By Maud Watson
First Taste of Victory
In a dramatic, boisterous tie that came down to the wire, the nation of Serbia claimed its first Davis Cup title by defeating France 3-2. The win was particularly impressive as all of the momentum appeared to be on the side of France going into the final Sunday, with the French duo of Michael Llodra and Arnaud Clement coming back from two sets down to win the doubles and give France the 2-1 lead. Respect and praise has to be given to Novak Djokovic, however, who shouldered the pressure and came through for his country to push it to the fifth rubber, not to mention his crucial win on the opening day of the tie to level things at 1-1. Finally, it was great to see Viktor Troicki come through in the deciding match, and in such dominating fashion. Sometimes Davis Cup success proves a propellant to bigger and better things for an individual player, so keep an eye on Troicki in 2011 to see if the Davis Cup success doesn’t propel him to new heights.
As expected, it didn’t take long for big-hitting Swede Robin Soderling to find a new coach, as he announced that he’ll be working with Italian Claudio Pistolesi. Pistolesi was not his first choice. He reportedly tried to obtain another Swedish coach but to no avail. Even so, both Soderling’s prior coach Magnus Norman and veteran Swede Thomas Johansson have both given high praise to Pistolesi. He has previously coached Monica Seles, Anna Smashnova, Ai Sugiyama, Davide Sanguinetti, Simone Bolelli and Michael Berrer, so he’s not lacking for experience. Barring Seles, however, (whom he only briefly coached), Soderling would be his biggest client. This new partnership has the potential to pay off for both in the long run. In addition to this coaching change, it was also announced that Maria Sharapova has begun working with Swedish coach Thomas Hogstedt, a man whom Soderling is said to have approached. Hogstedt will not be replacing Sharapova’s longtime coach, Michael Joyce, but will instead be working in conjunction with him. Hogstedt has previously worked with Na Li and Tommy Haas, so he has as proven track record. Hopefully the fresh set of eyes and voice in her ear will help Sharapova regain the form that took her to the winner’s circle of majors.
It was already known that American Serena Williams would be sidelined with injury for the Aussie Open, but the former World No. 1 has reportedly told the New York Post that she expects to be out of commission for the entire winter season and looks to return in the spring. No word yet on when exactly she plans to return in the spring. Assuming she returns completely healthy when the cast finally does come off, her chances are still good to make a decent run at the French, a chance at the Wimbledon title, and you can bet her ranking will quickly climb back towards the top.
Back in the Game
One player who thankfully is on the opposite end of the spectrum from Serena is Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro. He has been granted a wildcard into the Sydney International . It will take some time to brush the rust off his game, but it’s hard to imagine the hard-hitting Del Potro will see his ranking linger in the 200s or even 100s for long. And while it’s hard to see him winning his second major this coming season (especially given the form of Nadal in 2010), expect to see him in the thick of it.
In one of the most unfortunate stories of not just the week, but the year, it was learned that someone broke into a West Los Angeles public storage facility, and virtually all items chronicling the career of “Pistol” Pete Sampras were stolen. While Sampras has not been completely devastated by the loss, it is understandable the sadness he feels at not having it available to show his children, both of whom never saw him play in his prime. It is unclear if the thief was aware of the nature of the cargo he was stealing, as it will be difficult to turn a profit on these stolen goods without raising too many eyebrows. There is also always the slight hope that the thief will be caught and the items recovered. After all, Sampras’ loss is undoubtedly a large personal blow, but it is also a loss to the tennis world, as those items belonged to one of the greatest players to have ever picked up a racquet.
Argentine Horacio Zeballos and doubles partner Eduardo Schwank couldn’t overcome the team of Michael Llodra and Arnaud Clement at the Davis Cup semifinals in Lyon. Their decisive rubber, which Llodra and Clement won 6-4, 7-5, 6-3, sends France to their first Fed Cup final since 2002. We didn’t include it in our Fila Davis Cup post, but Zeballos wore a country-appropriate white polo with blue and yellow trim. (More: Read up on the tie details here.)
Meanwhile, we caught a little bit of Zeballos’ shirtless practice time on the Sunday before the 2010 US Open. He lost in the first round to Igor Andreev.
Tattoo watch: Looks like he has the Eye of Horus on his right shoulder.
It’s safe to say that when you’re ranked outside of the top two hundred and find a way to defeat a guy ranked 15th in the world it’s likely the biggest win of your career. Such was the case Monday night with 22 year old Canadian Peter Polansky who defeated a big-time player in Jurgen Melzer.
Playing in the first match of the evening session, Polansky delighted the home town fans with a stirring display of shots worthy of a player far more experienced than he.
With both players staying on serve throughout the first set, a tiebreak was required to decide the opening frame. Unbelievably it would take Polanksy eight set points to gain the upper hand in the match and close out the set. In the process he saved one set point against him.
After the match I asked him if he was starting to sweat it after failing to capitalize on the first seven of those set points.
“Yeah, those were a little bit tought, I mean, having all those set points. But I knew even if it went to a breaker I was just going to stay with him. Even if I lost that first set, I was going to try not to let it get to me. I don’t think it was going to. I knew no matter what, he would have been in for a long match, because I was going to stay right there with him.”
