Anne Keothavong, who spent a sizable portion of her career as Great Britain’s No. 1 tennis player, announced her decision to retire from professional tennis on Wednesday. In a career that spanned 12 years, the 29-year-old Keothavong won 20 titles on the ITF circuit and reached seven WTA semifinals; in fact, she was the only British player to reach a WTA semifinal in the 20-year period from 1992 to 2012.
“I have given my decision a lot of thought and I believe this is the right time to move on to the next stage of my career,” she said. “I have had some magical moments along the way. I think I am leaving tennis in excellent shape with both Laura Robson and Heather Watson leading the way for Britain in the women’s game.”
In her most successful period, Keothavong made her top 100 debut in May 2008 and arrived in the top 50 in February 2009 at a career-high of No. 48; at that point, she was the first British woman to be ranked in the top 50 in 16 years. During that time, she reached the third round of the US Open in 2008 and recorded three of her career semifinals in 2009.
Unfortunately, numerous injuries halted the progress of her career, and the worst of these came as Keothavong was having that career year in 2009. At the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, Keothavong ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in her left knee during a doubles match. She had previously suffered a similar injury early in her career in 2004. Keothavong was unable to play another match that year, and her ranking slipped to the lower rung of the top 100.
Keothavong’s career was defined by her incredible tenacity and determination, both on the court and off it. Despite a litany of injuries including not one, but two knee surgeries, she bounced back each time. In her return to the main tour following her knee surgery in 2010, Keothavong reached the semifinals in Memphis by defeating Kristina Barrios, Michelle Larcher de Brito and Karolina Sprem in straight sets; she fell in three sets to eventual runner-up Sofia Arvidsson in the semifinals. Later that year, she reached her second semifinal in Luxembourg on the back of a protected ranking.
Backed by her big serve an forehand, Keothavong played in the main draw at Wimbledon for 13 consecutive years. Unbeknownst to spectators at the time, Keothavong’s last career match came at Wimbledon this year in a first round loss to Garbiñe Muguruza. Nonetheless, it seemed somewhat fitting that Great Britain’s most successful player of the past two decades got to close out her career at home on Centre Court.
Keothavong and Elena Baltacha, who flew the Union Jack on the WTA for the better part of a decade, have left an impression on British women’s tennis that far outshines their results. The pair help bridge the generational gap from Jo Durie and Sam Smith to Heather Watson and Laura Robson.While neither were praised as natural or fluid ball-strikers in the vein that Robson has been, the pair maximized their talents through hard work. In addition, both showed incredible dedication to playing for their country; Keothavong played 14 ties for Great Britain in Fed Cup, contesting 44 total matches.
In retirement, Keothavong will join the BT Sport broadcast team that will cover 21 WTA events, including the WTA Championships.
(June 11, 2013) The WTA event in Birmingham kicks off the grass season this week, and first round notable winners from Monday and Tuesday include Madison Keys, Bojana Jovanovski, Mona Barthel, Yanina Wickmayer, Kristina Mladenovic and qualifiers Alison Riske and Maria Sanchez.
Also in today’s gallery: Eugenie Bouchard, Anne Keothavong, Yulia Putintseva, Tara Moore, Melanie South, and Melanie Oudin who was the defending champion but was knocked out by Croat Ajla Tomljanovic.
Photos by Christopher Levy
Victoria Azarenka overcame Julia Goerges with relative ease to reach the finals of the Luxembourg Open on Saturday. With a 6-3 6-3 win over the German, Azarenka earned herself a spot in the finals where she will play Romanian Monica Niculescu.
Monica Niculescu defeated British Anne Keothavong in three 7-5 4-6 6-3.
Niculescu is having a top month. Where she usually plays ITF Tournaments, she managed to reach the semis at the China Open and is now playing her first final at the Luxembourg Open.
Photos by © Rick Gleijm.
Czech Iveta Benesova tried but failed to reach the semis at the Luxembourg Open. Belrussian Victoria Azarenka defeated her in straight sets 6-3, 6-2. Azarenka will now face Germany’s Julia Goerges whose opponent, Latvian Anastasija Sevastova, withdrew with a hip injury while being 5-2 behind in the first set.
