Anna Chakvetadze

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The WTA’s Lost Girls

Szavay

One of the things that makes tennis so unique is the ability to categorize periods in the sport by generations; the struggle of the “new guard” to take control from the “old guard” is a constantly recurring narrative. With the news Wednesday that Agnes Szavay has officially retired from professional tennis due to lingering back issues, it’s only right to take a look at the highest-profile players in what can be dubbed “The Lost Generation” of the WTA; each of these women, fairly close in age, all found success over a short period of time that all went away in an instant due to injuries, personal problems or both.

It all began with Nicole Vaidisova.

In 2004, her first full season as a professional, Vaidisova became the sixth-youngest champion in WTA at the Tier V event in Vancouver, aged 15 years, three months and 23 days. Behind her strong serve and attacking baseline game, Vaidisova looked to be the next champion who had been groomed of the courts of the Bollettieri academy.

Despite being born in 1989, Vaidisova was a force on the senior circuit while her contemporaries were still playing juniors. When she made the semifinals of Roland Garros in 2006, defeating Amelie Mauresmo and Venus Williams along the way, Caroline Wozniacki was the second seed in the junior event, players including Dominika Cibulkova and Ekaterina Makarova were unseeded there, and Agnieszka Radwanska won the title; in addition, Victoria Azarenka was the 2005 ITF Junior World Champion. Vaidisova reached her second Grand Slam semifinal at the Australian Open in 2007, and peaked at No. 7 in May of that year.

Also in 2007, the trio of Anna Chakvetadze, Tatiana Golovin and Szavay arrived.

Golovin burst on to the scene very early in her professional career, reaching the fourth round in her debut at the 2004 Australian Open and winning the mixed doubles with Richard Gasquet at their home slam in Paris later that year. She boasted an impressive all court game, also highlighted by a lethal forehand. Inconsistency followed, but Golovin found form late in 2006, when she reached her first, and only, Grand Slam quarterfinal at the US Open. She captured her two career WTA titles in 2007, finished runner-up to Justine Henin in two big events in the fall indoor season, and ended that year as World No. 13.

At her peak, Chakvetadze was perhaps the only player with legitimate claim to the (oft-misguided) comparison to Martina Hingis; Hingis herself affirmed the comparisons, once stating, “She’s very smart around the court and she has good vision. You don’t see anything specific that she’s winning matches [with] so I definitely see some similarities.” The Russian burst on the scene in 2004 as well, when she qualified and defeated reigning Roland Garros champion Anastasia Myskina in the first round of the US Open. Following a steady rise, she won her biggest career title at the Tier I event in Moscow in late 2006; on the back of a quarterfinal in Australia in 2007, she made her top 10 debut in February. Another quarterfinal at Roland Garros, a semifinal at the US Open and four titles put her among the elite at the 2007 Year-End Championships in Madrid. She is one of only a handful of players who can boast a win over both Williams sisters.

Possessed with a strong serve and elegant two-handed backhand, Szavay rose from obscurity to “destined for stardom” in a matter of a few months in 2007. As a qualifier at the Tier II event in New Haven, she reached the final, where she was forced to retire against Svetlana Kuznetsova up a set due to…a lower back injury; looking back, an injury which had originally been attributed to a taxing week may have been a sign of things to come. Nonetheless, Szavay reached the quarterfinals of the US Open, where she was again stopped by Kuznetsova. The Hungarian pulled off a lot of upsets in 2007, but perhaps greatest of these was her 6-7(7), 7-5, 6-2 triumph over Jelena Jankovic in the Tier II event in Beijing; at a set and 5-1 down, Szavay hit a second serve ace down match point en route to one of the greatest WTA comebacks in recent memory.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsLq8_aGst8

After starting the season ranked No. 189, Szavay ended it ranked No. 20. For her efforts, she was named the 2007 WTA Newcomer of the Year.

With the good, sadly, came all the bad. Vaidisova suffered from mononucleosis in late 2007 and her form took a nosedive; she officially retired in 2010, as her stepfather stated she was “fed up with tennis” and that it was “understandable” because “she started so young.” Chakvetadze, after being tied up and robbed in 2007, dealt with a whole host of injuries; she too is currently sidelined with a recurring back injury. Having made a foray into Russian politics in 2011 with the Right Cause Party, and being a featured commentator on Russian Eurosport for the 2013 Australian Open, it’s unclear when or if she will return to competition. After reaching a career-high ranking of No. 12 in early 2008, Golovin has been inactive since due to chronic lower back inflammation, and has ruled out a return. Whilst still being troubled by her back, Szavay showed only flashes of her best form in the seasons since, including upsetting then-World No. 3 Venus Williams 6-0, 6-4 in the third round at Roland Garros in 2009. 2010 was her last full season; a failed comeback in 2012 concluded with a retirement loss to countrywoman Greta Arn in the first round of the US Open, her last professional match.

