Bethany Mattek

Mondays With Bob Greene: Rafael Nadal Wins His First Grass-Court Title

16 June 2008

STARS

Rafael Nadal won his first grass-court title, the Artois Championships, by beating Novak Djokovic 7-6 (6) 7-5 in London, England.

Roger Federer won the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, for the fifth time, downing Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 6-4

Nikolay Davydenko beat Tommy Robredo 6-3 6-3 to win the Orange Prokom Open in Warsaw, Poland

Kateryna Bondarenko won her first WTA Tour title, the DFS Classic in Birmingham, England, by beating Yanina Wickmayer 7-6 (7) 3-6 7-6 (4)

Maria Kirilenko defeated Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-0 6-2 to win the Torneo Barcelona KIA in Barcelona, Spain

SAYINGS

“I now have titles on all surfaces, so I am now a more complete player than I was a week ago.” – Rafael Nadal, after winning a grass-court tournament, The Artois Championships.

“It feels great. Finally I have my own title. I didn’t expect my first one to come on grass.” – Kateryna Bondarenko, who earned her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title by capturing the DFS Classic.

“Maybe if he wins it six times people won’t question him. People are sitting here saying, `Can Roger win Wimbledon?’ Yes, he can. He’s won it five times.” – Andy Roddick, about Roger Federer.

“It’s been a terrific week. I’ve only been playing on grass for three years so it’s quite an improvement for m e to get to the final.” – Novak Djokovic, after losing to Nadal in the final at Queen’s Club.

“I need three days off. Four would be amazing! I’ve spent nine days in the last four months at home. I need to be with friends, family, forget the tennis for a few days. I need to play some golf.” – Rafael Nadal.

“We’re confident going into Wimbledon. I think we’ll be second seeds, and anytime you’re the opposite of the Bryans it’s a nice thing.” – Daniel Nestor, who with his partner Nenad Zimonjic won The Artois Championships doubles.

“I am mentally exhausted after the French Open. I am not ready to compete so soon after winning my first Grand Slam.” – Ana Ivanovic, withdrawing from the Wimbledon warm-up tournament in Eastbourne, England.

“My game plane was just to make her play every point. I knew she hadn’t had a lot of wins recently and I wanted to stop her taking the initiative out there.” – Bethany Mattek, after upsetting world number seven Nicole Vaidisova at the DFS Classic.

“I think I played well. Even though my knee hurt a lot, I kept on fighting. I’m not a quitter.” – Yanina Wickmayer,

“Nobody beats John Sadri 15 times, so he’s lucky I retired. I drew the line.” – John Sadri, noting his career record against John McEnroe was 14-0, including the 1978 NCAA championship match.

SPANISH HISTORY

When Rafael Nadal won The Artois Championships at Queen’s Club in London, he became the first Spaniard to capture a grass-court title since Andres Gimeno at Eastbourne, England, in 1972. Nadal also became the first player to win the French Open and The Queen’s Club in the same year since Ilie Nastase of Romania captured both titles in 1973. He also is the first player since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win at Roland Garros and a grass-court title in the same year. And he is the first left-hander to win The Artois Championships since Scott Draper of Australia in 1996.

SURFACE STREAK

Roger Federer has compiled an Open Era record 59-match winning streak on grass going into Wimbledon, where he is seeking his sixth consecutive title. He extended his record to 25-0 at the Gerry Weber Open, where he has won in his last five appearances on the grass in Halle, Germany. Federer’s last loss on grass was to Mario Ancic in the first round at Wimbledon in 2002. The victory was Federer’s 10th grass-court title, tying him with Pete Sampras for the Open Era record.

SERBIAN SWEEP

With Ana Ivanovic ranked number one in the world and Jelena Jankovic number two, Serbia becomes only the third nation since the rankings began in 1975 to have the world’s top two players. The United States have had five different pairs occupy first and second in the rankings at the same time, and Belgium joined the select group when Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters held those two spots.

STRATOSPHERIC MATCH

Kateryna Bondarenko of the Ukraine and Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium reached the final of a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event for the first time when they squared off for the title at the DFS Classic in Birmingham, England. Before last week Bondarenko had never been beyond the quarterfinals of a Tour singles event, while Wickmayer’s best showing before Birmingham was a second-round appearance in Antwerp, Belgium. Bondarenko won the hard-fought battle of newcomers 3-6 (7) 3-6 7-6 (4).

SECOND-SET IRE

Fernando Gonzalez forfeited his third-round match at Queen’s Club when he let his temper get the best of him. The Chilean was warned for ball abuse in the first set, then was docked a point when he smashed his racket in anger. When he abused a ball again after losing his serve in the 11th game of the second set, umpire Les Maddock issued a game penalty, sending Gonzalez to the locker room and giving the match to Ivo Karlovic.

SEEKING MORE SAY

The world’s top three players have become political allies in an attempt to take more control over their sport. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are all but certain to be elected to the ATP Player Council. The three have complained about the current ATP leadership and have expressed concern about the potential impact of a lawsuit filed against the ATP by tournament organizers in Hamburg, Germany. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are running unopposed for three of the four slots reserved for players ranked one to 50.

