Andy Ram

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Up for the Cup! First-Round Davis Cup World Group Preview

Tomas prepares to defend his first Davis Cup title as plenty of intriguing ties await.

Eight first-round Davis Cup ties unfold around the world this weekend.  We discuss the key players and themes that might emerge from each of them.

Canada vs. Spain:  Without any of their top three men, Davis Cup Goliath Spain finds itself at a surprising disadvantage when it travels to the western coast of North America.  Had either Nadal or Ferrer participated in this tie against Canada, the visitors would remain heavy favorites even against a squad spearheaded by Milos Raonic and aging doubles star Daniel Nestor.  Instead, Canada now can rely on two victories from their singles #1 against the overmatched pair of Marcel Granollers and Albert Ramos, forcing Spain to sweep the remaining three matches.  Among those is a doubles rubber that pits Nestor against World Tour Finals champions Granollers and Marc Lopez, who lost three of their four Davis Cup doubles rubbers last year.  If the tie reaches a live fifth rubber, as seems plausible, Spanish champion Alex Corretja might consider substituting Guillermo Garcia-Lopez for Ramos against the net-rushing Frank Dancevic.  Buoyed by their home crowd, though, Canada should find a way to snatch one of the three non-Raonic rubbers and send Spain to the playoff round for the first time in recent memory.

Pick:  Canada

Italy vs. Croatia:  This tie should hinge on home-court advantage and the choice of ground that it entails.  On a fast hard court, the formidable serves of Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig would stifle the less imposing firepower of the Italians.  But Croatia faces Andreas Seppi and Fabio Fognini on the red clay of Turin, a slow surface where the superior consistency of the hosts should lead them to victory.  The visitors will face the intriguing choice of whether to substitute their singles stars on Saturday for a doubles pairing almost certainly doomed to defeat.  Three straight days of best-of-five matches for Cilic, Dodig, or both would leave them even more vulnerable to the Italian war of attrition, though.  At any rate, the contrast of styles between the fearless first strikes of the Croats and the patient baseline rallying of the Italians should provide entertaining viewing.

Pick:  Italy

Belgium vs. Serbia:  One might see Djokovic’s name on the schedule and automatically checking off the “Serbia” box, but a few flickers of doubt persist.  First, the Australian Open champion may have arrived physically and mentally drained from his recent exploits, and he has struggled against Friday opponent Olivier Rochus throughout his career.  Breaking from a long history of Davis Cup participation, Serbian #2 Janko Tipsarevic cannot step into the breach if Djokovic falters.  That duty lies in the suspect hands of Viktor Troicki, who endured a miserable 2012, and in the aging hands of Nenad Zimonjic, well past his prime despite his many accomplishments.  Serbia thus might find itself in real trouble if they played a team with a notable talent, like Canada.  With just the 32-year-old Rochus and the volatile but unreliable David Goffin barring their path, however, they should advance even if their stars underperform.

Pick:  Serbia

USA vs. Brazil:  Tennis Grandstand will feature more detailed coverage of this tie over the weekend.  For the moment, we will note that Team USA stands in promising position with two serving leviathans on an indoor hard court, complemented by the reigning Australian Open doubles champions.  While Isner did not win a match in January as he struggled with a knee injury, and Querrey did not impress in Melbourne, both should steamroll the harmless Brazilian #2 Thiago Alves.  In the best-case scenario for Brazil, which would feature two victories for their #1 Bellucci, their doubles duo of Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares still should fall short against the Bryans.  All of these Americans have played some of their best tennis on home soil and in Davis Cup, including on less friendly surfaces, whereas Brazil has accomplished little of note in this competition recently.

Pick:  USA

France vs. Israel:  Across from one team that often proves less than the sum of its talents in Davis Cup stands a team that typically overperforms expectations at the national level.  Whereas France will bring two members of the top 10 to this tie, Israel can claim no top-100 threat in singles.  The fast indoor hard court should allow the offensive might of Tsonga to overwhelm Dudi Sela and Amir Weintraub, although the latter has developed into a more credible threat over the last several months.  In a tantalizing doubles rubber, a battle of all-stars pits Jonathan Ehrlich and Andy Ram against Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra.  Underdogs in every singles rubber and arguably the doubles too, Israel can hope for an upset only if Gasquet crumbles under the pressure of playing for national pride on home soil as he has so infamously before.  Otherwise, the talent gap simply looms too large.

Pick:  France

Argentina vs. Germany:  Perhaps the most tightly contested tie, this battle on outdoor red clay will unfold in the absence of Del Potro, who would have given the home squad a clear edge.  While Argentina will field a squad of clay specialists, leading Germans Philipp Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer have acquitted themselves well on the surafce and should not find themselves at a disadvantage parallel to Croatia in Italy.  Much rests on the shoulders of Juan Monaco, tasked with avoiding the daunting 0-2 deficit after Kohlschreiber likely opens the tie by dismissing Carlos Berlocq.  The top Argentine here enjoyed his best season to date last year but did not start 2013 especially well.  Lurking in the shadows, as he so often does, is long-time Argentine Davis Cup hero David Nalbandian.  Argentina will hope that Nalbandian’s contribution in doubles on Saturday will combine with two Monaco victories to give them the points that they need without reaching a live fifth rubber.  There, one would favor Mayer to overcome both Berlocq and the Argentine crowd.

Pick:  Er, Argentina?

Kazakhstan vs. Austria:  In a tie without a singles star of note, the opportunity beckons for someone to seize the spotlight in a way that he could not at a major.  The most likely candidate to do so would seem Austrian #1 Jurgen Melzer, the only top-100 singles player on either side.  His opponents can produce better tennis than their current rankings suggest, though, and Andrey Golubev already has started the tie in promising fashion with a straight-sets victory over Andreas Haider-Maurer.  The doubles edge probably belongs to Austria with the greater expertise of Alexander Peya and Julian Knowle, specialists who will allow the 31-year-old Melzer to rest for Sunday.  Excluded from the initial lineup is top-ranked Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin, whose absence will force #211 Evgeny Korolev to win a best-of-five match for the hosts to survive.

Pick:  Austria

Switzerland vs. Czech Republic:  While Tomas Berdych is the highest-ranked man in this clash between nearby nations, the most intriguing role goes to opposing #1 Stanislas Wawrinka.  After he came far closer than anyone to toppling Djokovic at the Australian Open, the latter may suffer a hangover in a competition where he has struggled lately.  Moreover, Switzerland leans on Wawrinka to win both of his singles matches and contribute to a doubles victory on the intervening day, an enormous challenge for the sternest of competitors when the last of those matches involves Berdych.  The Czech Republic will not enlist the services of Radek Stepanek, a rare absentee this weekend like Tipsarevic, but singles #2 Lukas Rosol intimidates much more than anyone that Switzerland can throw at him.  In the Federer/Wawrinka era, no Swiss team ever has presented the united front that the defending champions have behind Berdych.  The medium-slow hard court should not trouble the broad-shouldered world #6 unduly.

Pick:  Czech Republic

POLITICS AND PEER PRESSURE IN DUBAI

Shahar Peer

By Melina Harris

A year on after the political tumult in 2009 caused by the refusal to admit Israeli Shahar Peer, even with the correct visa to enter the United Arab Emirates to compete in the Barclay’s Dubai Tennis Championships and the subsequent debate over whether to also exclude the men’s doubles player Andy Ram, both tournament and player overcame the political ‘Peer’ pressure to succeed in a continuing hostile political climate.

This year’s tournament played just a couple of hundred yards from the hotel where the senior Hamas figure Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was killed last month was still able to amass crowds of tennis fans to watch the WTA event and World number 22 Peer, showed extreme strength of character to reach the semi finals under the constant threat of violence on and off court, for she played her four singles and two doubles matches on an outside court at the insistence of the Dubai State Police for security reasons while all spectators were forced to pass through airport-like metal detectors before entering.

Peer insisted that ‘I’m not here to play politics’, but surely the mental effects from last year’s events must have fuelled her desire to perform well at this year’s tournament. She has won a huge amount of respect from her fellow competitors for her grit and determination earning $88,000 in beating the in-form Wozniaki convincingly en route to her semi final loss against Venus Williams, ironically the player who during her acceptance speech at last year’s final spoke passionately in defense of the Israeli, earning her an award from the Jewish community in New York.

Last year, tournament organizers defended their decision to exclude Peer from the tournament as they maintained Peer’s presence ‘would have antagonized our fans who have watched live television coverage of recent attacks in Gaza’ believing that ‘the entire tournament could have been boycotted by protesters’. This argument provoked a strong reaction, not only from Williams, Andy Roddick also famously refused to play the men’s event on moral grounds.

The lucrative tournament was nearly cancelled by the former chief executive of the WTA Tour, Larry Scott, who forcibly refused to concede that the effects of a three-week Israeli offensive in Gaza, which caused the death of 1,300 Palestinians allowed the organizers enough evidence to ban an Israeli from competing, which led to the tournament being fined a record $300,000, raising the issue of sport and politics to the foreground of much media debate.

Despite the media frenzy surrounding Peer’s reintroduction, Stacy Allaster, Scott’s successor insisted that ‘what happened last year is over and the chapter is most definitely closed’ and went on to say:

‘We will always stand by our insistence no host country can deny a player the right to compete at any event on the tour for which she has qualified by ranking. We took our stance by imposing the largest fine imposed in our history and requiring the tournament to put up a letter of credit for the prize money. We also insisted that any Israeli player would receive a visa well in advance of this year’s event. The tournament met all of those obligations and we are 100% happy with the way things have been.’

For Peer, who also suffered cruel jibes at the Australian Open, where anti-Israeli protestors held up placards of her in uniform with a Palestinian baby on her racket, the mental scars have clearly not healed. She revealed in an interview, ‘it hurt mentally and professionally, because I was playing very well. I was on a good run and I was ready for the tournament. It was a big tournament and I couldn’t go, so it really stopped my momentum. To be barred from a country is not a nice feeling. I think there’s no place for that in sport. I actually think that sport can make it better and help political situations, not make it worse.’

She also recently reflected before competing in this year’s event ‘it was a difficult time but sport should be outside of politics, so obviously I want to come and play here. We all need to be equal. I really wanted to win here, not only because of tennis, but because I want to make a statement that politics and sport should not be mixed.’

Can sport ever be truly separate from the political world climate? Can it, like Peer suggested, be a harmonizing force, making political situations better, rather than worse?