With that huge boost of confidence Polansky kept the ball rolling by breaking Melzer in the opening game of the second set. His pre-tournament practice session with Roger Federer must have taught him a thing or two as he continually made shots you’d expect from a much higher ranked player.
Any nerves or jitters that Polansky was feeling were well hidden as he won four straight points leading 5-4 on serve to secure the 7-6(6), 6-4 victory.
After the match Polansky revealed that despite his struggles of late, he was inspired by some positive results in practice the past few days. During that time he revealed that he took a practice set from Tommy Robredo of Spain and split sets with Frenchman Arnaud Clement.
Next up for Polansky is 54th ranked Victor Hanescu. The Romanian toppled one Canadian hope earlier today in Milos Raonic and Polansky joked that he might text Raonic for some inside information before his second round match.
“…Milos and I are friends, so I’ll get some tips from him. And the whole Tennis Canada staff, they were watching as well. I’m sure they’ll have something to say. I mean, regardless, I’m going to go out there playing my game and doing what I can.”
For now Polansky can take a big sigh of relief at the ranking points he defended from his first round win a year ago in Montreal and hopefully also find time to enjoy the moment before his next match here in Toronto.
May 25 is chock full of historic – and interesting – happenings in tennis history. Here’s a list as it appears in the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.TennisHistoryBook.com)
1999 – Ranked No. 111 in the world, 17-year-old Roger Federer plays in his first main draw match at a major tournament at the French Open, losing to two-time reigning U.S. Open champion Patrick Rafter of Australia 5-7, 6-3, 6-0, 6-2. Writes Rene Stauffer in the book The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection, “He (Roger) jumped out to win the first set against the world’s No. 3-ranked player who then was at the peak of his career. However, the sun came out and the conditions became warmer and faster. The clay courts dried out and balls moved much faster through the court. The Australian’s attacking serve-and-volley style seemed to run on automatic and he won in four sets. ‘The young man from Switzerland could be one of the people who will shape the next ten years,’ the French sports newspaper L’Equipe wrote during the tournament. Rafter shared the same opinion. “The boy impressed me very much,” he said. “If he works hard and has a good attitude, he could become an excellent player.’”
2004 – Frenchmen Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement finish play in the longest-recorded match in tennis history in the first round of the French Open as Santoro edges Clement 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 3-6, 16-14 in 6 hours, 33 minutes. The match is played over two days and is suspended from the previous day with the two playing for 4:38 the previous day – stopping at 5-5 in the fifth-set – and for 1:55 the second day. Santoro saves two match points during the marathon – one on each day. The first match point comes with Santoro serving at 4-5 in the fifth set on day one and the second comes at 13-14 on the second day. Says Santoro, “I came very close to defeat, it’s a miracle. I tried to stay relaxed on the important points and if it looked that way, then I did a good job because I was very tense.” Santoro and Clement break the previous record – curiously held by two women in a straight-set best-of-three match – held by Vicki Nelson-Dunbar and Jean Hepner, who played for 6 hours, 31 minutes in the first round of the WTA event in Richmond, Va., in 1984, Nelson-Dunbar winning 6-4, 7-6 (13-11). Says Clement of establishing the new record, “”I don’t care. What do I get? A medal? There may be an even longer match tomorrow. I don’t play tennis to spend as much time possible on court.”
1976 – Adriano Panatta saves an astonishing 11 match points in defeating Kim Warwick of Australia 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 in the first round of the Italian Championships. The result becomes even more significant when Panatta goes on to win the title, defeating Guillermo Vilas in the final.
1958 – In one of the most spectacular comebacks in the history of the French Championships, Robert Haillet of France beats 1950 French champion Budge Patty, 5-7; 7-5, 10-8, 4-6, 7-5 in the fourth round after Patty serves at 5-0, 40-0 in the fifth set and holds four match points.
1993 – Three-time French Open champion Ivan Lendl experiences one of the worst losses of his career, losing 3-6, 7-5, 6-0, 7-6 (2) to No. 297th ranked qualifier Stephane Huet of France in the first round of the French Open. The match marks the first ATP level match victory for Huet, against Lendl’s 1,027 match victories. It was also Huet’s first Grand Slam match against Lendl’s 51 Grand Slam events.
1993 – Brad Gilbert wins his first match at the French Open in six years, registering a two-day 5-7, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 10-8 first-round victory over fellow American Bryan Shelton. Gilbert and Shelton share 87 unforced errors in the three-hour-and-52-minute match. Says Gilbert, the author of the book Winning Ugly after the match, “It was a chapter out of my book…Unequivocally ugly.”
1928 – George Lott defeats China’s Paul Kong 6-0, 6-0, 6-0 in the Davis Cup second round in Kansas City, Mo., to become the first U.S. Davis Cup player to win a match without losing a game. Lott would register another triple-bagel in Davis Cup play in 1930 against Mexico’s Ignacio de la Borbolla. Frank Parker is the only other American to win a Davis Cup match without losing a game, turning the trick in 1946 against Felicismo Ampon of the Philippines.
1993 – Goran Ivanisevic overcomes throwing up on court in the first set to defeat Franco Davin of Argentina 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the French Open.
2005 – No. 2 seed Andy Roddick is eliminated in the second round of the French Open, blowing a two-sets-to-love lead in his 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 8-6 loss to Argentina’s Jose Acasuso.
