Tennis fans of Queensland, Australia, were celebrating after three of their big name stars received wild cards this week for the 2010 Australian Open.
Davis Cup star Carsten Ball, two-time junior Grand Slam winner Bernard Tomic and national under 18 champion Jason Kubler were all handed passes to the event.
Ball missed the recent wild card playoff tournament with a back injury but has performed exceptionally well in 2009 and came close to making the main draw cut off point so the organisers made the decision to hand him a wildcard.
Tomic won this year’s US Open boy’s title to add to the 2008 Aussie boy’s title he’d already picked up. The Australians view Tomic as a huge prospect for the future and he has already shown promise by reaching the second round of the 2009 tournament.
Sixteen-year-old Kubler went on a 30-match winning streak this year which included victory at the prestigious Osaka Junior Open as well as leading Australia to Junior Davis Cup victory.
Former World No. 8 Alicia Molik and rising star Olivia Rogowska received wild cards in the women’s draw, Rogowska being the losing finalist in the recent wildcard playoffs.
The decision on the final wildcards to be handed out to the men’s and women’s draws will be made soon.
*Women’s doubles pairs were left feeling nervous as one of the most successful pairings of all time, America’s Lisa Raymond and Australia’s Rennae Stubbs, announced that they will once more compete together in 2010. Between 1996 and 2005 they won 32 titles together including three Grand Slams – Australia (2000), Wimbledon and the US Open (both 2001). They also won the 2001 Sony Ericsson Championships and both held the No. 1 ranking slot. Raymond has won a further two majors with another Aussie, Samantha Stosur, but the pair were always the most successful together. Raymond commented: “It’s funny how things come full circle.”
*Australian World No. 77 Peter Luczak has signed up to play in the 2010 Movistar Open, an ATP World Tour 250 tournament beginning January 31st in Santiago, Chile. The tournament takes place during the 200th anniversary of Chilean independence and vast celebrations are set to mark the event.
*Spanish clay court coach Felix Mantilla has been added to the Australian Davis Cup coaching team and captain John Fitzgerald was full of praise for the move, describing it as one of the most significant moves in decades. “Having Felix Mantilla now is a great asset to us,” he said. “I reckon it’s a very, very important appointment.”
*British tennis has awarded its December AEGON Awards with Naomi Broady picking up player of the month, Luke Bambridge (Junior Player) and Neil Frankel (coach) being the other benefactors.
*The Australian Open Changing Ends Film Festival has extended its entry deadline until January 18th. By submitting a film of no longer than 30 seconds you could win the top prize of $5,000 and have your film shown during end changes at the 2010 Open. Films must have a tennis theme. For more information visit www.changingends.com.au.
On a scorching Wednesday afternoon, 2004 Roland Garros champion Gaston Gaudio, and 2001 Australian Open finalist Arnaud Clement crumbled in the heat, falling to little-known players in uninspired first round losses.
In front of a standing room only crowd on Court 8, Gaudio struggled to find the timing on his shots, quickly going down 3-0 as the Argentine fells 6-1, 6-4 to Julian Reister of Germany. The No. 167 ranked German, seeking to qualify for his first ever Grand Slam, snapped a four match losing streak with today’s win. Gaudio was competing in his first match on hard courts since the 2007 Nasdaq-100 Open.
Meanwhile, on Court 7, Frenchman Arnaud Clement came within two points of winning both sets of his match against American wildcard Tim Smyczek. The Wisconsin native, a former junior Wimbledon semifinalist, managed to hang tough and grind out a 7-6 (6), 7-6 (3) victory. The loss marks the first time that Clement has failed to qualify for a Grand Slam since 1997.
In other men’s results, Juan Pablo Brzezicki of Argentina and American Donald Young also advanced into the 2nd round of qualifying with straight sets victories.