In other quarterfinals, Monica Niculescu of Romania defeated lucky loser Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-4, and Anne Keothavong of Britain beat Bibiane Schoofs of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-2.
Photos by © Rick Gleijm
With real ease Belrussian top seed Victoria Azarenka breezed to the quarters of the Luxembourg open. With a 6-0 6-1 win Azarenka made light work of Italy’s Alberta Brianti.
Serbian Ana Ivanovic was frustrated by British player Anne Keothavong 6-3 6-2.
Tournament revelation Bibiane Schoofs struggled to overcome Canadian talent Rebecca Marino 1-6 6-1 7-5.
And lucky loser Lucie Hradeca of Czech beat Romanian Alexandra Cadantu 6-3 6-4 while Simona Halep was ousted by Anastasija Sevastova.
Pictures © by Rick Gleijm
The biggest upset of the Luxembourg tournament so far is the first round loss of Slovak Daniela Hantuchova in a hard fought battle versus Czech lucky loser Lucie Hradecka 7-6 5-7 1-6. Mandy Minella, a wildcarded player, lost in the first round to qualifier Anne Keothavong 6-3 1-6 6-3. Check for the extra pics of Mandy Minella in our gallery.
Number two seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova struggled versus Canadian talent Rebecca Marino and lost to her in three sets 1-6 6-3 6-3. While number six seed Julia Goerges had little trouble disposing herself of Elena Baltacha 7-5 6-1.
BRIANTI Alberta (ITA) 6 1 6
TATISHVILI Anna (GEO) 3 6 3
Remaining first round matches:
AZARENKA Victoria (BLR)
ZAHLAVOVA STRYCOVA Barbora (CZE)
DATE-KRUMM Kimiko (JPN)
HALEP Simona (ROU)
IVANOVIC Ana (SRB)
RAZZANO Virginie (FRA)
KERBER Angelique (GER)
SCHOOFS Bibiane (NED)
Photos © by Rick Gleijm
Andrea Petkovic and Yanina Wickmayer withdraw from Luxembourg: Qualifcations pictorial still happening
The qualifications for the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open are underway and we got a kick ass photographer at the scene. His name is Rick Gleijm and he will be shooting pics from the Luxembourg Open this whole week so stay tuned. Some news about the Luxemburg Open. Due to injury Andrea Petkovic and Yanina Wickmayer have withdrawn from the tournament.
And for those who are attending the tournament: Andrea Petkovic is signing autographs this Wednesday, October 19 at 16h30. After that Petkovic is scheduled to appear on a TV show called “Egalité des chances au sport, business et politique.”
It’s too bad that Petkovic and Wickmayer don’t play but the tournament still has a strong field. Though I have to say that I am surprised to find Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko on the list. I would expected them to play on homesoil in Moscow.
The players on the photos are:
Annika Beck (Ger)
Aleksandra Wozniak (Can)
Kiki Bertens (Ned)
Heather Watson (GBr)
Naomi Broady (Gbr)
Karin Knapp (Ita)
Viktoiya Kutuzova (Ukr)
Anne (Keothavong (GBr)
Bibiane Schoofs (Ned)
Alison van Uytvanck (Bel)
Nina Zander (Dui)
Elitsa Kostova (Bul)
*Danish star Caroline Wozniacki is only one win away from taking the No. 1 slot in the Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings following her opening win over Sara Errani at the China Open. Victory over Petra Kvitova in the quaterfinals will see her climb above Serena Williams. If she does she will be the 20th player ever to do so since the rankings began.
*British No. 3 Anne Keothavong has had her preparations for the AEGON GB Pro-Series Open tournament in Barnstaple, England, hampered after suffering racial abuse outside her hotel on the weekend. Police have said: “Three men aged 20, 23, 25 have been arrested for this offence and for a separate shoplifting incident. They remain in police custody waiting to be interviewed. Police investigations continue.” Keothavong wrote on her Twitter account: “I was on my own and completely outnumbered. Gave a statement to the police, hoping CCTV will get them.” She won the tournament in 2008.
