WASHINGTON, DC (July 28, 2013) The Washington Kastles carved another notch in the Mylan World Team Tennis elite ranks Sunday, winning their third consecutive World Team Tennis championship and fourth in the past five years with a 25-12 win over the Springfield Laster, the largest victory margin in any WTT championship match.
The Kastles also became the first WTT franchise to win all five sets in a championship match since the league switched to the current format in 1999. further stamping the team as the premier franchise in the league. The Kastles started the 2013 season by winning their first two matches for a 34-match winning streak, the longest winning streak is U.S professional sports history.
“This year we walked right into it. We made that incredible streak, and have an amazing part in history. You can’t put a price tag on that We lost, then started winning again,” Kastles’ coach Murphy Jensen said. “This is a masterpiece. This is the best. four out of five years, it is out of control. We absolutely sacrificed every day to play for the Kastles.”
Even a two-hour rain delay did not slow the Kastles.
The three-peat makes Washington only the second to win three titles in a row. The four championships make Washington one of only two franchises to win four or more WTT titles.
“It’d be great if we had eight teams like (the Kastles),” Springfield Laser player Andy Roddick, a part-owner of WTT, said after the loss. “They deserve the success they get. They put a lot into it, and it’s a great atmosphere.”
The Kastles were uncertain as to which of the sets Roddick would play so Jensen reshuffled the order of play to have Bib by Reynolds, the team’s traditional closer, open the match with men’s singles. That way if Roddick played, it would dilute the advantage the Lasers could have by having their star close the contest in the final set.
But Reynolds, who was named the MVP of the championship, opened strong, breaking the Lasers’ Rik De Voest three times in a 5-1 win.
“You go out and get ready thinking you are going to play Andy and I knew I had to be ready for anything,” Reynolds said. “I guess I am the opener now (not the closer), I knew I had to bring a lot of energy no matter when I was in the lineup.”
Springfield has never won a WTT title. They last played for the title in 2009, where they lost to Washington 23-20 when the Kastles held off three match points to win.
“Coming in here (at the start of the season), there was a lot of pressure, in those first matches. You don’t want to be the one to destroy them. Now at the end all of the effort paid off,” Kastles player Martina Hingis said.
“I am a first time Kastle. It’s a great team. I love everyone and I hope I can play here again next year.”
Hingis said she had hoped she was ready for Roddick’s serve. “I know his serve is spectacular. I tried not to think too much about it. At first he started with a kick serve. I just tried to get a racquet on it,” she said.
She and team captain Leander Paes defeated Roddick and Alisa Kleybanova, the 2013 WTT female rookie of the year, 5-4 after winning a five point tiebreaker for the game, set and championship.
“I started off pretty well in the (mixed doubles) then my energy level dropped a little bit,” said Hingis. “And that’s when (Paes) kind of lifted his game amazingly, and it is pretty cool to have five perfect sets.”
WASHINGTON KASTLES def. Springfield Lasers, 25-12
MEN’S SINGLES: Bobby Reynolds (Kastles) def. Rik de Voest (Lasers) 5-1
WOMEN’S DOUBLES: Martina Hingis/Anastasia Rodionova (Kastles) def. Alisa Kleybanova/Vania King (Lasers) 5-3
MEN’S DOUBLES: Bobby Reynolds/Leander Paes (Kastles) def. Jean-Julien Rojer/Andy Roddick (Lasers) 5-2
WOMEN’S SINGLES: Martina Hingis (Kastles) def. Alisa Kleybanova (Lasers) 5-2
MIXED DOUBLES: Martina Hingis/Leander Paes (Kastles) def. Alisa Kleybanova/Andy Roddick (Lasers) 5-4
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 9, 2013) Unbeaten. Untied. Unstoppable. And now, unmatched.
The Mylan World TeamTennis’ champion Washington Kastles won their 34th straight match tonight, setting a new professional sports unbeaten record and launching them solidly toward another WTT title.
The Kastles dispatched conference rival Boston Lobsters in a 25-12 victory, sweeping all five sets – with the victory nailed by the duo that has spent the most time on the team, men’s double partners Leander Paes and Bobby Reynolds.
“I’ve been really lucky to have had a great Olympic career and a great Davis Cup career,” said Paes, who remains one of the top doubles players in the world. “And this is exactly like that.”
The record-setting victory also had sweet resonance: the Lobsters were the last team to defeat the Kastles on July 22, 2010, in the final match of the 2010 regular season. There have been four wins in a Super tiebreaker, seven victories by a single game and 10 match points saved during the streak.
