australian open champion

Kim Clijsters crashes out of French Open

World number two Kim Clijsters crashed out of the French Open today after an erratic performance saw her downed 6-3, 5-7, 1-6 by the Dutch 114th seed Arantxa Rus.

The 27-year-old seemed confident and disciplined as she eased to take the first set against her opponent who had never played on one of the grandstand courts at any of the majors before.

At 0-3 in the second set it seemed Rus’ experience was set to end sourly, but Clijsters, who was playing her first tournament since March due to an ankle injury, began to show her rustiness and collapsed spectacularly on court.

Rus clawed her way back from 2-5 to take the match to a deciding set and her run of winning 11 out of 12 games saw out the match for one of the biggest Roland Garros shocks in recent memory.

When questioned about her fitness, Clijsters said she was bitterly unhappy with her performance, but said that she was happy with her condition going in to the match.

“I had practised well. Physically everything was fine. I was definitely ready,” said the reigning US and Australian Open Champion. “I’m happy that I gave myself an opportunity. It’s better to try than not to try.

 

“If I had said: ‘It’s better not to come’, that would be the attitude of a real loser.”

Rus was understandably delighted with the victory, which was the greatest of her career.

“I just wanted to go for every point. I’d like to play every day like this,” said Rus, who had only previously won one match this year. “It was my biggest win. She is my hero. I played fantastic tennis. I was a little nervous as it was my first time on the stadium. When I faced match points, I thought ‘just go for it’. I was more aggressive in the second set.”

British number one Andy Murray was luckier as he progressed through to round three in straight sets while never looking his best against Italy’s Simone Bolelli.

A scrappy encounter never quite got going in the blustery conditions as Murray won through 7-6(3), 6-4, 7-5 and he now awaits either France’s Arnaud Clement or Germany’s Michael Berrer in round three.

The world number 126 showed glimpses of talent but was far too inconsistent with his shot selection and was a real disappointment with his serve, handing Murray points with various double faults.

Yet the Scot’s serve was little better for much of the encounter and he let Bolelli off the hook on a few occasions before settling in to rhythm and outclassing a man ranked in the Top 40 only two years ago.

Swedish fifth seed Robin Soderling is also through. He made short shrift of Spain’s Albert Ramos and saw his match out 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 on Court Suzanne Lenglen before record-breaking Chinese star Li Na emerged to battle to victory over Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-4, 7-5.

Fernando Verdasco needed four sets to see off Belgium’s surprise package of 2011 Xavier Malisse. The world number 40’s fight had flickered out a little towards the end, though, as the 16th seed triumphed 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-1.

Tenth seed Mardy Fish is also through after a straight sets win over Dutch ace Robin Haase while Germany’s Andrea Petkovic followed suit in the women’s draw after comfortably outclassing Lucie Hradecka.

Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer surprised Marcos Baghdatis 7-5, 6-4, 7-6(6) while Britain’s Elena Baltacha has lost at the second hurdle, giving up a set lead to go down 6-4, 1-6, 4-6 to American Vania King.

American 24th seed Sam Querrey has also fallen at the second hurdle, losing to the Croatian Ivan Ljubicic 6-7(2), 4-6, 4-6.

 

 

Wozniacki on the rebound, Andy Murray coach woes continues – The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

One Bad Misstep

Just one week ago, reigning US and Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters was feeling pretty good about her chances of playing the French Open in spite of the fact that she was nursing both a shoulder and wrist injury. But this past weekend at her Cousin Tim’s wedding, Clijsters, who was wearing high heel shoes, accidentally stepped on someone’s foot, which led to her seriously injuring her ankle. She is looking at a minimum of six weeks before she can even get out and start practicing again, and as a statement on her website noted, with Roland Garros starting in six weeks, the odds were heavily stacked against her participation. Even if by some miracle she is able to compete, it will be a big ask for her to go deep with zero clay court matches under her belt this season. In the end, what’s most important is that she recovers and finds the drive to make the comeback from these setbacks. Injuries were her worst fear when she returned to the sport, and with so many coming in succession, Clijsters might start to consider cutting her comeback shorter than most recently planned.