It’s hard to say if this quartet could’ve taken the next step into legitimate slam contenders, or even champions, more than five years removed from their days in the sun. But largely due to matters outside their control, we’ll never even know.

 

Rafael Nadal marches on, Federer refutes criticism and Azarenka not taking risks

World No.1 Rafael Nadal

Rafa Continues Love Affair with Clay:

Rafael Nadal remains unbeaten on clay since 2009 after a battling 6-4, 7-5 victory over David Ferrer in the Monte Carlo final. It was his 37th straight victory at the Masters tournament and his seventh consecutive title there, a new record. “It would have been impossible to imagine a few years ago winning seven titles here,” said Nadal. “I’m a lucky guy to have done this by age 24. I’m really enjoying everything. This was a very important win for me. I don’t think about defending points from previous years, only about playing well. I just keep trying to improve every day, train humbly and improve. Winning this week was so important.” Ferrer seemed at as much of a loss as the rest of us as to just how Rafa can be stopped on his favourite surface. “Well, he’s not a machine. He can lose,” Ferrer pondered. “Maybe if Rafa has an injury, I will have a chance.”

Federer Refutes Criticism:

Roger Federer refused to be downbeat following his slightly surprising defeat to Jurgen Melzer at Monte Carlo last week. The Austrian left-hander bested the No.2 seed 6-4, 6-4 and many saw it as another step back for the former world No.1 who now hasn’t won a tournament since Doha in January. But Federer refused to be troubled by the result: “I didn’t think I played terrible,” he said. “It’s the first week of play (on clay) so I didn’t expect to play my best. It’s been a solid tournament. I think I should have definitely gotten one of the sets. Every time I had this slight opening, things didn’t go my way. Even in the wind, I had all my chances to come back into the match. He did well. I think he played aggressive, was able to mix it up. Obviously, I wasted way too many break-point chances today, which was unfortunate.

Azarenka not risking it in Stuttgart:

Victoria Azarenka explained her reasons for retiring from her first-round Stuttgart match against Julia Georges despite taking the first set. She revealed that a shoulder injury suffered while on Fed Cup duty had been behind the withdrawal. “I picked up a shoulder injury during Fed Cup,” said the Belarusian. “I have been trying to rehab the last few days and tried my best here but it keeps getting worse. I didn’t want to push it any further at the start of the clay season. I’ll go back to do some therapy in Monaco so hopefully I’ll have time to recover and play Madrid.”

Nadal: “Barca Crucial to No.1 Ranking:”

World No.1 Rafa Nadal believes that Barcelona is a vital stop on the ATP Tour this year as he looks to keep up the gap over his closest rival Novak Djokovic. Nadal realizes he has a difficult challenge over the coming months as an incredible clay season during 2010 means he has 4,000 South African Airways ATP World Ranking points to defend. With his lead over Djokovic standing at 3,230 he is looking to open that up a little before the Serb begins his clay-court season. “Every year I did a fantastic clay court season. I have to try to do it another time,” Nadal stated after winning his seventh straight Monte-Carlo title on Sunday. “With these four or five tournaments, if I am playing very well, I’m going to have the biggest chances to have enough points to try to be in the top position at the end of the year ranking. Nole will always be on the opposite side of the draw, which means that I can only meet him in the final. For now I have to focus on my upcoming opponents. Djokovic has started the season in great shape and why should this not be his season?”

Almagro to Crack Top Ten:

25-year-old Nicolas Almagro will enter the world’s Top 10 next week for the first time in his career having overcome the freefalling Russian Nikolay Davydenko in the third round at Barcelona. The Spaniard has had most of his success on clay, particularly this year, and only David Ferrer prevented him picking up triple titles on the South American “Golden Swing” circuit by defeating him in the final at Acapulco after he had taken home Costa do Sauipe and Buenos Aires. “I knew that today’s match could have a special reward,” he said. “It was the third time I had a chance to get to the Top 10, after Acapulco and Monte-Carlo first. It’s an incredible feeling. There’s no better place to achieve it than in my home club in front of my own people and my family and all the home support. It’s a great reward for myself and the work of my whole team.” Almagro will become the 17th Spaniard since the rankings’ inception in 1973 to crack the Top 10.