2008 – Three-time French Open singles champion and former world No. 1 Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten bids goodbye to tennis, playing the final singles match of his career losing to Paul-Henri Mathieu of France 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in the first round at Roland Garros. Kuerten plays the match wearing the canary yellow and blue outfit he wore when he won the first of three French titles in 1997, but due to the wear and tear at this ailing hip, the 31-year-old was unable to compete at the same level that saw him rise to the world’s No. 1 ranking in 2000. Says Kuerten following the match, “I think I’m very satisfied, especially with the memories that are going to stick with me from this match. I thought I played much better than I expected, and there wasn’t a single shot I didn’t make. I played forehand, backhands, serve, drop shots, volley. I did everything I think I was able to do in the past, just not with the same frequency. But at least I had the feeling to do it once more.”
With six players in the top-fifty of the ATP rankings system, France is certainly well represented in the upper echelon of the men’s game. The tournament in Marseille enjoys a significant French presence that starts with number two seed, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The defending champion from a year ago has had a solid start to 2010, reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open where he lost in straight sets to Roger Federer. France enjoyed a sweep in this tournament a year ago with Arnaud Clement and Michael Llordra taking the doubles title as well.
Top seed Robin Soderling will be trying to prevent a Frenchman from hoisting the trophy and is currently experiencing a deep-run in Rotterdam where he knocked-off Nikolay Davydenko in the semi-finals. Soderling has a first-round bye in Marseilles, and could encounter Marcos Baghdatis in the quarter-finals.
Other locals to keep an eye on include Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon.
Expect a Frenchman to hoist the trophy in a week’s time.
Andy Roddick will make the move from San Jose to Memphis for back-to-back hard court tournaments. With so many top players skipping these smaller events, it is nice to see regular appearances from Andy. The only World Tour 500-level tournament this coming week, there is some serious prize money to be had and I’m surprised we are not seeing more top-ranked players in attendance.
Roddick faces fellow-American James Blake in a tough first round match. Blake has dropped to 52nd in the world and is realizing how tough it is to enter tournaments without a seeding. He faced Del Potro in the second round of the Aussie Open, and Baghdatis in the first round last week in Rotterdam. Things do not get any easier for him here in Memphis.
Roddick leads their career head-to-head meetings 6-3, however Blake has won their last three matches in a row. They have only met once in the last three years, with Blake winning by default at the Queen’s tournament in 2009 when Roddick pulled-out with injury at 4-4 in the first set. With the way he has played thus far this year, Roddick should prevail in straight sets in this one.
Fernando Verdasco is the number two seed and has a pretty good draw in the bottom half. He;ll have to keep an eye on big-servers John Isner and Ivo Karlovic as well as veteran Tommy Haas. Haas has not looked sharp thus far in 2010, and faces a stiff challenge from veteran Xavier Malisse in the first round. The German might finally be showing his age – although he has won this very tournament three times before, in 1999, 2006 and 2007.
David Ferrer takes the pole position in Buenos Aires but has lacked the consistency so far this year to lead him to the title. Ferrer has lost to lower ranked players such as Stephane Robert, Marcos Baghdatis and Arnaud Clement in his three tournament appearances up to now.
The tournament has quite the interesting mix of players including clay court specialists such as Juan Monaco, Nicolas Almagro, Albert Montanes and even wildcard entry Gaston Gaudio. Having dropped off the radar in recent years, Gaudio’s name still pops up from time to time on the challenger circuit and he is obviously benefiting from the hospitality of his local Argentinian Tennis Federation. He’ll always have his lone Grand Slam title to look back on, from Roland Garros in 2004.
Gaudio isn’t the only former French Open winner present, as Juan Carlos Ferrero and Carlos Moya are also in the draw. Richard Gasquet is also lurking, which is a surprise since you would think he would be playing in his home country’s tournament in Marseille. Perhaps he is not yet ready to face the French press over his doping suspension from a year ago.
Also showing in the draw as of right now is Argentinian David Nalbandian who has been off the tour since May 2009 due to a serious hip injury. Nalbandian was supposed to return to play a month ago at the Australian Open but had to withdraw after sustaining an abdominal injury in practice. Nalbandian will ease back into competition with a favorable first round opponent in Italian Potito Starace.
Richard Gasquet advanced to his first tournament final following his drug suspension and successful appeal, defeating Julien Benneteau 6-4, 7-5 in the semifinals of the MediBank International in Sydney. Gasquet saved triple set- point in the second set and has yet to lose a set this week.
He will face Marcos Baghdatis, who overcame Mardy Fish 6-4, 6-7 (9), 7-6 (5) after a three-hour battle. Baghdatis wasted a match point in the second set tie-break only to recover from a break down twice in the final set.
In Auckland, John Isner advanced to the final, defeating Albert Montanes 6-2, 7-6, one year after being Monanes 7-6 7-5 in the first round at the same event. The American giant meets next Arnaud Clement who surprisingly ousted the 2008 champ, Philip Kohlschreiber 6-3 7-6.
“I am very happy to be in the final again,” said Clement. “Since 1997, I have played between 23-30 tournaments a year and I have only been in ten finals, so of course it is special to be in a final”.