There have been numerous incidents across the sporting world where politics and sport have collided causing catastrophic effects, the most notorious being when terrorists attacked a bus carrying Sri Lanka’s cricket team in the Pakistani city of Lahore in 2009. It is a terrible shame that sport’s stars should sometimes live in fear of their lives while playing the sport they love, but unfortunately it is a reality that sport and politics will always be inextricably linked.

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

AROUND THE CORNER: ANDY MURRAY MAKES RETURN TO TENNIS COURTS

Andy Murray

Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships

With Venus Williams successfully defending her title this past week, the pressure will now be on Novak Djokovic to accomplish the same feat as the men take to the hard-courts in Dubai. Djokovic is seeded second, but is the top ranked player in the draw, as Roger Federer has withdrawn with a lung infection. This year’s edition has a slightly tougher field than a year ago, so Djokovic will have to be on top of his game in order to repeat as champion.

In the top-half of the draw is Andy Murray who is playing in his first tournament since losing the Australian Open final to Federer almost a month ago. Murray will likely advance to face rising star Marin Cilic in the semi-finals.

The bottom-half is where we can find both Djokovic and Nikolay Davydenko who will also be entered in the doubles draw. Djokovic is paired with fellow-Serb Dusan Vemic while Davydenko is teamed with compatriot Igor Kunitsyn. This is a rare treat for fans in Dubai, as these two players do not usually partake in the doubles competition Also in this section of the draw is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who will threaten for the title.

One first round match to note is between eighth seeded Gilles Simon and Marcos “please keep your shirt on” Baghdatis. The winner will likely face Davydenko in the third round.

Absent from Dubai for a second year in a row is American Andy Roddick who withdrew a year ago due to the treatment of Israel’s Shahar Peer. This year scheduling has placed Roddick at back-to-back tournaments in the United States and he likely needs some rest to his shoulder before the Masters Series event in Indian Wells in two weeks time.

Also missing is Israeli doubles specialist Andy Ram, who a year ago was allowed into the United Arab Emirates to compete a week after the Peer incident.

Delray Beach International Tennis Championship:

With only a third of the prize money being offered compared to Dubai, the tournament in Delray Beach has a lower-ranked clientele yet there are still many familiar names floating in the draw this year. Good luck picking a winner from this group, as there are many players who are capable and several who have won this very event in years past.

Leading the group of former Delray Beach champions is number one seed, Tommy Haas. The German veteran has not had any note-worthy results thus far in 2010 so expectations are low. Haas won this event in 2006 but is 3-3 on the year and has failed to advance beyond the third round of any tournament he has entered.

Mardy Fish is the defending champion from 2009 and opens against Christophe Rochus. Despite being unseeded, Fish has a nice section of the draw and could get on a good roll.

Other former champions here include Xavier Malisse (’05, ’07) who opens against fourth seeded Jeremy Chardy, and Kei Nishikori (’08) who is making his return to the ATP Tour after season-ending elbow surgery a year ago. Nishikori opens against third seed Benjamin Becker.

Other names to keep an eye on include seventh seed James Blake who starts the tournament against fellow-American Taylor Dent. Finally an early round match where Blake should be considered the favorite, although Dent’s old-school serve and volley style is capable of giving anyone fits. Big-serving Ivo Karlovic is the tournament’s number two seed and should be counted on to win a few rounds as well.

Abierto Mexicano Telcel:

This week’s clay court stop on the tour is in sunny Acapulco, Mexico, where Nicolas Almagro is the two-time defending champion. Almagro will be looking for his third title in Acapulco in a row, while Tomas Muster has the all-time record of four consecutive wins from 1993 to 1996.

While the draw has not yet been released from the tournament, Fernando Verdasco is listed as the top ranked entry, with Fernando Gonzalez and David Ferrer also in the draw.

Mondays With Bob Greene: I Fought For My Country

Roger Federer

STARS

Shahar Peer won the GDD-Guangzhou International Women’s Open, beating Alberta Brianti 6-3 6-4 in Guangzhou, China

Melinda Czink beat Lucie Safarova 4-6 6-3 7-5 to win the Bell Challenge in Quebec City, Canada

Evgeny Korolev beat Florent Serra 6-4 6-3 to win the Pekao Szczecin Open in Szczecin, Poland

DAVIS CUP

World Group Semifinals

Czech Republic beat Croatia 4-1 in Porec, Croatia

Spain beat Israel 4-1 in Murcia, Spain

World Group Playoffs

Switzerland beat Italy 3-2, France beat Netherlands 4-1, Sweden beat Romania 3-21, Serbia beat Uzbekistan 5-0, India beat South Africa 4-1, Belgium beat Ukraine 3-2, Ecuador beat Brazil 3-2, and Chile played Austria

Americas Zone

Group I Playoff: Peru vs. Uruguay beat Peru 4-1; Group II Final: Dominican Republic beat Venezuela 3-2

Asia-Oceania Zone

Group I Playoff: China beat Thailand 4-1. Group II 3rd Round: Philippines beat New Zealand 4-1

Europe/Africa Zone

Group I Playoffs: Slovak Republic beat FYR Macedonia 5-1; Poland beat Great Britain 3-2; Group II 3rd Round: Latvia beat Slovenia 3-2; Finland beat Cyprus 3-2

SAYING

“I feel like I was in a 10-round boxing match. Everything hurts.” – Ivo Karlovic, who served a record 78 aces, yet lost his Davis Cup match against Radek Stepanek.

“I fought for my country. It was an amazing game.” – Radek Stepanek, who survived Ivo Karlovic’s record 78 aces to win 6-7 (5) 7-6 (5) 7-6 (6) 6-7 (2) 16-14.

“I have to go on holiday badly. I have a problem with my leg. I have a problem with my arm – everything is hurting. And I’ve got to do some babysitting.” – Roger Federer, after helping Switzerland beat Italy and remain in the World Group in 2010.

“I tried everything, but he was particularly good today.” – Potito Starace, who lost to Roger Federer to give Switzerland an insurmountable lead in its Davis Cup playoff against Italy.

“It’s not the way to act – win or lose, good call or bad call, in any sport, in any manner.” – Serena Williams, apologizing for her verbal assault towards a line judge during the US Open women’s final.

“I was very tired after the first two sets, lost the third and the fourth. But then, when I went to the locker room when the fourth set finished, I told my brother I wasn’t going to lose the match. This is the beauty of Davis Cup, the energy of a team and the energy of a country.” – Nicolas Lapentti, whose 6-4 6-4 1-6 2-6 8-6 victory over Marcos Daniel clinched Ecuador’s World Group Playoff tie over Brazil.

“It’s like David against Goliath – and we know who won that one!” – Andy Ram, before Israel played Spain in a Davis Cup semifinal. This time Goliath won.

“I hope it’s the start of something.” – Eyal Ran, Israel’s Davis Cup captain, on his team’s surprising run to the World Group semifinals.

“I hope to come back next year and do better. Unless you win, you can always do better.” – Lucie Safarova, who lost to Melinda Czink in the final of the Bell Challenge.

“I thought they (India) were trying different tactics. I couldn’t understand why he (Mahesh Bhupathi) was serving and staying back.” – Jeff Coetzee, who with his partner Wesley Moodie earned South Africa’s lone point in their Davis Cup tie against India when the Indian doubles team was forced to retire after Bhupathi suffered a groin injury.

“At last we are where we deserve to be.” – Andy Murray, on Great Britain being relegated to Group II in the Euro/Africa Zone after losing its Davis Cup tie to Poland.

SMOKIN’

Ivo Karlovic slammed a record 78 aces yet lost his Davis Cup match against Radek Stepanek in a marathon that lasted one minute short of six hours. Stepanek’s 6-7 (5) 7-6 (5) 7-6 (6) 6-7 (2) 16-14 victory gave the Czech Republic a 2-0 first-day lead over Croatia. The Czechs captured the tie 4-1 and advanced to the final against Spain. The 82 games equaled the Davis Cup record since tiebreakers were introduced in 1989, but the elapsed time was well short of two matches played by John McEnroe, against Mats Wilander in 1982 and against Boris Becker in 1987, both of which lasted around 6½ hours. Karlovic wasted four match points in the final set, and there were only five break-point chances in the match. Karlovic obliterated both the men’s record and Davis Cup record for aces, marks he held. He had 55 aces in a loss to Lleyton Hewitt at the French Open in May, and his previous Davis Cup mark was 47, which he shared with Brazil’s Gustavo Kuerten and Switzerland’s Marc Rosset.

SMALL CHANGE?

Apparently apparel company Fila has deep pockets. According to reports, Kim Clijsters was given a significant bonus by her shoe and clothing sponsor for her surprising US Open singles championship. And where companies usually insure these bonuses, CNBC says Fila did not. The bonus is reported to be in the range of USD $300,000, which could buy a lot of shoes for Clijsters’ young daughter. Darren Rovell of SportsBiz says that while it’s standard practice for companies to insure their big incentive bonuses to minimize the risk, Fila didn’t do it with Clijsters since she had played just two tournaments following a two-year retirement. The odds on Clijsters winning were as high as 40-to-1.

STAYING UP

You can excuse Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych if they want to take an extra nap or two. Between them, the Czech duo played for nearly 10 hours on the first day of the Czech Republic’s Davis Cup semifinal against Croatia. But the two then joined forces on the second day to play – and win – their doubles, clinching a spot for the Czech Republic in the final against Spain. On the first day, Stepanek needed one minute less than 6 hours to outlast Ivo Karlovic, and then Berdych was on court for 3 hours 48 minutes to down Marin Cilic in five sets. Together, Stepanek and Berdych needed only 2 hours, 16 minutes to defeat Lukas Dlouhy and Jan Hajek. Stepanek and Berdych are unbeaten together in Davis Cup doubles, improving their record to 5-0, including 3-0 this season.

SINKING BRITS

Even with Andy Murray playing all three days, Great Britain was relegated to Group Two of the Euro/African zonal play when Poland won their Davis Cup tie 3-2. Murray won both of his singles matches, but Michal Przysiezny beat Dan Evans in the decisive singles to give Poland the victory. It is the first time in 13 years that Great Britain has been dropped to the third tier of the world-wide competition. Evans also lost his first-day singles match to Jerzy Janowicz, But Poland’s Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski beat Murray and Ross Hutchins in the doubles.

SURPRISING BELGIUM

When talking about Belgium tennis, most are thinking about the women. The country has produced former number ones Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, the latter winning the US Open earlier this month on her return to the sport following a two-year retirement. But Belgium’s men have also proved their mettle, keeping the country in the World Group for 2010 by besting Ukraine 3-2. And that came despite Belgium losing it’s number one player with an injury just hours before the Davis Cup Playoff began. Olivier Rochus withdrew with a leg injury, but his brother Christophe Rochus joined with Steve Darcis to help Belgium beat Ukraine.