Sight for Sore Eyes

Earlier this week, the web was abuzz with the news that Serena Williams – who hasn’t played a competitive match since winning Wimbledon last year – has hit the practice court as she continues to recover from her health problems. Naturally there is no official return date set, and Williams has stated that she is just taking it day by day. But love her or hate her, there’s no denying that Serena Williams is good for the game, so the fact that she’s once again out with racquet in hand is welcomed news indeed. Fingers crossed that Serena’s body and health cooperate, and that she’ll find herself making a comeback in record time (though she can leave the Pepto-Bismal-inspired body suit in the closet!).

The Search Continues

We’re a little over a month out from the French Open, and Andy Murray still finds himself in search of a coach. The young Scot, who this week finally notched his first win since losing the Australian Open final, has laid out exactly what he’s looking for in a coach, and despite the criticism around him, is adamant that he will not be rushed into a decision. He wisely has explained that he wants to give whoever becomes his new coach a fair shake, and so if he proves unable to make a decision in the coming few weeks, it is unlikely that he will appoint one until either immediately following Roland Garros or after Wimbledon. In this way, the new coach will not be put through the paces of coaching Murray at a major straight out of the blocks. Undoubtedly Murray could use a coach in his corner sooner rather than later, but in the meantime, he couldn’t have done any better than to have two of the game’s best coaches in Darren Cahill and Sven Groeneveld offering him advice as part of the Adidas coaching staff.

Anticipation Heightens

With the type of season that Novak Djokovic has chalked up thus far, many fans have anxiously been licking their chops to see him take his brand of tennis and confidence to the clay and see how it stacks up against the likes of Rafael Nadal. Many probably also thought that that particular matchup might happen this week in Monte-Carlo, but the undefeated Serb was forced to withdraw, citing a knee injury. The good news is that the injury isn’t serious, and fans can expect to see Djokovic try to continue his streak in the near future. What a treat it will be if he’s once again asked to keep it alive against the man who is arguably the greatest clay court player of the Open Era.

Kick Off

The clay court season got going last week, and all four victors are worth a mention. On the women’s side, Caroline Wozniaki rebounded nicely from her early loss in Miami to take the premiere event title in Charleston. An ocean away, Victoria Azarenka took the title in Marbella, Spain, impressively backing up her play in Miami with her second successive title. And in the men’s game, the spotlight was on two first time winners, as Ryan Sweeting, one of the American hopefuls, won his maiden title in Houston, while Spaniard Pablo Andujar claimed his inaugural title in Casablanca. All were great stories that capped off an exciting week of tennis to get the clay court season underway.

Pending Fatherhood Forces Chang to Withdraw From Champions Series Event in Grand Cayman

InsideOut Sports & Entertainment today announced that Michael Chang has withdrawn from the 2010 The Residences at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Legends Championships this week due to the pending birth of his first child. Chang will be replaced in the field by 1986 French Open finalist Mikael Pernfors. Rounding out the field at the clay-court Champions Series event are Hall of Famers Stefan Edberg and Jim Courier, former US and Australian Open champion Marat Safin and former top 10 U.S. standouts Aaron Krickstein and Jimmy Arias.

Said Chang, “I was very much looking forward to competing in the event at the Cayman Islands however at this time I need to be with my wife as we eagerly await the birth of our first child.”

Chang recently played his first event on the Champions Series since 2006, finishing in third place at The Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships in Surprise, Ariz. Chang married former two-time NCAA singles champion from Stanford Amber Liu on October 18, 2008.

This year’s Grand Cayman tournament will feature for the first time a multi-day pro-am experience that will be combined with the world class tennis competition to create an exclusive tennis destination happening. All six competing pros will participate in the pro-am that will see the legends playing matches and enjoying meals and social time with participating amateurs over multiple days. Tennis fans interested in participating in the pro-am with the legends can find ticket, travel and tournament information by visiting www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.

Edberg, Courier and Safin have combined to win 12 major singles titles and each achieved the world’s No. 1 ranking. The event will be played on red clay courts in a single-knockout format event with each player vying for a first-prize paycheck of $45,000 and ranking points that determine the year-end No. 1 ranked player on the Champions Series circuit.

In the opening quarterfinal match at 7 pm on November 5, Pernfors will play Krickstein, followed by Courier taking on Arias. On Saturday, November 6, starting at 2 pm, the winner of the Pernfors-Krickstein match will play Safin while the winner of the Courier-Arias match will play Edberg. The schedule of play on Sunday, November 7 will feature the third-place match between the two losing semifinalists starting at 1 pm followed by the championship match.

To be eligible to compete on the Champions Series, players must have reached at least a major singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team. Courier finished the 2009 season as the top-ranked player on the Champions Series, followed by Pete Sampras and Todd Martin. Courier won the 2009 edition of The Residences At the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Legends Championships beating Arias 6-4, 6-2 in the final.

Earlier this year on the Champions Series circuit, former U.S. and Wimbledon finalist Mark Philippoussis defeated John McEnroe in May to win the Staples Champions Cup in Boston and take over the No. 1 Champions Series ranking. Philippoussis maintained his ranking by winning the title at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships in Surprise, Ariz., in October, defeating Courier in the final. Former French Open semifinalist Fernando Meligeni of Brazil was the surprise winner of the opening event on the 2010 Champions Series, winning the title in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil by defeating Philippoussis in the final in March.

THE A-Z GUIDE TO JEWISH GRAND SLAM CHAMPIONS

By David Goodman

It was 1998 and I was working for USTA/Eastern as their executive director. Former Eastern junior Justin Gimelstob, a Jewish fella like me, had just won his second straight Grand Slam mixed doubles title with Venus Williams. I said to myself, “Self, how many other Jews have won Grand Slam titles?”

I had to know.

The first players to make my list were fairly easy. Dick Savitt won the 1951 Wimbledon singles title. Ilana Kloss, who I knew as CEO of World TeamTennis, won the 1976 doubles title with Linky Boshoff (the only Linky to ever win a Grand Slam title). Angela Buxton won the 1956 French and Wimbledon doubles titles with the great Althea Gibson. That’s right, an African American and a Jew, playing together because no one else wanted them as partners. “Leben ahf dein kop!” my grandmother would say (“well done!”).

After a little digging, I learned that 1980 Australian Open champion Brian Teacher enjoys lox on his bagels, 1983 French Open mixed doubles champ Eliot Teltscher (with Barbara Jordan) is no stranger to a yarmulke, and two-time doubles champ Jim Grabb (’89 French Open with Richey Reneberg and ’92 U.S. Open with Patrick McEnroe) doesn’t sweat, he shvitzes.

Dr. Paul Roetert, then the head of sport science at the USTA, heard about my budding kosher list and told me that his fellow Dutchman Tom Okker, winner of the 1973 French Open doubles title with John Newcombe and the 1976 U.S. Open doubles title with Marty Riessen, was Jewish. In fact, I later learned that Tom often had troubles against Romanian Ilie Nastase, who would whisper anti-Semitic remarks when passing by on changeovers. That shmeggegie sure had chutzpah.

Back in ’98 I looked up past winners of Grand Slam events and came by Brian Gottfried, who I had met once or twice in his role as ATP President. He’s gotta be Jewish, I thought. His name is Gottfried, for crying out loud. So I called him. I left what had to be one of the strangest messages he’s ever received. I actually asked him what he likes to do when the Jewish high holidays come around. To Brian’s credit, he called back and told me he enjoys spending the holidays with his family and typically goes to the synagogue. Bingo! Another one down.

I honestly don’t remember when Vic Seixas came to my attention, but no matter, I had missed the greatest Jewish tennis player of all time, not to mention one of the greatest mixed doubles players ever. The Philadelphia native won eight mixed doubles titles (seven with Doris Hart), five doubles titles (four with Tony Trabert), as well as singles championships at Wimbledon in 1953 and Forest Hills in 1954. Vic still shleps from his home in California to attend various tennis events around the country. If you see him, give my best to the lovely and talented alter kocker!

So, for the time being my list was done. Until recently. Something told me to dust off the list (or clean the spots off my monitor) and see if any of My People had triumphed in recent years. And lo and behold, the land of milk and honey, the Jewish state itself, the only country in the Middle East without oil, came through. Meet Israelis Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram.

