Bank Austria Tennis Trophy

Tennis In The Commonwealth – Murray and Robson To Play For GB In Hopman Cup

By Leigh Sanders

Andy Murray and Laura Robson have confirmed they will represent Great Britain at the Hopman Cup, the official mixed team competition of the ITF, in Perth, Australia in January. Murray will use the event to prepare for the 2010 Australian Open. He is looking to improve his record at Melbourne Park and has decided to use the same tournament that Novak Djokovic (2008) and Marat Safin (2005) played on their way to victory Down Under. They will be the first British representatives at the tournament since Jeremy Bates and Jo Durie lost in the first round in 1992. Each match consists of a men’s and women’s singles and a doubles. The hosts will be represented by Lleyton Hewitt and Samantha Stosur. Melanie Oudin and John Isner have been confirmed as the American team while Russia will be represented by Elena Dementieva and Igor Andreev while Tommy Robredo and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez will compete for Spain.

Robin Soderling is a doubt for the ATP World Tour Finals in London, England, after the world No. 10 was forced to withdraw from his semifinal in Stockholm against Cyprus’ Marcos Bagdhatis with an elbow injury. The Swede would have made up points on the Spaniard Fernando Verdasco who currently holds the eighth and final qualification place for the Championships. Soderling has not yet pulled out of his scheduled tournaments in Valencia and Paris ahead of London hoping he will be fit to fight for his place in the end-of-season tournament.

The final line-up for the Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha was decided this week without one representative from the Commonwealth making the final cut. Jelena Jankovic sealed the eighth and final spot despite crashing out of the quarterfinals of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow and she joins Venus and Serena Williams, Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Dinara Safina, Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka in the battle to find the top player for 2009.

This weeks ATP singles world rankings (26/10) saw Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt climb two places to 20th while his compatriot Peter Luczak held on to his ranking of 83. Chris Guccione, also from Down under, climbed five places to 104th. Britain’s Andy Murray remained in 4th place and India’s Somdev Devvarman climbed three to 121st. In the doubles, Daniel Nestor of Canada remains No. 1 despite his early exit from Shanghai recently but Mahesh Bhupathi of India drops one place to 7th. Paul Hanley of Australia climbs four places to 26th after his finals appearance in Stockholm (see below) while South Africa’s Jeff Coetzee remains 35th after his semifinals berth at the same tournament. Australia’s Ashley Fisher is below him in 36th while Britain’s Ross Hutchins and Aussie Stephen Huss both fell this week to 49th and 50th respectively.

This week’s WTA rankings (26/10) saw Australia’s Samantha Stosur remain at 13 as she continued her climb towards the world top 10 while Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada climbed one place to 30. Another Aussie, Jelena Dokic, dropped to 64th and Britain’s Elena Baltacha jumped from 93 to 86 after her semifinal appearance at St. Raphael (see below). Her compatriot Katie O’Brien was also up one to 91st.

In the WTA doubles rankings (26/10) Australians Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs find themselves tied for 5th spot after Stosur jumped three places while Sania Mirza of India drops two places to 38th. Sarah Borwell, British No. 1 for doubles, jumps one place to 78th while South Africa’s Natalie Grandin is up two to 80th.

Daniel Nestor of Canada suffered his third straight first-round defeat with partner Nenad Zimonjic at the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy. The top two doubles players in the world fell to John Isner and Australian Jordan Kerr 4-6, 7-6(8), 10-6 in just over 90 minutes. It is the eighth first-round defeat the pair have suffered this year.

Jeff Coetzee of South Africa and Australia’s Stephen Huss reached the semifinals of the If Stockholm Open before going down to Kevin Ullyett and Bruno Soares. It was the 500th doubles victory for Ullyett making him only the 31st man in ATP history to reach that landmark. In the final they faced Australia’s Paul Hanley and Sweden’s Simon Aspelin. Soares and Ullyett won through 6-4, 7-6(4) to break the hearts of the Australian and the Swede.

In the doubles event at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow India’s Rohan Bopanna partnered Janko Tipsarevic to a semifinals berth where they were eventually defeated by Frantisek Cermak of the Czech Republic and Slovakia’s Mikal Mertinak. Metinak/Cermak went on to win the tournament and improve their chances of appearing in the doubles bracket at the ATP World Tour Finals in London, England next month.

Geoff Pollard has been re-elected as the President of Tennis Australia for another twelve months following this year’s Annual General Meeting held in Melbourne on Monday.