SETTLED SUIT

Zina Garrison has settled the racial discrimination suit she brought against the United States Tennis Association (USTA). A deal was signed on August 27, although its terms were not disclosed. A former Fed Cup captain, Garrison filed her lawsuit in February, saying she was unfairly treated, paid a lower salary than Davis Cup coach Patrick McEnroe while being held to higher standards. As a player, Garrison was the 1990 Wimbledon runner-up, at the time becoming the first black woman since Althea Gibson to play in a Grand Slam tournament singles final. She became the first black captain of the US Fed Cup team when she replaced Billie Jean King in 2004. Spokesman Chris Widmaier said the USTA is happy the case was resolved and looks forward to working with Garrison in the future.

STOP RIGHT NOW

Martina Hingis should stick to tennis and stay away from dancing, at least according to the British public. Hingis became the first celebrity to be ousted from the new BBBC reality talent show, “Strictly Come Dancing.” It’s England’s answer to the American TV show “Dancing With The Stars.” Hingis and her partner Matthew Cutler were in the bottom two when phone votes were added to the judges’ score. They then lost a dance-off against policeman-turned-crime-presenter Rav Wilding and his partner Aliona Vilani. Two years ago, Cutler teamed with Alesha Dixon to win the competition. This year, Dixon, a singer, is a judge on the show.

SERENA SPEAKS

Admitting she lost her cool, Serena Williams has issued an apology for her outburst towards a line judge in her women’s singles final at the US Open. “I need to make it clear to all young people that I handled myself inappropriately,” Williams said. “I want to sincerely apologize first to the lineswoman, Kim Clijsters, the US Tennis Association and tennis fans everywhere for my inappropriate outburst.” The line judge had called a foot fault on Williams on her second serve, giving Clijsters match point. William, who already had been handed a code violation for racquet abuse, unleashed a tirade towards the line judge, briefly walked away, and then returned for another blast at the official. When chair umpire Louise Engzell asked the line judge what had been said, she called for the tournament referee Brian Earley and eventually ordered a point penalty, the next level of punishment under the code. That gave the match to Clijsters. Williams was fined USD $10,000 for the infraction, and was further penalized USD $500 for the racquet abuse.

SPEAK YE NOT

Saying the “magic” word cost Roger Federer a USD $1,500 fine at the US Open. The Swiss superstar was fined for using a profanity while arguing with the chair umpire during the US Open final. Television microphones picked up the naughty word during the live broadcast of the match. Tournament spokesman said Federer was fined the same amount as two other players – Vera Zvonareva and Daniel Koellerer – for audible obscenities. Daniel Nestor was fined USD $5,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct toward a fan, but the big loser at this year’s final Grand Slam tournament was Serena Williams, who was docked USD $10,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct. She also was fined USD $500 for racket abuse.

SUCCESS

Melinda Czink is finally a winner on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. The left-hander from Hungary beat Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic to capture the Bell Challenge in Quebec City, Canada. Playing in her second career final, it was Czink’s first title. “It feels great. I haven’t really processed it year, but I will,” she said. Czink’s first final was somewhat historic. She lost to Ana Ivanovic in the final round of qualifying in Canberra, Australia, in 2005, gained entry into the main draw as a “lucky loser,” then met and lost to Ivanovic in the final, the only known time that has happened.

SAYS YOU, SAYS ME

India has two of the world’s best doubles players. Both are now sidelined with injuries. Leander Paes pulled out of India’s Davis Cup World Group Playoff tie against South Africa because of an injury he sustained during the US Open, where he won the doubles title with Lucas Dlouhy of the Czech Republic and reached the mixed doubles final with Cara Black of Zimbabwe. Mahesh Bhupathi, who lost the men’s doubles with his partner Mark Knowles of the Bahamas, suffered a groin injury during the Davis Cup doubles. The injury forced the Indian doubles team to retire, giving South Africa its lone point in the tie.

SOME KIND OF PROBLEM

Albert Costa has a problem every Davis Cup captain would love to have. Costa has been Spain’s Davis Cup captain for just nine months, but already he faces several decisions that could make him unpopular with several players and their supporters. Costa’s team just swept past Israel 4-1 to return to the final to defend their Davis Cup title. This time they will take on the Czech Republic, which beat Croatia. Costa’s problem. His top two players missed the Israeli tie because of injuries. Does he now name the players who took Spain to the final or go with the two missing players – second ranked Rafael Nadal and ninth-ranked Fernando Verdasco. Of course, there may be no problem. Although injured, both Nadal and Verdasco sat through all three live rubbers on Friday and Saturday, cheering on their compatriots.

SEATS ARE FREE

Admittance to next week’s Vogue Athens Open will be free. The organizers Liberis Publications and Hellenic Tennis Federation decided to open the doors to the public for the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event that will be played on the same courts where five years ago the Athens Olympic Games were held. The decision was also made because of the large capacity at the Olympic Tennis Center. All seats are available to anyone, beginning with the qualifying all the way through the final, which will be played on October 4.

STAYING HOME

Juan Martin del Potro’s five-set upset of five-time defending champion Roger Federer had the fans at home turning on their television sets. The men’s final, which was postponed because of rain to Monday, drew a 2.3 rating and 5 share on CBS. That’s up 35 percent from the 2008 final, which was also played on Monday because of rain delays. That was when Federer beat Andy Murray in straight sets. Ratings represent the percentage of all households with televisions, and shares represent the percentage of all homes with TVs in use at the time.

SEEING IS BELIEVING

Things at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center are normal. The US Open set an attendance record this year, just as it has done every year. This year’s attendance was 721,059, slightly more than the previous record of 720,227 set last year. The tournament also set a Week One attendance record of 423,427, including a single-day high of 61,554 for the combined day and night sessions on the first Friday.

SPONSOR

Remember Melanie Oudin, the 17-year-old from Marietta, Georgia, who reached the quarterfinals of the US Open. Well, she has signed on to be a pitch woman for AirTran Airways Inc., an Orlando, Florida-based company. Oudin became the youngest woman to reach the US Open quarterfinals since Serena Williams did it in 1999. Oudin had victories over fourth-ranked Elena Dementieva, 13th-seeded Nadia Petrova and former US Open champion Maria Sharapova. The youngster is currently ranked 44th in the world and is the third-highest ranked American woman, behind sisters Serena and Venus Williams. AirTran, a low-cost airline, recently took over as the official airline of the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Guangzhou: Olga Govortsova and Tatiana Poutchek beat Kimiko Date Krumm and Sun Tiantian 3-6 6-2 10-8 (match tiebreak)

Quebec City: Vania King and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova beat Sofia Arvidsson and Severine Bremond Beltrame 6-1 6-3

Szczecin: Tomasz Bednarek and Mateusz Kowalczyk beat Oleksandr Dolgopolov Jr. and Artem Smirnov 6-3 6-4

SITES TO SURF

Bucharest: www.bcropenromania.ro/

Metz: www.openmoselle.com

Hansol: www.hansolopen.com

Tashkent: www.tashkentopen.uz

Saint Malo: www.opengdfsuez-bretagne.com

Bangkok: www.thailandopen.org

Kuala Lumpur: www.malasianopentennis.com/

Athens: www.vogueathensopen.com

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$650,000 BCR Open Romania, Bucharest, Romana, clay

$650,000 Open de Moselle, Metz, France, hard

WTA

$220,000 Hansol Korea Open, Seoul, Korea, hard

$220,000 Tashkent Open, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, hard

$100,000 Open GDF Suez de Bretagne, Saint Malo, France, clay

SENIORS

Trophee Jean-Luc Lagardere, Paris, France, clay

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$947,750 Proton Malaysia Open, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, hard

$608,500 Thailand Open, Bangkok, Thailand, hard

WTA

$2,000,000 Toray Pan Pacific Open, Tokyo, Japan, hard

$100,000 Vogue Athens Open, Athens, Greece, hard

Spain To Host Czechs In Davis Cup Final

Rafael Nadal

Spain completed a 4-1 victory over Israel in the Davis Cup semifinals on Sunday, as the nations split a pair of dead singles rubbers following the clinching doubles victory for the defending champs on Saturday.

Feliciano Lopez and Tommy Robredo posted a 7-6 (8-6), 6-7 (7-9), 6-4, 6-2 win over the Israeli tandem of Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram on Saturday to give the Spaniards an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the best-of-five tie.

The decision also rendered Sunday’s reverse singles meaningless.

David Ferrer, who gave Spain its first point with a singles win over Harel Levy on Friday, breezed to a 6-3, 6-1 victory Sunday over Ram for Spain’s fourth point of the weekend.

Levy ensured it would not be a sweep, as he toppled Lopez in the final match, 7-5, 6-2.

Spain won a home Davis Cup tie for the 17th straight time and will try to make it 18 in a row in December when the Czech Republic visits for the Davis Cup final.

The Czechs, who beat Croatia this weekend, will play for the Davis Cup crown for the first time since 1980, when the former Czechoslovakia — led by Ivan Lendl — beat Italy for its lone title.

Spain won this weekend without its top two players, as both Rafael Nadal and Fernando Verdasco sat out. Verdasco had the clinching point last year when the Spaniards won their third Davis Cup crown with a triumph at Argentina.

Israel was playing in the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time.