By Leigh Sanders
* Andy Murray of Great Britain has picked up his sixth title in 2009 after he defeated Russian Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 6-2 in the final of the Valencia Open. The top seed was playing his first tournament for six weeks after recovering from a wrist injury and he will be delighted to have returned to the court in such style. Murray broke the Russian early on in the first set and never looked back, taking his fourteenth career title. It serves as perfect preparation for the upcoming ATP World Tour Finals in London, England, later this month. Along the way, he saw off local favorite Fernando Verdasco as well as seeing through a tricky encounter with the Argentine Leonardo Mayer.
*World No. 1 and 2 (doubles) players Daniel Nestor of Canada and Nenad Zimonjic ended their recent run of early round defeats to win the Davidoff Swiss Indoor doubles championship in Basel. It is the third time Nestor has won here, having done so with long-time partner Mark Knowles in 2003 and 2006. They ended the hopes of Pakistani Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi and the American James Cerretani in round two and the final saw them comprehensively beat the formidable Bryan brothers 6-2, 6-3. Australian Paul Hanley was eliminated in the first round with his partner Simon Aspelin of Sweden.
*The doubles is also underway in Paris with huge interest for Commonwealth tennis fans. Canadian Daniel Nestor and his partner Nenad Zimonjic are set to face the French pair Arnaud Clement/Michael Llodra in round two after a first-round bye was given to all seeded teams. India’s Leander Paes and partner Lukas Dlouhy also had a first round bye and line up against Jordan Kerr of Australia and the American Travis Parrott after they defeated Martin Damm and Jonathan Erlich 6-3, 6-4 in round one. Fifth seeds Wesley Moodie (South Africa) and Dick Norman prepare for a second round encounter with Spanish duo Marcel Granollers and Tommy Robredo after they overcame US Open winner Juan Martin del Potro and Fernando Gonzalez 7-6(2), 6-2 in their first round match. Another Aussie, Paul Hanley, and his Swedish partner Simon Aspelin claimed a huge first-round scalp as they overcame the French pairing of Jeremy Chardy/Gilles Simon. They now face the third seeds Mahesh Bhupathi (India) and Mark Knowles (Bahamas) as they enter the action. The only Commonwealth player to taste defeat at the first hurdle was South Africa’s Jeff Coetzee who, with partner Marcelo Melo, went down 3-6, 4-6 to the home-grown pair of Julien Benneteau and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
*Australia’s Samantha Stosur failed to progress past the group stages of the Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions in Bali, Indonesia, after winning one and losing one of her Group B round robin matchups. She was narrowly edged out of her opening encounter 7-6(4), 7-5 by Spaniard Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez. Despite then beating Agnes Szavay, Martinez Sanchez’ victory over the same player condemned Stosur to elimination. The tournament was won by Aravane Rezai of France after Marion Bartoli retired through injury after one set in the final.
*There were Commonwealth representatives in the doubles too at Valencia but they unfortunately saw little success. Ross Hutchings of Great Britain and Australia’s Jordan Kerr fell at the first hurdle while South African Jeff Coetzee and another Australian, Stephen Huss, lost in round two to the eventual champions Frantisek Cermak and Michal Mertinak.
*The race for the final two berths at the ATP World Tour Finals in London, England, hots up this week as seven contenders battle it out at the Paris Open to secure a place. Nikolay Davydenko is favorite for one slot and his first round 6-2, 6-1 thrashing of German Benjamin Becker means he’ll make it as long as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Robin Soderling or Fernando Verdasco don’t win the tournament. Tsonga looked set to miss the finals after retiring from his first match at Valencia last week with a wrist injury but he’s also through to the second round this week and will face compatriot Gilles Simon. Verdasco’s progress ends the slim qualification hopes of Radek Stepanek and Maran Cilic while Soderling faces Ivo Karlovic for the right to face Davydenko and end the hopes of one of his rivals.
*Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach have become the fifth team to qualify for the doubles at the ATP World Tour doubles Championship. The final three berths will also be decided at Paris this week.
*This week’s ATP World rankings (09/11) sees a two-place drop for Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt who now lies in No. 22. His compatriot Peter Luczak climbs a place to 79 while Canada’s Frank Dancevic (123) is now above India’s Somdev Devvarman (124) after the latter dropped eight places this week.
*The ATP doubles rankings sees no movement in the top 25 ranked players in the world this week (09/11). Below that, Paul Hanley of Australia drops a place to 27 and fellow Aussies Jordan Kerr (31), Ashley Fisher (41), Carsten Ball (58) and Chris Guccioni (62) also see dropped rankings. Rik De Voest (South Africa) drops a place to 47 and Great Britain now occupies 51-3 with Ross Hutchins, Ken Skupski and Colin Fleming while Jonathan Marray continues his climb in to the Top 100 with a nine-rank jump to 91. Pakistan’s Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi climbs five to 66 while India’s Rohan Bopanna drops one to 95.
*In this week’s WTA singles rankings (09/11) Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak has dropped a place to 35, seeing her as the highest place Commonwealth player to see a change in their ranking this week. Katie O’Brien now finds herself the new British No. after climbing from 90 to 88 and compatriot Elena Baltacha fell to 89. Anne Keothavong is now ranked 100 and faces dropping out of the top 100 in the World as she continues to recover from injury.
