Bob and Mike Bryan

Headlines from the Round of 16

Azarenka Plows Past Radwanska for a 21-0 Record

Perhaps the most anticipated match on the WTA side of the draw, everyone was hoping for a squeaker between Agnieszka Radwanska and Victoria Azarenka. Going into this match, Radwanska and Azarenka had already met three times this year, with Azarenka winning all three encounters. The two used to be good friends, but after their last encounter in Dubai, Radwanska seemed to have some qualms with the world No. 1. Their three previous encounters had been incredibly close and the suspected animosity between the two only built the tension leading up to yesterday’s match. From the get go, things did not go so well for Radwanska. She immediately fell down a break, and then two, and in what seemed like no time at all had been bageled in the first set and was down 5-0 in the second. While Radwanska managed to salvage two games, there was just no way to come back from that kind of deficit. Asked about her feelings after going down 6-0 in the first set, Radwanska did not hold back, “pretty much I was pissed, yeah, in the first set especially ‑‑ you know, losing 6‑Love, you know, is not fun, right?” Clearly frustrated, she claimed there were only two options, “What you can do?  I said, Either have fun or cry.” Relatively cheerful for such a crushing loss, she obviously opted for fun, a great attitude from the Aga, who will move up to No. 4 in next week’s rankings. In the mean time, Azarenka keeps extending her winning streak, now 21-0 and this season, and feeling strangely similar to Novak Djokovic about this time last year.

Isner Becomes Last American Standing

Poised to become the highest ranked American in the next few months as Mardy Fish struggles to defend points, John Isner is now that last American man standing in the singles draw after Ryan Harrison lost a close encounter with Gilles Simon. When Isner was asked about the situation in his press conference, Harrison was still playing Simon, but, Isner described the experience of being American and playing here as “very, very special,” knowing that, “the crowd is definitely behind, you know, us Americans.” He was looking forward to a matchup with Harrison, which would have guaranteed at least one American in the semifinals, but he will play Frenchman Gilles Simon this evening.

Bryans Felled by Coachella Virus

Prior to any official tournament announcements, Bob Bryan tweeted the following yesterday morning.

“I’m sorry to announce that Mike and I are withdrawing from our quarterfinal match @BNPPARIBASOPEN. Mike has been struck with a severe stomach virus since late last night. Unfortunately, he is too weak and nauseous to get out of bed. We apologize to the tournament, staff, but more importantly, our fans. We love you, thank you for the support, and we look forward to making another run at it next year.”

The Bryans were forced to pull out of their match against Fyrstenberg/Matkowski after Mike Bryan came down with virus that has claimed so many players this week.

Federer and Djokovic Survive Scares

Both the world No. 1 and No. 3 were tested yesterday against much weaker opponents. It became clear early on that Federer was not at his best. He has been feeling a little off, but it was very unlike him to drop the first set against a clay court specialist like Thomaz Bellucci. Federer seemed to right the ship in the second set, which he won 6-3 The Brazilian managed to stay with Federer for most of the third set, before being broken. Federer admitted he was “surprised,” but that he “found a way, and you know, dug deep and came through…At the end of the day, these are the wins that sort of almost feel better.” Federer played a three set night match on Tuesday against Milos Raonic, and his fourth round match was scheduled for Wednseday afternoon, leaving little time for recovery. Next up, Federer will face Juan Martin del Potro, who has given him trouble in the past, but not since returning to the tour last year after wrist surgery.

Novak Djokovic had a much different encounter Wednesday morning. After easily winning the first set 6-0, suddenly his opponent, Pablo Andujar of Spain, seemed to find his bearings, managing to hang in through the second set, making it all the way to a tie break. More impressively, Andujar won the tiebreak, and forced the match into a third set, which he lost 2-6. Djokovic attributed the second set loss to both a drop in his game and an improvement from Andujar, saying, “For some reason I didn’t move as well as. I was holding on my service games very closely, and he was winning comfortably. So we got to the tiebreak, and I though that there is my chance. I didn’t use it when it was presented.”

Serena Williams Throws Twitter Tantrum – The Friday Five

Mission Accomplished – For the better part of three months, Bob and Mike Bryan had been stuck on 61 doubles titles, the benchmark that had been set by the talented pair known round the world as the “Woodies.” But this past week, in the state they first called home, where they went to college and first showed promise of the tennis results to come, the chest-bumping brothers finally broke through and took their 62nd title at the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles. Their win was one of the biggest headlines in the sport over the weekend and should inject some life into the game of doubles. Also impressive was seeing a classy Mark Woodforde, who is based in California, cheering the Bryans on throughout the week. Best of all is that the Bryans have confirmed they are nowhere near ready to hang up their racquets. They still want to serve their country in the Davis Cup and still want to bag a few more Grand Slam titles. Congratulations to the twins and may they continue their assault on the record book as they wow audiences across the world and keep doubles on the map.

Back from the Brink – Another American who capped off a fine week at the Farmers Classic was Sam Querrey. The big American had to grind out each and every one of his wins, and that included saving match point in two straight matches, first in the semis against Janko Tipsarevic, and in the final against Andy Murray. The win over Murray, whom Sam had previously never taken a set from, had to help boost Querrey’s belief that he may just be ready to take that next step and start making a move for the Top 15 and possibly Top 10. And as disappointing as it had to be to lose the title after holding match point, Andy Murray did well to log a great week of tennis amidst all of the turmoil surrounding the sacking of Maclagan (though the Scot could still use a course in anger management).

California Dreamin’ – Stanford California saw dream weeks for many of the WTA’s top stars as well. Maria Sharapova put together one of the best weeks of tennis she’s had in awhile. Unfortunately for her, she ran into a woman who can match her stroke-for-stroke (and decibel-for-decibel) in Victoria Azarenka. Despite her being a head case and her recent struggles with injuries, Azarenka has shown she has the game and has posted the results to suggest she’s one of the WTA’s most promising young talents. If she’s got her game back on track, look for her to be a dangerous dark horse at this year’s US Open. And finally, we have the winners of the women’s doubles title, Americans Liezel Huber and Lindsay Davenport. With her play in Stanford, Huber regained the No. 1 doubles ranking, while Davenport was taking to the court for the first time in nearly two years. Not a shabby return to the game for the former World No. 1.

Twitter Tantrum – Perhaps the only person not smiling in California last week was Serena Williams (and okay, I’m sure the tournament

director and other officials couldn’t have been too pleased either). Serena Williams blasted the tournament officials of the Farmers Classic and advised all who read her tweets to boycott the event. The reason for the angry tweets stemmed from tournament officials requiring Serena to pay $100 for a ticket to the event instead of giving it to her complimentary – with this whole saga unfolding after Serena had done some promo work with James Blake for the event. It’s hard to make a complete judgment call on this one. Serena’s tweets suggest the promo work was done gratis, though to my knowledge, it’s never been confirmed if she was paid for the work or not. If she was, then all was square and the tournament can’t be faulted for charging Serena for a ticket if their policy is to charge all spectators, irrespective of fame. If the promo work was done for free, then show Serena a little love. But throwing aside the question of whether Serena should or should not have been charged for a ticket, she was still immature in her own response to the situation. $100 is nothing to her, and it was all about the principle, not the amount of the ticket, that Serena took issue with. Based on the posts I read from a number of individuals who reacted to this story, Serena could have won over more sympathizers had she taken the high road instead of living up to her reputation as tennis’ top diva…but then again, Serena probably doesn’t care how many people jump on her band wagon in this case.

It’s Official – Reports have been circulating of Juan Martin Del Potro’s return to tennis ever since it was announced he was on the preliminary entry list of participants in the US Open. Del Potro recently did post some video evidence that he is in fact hitting on the courts for the first time. It’s great to see the big Argentine hitting balls again, but I’m holding my breath a bit here. A rushed comeback could spell disaster down the road, but Del Potro has a good head on his shoulders and a good coach, so fingers crossed it all pans out for the young star, starting with a trip as returning champion to the Big Apple.

Mondays With Bob Greene: I think that Justine’s comeback is good news for women’s tennis

STARS

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

SAYING

“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.

SHE’S BACK

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.

STILL SORE

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.

STAYING HOME

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.

SRICHAPHAN RETURNS

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.

SAD SENDOFF

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.

SWITZERLAND-SPAIN TIE

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.

STAYING HOME

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.

SPARKLING PLAY

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.

SUCCESS FINALLY

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.

SURPRISE TREAT

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.

STOPPING

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.

SERBIAN JAIL

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 SPONSOR

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.”

SENIOR SPONSOR

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.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

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

Bangkok: www.thailandopen.org

Kuala Lumpur: www.malasianopentennis.com/

Athens: www.vogueathensopen.com

Beijing: www.chinaopen.cn/

Tokyo: http://rakutenopen.rakuten.co.jp/en/index.html

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$947,750 Proton Malaysia Open, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, hard

$608,500 PTT Thailand Open, Bangkok, Thailand, hard

WTA

$2,000,000 Toray Pan Pacific Open, Tokyo, Japan, hard

$100,000 Vogue Athens Open, Athens, Greece, hard

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$3,337,000 China Open, Beijing, China, hard

$1,226,500 Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships, Tokyo, Japan, hard

WTA

$4,500,000 China Open, Beijing, China, hard

$100,000 Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships, Tokyo, Japan, hard

SENIORS

$150,000 Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships, Surprise, Arizona, USA

US Open draw to be released on ESPNews on Thursday: This Week in Tennis Business

From the US Open draw being released on ESPNews on Thursday to Stonyfield Farm signing a one-year sponsorship deal with the US Open to more than 300 hours worth of US Open action to be streamed for free on USOpen.org, these stories caught the attention of tennis fans and insiders this week.

  • The US Open draw will be released to the public during a live draw show telecast on ESPNews at Noon on Thursday, August 27. The draw reveal show will be hosted by ESPN anchor Chris McKendry, while Patrick McEnroe and Mary Joe Fernandez will analyze the draw.
  • The USTA announced on Monday that Stonyfield Farm, the world’s largest organic yogurt maker, has agreed to a one-year sponsorship deal with the US Open. Stonyfield will have signage throughout Arthur Ashe Stadium to promote the Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt brand and will offer yogurt samples to the fans throughout the tournament.
  • More than 300 hours worth of US Open action will be streamed for free on the official website, USOpen.org. Throughout the coverage, more than 150 matches will be shown.
  • The USTA announced the first year launch of the US Open Bracket Challenge, which allows fans to fill out the brackets online to compete for prizes, including a trip to the 2010 US Open. Fans have until Monday, August 30 at 11 a.m. EST to fill out their free brackets.
  • The USTA also announced that a special opening night ceremony will take place at the US Open and will honor athletes who “give back” to the community. The ceremony will honor Andre Agassi, former USA soccer legend Mia Hamm, quarterback Doug Flutie and former basketball star David Robinson. The ceremony, which will be televised live on ESPN2, will also include an appearance by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
  • On August 26 in Bryant Park in New York City, the DIRECTV ESPN US Open Experience will take place, which will include free tennis clinics and a tennis exhibition involving Venus and Serena Williams, Bob and Mike Bryan and former doubles players Luke and Murphy Jensen.
  • US Open women’s main draw wild cards were awarded to:
    • Kim Clijsters
    • Vania King
    • Alexa Glatch
    • Gail Brodsky
    • Mallory Cecil
    • Christina McHale
    • Kristina Mladenovic (French reciprocal wildcard)
    • Olivia Rogowska (Australia reciprocal wildcard)
  • US Open men’s main draw wild cards were awarded to:
    • Taylor Dent
    • Brendan Evans
    • Rajeev Ram
    • Devin Britton
    • Jesse Levine
    • Chase Buchanan
    • Michael Llodra (French reciprocal wildcard)
    • Chris Guccione (Australia reciprocal wildcard)
  • Tennis Hall of Famer Pancho Segura will be on the grounds of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on September 4 to sign copies of his biography, Little Pancho: the Life of Tennis Legend Pancho Segura.
  • RadioTennis.com will be live on the internet during the US Open Qualifying Tournament, which began on Tuesday, August 25. Coverage starts each day at 11 a.m. and is free of charge.
  • The Grand Slam of Asheville, which will take place on Friday, August 28, will no longer feature Andre Agassi and Marat Safin. Brian Wood, the promoter for the event, originally set the ticket prices in the $49-$2,000 range and since only 1,100 tickets were sold, he was forced to drop the former world No. 1 players due to financial reasons. American Rajeev Ram and Spaniard Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo will now be featured during the upcoming exhibition.
  • Venus and Serena Williams are buying a stake in the NFL Miami Dolphins.
  • Tennis Canada is considering two mini-combined tennis events that will feature half the players in Toronto and half in Montreal with the winners of each bracket facing off on a Sunday final to determine the tournament champion.
  • 16-year-old rising tennis star Michelle Larcher de Brito will now train at the Mouratoglou Academy in France. The former Top 100 player used to train at the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida.
  • IMG has signed rising Bulgarian tennis player Viktoriya Tomova to a marketing and representation deal.