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

Dinara Safina wins Banka Koper Slovenia Open

STARS

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

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

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

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

SAYING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SUCCESS, FINALLY

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

SONY TOPPER

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

SURE BET

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

SUPER TIEBREAKS

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

STEPPING IT UP

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

STRUGGLING

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

STANDING TALL

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

SPOTLIGHTED

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

STAYING HOME

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

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

SUSPENDED

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

SHORT STICH STAY

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

SAYING AU REVOIR

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

STRIKE IT WASN’T

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

SCHOLARSHIPS BY MARIA

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

SUMMER COUNTY CUP

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

STILL WINNING

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

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

SIGNED ON

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

SHARED PERFORMANCES

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

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

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

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

SITES TO SURF

Los Angeles: www.latennisopen.com/

Gstaad: www.allianzsuisseopengstaad.com/e/

Umag: www.croatiaopen.hr

Stanford: www.bankofthewestclassic.com/

Istanbul: www.istanbulcup.com/

Washington: www.leggmasontennisclassic.com/

Segovia: www.teniselespinar.com/

San Marino: www.atpsanmarino.com/

Vancouver: www.vanopen.com/

Los Angeles: www.latennischamps.com/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

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

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

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

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

WTA

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

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

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

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

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

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

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

WTA

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

Mondays With Bob Greene: Perhaps Tennis

STARS

Marion Bartoli beat Li Na 6-4 6-3 to win the Monterrey Open in Monterrey, Mexico

Lukas Rosol beat Benedikt Dorsch 6-4 4-6 7-6 (3) to win the Internazionali di Bergamo in Bergamo, Italy

DAVIS CUP

World Group

(First Round)

Argentina beat Netherlands 5-0 at Buenos Aires, Argentina

Czech Republic beat France 3-2 at Ostrava, Czech Republic

United States beat. Switzerland 4-1 at Birmingham, Alabama, USA

Croatia beat Chile 5-0 at Porec, Croatia

Israel beat Sweden 3-2 at Malmo, Sweden

Russia beat Romania 4-1 at Sibiu, Romania

Germany beat Austria 3-2 at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

Spain beat Serbia 4-1 at Benidorm, Spain

Americas Zone Group I (First Round)

Colombia beat Uruguay 5-0, Ecuador beat Canada 3-2

Americas Zone Group II (First Round)

Mexico beat Jamaica 5-0, Venezuela beat Netherlands Antilles 4-1, Dominican Republic beat Guatemala 5-0, Bahamas at Paraguay

Asia/Oceania Zone Group I (Second Round)

Australia beat Thailand 3-2, India beat Chinese Taipei 3-2, Japan beat China 5-0, Uzbekistan beat Korea 4-1

Asia/Oceania Zone Group II (First Round)

Philippines beat Hong Kong China 4-1, Pakistan beat Oman 4-1, Indonesia beat Kuwait 3-2, New Zealand beat Malaysia 5-0

Europe/Africa Zone Group I (First Round)

South Africa beat Macedonia 5-0

Europe/Africa Zone Group I (Second Round)

Italy beat Slovak Republic 4-1, Ukraine beat Great Britain 4-1, Belgium beat Poland 4-1

Europe/Africa Zone Group II (First Round)

Lithuania beat Georgia 3-2, Slovenia beat Egypt 5-0, Latvia beat Moldova 5-0, Bulgaria beat Hungary 3-2, Finland beat Denmark 3-2, Monaco beat Montenegro 5-0, Ireland beat Algeria 4-1, Cyprus beat Portugal 3-2

SAYING

“Perhaps tennis.” – British Prime Minister Gordon Brown suggested after telling Barack Obama he couldn’t compete with the American president in basketball. “I hear you’ve got a game,” Obama replied.

“I want to play the best possible but it couldn’t be today. I couldn’t break his rhythm on this surface.” – Novak Djokovic, playing on clay for the first time since Roland Garros and losing to David Ferrer in the opening Davis Cup match between Serbia and Spain.

“I think it was a wrong decision. I think it maybe can open the door for other countries to make a stupid decision like this one. I think it’s going to be very bad to play without a crowd.” – Israel’s Andy Ram, about the decision to play the Sweden-Israel Davis Cup tie in an empty stadium.

“We are here to play tennis. We are not here to talk about politics or to talk about terror.” -Harel Levy, another member of Israel’s four-man Davis Cup team.

“When you play Davis Cup on home turf you want a full house, and we think it’s too bad that there won’t be.” – Thomas Johansson, Swedish Davis Cupper.

“Yesterday’s doubles poured a lot of power and confidence into my veins.” – Radek Stepanek, who beat Gilles Simon to clinch the Czech Republic’s Davis Cup victory over France.

“It’s probably the worst experience of my life right now ever playing a tennis match. I had two match points in the tiebreak, I had the match in my hands. I wanted to win so badly and that’s why it hurts so much.” – Frank Dancevic, who could have given Canada a victory over Ecuador if he had won.

“Billie Jean King has done so much for the game. She’s really a true legend in the sport. I think this is a really great tribute to her.” – Jelena Jankovic, who participated in a four-player “Tennis Night in America” exhibition in New York’s Madison Square Garden.

SHAMEFUL ACTION

Following the attack in Pakistan on Sri Lanka’s cricket team, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) canceled a junior tennis tournament scheduled for this month in Karachi, Pakistan. Most of the players signed up for the amateur tournament were between the ages of 13 and 18 and came from Pakistan, but others were from the region, including Thailand, India, Hong Kong and Singapore. Luca Santilli, the ITF manager of junior tennis, said the attack that killed six police officers and injured seven Sri Lankan players was not the only factor in postponing the tournament.

STADIUM SLAMMERS

Police fought with demonstrators outside the stadium where the Sweden and Israel were playing Davis Cup. Dozens of anti-Israeli protestors tried to storm the 4,000-seat Baltic Hall in Malmo, Sweden, after about 7,000 people gathered at a downtown square to hear speeches condemning Israel’s offensive in Gaza and urging support for Palestinians. The players found out about the melee after Sweden’s Simon Aspelin and Robert Lindstedt beat Israel’s Andy Ram and Amir Hadad. Ram, who earlier in the week called the decision by Malmo officials to bar the public from the Davis Cup competition “stupid,” praised police after the demonstration. “We knew there were going to be a few thousand people screaming out there,” Ram said. “Inside here we didn’t feel anything. The police did a good job.” Israel advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since 1987. It was the second time a Davis Cup series was played without fans in Sweden. In 1975, two years after a military coup in Chile led by Augusto Pinochet, Sweden played Chile in an empty stadium in Bastad.

STRONG WINDS

Defending champion Spain’s first-round World Group Davis Cup tie against Serbia was pushed back a day because of strong winds that damaged the stadium in Benidorm, Spain. Gusts up to 60 miles per hour (90 kph) blew off some of the rows of the stands and affected the stability of the 16,000-seat temporary stadium, according to International Tennis Federation (ITF) referee Soren Frienel. When the winds died down, it was Spain that roared, beating Serbia 4-1.

SHAHAR AFTERMATH

Organizers of the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships say they will appeal the USD $300,000 fine imposed on them by the WTA Tour after Israeli Shahar Peer was barred from playing in the women’s tournament. Dubai Duty Free (DDF), the tournament sponsors, say they are will challenge the WTA Tour’s threat to withdraw the sanction of the tournament if all players are not allowed entry into the United Arab Emigrates in the future. Colm McLoughlin, managing director of DDF, said that despite the differences, “In my opinion there is no danger that the tournament will be pulled.”

SECOND TO NICKY

Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes won their doubles match against Chinese Taipei, defeating Yang Tsung-Hua and Yi Chu-Huan 6-4 7-6 (0) 6-7 (2) 6-2. It was the Indian duo’s 23rd consecutive doubles victory in Davis Cup play, extending their record streak. Paes has posted 36 doubles victories, second in Davis Cup history only to Nicola “Nicky” Pietrangeli of Italy, who was on the winning doubles team 42 times.

STANDING TALL

When twins Bob and Mike Bryan beat Stanislas Wawrinka and Yves Allegro, they became the winningest United States Davis Cup team in history, increasing their record to 15-2. The pair moved past the pairings of John McEnroe and Peter Fleming, who finished with a 14-1 mark, as well as Wilmer Allison and John Van Ryn who posted a 14-2 record by the time they played their last Davis Cup matches in 1936. “We’re just plugging away,” Bob Bryan said. “I truly didn’t know that we were playing for the record at all. It’s great to look at when you retire. When you’re in the heat of the moment, still in the battle, you just want to keep trying to get better and look for ways to improve.”

STAR POWER

Women’s tennis returned to New York’s Madison Square Garden after a nine-year absence with what is turning into the usual suspects in a title match: Serena Williams beat her older sister Venus 6-4 6-3 after both won one-set matches against Serbia’s top two players, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic. Venus and Serena have won the last three Grand Slam tournament titles between them. The crowd of 12,026 was clearly on hand to see the Williams sisters, and many of the fans filed out after Serena won the first set of the championship. Before the final, former President Bill Clinton, figure skaters Sarah Hughes and Nancy Kerrigan and race car driver Janet Guthrie participated in a tribute to Billie Jean King, who founded the Women’s Tennis Association in 1973. “She has probably done more than any other woman in the world to empower women and educate men,” Clinton said.

SAVING MONEY

In a measure to battle the effects of the global economic crisis, the ATP is returning around USD $3 million in fees to tournaments around the world. “In these difficult times the ATP has decided to give the tournaments a reduction in tournament fees to help them financially,” a spokesman for the ATP said. The spokesman said the fee reductions would come from ATP resources and would not affect the prize money awarded by the tournaments. A spokesman for the WTA said the women’s tour would not be making similar reductions as it was in a healthy position financially.

SWINGING AWAY

Andre Agassi is returning to competitive tournament tennis with his old gang. Agassi will participate in the Outback Champions Series event at Surprise, Arizona, in October. The Outback Champions tour is for players 30 years old and older. Agassi, who will soon turn 39, won eight major singles titles before retiring after the 2006 US Open.

SPONSOR FOR DAVIS CUP

Telefonica has become the official telecommunications sponsor of Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The multi-year agreement began with last week’s opening round of Davis Cup as eight World Group ties and 26 Zone Group ties were played in 34 nations. The Spanish company will provide telecommunications expertise at Davis Cup ties around the world and advise the ITF and its member nations on new ways to develop their internet properties. “In a world where technology is one of the true growth areas, we are delighted that Telefonica and its brands have joined Davis Cup,” said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti.

STUNNED

Anna Kournikova says her recent trip to Haiti was “completely and devastatingly humbling.” Kournikova went to Haiti as part of an awareness-raising mission organized by PSI, a leading global health organization. “What shocked me about Haiti, where 70 percent of the population lives on less than (USD) $2 a day, was just the complete lack of basic human needs, and the amazing amount of disease and sickness that is so prevalent with the population,” Kournikova wrote in her blog. “It was so difficult to see those conditions with my own eyes.”

SUPPORTING A CAUSE

Several top players on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour have pitched in to help raise funds to rebuild areas in Australia that were affected by the recent bush fires. Players from around the world have sent messages of support and donated signed equipment, clothing and money toward aiding the fund-raising. Australian tennis stars Casey Dellacqua, Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs were joined by Daniela Hantuchova, Ana Ivanovic, Dinara Safina, Ai Sugiyama and Serena Williams, all of whom donated items that will be auctioned off to raise money for the Tennis Bushfire Relief Appeal. “Tennis is part and parcel of community life throughout Australia and the sport has a role to play in aiding the recovery of these fire-ravaged communities,” Geoff Pollard, an International Tennis Federation (ITF) vice president and president of Tennis Australia, and Tennis Victoria President David Stobart said in a statement.