Erlich and Ram won the 2008 Australian Open doubles title, and Ram also has the ’06 Wimbledon mixed (with Vera Zvonareva) and ’07 French Open mixed (with Nathalie Dechy) doubles titles on his shelf. But don’t worry, Shlomo Glickstein, in my mind you’re still the pride of Israeli sports. (In fact, in 1985 Shlomo was one French Open doubles win from making the list himself.)

So that was all, I thought. There were names on the Grand Slam winners lists that sounded good to me. American Bob Falkenburg, Czech Jiri Javorsky and American Marion Zinderstein (Zinderstein? She’s gotta be Jewish!), but I just can’t prove their Hebrewness.

Miriam Hall sounded Jewish, I thought, so I googled her, just as I did the others. There was nothing on the Internet to lead me to believe she was a member of The Tribe, but I did find her 1914 book, Tennis For Girls. Perhaps I’ll get it for my daughters, who will learn that “the use of the round garter is worse than foolish – it is often dangerous, leading to the formation of varicose veins.” Better yet, Miss Hall advised that “… the skirt should be wide enough to permit a broad lunge…”

On second thought, perhaps my kids aren’t old enough for such a detailed how-to book.

Alas, my search brought me to Hungarian Zsuzsa (Suzy) Kormoczy, winner of the 1958 French singles championships. I had found the athlete the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame calls the first and only Jewish woman to win a Grand Slam singles event.

Enter controversy. According to Morris Weiner (pronounced Weener), who wrote an article called “Jews in Sports” in the August 23, 1937 edition of The Jewish Record, Helen Jacobs’ father was Jewish. You know Helen. She owns nine Grand Slam titles, five of which are singles championships (1932-1935 U.S. Championships and 1936 Wimbledon). And while any Rabbi worth his or her tallis would probably argue that the mom had to be Jewish for it to count, I’m with Morris Weiner. Call me a holiday Jew, but Helen is on my list. Besides, according to The Jewish Record’s Weiner (there, I said it), Helen was the first woman to popularize man-tailored shorts as on-court attire. And her 1997 obituary says she is one of only five women to achieve the rank of Commander in the Navy. Happy Hanukkah, Commander Helen.

So, by my count there are 14 Jewish Grand Slam champions who have won a combined 44 Grand Slam titles. And perhaps there are more. Alfred Codman (1900 U.S. Singles Championships)? Helen Chapman (1903 U.S. Singles Championships)? Marion Zinderstein has to be Jewish, don’t you think? The work of a Jewish Grand Slam tennis historian never ends.

Oy vey.

David Goodman has worked in the tennis industry for 20 years. He was executive director of USTA/Eastern, Inc., co-founder and CEO of The Tennis Network, executive director of Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education, and Vice President of Communications at Advanta Corp. He has been a World TeamTennis announcer since 2002, and is on the USTA Middle States Board of Directors. If he enters the US Open qualifying tournament in New Jersey later this month, he figures he’ll have to win about 20 matches in order to become the 15th Jewish Grand Slam champion.

Jewish Grand Slam Tournament Winners

Buxton, Angela                         1956 French Championships Women’s Doubles (Althea Gibson)

1956 Wimbledon Women’s Doubles (Althea Gibson)

Erlich, Jonathan                                    2008 Australian Open Men’s Doubles (Andy Ram)

Gimelstob, Justin                      1998 Australian Open Mixed Doubles (Venus Williams)

1998 French Open Mixed Doubles (Venus Williams)

Gottfried, Brian                         1975 French Open Men’s Doubles (Raul Ramirez)

1976 Wimbledon Men’s Doubles (Raul Ramirez)

1977 French Open Men’s Doubles (Raul Ramirez)

Grabb, Jim                                1989 French Open Men’s Doubles (Richey Reneberg)

1992 U.S. Open Men’s Doubles (Patrick McEnroe)

Jacobs, Helen                           1932 U.S. Women’s Singles Championships

1932 U.S. Women’s Doubles Championships (Sarah Palfrey Cooke)

1933 U.S. Women’s Singles Championships

1934 U.S. Women’s Singles Championships

1934 U.S. Women’s Doubles Championships (Sarah Palfrey Cooke)

1934 U.S. Mixed Championships (George M. Lott, Jr.)

1935 U.S. Women’s Singles Championships

1935 U.S. Women’s Doubles Championships (Sarah Palfrey Cooke)

1936 Wimbledon Women’s Singles

Kloss, Ilana                               1976 U.S. Open Women’s Doubles (Linky Boshoff)