More doubles joy for Great Britain this week as Colin Fleming and Ken Skupski were victorious at the ATP Challenger Event in Orleans, France. They defeated the French pair of Sebastian Grosjean and Olivier Patience 6-1, 6-1 who had beaten another British pair, Jamie Murray and Jamie Delgado, in the semi finals to prevent an all-British final. In Glasgow, Scotland, Chris Eaton and Dominic Inglot picked up their third Doubles title of the month. They defeated fellow Brit Dan Cox and Uladzimir Ignatik of Belarus.

Peter Luczak of Australia was defeated in the round of 32 at the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy on the hard courts of Vienna by the Spaniard Nicolas Almagro. After taking the first set Luczak battled hard but it wasn’t quite enough and he went down 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-1.

Rising teenage star Bernard Tomic of Australia will warm up for the 2010 Australian Open by partnering Aussie tennis legend Pat Cash at the World Tennis Challenge in Adelaide next January. The novel tournament, which concludes just four days before the Open begins, sees a retired tennis star partner a modern-day pro in a team format. The 17-year-old Tomic will represent Australia with Cash, 27 years his senior. Representing America will be John McEnroe and Robby Ginepri, while Henri Leconte will represent Europe with an unconfirmed teammate. Finally, world No. 14 Radek Stepanek will head the Internationals team with an unconfirmed retired player.

Britain’s Elena Baltacha reached the semifinals of the $50k Event in St. Raphael, France before going down to the No. 3 seed Sandra Zahlavova of the Czech Republic. Meanwhile in Glasgow, Scotland, Melanie South was defeated in the final of the AEGON Pro-Series Event. 5th seed Johanna Larsson of Sweden was too much for the British No. 4, winning in three sets. But South made amends in the doubles, teaming with Emma Laine of Finland to defeat the Mayr sisters of Italy 6-3, 6-2 and bring home the Championship. Future tennis starlet Heather Watson crashed out of the first round of the singles, going down 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(2) to Tunisian veteran Selima Sfar.

Tennis Canada has announced that former Chairman Harold P. Milavsky will be inducted in to the Canadian Tennis Hall of Fame in the Builder category with a dinner in his honour on December 3rd at the Glencoe Club in Calgary.

Mondays With Bob Greene: We might even choose to boycott the new tour

STARS

ATP

Igor Kunitsyn beat Marat Safin 7-6 (6) 6-7 (4) 6-3 to win the ATP Kremlin Cup in Moscow, Russia

David Nalbandian beat Robin Soderling 6-2 5-7 6-3 to win the Stockholm Open in Stockholm, Sweden

Philipp Petzschner upset Gael Monfils 6-4 6-4 to win the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy in Vienna, Austria

WTA TOUR

Jelena Jankovic won her third straight title, the Kremlin Cup, by beating Vera Zvonareva 6-2 6-4 in Moscow, Russia

SENIORS

Goran Ivanisevic beat Henri Leconte 7-6 (0) 6-3 to win the BlackRock Tour of Champions event in Budapest, Hungary

SAYINGS

“This is a perfect ending for me to win the doubles title in Stockholm in my last match in Sweden, with my family and friends, old coaches, watching me. The only person who was missing today was my son, Max, who is back in Monte Carlo at school.” – Jonas Bjorkman, who is retiring this year.

“I was hoping to win a couple of games and that’s it. I still don’t know how I was able to outplay Marat, but I guess it happens. I still don’t understand how I won.” – Igor Kunitsyn, who won the ATP Kremlin Cup by upsetting Marat Safin in the final.

“It’s amazing to have beaten my first Top 10 player (Stanislas Wawrinka), my first semifinal straight away, my first final, my first title, and also playing in the doubles final. There were so many new and amazing things that happened to me this week.” – Philipp Petzschner, after winning the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy, a tournament in which he originally planned to play only doubles.

“I’ve worked really hard in the last three weeks, winning three titles in a row. It’s not easy.” – Jelena Jankovic, after winning the Kremlin Cup.

“It seems she had an answer for everything I tried.” – Vera Zvonareva, after losing to Jelena Jankovic in the Kremlin Cup final.

“I played great all week, almost perfect every match here. I lost a set today but that’s part of the game.” – David Nalbandian, after winning the Stockholm Open.

“I’m at a good moment in my career. I think this is the best I have played in three years. I’m excited about the indoor season because I don’t have any points to defend and I think I can do very well in the next three tournaments I play: Madrid, Lyon and Paris.” – Robin Soderling, who lost the Stockholm Open final.

“If they (WTA) don’t listen to what we have to say we might even choose to boycott the new tour.” Dinara Safina, about the new rules for the women’s tour.