On the women’s side, 2008 junior Wimbledon champion Laura Robson won her first ever pro match at the Grand Slam level. The 15 year old Brit fought off an early first set deficit in defeating French veteran Stephanie Foretz 7-5, 6-1. Two former Grand Slam quarterfinalists also advanced in tough three set matches; Croatian Karolina Sprem defeated Nina Bratchikova of Russia 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, while Sesil Karantancheva of Kazhakstan lost the first seven games of her match before winning 12 straight games in defeating American Abigail Spears 0-6, 6-1, 6-0.
Thursday’s 2nd round matches will see 38 year old Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan, making her comeback to pro tennis after retiring in 1996, compete against fellow Japanese player Yurika Sema in the first match of the day on Court 7. Two players who have reached ATP finals in 2009, Somdev DevVarman and Carsten Ball, will be the first two featured matches on Court 13. The final feature match of the day on Court 11 will pit Donald Young against Guilermo Olaso of Spain.
All day sessions start at 11:00 a.m. Second round qualifying matches take place on Thursday, while final round qualifying matches start on Friday. For more information, please visit www.usopen.org
Where can you watch former top 10 players, Grand Slam finalists, and rising stars of the game, all completely free of charge?
The US Open qualifying, that kicked off today at the USTA/Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and runs until Friday, attracts tens of thousands of spectators each year. With free admission and front row access to virtually any match during the week, in addition to the chance to watch top players practice in preparation for the main draw, the qualifying is arguably the best deal in tennis.
This rings even more true this year as the Open qualifying boasts likely its strongest field in tournament history. On the men’s side, 2004 Roland Garros champion Gaston Gaudio of Argentina will become the first Grand Slam champion to compete in US Open qualifying since Pat Cash in 1996. Former Wimbledon semifinalist Xavier Malisse of Belgium, former Australian Open finalist Arnaud Clement and former top 20 player Vince Spadea of the United States are other highlights in the field. Two finalists at ATP events in 2009, Carsten Ball of Australia and Somdev Devvarman of India, will also help round out the draw.
The women’s draw features former top 10 player Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic, and 38-year-old and former U.S., Wimbledon and French Open semifinalist Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan, who will be competing in Flushing Meadows for the first time since 1996. Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain, part of the No. 3 ranked women’s doubles team with fellow Spaniard Anabel Medina Garrigues, will be competing in the final singles event of her career as she sets her sights on retirement at the end of the season.
All qualifying sessions start at 11:00 a.m. each day and run until approximately 7:00 p.m. The opening round of qualifying continues through Wednesday, second round matches take place on Thursday, and qualifying round matches will be held on Friday. For more information, visit www.usopen.org
Marion Bartoli beat Venus Williams 6-2 5-7 6-4 to win the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California, USA
Sam Querrey beat Carsten Ball 6-4 3-6 6-1 to win the Countrywide Classic LA Tennis Open in Los Angeles, California, USA
Nikolay Davydenko beat Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3 6-0 to win the Studena Croatia Open in Umag, Croatia
Thomaz Bellucci won his first ATP title, the Allianz Suisse Open, beating Andreas Beck 6-4 7-6 (2) in Gstaad, Switzerland
Vera Dushevina beat Lucie Hradecka 6-0 6-1 to win her first WTA Tour title, the Istanbul Cup in Istanbul, Turkey.
Oleksandr Dolgopolov Jr. beat Pablo Andujar 6-4 6-2 to win the Trofeo Stefano Bellaveglia in Orbetello, Italy
“Venus is one of the greatest champions ever. That’s what I practice for, to play her. To beat her is even better.” – Marion Bartoli, after beating Venus Williams to win the Bank of the West Classic.
“She didn’t give me much of a chance. I might have been able to win a few more points, but not the match.” – Elena Dementieva, after losing to Venus Williams in the semifinals.
“It’s one of the biggest, if not the biggest win of my career. We don’t always play our best tennis every single day. Maybe she didn’t play her best and I played very well.” – Samantha Stosur, after beating Serena Williams in the Bank of the West Classic.
“I’m going to go home, relax, and do some fitness. Ultimately it would good for me and I need to work with my mom on some things. I want to figure out what to do with my singles career.” – A joking Serena Williams, following her loss to Samantha Stosur.