*Leander Paes has accepted an offer from the Cambodian Tennis Association to become the spokesperson for their “Killing Fields to Tennis Courts” campaign which aims to clear many of the minefields planted by the former Khmer Rouge regime and make large areas safer for children. These areas will be used for modified tennis courts enabling those disabled by the mines to play. “What attracted me to this foundation is that I can help bring landmine awareness to the tennis industry,” said Paes. “Though the genocide in Cambodia has been over for many years, the results of millions of landmines planted by the Khmer Rouge continue to be an everyday danger for the Cambodian people. And for those victims of landmines, it is now my mission to share this great sport of tennis with them. Through tennis, I can hopefully inspire children and coaches to dare to dream and that hard work and persistence you can overcome many of life’s obstacles.” For the full interview check out the ATP website.
*Former Thai tennis star Paradorn Srichapan was honoured in a special retirement ceremony at the end of his hometown tournament, the PTT Thailand Open, in Bangkok on Sunday. He reached the semifinals there three times and got to No. 9 in the world before playing his final match last year in his hometown. “I’d like to thank all the ATP staff,” said Srichaphan at the ceremony. “From the very first time I entered the ATP, it was like a second home to me. It meant that every year when I was travelling on the Tour for eight or nine months I was able to not miss home too much. Thank you for everything.” Since hanging up his racquet Paradorn has been starring in Thai movies.
*Svetlana Kuznetsova has called time on her 2010 season by pulling out of next week’s tournament in Moscow. Writing on her Twitter account she said: “my health issues won’t al[low] me to play in my home country tournament in Moscow! I have to end this difficult season now and recover.” She has also attributed her early exit from this week’s Beijing meeting to illness which prevented her from preparing. “I got sick,” she told the WTA website. “From Sunday to Saturday, one week, I wasn’t home, I didn’t go out, I didn’t do any fitness, I was in bed. I didn’t have time, but that’s how it is.”
*Russian Nikolay Davydenko overcame Marin Cilic 7-5, 7-5 at the China Open to record the 400th ATP win of his career. He is the eighth active player on the tour to do so. “It was a very good match for me,” said Davydenko. “[My] baseline [play] was good control and I played fast.”
*Venus Williams today (October 6) released a statement saying that she would not be competing for the remainder of 2010 due to a recurrence of her troublesome knee problems that have dogged a large chunk of her season. She will miss the WTA Finals in Doha as well as the USA’s Fed Cup Final matchup with Italy. The statement, released to the Associated Press, said: “ [I am] very disappointed to announce that I will be unable to play in the WTA Tour Championships at the end of October, and the Fed Cup final between the United States and Italy at San Diego in November. I have been getting treatment and therapy on my knee and have been making progress, but unfortunately must continue to keep weight off my knee for the short term and won’t be ready to return to competition in 2010. I am looking forward to returning to full health in time for the start of 2011 season and hopefully having the opportunity to play in both the Fed Cup and WTA Championships next year.”
*Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska has also ended her season due to a stress fracture in her foot and says she is also a doubt for next year’s Australian Open. “I’m done for this year with a very serious injury, a stress fracture,” said Radwanska. It’s a complicated injury and there’s some chance it won’t be healed in time for Australia. I just realized how serious the injury was just before I came to Asia to play in Tokyo and Beijing.”
*Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters have joined both Caroline Wozniacki and Vera Zvonareva in qualifying for the season-ending WTA Championships in Doha. This leaves only four qualifying berths for the remaining hopefuls to fight over.
*Malaysian tennis fans are in for an extra special treat as the Showdown of Champions 2010 rolls in to Kuala Lumpur this week. Former tennis superstars Ivan Lendl and Goran Ivanisevic will commence battle against Pat Cash, Mats Wilander and Martina Hingis in the Asian paradise. Lendl has eight Grand Slams to his name while Ivanisevic will be most fondly remembered as being the only male wildcard to lift the Wimbledon Championships. Tickets are still available from www.fatdeal.com.my for an event which really cannot be missed.