*In the WTA doubles rankings (09/11), Marie-eve Pelletier of Canada climbed a place to 66 while her compatriot Sharon Fichman narrowly hangs on to her top 100 status as she now finds herself ranked 99. Brit Sarah Borwell fell one to 76.
*British No. 5 Dan Evans is through to the second round of the Caversham International AEGON Pro-Series Event in Jersey with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Austrian Martin Fischer. Dan Cox fell at the sword of the top seeded German Florian Mayer in their first round match.
*Former world No. 8 Alicia Molik of Australia has cut short her retirement from tennis after only 12 months and has secured a wild card for the main draw of the 2010 Moorilla Hobart International. She has formerly won two Grand Slams in doubles (France and Australia) and represented Australia in both the Fed Cup and the Hopman Cup.
*Electrical goods giants Panasonic have signed a new three-year deal as the main sponsors of the Australian Open, the Medibank International Series and the Brisbane International which commences in January 2010.
*Former Australian Davis Cup legend Colin Long has sadly passed away aged 91.
Albert Montanes won the BCR Open Romania, beating Juan Monaco 7-6 (2) 7-6 (6) in Bucharest, Romania
Gael Monfils beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6 (1) 3-6 6-2 to win the Open de Moselle in Metz, France
Kimiko Date Krumm beat Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3 6-3 to win the Hansol Korea Open in Seoul, Korea
Shahar Peer won the Tashkent Open, defeating Akgul Amanmuradova 6-3 6-4 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Arantxa Parra-Santonja beat Alexandra Dulgheru 6-4 6-3 to win the Open GDF Suez de Bretagne in Saint Malo, France
Thomas Enqvist beat Michael Chang 6-4 7-6 (5) to win the Trophee Jean-Luc Lagardere in Paris, France
Jim Courier beat Pete Sampras 2-6 6-4 10-8 (match tiebreak) to win the Breezeplay Championships in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
“A flame I thought was extinguished forever suddenly lit up again.” – Justine Henin, announcing her return to tennis one year after she retired while being ranked number one in the world.
“Justine is that rare athlete who decided to step away from the game at the height of her powers and no doubt she will be a force to be reckoned with.” – Stacey Allaster, WTA Tour CEO, on Justin Henin ending her retirement.
“The match reminded me again that in tennis you really don’t know how anything will turn out before you actually play.” – Kimiko Date Krumm, at 38 years, 11 months, 30 days becoming the second oldest player in the Open Era to win a singles title on the WTA Tour.
“When I was on court, I didn’t feel like she was 38. She won five matches in a row this week, four in three sets, more than two and a half hours, and today she was running like it was the first day.” – Anabel Medina Garrigues, after losing to Kimiko Date Krumm in the final of the Hansol Korea Open.
“For a long time people spoke about my lost finals. But now the curse is over.” – Gael Monfils, who ended a four-year title drought with his victory at the Open de Moselle.
“I think that Justine’s comeback is good news for women’s tennis but even better news for Belgium in general. … For tennis it is brilliant that she’s back.” – Kim Clijsters, on the return of Justine Henin.
“When I saw the draw I thought I could beat her. But you never know what she’s going to bring.” – Lucie Safarova, after beating former world number one Ana Ivanovic in a first-round match in Tokyo.
“I’m a little bit disappointed, but sports is like this. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.” – Juan Monaco, after losing the BCR Open Romania to Albert Montanes.
“We’ve played our first two tournaments together in the last two weeks and won them both. It’s a great feeling.” – Tatiana Poutchek, who teamed with Olga Govortsova to win the doubles in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, a week after winning in Guangzhou, China.
“It was a fabulous and glorious end, but he got a bad call late in the fifth set. He didn’t argue it.” – Jack Kramer’s son Bob, talking at his father’s memorial service.
After watching fellow Belgian countrywoman Kim Clijsters win the US Open, another former number one player, Justine Henin, has decided to end her retirement. “The past 15 months I have been able to recharge my physical batteries, mental batteries (and) emotional batteries,” Henin said. Winner of four French Opens, two US Opens and the Australian Open, Henin said she plans to return to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour in January in Australia. Henin was 25 years old when she retired in May 2008, saying she no longer had passion for tennis. She now says the passion is back. She will begin her comeback by playing exhibition tournaments in Dubai and Belgium in November and December. “Justine is one of the great champions in the history of women’s tennis and we, along with millions of her fans around the globe, are thrilled with her announcement today,” WTA Tour chief Stacey Allaster said in a statement.
Rafael Nadal has pulled out of the Thailand Open because of an acute rupture of an abdominal muscle. Nadal admitted the injury contributed to his US Open semifinal loss to eventual champion Juan Martin del Potro. The Spaniard is expected to be sidelined for two to three weeks. Nadal will remain in Spain to receive treatment for the injury.
Citing exhaustion, Roger Federer withdrew from the Japan Open and Shanghai ATP Masters. “This will allow me a chance to give my body a chance to rest, rehabilitate and recover from a physically challenging year,” Federer said in a statement. The Swiss star reached the final of all four Grand Slam tournaments this year, winning the French Open for the first time and breaking Pete Sampras’ record by capturing his 15th major title at Wimbledon. He also earned two points in Switzerland’s 3-2 Davis Cup victory over Italy in September.