SPADEA INTO WIMBLEDON

American Vincent Spadea and Frenchman Thierry Ascione gained spots in the main draw at Wimbledon when officials decided not to award the final two of eight wild cards in the men’s singles. Spadea, ranked 110th in the world, and Ascione, ranked 119th, where the next two players in the rankings who were eligible to play at the grass court Grand Slam. Receiving wild cards into the men’s field were Belgian Xavier Malisse, Britons Jamie Baker and Alex Bogdanovic, Canadian Frank Dancevic and Jeremy Chardy of France. The women’s wild cards went to Australia’s Samantha Stosur, Poland’s Urzula Radwanska, Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro and Britain’s Elena Baltacha, Naomi Cavaday, Katie O’Brien and Melanie South.

STILL NUMBER ONE

Cara Black is moving up the all-time list of players who have held the number one ranking in doubles. The Zimbabwean has been ranked number one for a total of 68 weeks, tying her with Helena Sukova. Martina Navratilova leads the list with a total of 237 weeks being ranked number one. Liezel Huber, who teamed with Black to win the DFS Classic in Birmingham, England, joined her partner at number one and now has been ranked at the top position for 31 weeks.

SPANISH SKIN

Fernando Verdasco has bared all for a good cause. The Spanish player can be seen without clothing in the July issue of the United Kingdom’s Cosmopolitan Magazine. Verdaco is the second tennis player to pose in the nude in support of the Everyman Male Cancer Campaign. Another Spaniard, Tommy Robredo, was the first to pick a unique way to help raise awareness and funds for research into testicular and prostate cancer.

SWISS RETURN

Martina Hingis and Jana Novotna will repeat their Wimbledon final of 1997 when they play an exhibition match at the Liverpool International Tournament. Hingis retired after banned for two years from competitive tennis following a positive test for cocaine at Wimbledon last year. Hingis also took time to join Pat Cash, Goran and American Ashley Harkleroad at a charity dinner in Liverpool, England, to support Claire House, a hospice for children.

SWITCHING SPORTS

John Sadri’s current love is golf, where last week he shot an opening-round 77 that put him 10 strokes off the lead in the North Carolina Amateur in Raleigh. Now 51, Sadri once was ranked number 14 in the world in tennis and lost to Guillermo Vilas in the 1979 Australian Open men’s singles final. Sadri, who owns a construction company in Charlotte, North Carolina, said he took up golf to get closer to business clients.

SIGN OF AFFECTION

Evonne Goolagong Cawley’s home town is going big-time to honor their champion. How big? The New South Wales town of Barellan is building a giant replica of the wooden tennis racket Goolagong used during the height of her success in the 1970s. The steel construction will be 13.8 meters (45 feet) high and will stand on a 45-degree angle in the town’s Evonne Goolagong Park. Goolagong won 92 tournaments during her career, including Wimbledon in 1971 and 1980.

SPORT FOR AUSSIES

Australia’s most popular sport is tennis, according to the Sweeney Sports Report, which used various indicators such as participation, attendance at major events, viewing figures and merchandise sales to quantify the popularity of major sports. Golf, which moved into first place when Aussie Greg Norman was the world’s number one player, is now near the bottom of the list. The survey showed that swimming was second most popular and cricket third. The year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, was voted the third most popular sporting event in Australia behind the Australian Football Rules Grand Final and The Melbourne Cup, a horse race.

SPEED SKILLS

Tennis players can judge speed better than others, according to a study in Switzerland. But it could either be the case that tennis improves temporal processing or that better temporal processing allows people to become better tennis player. And the effects observed were quite small since we all use some of the skills on a daily basis, as when driving a car. Tennis players are only significantly better at spotting tennis balls in a match, not at spotting a cat running across the road while they are driving.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

London: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Marcelo Melo and Andre Sa 6-4 7-6 (3)

Halle: Mikhail Youzhny and Mischa Zverev beat Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes 3-6 6-4 10-3 (match tiebreak)

Warsaw: Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski beat Nikolay Davydenko and Yuri Schukin 6-0 3-6 10-4 (match tiebreak)

Birmingham: Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Yaroslava Shvedova and Tamarine Tanasugarn 5-7 6-4 10-4 (match tiebreak)

Barcelona: Lourdes Dominguez Lino and Arantxa Parra Santonja beat Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 4-6 7-5 10-4 (match tiebreak)

SITES TO SURF

Eastbourne: http://eastbourne.lta.org.uk/

‘s-Hertogenbosch: www.ordina-open.nl

Wimbledon: www.Wimbledon.com

Roger Federer: www. rogerfederer.com

Ana Ivanovic: www.anaivanovic.com/

Koninklijke Nederlandse Lawn Tennis Bond: www.knltb.nl

The Lawn Tennis Association: www.lta.org.uk/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$584,000 Ordina Open, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, grass

$584,000 The Slazenger Open, Nottingham, Great Britain, grass

$125,000 Braunschweig Challenger, Braunschweig, Germany, clay

WTA TOUR

$600,000 International Women’s Open, Eastbourne, Great Britain, grass

$175,000 Ordina Open, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, grass

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP and WTA TOUR

The Championships, Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass