alert. Andy Murray has strained a tendon in his hand playing Playstation, according to the Daily Express. “I just lost 1 match to dani [Vallerdu] at the new pro evolution and I think I broke my hand!” Murray wrote on his Twitter account. “Icing the hand… over playstation [-] time to grow up andy!” Murray was at home in Dunblane where he was acting as best man at older brother Jamie’s wedding to his fiancée, Alejandra Gutierrez.
*Roger Federer has revamped and re-launched his official website with clearer images and a more user-friendly interface. www.rogerfederer.com is hugely popular with over 310,000 registered members and almost 3.5m visitors so far during 2010. “It is fantastic to have such a great fan following in the ‘real’ world as well as on the web,” said Federer. “It is because of this that I decided that it would be important for me to give my loyal fans something new and exciting,”
*Austrian former world No. 1 Thomas Muster’s return to the ATP Tour after 11 years was short, but certainly not very sweet. The 43-year-old French Open winner (1995) went down 2-6, 6-7(5) to by the world No. 157 and party pooper Andreas Haider-Maurer. “I don’t want to define my goals,” he said afterwards. “There is no pressure of getting into the top 10. It’s about enjoying tennis. In ’99, I hated tennis, now I love it.” He seemed to struggle at times on the hard court having achieved most of his success on clay but he added: “There was more in it if I could have played more aggressively in the first set. In the second, I managed to dictate the pace of the game sometimes.”
*Readers of AskMen.com have voted Rafa Nadal the second most influential athlete in the world. More than 16 million readers visit the website monthly and Nadal was voted 15th in their Top 49 Most Influential Men poll for 2010. Only New Orleans’ Superbowl-winning Quaterback Drew Brees (6th) was higher. Nadal finished above actors George Clooney (18th) and Leonardo DiCaprio (43rd) as well as even the US President Barack Obama (21st). The complete roster and nominee profiles can be found at www.askmen.com.
So if you are wondering what Anastasia Myskina’s been doing since her early retirement then join the club. No, I mean literally. Just join the club. There hasn’t been much news at all about her since she gave birth to a baby boy.
She never told us who the father was and I am pretty sure she will never ever tell anyone either. Well I am guessing a lot of cons are lining up for a paternity test.
But I’ll tell you one thing about Myskina’s lovelife and that is that the current person she is dating is definitely not the father! Her name is Anna Semenovich and she is a retired ice dancer.
For the record, I may say that they are dating but let’s be clear here: They look pretty intimate on the pics but if it is actually dating that’s something I cannot verify.
Anyway enjoy the Myskina photos and let me know what you think of it by commenting down below.
So for you Ana Ivanovic fanboys and girls; I have some bad news! Yes I cried in the corner too when I came home late at night and turned on my computer and found that Ana Ivanovic was dating somebody new! OMG NO!!!!
There goes the love of my life wandering in NYC with SOMEBODY ELSE. But I still got one card up my sleeve. I got dozens of Ana Ivanovic stamps. Freshly imported from Serbia. And noone can take that away from me! Booya!
And I have one thing to say about the one thing they have in common: They both like to play with balls.
The lucky guy is Adam Scott. A promising young golfer.
And it’s not just Ana Ivanovic who’s dating somebody new, no it’s Elena Vesnina as well. And who is the guy she is dating? Well it’s none other than Anastasia Myskina’s ex -boyfriend Konstantin Andreev. A professional icehockey player. And long live the internet for allowing us to view videos and photos of a relationship that’s supposed to be private. Long live voyeurism and long live my 90 mbps internet connection for making the stream go as fast as lightening.
Here is the video graciously taken from the Russian Life magazine (if you cant view the video on our site then click here):
Rafael Nadal won his fourth straight Barcelona, Spain, title, the Open Sabadell Atlanatico, defeating David Ferrer 6-1, 4-6, 6-1
Fernando Gonzalez beat Simone Bolelli 7-6 (4) 6-7 (4) 6-3 to win the BMW Open in Munich, Germany
Vera Zvonareva won the ECM Prague Open, beating Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (2) 6-2 in Prague, Czech Republic
Gisela Dulko beat Anabel Medina Garrigues 7-6 (2) 7-6 (5) to win the Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem in Fez, Morocco
John McEnroe won the Champions Cup Boston, beating Aaron Krickstein 5-7 6-3 10-5 (Tiebreak) in Boston, Massachusetts
Viktoria Kutuzova beat Maret Ani 6-1 7-5 in Cagnes-Sur-Mer, France, to win a $100,000 ITF women’s tournament.
Tamarine Tanasugarn beat Kimiko Date-Krumm 4-6 7-5 6-2 to win an ITF women’s tournament in Gifu, Japan.
