Dec 12, 2012 — One of tennis’ most respected doubles players in history and former world No. 1, Mark Knowles brought professional tennis back to his home country of the Bahamas for one incredible tennis invitational, that included a Pro-Am and exhibition. (Gallery and video at bottom)
The recently retired 41-year-old welcomed Lindsay Davenport, Sam Querrey and Sabine Lisicki among others to the Atlantis, Paradise Island to help raise money for local children’s charities at the Mark Knowles Celebrity Tennis Invitational (MKCTI). The proceeds brought in this year topped $100,000, bringing total contributions to around $900,000.
“It was another great year at the 12th MKCTI. We raised a lot of money and had great support from our sponsorships,” said Knowles. “We had fantastic players down here, so it’s always special. The impetus behind the event is to raise money for those that are in need, and we were very successful doing that again this year.”
The main beneficiaries include the Sassoon Heart Foundation (Pediatric), the Cancer Society For Pediatric Care, the Association for the Physically Disabled, the Special Olympics, Mark Knowles Tennis scholarships for promising junior tennis players and numerous additional children’s charities.
“It’s always great to come here,” said Sabine Lisicki, who looked particularly radiant and enjoyed playing doubles with her Pro-Am partner. “I’ve known Mark for quite a few years and it’s been a lot of fun to play. The fact that it helps kids makes me always want to come here to help. It’s a nice place.”
After enjoying a cocktail reception sponsored by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Atlantis at Fathoms on Dec. 6, diamond and platinum sponsors had the opportunity to team up with the stars in the popular Pro-Am the following day.
Each team was guaranteed two matches in the fun, but competitive tournament with bragging rights on the line. Knowles and Miles Nadal, CEO of MDC Partners, defeated Lisicki and her partner David Demuth for the title, while Brent Haygarth teamed up with Betsy Wannakuwatte to win the consolation bracket over Querrey and Jeremy Stuby.
“The Pro-Am was great,” Querrey said. “This is my first time down here and we had a good time. It’s something I really enjoyed and I’m hoping to come back again next year.”
The players, event organizers and sponsors reunited in the evening for a special dinner at the Ripples Deck, featuring a gourmet buffet and live and silent auctions. The items on offer included signed racquets from Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, a dual photograph signed by Roger Federer and Jack Nicklaus and the dress Serena Williams wore when she won this year’s US Open final. The highest-selling item was a US Open poster signed by number of top players, which sold for $6,000.
The invitational was anchored by the tennis exhibition on Saturday, Dec. 8, where the players were split into two teams. Fans were treated to three sets of tennis, using the World TeamTennis format. Play opened with a mixed doubles match between Lisicki and Knowles against Davenport and former doubles world No. 1 Donald Johnson and was followed by a men’s singles encounter featuring Querrey versus Xavier Malisse. In the final match-up, Knowles and Malisse joined forces to take on Querrey and Alex Kuznetsov.
Afterwards, Knowles spoke to the crowd, where he thanked host Atlantis for their hospitality, the sponsors, players and fans for their support and recognized Sir Durward Knowles, the 1964 Olympic gold medalist in sailing. Fans were then treated to a meet and greet with the players.
“Being on the west coast, we don’t usually come this far east to vacation, so it’s great,” said Davenport. “I came here in 1999 and this is my next time here, so it’s fun to be able to share it with my family now. Mark has become a good friend over the years, along with [wife] Dawn and their kids. I’m thrilled we were able to come this year.”
The Mark Knowles Management Group would like to thank all involved in making this event an annual success and gives its appreciation to players, sponsors, charities, friends and family, fans, and followers who have supported Knowles’ charitable endeavors since its inception in 2001.
The 2012 Mark Knowles Celebrity Tennis Invitational Player Field: Lindsay Davenport, Anna-Lena Groenefeld, Brent Haygarth, Donald Johnson, Craig Kardon (Coach to the Stars), Mark Knowles, Alex Kuznetsov, Sabine Lisicki, Xavier Malisse, Asia Muhammad, Yasmin Schnack, Tara Snyder Haygarth and Jesse Witten.