“When I was done (with my career), I felt I’d put up some numbers no one would touch. Little did I know Roger would surpass me in seven years.” – Pete Sampras, who saw his men’s record 14 Grand Slam tournament titles eclipsed by Roger Federer.
“To be number one, you should be complete, and if you are number one you have to be beating the Williams sisters. I’m one of the rare players who has a positive record against the Williams sisters.” – Jelena Jankovic, who is 5-4 against Venus and 3-4 against Serena.
“It’s another one I can’t believe. Sandra Day O’Connor, hello. Tutu. Ted. I was overwhelmed when I heard it. What about Milk man? I was so excited for the community. I think it’s the first time the LGBT community has been acknowledged. It’s another breakthrough.” – Billie Jean King, who will be one of 16 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“When I was 7, I said, ‘Mom, I know I’m going to do something great with my life.’ She said, ‘That’s all right, just get the dishes done.’” – Billie Jean King, whose 87-year-old mother, Betty Jean Moffitt, will accompany her to the White House when she receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“I really don’t know why I play so well here. Three wins and one final, and each time with a different Czech partner, which is also strange. I don’t know why but I hope it continues.” – Michal Mertinak, after teaming with Frantisek Cermak to win the doubles at Umag, Croatia.
“Before the tournament if someone came and told me I’d play the final of singles and win the doubles, I’d have said they were joking. I’m very happy with my week.” – Lucie Hradecka, who reached the Istanbul Cup final in both singles and doubles.
Billie Jean King is the recipient of yet another honor. She is one of 16 people who will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama later this month. The medals are the first to be awarded by Obama and represent the country’s highest honor for a civilian. Besides King, other honorees include Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, former US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu, gay rights activist Harvey Milk, Race for the Cure founder Nancy Brinker, physicist Stephen Hawking and civil rights activist Reverend Joseph Lowery. . Former US Representative and football quarterback Jack Kemp, who died in May, will receive a posthumous award. Among her many other accomplishments, King is a global mentor of a joint WTA and UNESCO program to promote women’s equality in sport.
SOUTH AMERICAN SUCCESS
When Thomaz Bellucci captured the Swiss Open in Gstaad, he became the first Brazilian to win an ATP tournament in nearly five years. The last Brazilian champion was Ricardo Mello at Delray Beach, Florida, USA, in September 2004. Bellucci, a qualifier, beat Andreas Beck in the final. But he proved he belonged there by eliminating top-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka and third-seeded Igor Andreev on his way to the title match. Bellucci is the fifth player to claim his first ATP World Tour title this season. The Bellucci-Beck matchup was the first ATP final between two left-handers since January 2008 when Michael Llodra and Jarkko Nieminen contested the title in Adelaide, Australia.
Britain’s Anne Keothavong is out for the rest of the season after injuring her left knee. She damaged her anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus during a doubles match in the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California, USA. The injury occurred when Keothavong ran into a fence chasing a shot during her match. “Of course I’m disappointed to be out for the rest of the season but I’ll continue to work with my team and look forward to coming back next season,” Keothavong said.
For Marion Bartoli, the Bank of the West Classic victory was redemption for Wimbledon. Bartoli won her first WTA Premier Tour title by upsetting Venus Williams 6-2 5-7 6-4 in the championship match at Stanford, California, USA. In their only previous meeting, Bartoli lost to Williams in the 2007 Wimbledon final. It was the second straight year Bartoli has been in the Stanford final, and her first title on American soil. Williams, making her first appearance at the event since 2005, reached her seventh final in eight appearances at Stanford, where’s she won twice, her last coming in 2002. Venus lost for just the third time in her last 15 matches, but she has not won an outdoor hard court tournament in the United States in seven years.