Kormoczy, Suzy                        1958 French Singles Championships

Okker, Tom                               1973 French Open Men’s Doubles (John Newcombe)

1976 U.S. Open Men’s Doubles (Marty Riessen)

Ram, Andy                                2006 Wimbledon Mixed Doubles (Vera Zvonareva)

2007 French Open Mixed Doubles (Nathalie Dechy)

2008 Australian Open Men’s Doubles (Jonathan Erlich)

Savitt, Dick                               1951 Wimbledon Men’s Singles

Seixas, Vic                               1952 U.S. Championships Men’s Doubles (Mervyn Rose)

1953 Wimbledon Men’s Singles

1953 Wimbledon Mixed Doubles (Doris Hart)

1953 French Championships Mixed Doubles (Doris Hart)

1953 U.S. Championships Mixed Doubes (Doris Hart)

1954 Wimbledon Mixed Doubles (Doris Hart)

1954 U.S. Men’s Championships

1954 U.S. Championships Men’s Doubles (Tony Trabert)

1954 U.S. Championships Mixed Doubles (Doris Hart)

1954 French Championships Men’s Doubles (Tony Trabert)

1955 Wimbledon Mixed Doubles (Doris Hart)

1955 Australian Championships Men’s Doubles (Tony Trabert)

1955 French Championships Men’s Doubles (Tony Trabert)

1955 U.S. Championships Mixed Doubles (Doris Hart)

1956 Wimbledon Mixed Doubles (Shirley Fry)

Teacher, Brian                           1980 Australian Open Singles

Teltscher, Eliot                          1983 French Open Mixed Doubles (Barbara Jordan)

RIVALRY RENEWED: THE FRIDAY FIVE

By Maud Watson

Rivalry Renewed – Australian Open tournament organizers couldn’t have planned it any better if they had tried.  The women’s final will pit current Australian Open Champion Serena Williams against former world No. 1 Justine Henin. Though Serena has never said as much herself, the media has been speculating that the return Henin has provided a new source of motivation for Williams, who may want a piece of the Belgian who was her main rival before Henin shocked the tennis world in 2008 by retiring while she was still at the top of the game. It will be interesting to see how Henin’s nerves hold up in what is just her second event back since returning to the sport, but there can be little doubt that sparks will fly. And one can be sure that this is only the beginning; those sparks are going to get brighter and more intense as the 2010 WTA season unfolds.

A Niggle in the Knee – After a relatively positive start to the season, Spaniard Rafael Nadal had to be disappointed to have to pull out of his semifinal encounter with Scot Andy Murray due to his niggling knee problem. All credit to Murray who played a brilliant match and would have won anyway, but there has to be concern in the Nadal camp going forward in 2010. For a man who bases his game around tracking down every ball and bludgeoning it around the court, a bad knee is a death sentence for his career. He’s going to have to seriously consider overhauling his game, or his career, which started so brilliantly so early, may now well be over.

The Captivating Croat – Put me down for jumping on the bandwagon of Croat Marin Cilic. After putting together a stellar run at the 2009 US Open, he followed it up by going even further at the first major of 2010. He was the tournament’s marathon man, who showed nerves of steel with his five-set victories over Bernard Tomic, current US Open Champion Juan Martin Del Potro, and American Andy Roddick. He may have bowed out to British No. 1 Andy Murray in the semifinals, but there’s no doubt that this young up-and-comer is going to be a Grand Slam champion in the near future.

Change in Weapon – U.S. Olympic skier Bode Miller has stated that he plans to temporarily trade in his skis for a tennis racquet as he attempts to win a wildcard into the US Open qualifying draw. Miller has reason to think he might be successful, as he is no stranger to the game of tennis. He won the 1996 Maine State Singles, and his family owns the Tamarack Tennis Camp in Easton, New Hampshire. If Miller does make it into the US Open qualifying draw, it could definitely create more pre-tournament buzz than ever before.