STAYING THE COURSE
The retirements of Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin were just like taking weekends off if you compare them to Kimiko Date Krumm. Once ranked as high as fourth in the world, Date Krumm was retired for 12 years before returning to the tennis tour. After eight consecutive first-round losses, Date Krumm won not only a match but a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour tournament when she defeated Anabel Medina Garrigues 6-3 6-3 in the final of the Korea Open in Seoul. It was her first WTA Tour title since 1996 and, at age 38 years, 11 months and 30 days, the Japanese veteran becomes the second oldest player to win a Tour singles title, behind Billie Jean King. Date Krumm enjoyed success on the ITF women’s circuit before rejoining the WTA Tour. “For the past year I didn’t know if I could compete well on the Tour, but now it looks OK,” Date Krumm said.
Paradorn Srichaphan never retired, he just stopped playing because of injuries. Now, the former ninth-ranked player will play doubles at the Thailand Open this week, his first action since March 2007. “I wanted to come back by using the Thailand Open as my tournament,” said the best player ever to come out of Thailand. “I’m not fit enough for the singles.” Srichaphan, who has won five career titles, underwent surgery on his wrist in Los Angeles in 2007 and again in Bangkok, Thailand, earlier this year. He and countryman Danai Udomchoke received a wild card entry into the Thailand Open.
Several hundred spectators paid tribute to Hall of Famer Jack Kramer as he was remembered at a memorial service at the Los Angeles Tennis Center. Kramer died on September 12 after a battle with cancer. The 88-year-old is survived by five children and eight grandchildren. US Open tournament director Jim Curley, calling Kramer a pioneer, said: “Every one of us who makes our living in professional tennis owes a debt of gratitude to Jack” Hall of Famer Pam Shriver and Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times served as hosts of the ceremony.
They’ve met in the finals of the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. Now, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer could battle in the opening round of the 2010 Davis Cup. Spain and Switzerland could face each other in the first round of World Group play next year. The world’s top two players have never faced each other in Davis Cup action since neither played when the two nations met in a first-round tie in 2007, Spain winning 3-2. “I truly enjoy playing for my country but I’ll also have to see where I have my priorities for next season,” Federer said. “Of course, there are the Grand Slams, but there is also number one, which is a bit of a dilemma. Like in the other years, I will see after the Australian Open how I feel and if I play the first round.”
SET FOR HOPMAN
Teen-ager Melanie Oudin and big John Isner both made big splashes at the US Open where they recorded huge upsets. Now they’ll team up to lead the United States challenge at the 2010 Hopman Cup. Oudin is ranked 43rd in the world after her US Open run to the quarterfinals where she upset top 10 player Elena Dementieva and former world number one Maria Sharapova. The 6-foot-9 (2.06 m) Isner used his big serve to upset fellow American Andy Roddick before losing to Roger Federer in the fourth round. Others confirmed for the Hopman Cup, which runs from January 2-9, include Australians Lleyton Hewitt and Samantha Stosur, and Russians Igor Andreev and Dementieva.
Serena Williams won’t be playing in Tokyo this week because of injuries. The Australian and Wimbledon champion pulled out of the Pan Pacific Open with problems with her knee and toe. She has not played a singles match since her rant at a lineswoman in her semifinal loss to Kim Clijsters at the US Open. Serena will be the only member of the women’s top 10, including her older sister Venus, not competing in the USD $2 million event.
The British duo of Colin Fleming and Ken Skupski finally have a title to go along with the scalps of top doubles teams they have collected. “This is our first (direct) acceptance at ATP World Tour level,” Skupski said, then noted that in the previous three ATP events they’re played they have beaten American twins Bob and Mike Bryan as well as the Brazilian duo of Marcelo Melo and Andre Sa. “So we always knew that we were capable of beating top guys,” he said. At Metz, France, Fleming and Skupski upset the top-seeded team of Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra 2-6 6-4 10-5 (match tiebreak) to win the Open de Moselle. En route to the final, they also knocked off the third-seeded team of Christopher Kas and Rogier Wassen.
When Jim Courier beat Pete Sampras for the first time since the opening round of the 1997 Italian Open, it gave him the title of the $150,000 Breezeplay Championships at The Palisades Country Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. It was Courier’s ninth career title on the Outback Champions Series, the global circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over. Courier clinched the title when Sampras double-faulted on match point. “I was serving right into the sun on that one and it hurt a little bit,” Sampras said. During their ATP Tour careers, Sampras beat Courier 16 times in their 20 meetings, including the Wimbledon final in 1993.
Andre Agassi, making his Outback Champions Series debut, and Mikael Pernfors will clash in the opening round of the 2009 Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships to be held October 8-11 in Surprise, Arizona, USA. Agassi will be the eighth former world number one to compete in the Outback Champions Series, a global tennis circuit for champion players age 30 and over. Others competing this year include Mark Philippoussis, Wayne Ferreira, Jim Courier, Todd Martin, Aaron Krickstein and Jimmy Arias. Other former number one players who have competed on the Outback Champions Series include Pete Sampras, Courier, Pat Rafter, Stefan Edberg, Mats Wilander, Thomas Muster and John McEnroe.