The 2012 Mark Knowles Celebrity Tennis Invitational Sponsors: Atlantis, the Bahamas Ministry Of Tourism, MDC Partners, Pictet, Fast Ferries, American Airlines, Ultimate Limo Service, Odyssey Aviation, Ministry of Youth Sports & Culture, H.G.Christie, Everkey Global, The Balmoral, Caribbean Bottling, Kerrygold, Corner Bank, Schooner Bay, S.G.Hambros, Daron & Sheri Roberts, Vince Menard, Alex Pier, Sean & Sarah Farrington, Peter & Pippa Vlasov, Mark & Nancy Holowesko, Chris Day, Sir Durward Knowles, R.E. Barnes, Donald Tomlinson, Graham & Aidie Garner, Dave & Fran Donald, Steve Swords and Peter & Vicky Knowles Andrews.
(Parts taken from press release; Photos copyright Matt Fitzgerald/MKCTI)
By Romi Cvitkovic
Although the WTA tournament in Bad Gastein started off with days of rain, the tournament ended in tears of joy for one of its winners, Alize Cornet. In just her second career title, she dispatched of Yanina Wickmayer 7-5, 7-6(1) in just over two hours.
“It has been four years I haven’t won a singles title, so it’s just happiness now. I’m so happy,” Cornet said. “It’s been a super week. I really love this tournament. I love the people here and I feel everybody loves me as well. I’m not Austrian, but I feel like I’m Austrian when I’m here. It’s my favorite tournament … What more can I ask for than winning it?”
After struggling for most of the season, Cornet made a breakthrough in Stuttgart this April, blasting through the qualification rounds before retiring to Maria Sharapova in the second round. She then bested her results by losing in the finals of Strasbourg to Francesca Schiavone in two tights sets.
The doubles final featured the standout duos of Julia Goerges and Jill Craybas defeating Petra Martic and Anna-Lena Groenefeld, 6-7(4), 6-4, 11-9. Although Goerges was the number one singles seed and Martic the fifth seed, both fell out in the first round only to enjoy Bad Gastein a little longer and meet in the doubles finals.
Check out the full gallery of the singles and doubles matches, as well as both awards ceremonies. All photo credit to Tennis Grandstand photographer Rick Gleijm.
By Romi Cvitkovic
The rain at WTA Bad Gastein forced play to halt for most of the day Monday, but the players still attended a toga-themed Player’s Party in the evening before calling it a day. Tennis Grandstand photographer Rick Gleijm is on-hand in Austria all week. For the full scoop, check out his gallery below!
Not much occurred on-court today, but luckily, the last of the qualification round matches were able to finish before the heavens opened. One main draw match began between Mandy Minella and Alja Tomljanovic but was unable to finish, and the weather doesn’t look much better for tomorrow either. But that is not bumming out German Julia Goerges as she gets an extra day to relax, according to her WTA blog here.
Check out the full gallery from the player’s party below which features Julia Goerges, Yanina Wickmayer (did she not get the “toga” memo?), Alize Cornet, Jill Craybas, Marta Domachowska, Anna-Lena Groenefeld, Yvonne Meusburger, Petra Martic, Dia Evtimova, Sarah Gronert and Nicole Rottmann. Also catch a promotional photoshoot featuring Austrian players Barbara Haas and Yvonne Meusburger, as well as the main draw match between Mandy Minella and Alja Tomljanovic.
American Vania King may seem like a veteran on the WTA Tour but at only 23-years-old, she is one of the more experienced younger players in women’s tennis. Currently sitting at a steady world number 54, she will soon best her career-high of #50 from back in 2006. I had a chance to chat with Vania after her first-round win about her Wimbledon title, her education, and the players she would most want to party with.
What is your most memorable moment on court?
Winning Wimbledon with my doubles partner [Yaroslava Shvedova]. I think I screamed for like twenty minutes straight — I couldn’t believe it. It took me like two weeks for it to settle in, so that was pretty incredible.
If you weren’t a tennis palyer, what would you be?
I think I would be like a guidance counselor for kids; that’s something that I want to pursue. I haven’t declared my major yet, but I’m studying it online right now. I would like to work in elementary education or psychology.
How long have you been studying?
For about half a year.
Do you have any superstitions on court?
I try not to. I know girls that don’t like to step on the line. Sometimes I make it a point to step on the line to make sure that I don’t have a superstition. Some players want to stay on one side if they keep winning. But eventually, you’re going to lose on any side you’re on and eventually you’re going to lose if you didn’t step on the line. So I think superstitions shouldn’t affect you. The only thing they can do is harm you.
If you were hosting a party, what three tennis players would you invite?
(Laughs) Obviously, everyone wants to see Rafa [Nadal]. And then one of my good friends is Anna-Lena Groenefeld and we’ve gone out and partied before and she’s really fun. And the third one, I would say one of my best friends is my doubles partner, Yaroslava Shvedova. I would have to invite her or she would be really mad at me! (Laughs)
What is your biggest indulgence?
I try not to let tennis consume me, so I try to be good with food. But sometimes I’m not good with food — I just figure that I’m really hungry and I want to east what I want to eat. (Laughs)
Is there a sweet that you tend to go for?
Cupcakes and French macaroons.
What are two things you can’t live without?
Music and books.
Any type of music in particular that you like?
It varies on the mood. I can’t pick just one because when I’m in an upbeat mood or if I need to have some energy, then I’ll listen to some club music. If I need to calm down, I’ll listen to classical or cinematic music.
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
“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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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).
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.
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.
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/
San Marino: www.atpsanmarino.com/
Los Angeles: www.latennischamps.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$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
$700,000 Bank of the West Classic, Stanford, California, hard
$220,000 Istanbul Cup, Istanbul, Turkey, clay
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$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
$700,000 LA Women’s Tennis Championships presented by Herbalife, Los Angeles, California, USA, hard
Men’s singles: Roger Federer beat Andy Roddick 5-7 7-6 (6) 7-6 (5) 3-6 16-14
Women’s singles: Serena Williams beat Venus Williams 7-6 (3) 6-2
Men’s doubles: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 7-6 (7) 6-7 (3) 7-6 (3) 6-3
Women’s doubles: Venus and Serena Williams beat Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs 7-6 (4) 6-4
Mixed doubles: Mark Knowles and Anna-Lena Groenefeld beat Leander Paes and Cara Black 7-5 6-3
Boys’ singles: Andrev Kuznetsov beat Jordan Cox 4-6 6-2 6-2
Girls’ singles: Noppawan Lertcheenakarn beat Kristina Mladenovic 3-6 6-3 6-1
Boys’ doubles: Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Kevin Krawietz beat Julien Obry and Adrian Puget 6-7(3), 6-2, 12-10.
Girls’ doubles: Noppawan Lertcheewakarn and Sally Peers beat Kristina Mladenovic and Silvia Njiric 6-1 6-1
Wheelchair women’s doubles: Korie Homan and Esther Vergeer beat Daniela Di Toro and Lucy Shuker 6-1 6-3
Wheelchair men’s doubles: Stephane Houdet and Michael Jeremiasz beat Robin Ammerlaan and Shingo Kunieda 1-6 6-4 7-3 (match tiebreak)
Oscar Hernandez beat Tiemurax Gabashvili to win the Nord/LP Open in Braunschweig, Germany
Potito Starace beat Maximo Gonzalez 7-6 (4) 6-3 to win the Trofeo Regione Piemonte in Turin, Italy
Polona Hercog beat Varvara Lepchonko 6-1 6-2 to win the Cuneo ITF Tournament in Cuneo, Italy
“It’s not really one of those goals you set as a little boy, but, man, it’s been quite a career. And quite a month.” – Roger Federer, who won his sixth Wimbledon title, and 15th Grand Slam tournament crown, just four weeks after capturing his first French Open title.
“He’s a legend. Now he’s an icon.” – Pete Sampras, talking about Roger Federer after the Swiss star broke Sampras’ Grand Slam tournament victory record of 14 titles.
“Sorry, Pete, I tried to hold him off.” – Losing finalist Andy Roddick, apologizing to compatriot Pete Sampras.
“I’d rather definitely be number two and hold three Grand Slams in the past year than be number one and not have any. I don’t know what to do to be number one. I don’t even care anymore.” – Serena Williams, who won Wimbledon to go along with her 2009 Australian Open and 2008 US Open titles, yet is ranked number two in the world.
“Do I feel invincible? I’d like to say yes, but I really do work at it.” – Venus Williams, after winning her semifinal but before losing the title match to her sister Serena.
“I think I will beat him in a marathon easy.” – Robin Soderling, on meeting Roger Federer in another sport after losing to the Swiss star for the 11th straight time.
“Oh, it is only because he is better than everybody else. That’s it.” – Ivo Karlovic, when asked about Roger Federer’s secret for success.