“You can’t even dream about making history and breaking a record like this one. But this incredible feat is a testament to the incredible support we have gotten from our community and to the inspiration that our players have drawn from our passionate fans,” said Mark Ein, the Kastles’ owner.
Ein wore the same brown dress shoes he wore when the team captured the 2009 title, the day that Kastles coach Murphy Jensen had all the players put pieces of tape on their shoes to symbolize team unity.
The 34-match Kastles unbeaten streak eclipses the mark set by the NBA 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers. Washington has won seven matches by just one game, earned eight overtime victories, and saved 10 match points throughout the course of their historic run.
The Lakers streak was omnipresent in the press kits handed out to the media and, in a touch on unplanned irony, symbolically by one of the Kastles’ public spirited announcer, who revved the crowd on stilts, making him more than 7 feet tall – about the same height as Wilt Chamberlain on that Laker team.
Jeanie Buss of the Los Angeles Lakers, who was involved with World TeamTennis in the 1970s as an executive for the Los Angeles Strings, issued a congratulations statement this evening after the Kastles’ win. The 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers won 33 consecutive games, a mark broken Tuesday night when the Washington Kastles posted their 34th consecutive victory.
“Winning 33 consecutive games was an amazing accomplishment by our 1971-72 Lakers team, as evidenced by the fact that no other team has come close to reaching it for over 40 years now. On behalf of the Buss family and the Lakers family, I want to congratulate the Washington Kastles, their players, and our good friends Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss on this milestone accomplishment of theirs.”
The Kastles are a strong favorite to win their third consecutive Mylan WTT title and their fourth King Trophy in five years. Only two other WTT teams have won three or more championships: the Sacramento Capitals, with six, and the Los Angeles Strings, with three. The Kastles are the only WTT team to post a perfect season and the only major sports team in history to have consecutive perfect seasons in 2011 and 2012
“We had an amazing experience that has never happened before,” Kastles coach Murphy Jensen said. “We put a group of characters together, added some spice and made some magic. And there were a lot of people. Dynasty? You can say dynasty, gosh darn right you can.”
“We look at what is in front of us. This is a team that works hard. Winning is a habit and a culture. We never give up and we are tough to beat,” Jensen said.
Veteran Kastles players Paes, Reynolds and Anastasia Rodionova were joined this year by Kevin Anderson and Martina Hingis, who started the winning early Tuesday night.
“Some math or statistics guy did a study as to whether we could do the streak and said we had a better chance of winning the lottery,” Reynolds said. “If you look on the papers, the ranking, that sort of thing, we all (on all the WTT teams) are comparable. But there is something magical about our team. We play for each other, not for ourselves.”
Washington is now 2-0, and in early possession of first place in the Mylan WTT Eastern Conference. Boston, after opening the season defeating conference rival New York Sportimes, is now 1-2. New York is 1-2 and Philadelphia Freedom is 0-2.
Men’s Singles – Kevin Anderson (Kastles) def. Amir Weintraub (Lobsters) 5-2
Women’s Doubles – Anastasia Rodionova/Martina Hingis (Kastles) def. Jill Craybas/Katalin Marosi (Lobsters) 5-3
Mixed Doubles – Martina Hingis/Leander Paes (Kastles) def. Katalin Marosi/Eric Butorac (Lobsters) 5-3
Women’s Singles – Martina Hingis (Kastles) def. Jill Craybas (Lobsters) 5-2
Men’s Doubles – Leander Paes/Bobby Reynolds (Kastles) def. Eric Butorac/Amir Weintraub (Lobsters) 5-2
On Wednesday, the Kastles travel to Dallas to play the Texas Wild (formerly the Kansas City Explorers), then return to Kastles Stadium at the Wharf on Thursday against the Springfield Lasers, featuring former world No. 1 and U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick. They finish streak week Saturday on the road against the Sacramento Capitals, the first face off between those two teams since last year’s one point WTT title win by the Kastles.
Roddick said earlier in the week that he was pulling for the Kastles to continue the winning streak so that he and the Lasers will have the chance to stop it. He may get his chance.
Gallery by Camerawork USA
By Romi Cvitkovic
From a grandmother doing “The Dougie,” to 2011 Washington Kastles’ tennis players receiving commemorative championship rings, to familiar D.C. faces in the crowd like Kastles’ owner Mark Ein, former D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty and current Tennis Channel commentator Brett Haber, there is something in store for every tennis fan during the Washington Kastles’ season at The Wharf in downtown D.C.