America on the Decline:

A 5-0 defeat to Germany in the Fed Cup World Group play-offs means that the USA will drop out of the top tier of the competition for the first time. A youthful side, still missing both Serena and Venus Williams who haven’t represented their country since 2007, were no match for an Andrea Petkovic-inspired German side and it was the creator of the ‘Petkodance’ who won the deciding rubber, 6-2, 6-3 over Melanie Oudin. A tearful Venus could be seen courtside after traveling with the squad despite injury for moral support. Speaking of the all-important rubber, Oudin said: “I tried not to think about it but it was extra weight on my shoulder.” The USA have won the Fed Cup a record 17 times and have finished as the runners up to Italy in the past two years.

Venus “Unsure” on Return:

Venus Williams admits that she is unsure when she will be fit enough to return to the WTA Tour. She has not played since the Australian Open and has penciled in Madrid, next month, for a return. Yet she says she won’t start playing until she is 100% fit again, unlike in Melbourne when she only troubled her existing hip injury. Meanwhile, Serbia’s team doctor has confirmed that the abdominal injury that forced Ana Ivanovic to retire from her Fed Cup match against the Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova is not that serious and she will only be out for around a week. It has been troubling the former world No.1 slightly since the Aussie Open but it is not thought  that surgery is required to fix the problem.

Will Chakvetedze return to Dizzy Heights:

Former Top 10 player Anna Chakvetedze retired from her first-round encounter against Zuzana Kucova in Stuttgart after becoming ill and suffering from dizzy spells, the third tournament in a row (Dubai and Indian Wells) she has retired from for these reasons. “I started the match feeling fine but I knew it [the dizziness] was coming and started to feel worse in the second set, the same feeling as the last two times,” Chakvetadze said in a statement distributed by the WTA. “I have seen a doctor and don’t really have anything more to update at the moment. I saw the doctors at home before the tournament and they told me everything would be OK, which is why I decided to play here.” At the time the scoreboard read 6-1, 5-7, 4-4.

Boldly Going Where no Moroccan Woman Has Gone Before:

Before this week Morocco’s Nadia Lalami had played four WTA Tour matches, which had all been first round defeats. Now she finds herself in the quarterfinals of the Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem and in the history books too. The 20-year-old shocked No.1 seed Aravane Rezai to become the first Moroccan to reach a WTA Tour level quarterfinal in the organisation’s history. She dropped the first set before racing to a 5-1 lead in the second. She almost let it slip before beating Rezai in the tiebreak and going on to nick the third set.

Rankings Watch:

American Mardy Fish enters the Top 10 of the South African Airways ATP World Rankings this week while Jurgen Melzer is up to No.8 and Frenchman Gael Monfils moves up to No.9. Fernando Verdasco is the unlucky Spaniard who drops out. Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov continues his ascent since January and finds himself in the Top 20 for the first time. Xavier Malisse is in to the Top 50 at No.47 while Italy’s Fabio Fognini joins him at No.49. Federico Gil had an impressive run at Monte Carlo, which sees him jump 18 to No.64 while Dudi Sela (19 places to No.96), Donald Young (24, No.98) and Germany’s Matthias Bachinger (35, No.99) all took big leaps in to the Top 100. Li Na has equaled her career-best in the Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings this week after returning to No.6 in the world. She is the only mover within the Top 20. Britain’s Anne Keothavong is enjoying her return from injury and jumps 15 to No.95 this week while the Czech Republic’s Sandra Zahlavova is also in to the Top 100.

Rafa Closes GOAT Race Gap:

Rafael Nadal continued to claw in to Roger Federer’s GOAT race lead by continuing his mesmerizing run on clay courts to lift the Monte Carlo title. Roger Federer reached the quarter final stage before losing to Jurgen Melzer so adds 25 points to his running total while Rafa’s title gives him 200 points to cut the deficit to just 35 points. By then entering Barcelona, Rafa adds another 10 to his score to make Roger’s lead now just 25.

Roger: 595 Rafa: 570

Anna Kournikova in 3D, That’s Almost Real, Right? Right??

anna-cover-a

Earlier this year I wrote a post that confirmed the myth of Eastern European women. In that post I wrote that every Eastern European woman is actually goodlooking is not a myth; It’s a reality.I really actually tried to crack the myth Mythbusters style.

And I showed photos of Victoria Azarenka and Anna Chakvetadze and Dominika Cibulkova. Photos of FHM. I was brutally corrected by Tom that it was the photoshoot for FHM and not Smash Magazine.