For the first time in his career, Nikolay Davydenko has won consecutive tournaments. This time the ninth-ranked Russian crushed Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3 6-0 in the final of the Studena Croatia Open in Umag, Croatia. The week before, Davydenko won in Hamburg, Germany. It was his 16th ATP World Tour title in his 21st final, the sixth best record among active players. And the win increases Davydenko’s chances of qualifying for the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to be held in London, England. Last year, when the season finale was held in Shanghai, China, Davydenko reached the title match where he lost to Novak Djokovic.
A foot injury will keep Svetlana Kuznetsova on the sidelines this week. The French Open champion pulled out of the LA Women’s Tennis Championships because of the injury. That still leaves the Los Angeles event with 10 of the world’s top 15 women in the field, including the defending champion, top-ranked Dinara Safina.
Swiss pair Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer needed a wild card to enter the Allianz Suisse Open in Gstaad, Switzerland. They came away with the doubles title, defeating defending champions Jaroslav Levinsky and Filip Polasek 7-5 6-3 in the final. The two had a rough road to the title match, also knocking out second-seeded Michael Kohlmann and Sebastien Prieto in the quarterfinals and third-seeded Yves Allegro and Horia Tecau in the semifinals. The 27-year-old Chiudinelli won his first ATP World Tour doubles title on his second final in Gstaad. He and Jean-Claude Scherrer were runners-up in 2006.
It didn’t take long for Kim Clijsters to have to go to the bank. The former top-ranked player has signed a sponsorship agreement with Adecco SA, the world’s largest supplier of temporary workers. The Zurich, Switzerland-based company is becoming the “official sponsor” of the 26-year-old Belgian. Clijsters, who had a baby last year, will play her first WTA Tour match in two years when she takes to the court in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, on August 10. She will play the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Canada, the week after that before heading to New York and the US Open, which starts August 31. It will be Clijsters’ first US Open since she won the Grand Slam tournament in 2005.
Sam Querrey finally has a title to call his own. The hard-serving American ended a string of final-round frustrations by winning the LA Tennis Open title with a 6-4 3-6 6-1 victory over qualifier Carsten Bell. It was Querrey’s third straight final and fourth of the season – but his first title. “I didn’t want to lose three finals in a row,” said the 21-year-old, who lives in Santa Monica, California, not far from where the LA Tennis Open was contested. Seeded sixth in Los Angeles, Querrey had lost in the final in New Zealand in January and the last two weeks at Newport, Rhode Island, and Indianapolis, Indiana. Querrey became the fifth player to reach the finals in four events this season, joining Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic. It was his second career ATP title. Ball had never won a match on tour before the LA Tennis Open.
Australian Alicia Molik is planning on ending her retirement and returning to the WTA Tour. “I’m loving being back … and enjoying training,” Molik said. “I’m injury-free and back doing what I love.” Ranked as high as number eight in the world, Molik retired last year after being felled by illness and injuries. She had an inner ear virus that affected her balance. Then she was plagued by leg and arm injuries. “I think I’m still young enough to focus my energies on something that I feel is again challenging,” said the 28-year-old Molik.
The Bank of the West Classic is staying right where it is. The tournament and Stanford University have agreed to a three-year contract that will keep the longest-running women-only pro tournament in the world at the Taube Family Tennis Center in Stanford, California, through the year 2012. IMG Senior Vice President Adam Barrett said the WTA adjusted its rules to allow the tournament to continue because of having a long-term sponsor as well as rich tradition. The Taube Family Tennis Center seats just fewer than 4,000, while the new WTA Roadmap rules state Premier tournaments such as the Bank of the West must seat at least 6,000 fans.
Roger Federer reportedly wants to play for Switzerland in its Davis Cup playoff against Italy in September. “Nothing is definite yet, but there’s a good chance that our best players will be there,” said Severin Luethi, part of Federer’s coaching team. Federer missed Switzerland’s 4-1 loss to the United States in the World Group first round because of a back injury. The winner of the Switzerland-Italy playoff tie in Genoa, Italy, on September 18-20 will remain in the World Group next year, while the loser will drop to zonal play. The tie, which will be played on outdoor clay courts, will begin five days after the men’s singles final of the US Open, where Federer is the five-time defending champion. Against Italy, Federer would likely team up with the Stanislas Wawrinka to play singles and doubles. Federer and Wawrinka won the doubles gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.
Austrian Tamira Paszek faces a provisional suspension while officials investigate whether a medial treatment she received for a back injury violated doping regulations. The Austrian anti-doping agency has asked its disciplinary committee to temporarily ban the WTA player. Last month, blood was taken from the 18-year-old for enrichment, then later re-injected in the lower part of her back. Re-injecting one’s own blood is banned under international anti-doping rules. Paszek, who is ranked 59th in the world, alerted the doping agency herself when she learned her treatment might possibly be illegal.
SON OR DAUGHTER?
Boris Becker and his wife, model Sharlely “Lilly” Kerssenberg, are expecting a child. The two were married June 12 in St. Moritz, Switzerland. “Yes, we’re going to be parents,” Becker told the German newspaper Bild. “We are really looking forward to our baby.” It will be the fourth child for Becker, who has two sons, 15-year-old Noah and 9-year-old Elias, with his ex-wife Barbara Feltus, and a 9-year-old daughter, Anna, from an extramarital affair.
Tim Mayotte has been hired as a United States Tennis Association (USTA) national coach. He will facilitate coaching and training programs while working with players in the USTA Player Development program. A native of Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, who was ranked as high as number seven in the world, Mayotte will be based at the USTA Training Center Headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida, USA. He was a semifinalist at Wimbledon in 1982 and at the Australian Open in 1981.
Graydon Nichols is being inducted into the United States Tennis Association Northern California Hall of Fame. The induction of the 84-year-old farmer highlights a career that has catapulted him to the top of the world in senior tennis. “I never imagined that something like this would be possible for me,” Nichols said. “I was shocked to get a phone call saying that I had been selected.” Nichols has won two world singles titles, the latest at the 2007 World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand. That’s when he ended the year ranked number one in the world in his category. Not only did he go undefeated in 2007, Nichols captained the United States team to the Gardnar Mulloy Cup title, senior tennis’ version of the Davis Cup. He is currently ranked number one in the United States and number four in the world after posting a 13-1 record in 2008.
Nancy Reed, a three-time International Tennis Federation Seniors Singles World Champion and pioneer of Seniors Tennis, is dead. Reed won the women’s 40 doubles with fellow American Mary Ann Plante at the very first ITF Seniors World Championships in Brazil in 1981. She went on to win 12 World Championship doubles crowns. She captured her first singles title in Sicily in 1992 in the 55 age category. The next year, she won the 60 age category. Her third and final singles world title came in 1999, but she won the doubles world title in the 75 age category in Turkey last year. She also was a member of the United States team that won the Queens’ Cup in Turkey last October.
HEAD/Penn Racquet Sports has been fined USD $24,780 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for allegedly failing to report the amount of toxic chemicals released by its plant in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. According to the EPA, the sports company failed to report emissions of N-hexane and zinc compounds from its facility to EPA’s annual Toxics Release Inventory for 2007. HEAD/Penn, which is based in Connecticut, manufactures tennis, badminton, and ski equipment, and owns and operates the Phoenix facility. US federal law requires that facilities using toxic chemicals over specified amounts must file annual reports of their chemical releases with EPA and the state. Information from these reports is then compiled into a national database and made available to the public.