One Week On Top – 10 Years Ago This Week

Ten years ago this week, Patrick Rafter was on top of the world. On July 26, 1999 the Aussie hunk and two-time U.S. Open champion reached the career pinnacle by earning the No. 1 ranking on the ATP computer. Rafter’s reign, however, last only one week and he never again attained the top spot in the computer rankings, marking the shortest ever reign as a world’s top ranked player. The following text describes Rafter’s No. 1 ascent and other events that happened in tennis history this week as excerpted from the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTOR Y ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.TennisHistoryBook.com).

July 26

1999 – Patrick Rafter of Australia begins his one – and only – week as the world’s No. 1 ranked player, replacing Andre Agassi in the top spot on the ATP computer. Rafter’s curious one-week reign as the No. 1 ranked player is the briefest stint in the top spot of any man or woman. Carlos Moya of Spain ranks No. 1 for only two weeks in March of 1999, while Evonne Goolagong ranks as  the No. 1 woman on the WTA Tour for a two-week period in April of 1976 (although not uncovered and announced by the WTA Tour until December of 2007).

1987 – The United States is relegated to zonal competition for the first time in Davis Cup history as Boris Becker defeats Tim Mayotte 6-2, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-2 in the fifth and decisive match as West Germany defeats the United States 3-2 in the Davis Cup qualifying round in Hartford, Conn. The Becker-Mayotte match is called by John Feinstein of the Washington Post as, “the match of their lives,” as Mayotte, who grew up in Springfield, Mass., a 25 miles from the Hartford Civic Center, plays inspired tennis in front of furiously vocal crowd. Says Becker after the epic match, “It was the most difficult match of my life. The circumstances made it hard, the crowd cheering every time I missed a serve made it hard and him playing for two sets like I have never seen him play in his life, it was all very tough. I just had to stay calm — stay calm, be patient and not go mad. If I go mad, I lose the match.” Writes Feinstein, “For Mayotte, this was sweet agony. He miraculously came from two sets down to force a fifth set. He was playing in an emotional daze, carried by the fans, by his teammates, by the circumstances.”

1969 – Nancy Richey is upset in the semifinals of the U.S. Clay Court Championships by Gail Sherriff Chanfreau, 6-3, 6-4 – ending her tournament record winning streak at 33 straight matches over seven years. Chanfreau goes on to win the title, beating Linda Tuero, 6-2, 6-2 in the final.

July 27

1986 – Martina Navratilova returns to her native Czechoslovakia and her hometown of Prague in triumph as a member of the U.S. Federation Cup team, clinching the U.S. 3-0 final-round victory over the Czechs with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Hana Mandlikova. “We all did it for Martina,” says Chris Evert Lloyd, whose 7-5, 7-6 victory over Helena Sukova began the U.S. sweep of Czechoslovakia in the final series. “We dedicate this Federation Cup to her.” Says Navratilova of the crowd support she received all week that results in a tearful closing ceremony for the Wimbledon champion and her U.S. teammates. “I wanted to tell them how special it was for me to be here. It exceeded my wildest expectations.”

1946 – In the final of the first French Championship since the conclusion of World War II, Frenchmen Marcel Bernard dramatically defeats fellow left-hander Jaroslav Drobny of Czechoslovakia 3-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 in the men’s singles final. The French have to wait another 37 years before they celebrate another native men’s singles champion when Yannick Noah wins the men’s singles title in 1983. It will be another 59 years before another all left-handed men’s singles final is played at Roland Garros when Rafael Nadal defeats Mariano Puerta in the 2005 final. In the women’s singles final, Margaret Osbourne defeats fellow American Pauline Betz 1-6, 8-6, 7-5.

July 28

1991 – Andrei Chesnokov wins the Canadian Open in Montreal, defeating Petr Korda 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in the final and promises a high-spirited celebration. Says Chesnokov, “I’m going to New York, I’m going to go to Tower Records, have dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant and, of course, I’m going to get drunk.”

July 29

1990 – Michael Chang defeats Jay Berger 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 in the final of the Canadian Open men’s singles final in Toronto. The 24th-ranked Chang’s $155,000 winner’s check puts him in the million-dollar club for career prize money. “It feels good,” says the 18-year-old Chang of his financial achievement. “I think my first priority as far as tennis is concerned is not making money. My priority is to be the best in the world – the best I can be.”

1974 – Jimmy Connors becomes the No. 1 ranked player in the world for the first time in his career at the age of 21, replacing John Newcombe.

2001 – Andre Agassi defeats Pete Sampras 6-4, 6-2 in the final of the Mercedes Benz Cup in Los Angeles, Agassi’s 17th consecutive match victory on hard courts. Identical twins Bob and Mike Bryan of Camarillo, Calif., win their third ATP doubles title in six weeks, defeating Jan-Michael Gambill and Andy Roddick 7-5, 7-6 (8-6).

July 30

1928 – France successfully defends its Davis Cup title against the United States as Henri Cochet defeats Bill Tilden 9-7, 8-6, 6-4 clinching the 4-1 victory for France at newly-dedicated Stade Roland Garros in Paris, which is constructed to host the Davis Cup matches. Writes P.J. Philip of the New York Times, “On the central court of the Roland Garros Stadium at Auteuil, that Napoleon of tennis, Big Bill Tilden, met his Waterloo today. In three straight sets, Henri Cochet swept him off the field, holding the Davis Cup for France and writing finis to the world championship career of the most brilliant tennis player of the past decade. It was Waterloo alright.” Tilden’s career was not entirely finished following the loss. He was kicked off the Davis Cup team prior to this famous series for his “professional” writing from tennis events, which U.S. Lawn Tennis Association officials said violated his amateur status. However, due to the huge demand to see Tilden play against the four French “Musketeers” at the newly-constructed Roland Garros Stadium, the French government and French Tennis Federation pressured the USLTA to re-instate Tilden to the team to appease the ticket-buying public. Tilden is, instead, suspended from the U.S. Championships later in the summer, but continues to play high-level amateur tennis through 1930.

1996 – Andre Agassi stages a stunning comeback to advance into the medal round at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, coming back from a 3-5 third-set deficit to defeat Wayne Ferreira of South Africa 7-5, 4-6, 7-5 in the quarterfinal of men’s singles. Ferreira is upset with Agassi’s behavior and profane language that results in Agassi receiving a point penalty in the first game of the second set. Says Ferreira, “I honestly believe he should be kicked off the court for the things he was saying. They were pretty rude and actually the worst I’ve ever heard anybody say. I’m surprised the umpires took it so lightly. If I was sitting in the chair, I probably would have done something different.” Retorts Agassi, “It was about the only way he was going to beat me.” Also advancing into the medal round in men’s singles are Leander Paes of India, who defeats Renzo Furlan of Italy 6-1, 7-5, Sergi Bruguera of Spain, who defeats Mal Washington of the United States 7-6 (8), 4-6, 7-5 and Fernando Meligeni of Brazil, who defeats Russia’s Andrei Olhovskiy 7-5, 6-3

July 31

1932 – In what Hall of Fame journalist and historian Bud Collins calls “The Great Cup Robbery,” France defeats the United States in the Davis Cup Challenge Round for the fifth time in six years as Jean Borotra clinches the Davis Cup for France, erasing a two-sets-to-love deficit, a 3-5 fifth-set deficit and four match points to defeat Wilmer Allison 1-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 7-5.  Allison holds three match points while leading 5-3 in the fifth set – 40-15 and then with an advantage – but has his serve broken. In the next game, Allison holds another match point on Borotra’s serve. After missing his first serve, Borotra hits a second serve that by all accounts is out – but not called by the linesman. Allison, who did not make a play on the serve, runs to the net to shake hands with Borotra, but stands in disbelief at the non-call. Allison wins only one point in the remainder of the match to lose 7-5 in the fifth set, giving France it’s third point of the series, clinching the Cup.

2005 – Andre Agassi wins his 60th and what ultimately becomes his final ATP singles title, defeating 22-year-old Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-4, 7-5 in 1 hour, 28 minutes to win the Mercedes-Benz Cup in Los Angeles. The title is also the fourth tournament victory at the Los Angeles event for Agassi, who also wins on the campus at UCLA in 1998, 2001 and 2002. “It’s been a dream week for me for sure,” says the 35-year-old Agassi. “I couldn’t have expected to come in here and find my comfort level so early on in the tournament and get better with each match. It’s a great sign.”

Another Croatian Surprise?

Croatia stands just one win away from a third incredible win over the United States in Davis Cup play. Croatia, in fact, is the only nation the United States has never beaten in Davis Cup play and it will remain as such unless James Blake and Mardy Fish can sweep Marin Cilic and Ivo Karlovic in Sunday’s reverse singles. On Saturday, Bob and Mike Bryan defeated Roko Karanusic and Lovro Zovko 6-3, 6-1, 6-3, cutting the Croatian lead from 2-0 to 2-1.

After losing to Croatia 3-2 in the opening round of the 2003 competition, the United States was again upset by Croatia in the first round in 2005, despite the United States having Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and the Bryan twins on the squad. That 2005 upset – a match that was ultimately the Davis Cup swan song for Agassi – is documented below.

The day after returning back in New York after the 2004 Davis Cup Final in Sevilla, Spain, where the U.S. lost 3-2 to the Carlos Moya/Rafael Nadal led Spanish team, U.S. Davis Cup Captain Patrick McEnroe called into the nationally-syndicated morning radio and MSNBC cable show “Imus in the Morning,” where host Don Imus and his sports reporter Sid Rosenberg had been ridiculing McEnroe for the final round loss to Spain – or as Imus described “a team of leaf blowers and cab drivers.” McEnroe was introduced onto the program as the “tennis terrorist” in that he had embarrassed the United States to the largest degree.

After taking the playful ribbing, McEnroe told “the I-man” and gang that he wanted to have a serious reflection on the Davis Cup Final, stating that he felt proud in the way that he and his team represented the United States in Spain and that the conduct and sportsmanship displayed by his team “had restored a little respect for our country in a part of the world where the U.S. is not looked upon in the most positive way” in reference to Spain’s recent objection to the foreign policy of the United States, most notably the war in Iraq.

“Next year,” Pmac then boasted. “We’re going to bring back the Cup I-man.”