To further confirm this myth, Maxim magazine comes with a photoshoot of the poster girl of the myth; Anna Kournikova.  Anna Kournikova was once the most downloaded woman in the world.  Whenever you watched Wimbledon coverage on TV and they showed an Anna Kournikova match; The stadium was sold out whether she played on Centre Court or Court 20! And it wasn’t just the boys she attracted, having been a longstanding member of the official Kournikova website forum I can confirm that lots of girls were into her as well.

Anna features on the cover of Maxim magazine for the fifth time already.  And what’s great about this part is that it has got 3D photos of Anna Kournikova. That’s almost  as if she’s standing live in my room eh?

In the interview with Maxim, Anna talks about her dual citizenship having become an American recently:

“You know, I’ve always considered myself half Russian and half American. It never seemed to really matter if I had a passport or not. But when I started working with the USO and the troops overseas, it just seemed the logical next step…”

On her lovelife she said the following:

“Single as in on paper? ‘Yes, but I’m in a relationship.”

If you want to read more then I suggest you visit the Maxim site to ‘read up’ on Anna Kournikova’s latest.

Thanks to the boys of Egotastic,  I have managed to find the video to go with the photoshoot. So that’s a nice extra add on. Enjoy the photos and take a vote in our poll after the photos and video.

[polldaddy poll=3807026]

Anna Chakvetadze Is On A Roll!

With our photographer Ralf Reinecke still in Portoroz the photos just keep coming.  Anna Chakvetadze is doing some good business here and it shows in her results:

Anna Chakvetadze beat sixth-seeded Vera Dushevina 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 after saving two match points in an all-Russian quarterfinal.

Chakvetadze will face seventh-seeded Polona Hercog of Slovenia—the only seeded player left at the tournament—who defeated Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland, 7-5, 7-5.

(Source AP)

Let’s hope that this will be a jumpstart to new success for AnnaChak!

Another Prodigal Pictorial: Anna Chakvetadze Graces Portoroz

So for the second time this week I have a prodigy on my plate. Anna Chakvetadze once held the number five position of the world but has fallen to 111. Though many of us are waiting for a prodigal return of Anna to the top 10,  I don’t see it happen for now.  She is only 23 so keep in mind that she could bounce back at any point but I am not holding my breath.

And even though I don’t expect a comeback anytime soon, she still looks good on photo. And photographer Ralf Reinecke thinks so too.

A GDF SUEZ Grand Prix Pictorial

Our photographer Ralf Reinecke is currently attending the GDF SUEZ Grand Prix tournament in Budapest to shoot some amazing photos for us.  And you all may remember Anna Chakvetadze who is currently playing in Budapest.  AnnaChak used to be a top 10 player and even reached the fifth place of the WTA Tour. She dropped after that. Which is really a shame because she was quite good.

You can actually almost say that our photographer Ralf Reinecke is her personal photographer and the photos that follow illustrate why:

CONFIRMING THE MYTH OF EASTERN EUROPEAN WOMEN

My name is Stephane Carter. And I am here to inform you that the myth that every Eastern European female tennis player is goodlooking  is actually not a myth. No, it’s a fact. I have been an avid tennis fan for more than 20 years.  And in all those years that I have followed the WTA Tour I have never ever seen a not goodlooking  Eastern European female tennis player.

And to further backup my statement I got the pics to show for it! I am sure you all will agree. If not then I am forced to use my Jedi Mindtrick on you!!

The gallery features Victoria Azarenka, Anna Chakvetadze, Alona Bondarenko and Dominika Cibulkova! Yup, life just doesn’t come better than that. The scans were made from Smash Magazine 2009.

Azarenka, Ivanovic soar into second round in Cincinnati

Ana Ivanovic

In their first appearances at the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open in Cincinnati, Ninth-seeded Victoria Azarenka and No. 11 Ana Ivanovic advanced to the second round.

Azarenka, who has won three singles titles this season, held off Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi, 6-3, 7-6(2), in the opening match of the tournament. Ivanovic, a former world No. 1, rallied from a first set hiccup to bounce American qualifier Melanie Oudin, 2-6, 6-1, 6-1, in 88 minutes.

The 20-year-old Belarusian was solid throughout the one hour and 29-minute match, committing only 15 unforced errors compared to 36 by Kanepi. Azarenka won 75 percent of first serve points, while breaking serve on three of seven occasions. Azarenka has now won both meetings against Kanepi and will next face Russian Anna Chakvetadze, who defeated Elena Vesnina, 7-5, 6-3.