“It would be great to have another duel with Federer. If I play him it means I will be number one at the end of the year because I will have reached the final. I can only meet him there.” – Rafael Nadal, about playing Roger Federer at the Madrid Masters.

“I totally came here because I love winning. I have never won this title, but I just had a day where I could not control my game. She played well.” – Venus Williams, after her first-round loss to Flavia Pennetta at the Kremlin Cup.

“Sydney is a happy hunting ground for me. Some good hard matches in Sydney will certainly help me in my preparation for the 2009 Australian Open.” – Leyton Hewitt, who has been recuperating from a hip operation, saying he will return to tennis at the Sydney tournament.

“I am looking forward to renewing some great rivalries, particularly with Jim Courier, and getting my competitive juices flowing again at The Stanford Championships.” – Boris Becker, who will compete in a senior tournament in Dallas, Texas, this month.

STEAMED

Dina Safina says the top players could boycott next year’s WTA Tour if their questions about the changes to the schedule are left unanswered. Under the new rules, the top players will have to play designated tournaments while lower-ranked players will be able to play any tournament they choose. Under the so-called Road Map 2010, there will be 20 Premiere tournaments with players committed to play in at least 10. Any player qualifying for the top four tournaments – Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Beijing – must play that event. The top-ranked players must also play in at least four of five other events – Canada, Dubai, Rome, Cincinnati and Tokyo. The WTA has committed to having at least seven of the world’s top 10 players at each of those events.

SURPRISE

When Germany’s Philipp Petzschner arrived in Vienna, he was planning on playing only in doubles. But he qualified for the main singles draw, then kept winning until he came away with the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy title. Petzschner, who have never made it past the quarterfinals in an ATP tournament before Vienna, beat top-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka, former world number one Carlos Moya and 2004 Bank Austria champion Feliciano Lopez before upsetting fourth-seeded Gael Monfils 6-4 6-4 in the title match.

SITE SWITCH?

Politicians in Sydney want to build a multi-million dollar tennis facility and take the Australian Open away from Melbourne. The Victorian capital has the rights to stage the year’s first Grand Slam tournament until 2016. According to news reports, the New South Wales state government, however, wants to build a tennis complex in Glebe, which is close to the Sydney city center, and try to get the Australian Open to move after its contract with Melbourne expires.

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STEADY WINNER

She’s number one in the world and continuing her winning ways. Since reaching her first Grand Slam tournament final at the US Open, Jelena Jankovic has won three straight titles in as many weeks. It wasn’t easy, as Jankovic was down a set and a break before beating Vera Dushevina, then rallied from 3-1 down in both sets to beat Flavia Pennetta. In the semifinals, she lost the first set at love to defending champion Elena Dementieva before winning 0-6 6-1 6-0. She easily beat Vera Zvonareva in the final, 6-2 6-4. It has been three years since a woman has won three tournaments in three weeks, the last to achieve the feat being Nicole Vaidisova.

SWEDE ENDING

Sweden’s Jonas Bjorkman played the final singles match of his career at the Stockholm Open, losing to “lucky loser” Juan Monaco in the opening round. At Wimbledon in June, Bjorkman announced his retirement plans, saying “I feel it is time to begin the next chapter of my life.” Making his 16th appearance in Stockholm, where he has won the singles twice, Bjorkman went away a champion. He teamed with Kevin Ullyett to win the doubles, beating fellow Swedes Johan Brunstrom and Michael Ryderstedt 6-1 6-3. His victory in his 1,002nd career doubles match was his 700th match win and 53rd doubles title. He reached a career high singles ranking of number four in 1997, and in 2006 reached the semifinals at Wimbledon, losing to eventual champion Roger Federer.

SIDELINED

Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina pulled out of his second-round match at the Vienna tournament with a toe injury. Del Potro, who won his first four ATP titles in a row in July and August, has been struggling with a broken nail on his right foot since the US Open.

SACRE SUCRE

The singles winners at the Australian Open in January will receive about USD $1.15 million each, based on current exchange rates. Tournament officials announced the prize money for the 2009 tournament winners will be increased 18 percent from this year’s event. The year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open will offer total prize money of USD $15.6 million. The upcoming tournament will feature the prospect of Roger Federer winning his 14th major title to equal the record of Pete Sampras. Federer lost in the semifinals at Melbourne in 2008 to eventual winner Novak Djokovic. Federer then lost to Rafael Nadal in the finals of both Roland Garros and Wimbledon before winning the US Open. Maria Sharapova is the defending Australian Open women’s champion.