Imus, quick with the retort, then stated, “When the authorities find you, they’re going to ask that you give it back.”

The United States had drawn a first round home tie against Croatia and the USTA selected The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles, as the site of the contest. Los Angeles is a town that like stars and while the U.S. Davis Cup team did have a star in Andy Roddick, the one star that it was missing was one Andre Agassi.

McEnroe had always kept Agassi in the loop as far as Davis Cup goes since taking over as captain and, after asking him to play in the Final against Spain, sensed that Agassi was considering a return to Davis Cup in 2005. McEnroe began to push the buttons again at the Australian Open, where Agassi first addressed his possible comeback after his second round romp over Rainer Schuettler.

“I’m going to have this discussion with Patrick, just because he’s made the effort to want to have conversations with me about it, so I’ll be respectful of that,” said the 34-year-old Agassi. “But it’s just two-fold. I have a lot of regret not playing because it’s one of the best memories of my career, playing Davis Cup, not to mention playing with another generation of guys that have such a good fellowship and team camaraderie together. To experience that would be a great feeling. But the other side of the coin is really what my decision has come down to in the past, which is what can I really do. I’ve never been a big fan of being halfway playing at your convenience. It’s always been something I haven’t respected a whole lot in the past when it’s come to that for others. The decision I had to make is not an easy one and it hasn’t been easy, but it’s something I’ll discuss with him.”

A few days after Agassi’s quarterfinal loss to Roger Federer, McEnroe phoned Agassi at his home in Las Vegas and offered to sit down with him in person en route back to New York after the Australian Open. Agassi told McEnroe he was still hung up on the year-long commitment that he expected he would have to give to Davis Cup. On Monday January 31, McEnroe arrived in Los Angeles from Melbourne and stopped off in Carson for a media luncheon to promote the USA vs. Croatia tie. McEnroe then revealed to the gathered guests and media that he was en route to Las Vegas that evening to meet with Agassi.

”I think (Agassi) finds that right now, it’s hard for him to commit to every match because of his family and his responsibilities and because he is going to be 35 and it’s a little taxing on him,” McEnroe told the assembled press. “My job is to alleviate his fear that we don’t necessarily have to have him play ever match… I don’t need to hear from Andre ‘I’m going to play every match.’ My feeling is, let’s see how it goes. Let’s get you to play in the first round and let’s see what happens and take it from there.”

McEnroe tagged his chances at “less than 50-50” before boarding the AmericaWest Airlines flight to Las Vegas. “I don’t have any expectation other than I hope he says yes,” said McEnroe. “I have to field the best team I can and I have to exhaust all possibilities. If that means getting on a plane and sitting down with him face to face, than that’s a small price to play for trying to get him to join up.”

McEnroe met Agassi and his coach Darren Cahill for a two-and-a-half hour dinner at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. The three reminisced about Davis Cup stories of old, talked of the passion of the current group of Davis Cuppers and addressed the concerns and issues that Agassi had with committing to Davis Cup. McEnroe later said he told Agassi, “Don’t cut off your options by saying it’s all or nothing, because to me it’s not. We’ve never had a year where we’ve had the same four guys every match. It’s too unrealistic for that to happen, with injuries, with different surfaces, with schedules, you name it.” McEnroe said he, the team and the tennis industry in general would not hold it against him if he could not commit for every match in 2005.

Two days later, after consulting with others in his inner circle – most notably his wife Steffi Graf -  Agassi phoned McEnroe to tell him to count on him to be in Carson. Agassi then called all the members of the team – Roddick, the Bryan twins and Taylor Dent (who would travel to Carson as the “fifth” player on the four-man team and would have been the No. 2 singles player had Agassi not decided to play) – to get their approval on his returning to the team. On Monday, February 7, McEnroe made the Agassi news public in a conference call with the media.

“We’re going to take it one match at a time,” said McEnroe in explaining Agassi’s commitment to the team. “It’s not just this match. It’s not every match. I think it’s a case-by-case basis situation. He’s not coming back simply to play because it happens to be the week before Indian Wells. At the same time, I didn’t ask him to say, “Are you going to play every match?’ I understand where he is in his career, personally, professionally with all the different things on his plate. We will take it one step at a time…To me, it doesn’t make any sense to say to him, ‘Listen, you’ve got to play every match.” Things happen, things come up, whether it’s injuries, whether it’s having a tough major, whether it’s not having a tough major and maybe wanting some extra matches. I think you have to take all those things into account and understand that Andre is going to make the decision based on a variety of factors.”

Two days later, Agassi first addressed his return to Davis Cup following his first round win over xx in San Jose, Calif.

“What had a big influence on me was the camaraderie I saw last year,” said Agassi. “They’ve built a great team and are a part of something I never got to experience. I played Davis Cup with guys who were fighting to be the best in the world and everyone had a sense of their own goals…This group of guys really seems to look out for each other. I respect and admire it a lot.”

Agassi again addressed his absence from Davis Cup for five years, citing the demanding schedule and the difficultly in committing to potentially four ties during a calendar year, especially at age 34 with a wife and two children.

“I had gotten to a point that I didn’t have enough to give anymore when it came to the full goal of winning the Cup,” said Agassi. “I did it for 12 years and wasn’t convinced I could do it anymore and accomplish the things I needed to stay out here for the last few years. I never respected those guys who played at their convenience and didn’t play all times. Patrick was the first captain to show a strong sense of understanding and support in knowing it’s not realistic for me to play every tie.”

Roddick was estactic at the news and struggled to stay composed when Agassi reached him by phone while Roddick was in his car in driving several of his buddies around his hometown of Austin. Said Roddick, “I told him I was excited he was on board and then hung up the phone and started screaming.”

While the Agassi hype was substantial, insiders were paying close attention to the progress of the Croatian team. Ivan Ljubicic, who had almost single handedly defeated the United States in Zagreb two years prior in the first round, was fast becoming the hottest player on the circuit. Entering Davis Cup week, he posted three straight final round appearances in Marseille, Rotterdam and Dubai – the latter two losing to world No. 1 Roger Federer in three tight sets. Ancic had reached the semifinals of Marseille (losing to Ljubicic) and Rotterdam (losing to Federer) and had reached his second career ATP singles final in Scottsdale, Ariz., the week before Davis Cup. With Ljubicic and Ancic boasting a bronze medal in men’s doubles from the 2004 Olympics in Athens, the Bryan twins would also face a stern test. Cautioned Ancic, “In Davis Cup, there are many surprises.” Croatian Captain Niki Pilic, who also captained Germany to Davis Cup victories over the United States in 1985, 1987 and 1989, echoed the sentiment of his young charge. “In Davis Cup,” he said, “there are no rules.”

To add to the intrigue of the first round tie, Roddick suffered a scare during his quarterfinal win over Robby Ginepri at the ATP event in Memphis, spraining his ankle just two weeks before the start of the tie. Roddick chose to default his semifinal match with Kenneth Carlsen of Denmark rather than risk further injury that would jeopardize his form for the tie with Croatia.

“The repercussions of this injury won’t just affect me, but they’d affect my teammates it would affect me playing for my country as well,” said Roddick. “That’s a lot of responsibility that I have to take into consideration.”

Gavin Rossdale of the rock band “Bush” and the husband of rock star Gwen Stefani pulled the ceremonial chip at the Davis Cup draw ceremony at The Home Depot Center that placed Andre Agassi against Ivan Ljubicic in the opening rubber of the best-of-five match series. Roddick would follow against Ancic, while the Bryan twins would face Ancic and Ljubicic in Saturday’s doubles contest. Whether it was nerves, discomfort with the cool, blustery conditions or Ljubicic’s game, Agassi showed distress and tentativeness as his return to Davis Cup began at 1 pm Los Angeles time on Friday, March 4. There was no swagger in the legend’s step or game as Ljubicic swept the first set 6-3. Agassi got out of his funk in the second set, taking a 5-2 lead, but faltered when serving for the second at 5-3 and was skunked 7-0 in the second set tie-break to go down two-sets-to-love. The eventual 6-3, 7-6 (0), 6-3 loss marked only the third time that Agassi has been dismissed in straight sets in 36 Davis Cup singles matches.

His anger and displeasure was apparent on his face as he briskly left the court for the U.S. team locker room where his Head tennis racquet was tendered to multiple fragments scattered throughout the locker room within minutes.

“Today was one of those days,” said a dazed Agassi in the post-match press conference. “I just never got settled and never got comfortable. It was just frustrating. You’re trying hard to figure things out and sometimes you wonder if you’re just trying too hard…I was useless to be quite honest, as far as being clear on what was going on out there.“

Said McEnroe, “Everybody gets nervous playing Davis Cup – even Andre Agassi.”

Down 0-1, the match virtually sat on the shoulders of Roddick against Ancic, who quickly bounced upon the tentative Roddick taking the first set 6-4 as panic began to set in among the American hopefuls.  The second set marked the start of “the street fight” as Roddick’s trainer Doug Spreen would later describe the Roddick swagger and attitude, that translated the match into a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 victory for the American – tying the first day’s play at 1-1.

‘I’m not going to lie, I was really tight during the first set today,” admitted Roddick. “I’m happy because I was able to dig down…I think this was a big steppingstone for me.”

The Bryans entered the pivotal doubles match on Saturday having not lost a set in Davis Cup play in their previous five matches. However, the twins from Camarillo, Calif., knew that Ljubicic and Ancic were by far the best team they had faced in Davis Cup play.

Jumping like a pair of Mexican jumping beans, the Bryans were quick out of the blocks to take the first set 6-3 in just 27 minutes, but Ljubicic and Ancic would stay tight in the second set, forcing a tie-break. The Bryans would hold three set points, including one of Mike Bryan’s serve at 7-6, but were unable to deliver what would be a near lethal two-sets-to-love blow. They surrendered the second set tie-break – and their first ever set in Davis cup play – 10 points to eight and gave new life to Ancic and Ljubicic. As the Croatians gained in confidence, the Bryans appeared drained and dismayed. As the sun dripped below the Pacific Ocean just xx miles away, conditions became cooler and slower, helping Ljubicic and Ancic close out the final two sets for the vital 3-6, 7-6 (8), 6-4, 6-4 win and the 2-1 lead for Croatia heading into the climatic third day.

Former Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers basketball coach Phil Jackson entered the U.S. team locker room to try and cheer up the Bryan twins. “You guys think you are going to win every match you play?” a jovial Jackson told the Bryans as one must of wondered whether Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or Shaquille O’Neal received the same speech after losing an NBA game. Jackson’s words could not take the sting out of the loss for the Bryans, who for the first time tasted Davis Cup defeat in front of their father and numerous friends and family from Southern California

“We’ve had a lot of disappointing losses, but this ranks pretty high,” said Mike Bryan. “It hurts.”

McEnroe’s posture still exuded confidence. After all, the United States was still favored to win the final two singles matches – Roddick against Ljubicic in the fourth rubber and Agassi against Ancic in the fifth rubber. Roddick held a 5-1 career record with Ljubicic, having won the last five meetings, while Agassi’s experience and aura would make him the clear favorite against the 20-year-old Ancic, who had lost to Agassi in their only previous meeting.

“If there are two guys you want to roll out down 2-1, we’ve got the two guys we want,” said McEnroe. “I’m extremely confident that they’re both going to play well. Andre’s been in this position before and Andy’s been in a position where he’s had to win a match. These are the two guys we want to bring out. This is our best team. It’s our one-two punch. We’re playing at home. They’re going to have to play with a little more pressure on them now. Up until now, I think they’ve been able to sort of swing away and been the underdogs and go for their shots. If they can do that, if Ljubicic can do that against Agassi, the Bryans and Roddick, than that’s too good. But we’ll see if he can.”

Roddick and Ljubicic would battle in the fourth rubber of the tie – Ljubicic, like in 2003, trying to shut the door on the Americans – while Roddick trying to stave off elimination, a position he had been in on two other occasions without success – against France in 2002 and Spain in 2004.

After splitting the first two sets, the epic – and pivotal – third-set tie-break ensued with neither Roddick or Ljubicic willing to give the other the two-sets-to-one lead. Roddick jumped to a 4-1 lead and held three set points throughout the 24 point tie-break – tying the longest tie-break in U.S. Davis Cup history. However, Roddick’s inside-out cross court forehand at 11-12 landed wide giving Ljubicic the fourth set. The two players would again go toe-to-toe in a tie-break in the fourth set, with Ljubicic fighting off four set points before double faulting at 7-8 on the fifth-set point to give Roddick the set and square the match at two-sets apiece. The momentum appeared to be with Roddick, but he was not able to capitalize. Ljubicic ran off with the first eight points of the fifth set, breaking Roddick at love in the first game of the fifth set and cashing in on an insurance break in the fifth game of the final set. Three game later, Ljubicic closed out the crushing 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (11), 6-7 (7), 6-2 victory in three hours and 57 minutes.

Roddick and McEnroe slumped on their courtside seating while Ljubicic, Ancic, Pilic and the rest of the Croatian delegation danced and sang on the court with handfuls of Croatian fans in the audience waving flags and rejoicing in the historic first round upset. It marked the first time in 105 years of Davis Cup that the United States was eliminated in the first round on home soil.

Ljubicic would become one of only two players to win three live rubbers against a U.S. Davis Cup team on two occasions – joining Mexico’s Raul Ramirez who turned the trick against the United States in the 1975 and 1976 Davis Cup campaigns.

In all, Ljubicic labored for a total of eight hours and 44 minutes over 12 sets over the weekend. His career record against the United States in Davis Cup play now stood at 6-0 – with only Laurie Doherty of Great Britain holding a better record against the U.S. with a 10-0 record in matches against the U.S. in 1902, 1903, 1905 and 1906.

“I have no words, really,” said Ljubicic. “To beat Andre, the Bryans and Roddick in three days….it is amazing.”

Roddick was crushed, irritable, devastatingly angry and disappointed. He slumped in front of the microphone in the interview room and was asked to share how he was feeling.

“Probably not in words you would understand,” he slurred. “It’s tough to describe. Really, really bad….There’s no worse feeling than losing a match in Davis Cup in our sport, especially when your teammates are counting on you.”

“It hurts a lot,” said McEnroe, who spoke with the press after coaching Bob Bryan to a three-set win over Roko Karanusic in the dead-fifth rubber that made the final verdict a 3-2 win for Croatia. “After getting to the final last year, starting off at home with our best team, it’s disappointing.”

Mondays With Bob Greene: Quite frankly, I’m the best in the world

STARS

Tomas Berdych beat Mikhail Youzhny 6-4 4-6 7-6 (5) to win the BMW Open in Munich, Germany

Dinara Safina beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3 6-2 to win the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, Italy

Novak Djokovic beat Lukasz Kubot 6-3 7-6 (0) to win the Serbia Open in Belgrade, Serbia

Albert Montanes defeated James Blake 5-7 7-6 (8) 6-0 to win the Estoril Open men’s singles in Estoril, Portugal

Yanina Wickmayer beat Ekaterina Makarova 7-5 6-2 to win the Estoril Open women’s singles in Estoril, Portugal

Yen-Hsun Lu beat Benjamin Becker 6-3 3-1 retired to win the Israel Open 2009 in Ramat Hasharon, Israel

Andrea Petrovic won the GDF Suez Open Romania, beating Stefanie Voegele 6-3 6-2 in Bucharest, Romania

DAVIS CUP

Americas Zone Group 1

(Second Round)

Brazil beat Colombia;Ecuador beat Peru

Asia/Oceania Group 1

(Third Round)

India beat Australia, default; Uzbekistan beat Japan 3-2

Europe/Africa Zone Group 1

(Second Round)

South Africa beat Belarus 5-0

SAYING

“If we are looking at the category of the event (ATP World Tour 250 tournament) it’s not the biggest success I ever had, but it certainly is the most important win for me.” – Novak Djokovic, after winning the inaugural Serbia Open in his hometown, Belgrade.

“It’s hard to say who I would rather face in the final because I didn’t expect to be here either.” – Lukasz Kubot, a “lucky loser” who reached the final of the Serbia Open where he faced Novak Djokovic – and lost 6-3 7-6 (0)

“It was a little bit like Christmas today; I was giving too many presents.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, after losing to Dinara Safina in the final at Rome.

“Quite frankly, I’m the best in the world.” – Serena Williams, the day before she lost her first match at the Italian Open to Patty Schnyder.

“It’s great to be number three. I just want to win. The ranking will come when it comes.” – Venus Williams, after losing to top-ranked Dinara Safina.

“I hope this gives me even more proof that I deserve to be there (at the top of the ranking) and it helps me maybe on the big stage to win a Grand Slam.” – Dinara Safina, after beating Venus Williams in the Italian Open semifinals.

“I don’t really have many words to describe the feeling – I’m nearly speechless!” – Yanina Wickmayer, after winning the Estoril Open women’s singles in Portugal.

“To me, she (got) too upset for no reason. It was just one ball in the match.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, after Victoria Azarenka lost her concentration as she disputed a call, then lost the next five games and ultimately the match.

“I really tried hard to avoid surgery, but with my doctor and professional team we have decided it is the only solution.” – David Nalbandian, announcing he will undergo hip surgery May 13 in Barcelona, Spain.

“Physically I’m not as strong as I can be, but mentally I’m very tough.” – Nikolay Davydenko.

“Because I am a perfectionist, I had just assumed I would play perfectly all the time, but I have learned that in those times I have to find a way to win and I am much more OK with that.” – Ana Ivanovic.

“Champions do the ordinary things a bit better than anyone else.” – Craig Kardon, who is coaching Ana Ivanovic.

“I played what she liked and she has more power than me. Today was her day, she was the better player, she deserved to win.” – Jelena Jankovic, after losing to Svetlana Kuznetsova.

“It’s nice to seee Americans doing well on clay. We have taken a lot of heat over the years.” – Scott Lipsky, noting an all-American team won the doubles and an American reached the singles final on the clay courts of Estoril, Portugal.

“It’s a fact that there are too many matches, but that’s the way the calendar has been set.” – Rafael Nadal, saying the men’s tennis calendar has too many tournaments after he played 14 matches in three weeks, winning clay-court titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome.

SUSPENDED

Richard Gasquet has been suspended by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) after testing positive for cocaine. The 22-year-old Frenchman will miss the French Open, which begins May 24 in Paris. Gilbert Ysern, director general of the French Tennis Federation, said the test was considered an in-competition control, meaning Gasquet could be banned for two years if found guilty. Announcing cocaine traces were found in Gasquet’s urine sample at a tournament in Miami, Florida, in March, the ITF said it expects to have a panel in place within 60 days for a hearing. Gasquet says he’s innocent, despite two samples that tested positive. Once ranked as high as number seven in the world, Gasquet reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 2007.

SAD HISTORY

The father of Jelena Dokic is serving a 30-day prison sentence after he reportedly made threats against the Australian ambassador to Serbia. Damir Dokic was detained in his home in northern Serbia where police found seven hunting rifles, a gun and two bombs. The Serbian newspaper Blic quoted Dokic as saying he had called the Australian embassy in Belgrade and threatened to “fire a rocket” at the car belonging to the ambassador. Jelena Dokic, who has been estranged from her father since 2002, had been playing in Bucharest, Romania, where she reached the semifinals of the USD $100,000 GDF Suez Open Romania before falling to Andrea Petkovic of Germany 6-1 3-6 6-1. In a statement released in London, her agent, Lawrence Frankopan, said: “Jelena is very distressed and saddened by her father’s arrest. … She understands very well the severity of the situation. Obviously, she cannot, in any way, be held responsible for her father’s actions. Jelena remains 100 percent focused on her tennis in preparation for the upcoming French Open.”

SO, TAKE THAT

Patty Schnyder was leading Serena Williams 5-0 in the final set of their Italian Open match when she called her husband/coach onto the court to give her a pep talk. She promptly lost the next game before going on to oust the second-ranked Williams, who a day earlier had proclaimed that she was the top player in women’s tennis despite the WTA Tour rankings. Schnyder’s 6-2 2-6 6-1 victory perhaps shouldn’t be considered that big of a surprise. Although Williams has an 8-4 advantage in their career meetings, Schnyder has won all three times the two have played on clay, including an Italian Open match two years ago.

SURPRISE

When Lukasz Kubot lost in the final round of qualifying to Slovakia’s Dominik Hrbaty, he had no thoughts about playing for the title of the inaugural Serbia Open in Belgrade. However, Kubot gained entry into the main singles draw as a “lucky loser,” thanks to Belgium’s Steve Darcis pulling out with a shoulder injury. Kubot then made the most of his second chance, becoming the first Polish player to reach an ATP final since Wojtek Fibak in 1983 by beating Serbian wild card Arsenije Zlatanovic, Russia’s Igor Andreev, Belgium’s Kristof Vliegen and Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic. The dream ended in the title match when Kubot fell to home crowd favorite Novak Djokovic 6-3 7-6 (0). However, Kubot wasn’t finished. Making it even a better week, he teamed with Oliver Marach of Austria to win the doubles, beating Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-2 7-6 (3).

STANDING TALL

Yanina Wickmayer won her first WTA Tour title by defeating Ekaterina Makarova 7-5 6-2 in the final of the Estoril Open and becoming Belgium’s first Tour singles champion since Justine Henin more than a year ago. Wickmayer, who was ranked 88th going into the tournament, broke her opponent’s serve in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead in the second set. Makarova, also runner-up at the Grand SAR in Morocco the week before, is still seeking her first Tour singles title. In her only previous title match, Wickmayer lost to Kateryna Bolndarenko in Birmingham, England, last year.

SURGERY SET

Saying his right hip is hurting more each day, David Nalbandian has decided to undergo surgery. The decision means Nalbandian will miss “the rest of the season – including all three Grand Slams,” he said. “I feel deeply sad because I won’t be able to play Davis Cup this year.” The surgery was set for May 13 in Barcelona. A Wimbledon finalist in 2002, Nalbandian reached the semifinals at Roland Garros in 2004 and 2006. The Argentine said he tried other treatment, but it didn’t work out as he and his doctor had hoped. “Unfortunately I have decided to have surgery because I have not felt a substantial improvement in the injury during my training sessions,” Nalbandian said.

STELLAR COMPANY

Lleyton Hewitt has joined Roger Federer and Carlos Moya as the only active players on the ATP Tour to have won 500 matches. The Australian reached the 500-victory plateau in the opening round of the BMW Open in Munich, Germany, when he staved off two match points in beating Philipp Petzschner 6-2 6-7 (2) 7-6 (8). Hewitt increased his match win record to 501 before running into eventual winner Tomas Berdych.

SWINE FLU NO-NO

Two International Tennis Federation (ITF) women’s tournaments in Mexico have been canceled due to the swine flu outbreak. Players who had been accepted for the tournament in Mazatlan this week have been permitted to sign-in as an on-site alternate at any other ITF tournament. And those players entered into next week’s event in Los Mochis can enter another tournament in accordance with the order of priority system. The two tournaments were canceled after the Mexican government suspended all non-essential work in the first five days of May because of the swine flu outbreak.

STILL MISSING

A knee injury will keep Ana Ivanovic from playing in the Madrid Open. However, the Serbian right-hander said she will be ready to defend her French Open title later this month. Ivanovic said her right knee has been bothering her since she and Jelena Jankovic teamed to lead Serbia over Spain in Fed Cup last month. A doctor in Munich, Germany, advised her not to play competitively for a week.

SETTING UP SHOP?

Nikolay Davydenko and Sabine Lisicki could have another career when they finish playing tennis. Before playing their first Estoril Open matches in Estoril, Portugal, the two were taught how to cook the famous Portuguese cake “Pasteis de Belem.” The two players visited the original Casa Pasteis de Belem, founded in 1837, then went into the factory to learn the secret recipe for the cakes. Only the original Pasteis de Belem carry the name, while the cakes are more commonly known in Portugal as Pasteis de Nata. The original recipe was invented by two Catholic sisters in the convent at the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. Beginning in 1837, the cakes were sold to raise money for the monastery, which today is an UNESCO heritage site.

SWEET PAIRING

Jan Henrych and Ivo Minar play on the same team at the Czech Lawn Tennis Club in Prague, but had never played doubles together until the BMW Open in Munich, Germany. They probably are wondering why they waited so long. The two knocked off top-ranked twins Bob and Mike Bryan in the first round and went on to capture the title, upsetting second-seeded Australians Ashley Fisher and Jordan Kerr 6-4 6-4 in the final. “We only decided to play together 30 minutes before the (sign-in) deadline for doubles, and then we saw the draw against the Bryans, so we just went to the court and tried our best,” said the 24-year-old Minar.

SAC STATE STARS

Sacramento State has the best tennis team in the Big Sky Conference, thanks to a lifeline that extends into Eastern Europe. The California school’s top two women and three of its six men’s singles players, including the top player, come from the Belarus. But then so do the Hornets head coaches Slava Konikov (men) and Dima Hrynashka (women). The players include All-American Katrina Zheltova, Maria Meliuk and Kiryl Harbatsiuk. At the Big Sky Conference championships, Zheltova and Harbatsiuk were named most valuable players and Konikov and Hrynashka were selected Coaches of the Year. Sacramento State is not alone in looking abroad for college tennis players. About 43 percent of the ranked women and 64 percent of the ranked men in American collegiate tennis are international players. India’s Somdev Devvarman, playing for the University of Virginia, won the last two National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s singles titles.

SCOTT’S WEDDING GIFT

Last weekend was when Scott Lipsky was supposed to be in Miami, Florida, at the wedding of his girlfriend’s twin sister. Instead, he was with fellow American Eric Butorac in Estoril, Portugal, where the two won their first ATP World Tour doubles title, beating Martin Damm and Robert Lindstedet 6-3 6-2 in the final. “The first day I had a flight on Wednesday, we won,” Lipsky said. “We played again on Thursday. I had a flight for Friday evening. We played our semifinal and won. I couldn’t get back for the wedding. I hope I still have a girlfriend.” It was Lipsky’s second doubles title, having teamed with David Martin to win at San Jose, California, in February 2008. Butorac also had won a doubles title earlier, teaming with Rajeev Ram in Channai, India, earlier this year.

SET FOR THE CAPITAL

Washington, D.C., will be the site for this year’s World TeamTennis championship finals. The July 26 competition, being played in America’s capital for the first time, will pit the 10-team league’s Eastern Conference champions against the winners of the Western Conference.

SWITCH AT TOP

John Tobias has been named president of Blue Entertainment Sports Television’s Tennis division. In 2005, Tobias was named by Sports Illustrated as one of the top 30 sports industry executives under the age of 30. He replaces tennis agent Ken Meyerson, who has left the company. BEST Tennis represents more than 100 professional tennis coaches and players, including Victoria Azarenka, Anna Chakvetadze, Caroline Wozniacki, Mardy Fish and Sam Querry. The company also produces tennis events such as the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, and holds television production rights for the US Open, French Open and various US-based ATP tournaments. According to Bob Larson’s Tennis News, Meyerson left to establish a US office for a new company, Lagardere Unlimited, a division of the French media giant Lagardere. Meyerson reportedly is taking a number of tennis players with him, including Andy Roddick.

SHANGHAI STOP

The Qizhong Tennis Center in Shanghai is adding new courts as it gets ready to stage an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in October. The Tennis Center was the site for the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup for five years, an event that this year will be held in London. For this year’s tournament, Qizhong’s main stadium roof will be opened, turning it into a 15,000-seat outdoor facility. The Grand Stand Court 2 will accommodate 5,000 spectators, while Court 3 will seat 2,000. Construction of the new facilities is expected to be completed by August. The tournament will be held October 10-18 and will conclude a four-week Asian tour, following stops in Bangkok, Tokyo and Beijing.

SUCCESS, HOPEFULLY

Tanzania figures tennis is the way to go. The government has urged the Tanzania Lawn Tennis Association (TLTA) to focus on international tournaments, including the 2010 Commonwealth Games to be held in New Delhi, India. Bernard Membe, the minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said Tanzania could become known if its athletes do well in international competition. Membe noted that Ethiopia and Kenya are well known because of their success in sports.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Rome: Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai beat Daniela Hantuchovga and Ai Sugiyama 7-5 7-6 (5)

Munich: Jan Hernych and Ivo Minar beat Ashley Fisher and Jordan Kerr 6-4 6-4

Estoril (men): Eric Butorac and Scott Lipsky beat Martin Damm and Robert Lindstedt 6-3 6-2

Estoril (women): Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears beat Sharon Fichman and Katalin Marosi 2-6 6-3 10-5 (match tiebreak)

Belgrade: Lukasz Kubot and Oliver Marach beat Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-2 7-6 (3)

Ramat Hasharon: George Bastl and Chris Cuccione beat Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram 7-5 7-6 (6)

Bucharest: Irina-Camelia Begu and Simona Halep beat Julia Goerges and Sandra Klemenschits 2-6 6-0 12-10 (match tiebreak)

SITES TO SURF

Madrid: www.madrid-open.com/

Bordeaux: www.atp-primrosebordeaux.com

Duesseldorf: www.arag-world-team-cup.com/

Kitzbuhel: www.atpkitz.at

Warsaw: www.warsawopen.com.pl/

Strasbourg: www.internationaux-strasbourg.fr/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$4,500,000 Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open, Madrid, Spain, clay

$110,000 BNP Paribas Primrose Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France, clay

WTA

$4,500,000 Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open, Madrid, Spain, clay

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$490,000 Interwetten Austrian Open, Kitzbuhel, Austria, clay

$1,800,000 ARAG ATP World Team Championships, Dusseldorf, Germany, clay

WTA

$600,000 Warsaw Open, Warsaw, Poland, clay

$220,000 Internationaux de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France, clay

SENIORS

Grand Champions Brazil, Sao Paulo, Brazil, hard

Mondays With Bob Greene: I hope the Williams sisters don’t come

STARS

Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic 7-6 (2) 6-2 to win the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, Italy, for a record fourth time

Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated Dinara Safina 6-4 6-3 to win the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany

Gaston Gardio beat Frederico Gil 6-2 1-6 6-3 to win the Tunis Open in Tunis, Tunisia

Benjamin Becker beat Simon Stadler 7-5 6-3 to win the Aegean Tennis Cup in Rhodes, Greece

Anabel Medina Garrigues beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-0 6-1 to win the Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Merriam in Fez, Morocco

Anastasia Eastover beat Eva Trinova to win the Soweto Women’s Open in Johannesburg, South Africa, 6-2 6-2

Maria-Elena Camerin beat Zuzana Ondraskova 6-1 6-2 to win the Open GDF Suez in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France

SAYING

“Winning in Rome is a big title. I now have 15 Masters Series in my career, so that’s a lot, and I’m very happy for that.” – Rafael Nadal, after winning the Rome Masters.

“The few times people asked me to help in past, no one listened to a word I said.” – John McEnroe, talking of advice he gave to Boris Becker, Sergi Bruguera and Mark Philippoussis.

“I’d love to snap my fingers and magically turn it around and be playing better, but I don’t have those powers. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know how I’m going turn it around.” – James Blake, who has lost both of his clay court matches this year.

“I wasn’t going to leave my sister. We look forward to playing high school tennis and (playing on the boys team) was our only option.” – Karli Timko, who with her sister Tanya won a Pennsylvania regional boys doubles title and qualified for the state tournament.

“It’s purely a sports event. Politics has nothing to do with it.” Mohamed Kharchafi, manager of the Royal Tennis Club in Fez, Morocco, where Israeli Shahar Peer competed in the Grand Prix SAR tournament.

“The conditions were terrible. At each point my shoes would pick up so much clay that it was like ice skating. There was no grip at all. He fell. I fell too.” – Tommy Robredo, after beating Marat Safin in a rain-delayed first-round match at Rome.

“I hope the Williams sisters don’t come. If they do come, we’ll try to beat them. It’s not impossible on clay. (Flavia) Pennetta has already beaten Venus more than once.” – Corrado Barazzutti, Italian Fed Cup captain on his team playing the United States in the final.

“I would love to play in the final. Serena and I would both love to play. We talked about it and we just have to stay healthy. I really hope we can both play. It will be great for the US.” – Venus Williams.

“I haven’t lost early for a long time. I knew it was going to happen some time.” – Andy Murray, after losing his opening match at the Italian Open to Juan Monaco.

“It’s a bit like a red rag to a bull, risk wise, in my opinion, yet the ITF have showed a lack of protection and concern for the safety of the players.” – Lleyton Hewitt, commenting on the International Tennis Federation’s decision not to move the India-Australia Davis Cup tie to a neutral venue.

“I didn’t have any more desire to compete. I had been thinking about it for several months and in Thailand I realized that it was a struggle for me to travel.” – Guillermo Coria, announcing his retirement from tennis at the age of 27.

SENOR CHAMPION

Rafael Nadal won his record fourth Italian Open when he defeated defending champion Novak Djokovic 7-6 (2) 6-2. It as Nadal’s third clay-court title in three weeks, a span that has seen him drop just one set. The Spaniard will be seeking a record fifth consecutive title at Roland Garros, which would break a tie with Bjorn Borg. The loss also knocked Djokovic out of the number three spot in the world rankings. He will be surpassed on May 11 by Andy Murray.

SUFFERING

Fernando Gonzalez won’t be able to defend his title at the BMW Open in Munich, Germany. The Chilean has pulled out of the tournament because of an ankle injury. Marin Cilic of Croatia, ranked 15th in the world, is now the highest ranked player in the tournament. Lleyton Hewitt of Australia of received a wild card entry into the clay-court event.

SAD HISTORY

Jelena Dokic says she was physically abused by her father early in her career. Now 26 years old, Dokic said she fled from her family in 2002 to escape the abuse. “I’ve been through a lot worse than anybody on the tour. I can say that with confidence,” Dokic told Sport&Style Magazine. “When you go through stuff like that, playing a tennis match is pretty easy thing to do.” Dokic said she went through years of mental turmoil after packing her bags and fleeing what she called “the situation.” She credited her boyfriend, Tin Bikic, for helping her recover.

STARRING ROLES

Now that she’s no longer playing tennis, Justin Henin has embraced the public life. She is appearing in the hit French soap opera Plus Belle La Vie, where she plays herself. The former world number one player also has an entire show to herself, “De twaalf werken van Justine Henin,” which is Flemish for “The Twelve Labors of Love of Justine Henin.” Two other retired players have recently appeared on television. Jennifer Capriati had a spot on ABC’s “The Superstars,” while Martina Hingis appeared on the British TV network’s “Beat the Star.”

STERLING, NOT SO

When qualifier Juan Monaco walked off the court a 1-6 6-3 7-5 winner, it was only the fourth loss of the year for Andy Murray. Murray’s other losses this year came against top-ranked Rafael Nadal, twice, and to Fernando Verdasco.

SHAHAR WELCOME

There was no problem this time for Shahar Peer. The Israeli played in a clay-court tournament in Fez, Morocco, without incident. It was the first time she has played in an Arab country since she was denied a visa by the United Arab Emirates so she could compete in the Dubai Tennis Championships in February. Dubai authorities cited security fears to justify their decision. Peer beat Aravane Rezai, a French citizen of Iranian descent, in her first-round match before falling to Lucie Hradecka 6-4 6-1.

SMASHING PERFORMANCE

Weather and his poor play almost got the best of Novak Djokovic. Beginning the defense of his Italian Open title, Djokovic wasn’t able to get on the court for his second-round match until 10:30 p.m. because of rain disrupting play throughout the day. Then he dropped serve twice in the first set against Spaniard Albert Montanes. Still, the Serbian right-hander rallied to send the set into a tiebreak. When he made an error in the tiebreak, he threw his racquet to the ground and snapped it in two. That seemed to solve his frustration and Djokovic went on to defeat Montanes 7-6 (5) 6-0. Before his match, Djokovic delighted the Rome crowd by staging an impression of Italian entertainer Fiorello, walking onto the court wearing a gray wig.

SISTER POWER

Move over Serena and Venus. Sisters Karli and Tayla Timko won the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-area boys doubles tennis championships by defeating Tin Chu and Drew Gallatin 6-2 6-1 in the final. The sisters, from Chartiers-Houston High School in Houston, Pennsylvania, won the Pennsylvania state girls doubles title a year ago. But when their high school dropped its girls tennis program, the Timkos joined the boys team. By winning the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League doubles crown, they qualified to compete in the state boys championships later this month. Their father is Mike Timko, who quarterbacks West Virginia University in the 1980s. Their mother is Shari Retton Timko, the sister of 1984 Olympic all-around champion Mary Lou Retton.

SHOWING UP?

Italy is hoping the Williams sisters decide to skip the Fed Cup final November 7-8. Venus and Serena say they want to play in the title match. The best-of-five series will be staged on slow red clay courts in an effort to combat the Americans’ superior firepower. “We’re definitely going to play on clay – very slow clay – and if possible, outdoors,” Italian Fed Cup captain Corrado Barazzutti said. “First we need to determine if we can play outdoors, then we’ll choose the most uncomfortable setting possible. Uncomfortable in the sense that it suits us and not the Americans.” Italy defeated Russia 4-1 and the United States edged the Czech Republic 3-2 to advance to the final.

STILL MISSING

Maria Sharapova’s disappearance from the WTA Tour will continue for at least two more weeks. The former top-ranked player pulled out of this week’s Italian Open as well as a tournament in Madrid, Spain, next week. Because of a shoulder injury, Sharapova has not played a singles match since last August although she played doubles in a tournament in Indian Wells, California, in March.

STANDING TALL

Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Any Murray played exhibition matches before the Internazionali BNL d’Italia began, helping to raise funds for FedeLuz, a leukemia foundation established in the memory of former player Federico Luzzi, who died of the disease last year at the age of 28. Others competing in the exhibition included Marat Safin, Tommy Robredo, Potito Starace, Andreas Seppi, Simone Bolelli and Filippo Volandri.

SAYS BYE-BYE

Guillermo Coria says he has lost motivation so is retiring from tennis. The 27-year-old Argentine had been ranked as high as number three in the world. Coria won nine singles titles and was runner-up to Gaston Gaudio at Roland Garros in 2004. In 2001, he served a seven-month ban after testing positive for nandrolone. He currently is 672 in the world rankings.

SET FOR PARIS

For the second year in a row, the US Tennis Association is holding a tournament in Boca Raton to award two French Open wild cards. John Isner won the men’s event by beating Jesse Levine. Grabbing a spot in the women’s draw, where play beings May 24, was 18-year-old Lauren Embree of Marco Island, Florida. Embree beat Nicole Gibbs 6-4 7-6 (2) to earn a wild card for Roland Garros.

SEES THE LIGHT

Jelena Jankovic believes a change in her fitness regime cost her the number one ranking. “I did a lot of fitness work in the off-season and that was the problem,” the Serbian right-hander said. “I was one of the fastest players on the tour, but (after the fitness work) I started feeling very heavy. I felt so slow, my whole game broke down. Then the confidence falls.” After losing in the fourth round at the Australian Open, Jankovic suffered early losses at Indian Wells, California, and Miami, Florida, before she finally won her first title of the year, the Andalucia Tennis Championships in Marbella, Spain. “I feel I am coming back into form,” Jankovic said. “I am not doing any more experiments. My goal now is finding my game again and winning Grand Slams.”

SWIFT VICTORY

Anabel Medina Garrigues had no problem capturing the ninth title of her career and make up for last year. The Spaniard crushed Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova 6-0 6-1, winning the first 10 games of the match on her way to victory in the Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem, a clay court tournament in Fez, Morocco. In the opening set, Makarova, who was playing in her first career final, won just nine points and double-faulted on set point. Last year, Medina Garrigues reached the final at Fez, only to lose to Gisela Dulko. Makarova finally won her first WTA Tour title when she joined with Alisa Klevbanova to edge Sorana Cirstea and Maria Kirilenko 6-2 2-6 11-9 (match tiebreak) in the doubles final. It was also Klevbanova’s first Tour title of any kind.

SPONSOR

Sony Ericsson will continue its sponsorship of the men’s and women’s tennis tournament through 2011. That’s one more year than the sponsorship originally was to run. The telecommunication industry “is changing rapidly so we don’t know what we are going to do from 2010 onwards,” said Aldo Liguori, who oversees the London-based company’s a global communications. The tournament, which began life as the Lipton International Tennis Championships, is a men’s and women’s event with USD $4.5 million in prize money for each, one of the most lucrative on both tours. This year’s winners were Andy Murray and Victoria Azarenka. Sony Ericsson also is the main sponsor for the women’s tour. “We will certainly be requesting more for the same amount of money,” Liguori said of the WTA Tour sponsorship, which expires at the end of next year.

SALE PRICE

Lleyton Hewitt and wife Bec have decided to formally advertise their waterfront property which is up for sale. “The reason Lleyton is selling this property is that it simply no longer suits his family’s needs and it’s just going to be chewing up interest, so it’s just a logical thing for him to do,” said real estate agent Steve von der Borch. The five-bedroom home features a sweeping stairway, large hall with an internal water feature, indoor pool, spa, sauna and an indoor barbecue. Hewitt, who paid $3.2 million for the home in 2003, is asking between $2.95 and $3.24 for the West Lakes mansion.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Rome: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Bob and Mike Bryan 7-6 (5) 6-3

Stuttgart: Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Nadia Petrova beat Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta 5-7 6-3 10-7 (match tiebreak)

Tunis: Brian Dabul and Leonardo Mayer beat Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-4 7-6 (6)

Fez: Alisa Klevbanova and Ekaterina Makarova beat Sorana Cirstea and Maria Kirilenko 6-2 2-6 11-9 (match tiebreak)

Rhodes: Karol Beck and Jaroslav Levinsky beat Rajeev Ram and Bobby Reynolds 6-3 6-3

Johannesburg: Naomi Cavaday and Lesya Tsurenko beat Kristina Kucova and Anastasija Sevastova 6-2 2-6 11-9 (match tiebreak)

Cagnes-sur-Mer: Julie Coin and Marie-Eve Pelletier beat Erica Krauth and Anna Tatishvili 6-4 6-3

SITES TO SURF

Rome: www.internazionalibnlditalia.it/1/default.asp

Estoril: www.estorilopen.net

Tennis Australia: www.tennis.com.au/

International Tennis Federation: www.itf.com

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$580,000 BMW Open, Munich, Germany, clay

$580,000 Estoril Open, Estoril, Portugal, clay

$580,000 Serbia Open, Belgrade, Serbia, clay

$100,000 Israel Open, Ramat Hasharon, Israel, hard

WTA

$2,000,000 Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome, Italy, clay

$220,000 Estoril Open, Estoril, Portugal, clay

$100,000 GDF Suez Open Romania, Bucharest, Romania, clay

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$4,500,000 Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open, Madrid, Spain, clay

$110,000 Bordeaux Challenger, Bordeaux, France, clay

WTA

$4,500,000 Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open, Madrid, Spain, clay

Mondays With Bob Greene: I still have that craving

STARS

Sony Ericsson Open

(First Week)

Samantha Stosur beat second-seeded Dinara Safina 6-1 6-4

Gisela Dulko beat third-seeded Jelena Jankovic 6-4 7-6 (5)

Li Na beat sixth-seeded Vera Zvonareva 6-4 3-6 6-2

Agnes Szavay beat seventh-seeded Ana Ivanovic 6-4 4-6 6-1

Ekaterina Makarova beat ninth-seeded Nadia Petrova 7-5 6-1

SAYING

“I still have that craving.” – Kim Clijsters, saying she will return to professional tennis after a two-year retirement, marriage and motherhood.

“As a past U.S. Open champion and former world number one, Kim (Clijsters) has been a great ambassador for our sport. We are excited about Kim’s return to tennis and look forward to welcoming her to New York this summer.” – Jim Curley, US Open tournament director, confirming Clijsters will receive a wild card into this year’s event.

“It’ll be great for the game because she had such a great spirit and she’s such a good player. And, also she was just so nice. It’s good to have people like that around.” – Serena Williams, on Kim Clijsters’ return to the WTA Tour.

“I am amazed how many players I don’t even know. There are even many names I do not know how to pronounce.” – Kim Clijsters, who left the WTA Tour in 2007.

“Now is the right time for me to embrace a new challenge.” – Larry Scott, announcing he is stepping down as chairman and chief executive of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.

“We’re all sad. He had a special vision and the personality and character and talents and abilities to carry it out. It takes someone special like him.” – Venus Williams, about Larry Scott leaving the WTA Tour.

“There is a gap there right now. You can’t deny that. It’s very tough out here.” – Alexa Glatch, acknowledging there are no young American players currently ready to succeed sisters Serena and Venus Williams.

“We don’t have anyone right now. If you look at the rankings, with only Venus at age 28 and Serena at 27, it’s not a good state.” – Lindsay Davenport, agreeing with Glatch on the state of women’s tennis in the United States.

“She’s obviously a great player, and if I can beat her then that means I’m on top of the game, so I hope we can meet in the semifinals.” – Venus Williams, talking about her sister, Serena.

“I’ve been trying to get a win like this for a long time. I was happy I was able to do it and hopefully there will be more to come.” – Samantha Stosur, after upsetting second-seeded Dinara Safina.

“Obviously it’s nice to get to stay in your own bed at the tournament. That doesn’t happen too much throughout the year.” – Andy Murray, noting he has an apartment in South Beach, Florida, not far from the Sony Ericsson Open.

“I’m at the point where I just want to select the tournaments I’m going to enter and not play too much during the year, and really just try to do well in those tournaments.” – Amelie Mauresmo.

“I don’t have a preference. I prefer to go out with a nice and funny girl. Doesn’t matter if she is a player or an artist.” – Rafael Nadal, answering a reporter’s question.

“We have received advice from a variety of sources referring to traveling to India. It is on that basis of security concerns that we have asked for the tie to be moved out of India.” – Steve Wood, chief executive of Tennis Australia, in a statement.

“We’re a wonderful country as hosts. We’ll provide foolproof security and we want the Australian tennis players to come and play in India.” – Anil Khanna, secretary general of the All India Tennis Association and president of the Asian Tennis Federation.

“It is always important for me to be a good sportsman on the court and give the right example for others to follow and hopefully inspire the next generation. It also means the world to me to be the fans’ favorite player for the sixth year in a row. The support I receive from the fans around the world is so motivating.” – Roger Federer, who was named Sportsman of the Year and Fan Favorite on the ATP tour.

“I’m not going to clean off the court, for sure.” – Novak Djokovic, when asked what he will be doing at his own tournament, the Serbia Open.

SHE’S BACK

Ending a two-year retirement that saw her get married and give birth to her daughter Jada, Kim Clijsters will return to the scene of her greatest triumph: the US Open. “I am not coming back to lose in the first rounds,” said Clijsters, who asked for a wild card entry into America’s Grand Slam tournament. “We have been in contact with Kim regarding her comeback and have committed a 2009 US Open wild card to her,” said tournament director Jim Curley. Clijsters also asked for wild-card entries into the hard-court tournaments in Cincinnati and Toronto that lead up to the US Open. The 25-year-old Belgian right-hander won the US Open in 2005 and was runner-up at four other Grand Slam tournaments, the US Open in 2003, the Australian Open in 2004 and Roland Garros in 2001 and 2003. She was ranked number one in the world in both singles and doubles I 2003.

STEPPING DOWN

Larry Scott is stepping down later this year as Sony Ericsson WTA Tour chairman and chief executive and will become commissioner of the Pacific-10 Conference, a college athletic conference in the United States. Under his six-year guidance the WTA Tour has attained equal prize money at every Grand Slam tournament, made sweeping reforms to its calendar and introduced innovations, including electronic line calling. Scott said he began thinking about leaving tennis when the ATP rejected his proposal for a merger of the men’s and women’s tours. “For a variety of reasons it wasn’t accepted,” Scott said. “It’s clear that tennis, for whatever reasons, isn’t ready for that vision to be realized. And then I realized, you know, I’ve done most of the major things that I could want to do. And if this coming together of the men’s and women’s tours is impossible right now, maybe it is a time to think about what else I could do that could be gratifying.” He will work with the WTA Tour board on the selection process for his successor.

SECURITY CONCERNS?

Anil Khanna, secretary general of the All India Tennis Association, says Australia’s call for a change of venue of their upcoming Davis Cup tie is based on unfounded security concerns. Steve Wood, chief executive of Tennis Australia, said his country sent a request for a venue change to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) after receiving advice from “a variety of sources.” Khanna, who is also president of the Asian Tennis Federation, said he is expecting the ITF to reject Tennis Australia’s claims. The Asia/Oceania Group I series is scheduled to be played May 8-10, with the winner advancing to the playoffs for a spot in Davis Cup’s elite World Group. The Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket tournament was just moved to South Africa after the Home Ministry said it could not guarantee safety because the dates of the competition clashed with the country’s general elections. In a statement, Wood said: “We have received advice from a variety of sources referring to traveling to India. It is on that basis of security concerns that we have asked for the tie to be moved out of India.”

STAYING PUT

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has rejected Pakistan’s demand to move its Davis Cup tie against the Philippines to a neutral venue. In a letter to Dilawar Abbas, the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president, the ITF said the second-round tie will be played in Manila. The July 10-12 competition was originally scheduled to be played in Lahore, Pakistan, but was moved to the Philippines after a terrorist attack in Lahore on cricket players from Sri Lanka. Pakistan said it is concerned about its players’ safety in the Philippines, which also has been dogged by violence.

SERIOUS HE IS

John McEnroe lost a reported USD $2 million in what has been called an art investment scam. Art dealer Lawrence Salander was arrested in New York and he and his gallery have been charged with 100 counts, including grand larceny and securities fraud. Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said Salander faces up to 25 years in prison on the most serious charge. McEnroe lost his money by investing a half share in two paintings. Authorities said the share in the paintings was sold at the same time to another collector and McEnroe never recouped the money. The former tennis star was alerted to the scheme when he learned an art collector owned the same painting he had. Twenty-five other victims of Salander’s alleged scheme have been identified.

SERBIA OPEN PROBLEM

In a dispute with the father of Novak Djokovic, Niki Pilic has stepped down as tournament director of the Serbia Open. Pilic said his decision came after Srdjan Djokovic held a news conference “without previously consulting with me and spoke of things he has no place or capacity to talk about.” Pilic said he will remain as advisor to the Serbia Davis Cup team and “this will not influence my cooperation with Novak Djokovic, with whom I still have a great relationship.” Novak Djokovic is part owner of the Serbia Open, which will be held in Belgrade next month.

SWISS CHARM

Roger Federer continues to pile up the trophies off the court. Fellow players voted the Swiss star the winner of the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship award for a record fifth consecutive year, while fans selected Federer for the sixth consecutive year as their favorite. The only other person to win the Stefan Edberg award five times was Edberg himself, and he needed eight years to do it. Rafael Nadal, who became the first player since Bjorn Borg to win both Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year and the first left-hander since John McEnroe in 1984 to finish the year ranked number one in the world, was selected Player of the Year . Other awards went to: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic, Doubles Team of the Year; James Blake, Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year; Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Most Improved; Kei Nishikori, Newcomer of the Year; Rainer Schuettler, Comeback Player of the Year; Bob and Mike Bryan, Fans’ Favorite Doubles Team; and Alan Trengove, Ron Bookman Media Excellence Award.

SERENA’S THE ONE

For the second time in her career, Serena Williams has been voted the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour’s Player of the Year. Besides winning the US Open in 2008, the 26-year-old American took over the top ranking for the second time in her career. She also teamed with sister Venus to win the doubles gold medal at the Beijing Olympics. Cara Black and Liezel Huber earned their second award for Doubles Team of the Year, while Dinara Safina was named Most Improved Player. Other awards passed out during the Sony Ericsson Championships in Miami, Florida, went to Zheng Jie, Comeback Player of the Year; Caroline Wozniacki, Newcomer of the Year; Ana Ivanovic, Humanitarian of the Year; Elena Dementieva, Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award; and Liezel Huber, Player Service Award.

SOME LUCK

Dudi Sela, Israel’s top player, lost his qualifying match, yet still reached the main draw of the Sony Ericsson Open when Mario Ancic had to withdraw with an injury. Sela then became a “lucky loser.” Some luck. Sela, who is ranked 57th in the world, was drawn to face former world number one Lleyton Hewitt of Australia in the featured match of the tournament’s opening evening. Hewitt, who received a wild card into the tournament, lost the first set before handing Sela another defeat, this time 3-6 6-4 6-3.

SCULLY AWARD

Dick Enberg, ESPN’s lead commentator on Wimbledon, the French Open and the Australian Open, will receive the second Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting. The award will be presented by WFUV Radio at its second annual Spring Gala in New York City on May 6. Also receiving awards that evening will be newscaster Jim Lehrer and musician Paul Simon. The honorees were nominated by their colleagues in their respective field. The award is named for Scully, the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers who is an alumnus of WFUV and is now in his 60th season of broadcasting Dodgers’ baseball games.

STARRING

Hall of Famer Butch Buchholz was honored at the International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHF) and First Serve festivities in Miami, Florida. The special evening also celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Sony Ericsson Open. Buchholz, who played key roles in the evolution of both professional and amateur tennis, was inducted into the ITHF in 2005. He was commissioner of World Team Tennis (1977-78), ATP executive director (1981-82) and a member of the International Men’s Pro Council (1981-83). He created the Sony Ericsson Open in 1985 and was also instrumental in setting up an ATP World Tour event in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Buchholz also teamed with Arthur Ashe in 1992 to form the “Good Life Mentoring Program” benefiting hundreds of elementary and middle school children in the greater Miami area. As a player, Buchholz was ranked number five in the world in 1960 and was a member of the United States Davis Cup team in 1959-60.

SAME OLD SPOT

For the third straight home tie, the Czech Davis Cup team will be playing at the CEZ Arena in Ostrava. The Czech Tennis Association announced the site for the Davis Cup quarterfinal competition against Argentina on July 10-12. Playing on the same court, the Czechs defeated Belgium in last year’s first round and France in this year’s opener. The
Czech Republic is looking to reach its first Davis Cup semifinal since 1996 against last year’s runner-up Argentina, which defeated Netherlands in this year’s first round.

SCAMMER BOOTED

A man suspected of being part of a betting scam was ejected from a tournament in Les Ormes, Jersey, Channel Islands, Great Britain. Carl Baldwin, the International Tennis Federation supervisor, confirmed that officials were alerted when a player spotted the man acting suspiciously and relaying scores from matches via his mobile phone. The man was asked to leave the Caversham International Tennis Tournament, and he complied without resistance. Britain’s Katie O’Brien won the tournament when Claire Feuerstein of France retired while trailing 7-5 1-0.

SERVING

Jamshid Ehsani of Greenwich, Connecticut, has been named to the board of directors of USTA Serves, the philanthropic and charitable entity of the United States Tennis Association. Ehsani has served in senior leadership positions with a number of multinational corporations, including the World Bank, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, and UBS and Swiss Re Financial Services.

SITES TO SURF

Miami: www.sonyericssonopen.com/

Napoli: www.atpnapoli.com/

Casablanca: www.frmtennis.com

Houston: www.mensclaycourt.com/

Ponte Vedra Beach: http://mpsgroupchamps.net

Marbella, Spain: www.andaluciatennis.com

Torhout: www.koddaertladiesopen.be/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$4,500,000 Sony Ericsson Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard (second week)

$116,000 Napoli Cup, Napoli, Italy, clay

WTA TOUR

$4,500,000 Sony Ericsson Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard (second week)

DAVIS CUP

Asia/Oceania Group IV at Dhaka, Bangladesh: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Iraq, Jordan, Myanmar, Qatar, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Yemen

Europe/Africa Group IV at Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire: Armenia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Cameroon

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$550,000 Grand Prix Hassan II, Casablanca, Morocco, clay

$500,000 US Men’s Clay Court Championships, Houston, Texas, USA, clay

WTA

$220,000 MPS Group Championships, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, USA,. Clay

$220,000 Andalucia Tennis Experience, Marbella, Spain, clay

$100,000 Koddaert Ladies Open, Torhout, Belgium, hard

Mondays With Bob Greene: Perhaps Tennis

STARS

Marion Bartoli beat Li Na 6-4 6-3 to win the Monterrey Open in Monterrey, Mexico

Lukas Rosol beat Benedikt Dorsch 6-4 4-6 7-6 (3) to win the Internazionali di Bergamo in Bergamo, Italy

DAVIS CUP

World Group

(First Round)

Argentina beat Netherlands 5-0 at Buenos Aires, Argentina

Czech Republic beat France 3-2 at Ostrava, Czech Republic

United States beat. Switzerland 4-1 at Birmingham, Alabama, USA

Croatia beat Chile 5-0 at Porec, Croatia

Israel beat Sweden 3-2 at Malmo, Sweden

Russia beat Romania 4-1 at Sibiu, Romania

Germany beat Austria 3-2 at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

Spain beat Serbia 4-1 at Benidorm, Spain

Americas Zone Group I (First Round)

Colombia beat Uruguay 5-0, Ecuador beat Canada 3-2

Americas Zone Group II (First Round)

Mexico beat Jamaica 5-0, Venezuela beat Netherlands Antilles 4-1, Dominican Republic beat Guatemala 5-0, Bahamas at Paraguay

Asia/Oceania Zone Group I (Second Round)

Australia beat Thailand 3-2, India beat Chinese Taipei 3-2, Japan beat China 5-0, Uzbekistan beat Korea 4-1

Asia/Oceania Zone Group II (First Round)

Philippines beat Hong Kong China 4-1, Pakistan beat Oman 4-1, Indonesia beat Kuwait 3-2, New Zealand beat Malaysia 5-0

Europe/Africa Zone Group I (First Round)

South Africa beat Macedonia 5-0

Europe/Africa Zone Group I (Second Round)

Italy beat Slovak Republic 4-1, Ukraine beat Great Britain 4-1, Belgium beat Poland 4-1

Europe/Africa Zone Group II (First Round)

Lithuania beat Georgia 3-2, Slovenia beat Egypt 5-0, Latvia beat Moldova 5-0, Bulgaria beat Hungary 3-2, Finland beat Denmark 3-2, Monaco beat Montenegro 5-0, Ireland beat Algeria 4-1, Cyprus beat Portugal 3-2

SAYING

“Perhaps tennis.” – British Prime Minister Gordon Brown suggested after telling Barack Obama he couldn’t compete with the American president in basketball. “I hear you’ve got a game,” Obama replied.

“I want to play the best possible but it couldn’t be today. I couldn’t break his rhythm on this surface.” – Novak Djokovic, playing on clay for the first time since Roland Garros and losing to David Ferrer in the opening Davis Cup match between Serbia and Spain.

“I think it was a wrong decision. I think it maybe can open the door for other countries to make a stupid decision like this one. I think it’s going to be very bad to play without a crowd.” – Israel’s Andy Ram, about the decision to play the Sweden-Israel Davis Cup tie in an empty stadium.

“We are here to play tennis. We are not here to talk about politics or to talk about terror.” -Harel Levy, another member of Israel’s four-man Davis Cup team.

“When you play Davis Cup on home turf you want a full house, and we think it’s too bad that there won’t be.” – Thomas Johansson, Swedish Davis Cupper.

“Yesterday’s doubles poured a lot of power and confidence into my veins.” – Radek Stepanek, who beat Gilles Simon to clinch the Czech Republic’s Davis Cup victory over France.

“It’s probably the worst experience of my life right now ever playing a tennis match. I had two match points in the tiebreak, I had the match in my hands. I wanted to win so badly and that’s why it hurts so much.” – Frank Dancevic, who could have given Canada a victory over Ecuador if he had won.

“Billie Jean King has done so much for the game. She’s really a true legend in the sport. I think this is a really great tribute to her.” – Jelena Jankovic, who participated in a four-player “Tennis Night in America” exhibition in New York’s Madison Square Garden.

SHAMEFUL ACTION

Following the attack in Pakistan on Sri Lanka’s cricket team, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) canceled a junior tennis tournament scheduled for this month in Karachi, Pakistan. Most of the players signed up for the amateur tournament were between the ages of 13 and 18 and came from Pakistan, but others were from the region, including Thailand, India, Hong Kong and Singapore. Luca Santilli, the ITF manager of junior tennis, said the attack that killed six police officers and injured seven Sri Lankan players was not the only factor in postponing the tournament.

STADIUM SLAMMERS

Police fought with demonstrators outside the stadium where the Sweden and Israel were playing Davis Cup. Dozens of anti-Israeli protestors tried to storm the 4,000-seat Baltic Hall in Malmo, Sweden, after about 7,000 people gathered at a downtown square to hear speeches condemning Israel’s offensive in Gaza and urging support for Palestinians. The players found out about the melee after Sweden’s Simon Aspelin and Robert Lindstedt beat Israel’s Andy Ram and Amir Hadad. Ram, who earlier in the week called the decision by Malmo officials to bar the public from the Davis Cup competition “stupid,” praised police after the demonstration. “We knew there were going to be a few thousand people screaming out there,” Ram said. “Inside here we didn’t feel anything. The police did a good job.” Israel advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since 1987. It was the second time a Davis Cup series was played without fans in Sweden. In 1975, two years after a military coup in Chile led by Augusto Pinochet, Sweden played Chile in an empty stadium in Bastad.

STRONG WINDS

Defending champion Spain’s first-round World Group Davis Cup tie against Serbia was pushed back a day because of strong winds that damaged the stadium in Benidorm, Spain. Gusts up to 60 miles per hour (90 kph) blew off some of the rows of the stands and affected the stability of the 16,000-seat temporary stadium, according to International Tennis Federation (ITF) referee Soren Frienel. When the winds died down, it was Spain that roared, beating Serbia 4-1.

SHAHAR AFTERMATH

Organizers of the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships say they will appeal the USD $300,000 fine imposed on them by the WTA Tour after Israeli Shahar Peer was barred from playing in the women’s tournament. Dubai Duty Free (DDF), the tournament sponsors, say they are will challenge the WTA Tour’s threat to withdraw the sanction of the tournament if all players are not allowed entry into the United Arab Emigrates in the future. Colm McLoughlin, managing director of DDF, said that despite the differences, “In my opinion there is no danger that the tournament will be pulled.”

SECOND TO NICKY

Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes won their doubles match against Chinese Taipei, defeating Yang Tsung-Hua and Yi Chu-Huan 6-4 7-6 (0) 6-7 (2) 6-2. It was the Indian duo’s 23rd consecutive doubles victory in Davis Cup play, extending their record streak. Paes has posted 36 doubles victories, second in Davis Cup history only to Nicola “Nicky” Pietrangeli of Italy, who was on the winning doubles team 42 times.

STANDING TALL

When twins Bob and Mike Bryan beat Stanislas Wawrinka and Yves Allegro, they became the winningest United States Davis Cup team in history, increasing their record to 15-2. The pair moved past the pairings of John McEnroe and Peter Fleming, who finished with a 14-1 mark, as well as Wilmer Allison and John Van Ryn who posted a 14-2 record by the time they played their last Davis Cup matches in 1936. “We’re just plugging away,” Bob Bryan said. “I truly didn’t know that we were playing for the record at all. It’s great to look at when you retire. When you’re in the heat of the moment, still in the battle, you just want to keep trying to get better and look for ways to improve.”

STAR POWER

Women’s tennis returned to New York’s Madison Square Garden after a nine-year absence with what is turning into the usual suspects in a title match: Serena Williams beat her older sister Venus 6-4 6-3 after both won one-set matches against Serbia’s top two players, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic. Venus and Serena have won the last three Grand Slam tournament titles between them. The crowd of 12,026 was clearly on hand to see the Williams sisters, and many of the fans filed out after Serena won the first set of the championship. Before the final, former President Bill Clinton, figure skaters Sarah Hughes and Nancy Kerrigan and race car driver Janet Guthrie participated in a tribute to Billie Jean King, who founded the Women’s Tennis Association in 1973. “She has probably done more than any other woman in the world to empower women and educate men,” Clinton said.

SAVING MONEY

In a measure to battle the effects of the global economic crisis, the ATP is returning around USD $3 million in fees to tournaments around the world. “In these difficult times the ATP has decided to give the tournaments a reduction in tournament fees to help them financially,” a spokesman for the ATP said. The spokesman said the fee reductions would come from ATP resources and would not affect the prize money awarded by the tournaments. A spokesman for the WTA said the women’s tour would not be making similar reductions as it was in a healthy position financially.

SWINGING AWAY

Andre Agassi is returning to competitive tournament tennis with his old gang. Agassi will participate in the Outback Champions Series event at Surprise, Arizona, in October. The Outback Champions tour is for players 30 years old and older. Agassi, who will soon turn 39, won eight major singles titles before retiring after the 2006 US Open.

SPONSOR FOR DAVIS CUP

Telefonica has become the official telecommunications sponsor of Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The multi-year agreement began with last week’s opening round of Davis Cup as eight World Group ties and 26 Zone Group ties were played in 34 nations. The Spanish company will provide telecommunications expertise at Davis Cup ties around the world and advise the ITF and its member nations on new ways to develop their internet properties. “In a world where technology is one of the true growth areas, we are delighted that Telefonica and its brands have joined Davis Cup,” said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti.

STUNNED

Anna Kournikova says her recent trip to Haiti was “completely and devastatingly humbling.” Kournikova went to Haiti as part of an awareness-raising mission organized by PSI, a leading global health organization. “What shocked me about Haiti, where 70 percent of the population lives on less than (USD) $2 a day, was just the complete lack of basic human needs, and the amazing amount of disease and sickness that is so prevalent with the population,” Kournikova wrote in her blog. “It was so difficult to see those conditions with my own eyes.”

SUPPORTING A CAUSE

Several top players on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour have pitched in to help raise funds to rebuild areas in Australia that were affected by the recent bush fires. Players from around the world have sent messages of support and donated signed equipment, clothing and money toward aiding the fund-raising. Australian tennis stars Casey Dellacqua, Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs were joined by Daniela Hantuchova, Ana Ivanovic, Dinara Safina, Ai Sugiyama and Serena Williams, all of whom donated items that will be auctioned off to raise money for the Tennis Bushfire Relief Appeal. “Tennis is part and parcel of community life throughout Australia and the sport has a role to play in aiding the recovery of these fire-ravaged communities,” Geoff Pollard, an International Tennis Federation (ITF) vice president and president of Tennis Australia, and Tennis Victoria President David Stobart said in a statement.

SHARAPOVA RETURNS?

Maria Sharapova will play doubles only at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, California, according to TennisReporters.net. The web site says Sharapova’s right shoulder still gets fatigued after playing two-out-of-three-set matches for several days in a row and her doctors don’t think it’s a good idea for her to play singles in the next two weeks. The three-time Grand Slam tournament champion hasn’t played since the Canadian Open last August and underwent shoulder surgery in October. She hasn’t played doubles since 2005. At Indian Wells, she will play with fellow Russian Elena Vesnina.

SERGEI’S THE MAN

The name was familiar when Ukraine’s Davis Cup doubles team bested Great Britain. But Sergei Bubka Jr. decided not to following in his father’s footsteps and instead he took up tennis. The younger Bubka and Sergiy Stakhovsky defeated Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins 6-4 3-6 6-3 5-7 6-4 and Ukraine went on to down Great Britain 4-1 in their Europe/Africa Group 1 zonal tie. The elder Bubka was a pole-vaulting great, won an Olympic gold medal and set world records almost every time he competed. But his 22-year-old son has played most of his tennis on the Challenger level and is ranked 269th in the world.

STILL LISTED

Lindsay Davenport is having a bit of problem getting rid of her house in the prestigious Emerald Bay neighborhood in Laguna Beach, California. The tennis star was asking USD $6,395,000 for her home, but the listing expired without any takers. The five-bedroom house was on the market for 183 days.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Monterrey: Nathalie Dechy and Mara Santangelo beat Iveta Benesova and Zahlavova Strycova 6-3 6-4

Bergamo: Karol Beck and Jaroslav Levinsky beat Chris Haggard and Pavel Vizner 7-6 (6) 6-4

SITES TO SURF

Indian Wells: www.bnpparibasopen.org

Bogota: www.bancolombiaopen.com.co/

Sunrise: www.sunrisetennis.com

Marrakech: www.arryadia.com/mtt/2009/marrakech2009/

Rio de Janeiro: http://championsseriestennis.com/rio2009/

Los Cabos: www.championsseriestennis.com/cabo2009/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard

WTA TOUR

$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard

SENIORS

Rio Champions Cup, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard

$125,000 Bancolombia Open, Bogota, Colombia, clay

$125,000 BMW Tennis Championships, Sunrise, Florida, USA, hard

$125,000 Marrakech Challenger, Marrakech, Morocco, clay

WTA TOUR

$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard

SENIORS

The Del Mar Development Champions Cup, Los Cabos, Mexico