“When I did make mistakes, in the second set, David was unstoppable, but I kept very focused throughout and I am very happy to be the first man to win four years in a row.” – Rafael Nadal, after winning his fourth consecutive Barcelona Open.
“I think I played a good match, but what can you do? That’s Rafa.” – David Ferrer, following his 6-1 4-6 6-1 loss to fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal for the Barcelona title.
“It’s a great relief for me.” – Vera Zvonareva, who won the ECM Prague Open, her first in 2008 after finishing second in three other finals this year.
“If someone had told me beforehand that I could reach the semifinals, I would have jumped at it.” – Younes El Aynaoui, who, at age 36, reached the semifinals of the BMW Open in Munich, Germany, before being edged by eventual champion Fernando Gonzalez 3-6 6-4 6-3.
“I felt I was regaining the feeling of playing tennis every day.” – Kimiko Date-Krumm, who ended a 12-year retirement by reaching the singles title match, which she lost, and winning the doubles in an ITF women’s tournament in Gifu, Japan.
“I took my opportunities and went for my shots. That probably made the difference today.” – Gisela Dulko, after winning the title in Fes, Morocco.
“A 13-day schedule, we feel, is about the right amount of time to get value of matches. … We see no need for change in 2008.” – Ian Ritchie, chief executive of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, explaining why there will be no play at Wimbledon on the middle Sunday this year.
“I’m thrilled with this. This is exactly right: an international city, different cultures.” – WTT co-founder Billie Jean King on the Washington Kapitals joining World TeamTennis and playing its matches in the center of the city.
“My shoulder is not up to it. I have been having pain with it again and again.” – Tommy Haas, after pulling out of this BMW Open in Munich, Germany, with a persistent shoulder injury.
Rafael Nadal is on a roll. Nadal defeated fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 6-1 4-6 6-1 to become the first man to win the Barcelona Open four straight years. Nadal has now won his last two tournaments and increased his clay-court winning streak to 20 consecutive matches. The lefthander is 117-3 on clay since the start of the 2005 season and has won 103 of his last 104 matches on the surface.
Fernando Gonzalez of Chile won his second tournament of the year, edging Italy’s Simone Bolelli 7-6 (4) 6-7 (4) 6-3 for the BMW Open title in Munich, Germany. This year was the first time in 19 years that no German player reached the quarterfinals.
When Kimiko Date-Krumm decided to end a 12-year retirement, she felt she should start at the bottom. Gaining a wild card into qualifying of a $50,000 ITF event in Giru, Japan, Date, once ranked as high as number four in the world, won six straight matches before falling in the final to Tamarine Tanasugarn 4-6 7-5 6-2. Date didn’t come away empty-handed, however. She teamed with Kurumi Nara to win the doubles.
SAYS BETTING IS OK
A French court says it’s OK to bet on matches at Roland Garros. The court ruled that betting companies like bwin did not violate the rights of the French Tennis Federation by offering bets on Roland Garros matches. The federation had filed a lawsuit, saying online betting stained the reputation of the clay court championship, especially in the wake of Internet gambling scandals. But the European Gaming & Betting Association said the court had concluded “these operations had behaved in a prudent and diligent matter.” It is not known if the French federation will take further legal action against the betting companies.
SHOOTING FROM THE LIP
Maria Sharapova is upset because the WTA Tour demands that she participate in a publicity shoot on the eve of the Italian Open. According to Sharapova, the women’s tour wants several top players, including the Australian Open champion, to take part in a four-hour commercial shoot for WTA Tour marketing materials. If she refuses to participate in the photo shoot, Sharapova could be fined $300,000, Sharapova said. A WTA Tour spokesperson said: “Players have many obligations both on and off the court, and what is being asked of players in Rome is in the rules.”
The middle Sunday will remain sancrosant at Wimbledon – at least for now. While admitting there are strong arguments in favor of making “People’s Sunday” a permanent fixutre, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club says it felt no need for change this year. The wettest Wimbledon in 25 years played havoc with the schedule last year, and Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, among others, criticized the club for not scheduling play on the middle Sunday.
SPOT IN PARIS
Wayne Odesnik has a spot in this year’s French Open after winning a wild card in Boca Raton, Florida, by defeating Jesse Levine 6-2 7-5. The U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) and French Tennis Federation have a reciprocal agreement in which wild card entries into the main draw at the 2008 French Open and the 2008 U.S. Open are exchanged.
Roger Federer isn’t really looking at the money, but if he should win his sixth straight Wimbledon title in July he will take 750,000 pounds ($1.49 million) to the bank. That’s an increase of 7.1 percent over what he collected last year as singles champion. The women’s winner will receive the same amount as Wimbledon continues its equal prize money payout. The total prize money will rise by 4.7 percent, to 11,812,000 pounds. The doubles champions will each earn more than one million pounds for the first time, with the winning pairs receiving 230,000 pounds.