*Following his title win last week Mikhail Youzhny is the new world No. 8 in this week’s South African Airways ATP World Rankings. His current form should see him make a late push for the ATP Finals in London next month. He climbs above Spain’s Fernando Verdasco. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez leaps 14 places to No. 39 while Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen sees a return for his recent form by climbing twelve to No. 48. Russia’s Igor Andreev is back in the world’s Top 100 at No. 85.
*There are changes too in the Sony Ericsson WTA world rankings where Italy’s Francesca Schiavone is the new world No. 6, giving the French Open winner pole position to qualify for Doha. The Belarusian Viktoria Azarenka is also putting her US Open horror behind her and she is back in to the world’s Top 10. Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska drops out. Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer climbs a place to enter the Top 20 while Maria Sharapova drops from No. 15 to No. 21. Olga Govortsova continues her recent rise by entering the Top 50 at No. 48 and there are no fewer than six climbers in to the Top 100.
*Juan Martin del Potro certainly isn’t panicking despite a so-far winless return from a long injury layoff. “I need time, I need to work on a few things to get back to my best level,” he said. “If work in a good way, I will be in good shape in a month or so.”
*Great news for the Shanghai Masters set to begin next week; every player within the world’s Top 20 is set to compete.
*Belgian Christophe Rochus has said he will retire at the end of the season following tournaments in Mons (Belgium) and Valencia. “I don’t have the capacity to aim for a place in the top 100,” he said. “To play to be 200th in the world rankings doesn’t interest me.”
*To finish off this week, how about something a little different? Head over to YouTube to see Jelena Jankovic, Flavia Penetta and Gisela Dulko take part in a Ninja demonstration at the Players Party for the Toray Pan Pacific Open. It’s certainly not like anything you’d usually associate the three with, but perhaps they might want to stick to the tennis.
By Leigh Sanders
Britain’s Andy Murray has offered his support to Andre Agassi after the former star’s revelations about crystal methamphetamine use in his autobiography. While other top players, such as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, have voiced disappointment at the news, Murray claims it has not ruined his views on his boyhood hero.
“I judge him as a tennis player; he was great, one of the best of all time,” said Murray. “I loved Andre, met him numerous times. I guess it’s something he has to deal with himself. He’s entitled to say whatever he wants and I wish him the best.”
Meanwhile, Murray tasted victory on his return to the court at the Valencia Open after he defeated Spanish qualifier Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-3, 6-1 in his first match in six weeks. It was Murray’s first appearance on court since Great Britain’s embarrassing Davis Cup defeat to Poland in September.
*A dozen WTA stars who have excelled on the international tournament level this season have gathered in Bali for the inaugural Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions. The draw on Monday split the stars in to four round-robin groups of three with Australia’s Samantha Stosur drawn in Group B alongside Maria Jose Martina Sanchez and Agnes Szavay. After the three competitors in each group play each other the group winner will advance to the semifinal on Saturday with the final held on Sunday. Depending on results this week, Stosur could realise her dream of entering the World’s Top 10 with victory in Bali.
*In this week’s ATP singles rankings (02/11) there was little movement for Commonwealth tennis players. Australian Peter Luczak continued his climb up the top 100 with a three place jump to 80 while his compatriot Chris Guccione jumped one place to 103. Somdev Devarrman of India climbed five to 116 while South African Kevin Andersen is up to 120.
*The ATP doubles rankings for November 2 see a little more movement for Commonwealth players. Daniel Nestor (Canada, 1), Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes (India, 7 and 8) and Wesley Moodie (South Africa, 9) all remain unmoved in their top 10 berths. Australians Paul Hanley and Jordan Kerr remain in 26 and 29 respectively while Ashley Fisher drops to 40 and Stephen Huss climbs to 45. South African Rik De Voest is behind him in 46 and Briton Ross Hutchins is 47. Fellow Britons Ken Skupski (16) and Colin Fleming (14) saw massive climbs to 50 and 53 respectively following their victory in St. Petersburg (see below). South Africa’s Jeff Coetzee dropped 21 places to 56. Jonathan Marray of Great Britain climbs one place to enter the Top 100.