SHARAPOVA RETURNS?

Maria Sharapova will play doubles only at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, California, according to TennisReporters.net. The web site says Sharapova’s right shoulder still gets fatigued after playing two-out-of-three-set matches for several days in a row and her doctors don’t think it’s a good idea for her to play singles in the next two weeks. The three-time Grand Slam tournament champion hasn’t played since the Canadian Open last August and underwent shoulder surgery in October. She hasn’t played doubles since 2005. At Indian Wells, she will play with fellow Russian Elena Vesnina.

SERGEI’S THE MAN

The name was familiar when Ukraine’s Davis Cup doubles team bested Great Britain. But Sergei Bubka Jr. decided not to following in his father’s footsteps and instead he took up tennis. The younger Bubka and Sergiy Stakhovsky defeated Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins 6-4 3-6 6-3 5-7 6-4 and Ukraine went on to down Great Britain 4-1 in their Europe/Africa Group 1 zonal tie. The elder Bubka was a pole-vaulting great, won an Olympic gold medal and set world records almost every time he competed. But his 22-year-old son has played most of his tennis on the Challenger level and is ranked 269th in the world.

STILL LISTED

Lindsay Davenport is having a bit of problem getting rid of her house in the prestigious Emerald Bay neighborhood in Laguna Beach, California. The tennis star was asking USD $6,395,000 for her home, but the listing expired without any takers. The five-bedroom house was on the market for 183 days.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Monterrey: Nathalie Dechy and Mara Santangelo beat Iveta Benesova and Zahlavova Strycova 6-3 6-4

Bergamo: Karol Beck and Jaroslav Levinsky beat Chris Haggard and Pavel Vizner 7-6 (6) 6-4

SITES TO SURF

Indian Wells: www.bnpparibasopen.org

Bogota: www.bancolombiaopen.com.co/

Sunrise: www.sunrisetennis.com

Marrakech: www.arryadia.com/mtt/2009/marrakech2009/

Rio de Janeiro: http://championsseriestennis.com/rio2009/

Los Cabos: www.championsseriestennis.com/cabo2009/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard

WTA TOUR

$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard

SENIORS

Rio Champions Cup, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard

$125,000 Bancolombia Open, Bogota, Colombia, clay

$125,000 BMW Tennis Championships, Sunrise, Florida, USA, hard

$125,000 Marrakech Challenger, Marrakech, Morocco, clay

WTA TOUR

$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard

SENIORS

The Del Mar Development Champions Cup, Los Cabos, Mexico

Mondays With Bob Greene: What happened to me?

STARS

Novak Djokovic beat David Ferrer 7-5 6-3 to win the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Venus Williams won the Abierto Mexicano Telcel women’s title by beating Flavia Pennetta 6-1 6-2 in Acapulco, Mexico

Mardy Fish beat Evgeny Korolev 7-5 6-3 to win the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships in Delray Beach, Florida, USA

Nicolas Almagro defeated Gael Monfils 6-4 6-4 to win the Abierto Mexicano Telcel men’s singles in Acapulco, Mexico

SAYING

“It’s a bridge that connects people, countries, culture, everything, religions, and that’s the beauty of it. That’s why I decided to go into sports and not politics.” – Andy Ram, after becoming the first Israeli to play a tennis tournament in the United Arab Emirates.

“What happened to me? Venus Williams is what happened to me. The number five player in the world is what happened to me. She was just playing so strong, serving so well, it was hard to fight against her power. I didn’t feel I played badly. She just overpowered me.” – Flavia Pennetta, the defending champion who lost the final in Acapulco, Mexico, to Venus Williams.

“Today was one of those matches where you just want to get off the court with a win. It was like I don’t care what the score is, I don’t care what it looks like, I just want to get off this court with a win.” – Mardy Fish, who endured the wind and a rain delay before finally converting his fifth match point to win in Delray Beach, Florida.

“Nobody is a favorite in a final. Everyone has the motivation to do well. But I was physically and emotionally really involved with this tournament and to win it is a great feeling, because Dubai has a history of having one of the strongest fields on the tour. And despite some players pulling out, it was still a tough field.” – Novak Djokovic, noting the field was missing five of the world’s top ten players, including Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

“I’ll probably sleep a little bit better next week as we prepare for the match and not have to prepare for Roger.” – Patrick McEnroe, US Davis Cup captain, noting that Roger Federer will not be on Switzerland’s team during the upcoming World Group tie.

“I didn’t feel any pressure because he’s one of the best players in the world, so I just played my best tennis.” – Lu Yen-Hsun, after upsetting Lleyton Hewitt at Delray Beach, Florida.

“With players of the caliber of (Andre) Agassi, (Steffi) Graf, (Kim) Clijsters and (Tim) Henman, this test event promises to be hugely entertaining.” – Ian Ritchie, chief executive of the All England Club, about a special event on May 17 to celebrate the completion of Wimbledon’s Centre Court roof.

“I got it first down in Australia and I haven’t been the same really since. I woke up in the middle of the night sweating. I got some anti-viral (medication) from the doctor … but it didn’t help so much.” – Andy Murray, after withdrawing from the Dubai Tennis Championships because of a viral infection.

“It’s going to be a new experience and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve heard so much about it from Ana (Ivanovic) and (Fernando) Verdasco, who had trained there before he made the semifinals of the Australian Open. This is going to be a short stint because I’ll be playing tournaments in the following week. If it works well for me I want to go over for a longer stint in the near future.” – Sania Mirza, about training in Las Vegas with Gil Reyes.

“Now I don’t want to let her go.” Boris Becker, talking about his fiancée, Lilly Kerssenberg.

SHAMEFUL ACTION

Even though he lost in the first round, Andy Ram of Israel said he achieved something big at the Dubai Championships. The United Arab Emirates gave Ram a “special permit” to compete in the tournament one week after it refused to issue a visa for fellow Israeli Shahar Peer to play in a women’s event. “It was obviously something big, history here, what’s been done, the first Israeli coming to play sport in Dubai,” Ram said after he and Kevin Ullyett lost their first-round doubles match to Marat Safin and David Ferrer. “I fought for something really, really big, and coming here was something big because it showed that we should not involve sports with politics.” Like most Arab countries, the UAE has no diplomatic ties with Israel and routinely denies entry to its citizens. Spectators and media were stopped from entering the arena until just before the start of the match. Ticket holders had to pass through airport-style security scanners, cell phones were banned and bottles of water confiscated even though spectators had to sit in blazing sunshine with the temperature reaching 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit). Water was eventually passed out in plastic glasses.

STAR POWER

Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi will once again play on Wimbledon’s Centre Court. The couple will play Tim Henman and Kim Clijsters in an exhibition on May 17 to celebrate the completion of the roof over the famed Centre Court. The event, which is being used to test the new roof and air management system, will feature singles matches and a mixed doubles match. Graf won 22 Grand Slam tournament titles, including seven Wimbledon crowns, during her career. Agassi’s eight Grand Slam tournament crowns include the 1992 Wimbledon title. Agassi and Graf, who are married to each other, are both former number one players, as is Clijsters, who won the US Open in 2005. Henman remains one of the most popular players among British fans.

SWINGING AGAIN

Andre Agassi will play two matches for the Philadelphia Freedoms in the World Team Tennis (WTT) league this July. The WTT announced Agassi will play July 10 in Philadelphia and July 17 in Newport Beach, California. Agassi, who retired in 2006, played for WTT from 2002-04. Among other stars who will play during the WTT’s 34th season will be Serena Williams (Washington DC), Venus Williams (Philadelphia), John McEnroe (New York), Anna Kournikova (St. Louis), Michael Chang (Sacramento), Bob and Mike Bryan (Kansas City) and Martina Navratilova (Boston). The 10-team league runs from July 2-26.

SAID WHAT??

Novak Djokovic slammed what he thought was a game-winning ace in his title match against David Ferrer. But an official called the serve out. Djokovic challenged and was proven to be correct. “That was an unusual way to finish the match, and something like this has never happened to me before,” Djokovic said of the 7-5 6-3 victory. “But what worked for me during the match was that I mixed the pace well, which I think David does not like at all.” It was the first final of the year for the third-ranked Djokovic and his first title since capturing the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai last November. Both top-ranked Rafael Nadal and number two Roger Federer pulled out of the tournament with injuries, Andy Murray withdrew from his quarterfinal match because of a viral infection, and Andy Roddick pulled out of the tournament because the United Arab Emirates refused to allow Israel Shahar Peer to play in a women’s tournament the week before.

SECURE AND QUIET

There won’t be fans, but about 1,000 police from seven countries will handle security on March 6-8 when Sweden plays host to Israel in a Davis Cup tie in Malmo. Police commissioner Hakan Jarborg Eriksson said officials expect a “Stop the Match” protest to be relatively calm. But there are fears that protests from small, radical groups could turn violent. The first-round World Group match will be played without fans at the 4,000-seat Baltic Hall. Only teams, officials, some sponsors and journalists will be allowed in the hall. Organizers of the “Stop the Match” campaign expect 8,000 to 12,000 demonstrators before Saturday’s doubles match. Left-wing groups, human rights organizations and pro-Palestinian groups also plan to demonstrate during the tie.

SILENCE, PLEASE

Japan’s top player, Kei Nishikori, has been warned not to let his mobile phone ring on court during Japan’s Davis Cup tie with China. The 19-year-old Nishikori has been told to leave his phone in the locker room after it kept ringing during his first-round loss in a recent tournament in Memphis, Tennessee. Nishikori had left his phone in his jacket pocket and later admitting the ringing phone had interrupted his concentration in his 7-5 6-3 loss to Marcos Baghdatis. Eiji Takeuchi, Japan’s Davis Cup coach, said Nishikori “at the very least will have to learn to put it on vibration mode.”

STREAKING – 1

Venus Williams wound up with the title, but Flavia Pennetta kept one of her streaks going. Williams beat Pennetta 6-1 6-2 in the final of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel for her second straight title this year and 41st of her career. The victory increased her winning string to 10 consecutive matches. While Pennetta failed to defend her title in Acapulco, she reached the final for the sixth consecutive year. The 27-year-old Italian won her first Acapulco title in 2005 and was runner-up in 2004, 2006, 2007 and now 2009.