Anastasia Myskina, who won Roland Garros in 2004, gave birth to a son, Zhenya, on April 28 in Moscow. Myskina missed most of last year with a left foot injury before announcing she was pregnant. She has not said whether she will return to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. The righthander was the first Russian to win a Grand Slam title and the first to break into the Top 10 in the rankings, reaching as high as number two in the world.
Billie Jean King and the Class of 2008 – Michael Chang, Mark McCormack and Eugene Scott – will be honored at the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Legends Ball, which will be held in New York City on September 5, the last Friday of the U.S. Open. More than a dozen Hall of Famers and other tennis dignitaries will be on hand when the third annual Eugene L. Scott Award will be presented to Billie Jean King. The award honors an individual who embodies Scott’s commitment to communicating honestly and critically about the game, and who has had a significant impact on the tennis world.
Ten cities are bidding for the right to stage the Davis Cup semifinal September 19-21 when Spain takes on the defending champion United States. The cities are: Barcelona, Benidom, Gijon, Jerez de la Frontera, Madrid, Malaga, Marbella, Murcia, Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Santander. A decision is expected on May 9. The highest attendance for a Davis Cup tie was set in Seville, Spain, in 2004 when an average of 27,200 watched Spain win the fabled Cup by defeating the United States in the final 3-2
SERENA TO D.C.
Serena Williams is off to Washington this year to play World TeamTennis. While the eight-time Grand Slam singles champion is scheduled to play four of the Washington Kastles’ 14 regular-season matches, she will join the team for only one contest in Washington – that coming on July 8 against the Boston Lobsters. Also on the Kapitals’ roster are Justin Gimelstob, Mashona Washington, Scott Oudsema and Sacha Jones.
STARS ON PARADE
How trendy are tennis players? Well, Tommy Robredo, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Nicolas Almagro, Fernando Verdasco and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez have been featured in an eight-page magazine spread titled “Spanish Tennis Is Trendy.” The magazine is a weekly supplement of Diario AS, a daily sports newspaper in Spain.
Not only did Tommy Haas pull out of the BMW Open in Hamburg, Germany, with a persistent shoulder injury, he says he may not be able to play at Roland Garros later this month. Haas, once ranked as high as number two in the world, has suffered first-round losses in four of the seven tournaments he has played this year. In only one event, an ATP Masters in Indian Wells, California, did Haas reach the quarterfinals, losing to Roger Federer. He retired in his first-round match at Monte Carlo to Olivier Rochus while trailing 6-1 3-0.
Maria Sharapova and Daniela Hantuchova have withdrawn from this week’s Germany Open. The Australian Open champion, Sharapova has not played since losing to Serena Williams in the quarterfinals of the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina, on April 19. She has not revealed her injury. Hantuchova, ranked number ten in the world, withdrew because of a stress fracture in her right foot.
SUCCESS STILL DENIED
Jelena Dokic is having a hard time getting her career restarted. Once ranked as high as number five in the world, Dokic was a first-round loser at the Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem in Fez, Morocco, falling to Greta Arn of Hungary 6-4 6-2. Dokic successfully qualified for the main draw at Fez, just as she had at Hobart, Australia, in January. At Hobart, Dokic trailed Italy’s Flavia Pennetta 5-0 in the second round when she retired.
Barcelona: Bob and Mike Bryan beat Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski 6-3 6-2
Munich: Rainer Schuettler and Michael Berrer beat Scott Lipsky and David Martin 7-5 3-6 10-8
Prague: Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka beat Jill Craybus and Michaella Krajicek 1-6 6-3 10-6
Fes: Sorana Cirstea and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat Alisa Kleybanova and Ekaterina Makarova 6-2 6-2
Cagnes-Sur-Mer: Monica Niculescu and Renata Voracova beat Julie Coin and Marie-Eve Pelletier 6-7 (2) 6-1 10-5
Gifu: Kimiko Date-Krumm and Kurumi Nara beat Melanie South and Nicole Thyssen 6-1 6-7 (8) 10-7
SITES TO SURF
Outback Champions: www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com
BlackRock Champions: www.blackrocktourofchampions.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
$2,270,000 Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome, Italy, clay
$1,340,000 Qatar Telecom German Open, Berlin, Germany, clay
BlackRock Tour of Champions, Rome, Italy, clay
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$2,270,000 Hamburg Masters, Hamburg, Germany, clay
$1,340,000 Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome, Italy, clay
BlackRock Tour of Champions Hamburg, Germany, clay