Los Angeles: Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan beat Benjamin Becker and Frank Moser 6-4 7-6 (2)
Stanford: Venus Williams and Serena Williams beat Yung-Jan Chan and Monica Niculescu 6-4 6-1
Istanbul: Lucie Hradecka and Renata Voracova beat Julia Goerges and Patty Schnyder 2-6 6-3 12-10 (match tiebreak)
Gstaad: Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer beat Jaroslav Levinsky and Filip Polasek 7-5 6-3
Umag: Frantisek Cermak and Michal Mertinak beat Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-4 6-4
Orbetello: Paolo Lorenzi and Giancarlo Petrazzuolo beat Alessio Di Mauro and Manuel Jorquera 7-6 (5) 3-6 10-6 (match tiebreak)
SITES TO SURF
San Marino: www.atpsanmarino.com/
Los Angeles: www.latennischamps.com/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$1,402,000 Legg Mason Tennis Classic, Washington, DC, USA, hard
$150,000 ATP Open Castilla y Leon, Segovia, Spain, hard
$120,000 San Marino CEPU Open, San Marino, clay
$100,000 Odlum Brown Vancouver Open, Vancouver, Canada, hard
$700,000 LA Women’s Tennis Championships presented by Herbalife, Los Angeles, California, USA, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$3,000,000 Rogers Cup, Montreal, Canada, hard
$120,000 Internazionali del Friuli Venezia Guilia Tennis Cup Cordenons, Italy, clay
$2,000,000 Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, hard
Vale Do Lobo Grand Champions CGD, Algarve, Portugal, hard
ELM GROVE, Wisconsin, August 10, 2008 - Unseeded Daniel Yoo of Korea won the singles title at the Time Warner Cable “Road Runner Pro Tennis Classic,” dominating No. 6 seed Ryan Young, of the United States, 6-2, 6-1. Both the singles and doubles final were completed during Sunday’s play.
Yoo won 10 of the last 11 games in the match as he used his retrieving style of play to wear Young down throughout the match. This is the first pro singles title of Yoo’s career.
In the doubles final, former U.S. Olympian Jeff Tarango combined with Edward Kelly, of the United States, to take the title over No. 3 seeds Raven Klaasen, of South Africa, and Ryan Young, of the United States, 6-3, 3-6, 11-9. Tarango and Kelly trailed 3-0 in the super tiebreak before storming back to win the match. This is the first professional title for Kelly and Tarango’s first title since winning the ATP Tour doubles event in Gstaad back in 2000.
The Time Warner Cable “Road Runner Pro Tennis Classic,” now in its second consecutive year, is part of the summer hard court swing on the USTA Pro Circuit that leads to the US Open. The tournament will feature 32 singles players and 16 doubles teams. Players ranked as high as No. 200 in the world typically compete in futures-level events.
Futures level tournaments feature prize money ranging from $10,000 to $15,000, and are a stepping stone for future champions to move on to the ATP Tour. Participants from last year’s event including Carsten Ball and Michael Yani have since progressed on to ATP Tour and Challenger level tournaments. The USTA Futures of Milwaukee has featured numerous players who are top-ranked players in their country, as well as top-ranked NCAA and international junior players. For more information, please visit the official tournament website, www.skpromotions.com
With 96 tournaments throughout the country and prize money ranging from $10,000 to $75,000, the USTA Pro Circuit is the pathway to the US Open and tour-level competition for aspiring tennis players and a frequent battleground for established professionals. More than 1,100 men and women from 79 countries competed on the USTA Pro Circuit in 2007 for nearly $3 million in prize money and valuable ATP and WTA Tour ranking points. Andre Agassi, James Blake, Lindsay Davenport, Mardy Fish, Justine Henin-Hardenne, Andy Roddick and Maria Sharapova are among today’s top stars that began their careers on the USTA Pro Circuit. For more information, please visit procircuit.usta.com
Last week on the challenger circuit, two former top 10 players struggling with injuries and motivation took their first real steps to reclaiming their former glory, while two players on the men’s side continued their hot streaks on the circuit.
Jelena Dokic of Australia has had more than her share of personal problems. The former world No. 4 has defected from her family, switched nationalities several times, and attempted multiple half-hearted comeback attempts. However, it looks like that Dokic is serious this time around after winning her first event in six years at the $25,000 event in Florence, Italy, dominating Lucie Hradecka of Czech Republic 6-1, 6-3 in the final. The win moves Dokic up to No. 325 in the rankings (after just four tournaments) and she has contacted the All England Club for a qualifying wild card into Wimbledon.