After looking like another early round exit was in store for the former Roland Garros champion, Ivanovic quickly turned things around as the 17-year-old Oudin began to fade.

Ivanovic struggled a great deal with her ball toss, hitting six double faults, but insisted afterwards that she has had more pace on her serve and her shoulder problems are gone. The 21-year-old Serb was very consistent from the baseline in the final two sets, breaking serve five times.

Play was suspended in the third set due to heavy thunderstorms with Ivanovic leading 4-1. But after play resumed following a lengthy delay, Ivanovic lost just three points en route to victory.

Ivanovic next faces Melinda Czink of Hungary, who defeated Alize Cornet, 6-3, 6-2. Ivanovic has won all three previous meetings against Czink, winning most recently at Wimbledon in 2007.

Mondays With Bob Greene: For me Roger is the greatest player ever who played the tennis game

Caroline Wozniacki wins Eastbourne

STARS

Caroline Wozniacki beat Virginie Razzano 7-6 (5) 7-5 to win the AEGON International women’s singles in Eastbourne, Great Britain

Dmitry Tursunov beat Frank Dancovic 6-3 7-6 (5) to win the AEGON International men’s singles in Eastbourne

Tamarine Tanasugarn beat Yanina Wickmayer 6-3 7-5 to successfully defend her Ordina Open women’s crown in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands

Benjamin Becker beat Raemon Sluiter 7-5 6-3 to win the Ordina Open men’s singles in ‘s-Hertogenbosch

SAYING

“When I start a tournament like Wimbledon, it is to try to win, and my feeling right now is I’m not ready to play to win.” – Rafael Nadal, withdrawing from Wimbledon and becoming only the fourth man in the Open Era to not defend his Wimbledon singles title.

“I love playing here.” – Tamarine Tanasugarn, after winning her second straight Ordina Open singles title at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands.

“That loss exhausted me mentally. I am still trying to recover.” – Novak Djokovic, on his three-set, four-hour loss to Rafael Nadal in Madrid, Spain, in mid-May.

“No girl likes to be compared to another. Ultimately, what we have in common is that we play tennis. I feel flattered that people like the way I look, but it doesn’t help you win points.” – Ana Ivanovic, who is constantly being compared to Maria Sharapova and Anna Kournikova.

“For me Roger is the greatest player ever who played the tennis game. It’s always good to see him play and win and we are going to see so much more of Federer in the future, he is going to win more grand slam tournaments.” – Bjorn Borg, picking Federer to win Wimbledon this year.

“The body of work is phenomenal and now he has got that French Open and I think he can just go on and sip Margaritas for the rest of his life.” – Martina Navratilova, on Roger Federer winning in Paris.

“I can play on grass. I just need time.” – Jelena Jankovic, after losing a first-round match at Eastbourne.

“It’s my first title on grass so that means a lot to me. I wish I could have closed it off a little bit earlier but it doesn’t matter how I won, so that is the main thing and I am happy.” – Caroline Wozniacki, after winning at Eastbourne.

“I am definitely going to try to come out, unless I am going to be on crutches. Even then I will try to come out.” – Dmitry Tursunov, on whether his ankle injury will prevent him from playing Wimbledon.

“On this surface, everything is opposite. For me, it’s too much to change in three days.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, losing her first match on grass after winning the French Open, a clay court tournament.

“It’s been a very surprising week for us because before this tournament we had only won four matches in our whole career on grass. So we’ve managed to double that this week.” – Marcin Matkowski, after teaming with Mariusz Fyrstenberg to win the men’s doubles at Eastbourne.

“We managed to beat the number one seeds and French Open champions in the first round, and then we played better and better as the week progressed.” – Mariusz Fyrstenberg.

“It’s Ralph Lauren, it has a bit of a tuxedo feel but it’s flattering. I’m having a good time with it.” – Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, about the outfit she wore to a pre-Wimbledon player party.

STAYING HOME

Because of his aching knees, Rafael Nadal became just the fourth player in the Open Era to not defend his Wimbledon singles title. Nadal announced his withdrawal after playing two exhibition matches on grass. He lost both, the first to Lleyton Hewitt, the second to Stanislas Wawrinka. “I didn’t feel terrible, but not close to my best,” the Spaniard said. “I’m just not 100 percent. I’m better than I was a couple of weeks ago, but I just don’t feel ready.” Nadal joins John Newcombe (1972), Stan Smith (1973) and Goran Ivanisevic (2002) as the only players who did not defend their Wimbledon titles in the Open Era; in 1973, Smith joined a player’s boycott against the tennis establishment. Nadal has complained about his knees since a fourth-round loss to Robin Soderling at the French Open on May 31 ended his streak of four consecutive championships at Roland Garros. “It’s not chronic,” Nadal said of his knee problems. “I can recover, for sure.”

Frenchman Gael Monfils pulled out of Wimbledon because of a wrist injury. A week earlier, he had pulled out of his scheduled match against Steve Darcis at Queen’s Club.

Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus has withdrawn from Wimbledon due to a knee injury. An Australian Open finalist in 2006, Baghdatis was carried off the court on a stretcher for the second time in nine months after injuring his knee during a match at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. He also was carried off the court on a stretcher last fall at the Open de Moselle in Metz, France, when he hurt his back.


SPOT ON TOP OPEN?

Roger Federer could reclaim the number one ranking by winning his sixth Wimbledon title. The Swiss star held the top spot in the rankings for a record 237 consecutive weeks until Rafael Nadal pushed him down to number two last August. Nadal has withdrawn from Wimbledon because of his injured knees. But anything short of a sixth Wimbledon title won’t be enough for Federer, who could actually be passed in the rankings by Andy Murray. If he became the first Brit to win the men’s singles since Fred Perry in 1936, Murray would move up to number two in the rankings behind Nadal, but no higher.

SICK CALL

Ivan Ljubicic fell heavily in his match at the Eastbourne International, injuring his ankle. Racing to the net to reach a delicate shot by his opponent, Fabrice Santoro, Ljubicic skidded on the grass, fell and cried out while clutching his left ankle. Santoro dropped his racquet and ran to the court-side freezer to get bags of ice, which he then applied to Ljubicic’s ankle while officials summoned the trainer. Ljubicic had won the first set 6-3 but was 2-4 down when he fell.

Marion Bartoli is still in the Wimbledon women’s singles despite suffering a leg injury in the semifinals at the AEGON International tournament in Eastbourne. Bartoli had lost the first set to Virginie Razzano when she asked for a trainer. Her thigh was treated and strapped, but, after losing the first game of the second set to love, she retired from the match.

SLUITER HISTORY

Although he lost the title match, Raemon Sluiter made history by becoming the lowest-ranked player to reach an ATP World Tour final. Ranked number 866 in the world, Sluiter gained entry into the grass-court tournament in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, via a wild card. It was the fourth final for the Dutchman in his career, all coming on his home soil. And when he fell to Germany’s Benjamin Becker 7-5 6-3, Sluiter still was left seeking his first ATP World Tour title. Becker was only the second qualifier to reach a final this season and the first qualifier to win the Ordina Open.

SAFINA SLAYER

There’s something about Tamarine Tanasugarn when she plays the Ordina Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. Just ask top-ranked Dinara Safina. Tanasugarn upset Safina for the second straight year at the grass-court warm-up to Wimbledon. A year ago the veteran Thai player beat Safina in the final. This year, the 32-year-old Tanasugarn stopped Safina in the semis 7-5 7-5 before beating 19-year-old Yanina Wickmayer 6-3 7-5 to retain her championship.

SPORTS RADIO

Aces, a one-hour radio show dedicated to tennis, has begun broadcasting in Toronto, Canada, and on the Internet just in time for Wimbledon. Listeners in t4he Toronto area can tune into FAN 590 AM on the radio, while tennis fans around the world can listen online at www.fan590.com. Rogie Lajoie and Olympic tennis broadcaster Michael Cvitkovic will host Aces, which began by interviewing 10-time Grand Slam tournament singles champion Serena Williams, Sony Ericsson WTA Tour president Stacey Allaster and Toronto Globe and Mail tennis columnist Tom Tebbutt. Aces is currently scheduled for broadcast August 6 and 13.

STARS SHINE IN LONDON

The Ralph Lauren presents the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Pre-Wimbledon Player Party brought out the stars, and not just the tennis variety. Among the players in attendance at the Kensington Roof Gardens were Venus and Serena Williams, Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Vera Zvonareva, Ana Ivanovic, Anne Keothavong, Jelena Jankovic, Victoria Azarenka, Dominika Cibulkova, Alize Cornet, Anna Chakvetadze, Alisa Kleybanova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Sabine Lisicki and Gisela Dulko. Besides the host, Sir Richard Branson, other celebrities in attendance included Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child fame, as well as Branson’s son, Sam Branson. There was even a royal presence, with Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, attending with her two daughters, the Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

SWINGING AWAY

Three former champions, including two-time defending king Fabrice Santoro, will compete in this year’s Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island, USA. Also in the field will be Robby Ginepri, the 2003 winner, and 2002 champion Taylor Dent. The ATP World Tour event is the only professional grass-court tournament played in the United States and begins the day after the Wimbledon men’s final.

SENIOR CHAMPIONS

Stefan Edberg, Jim Courier and Michael Chang, three former champions of the LA Tennis Open, will play in featured legends matches at the 83rd annual Los Angeles tournament that begins July 27. Edberg won a gold medal during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics on the same UCLA courts that now stage the LA Tennis Open. He also won the tournament in 1990. Chang captured titles in 1996 and 2000, while Courier won in 1997.

SLUR

Brydan Klein of Australia has been fined USD $13,920 and suspended by Tennis Australia for using a racial slur against his South African opponent, Raven Klaasan, during their qualifying match at the AEGON International in Eastbourne, Great Britain. The ATP tour said in a statement that the 19-year-old Klein has been given the maximum penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and added that it is carrying out a fuller investigation which could result in an additional penalty for aggravated behavior. Tennis Australia said it has suspended Klein from the Australian Institute of Sport Pro Tour Program and could impose further sanctions after an investigation. Klein, the 2007 Australian Open junior champion, called Klaasan a “kaffir” and spat in the direction of Klaasan’s coach and another South African player. Use of the term “kaffir” is illegal in South Africa and is regarded as a gross racial insult, especially to black South Africans. Klassen is one of South Africa’s few black players and has represented his country in Davis Cup. Klein beat Klassen 6-7 (2) 7-6 (3) 7-6 (4) before losing in the second round of the main draw to Janko Tipsarevic.

SWITCH

Bjorn Borg won five consecutive Wimbledons. Now he’s trying to pick the men’s singles champion at Wimbledon for the second straight year. A year ago, Borg picked Rafael Nadal to win the grass-court major, which the Spaniard did. This year, Borg is picking Roger Federer. And he did it before Nadal withdrew from the tournament. “Coming into Wimbledon I think he is relieved in a way that he won Paris, because that was one of his main ambitions, goals to try and win Paris,” said Borg. “So coming into Wimbledon he feels very confident, he has equaled (Pete) Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slams.”

SEEKING HEAVIER PENALTY

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is considering an appeal from India, which is seeking a heavier penalty against Australia for forfeiting last month’s Davis Cup competition. The ITF said the appeal from the All India Tennis Association (AITA) will be discussed at a board meeting on July 15. Australia was fined USD $10,000 after refusing to travel to Chennai, India, for the zonal tie for safety reasons, but the ITF’s Davis Cup Committee decided not to ban Australia from the 2010 competition. India also wants the ITF to rule that the next two ties between the two nations should be played in India. Security for sports teams in the sub-continent had been questioned after the Sri Lanka cricket team’s bus was ambushed in Lahore, Pakistan, in March. That followed militant attacks in Mumbai, India, last November that killed 166 people.

SITTING PRETTY

The global credit crunch hasn’t affected Wimbledon. The 2,500 Centre Court debentures that were offered last month were snapped up at USD $43,830 each. Each debenture holder will receive one Centre Court ticket for every day of the two-week long Championships from 2011 through 2015. “We were heavily over-subscribed,” said All England Club chief executive Ian Ritchie. “We were very pleasantly delighted with the response. With a new roof over Centre Court, play is guaranteed there regardless of the weather.

START ANEW

It is a tournament Amelie Mauresmo would just as soon forget. The former Wimbledon champion squandered five set points in each tiebreak as she lost a quarterfinal match to Ekaterina Makarova 7-6 (8) 7-6 (13) at the Eastbourne International. “It was a very cruel match,” said Mauresmo, who received a warning from the umpire when she vented her frustration by hitting a ball high over a line of trees and into the street. “This one wasn’t for me, I guess.”

SET FOR WIMBLEDON

Could it be that Andy Murray is hoping his clothes will help him duplicate Fred Perry’s success at Wimbledon? Murray will play in a retro outfit at this year’s grass court Grand Slam tournament. The new clothes were designed specifically for Wimbledon by clothing maker Fred Perry. The company said the clothes were inspired by the shirts that Perry designed for clients and friends such as John F. Kennedy and Billie Jean King. Perry, who died in 1995, was the last Briton to win at Wimbledon, capturing three consecutive titles in 1934-36 and completing a career Grand Slam by winning the French Open in 1935. A week ago, Murray became the first Briton to win the grass-court tournament at Queen’s Club since Bunny Austin in 1938.

SURFACE CLAY

It is no surprise that Italy has decided to play November’s Fed Cup final against the United States on clay courts in Reggio Calabria, a city on the southern tip of Italy’s boot-shaped outline. The outdoor event will be held at the Rocco Polimeni club on November 7-8. Even on clay, the Americans are favorites since both Venus and Serena Williams said they hope to play in the final after missing the previous rounds.

SKIPPING DAVIS CUP

When Russia takes on Israel in a Davis Cup quarterfinal next month, Russia’s top player, Nikolay Davydenko, will be missing. Russian team captain Shamil Tarpishchev said he had allowed Davydenko to skip Russia’s first two ties in this year’s competition. The top-ranked Russians will still have Marat Safin, Igor Andreev, Dmitry Tursunov and Mikhail Youzhny for the July 10-12 encounter in Tel Aviv, Israel.

SUCKER-PUNCHED

A 20-year-old UCLA tennis player was in a coma after being punched following a country music concert in Dallas, Texas, USA. Jeffrey Fleming was attending a Rascal Flatts concert with friends when a man hit him. Fleming’s family says he was sucker-punched as he was about to catch a taxi after the concert. The blow knocked Fleming to the ground where his head hit the concrete pavement. The attacker and others ran away.

SOONERS COACH

The new men’s tennis coach at the University of Oklahoma is Andy Roddick’s brother. John Roddick was hired to take over the Sooners team that had been coached for the past 22 years by John Lockwood. Athletic director Joe Castiglione says Roddick has the ability to recruit top players and a reputation for being able to develop them. For the past seven years he has been operating a performance boarding academy for tennis players in Austin, Texas. John also helped coach his brother Andy, who is still ranked in the top 10 in the world.

SPONSOR

The 83rd annual LA Tennis Open in Los Angeles, California, USA, has a new sponsor. The Farmers Insurance Group of Companies has reached an agreement with the Southern California Tennis Association to become the presenting sponsor of the ATP World Tour 250 and Olympus US Open Series men’s event. French Open semifinalist Fernando Gonzalez leads a group of early entrants to the 28-player field. Also entering the tournament are Tommy Hass, Radek Stapanek, Marat Safin, Marcos Baghdatis, Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey. In addition, a special exhibition match will pit Pete Sampras against Safin in a rematch of the 2000 US Open won by the Russian.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Eastbourne (women): Akgul Amanmuradova and Ai Sugiyama beat Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs 6-4 6-3

Eastbourne (men): Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski beat Travis Parrott and Filip Polasek 6-4 6-4

s-Hertogenbosch (men): Wesley Moodie and Dick Norman beat Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer 7-6 (3) 6-7 (8) 10-5 (match tiebreak)

s-Hertogenbosch (women): Sara Errani and Flavia Pennetta beat Michaella Krajicek and Yanina Wickmayer 6-4 5-7 13-11 (match tiebreak)

SITES TO SURF

Wimbledon: www.wimbledon.org

Cuneo: www.countrycuneo.com

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP and WTA

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

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP and WTA

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

WTA

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

Fashion Focus: Fila’s Last Stand

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Stopping on a quarter: The dream run of Jelena Dokic at the 2009 Australian Open ended in the quarterfinals at the hands of No. 3 Dinara Safina. (By the way, TSF is picking Marat’s younger sister to face Serena Williams in Saturday’s final.)

With Dokic’s amazing performance came a chance for Fila to showcase their spring women’s collection. We’re not going to lie — it’s taking us some time to warm up to it. The season’s loud print worked best as trim and accents on solid-colored pieces — this is no Cavalli runway show, after all — worn by Dokic and Anna Chakvetadze in their second-round match. Dokic won 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-3.

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Jelena’s restrained top — with the graphic print on the yoke — reflects the week she’s had; every post-match celebration was tempered by the same questions that had haunted her in the last few years: ones about her abusive father, Damir Dokic, and her fall from the near-top of women’s tennis. (When are we giving this girl a break?!)

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And Chakvetadze’s first official Fila obligation had her donning aqua-hued sleeveless tank. A panel of ecru fabric on the back of the tank adds more pop to this outfit. We also like the length (and width) of her skirt’s pleats.

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Sorry, Svetlana, you didn’t make the cut. Should’ve gone with a pastel-colored bra.

Buy: Fila’s Women’s Winter Baseline goods aren’t quite ready for general consumption. We’ll let you know when it is. Edit: We’ve just been told that these’ll be available at Fila.com by mid-February and at Tennis Warehouse by that month’s end.

(images via Getty Images)

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