“I don’t play to break records but it’s great to have them.” – Roger Federer.
“It’s a wonderful achievement. She’s played so well so many times. You know, a lot of the times actually at my expense.” – Venus Williams, on her sister Serena winning an 11th Grand Slam tournament title by beating Venus in the final.
“There’s no easy [way] to losing, especially when it’s so close to the crown. Either way, it’s not easy. ” – Venus Williams.
“One of the first things I noticed was our name on the board, on the big plaque. Now we get it twice. It’s obviously going to be special to come back next year and see that.” – Daniel Nestor, after teaming with Nenad Zimonjic to win their second straight Wimbledon men’s doubles title.
“It’s a game of inches and when you’re playing two guys who are serving close to 130 (mph), and you’re not getting a lot of sniffs on your return, it’s a dice roll. They were the better team today and I have to give them a lot of credit.” – Bob Bryan, on losing the men’s doubles final.
“I was Santa Claus on the court, serving so many double-faults.” – Dinara Safina, after overcoming 15 double-faults to beat Sabine Lisicki in the quarterfinals.
“I wasn’t sure if it’s Serena or Andy Roddick on the other side of the net, 125 mph all the time.” Elena Dementieva, on Serena Williams’ big serves in their semifinal match.
“Venus played as if she had some place to go and she was in a major league hurry to get a great dinner.” – Father Richard Williams, on Venus’ 51-minutes semifinal victory over Dinara Safina.
“I think she gave me a pretty good lesson today.” – Dinara Safina, after losing to Venus Williams in 51 minutes.
“I’m still scared of Serena Williams. I find her very intimidating.” – Laura Robson, a 15-year-old from Britain, talking about the ladies’ locker room at Wimbledon.
“Roof! Roof! Roof!” –Centre Court crowd chanting as the new retractable roof was closed for the first time when a light sprinkle interrupted play.
He had to work overtime to do it, but Roger Federer became the first man in history to win 15 Grand Slam tournament singles titles. His record-breaking 15th was the longest men’s Grand Slam final in history at 77 games as Federer outlasted Andy Roddick 5-7 7-6 (6) 7-6 (5) 3-6 16-14. The previous record was 71 games in the 1927 Australian Championships, while the previous Wimbledon mark was 62 games last year when Rafael Nadal beat Federer. The Federer-Roddick battle also was the longest fifth set in a men’s Grand Slam tournament final, breaking the old mark of 11-9 set in 1927 at Roland Garros. Federer served 50 aces, the most he has served in a match and only one behind Ivo Karlovic’s Wimbledon record of 51 aces. Federer’s previous best was 39 aces when he beat Janko Tipsarevic at the Australian Open in 2008.
SISTERS DOING IT
Sisters Serena and Venus Williams tried to take home all of the hardware from Wimbledon. Serena beat Venus in the women’s final, snapping the older sister’s two-year reign at Wimbledon. The two then teamed up to win the women’s doubles for the second time.
Ana Ivanovic will rest for at least a week after she suffered a slight tear in her left thigh during her fourth-round match at Wimbledon. The 2008 French Open champion left the court in tears after the first game of the second set against Venus Williams, who won the first set 6-1. Ivanovic is not scheduled to play again until August 3.
SHUT MY TOP
It took a brief shower, but Wimbledon showed off its new roof. With the crowd shouting “Roof! Roof! Roof!,” the retractable roof over Centre Court was closed for the first time on the second Monday of the tournament. The light sprinkle had halted play during he second set of a match between top-ranked Dinara Safina and 2006 Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo. By the time the roof was closed and the match resumed, the rain had stopped. But officials decided to keep the roof shut for the final match of the evening, Andy Murray beating Stanislas Wawrinka in a five-set match that ended at 10:39 p.m., more than an hour later than the previous record. Wimbledon joins the Australian Open as the only two Grand Slam tournaments with roofs. The Australian Open has roofs over its two main courts and plans to cover a third. The French Open plans on having a roof over its center court by 2011, while the US Open is looking into the possibility of covering a court.
Twenty-eight staff members at Wimbledon were asked to stay at home because they were suspected of having swine flu. Two players – Michal Mertinak and Filip Polasek – also showed symptoms of the world-wide ailment. Mertinak withdrew from the second round of the mixed doubles because he was not feeling well. The two players were sharing a hotel room in London. All England Club spokesman Henry O’Grady said that despite the precautions, no one at Wimbledon is known to have swine flu.