At the $75,000 event in Zagreb, Croatia, Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden won her first title of the year by beating former Wimbledon quarterfinalist Severine Bremond of France 7-6, 6-2. The 24-year-old Swede, who has recorded high-profile scalps over Anna Chakvetadze and Marion Bartoli this year, used her aggressive groundstrokes to wear Bremond down throughout the match. Despite the loss, Bremond has been on a hot streak as of late with a 10-4 record on the challenger circuit in her last four events.
At the $50,000 tournament in Jounieh, Lebanon, players had to endure the fighting that has plagued the country, confining them to their hotel rooms and the tennis courts for the week. Anne Keothavong of Great Britain weathered her surroundings and won the first clay court of her career, defeating Lourdes Dominguez-Lino of Spain 6-4, 6-1. The win moved Keothavong up to a career high ranking of No. 102 and allows her direct entry into Wimbledon this summer. The last British player to get direct entry into Wimbledon was Samantha Smith in 1999.
In other results on the women’s side, Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium won the $50,000 event in Indian Harbour Beach, Florida. Petra Cetkovska of Czech Republic prevailed at the $50,000 challenger in Bucharest, Romania, and Tomoko Yonemura of Japan won at the $50,000 challenger in Fukuoka, Japan. Ksenia Milevskaya of Belarus won at the $25,000 challenger in Antalya, Turkey, Yan Ze-Xie of China took home the winners trophy at the $25,000 event in Changwon, Korea, and Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia prevailed at the $25,000 event in Irapuato, Mexico.
On the men’s side, it’s been a while since we heard from Nicolas Massu. The former top 10 player and reigning Olympic gold medalist has been struggling with injuries, but took a step in the right direction by winning the $30,000 event in Rijeka, Croatia. His 6-2, 6-2 win in the final over Christophe Rochus of Belgium gives the Chilean his first title in over two years.
Ivan Miranda of Peru is continuing to ride his hot streak on the challenger circuit with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Carsten Ball of Australia at the $50,000 challenger in Tunica, Mississippi. Miranda has now reached the championship round in three of the last four challengers he has played. His experience clearly was a factor against Ball, who was competing in the first challenger final of his career.
Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil is a name that has repeatedly come up in this column, but it’s only a matter of time before he moves to the ATP Tour on a full-time basis. He won his fourth challenger title of the year (and third in a row) at the $42,500 challenger in Rabat, Morocco, rolling over Martin Vasallo-Arguello of Argentina 6-2, 6-2. Expect Bellucci to potentially do some damage at Roland Garros in just a few weeks.
In other results on the men’s side, Andreas Beck won the $42,500 challenger in Dresden, Germany, while Teimuraz Gabashvili of Russia won the $30,000 event in Telde, Spain. Jiri Vanek also won the $42,500 event in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
Fabrice Santoro of France highlights the challenger circuit this week as the top seed at the $75,000 event in Bordeaux, France, while Gael Monfis of France leads the way at the $75,000 challenger in Marrakech, Morocco. Several $50,000 events will also be contested this week; Robert Kendrick of the United States is the top seed at the one in Bradenton, Florida, Yen-Hsun Lu of Taipei will lead the way in New Delhi, India, and Denis Gremelmayr of Germany takes top billing in Zagreb, Croatia. Oscar Hernandez of Spain is top seed at the $42,500 event in Aarhus, Denmark, while Santiago Ventura of Spain is the top seed at the $30,000 challenger in San Remo, Italy.
On the women’s side, Petra Cetkovska of Czech Republic is top seed at the $50,000 event in Saint Gaudens, France. Melanie South of Great Britain leads the way at the $50,000 challenger in Kurume, Japan, Tetiana Luzhanska of Ukraine is the top seed at the $25,000 challenger in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Jorgelina Cravero of Argentina takes top billing at the $25,000 event in Caserta, Italy. Finally, Renata Voracova of Czech Republic is top seed at the $25,000 event in Szczecin, Poland.