Sergio Roitman says he will retire from professional tennis at the conclusion of the Copa Petrobas, an ATP World Tour Challenger tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina. A native of Buenos Aires, Roitman announced his decision at the draw ceremony. “It is a strange moment for me, but the time has come for me to leave professional tennis,” said Roitman. “Physically, I cannot compete at the highest level anymore. I think this is the best place to retire, at a tournament that has given me a lot of pleasure and surrounded by people that have helped me and whom I love very much.” Currently ranked 124th in the world, the 30-year-old Roitman reached a career-high 62 in singles in October 2007. During his 14-year-old career he won two ATP World Tour doubles titles, and achieved high highest doubles ranking of 45th in the world in September 2008.
Jelena Dokic’s father has had his 15-month prison sentence confirmed by a Serbian court. The retrial for Damir Dokic was held because the Australian ambassador to Serbia, Clair Birgin, did not testify in person during the original hearing in June. This time she was again represented by a lawyer. In June, Dokic was found guilty of “endangering the security” of Ambassador Birgin as well as unlawful possession of weapons, including a hand grenade. Dokic was arrested after reportedly saying he would blow up Birgin’s car if she didn’t stop negative articles about him from being published in Australia. Now 26 years old, Jelena Dokic was born in the former Yugoslavia and migrated with her family to Australia as a child and represented her adopted country at the 2000 Olympics. She renounced her Australian ties in 2001 and moved back to Serbia, only to return to Australia in 2006.
Serena Williams is featured in a lighthearted campaign for Tampax. The Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co. said Williams will take on Tampax’s “Mother Nature” character in new magazine print advertising. Company officials said Williams represents the energy, independence and strength of women they want to celebrate. The campaign was in the works before Williams was fined $10,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct during the US Open when she harangued a lineswoman. P&G spokesman David Bernens said: “Clearly she admitted she made a mistake. She apologized. We support her apology.”
The Masters Tennis at Royal Albert Hall in London has a new sponsor. AEGON will become the title sponsor of the senior event that has featured an array of Wimbledon champions, including Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe and Pete Sampras. The tournament will be known as the AEGON Masters Tennis as the life assurance and pensions company’s involvement in the sport in Great Britain continues to grow. The new sponsorship means AEGON is involved in British tennis at every level, from grass roots development to the hugely popular senior event. Among those expected to compete this year will be Wimbledon champions Goran Ivanisevic and Stefan Edberg, along with two-time Wimbledon finalist Patrick Rafter.
Bucharest: Frantisek Cermak and Michal Mertinak beat Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-2 6-4
Metz: Colin Fleming and Ken Skupski beat Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra 2-6 6-4 10-5 (match tiebreak)
Seoul: Chan Yung-Jan and Abigail Spears beat Carly Gullickson and Nicole Kriz 6-3 6-4
Tashkent: Olga Govortsova and Tatiana Poutchek beat Vitalia Diatchenko and Ekaterina Dzehalevich 6-2 6-7 (1) 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Saint Malo: Timea Bacsinszky and Tathiana Garbin beat Andreja Klepac and Aurelie Vedy 6-3 retired
SITES TO SURF
Kuala Lumpur: www.malasianopentennis.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$947,750 Proton Malaysia Open, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, hard
$608,500 PTT Thailand Open, Bangkok, Thailand, hard
$2,000,000 Toray Pan Pacific Open, Tokyo, Japan, hard
$100,000 Vogue Athens Open, Athens, Greece, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$3,337,000 China Open, Beijing, China, hard
$1,226,500 Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships, Tokyo, Japan, hard
$4,500,000 China Open, Beijing, China, hard
$100,000 Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships, Tokyo, Japan, hard
$150,000 Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships, Surprise, Arizona, USA
Ivo Karlovic of Croatia smashed the all-time match ace record Friday, firing an incredible 78 aces – 19 more than the previous record – in his epic five-set marathon loss to Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic in the opening match of the Croatia vs. Czech Republic Davis Cup semifinal in Porec, Croatia.
Karlovic’s 78 aces in his 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6), 6-7 (2), 16-14 loss to Stepanek broke the previous record set by American Ed Kauder, who hit 59 aces in his first-round loss to countryman Ham Richardson at the 1955 U.S. Championships.
The five-hour, 59-minute match spanned 82 games and gave the Czech Republic a 1-0 lead over Croatia. Karlovic held a total of five match points in the epic, failing to convert for his country.
After exchanging early service breaks in the first set, Karlovic and Stepanek each held serve for 78 consecutive games on the indoor clay surface.
“We were not able to break each other,” Stepanek said. “The match was going crazy.”
Kauder, incidentally, is the step-father of famed U.S. Olympic swimmer Dara Torres. Following Kauder’s 59 aces in 1955, according to the authoritative book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS ($35.95, New Chapter Press, www.NewChapterMedia.com) by tennis historian Bud Collins, the most number of aces in a match are as follows;
Aces In A Match
59 Ed Kauder (lost to Ham Richardson, 1st. rd., US Championships, 1955)
55 Ivo Karlovic (lost to Lleyton Hewitt 6-7(1), 6-7(4), 7-6 (4), 6-4, 6-3, 1st round 2009 French Open)
54 Gary Muller (d. Peter Lundgren Wimbledon qualifying, Roehampton, 1993)
51 Joachim Johansson (lost to Andre Agassi, Australian Open, 4th rd., 2005)
51 Ivo Karlovic (lost to Daniele Bracciali, Wimbledon, 1st rd., 2005)
Also according to THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS, the distinction of the longest match of all-time in terms of time goes to Frenchmen Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement, who during the 2004 French Open played for six hours, 33 minutes (played over two days due to a match suspension due to darkness). Santoro won the first round match 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (5), 3-6, 16-14.