The Chinese Charge – For the first time in tennis history, China had two players in the semifinals of a Grand Slam event. Na Li and Jie Zheng gave the world’s largest nation something to smile about as they fought their way into the final four of Melbourne, which included Na Li’s narrow escape from the jaws of defeat against Venus Williams in the quarterfinals. While Na Li and Jie Zheng both lost in the semis (to Serena Williams and Justine Henin respectively), their continuing success bodes well for the future of tennis in China.

Not For The Squeamish – Three Years Ago Monday

It was three years ago on October 26, 2006 that Mary Pierce’s tennis career took a serious blow. The following is the excerpt on the happening from the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.TennisHistoryBook.com).

Mary Pierce of France, the 1995 Australian Open champion and the 2000 French Open, endures a career-altering injury, falling and tearing her cruciate ligament in her left knee in a second-round match against Vera Zvonareva in Linz, Austria. Pierce is leading 6-4, 6-6 – after having three match points the previous game – before she suffers the injury in the tie-break.

The link to the video – not for the squeamish – can be seen here – http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&source=hp&q=Mary%20Pierce%20Injury&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wv#. Pierce is still planning to make a comeback, but has not announced any comeback tournament plans as of yet.

John Newcombe Tennis Ranch named USTA Training Center: This Week in Tennis Business

From the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch to James Blake to Petr Korda to the ATP LA Tennis Open – these stories caught the attention of tennis fans and insiders this week…

· The USTA announced that the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch in New Braunfels, Texas, has been named a USTA Certified Regional Training Center. “We feel honored to partner with the USTA,” said Jeremy Fieldsend of the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch.

· Beginning at the US Open in August, James Blake will wear the Fila Thomas Reynolds line, which is named after his late father. The new clothing line will be featured in stores starting this week.

· 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Korda acted as his daughter Jessica’s caddie last week during her quarterfinal run at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship in St. Louis.

· Tournament Director Bob Kramer told Reuters that the recently completed LA Tennis Open must find a title sponsor in the next couple years in order to continue the event, after not being profitable this year. “If we aren’t able to figure this out or if the economy doesn’t turn around, I think we will probably have two more bites at the apple to right the ship,” said Kramer.

· W Sports Marketing is struggling to secure a sponsor for the Grand Slam of Asheville, which features an August 28 exhibition between Andre Agassi and Marat Safin. Despite an estimated 4,500 expected to attend the event, W Sports Marketing’s Brian Woods insists, “It’s obviously tough to sell sponsorship in this environment.” As reported by Darren Rovell on CNBC.com, Woods is offering that a company does not have to pay the $75,000 title sponsorship until the DOW Industrial Average hits 10,000.

· The ATP Tour event in Chennai, India, will stay at its present location for at least two more years, after securing a sponsorship deal with telecom company Aircel.

· The International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, will offer free tennis lessons during their United States Professional Tennis Association Day on Friday, August 21, from Noon-4pm held during the $150,000 Hall of Fame Champions Cup, the fifth event on the 2009 Outback Champions Series.

· Venus Williams re-launched her website, www.venuswilliams.com.

· The editors of Tennis Magazine agree that Roger Federer is the “Greatest Player of All-Time” in the upcoming September issue.

· Top junior and Nick Bollettieri student Filip Krajinovic has signed an endorsement deal with Wilson.

· Bob and Mike Bryan recently joined forces with respected musician and songwriter David Baron to form The Bryan Brothers Band featuring David Baron. The duo will perform three new songs during Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day at the US Open on August 29.

· SportsBusiness Journal reported that last week a settlement hearing took place between the USTA and former U.S. Fed Cup captain Zina Garrison

Sampras, Courier And Wilander To Headline 2009 Breezeplay Championships

NEW YORK, JULY 22, 2009 – InsideOut Sports & Entertainment today announced that Pete Sampras will lead the field of champions returning to The Palisades Country Club in Charlotte to compete in the $150,000 Breezeplay Championships at The Palisades, to be held September 24-27. The tournament is the sixth of eight events on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over.