*This week’s Sony Ericsson WTA Singles Rankings (02/11) see Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada fall from 30 to 34 while Australia’s Jelena Dokic has jumped from 64 to 57. British No. 1 Anne Keothavong now finds herself ranked 84 as she continues to fall during her period of injury while her compatriot Elena Baltacha also dropped one spot to 87. British No. 3 Katie O’Brien also dropped a place to 91 but there are now only a few ranking spots and only 63 ranking points between the No. 1 and No. 3 ranked players from the British Isles.
*In the doubles (02/11) The Australian duo Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs dropped from No. 5 to No. 7 this week while Sania Mirza of India climbed a place to 37. Canada’s Marie-eve Pelletier fell a place to 67 and British No. 1 Sarah Borwell was up three to 75. Another Canadian, Sharon Fichman, climbed to 97.
*The race for the final two ATP World Tour Finals places in London, England, later this month heated up this week. At the Valencia Open, Gilles Simon, Jo Wilfried-Tsonga and Gael Monfils led the French charge in to round two as they looked to make the Championships while the Spaniards Tommy Robredo and Fernando Verdasco also progressed as they look to secure a place. The Russian Nikolay Davydenko is also looking for one of those two slots and he is through in Valencia too, beating Alejandro Falla of Columbia 6-2, 6-1.
*In the doubles at Valencia, British-Australian pair Ross Hutchins and Jordan Kerr were knocked out in the first round by the in-form third seeds Frantisek Cermak and Michal Mertinak on Monday. The match was closely fought and they eventually went down 4-6, 6-4, 10-6. The Czech-Slovak duo are one team with a chance of claiming a berth at the ATP World Tour Finals in London, England, later this month. In the quarterfinals they will face South African-Australian pair Jeff Coetzee and Stephen Huss who overcame Spanish wild cards Marc Lopez and Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo.
*British doubles pair Colin Fleming and Ken Skupski picked up their second ATP World Tour title when they beat the French pairing of Richard Gasquet and Jeremy Chardy in the final of the St. Petersburg Open. The win capped a memorable year for the pair who won their first title at Metz in September and followed that up by winning the ATP Challenger event in Orleans, France last week. They are expected to represent GB against Lithuania in their forthcoming Davis Cup tie.
*Aussie Paul Hanley has lost in the first round of the Davidoff Swiss Indoors Basel doubles with Swedish partner Simon Aspelin. The fourth seeds were upset by the South American pairing of Marcelo Melo and Andre Sa 5-7, 3-6. Canadian world No. 1 Daniel Nestor and his partner Nenad Zimonjic survived a scare against South Americans Lucas Arnold Ker and Fernando Gonzalez as they came from a set down to win 4-3, 6-3, 10-5 in the same competition. Nestor has triumphed twice here in 2003 and 2006 with long-time partner Mark Knowles. Wildcard home favourites Roger Federer and Marco Chiudinelli were also defeated in the first round. They fell to Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan and American James Cerretani.
*Another Aussie to taste an early defeat was Peter Luczak in the singles at the Davidoff Swiss Indoors Basel. The qualifier was downed by the Czech Jan Hernych who saved six break points to win through 6-3, 6-4 in 76 minutes.
*Jelena Dokic of Australia continued to show her fine form as she won her second ITF title in two weeks in Poitiers, France. She beat the Swede Sofia Arvidsson in the final. Despite a few setbacks this year including a back injury and a debilitating virus she has climbed from 198 to 64 in the rankings this year. “I’m very happy with the way things have played out these last three tournaments,” said Dokic. “It shows that my consistency is at a very high level and the fact that I can win so many matches in a row.”
*Britain was mightily close to more glory this week at the $15K AEGON Pro-Series Event in Cardiff, Wales. Marcus Willis and Dan Evans both reached the semifinals of the singles before losing to Yannick Mertens (BEL) and Henri Kontinen (FIN) respectively. In the doubles, Brits Alexander Slabinsky and Tim Bradshaw lost in the final to the Irish pair of James McGee and Barry King.
*Sarah Borwell of Great Britain partnered American Raquel Kops-Jones to the semifinals of the $100k Doubles Event in Ortisei, Italy. The No. 2 seeds went down 6-7(3), 3-6 to Tathiana Garbin (ITA) and Timea Bacsinszky (SUI), who went on to win the tournament.