Thursday night’s home opener against the New York Sportimes marked the Kastles’ 19th straight win that stretched from last year’s perfect 16-0 season. Returning players Leander Paes, Bobby Reynolds and Arina Rodionova, along with newcomer Anastasia Rodionova, entertained the crowd with five tight matches and energetic play, that culminated in a 20-18 win.
The evening festivities began with mixed doubles as Anastasia Rodionova and Leander Paes took on the duo of Martina Hingis and Robert Kendrick. Paes, a thirteen time men’s and mixed doubles Slam champion, carried his partner with his deft hands at net to even the score at 4-4. Tennis wouldn’t be tennis without a disputed call, and after a brief discussion with the official by the Sportimes coach, play continued — but the Sportimes had lost their momentum. Paes quickly knocked off four clean winners, including a backhand volley to seal the set, 5-4(1).
Next up was women’s doubles featuring the Rodionova sisters (the “Hot Rods”) taking on Martina Hingis and Ashley Harkleroad (the “Models”). With Hingis, a former World No. 1, and Harkleroad, a former World No. 39, the Rodionova sisters had an uphill battle. But with competitive rallies, good looks, and giggling players, it was difficult not to get energized. Arina’s serve was broken at love with a couple of unforced errors and the “Hot Rods” quickly went down 1-3. They re-grouped and broke back on Hingis’ serve but two games later, the “Hot Rods” were again broken by the “Models”, losing 3-5.
With the Sportimes leading with a score of 9-8, the men’s doubles team of Leander Paes and Bobby Reynolds kicked it into high gear over the tandem of Robert Kendrick and Jesse Witten. Reynolds, a former World No. 46 in doubles, blasted serves while Paes fed off his lead to put away easy volleys. In the blink of an eye, the Kastles’ were up 4-0 on a Sportimes team that was struggling to find their balance. Reynolds, nicknamed “The Closer” for his ability to seal the team win on the final men’s singles matches, did much the same as he served out a 5-0 win in doubles, giving the Kastles’ a 13-9 edge.
Halftime was full of spectator giveaways, quickstart tennis with Paes and Coach Murphy Jensen with two lucky young fans, as well a ring presentation for Rennae Stubbs, who was part of the 2011 Washington Kastles Championship team. The short ceremony had Coach Jensen and Paes praising Stubbs, Paes receiving a kiss from both Stubbs and Jensen(!), and Stubbs commenting on her love of the city of Washington D.C.
After crowd applause and appreciation, the tennis action was quickly underway as Anastasia Rodionova took on Martina Hingis in the women’s singles. As Hingis hit deep into the court, Rodionova responded with wicked backhand winners to even the set out at 2-2. After failing to convert on three break points, Rodionova self-destructed hitting error after error, giving Hingis the set, 5-2.
With the score tightly standing at 15-14 for the Kastles, the concluding men’s singles match between Bobby Reynolds and Jesse Witten had a whole season riding on the outcome. Always the most intense match of the night, it didn’t disappoint as it went the distance with a tiebreaker at 4-4 and a Reynolds fistpump to the crowd. Witten, although deceptively agile and hard-hitting, couldn’t do much to hold back an energized Reynolds who reeled off three winners to go up 3-0 in the tiebreaker. After a Witten error and an unreturnable serve by Reynolds, the Kastles “Closer” sealed the win, 20-18.
Catch the Washington Kastles this month as they battle for another perfect season! Full schedule and for tickets, click here.
Full gallery below; credit to author.
The chances that Jesse Levine gets his racquet back are looking slim.
After an inauspicious start in Brisbane, losing in the first round of qualifiers, Bobby Reynolds asked Levine for one of his racquets.
Since then, Reynolds has gone undefeated, winning five matches in a row at the Sydney International, including an upset over second seed John Isner. The victory was his first top-20 win in nearly seven years.
“Luckily [Levine] was nice enough to give me one of his racquets in Brisbane because the ones I brought down here didn’t fare so well and I didn’t really like it after I played a couple matches with them,” said Reynolds in an interview with the ATP. “He was nice enough to give me one racquet and that’s been getting me through the last five matches.”
The world No. 126 also joked that he may owe his friend Levine some money after his successful run in Sydney.
“He told me that I own him 20 percent,” said Reynolds with a laugh. “But I told him the more the tournament goes on the less likely he’ll get his racquet back or the 20 percent.”
With the win over Isner, Reynolds is in his first ATP quarterfinal since 2008. However, the victory also means that he will miss out on the Australian Open as he was set to play in the qualifiers that began this week.
“It was kind of a tough decision for me to play it out because I was in the qualies at the Australian Open,” said the 29-year-old Reynolds. “[But] I’m glad that I stuck with it here and gave it my all and I hope to build on this for the rest of the year.”
After progressing through the qualifying draw, Reynolds faces fellow qualifier Jarkko Nieminen on Thursday for an unexpected spot in the semifinals.
Regardless of the outcome, Reynolds may want to start stocking up on Levine’s racquets.
The banner boldly proclaims: “See the future of American tennis.” And on Dec. 16-18, tennis fans looking to see upcoming American stars and top pros during the “offseason” are in luck. Sixteen American men and women are set to faceoff at the 3rd annual USTA-sponsored Australian Open Wild Card Playoffs in Norcross, GA, vying for a chance to play in the main draw at Melbourne in January.
The playoffs, hosted by the Racquet Club of the South, gives fans a chance to watch future top tennis talents in a setting far more intimate than most tennis events. The two winners, one male and one female, will earn a wildcard into the 2012 Australian Open main draw.
The eight men are former U.S. Open semifinalist Robby Ginepri, NCAA champion Steve Johnson, U.S. Open wildcard playoffs champion Bobby Reynolds, U.S. Open Mixed Doubles winner Jack Sock, Daniel Kosakowski, Denis Kudla, Jesse Levine and Rhyne Williams.
The women featured are former U.S. Open quarterfinalist Melanie Oudin, this year’s U.S. Open juniors champion Grace Min, U.S. Open wildcard playoffs winner Madison Keys, Coco Vandeweghe, Gail Brodsky, Jamie Hampton and Alison Riske.
Last year’s winners were 19-year-old Ryan Harrison and 18-year-old Lauren Davis. Long touted as the future of American tennis, Harrison has seen his stock rise in 2011 and finished the season ranked No. 79 in the world. Davis, an accomplished junior player, made two Grand Slam main draw appearances this year and is currently ranked No. 320.
At No. 127 in the world, Bobby Reynolds is the highest ranked player in the men’s draw. The 29-year-old also has home-court advantage, hailing from nearby Acworth, GA. Reynolds was once ranked as high as No. 63 in 2009 but suffered a severe wrist injury that sidelined him for nearly a year. Reynolds looks to ride the momentum he built this summer with the WTT champions Washington Kastles and the U.S. Open wildcard playoffs victory to another Grand Slam main draw berth in Australia.
While Reynolds is a tour veteran, the majority of the playoffs feature fresh faces of the game. At this year’s U.S. Open, Jack Sock, 19, made headlines with a first round victory and by winning the mixed doubles title with partner and fellow playoff participant Melanie Oudin. Sock was last year’s runner-up and is poised to take it one step further. Former college standouts Daniel Kosakowski (UCLA), 19, who reached the finals of the U.S. Open wildcard playoffs, and USC’s Steve Johnson, 20, also have a great chance to start the 2012 season strong with a win here.
Coco Vandeweghe, who has spent time training this off-season by boxing, leads the women’s draw at No. 122 in the world. The imposing 20-year-old stands at 6’1’’ and has a game to match her size. Vandeweghe played in the main draw at all four Grand Slams this year and reached the second round at the U.S. Open.
Other notable young players include 16-year-old Madison Keys, the winner of the U.S. Open wildcard playoffs and 2011 U.S. Open juniors champion Grace Min. Keys went on to win her first ever Grand Slam main draw match in Flushing Meadows, upsetting Jill Craybas in the first round and taking a set off top-30 player, Lucie Safarova in the second. Seventeen-year-old Min won the juniors tournament without dropping a set, toppling No. 1 seed Caroline Garcia in the finals.
A win at these playoffs could create momentum going into the new season for the players and fans will have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of future stars to watch out for in Australia and years to come.
The Washington Kastles moved one step closer to their second World TeamTennis title and the first undefeated season in WTT Pro League history with a 23-15 victory over the Boston Lobsters in the WTT Eastern Conference Championship final. The Kastles advance to Sunday’s WTT Finals presented by GEICO to face the winner of Saturday’s Western Conference Championship match.
Leander Paes, who was announced as the 2011 WTT Male MVP prior to the match, partnered with Rennae Stubbs to power past Boston’s Eric Butorac and Mashona Washington, 5-2, in the opening set. That opening match set the tone for the rest of the first half as Stubbs and Arina Rodionova dominated Washington and her partner Irina Falconi in women’s doubles 5-1. The Kastles cruised to a 15-5 halftime lead after Paes and Bobby Reynolds defeated Butorac and Jan-Michael Gambill in men’s doubles, 5-2.