Joining Sampras to compete on the hard court stadium court at The Palisades will be defending champion Jim Courier, Hall of Famer Mats Wilander and three-time finalist Todd Martin. Tickets for the event are now on sale and can be purchased at 877-332-TIXX or by visiting www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com. The Breezeplay Championships at The Palisades will be played over four days with the winner earning $60,000.

Sampras will be competing in Charlotte for a second time after capturing the title in 2007. The seven-time Wimbledon champion and owner of 14 major singles titles won the title in Charlotte two years ago defeating Todd Martin 6-3, 6-4 in the championship match. Earlier this year, Sampras won Outback Champions Series events in Boston and Los Cabos, Mexico. He will be seeking his sixth career Outback Champions Series event in Charlotte after joining the global champions tennis circuit in 2007.

Courier will be seeking his third title in Charlotte after winning titles at The Palisades in 2006, defeating Martin 5-7, 7-6 (6), (10-4 in Champions Tie-Breaker) in the final, and in 2008, defeating Martin again 6-2, 3-6, (10-5 in Champions Tie-Breaker) in the final. Courier, a two-time French and Australian Open champion, currently leads the rankings on the Outback Champions Series with 2000 points, followed by Sampras with 1600 points and John McEnroe with 1300 points.

Wilander will be making his debut in Charlotte in 2009. Like Sampras and Courier, Wilander is a former world No. 1 player and has won  three French and Australian Open titles and one U.S. Open singles title.

Martin has played in Charlotte in all three previous editions of the event, reaching the championship match all three times – losing to Courier in 2006 and 2008 and to Sampras in 2007. Martin was a singles finalist at the Australian Open in 1994 and the US Open in 1999.

The remaining players in the Breezeplay field will be announced at a later date.

The Palisades community is renowned for its environmentally sensitive land planning that spotlights the natural topography of the land, respecting the natural beauty of the landscape and weaving open space into each part of the community design. In keeping with this stewardship, The Palisades is partnering with BreezePlay, LLC of Charlotte to make the Champions Series a green event that will incorporate significant energy reduction and conservation, materials recycling, and an EcoVillage by BreezePlay. The EcoVillage will feature products and services to educate attendees about ways that even small steps can make a big difference in saving energy and protecting the environment.

About Outback Champions Series
Founded in 2005, the Outback Champions Series features some of the biggest names in tennis over the last 25 years, including Andre Agassi, Sampras, John McEnroe, Courier and others. To be eligible to compete on the Outback Champions Series, players must have reached at least a major singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team.  The Outback Champions Series features eight events on its 2009 schedule with each event featuring $150,000 in prize money as well as Champions Series points that will determine the year-end Champions Rankings No. 1.

About InsideOut Sports & Entertainment
InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a New York City-based independent producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Outback Champions Series, a collection of tennis events featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including “Legendary Night” exhibitions, charity events and tennis fantasy camps such as the annual “Ultimate Fantasy Camp”. Through 2008, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment events have raised over $4 million for charity. For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.

Epic matches and major upsets at Roland Garros

Epic matches and major upsets highlight the May 31 landscape at Roland Garros through the years. The following excerpt from the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY summarizes the excitement.

1983 – Twenty-five-year French journeyman Christophe Roger-Vasselin, ranked No. 130 in the world, registers one of the biggest upsets in the history of the French Open, upsetting No. 1 seed Jimmy Connors 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros. Roger-Vasselin’s countryman No. 6-seeded Yannick Noah, accounts for the second big upset on the day, defeating No. 3 seed Ivan Lendl by a 7-6, 6-2, 5-7, 6-0 margin.

1994 – Jim Courier defeats Pete Sampras 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the French Open, ending Sampras’ hopes of winning a fourth consecutive major tournament title. Sampras, falls short in his attempt to join Don Budge and Rod Laver – both of whom won Grand Slams – as the only men to win four straight major titles. Sampras, the 1993 Wimbledon and U.S.  Open champion and the 1994 Australian Open champion, sees his major tournament winning streak end at 26 matches. Says Sampras, “”I’m kind of down and disappointed. To win four in a row would have been something that would have been written about for years.” Says Courier after his first win over Sampras in 18 months, “I was in a lot more rallies and I was able to be the dictator rather than being the person dictated to…It has been a long time since I have won a big match in a big tournament like this against a top player.”