*Christopher Simpson won the AEGON British Tour in Taunton after winning 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 against Artiom Kolpakov (LTU). He had beaten fellow Briton David Brewer in the semi final. In the women’s event, Jessica Ren triumphed over another British girl, Alexandra Walker 6-3, 6-3 in the final. She had beaten her sister and No. 1 seed, Jen Ren, in the semifinal.
*Marinko Matosevic of Australia was knocked out of the quarter finals of the Samsung Securities Cup in Seoul, Korea by The Dutch third seed Thiemo De Bakker. His compatriot Greg Jones fell at the same stage to Lester Cook of the USA. Moving on to the Flea Market Cup in Chuncheon, Korea, Matosevic has reached the same stage with victory over the German Matthias Bachinger. Fellow Aussies Greg Jones and Sadik Kadir fell in the round of 32.
*Hot Canadian prospect Vasek Pospisil clinched his third straight tournament win in Mexico over the weekend. The 19-year-old won the $10K event in Obregon to add to his two wins in September in Italy. In the doubles, he partnered Australian Nima Roshan to the Championship, beating Adrien Bossel and Julien Dubail 6-7(5), 6-3, 11-9 in the final.
*Young Australian tennis starlets Olivia Rogowska and Bernard Tomic have been nominated for the 2009 Sports Performer of the Year awards. Rogowska came perilously close to upsetting Dinara Safina in the first round of the US Open while Tomic is the most anticipated Australian prospect since Lleyton Hewitt.
Andy Murray beat Juan Martin del Potro 6-7 (4) 7-6 (3) 6-1 to win the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Canada
Jelena Jankovic beat Dinara Safina 6-4 6-2 to win the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Peter Luczak beat Olivier Rochus 6-3 3-6 6-1 to win the Zucchetti Kos Tennis Cup Internazionali del Friuli Venezia in Cordenons, Italy
Greg Rusedski beat Stefan Edberg 6-3 6-4 to win the Vale Do Lobo Grand Champions CGD in Algarve, Portugal
“My smile is back and I’m having fun playing the matches. This is what I missed. I missed this for maybe seven months this year.” – Jelena Jankovic, after winning the Western & Southern tournament.
“The number two – maybe it’s because it’s something different – that means maybe a little bit more. But winning a tournament here is still great.” – Andy Murray, who moved ahead of Rafael Nadal and is now ranked number two in the world.
“I’m very happy to be in the final. I lost, but I’m happy. I don’t have to think in the past and now see the future.” – Juan Martin del Potro, who lost to Andy Murray in the final of the Montreal Masters.
“I would love to come back to number one, but the important thing is to play well. The thing that makes me happy is to be competitive (and) to win important tournaments.” – Rafael Nadal, who fell to number three in the world.
“I’m definitely pleased with the level I’ve had … in these four matches.” – Kim Clijsters, who in her first tournament after a two-year retirement reached the quarterfinals at Cincinnati.
“I’m realistic. I know I am not going to win (another title). There is no way. It’s getting tougher and tougher with each tournament. It really gets into you and it’s not easy to play. Every match is a battle. It’s tough not to choke in the important moments. But I want to finish up in a right note. I should enjoy it more. I just want to finish up nice.” – Marat Safin, following his first-round loss to Gael Monfils at the Montreal Masters.
“It happens in tennis, it’s never over until it’s over and it showed today. … I never should have allowed it but it did happen.” – Roger Federer, who led 5-1 in the third set before losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
“I haven’t seen her in two years. That’s the reason I didn’t start well. I was trying to figure out what she was doing instead of playing my game. By the time I figured out her tactics, I was down 0-4. It’s just a really bad draw, I guess.” – Marion Bartoli, who lost to Kim Clijsters in their first-round match.
“I look like I had a kid more than she does. She looks amazing.” – Serena Williams, on how fit Kim Clijsters looked in her return to the WTA Tour following her marriage and birth of a daughter.
“She is the same as she was before. She moves well. You can see she hasn’t been all the time on the tour but she was playing great.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, on Kim Clijsters.