The longest match of all-time in terms of games played goes to Roger Taylor of Great Britain and Wieslaw Gasiorek of Poland, who played 126 games in the 1966 King’s Cup in Warsaw, Poland – Taylor winning 27-29, 31-29, 6-4.
The following are the lists of longest matches in time and games in the history of tennis, according to THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS.
Longest Matches — Time
6:33 Fabrice Santoro d. Arnaud Clement 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 3-6, 16-14, 2004 French Open first round
6:22 John McEnroe d. Mats Wilander 9-7, 6-2, 15-17, 3-6, 8-6, 5th rubber, Davis Cup Quarterfinal, St. Louis, Mo, 1982
6:20 Boris Becker d. John McEnroe 4-6, 15-13, 8-10, 6-2, 6-2, Davis Cup, Qualifying Round, Hartford, 1987
6:31 Vicki Nelson Dunbar d. Jean Hepner, 6-4, 7-6 (13-11), 1984, Richmond, Va., first round (tie-break alone lasted 1 hour and 47 minutes, one point lasted 29 minutes, a rally of 643 strokes)
4:07 Virginie Buisson d. Noelle Van Lottum 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-2, 1995 French Open first round
3:55 Kerry Melville Reid d. Pam Teeguarden 7-6 (7), 4-6, 16-14, 1972 French Open third round
6:20 Lucas Arnold and David Nalbandian d. Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin, 2003 Davis Cup semifinals 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 19-17, 2002 Davis Cup Semifinal, Moscow
Longest Matches — Games
126 games Roger Taylor of Great Britain d. Wieslaw Gasiorek of Poland, 27-29, 31-29, 6-4; Kings Cup match, Warsaw, 1966
62 games Kathy Blake of the United States d. Elena Subirats of Mexico 12-10, 6-8, 14-12, first round, Piping Rock Invitational, Locust Valley, N.Y., 1966
147 games Dick Leach and Dick Dell d. Len Schloss and Tom Mozur, 3-6, 49-47, 22-20, second round, Newport (R.I.), Casino Invitation, 1967
81 games Nancy Richey and Carole Graebner, d. Carol Hanks and Justina Bricka, 31-33, 6-1, 6-4, semifinal, Eastern Grass Championships, South Orange, N.J., 1964
77 games Brenda Schultz and Michiel Schapers d. Andrea Temesvari and Tom Njissen, 6-3, 5-7, 29-27, Wimbledon, mixed doubles, first round, 1991
Other “Century” (100 Game) Matches
112 games Pancho Gonzalez d. Charlie Pasarell 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9, first round, Wimbledon, 1969
107 games Dick Knight d. Mike Sprengelmeyer, 32-30, 3-6, 19-17; qualifying, Southampton (N.Y.), 1967
100 games F.D. Robbins d. Dick Dell, 22-20, 9-7, 6-8, 8-10, 6-4; first round, U.S. Open, 1969
100 games Harry Fritz d. Jorge Andrew, 16-14, 11-9, 9-11, 4-6, 11-9; America Zone Davis Cup, Canada at Venezuela, 1982
144 games Bobby Wilson and Mark Cox d. Ron Holmberg and Charlie Pasarell, 26-24, 17-19, 30-28; QF, US Indoor, Salisbury, MD, 1968
135 games Ted Schroeder and Bob Falkenburg d. Pancho Gonzalez and Hugh Stewart, 36-34, 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 19-17; Final, Southern California, Los Angeles, 1949
122 games Stan Smith and Erik van Dillen d. Jaime Fillol and Patricio Cornejo, 7-9, 37-39, 8-6, 6-1, 6-3; Davis Cup USA vs. Chile, America Zone match, Little Rock Ark., 1973
106 games Len Schloss and Tom Mozur d. Chris Bovett and Butch Seewagen, 7-5, 48-46; 2nd rd., Southampton, NY, 1967
105 games Cliff Drysdale and Ray Moore d. Roy Emerson and Ron Barnes, 29-31, 8-6, 3-6, 8-6, 6-2; QF, US Doubles, Boston, 1967
105 games Jim Orborne and Bill Bowrey d. Terry Addison and Ray Keldie, 3-6, 43-41, 7-5; Pennsylvania Grass, Phildelphia, SF, 1969
105 games Joaquin Loyo-Mayo and Marcelo Lara d. Manolo Santana and Luis Garcia, 10-12, 24-22, 11-9, 3-6, 6-2; 3rd rd., US Doubles, Boston, 1966
102 games Don White and Bob Galloway d. Hugh Sweeney and Lamar Roemer, 6-4, 17-15, 4-6, 18-20, 7-5; 1st rd, US Doubles, Boston, 1964
100 games Cliff Sutter and Gene McAuliff d. Frank Shields and George Lott; 12-14, 14-12, 25-23; SF, Buffalo Indoor, 1934
100 games Bob Lutz and Joaquin Loyo-Mayo d. Bill Bond and Dick Leach; 19-17, 33-31; QF, Phoenix,1969