SEEKING COURT REDRESS

The German Tennis Federation is planning to return to court and appeal the ATP downgrading of the men’s tournament in Hamburg. In August, a jury in Wilmington, Delaware, sided with the ATP’s planned tournament restructuring, a move that moved the Hamburg clay court event from May to July and eliminated it as a key tune-up for Roland Garros. The German federation said on its web site that it aims to maintain the Hamburg tournament’s status and ask for unspecified damages. The federation did not specify which court would hear the appeal or when it would be filed.

STEAMED

David Nalbandian is upset that the Davis Cup final will be played in Mar del Plata, Argentina, instead of his hometown of Cordoba. The Argentine Tennis Association wanted to play the final against Spain next month on a fast indoor court in Cordoba. But that site was not approved by the International Tennis Federation., which selected instead Mar del Plata. Both venues are smaller than the 12,000-seat capacity the ITF has said it wanted. But the ITF said its selection was made because there were “many factors to consider,” including the ability to expand seating at Mar del Plata. “It’s a very strange decision,” Nalbandian said. “The players and captain and the federation want to play in Cordoba. I don’t know why they chose the other place.”

SIGNED UP

Three of the world’s top women – Jelena Jankovic, Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams – have agreed to play a new World Team Challenge in Hong Kong next year as a warm-up event for the Australian Open. The tournament will feature four teams representing Europe, Russia, the Americas and Asia-Pacific. Each team will consist of three players competing in singles and doubles. Jankovic will lead Team Europe, Williams the Americas, Sharapova Team Russia and Sania Mirza of India the Asia-Pacific squad.

SYDNEY DATE

Leyton Hewitt will make the Sydney International tournament in January his first tournament since undergoing hip surgery. Hewitt underwent the operation after the Beijing Olympics and says his recovery is going well. Once ranked number one in the world, Hewitt has won the Sydney title four times, most recently in 2005.

SENIOR BORIS

Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker will make his Outback Champions Series debut at The Stanford Championships, to be played this month in Dallas, Texas. It will be the German’s first tournament in the United States since he competed in the Lipton Championships in Key Biscayne, Florida, in 1999. Others scheduled to play in the seniors event will be Jim Courier, Wayne Ferreira, Mikael Pernfors, Mark Philippoussis, Todd Martin, Aaron Krickstein and Jimmy Arias.

SET FOR THE BAR

Max Mirnyi is now ready for another court. The former world number one doubles player has received his diploma from Belarus State University, majoring in International Law with an emphasis on the international protection of children’s rights. The 31-year-old native of Minsk has been a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador and has taken part in the various national and international children’s programs in the framework of the ATP. He had been working on his law degree for the past five years.

SONY ERICSSON CHAMPIONS

Cara Black and Liezel Huber have clinched the top spot for 2008 in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Doubles Rankings. The pair won eight doubles titles this year, including the US Open, the duo’s fourth career Grand Slam tournament title. It is the second straight season that Black and Huber will finish as the joint top-ranked players in doubles. The two are only the second doubles team to finish a season as joint top-ranked players, and only the fourth doubles pair to jointly hold the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour number one doubles ranking since its inception in 1984. Black is a native of Zimbabwe, while Huber was born in South Africa but has become a naturalized American citizen.

SAFIN CONFUSED

When Marat Safin won his 400th career match, he didn’t know it. Safin broke Noam Okum in the 10th game of the final set, earning a 7-6 (5) 3-6 6-4 first-round victory at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. The ATP website, however, said Safin mistakenly thought it was 6-5 and went to his chair to towel off during what he thought was a changeover. Chair umpire Carlos Bernardes leaned over and informed Safin the match was over. Safin ran his career match win total to 402 before losing in the final to Igor Kunitsyn 7-6 (6) 6-7 (4) 6-3.

STOPPED AT THE GATE

The ATP is out to stop 15 professional gamblers from attending tournaments. Gerard Tsobanian, tournament director of the Madrid Masters, said the men’s tennis tour sent the tournament a list of names and credit card numbers of 15 bettors who they want excluded. The 15 were apparently found placing bets on site to exploit a 20-second delay in scores being received by bookmakers. Tsobanian said it was “a very international list” and that some of the gamblers had tried to get into tournaments by posing as journalists.

SPECIAL DOUBLES

Anna Kournikova will compete in special mixed doubles matches at The Stanford Championships in Dallas, Texas, later this month. The former top ten player who still appears on magazine covers, will join members of the 2008 Outback Champions Series tennis circuit on the campus of Southern Methodist University for the tournament. Two of the players from the men’s tournament along with another female player will play compete in the mixed doubles.