“I was the number one player in the world, and I want to start winning big tournaments again. I just need to start finding my game and start playing better and better and better. But the more I play, the better I get.” – Jelena Jankovic, after winning her semifinal match.
“Definitely I want to get a grand slam, no doubt about it. It’s not that I’m number one and I want to stop. There is another goal. I want to win a Grand Slam. I will do my best to win at the US Open. If not, next year I will work even harder to get it.” – Dinara Safina.
“Just walking down to that stadium, the reception that I received, the signs, the pictures and the high-fives going to the matches … I said, ‘You know what? This feels like home. I made the right decision.’” – Monica Seles, recalling the reaction she received from Toronto fans when she returned to tennis following her stabbing.
“I was joking with my coach that now I should probably buy a flat here since it is my fifth title in Canada.” – Mahesh Bhupathi, who teamed up with Mark Knowles to win the doubles at the Montreal Masters.
SECOND IN LINE
Even before he won the Montreal Masters, Andy Murray had surpassed Rafael Nadal as the number two-ranked player in the world. The 22-year-old Scott became the first player to win 50 matches this season as he won his fifth tournament of the year, matching Nadal. Murray is the first British player to win the Rogers Cup, a tournament that once was called the Canadian Open, and becomes the first player other than top-ranked Roger Federer and Nadal to be ranked number two in the world since Lleyton Hewitt on July 18, 2005. The last Briton to reach the Canadian final was Roger Taylor, who lost in 1970 to Rod Laver. Both Federer and Nadal lost in the quarterfinals, while Murray finished the week by beating Argentine’s Juan Martin del Potro 6-7 (4) 7-6 (3) 6-1 in the title match.
STAYING THE COURSE
Form followed rank at the Montreal Masters. For the first time since the ATP rankings were introduced in 1973, a tour-level event wound up with the top eight ranked players in the quarterfinals. Once there, top-ranked Roger Federer, second-ranked Rafael Nadal and fourth-ranked Novak Djokovic all lost to lower seeded players. The other quarterfinalists were third-ranked Andy Murray, the eventual winner, fifth-ranked Andy Roddick, sixth-ranked Juan Martin del Potro, seventh-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and eighth-ranked Nikolay Davydenko.
SHOWING THE WAY
Flavia Pennetta has made Italian tennis history. The 27-year-old right-hander is the first Italian woman to be ranked in the top ten in the world. Her rise up the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour rankings has come with some well-known victims added to her resume. Pennetta beat Maria Sharapova when she won the tournament in Los Angeles, then followed with a shocking upset of Venus Williams in the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open. After winning 11 matches in 13 days, a visibly tired Pennetta lost in the semifinals at Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, to top-ranked Dinara Safina.
Marriage, a baby and two years away from the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour didn’t seem to slow down Kim Clijsters. The former world number one left some highly ranked players in her wake as she reached the quarterfinals of the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open before finally losing. “I’ll just take each day at a time and try to be as professional as possible whenever I’m playing and we’ll see what happens,” Clijsters said after losing to top-ranked Dinara Safina. “Obviously so far it’s worked. I’ve had some really good results and I feel like my level here has risen.” Less than 18 months after giving birth to her first child, a daughter, Clijsters beat Marion Bartoli, Patty Schnyder and French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova before running into Safina. “There’s still a lot of things to work on,” said Clijsters, who owns 34 career singles titles. “I need to keep working on the good things as well.”
Jelena Jankovic has been ranked number one in the world, a fact that had drawn some criticism, seeing that she has yet to win a Grand Slam tournament. But her victory over Dinara Safina in the final of the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, was the first time Jankovic had beaten a player ranked number one in the world. She dedicated her victory to her mother, who is at home recovering from surgery. “I dedicate this win to her,” Jankovic said. “I wanted to make her happy. It’s important.”
When Monica Seles returned to tennis following a two-year hiatus caused when a fan stabbed her in the back, she chose the Canadian Open. Seles won the 1995 event, but she was more impressed by the warm reception she received from the fans. One of the newest members of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Seles will participate in an exhibition doubles match in Toronto during the women’s Rogers Cup event. She is being inducted into the tournament’s hall of fame as the only player in the modern era to win four straight Canadian titles, beginning with the 1995 victory. Violet Summerhayes won four straight Canadian titles from 1899 through 1904.