India’s Prakash Amritraj and Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi hope their recent play will allow them to form a full-time doubles partnership. In only their third tournament together, Amritraj and Qureshi reached the third round before falling to the fourth-seeded team of Mark Knowles and Mahesh Bhupathi 6-4 5-7 7-6 (3) 6-0. “I’m glad we had these two weeks as a team,” Amritraj said. “I think we should take this partnership forward and we’re definitely a team to be reckoned with.”
Women’s tennis is returning to New York’s Madison Square Garden, if only for one night. Four top players will compete March 1 in the second Billie Jean King Cup featuring no-ad scoring, a one-set semifinal and best-of-three final. Serena Williams won the inaugural event earlier this year, besting her sister Venus in the final. The 2008 field also included Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic. This year’s four Grand Slam tournament winners will be invited to participate in next year’s tournament. Serena has won the Australian Open and Wimbledon, while Svetlana Kuznetsova captured the French Open.
Rafael Nadal won’t be there when Spain’s Davis Cup takes on Germany in a World Group quarterfinal. Nadal, who has been struggling with tendinitis in his knees, was left off the Spanish team, just as he was for last year’s final, which Spain won by defeating Argentina. Spanish captain Albert Costa has named Fernando Verdasco, Tommy Robredo, David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez for the tie that will be played on clay in Marbella, Spain, later this week.
Wimbledon quarterfinalist Ivo Karlovic and Marin Cilic will lead Croatia’s Davis C up team against the United States. Croatia, which won the Davis Cup in 2005, will stage the tie on an indoor clay court in Porec, Croatia. Led by Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick, the American team includes James Black and brothers Bob and Mike Bryan, marking the 12th time in the last 13 Davis Cup contests that the same quartet of players will be together. Croatia has beaten the United States twice in Davis Cup competition.
Andre Agassi will play World Team Tennis this summer for the Philadelphia Freedoms. He will play at home on July 10 against the Boston Lobsters and at Newport Beach, California, on July 17. While Agassi played World Team Tennis before – for the Sacramento Capitals from 2002-04 – there will be two veterans stars making their WTT debuts. Michael Chang will play for the Capitals, while Kim Clijsters will suit up for two matches with the St. Louis Aces. Clijsters plans to return to the WTA Tour after a two-year retirement. Other stars playing this season include Serena Williams (Washington, DC), Venus Williams (Philadelphia), Maria Sharapova (Newport Beach), Martina Navratilova (Boston) and John McEnroe (New York). WTT is getting a boost this summer from its new partnership with the United States Tennis Association and a new team in New York City. The USTA has become a 25 percent owner of the league in an effort to expand the USTA Junior Team Tennis program.
The Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Award will be awarded by the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum (ITHFM) to Tennis Channel for its ongoing contributions to tennis. The award will be given at the 28th annual “Legends Ball” on Friday, September 11, in New York City. The special night will also honor a host of tennis luminaries, including Rod Laver, who will receive a special Life Trustee Award, and the Hall of Fame Induction Class of 2009: Donald Dell, Andres Gimeno, the late Dr. Robert Johnson and Monica Seles. The Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Award was created in honor of an individual whose passion and generosity for the game of tennis inspired others to contribute to the advancement of the sport. Cullman served as president and chairman of the ITHFM from 1982-88. Previous winners of the award include BNP Paribas, Rolex and Sony Ericsson. Tennis Channel will be covering its first US Open this year. The network also covers Wimbledon, the French Open and Australia Open in high definition, as well as the US Open Series, Davis Cup, ATP Masters series, fEd Cup and top-tier Sony Ericsson WTA Tour championship competitions.
SITTING IT OUT
Anna Kournikova won’t be playing World Team Tennis this season. The Russian star has been sidelined with a wrist injury. A WTT spokesperson said Kournikova made her decision after experiencing pain from tenosvnovitis while practicing for what would have been her seventh season with the league. The St. Louis Aces player has not responded to therapy or a series of cortisone shots. But while she’s unable to play, Kournikova plans to travel with her team to matches in Philadelphia, Washington DC, Springfield and St. Louis.