STREAKING – 2

When Nicolas Almagro successfully defended his men’s single title at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel, he became the first back-to-back men’s winner since the clay court tournament was moved from Mexico City to Acapulco. The fourth-seeded Spaniard also became the first to successfully defend the men’s title since Thomas Muster won four straight from 1993-96.

SWISS WEDDING

Hall of Famer Boris Becker says he will marry his Dutch girlfriend Lilly Kerssenberg in Switzerland on June 12. Becker made the announcement as he and his girlfriend appeared on a television show in Germany. The three-time Wimbledon champion said he had “taken a wrong turn” last summer when he announced his engagement to Sandy Meyer-Woelden, the daughter of his late former manager. The engagement was broken off after only a few weeks. Becker has two sons with his former wife Barbara and a daughter with a London-based Russian model.

SHAPING UP

Sania Mirza is spending some time in Las Vegas, but not at one of the city’s famed casinos. The 22-year-old Indian will be working out with Gil Reyes, the former trainer for Andre Agassi. Mirza is being joined in the Nevada city by coach Sven Groeneveld and will be working both on and off the court. After the week-long session in Las Vegas, Mirza hopes to play in Indian Wells, California, and Miami, Florida.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Dubai: Rix De Voest and Dmitry Tursunov beat Martin Damm and Robert Lindstedt 4-6 6-3 10-5 (match tiebreak)

Acapulco (men): Frantisek Cermak and Michal Mertinak beat Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach 4-6 6-4 10-7 (match tiebreak)

Acapulco (women): Llagostera Vives and Martinez Sanchez beat Dominguez Lino and Parro Santonja 6-4 6-2

Delray Beach: Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan beat Marcelo Melo and Andre Sa 6-4 6-4

SITES TO SURF

Bergamo:  www.olmesport.it

Monterrey: www.abiertodetenismonterrey.com

Davis Cup: www.DavisCup.com

Indian Wells: www.bnpparibasopen.org

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$135,000 Internazionali di Bergamo, Bergamo, Italy, hard

WTA TOUR

$220,000 Monterrey Open, Monterrey, Mexico, hard

DAVIS CUP

World Group

(First Round)

Argentina vs. Netherlands at Buenos Aires, Argentina, clay

Czech Republic vs. France at Ostrava, Czech Republic, carpet

United States vs. Switzerland at Birmingham, Alabama, USA, hard

Croatia vs. Chile at Porec, Croatia, hard

Sweden vs. Israel at Malmo, Sweden, carpet

Romania vs. Russia at Sibiu, Romania, carpet

Germany vs. Austria at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, hard

Spain vs. Serbia at Benidorm, Spain, clay

Americas Zone Group I (First Round)

Uruguay at Colombia, Ecuador at Canada

Americas Zone Group II (First Round)

Jamaica at Mexico, Netherlands Antilles at Venezuela, Guatemala at Dominican Republic, Bahamas at Paraguay

Asia/Oceania Zone Group I (Second Round)

Australia at Thailand, India at Chinese Taipei, China at Japan, Korea at Uzbekistan

Asia/Oceania Zone Group II (First Round)

Philippines at Hong Kong, Pakistan at Oman, Kuwait at Indonesia, Malaysia at New Zealand

Europe/Africa Zone Group I (First Round)

Macedonia at South Africa

Europe/Africa Zone Group I (Second Round)

Slovak Republic at Italy, Ukraine at Great Britain, Poland at Belgium

Europe/Africa Zone Group II (First Round)

Georgia at Lithuania, Egypt at Slovenia, Latvia at Moldova, Bulgaria at Hungary, Finland at Denmark, Montenegro at Monaco, Ireland at Algeria, Portugal at Cyprus

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard

WTA TOUR

$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard

Mondays With Bob Greene: We do not wish to politicize sports

STARS

Venus Williams beat Virginie Razzano 6-4 6-2 to win the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emigrates

Andy Roddick captured the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis, Tennessee, USA with a 7-5 7-5 victory over Radek Stepanek.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won the Open 13 by beating Michael Llodra 7-5 7-6 (3) in Marseille, France

Victoria Azarenka beat Caroline Wozniacki 6-1 6-3 to win the Regions Morgan Championships women’s title in Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Tommy Robredo stopped Juan Monaco 7-5 2-6 7-6 (5) to capture the Copa Telmex in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez beat Gisela Dulko 6-3 6-2 to win the Copa Colsanitas in Bogota, Colombia

SAYING

“I felt like I had to talk about her (Shahar Peer). I thought it was brave of her to come here and try and play despite knowing that it is not going to be easy for her. My dad grew up in an area where if you spoke too much, it was your life. So I felt I had a small opportunity to say something where everyone will listen.” – Venus Williams, who after winning the title in Dubai spoke of Peer during the trophy presentation.

“I am not here to rock any boat or upset people. I am just here to do things that are right. And I think right things are already happening next week and right things will happen next year.” – Venus Williams.

“We do not wish to politicize sports, but we have to be sensitive to recent events in the region and not alienate or put at risk the players and the many tennis fans of different nationalities that we have here in the UAE.” – Salah Tahlak, Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships tournament director, in a statement.

“I made it clear to them (the Dubai organizers) that if Shahar were not allowed to play, they would run the risk of losing their tournament. It would be a big blow to lose one of this prestige and money, but if it comes to principles of fairness and openness, there can be no compromise.” – Larry Scott, Sony Ericsson WTA Tour CEO.

“The ITF believes that sport should not be used as a political tool but rather as a unifying element between athletes and nations. Our flagship competitions, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas, were founded on the idea of fostering greater understanding among nations through tennis, a principle that is as valid today as it was over 100 years ago.” – Francesco Ricci Bitti, ITF president.

“I personally look forward to competing in Dubai next year. It is still very unfortunate that due to the decision of the Dubai tournament and the UAE, I could not participate this year. This has hurt me significantly both personally and professionally.” – Shahar Peer.

“This has been a very difficult period for me, and I want to thank the many thousands of fans and organizations all over the world that made this breakthrough possible, including the WTA Tour and my fellow players.” Shahar Peer.

“In the 21st century there is no reason a person should be restricted from doing his or her job because of their nationality, creed, race, gender or sexual orientation.” – Billie Jean King.

“I think due to the press and the WTA talking about it and talking with the tournament, and the pressure they felt after Shahar Peer not getting a visa – it opened up an opportunity for this other player to get a visa. I think because we didn’t just sit down and say: ‘Oh, it’s OK’, we kinda stuck to it, and it opened the doors for someone else, which is great. I don’t think that would have happened if we had just let it be.” – Serena Williams, after Israeli Andy Ram received a visa to play in the men’s tournament in Dubai.

“No player who qualifies to play an ATP World Tour event should be denied their right to compete on the basis of ethnicity, nationality or religion and we are happy that the Dubai Tennis Championships and the UAE have shown that they share that view.” – Adam Helfant, ATP president, in a statement after Ram received a visa.

“It’s amazing, I played unbelievably. Novak did a very good job today, so it was tough to beat him. For me, it was my best match since the start of the year and I’m really happy about that.” – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, after beating Novak Djokovic in the semifinals at Marseille, France.

“I had my opportunities to close out the match in the second set. But the truth is Monaco played a good match and deserved to win.” – David Nalbandian, after losing his Buenos Aires Open semifinal to Juan Monaco 2-6 7-5 7-6 (2).

“She played I think one of her best matches and I was not there. I didn’t give myself the chance to play. It was one of those days today and I’ll just have to forget it and get ready for Indian Wells.” – Dinara Safina, after losing a first-round match to Virginie Razzano 6-4 6-2

“It’s been a difficult tournament with changing conditions all the time. It’s the first time I’ve finished with my shoes full of water.” – Tommy Robredo, after winning in Buenos Aires on a court soaked by a heavy overnight downpour.

“I have no regrets. None. I was proud to retire as the world’s No 1 player. I came to the realization that there was a great life out there outside of playing top-flight tennis. It became clear in my head that I would be happier in another way.” – Justine Henin, in an interview with The Sunday Times of London.

“I could have played a match here, but not two.” – Richard Gasquet, after withdrawing from the Open 13 tournament in Marseille, France, because of a right shoulder injury.

SHAMEFUL ACTION

Tournament organizers, citing fan anger at Israel’s recent incursion into the Gaza Strip, said security fears were behind the decision to not give Shahar Peer a visa. The United Arab Emirates, which is trying to become a showcase for world-class sports, found itself immediately at the center of a firestorm of criticism from around the world. The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and ATP, which have rules stating any player should be able to compete where they wish provided they have the required ranking, led the protests. An American cable company, Tennis Channel, canceled its coverage of the tournament. And The Wall Street Journal’s European edition withdrew its sponsorship of the event. Peer thanked her fellow players for their support, but insisted it was only fair on the other competitors that the tournament continued. “They were in or on their way to Dubai, and denying them the right to play in this year’s tournament at the last moment would not make the wrong right. Venus Williams won the singles, then singled out Peer in her post-tournament remarks.

SLAMMED

The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour fined the organizers of the Dubai Tennis Championships a record USD $300,000 after Shahar Peer of Israel was denied a visa to play a tournament in the United Arab Emirates. Under a barrage of negative comments, Israeli Andy Ram was granted a visa to play in this week’s men’s tournament in Dubai. “Thanks to the courage of Shahar, and all those individuals and organizations – including her fellow players – that supported her, the UAE has changed their policy and another barrier of discrimination has fallen,” WTA Tour CEO Larry Scott said. Besides the fine, the WTA Tour announced will receive USD $44,250 and 130 ranking points, the amount equal to the points that she earned during the same week in 2008 but was unable to defend. Peer also will be guaranteed a wild card entry into the Dubai tournament next year if she does not otherwise qualify. Anna Lena Groenefeld, who was to be Peer’s doubles partner in Dubai, will receive USD $7,950, an amount equal to the average prize money that she earned per tournament in doubles in 2008. “These actions are also intended to send a clear message that our Tour will not tolerate discrimination of any kind and that we will never allow this situation to happen again, in UAE or elsewhere,” Scott said.

SEEKING WIN

Andy Ram has an added reason to win the doubles title at the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships this week. United Arab Emirates authorities granted Ram a visa following sharp world-wide protests when his fellow Israeli, Shahar Peer, was denied entry into the country and prevented from playing in the women’s tournament. Organizers of the men’s event said Ram will have all the security he needs while in Dubai. Ram and partner Julian Knowle are coming off a second-place finish at the Open 13 tournament in Marseille, France, when they lost the title match to Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra 6-3 3-6 10-8 (match tiebreak). The head of the Emirates consular affairs department said a “special permit” had been granted for Ram, but did not give a specific reason why Ram was allowed to participate and not Peer.