It seems to make no difference as to who Mahesh Bhupathi teams with to win doubles championships. When Bhupathi and Mark Knowles won the Rogers Cup doubles in Montreal, it was the fifth time the Indian right-hander has captured the title – with four different partners. The 35-year-old won in1997 with Leander Paes, in 2003 with Max Mirnyi, in 2004 with Paes, and in 2007 with Pavel Vizner. Bhupathi and Knowles teamed up as a regular pair at the start of the 2008 season. This was the duo’s first title since last October in Basel, Switzerland, although they reached the finals at the Australian Open in January and Barcelona, Spain, in April. Bhupathi has now won at least one ATP World Tour doubles crown every year since 1997.
Chase Buchanan, an 18-year-old from New Albany, Ohio, and 17-year-old Christina McHale from Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, won the 2009 United States Tennis Association (USTA) National Boys’ and Girls’ 18s championships to earn wild cards into the main singles draws at the US Open. McHale also competed in the women’s main draw of this year’s Australian Open after winning the 2008 USTA Australian Open wild card playoff. Buchanan earned a wild card into the 2008 US Open men’s doubles draw by winning the USTA Junior Boys’ 18 doubles title last year.
Tzipi Obziler is finally stepping down from Israel’s Fed Cup team. “This is the right time for me to retire,” she said. “I’m grateful for this wonderful and small country which gave me the opportunity to have a great career.” Obziler played 61 Fed Cup ties for Israel, equaling former teammate Anna Smashnova’s Fed Cup participation record. Obziler has played 90 matches, compiling a 51-39 win-loss record in her 16-year Fed Cup career. She was part of the Israeli team that reached the World Group in 2008 for the first time in the nation’s history. Obziler, however, didn’t completely close the door to her retirement. “If captain Lior Mor decides he wants me on the team and I see that I’m physically capable of playing, than of course I wouldn’t refuse,” she said.
SETS TARGET DATE
Recovering from a serious knee injury, Britain’s Anne Keothavong hopes to be back in action in February. The 25-year-old tore both the anterior cruciate ligament and the meniscus in her left knee when she ran into a fence while playing a doubles match at a tournament in California, USA. Keothavong, Britain’s top player on the WTA Tour, broke into the world’s top 50 for the first time earlier this year. “I hope to be back by February, which is ambitious, but achievable,” she said.
Former world number one Carlos Moya of Spain and Kei Nishikori of Japan have withdrawn from this year’s US Open because of injuries. Moya’s biggest victory came at the 1998 French Open. He has been sidelined for most of this season with a foot injury and his ranking has slipped out of the top 100. Nishikori was the top alternate and would have taken Moya’s spot in the draw, but he also withdrew because of an injury. That means Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador is directly in the main draw of the year’s final Grand Slam tournament.
STOP IT, I SAY
Lleyton Hewitt’s wife has gone to court over a magazine article. The actress wants to know the source of the story that ran last April that implied she was having an affair. New Idea magazine has twice published apologies over the article, titled “Bec’s Other Man,” which pictured Bec Hewitt with whom the magazine identified as a “hunky American fitness trainer” named Minder Mark. The man in the picture actually was Bec’s brother, Shaun Cartwright, who frequently accompanies the family on the tennis circuit.
Montreal: Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles beat Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram 6-4 6-3
Cincinnati: Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-3 0-6 10-2 (match tiebreak)
Cordenons: James Cerretani and Travis Rettenmaier beat Peter Luczak and Alessandro Motti 4-6 6-3 11-9 (match tiebreak)
SITES TO SURF
New Haven: www.pilotpentennis.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$3,000,000 Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, hard
$2,000,000 Rogers Cup, Toronto, Canada, hard
International Tennis Hall of Fame Champions Cup, Newport, Rhode Island, USA, grass
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$750,000 Pilot Pen Tennis, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, hard
$600,000 Pilot Pen Tennis Presented by Schick, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, hard
$100,000 EmblemHealth Bronx Open, Bronx, New York, USA, hard