Braunschweig: Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer beat Brian Dabul and Nicolas Massau 7-6 (2) 6-4
Turin: Daniele Bracciali and Potito Starace beat Santiago Giraldo and Pere Riba 6-3 6-4
Cuneo: Akgul Amanmuradova and Darya Kustova beat Petra Cetkovska and Mathilde Johansson 5-7 6-1 10-7 (match tiebreak)
SITES TO SURF
Davis Cup: www.daviscup.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$500,000 Campbell’s Hall of Fame Championships, Newport, Rhode Island, USA, grass
$100,000 Open Diputacion Ciudad de Pozoblanco, Pozoblanco, Cordoba, Spain, clay
$220,000 GDF Suez Grand Prix, Budapest, Hungary, clay
$220,000 Collector Swedish Open Women, Bastad, Sweden, clay
$100,000 Open GDF Suez de Biarritz, Biarritz, France, clay
World Group Quarterfinals
Czech Republic vs. Argentina at Ostrava, Czech Republic
Croatia vs. United States at Porec, Croatia
Israel vs. Russia at Tel Aviv, Israel
Spain vs. Germany at Puerto Banus, Marbella, Spain
Americas Zone Group 1 Playoff
Peru vs. Canada at Lima, Peru
Americas Zone Group 2 Second Round
Venezuela vs. Mexico at Maracaibo, Venezuela
Dominican Republic vs. Paraguay at San Francisco de Marcons, Provincia Duarte, Dominican Republic
Asia/Oceania Zone Group 1 Playoff
Thailand vs. Kazakhstan at Nonthaburi, Thailand
Korea vs. China at Chun-cheon City, Korea
Asia/Oceania Zone Group 2 Second Round
Philippines vs. Pakistan at Manila, Philippines
New Zealand vs. Indonesia at Hamilton, New Zealand
Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 Playoffs
Belarus vs. FYR Macedonia at Minsk, Belarus
Europe/Africa Zone Group 2 Second Round
Slovenia vs. Lithuania at Otocec, Slovenia
Latvia vs. Bulgaria at Plovdiv, Latvia
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$600,000 Catella Swedish Open, Bastad, Sweden, clay
$600,000 Mercedes Cup, Stuttgart, Germany, clay
$125,000 Bogota, Columbia, clay
$220,000 Internazionali Femminili di Tennis di Palermo, Palermo, Italy, clay
$220,000 ECM Prague Open, Prague, Czech Republic, clay
NEW YORK – The Wimbledon women’s singles final is coming early at the US Open.
As expected, sisters Venus and Serena Williams have booked a match against each other. But instead of a title being on the line, as it usually has been when these two face each other on a court, a spot in the semifinals will be the prize this time.
“Even the semis would have been better than the quarterfinals, but at least one of us will make it to the semis,” Serena said. “I’ve got probably the toughest match of the tournament coming up next, so I’ve got to be ready.”
Both sisters easily brushed aside fourth-round opponents Monday, seventh-seeded Venus knocking off ninth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-1 6-3 before fourth-seeded Serena ended the fairy-tale run through the draw of French wild-card entrant Severine Bremond, 6-2 6-2.
In her four victories so far, Venus has allowed her opponents 15 games, one more than baby sister Serena.
In the men’s singles, Rafael Nadal, seeking his third consecutive Grand Slam tournament title, survived the power game of American Sam Querrey to gain a place in the quarterfinals.
“It was very tough,” Nadal said of the 6-2 5-7 7-6 (2) 6-3 win that took 3 hours, 15 minutes. “Sam is a big player, big server.”
Nadal next will meet yet another American, surprising Mardy Fish, a 7-5 6-2 6-2 winner over Frenchman Gael Monfils.
Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina, riding a four-tournament winning streak, stopped unseeded Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-3 6-4 6-3 in a meeting of 19-year-olds, while Great Britain’s Andy Murray beat Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland 6-1 6-3 6-3.
Joining the Williams sisters in the women’s quarterfinals were sixth-seeded Dinara Safina, a 7-5 6-0 winner over Anna-Lena Groenefeld, while 16th-seeded Flavia Pennetta of Italy eliminated Amelie Mauresmo of France 6-3 6-0.
The Sisters Williams, who have split their 16 meetings on the WTA Tour, have clashed nine times with a championship trophy on the line. They twice met for the US Open crown, Venus winning in 2001 and Serena the following year.
They produced their best tennis against each other in their last meeting, the Wimbledon final, where Venus won in straight sets.
“It’s tough to play her because she is so good,” Venus said of Serena. “That’s hard.”
Nadal had his toughest match of the tournament by far in getting past the hard-hitting Querrey. The seventh game of the fourth and final set was a perfect example of the extended drama.
The two battled to deuce six times, with Querrey matching Nadal point for point, usually with a rifle-shot forehand deep into the corners that Nadal couldn’t track down. Yet Querrey never was able to break the world’s number one-ranked player and put the set back on serve. Each time Querrey had break point, Nadal would come up with a sizzling winner or Querrey would make an unforced error.
On the 18th point of the game, Nadal reached game point for the first time. He didn’t waste any time, holding to 5-2, just one game away from victory, when Querrey smacked a forehand into the net.
Querrey then held serve, capping the game with his 20th ace of the match, before Nadal was finally able to book a spot in the quarterfinals.
“I was taking some chances and ripping my forehand as hard as I could,” said Querrey, who had won only one match in his previous two US Opens. “I was a little nervous to begin the match, but after an hour I started hitting my shots.”
Nadal is seeking to become only the fourth men’s player in the Open Era to win three consecutive Grand Slam tournament titles – joining Rod Laver, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer – as well as becoming just the fifth man to win three Grand Slam titles in the same year after Laver, Federer, Jimmy Connors and Mats Wilander.
Querrey, on the other hand, was playing in the round of 16 at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time. After a shaky first set, in which he had only two aces to go with his one double-fault, Querrey picked up his game, pushing Nadal all over the court, forcing the Spaniard to come up with sharply angled winners or screaming ground strokes that peppered the baselines. And that Nadal did.
“He had to earn his way that third set, or that fourth set,” Querrey said. “He had to earn it. I didn’t just give it to him. … I mean it’s nice to know he actually had to go out there and fight for it rather than me kind of handing it to him.”
While all of the players competing in the US Open qualifying are hoping to move on to becoming top-ranked players, one player is looking to do so for a second time.
Anna-Lena Groenefeld, who reached a career high ranking of No. 14 in 2006, is back competing in the qualifying for the first time in four years, as she looks to rebound from a nightmare 2007 season. She moved one step closer to qualifying for the main draw, easily defeating Regina Kulikova 6-4, 6-2 in a second round match.
The big serves and heavy groundstrokes that were so prevalent in Groenefeld’s game when she reached the 2006 French Open quarterfinals appeared as though they had never left. Attacking the ball early and controlling most of the rallies, Groenefeld jumped out to early leads in both sets as she advanced in just over an hour.
“I didn’t lose serve once today, so that was very good for me,” Groenefeld said. “Because I was able to break her serve once more in the second set, I started to feel very comfortable from that point on.”
The confidence that Groenefeld currently has in her game wasn’t easy to regain after a 2007 season that featured a high-profile breakup with her coach, Rafael Font De Mora. After the break-up, Font De Mora publicly criticized Groenefeld’s weight and physical appearance. He also sat courtside at Groenefeld’s matches whenever possible, offering tactical advice to her opponents.
“It wasn’t easy for me to play with all of these distractions,” Groenefeld said.
After ending the summer of 2007 with a 6-16 record and with her ranking well outside the top 150, Groenefeld said that she took a self-imposed break from tennis in order to get her career back on track.
“I was playing the whole time, but it was never at one-hundred percent obviously,” Groenefeld said. “There’s no way you can do that unless you’re completely focused.”
After ten months away from the tour, Groenefeld hired a new coach, Dirk Dier, and worked on getting herself back into shape both mentally and physically.
“The first thing he told me was that I had to have fun doing this,” Groenefeld said. “Otherwise, there was no point.”
With a renewed sense of determination, Groenefeld returned to the tour last May on the challenger circuit. She quickly won four challenger titles and reached the finals of a WTA Tour event in Budapest.
Groenefeld said that while she has always believed she could return to the top of women’s tennis, she didn’t expect to be winning tournaments so quickly.
“I couldn’t be any happier with the results so far,” Groenefeld said. “To be winning this many tournaments so far is just amazing.”
Groenefeld said that she credits Dier for not only saving her career, but giving her the balance that her life had been missing.
“He’s been making practice fun and of course is also offering some good tactical advice,” Groenefeld said. “I love the way we work together and hope we can continue this for the rest of my career.”