STAYING AWAY

Five of the top ten players in the world will be skipping the Dubai men’s championships this week. Rafael Nadal is suffering from a knee injury and hopes to be ready for Spain’s Davis Cup tie against Serbia. “The doctor has advised me to stay home and rest after the pain on my knee in Rotterdam last week,” Nadal said. Roger Federer has a bad back and will also miss Switzerland’s Davis Cup tie against the United States. Also skipping this week’s tournament, one of the richest on the ATP tour calendar with prize money of more than USD $2 million, are Nikolay Davydenko, Fernando Verdasco and Andy Roddick. “They have all seemed to have legitimate injuries,” said Colm McLoughlin, managing director of Dubai Duty Free. He apparently hadn’t talked with Roddick, who said the Peer affair was the reason he won’t defend his title in Dubai. “I really didn’t’ agree with what went on over there,” Roddick said. “I don’t know if it’s the best thing to mix politics and sports, and that was probably a big part of it.”

SILENCE, PLEASE

There won’t be much noise when Sweden and Israel play their first-round Davis Cup match in Malmo, Sweden. Because of anti-Israeli demonstrations planned during the three-day competition, Malmo officials said the matches will be played in an empty arena. Only officials, some sponsors and journalists will be allowed to view the competition because the city’s recreational committee said it could not guarantee security for the fans. There is a history in Sweden for quiet Davis Cup ties. In 1975, following a military coup in Chile, no spectators were allowed in Bastad’s arena to watch Sweden play Chile.

SKIPPING TIE

Roger Federer will miss Switzerland’s Davis Cup tie against the United States because of a back injury. He also is skipping this week’s tournament in Dubai, United Arab Emigrates. Federer said he has not had enough time to completely strengthen his back after hurting it last fall and is taking the break as a precautionary measure. Switzerland takes on the United States in the first-round tie on March 6-8 in Birmingham, Alabama.

STAYING HOME

Nikolay Davydenko will not participate in Russia’s first-round Davis Cup tie against Romania. Russian team captain Shamil Tarpishchev said Davydenko is not yet fully recovered from a foot injury that sidelined the world’s number five player for two months. Tarpishchev has named Marat Safin, Dmitry Tursunov, Teimuraz Gabashvili and Mikhail Youzhny for the March 6-8 tie that will be played in Sibiu, Romania.

SUING

In a lawsuit, Zina Garrison has accused the United States Tennis Association of discrimination. The former US Fed Cup captain said she was treated unfairly because she was paid a lower salary than Davis Cup coach Patrick McEnroe, wasn’t given a multiyear deal equivalent to McEnroe’s and was subjected to higher performance standards than he was. In the suit, Garrison claims her replacement as Fed Cup captain, Mary Joe Fernandez, was given a given a higher salary despite little coaching experience at the national level. The first black captain of the US Fed Cup team, Garrison replaced Billie Jean King in 2004 and her teams had a 5-5 record in five season, losing in the semifinals four times and the quarterfinals once. “During Ms. Garrison’s five-year tenure as captain, the United States Fed Cup team did not advance to the Fed Cup final, its longest drought in the competition’s 45-year history,” said USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier, who denied discrimination was involved in the change.

SUCCESS

Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez finally has a singles title to go along with her doubles success. The Spaniard captured her first career WTA Tour singles crown when she defeated Gisela Dulko 6-2 6-3 at the Copa Sony Ericsson Colsanitas in Bogota, Colombia. “The final was more difficult than the score suggests, but on the important points I think I played better,” Martinez Sanchez said. “I really believe that doubles helps my singles.” The 26-year-old has won six doubles titles.

SABATINI HONORED

The International Tennis Hall of Fame paid a special tribute to former US Open winner Gabriela Sabatini during the Copa Telmex Tournament in her hometown, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Sabatini, who became the first woman from Argentina to win a Grand Slam tournament title in 1990 at the US Open, was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2006. The ceremony was conducted by Mark Stenning, CEO of the Hall of Fame, and 2005 Hall of Famer Butch Buchholz.

SENIOR LEADER

Now that’s he’s recovered from hip surgery, Lleyton Hewitt will lead Australia’s Davis Cup team in their Asia/Oceania first-round tie in Thailand next month. Because of the surgery, Hewitt missed Australia’s last Davis Cup competition against Chile. Joining Hewitt on the squad will be Chris Guccione, Carsten Ball and teenager Brydan Klein. Tennis Australia also announced that Wally Masur will replace Darren Cahill as coach of the squad, joining Davis Cup captain John Fitzgerald.

SAYS NO THANKS

Plans for a Davis Cup comeback by Greg Rusedski have been dashed by British captain John Lloyd and the team’s top player, Andy Murray. The 35-year-old Rusedski said his performance in senior event had convinced him that he still could be competitive. And with Murray on Britain’s team, Rusedski felt he could help the squad, and even was willing to participate in a playoff to decide who will play number two to Murray when Great Britain takes on Ukraine. Instead, Lloyd has decided to go with youngsters.

SHOWING LIVE

The United States Davis Cup tie against Switzerland will be televised live on Tennis Channel. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) and International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced Tennis Channel will broadcast live the US Davis Cup competition for the next two years. Tennis Channel has the US television rights for Davis Cup ties involving countries other than the United States, as well as all Fed Cup matches. For the past two years, Tennis Channel has shown US Davis Cup matches only on tape delay.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Marseille: Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra beat Andy Ram and Julian Knowle 6-3 3-6 10-8 (match tiebreak)

Dubai: Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Maria Kirilenko and Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3 6-3

Memphis (men): Mardy Fish and Mark Knowles beat Travis Parrott and Filip Polasek 7-6 (7) 6-1

Memphis (women): Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki beat Yuliana Fedak and Michaella Krajicek 6-1 7-6 (2)

Bogota: Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez beat Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta 7-5 3-6 10-7 (match tiebreak)

Buenos Aires: Marcel Granollers and Alberto Martin beat Nicolas Almagro and Santiago Ventura 6-3 5-7 10-8 (match tiebreak)

SITES TO SURF

Dubai: www.dubaitennischampionships.com

Acapulco: www.abiertomexicanodetenis.com

Delray Beach: www.yellowtennisball.com

Bergamo:  www.olmesport.it

Monterrey: www.abiertodetenismonterrey.com

Davis Cup: www.DavisCup.com

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$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

WTA TOUR

$220,000 Abierto Mexicano Telcel, Acapulco, Mexico, clay

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$135,000 Internazionali di Bergamo, Bergamo, Italy, hard

WTA TOUR

$220,000 Monterrey Open, Monterrey, Mexico, hard

DAVIS CUP

World Group

(First Round)

Argentina vs. Netherlands at Buenos Aires, Argentina, clay

Czech Republic vs. France at Ostrava, Czech Republic, carpet

United States vs. Switzerland at Birmingham, Alabama, USA, hard

Croatia vs. Chile at Porec, Croatia, hard

Sweden vs. Israel at Malmo, Sweden, carpet

Romania vs. Russia at Sibiu, Romania, carpet

Germany vs. Austria at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, hard

Spain vs. Serbia at Benidorm, Spain, clay

Americas Zone Group I (First Round)

Uruguay at Colombia, Ecuador at Canada

Americas Zone Group II (First Round)

Jamaica at Mexico, Netherlands Antilles at Venezuela, Guatemala at Dominican Republic, Bahamas at Paraguay

Asia/Oceania Zone Group I (Second Round)

Australia at Thailand, India at Chinese Taipei, China at Japan, Korea at Uzbekistan

Asia/Oceania Zone Group II (First Round)

Philippines at Hong Kong, Pakistan at Oman, Kuwait at Indonesia, Malaysia at New Zealand

Europe/Africa Zone Group I (First Round)

Macedonia at South Africa

Europe/Africa Zone Group I (Second Round)

Slovak Republic at Italy, Ukraine at Great Britain, Poland at Belgium

Europe/Africa Zone Group II (First Round)

Georgia at Lithuania, Egypt at Slovenia, Latvia at Moldova, Bulgaria at Hungary, Finland at Denmark, Montenegro at Monaco, Ireland at Algeria, Portugal at Cyprus

Mondays With Bob Greene: Roger, sorry for today

STARS

(Australian Open)

Men’s singles: Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer 7-5 3-6 7-6 (3) 3-6 6-2

Women’s singles: Serena Williams beat Dinara Safina 6-0 6-3

Men’s doubles: Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan beat Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 2-6 7-5 6-0

Women’s doubles: Venus Williams and Serena Williams beat Daniela Hantuchova and Ai Sugiyama 6-3 6-3

Mixed doubles: Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi beat Nathalie Dechy and Andy Ram 6-3 6-1

Junior Boys singles: Yuki Bhambri beat Alexandros-Ferdinandos Georgoudas 6-3 6-1

Junior Girls singles: Ksenia Pervak beat Laura Robson 6-3 6-1

Junior Boys doubles: Francis Casey Alcantara and Hsieh Cheng-Peng beat Mikhal Biryukov and Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-4 6-2

Junior Girls doubles: Christina McHale and Ajla Tomljanovic beat Alexandra Krunic and Sandra Zaniewska 6-1 2-6 10-4 (match tiebreak)

Women’s Wheelchair Singles: Esther Vergeer beat Korie Homan 6-4 6-2

Men’s Wheelchair Singles: Shingo Kunieda beat Stephane Houdet 6-2 6-4

Quad Wheelchair Singles: Peter Norfolk beat David Wagner 7-6 (5) 6-1

(Other Tournaments)

Benjamin Becker beat Karol Beck 6-4 6-4 to win the Heilbronn Open in Heilbronn, Germany

SAYING

“Roger, sorry for today. I really know how you feel right now. Remember, you’re a great champion, you’re one of the best in history.” – Rafael Nadal, consoling a crying Roger Federer after winning his first hard court Grand Slam title.

“I love this game. It means the world to me, so it hurts when you lose.” – Roger Federer, after losing to Rafael Nadal.

“I always believe I’m the best, whether I’m number 1 or 100. Just having that extra bonus is pretty cool.” – Serena Williams, who moved into the WTA Tour’s number one ranking by winning the Australian Open.

“She played exactly the way she had to play and she was much more aggressive and she was just taking time out of me, so I didn’t have that much time to put myself back onto the court. She didn’t even let me come into the match.” – Dinara Safina, after losing to Serena Williams in the women’s final.