Falconi tried to turn the tide in women’s singles as she faced off against WTT’s Female Rookie of the Year Rodionova. Falconi jumped out to a 3-1 lead before Rodionova shifted gears and evened out the set at 4-4. Falconi hit a crosscourt forehand winner for the 5-4 victory and the first set win for the Lobsters.
Gambill won men’s singles 5-3 to send the match into overtime. Reynolds closed out Washington’s 15th consecutive victory by winning the first Overtime game to give the Kastles the 23-15 win. The win gives 2011 Coach of the Year Murphy Jensen and his squad a shot at making WTT history in Sunday’s final. No team in WTT history has ever gone undefeated throughout the entire regular and post-season.
The St. Louis Aces and the Sacramento Capitals face off for the Western Conference title at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 23. The winner will play the Kastles at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 24, for the King Trophy in the WTT Finals. The Finals will be televised live on Tennis Channel and live streamed on http://video.wtt.com.
FINAL RESULTS FROM THE EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH:
(Home teams in capital letters)
WASHINGTON KASTLES def. Boston Lobsters 23-15 (OT)
Mixed Doubles – Leander Paes\Rennae Stubbs (Kastles) def. Eric Butorac\Mashona Washington (Lobsters) 5-2
Women’s Doubles – Arina Rodionova\Rennae Stubbs (Kastles) def. Irina Falconi\Mashona Washington (Lobsters) 5-1
Men’s Doubles – Leander Paes\Bobby Reynolds (Kastles) def. Eric Butorac\Jan-Michael Gambill (Lobsters) 5-2
Women’s Singles – Irina Falconi (Lobsters) def. Arina Rodionova (Kastles) 5-4
Men’s Singles – Jan-Michael Gambill (Lobsters) def. Bobby Reynolds (Kastles) 5-3
Overtime – Men’s Singles – Bobby Reynolds (Kastles) def. Jan-Michael Gambill (Lobsters) 1-0
Next Match: 7/23/2011
Western Conference Championship: Sacramento Capitals @ ST. LOUIS ACES, 5:00 PM (EDT)
For live scoring and complete player / match statistics, please visit www.WTT.com
The Washington Kastles kept their unbeaten season alive with a 23-15 victory over the New York Sportimes in World TeamTennis action at SPORTIME on Randall’s Island. Serena Williams won her women’s doubles and mixed doubles matches, Leander Paes won his men’s doubles and mixed doubles and Bobby Reynolds was victorious in singles and men’s doubles to pace the victorious Kastles (13-0).
The mixed doubles team of Williams and Paes began with a 5-1 victory over Hingis and Travis Parrott, before Hingis gained a measure of revenge with a 5-3 singles victory over Williams to pull New York (7-7) to within 8-6.
The men’s doubles event followed, with Paes and Reynolds teaming for a 5-2 victory that extended the Kastles’ margin to 13-8. Williams and Rennae Stubbs topped Hingis and Katie O’Brien to give the Kastles a commanding 18-11 advantage.
Reynolds finished off the win with a 5-4 win over Jesse Witten.
The match concludes the regular season for the Sportimes, who now need a loss by the Boston Lobsters in their late match tonight at Sacramento or Thursday at Newport Beach, in order to qualify for the WTT Championship, Friday through Sunday in Charleston, S.C.
Washington hosts Philadelphia Thursday as it tries to complete the undefeated regular season.
Washington Kastles 23, New York Sportimes 15 at New York
Mixed doubles – Serena Williams/Leander Paes (Wash.) def. Travis Parrott/Martina Hingis, 5-1
Women’s singles – Martina Hingis (N.Y.) def. Serena Williams, 5-3
Men’s doubles – Bobby Reynolds/Leander Paes (Wash.) def. Travis Parrott/Jesse Witten, 5-2
Women’s doubles – Serena Williams/Rennae Stubbs (Wash.) def. Katie O’Brien/Martina Hingis, 5-3
Men’s singles – Bobby Reynolds (Wash.) def. Jesse Witten, 5-4
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
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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
Tennis Australia: www.tennis.com.au/
International Tennis Federation: www.itf.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$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
$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
$4,500,000 Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open, Madrid, Spain, clay
$110,000 Bordeaux Challenger, Bordeaux, France, clay
$4,500,000 Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open, Madrid, Spain, clay