SAD DAY

Hank Jungle, who coached Tim Gullikson and Johan Kriek, among others, has died at his Fort Myers, Florida, home. Jungle, who retired after serving 20 years in the military, met Gullikson when he was in the Air Force and living in Dayton, Ohio. A native of New Orleans, Jungle played tennis at Tulane University. He had been tennis director at Cypress Lake Country Club in recent years and had given lessons the day before he died.

SENIOR SURPRISE

Swedes Anders Jarryd and Mikael Pernfors complete the eight-player field who will compete in the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Championships in Surprise, Arizona, next month. Others in the field include feisty fan favorite John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Jimmy Arias, Wayne Ferreira, Todd Martin and Mark Philippoussis. Surprise has signed a three-year agreement with the Outback Champions Series.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Moscow (women): Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik 6-4 6-4

Moscow (men): Sergiy Stakhovsky and Potito Starace beat Stephen Huss and Ross Hutchins 7-6 (4) 2-6 10-6 (match tiebreak)

Stockholm: Jonas Bjorkman and Kevin Ullyet beat Johan Brunstrom and Michael Ryderstedt 6-1 6-3

Vienna: Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram beat Philipp Petzschner and Alexander Peya 6-1 7-5

SITES TO SURF

Madrid: www.mutuamad-mastersmadrid.com

Zurich: www.zurichopen.net

Ortisei: www.itfvalgardena.com

Budapest: www.tennisclassics.hu/

Linz: www.generali-ladies.at

Luxembourg: www.fortis-championships.lu

Seoul: www.kortennis.co.kr

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$2,450,000 Mutua Madrilena Masters Madrid, Madrid, Spain, hard

$125,000 Tashkent, Uzbekistan

WTA TOUR

$600,000 Zurich Open, Zurich, Switzerland

$100,000 Internazionali Tennis Val Gardena, Ortisei, Italy, carpet

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$1,000,000 Davidoff Swiss Indoors, Basel, Switzerland, carpet

$1,000,000 St. Petersburg Open, St. Petersburg, Russia, hard

$800,000 Grand Prix de Tennis De Lyon, Lyon, France, carpet

$125,000 Samsung Securities Cup Challenger, Seoul, Korea, hard

WTA TOUR

$600,000 Generali Ladies Linz, Linz, Austria, hard

$225,000 FORTIS Championships Luxembourg

$100,000 Internationaux Feminins de la Vienne, Poitiers, France, hard

$100,000 2008 OEC Taipei Ladies Open, Taipei, Taiwan, carpet

SENIORS

Stanford Championships, Outback Champions, Dallas, Texas

Tennis As Usual: Who is Philipp Petzschner

Unless you are a true die-hard tennis fan, you have not been pondering the aforementioned question until today. Little-known German Philipp Petzschner is in the final of both the singles and doubles tournaments at the Bank Austria Tennis Trophy in Vienna. On Saturday he stunned Feliciano Lopez 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the semifinals, and hours later he delighted the crowd by teaming with Austrian favorite Alexander Peya to overcome Lopez and fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in a super-tiebreaker for the third set.

Petzschner will now face Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram in the doubles final, and Gael Monfils in the singles title match. The temporary team of Mirnyi and Ram ousted Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 2-6, 6-3, 10-8 (super-tiebreaker). Monfils outlasted Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(2) in the semifinals after blowing three match points at 6-5, 40-0 in the final set. It took Monfils two hours and 51 minutes to get the job done.

No such suspense took place at the IF Stockholm Open on Saturday. Not long into the second semifinal of the afternoon, the question was not who would win, but whether or not Robin Soderling would finish even faster than David Nalbandian had just one hour earlier. Nalbandian crushed Jarkko Nieminen 6-2, 6-1 in only one hour and four minutes, but he was one-upped by Soderling, who destroyed Kei Nishikori 6-1, 6-0 in a mere 44 minutes.

The Swedish fans will be treated to an intriguing final Sunday. Before their man Soderling takes on Nalbandian, veteran Swede Jonas Bjorkman-along with partner Kevin Ullyett-will battle countrymen Johan Brunstrom and Michael Ryderstedt.

The Russian crowd also could not ask more much more on the penultimate day in Moscow. Russians Marat Safin and Igor Kunitsyn will clash for the Kremlin Cup title. Safin got a free pass into the final when Mischa Zverev pulled out due to illness, while Kunitsyn eased past soon-to-be retired Fabrice Santoro 6-4, 6-3.

Regardless of the outcome, the men’s final should be more fun for the fans than Saturday’s women’s title match. Russian Elena Dementieva steamrolled Jelena Jankovic 6-0 in the first set, but the Serb stormed back to win the final two sets 6-1, 6-0.