“All I know is Serena usually picks up the bill.” – Mike Bryan, discussing the co-celebration of the two doubles champions, brothers Mike and Bob Bryan and sisters Serena and Venus Williams.

“It’s always a dream to win a Grand Slam. That’s what we all play for. … It makes it more special because it’s with someone that I know for so long and so well.” – Sania Mirza, after teaming with Mahesh Bhupathi to win the mixed doubles.

“Let’s not kid ourselves. You’re down two sets to him and scraping, trying to survive.” – Andy Roddick, after losing to Roger Federer.

“I think I was maybe not aggressive enough and maybe I was playing not deep enough, which allowed her to be very aggressive and dictate the game.” – Elena Dementieva, after losing to Serena Williams 6-3 6-4, snapping a 15-match win streak.

“I just have a bad day. He’s Roger Federer (and) if you don’t be good, you lose.” – Juan Martin del Potro, who lost his quarterfinal match to Federer 6-3 6-0 6-0.

“I don’t think I put in a bad performance. She was just coming every time with a better shot to my shot. Sometimes you have to accept someone is just better than you.” – Marion Bartoli, after losing to Vera Zvonareva 6-3 6-0.

SPANISH KING

Rafael Nadal won his first Grand Slam title on a hard court and became the first Spaniard to win the Australian Open as he out-fought Roger Federer in a five-set, 4-hour, 23-minute struggle. It was Nadal’s fifth victory over his Swiss rival in seven Grand Slam finals, three of them on the clay at Roland Garros. The other came on grass at Wimbledon. The loss also denied Federer the chance to equal the men’s record of 14 Grand Slam singles titles set by Pete Sampras. It was the first five-set final in Melbourne in 21 years and was so close that Federer actually won more points in the match – 174 to Nadal’s 173. It was the Spaniard, though, who won the key points. “It is very special for me. It’s a dream win, one Grand Slam on a hard court,” said the 22-year-old Nadal. “I’ve worked very hard all my life to improve my tennis outside of clay. I’m very happy, very happy to win the title.” Nadal won a thrilling five-set match against fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the semifinals and became the first man since Goran Ivanisevic at Wimbledon in 2001 to win a Grand Slam title with five-set victories in the final two rounds.

SUPER SERENA

Serena Williams crushed Dinara Safina 6-0 6-3 to win her fourth Australian Open women’s singles title and regain the number one ranking. She also teamed with her sister Venus to capture the women’s doubles crown and became the all-time leading money winner in women’s sports, her career earnings now above USD $23.5 million. Golfer Annika Sorenstam, who retired at the end of last season, was the previous all-time leader at USD $22,573,192. Safina won just eight points in the opening set as Serena won back-to-back majors for the first time since winning the Australian Open in 2003, when she completed her “Serena Slam” of four consecutive majors. The only other woman to win consecutive majors since then was Justine Henin.

SIBLING SUCCESS

The doubles was a sibling thing at the Australian Open as sisters Venus and Serena Williams won the women’s title, while brothers Bob and Mike Bryan captured the men’s crown. It was the eighth Grand Slam doubles title for Venus and Serena, who also won the Olympic gold medal in Beijing last summer. And it was their third title in Melbourne, having also won in 2001 and 2003. In winning their seventh Grand Slam title, the Bryans regained their number one ranking. Like the sisters, the Bryans also had won twice before in Melbourne, in 2006 and 2007.

SWEATING BULLETS

Elena Dementieva was surprised the roof on Rod Laver Arena was not closed prior to the start of her quarterfinal match against Carla Suarez Navarro. Svetlana Kuznetsova was angry that officials closed the roof during her match against Serena Williams. Dementieva won her match 6-2 6-2 in the almost 100-degree-plus heat. But the extreme heat policy was not brought into play until later in the day. Kuznetsova was up a set against Williams when play was suspended and the roof was closed. Williams, who looked to be struggling in the intense heat, was rejuvenated in the cooler conditions. Kuznetsova, who served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, was visibly annoyed when the roof was closed after the first set. “Yeah I was definitely angry,” she said. “Why should I not be? The game was going my way. I’m fine playing with the roof open. … It’s two different games. One you play inside, one you play outside.”

SCHEDULE CHANGE?

Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic believe the women should not always go first when it comes to playing night matches at the Australian Open. After beating the 2008 champion Djokovic, Roddick said he believes men should play the first night match occasionally during the first week of a Grand Slam tournament. Djokovic and Marcos Baghdatis complained of a late start when their fourth-round match finished at 2:26 a.m. because the previous women’s match had last three hours. The men didn’t get on court until 11:10 p.m. “If all things are equal, then I feel like the scheduling should be the same,” Roddick said. All four Grand Slam tournaments pay equal prize money to men and women.

SPEAKING UP

Jimmy Connors will be the lead analyst for Tennis Channel when it telecasts the US Open later this year. It’s the first time Connors has been an announcer on a US TV network since 1991, when he was working for NBC while still competing as a player. After he retired, the winner of eight Grand Slam tournaments worked for the British Broadcasting Corp. at Wimbledon from 2005-2007.

SHE’S BACK

Jelena Dokic is back. After spending three years away from the top level of the sport, the 25-year-old Dokic reached the Australian Open quarterfinals where she took world number three Dinara Safina to three sets before falling. Once ranked number four in the world, Dokic had a very public split from her domineering father Damir, moved back to Australia and won a wildcard qualifying tournament to make the main draw in the year’s first Grand Slam tournament since 2006. Then she recaptured the hearts and minds of her adopted homeland with a series of contrite apologies for her previous behavior. It didn’t hurt that she beat 17th-seeded Anna Chakvetadze in the second round, 11th-seeded Caroline Wozniacki in the third round and 29th-seeded Alisa Kleybanova in the fourth round. “Everything is positive,” Dokic said. “I think I’ve shown that I can play with some of the best girls in the world, top 20 and top 10.”

SUITING UP AGAIN

Patrick Rafter, who won the US Open in 1997 and 1998, will make his debut on the Outback Champions Series tennis circuit next month in Los Cabos, Mexico. Rafter will compete in the Del Mar Development Champions Cup to be held March 18-22, a first-year event on the tennis circuit for champion players age 30 and over. Now 36, Rafter is best known for becoming the first Australian man to win the US Open since John Newcombe in 1973.

SURVIVAL KEY

Former Yugoslavia Davis Cup coach Radmilo Armenulic says Serbia’s three leading players need to work harder if they are to survive at the top. Armenulic said Novak Djokovic and Jelena Jankovic traveled to Australia too late to become acclimatized to the summer heat. He feels they should have gone to Australia at least one month in advance of the Australian Open. Armenulic called for Jankovic to improve her second serve, which he said is easy prey for her rivals, and said Ivanovic is falling prey to distractions, including questions about her private life.

STILL WINNING

Esther Vergeer ran her winning streak to 357 matches as she once again won the women’s wheelchair singles at the Australian Open, beating Dutch compatriot Korie Homan 6-4 6-2. Vergeer says she has no problems staying motivated, noting: “It’s not that I’m aiming for this one title or tournament, even though I’d like to go to Wimbledon. It’s more about getting the best out of myself.”

STARS OF INDIA

Sania Mirza became the first Indian woman to win a senior Grand Slam tournament title when she teamed up with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi to capture the Australian Open mixed doubles, beating Nathalie Dechy of France and Andy Ram of Israel 6-3 6-1. The year’s first Grand Slam tournament also saw Yuki Bhambri become the first player from India to win a Grand Slam junior singles title. Bhupathi, who has now won 11 majors in doubles play, including seven in mixed competition, was runner-up in the men’s doubles with Mark Knowles of the Bahamas.

SHIFTING GLOBE

Besides India, other Asian countries are providing winners in tennis. Francis Casey Alcantara of the Philippines teamed with Hsieh Cheng-Peng of Taiwan to win the junior boys’ doubles at the Australia Open, besting Mikhal Biryukov of Russia and Yasutaka Uchiyama of Japan in the title match, 6-4 6-2. It is Hsieh’s third junior Grand Slam doubles title, winning at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon last year.

STUDENT

Gustavo Kuerten has returned to school. The three-time Roland Garros champion, now 32 years old, will study theater at UDESC, the state university of Santa Catarina in Brazil. Kuerten was admitted to the university after he finished his exam in fifth place among the Arts Major contenders. He is interested in writing screenplays and directing movies. He retired from tennis last year after struggling with a right hip injury.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Heilbronn: Karol Beck and Jaroslav Levinsky beat Benedikt Dorsch and Philipp Petzschner 7-6 (3) 7-5

SITES TO SURF

Zagreb: www.zagrebindoors.com/indoors.htm

Vina del Mar: www.movistaropen.cl/

Johannesburg: www.zagrebindoors.com/indoors.htm

Wroclaw: www.kghm-atp.pl

Fed Cup: www.fedcup.com

Costa Do Sauipe: www2.uol.com.br/tenisbrasil/brasilopen/

Rotterdam: www.abnamrowtt.nl/

San Jose:

Paris: www.opengdfsuez.com

Pattaya City: www.pentangelepromotions.com

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$581,850 PBZ Zagreb Indoors, Zagreb, Croatia, hard

$500,000 SA Tennis Open, Johannesburg, South Africa, hard

$496,750 Movistar Open, Vina del Mar, Chile, clay

$137,704 KGHM Dialog Polish Indoor, Wroclaw, Poland, hard

FED CUP

(First Round)

World Group

Russia vs. China at Moscow, Russia

France vs. Italy at Orleans, France

United States vs. Argentina at Surprise, Arizona, USA

Czech Republic vs. Spain at Brno, Czech Republic

World Group 2

Slovak Republic vs. Belgium at Bratislava, Slovak Republic

Switzerland vs. Germany at Zurich, Switzerland

Serbia vs. Japan at Belgrade, Serbia

Ukraine vs. Israel at Kharkiv, Ukraine

Europe Zone Group 1

At Tallinn, Estonia

Austria, Belarus, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Great Britain, Hungary, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Sweden

American Zone Group 1

At Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Paraguay, Puerto Rico and Venezuela

Asia/Oceania Zone Group 1

At Perth, Australia

Australia, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Thailand, Uzbekistan, India, New Zealand and Korea

Asia/Oceana Zone Group 2

At Perth, Australia

Kazakhstan, Hong Kong China, Iran and Singapore

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$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

WTA TOUR

$700,000 Open GDF Suez, Paris, France, carpet

$220,000 PTT Pattaya Women’s Open, Pattaya City, Thailand, hard

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