1989 – Thirty-six-year-old Jimmy Connors plays one of the longest four-set matches in the history of the sport, falling to fellow American Jay Berger 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 7-5 in 4 hours, 26 minutes in the second round of the French Open. Berger is not surprised that the French crowd is so firmly rooting for the five-time US Open champion. “Hey, if I was in the stands, I would have cheered Jimmy Connors, too,” he says. Says Connors after the match, “For me to go out and grind out a match like that. It’s fun. To play a kid like that, 14 years younger – I could have played a fifth set. My mouthpiece wasn’t knocked out.”

1974 – Reigning Australian Open champions Jimmy Connors and Evonne Goolagong lose in French appeals court in an attempt to gain entry into the French Open. Both stars are denied entry into the tournament due to their involvement with World Team Tennis. French judge Jean Regnault denies the appeal stating that there was no “emergency” and that both players earned substantial incomes from tennis – with or without playing the French Championships. The decision costs Connors a serious opportunity to become only the third man to win the Grand Slam as he decisively wins Wimbledon and the U.S. Open later in the year. Says Connors of Parisien court experience, “I’m in the wrong court. I should be on clay.”

1998 – Alex Corretja completes a 6-1, 5-7, 6-7, 7-5, 9-7 third round victory over Hernan Gumy of Argentina at the French Open in a match that lasts 5 hours, 31 minutes, the longest match in major tournament history at the time. The match was five minutes longer than Stefan Edberg’s semifinal victory against Michael Chang at the 1992 US Open, but it is eclipsed in 2004 when Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement play a two-day 6 hour, 33 minute match in the first round of the French Open.

1996 – Pete Sampras outlasts fellow American Todd Martin 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 in 3 hours, 21 minutes in the third round of the French Open. Sampras serves 19 aces to Martin’s 29, believed to be the highest number in one match at the French Open.

2000 – Dominique Van Roost of Belgium celebrates her 27th birthday with a 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-3 win over No. 2 seed Lindsay Davenport in the first round of the French Open.

2001 – Pete Sampras is foiled again at the French Open, falling in the second round at the world’s premier clay court championship to Spain’s Galo Blanco 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-2. “If I go through my career not winning the French, sure, it’s disappointing,” Sampras says. “But it’s not going to take away from my place in the game, what I’ve been able to do over the years. I mean, there’s still time. There’s no reason to think this is it. I mean, I’ve got plenty of years left.”  Sampras plays at Roland Garros for only one more year in 2002, losing in the first round to Andrea Gaudenzi. He plays his final match in winning in the 2002 U.S. Open and retires having only reached one French Open semifinal in 1996.

2003 – In a 4 hour, 38-minute epic, defending champion Albert Costa of Spain defeats Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the third round of the French Open for his third five-set victory in a row at Roland Garros. Lapentti leads two-sets-to-love and 4-1 in the third set before Costa begins his comeback charge. ”I’m feeling so proud of myself because I’m not playing my best tennis, but I’m still fighting all the time,” Costa says. No. 1 seed Lleyton Hewitt is dismissed in the third round by Spaniard Tommy Robredo by a 4-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 margin. “”This was the match of my life,” Robredo says after his victory “To be two sets down and 0-3 down in the fifth and to have this crowd chanting my name in Paris against a guy like Hewitt, it’s close to perfection.”

1995 – Pete Sampras is sunk in the first round of the French Open, losing a darkness-suspended match Austria’s Gilbert Schaller 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-4 in 4 hours, 2 minutes. The match resumes with Sampras leading 3-1 in the third set, but his serve is immediate broken in the first game of the resumption, setting the tone for the rest of the afternoon. “I think this loss is probably going to sit with me for quite a while,” says Sampras to reporters after the match. “I could talk about turning points, but we would be here all day.”

1980 – John McEnroe was hit with a $1,250 fine for his ungraceful exit in his third round French Open loss to Peter McNamara of Australia, in which he made an insulting remark to the umpire and an obscene gesture to the crowd.