Chennai Open

Mondays With Bob Greene: I am one of the top guys

STARS

Andy Murray won the Qatar Open, beating Andy Roddick 6-4 6-2 in Doha, Qatar.

Elena Dementieva beat Elena Vesnina 6-4 6-1 to win the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.

Victoria Azarenka won the Brisbane International, her first WTA Tour title, by beating Marion Bartoli 6-3 6-1 in Brisbane, Australia.

Marin Cilic beat Somdev Devvarman 6-4 7-6 (3) to win the Chennai Open in Chennai, India.

Radek Stepanek beat Fernando Verdasco 3-6 6-3 6-4 to win the Brisbane International men’s singles.

Venus Williams beat Vera Zvonareva 6-2 6-2 to lead Team Americas to victory in the World Team Challenge in Hong Kong.

Dominika Cibulkova and Dominik Hrbaty won their singles matches as Slovakia beat Russia in the Hopman Cup final in Perth, Australia

SAYINGS

“I love my job. I love hitting balls, running and jumping, chasing after that ball. I love what I do, so I think that’s what keeps me motivated.” – Venus Williams, saying she has no plans to retire from tennis.

“Everybody says the third time is the charm, but for me it’s the fifth. I’m just glad I finally got it!” – Victoria Azarenka, after winning her first WTA Tour title in her fifth final.

“I am one of the top guys, but I don’t know if I am the favorite at the Australian Open. There is Roger, Rafa and Novak, who won last year.” – Andy Murray, after beating Roger Federer in the semifinals and Andy Roddick in the final to win the Qatar Open.

“He’s in top form right now. I think he is capable of winning the big ones.” – Andy Roddick, on Andy Murray’s chances of winning the Australian Open.

“My shoulder is doing great but I just started training a few weeks ago and I am just not near the level I need to be to compete at the highest levels.” – Maria Sharapova, announcing she will not be defending her Australian Open women’s singles title.

“I had an almost perfect start to the match and I played well on most points. I didn’t allow him to settle down.” – Gael Monfils, after upsetting top-ranked Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-4 at the Qatar Open.

“Today wasn’t my day. .. I knew it won’t be easy at the start of the season, but I am happy with my game.” – Rafael Nadal, after losing to Gael Monfils.

“I need more time to adjust, to get my rhythm and feel the court, feel the ball. You could see, I was very, very slow out there. My reactions were quite slow.” – Jelena Jankovic, after losing to Venus Williams in Hong Kong.

“I’m having acute pain in my left heel that flared up last week … I now need to fix this before playing any more tournaments. It’s obviously serious since I’ll even miss the Australian Open.” – Nikolay Davydenko, after pulling out of the Chennai Open and the Australian Open because of an injured left heel.

“It is probably one of my best wins, but best game I don’t think so. I have had some beautiful losses.” – Ernests Gulbis, after upsetting Novak Djokovic in the opening round at Brisbane, Australia.

“I have nothing to do with this. I’m Shahar Peer. I came here to play tennis. I know I’m from Israel and I’m proud of my country and that playing tennis is what I’m going to do tomorrow.” – Shahar Peer, rejecting calls for her to withdraw from the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, because of Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

“I’m sure it was a tough day for her because of the situation in her country. I just know she can play better tennis next week.” – Elena Dementieva, saying protests by peace activists probably affected the play of Israel’s Shahar Peer, who lost 6-3 6-1 to the top-seeded Russian.

“Our only previous encounter was in the US Open, where I lost a very tight match to him after leading by two sets. I was confident from the beginning and knew that I could beat him.” – Flavio Cipolla, after upsetting second-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka in the opening round of the Chennai Open.

“I got in trouble in Moscow … I wasn’t in the right place at the right time, put it this way. I won the fight. I’m good, I’m OK.” – Marat Safin, explaining his condition after media in Perth, Australia, reported that Safin’s left eye was black and he had what appeared to be a cut near his right eye.

“I kind of took it for granted, you know the tournaments and everything. Then once you stop traveling you have to face a reality that I can’t do this any more. I was lucky that I was so young.” – Sesil Karatantcheva, who at 19 has returned to the WTA Tour following a two-year ban for testing positive for steroids.

“I sent a message to him that I just wasn’t going to go away.” – Somdev Devvarman, who upset Carlos Moya in the second round at the Chennai Open, 4-6 7-5 6-4.

“It’s a long time. I was thinking about it when I came off the court. It’s showing I’m still there.” – Amelie Mauresmo, after beating top-seeded Ana Ivanovic 6-3 6-2 in the Brisbane International for her first victory over a top 10 player in two years.

SHARAPOVA SITS

Maria Sharapova won’t be defending her Australian Open women’s singles title. The Russian right-hander withdrew from this month’s Grand Slam tournament, saying she took longer than expected to recover from a shoulder injury. She said she didn’t begin training until a few weeks ago and is unable to compete right now. The 21-year-old Sharapova won her first 18 matches in 2008 and rose briefly to the number one ranking before she hurt her shoulder. She also withdrew from the Beijing Olympics and the US Open.

SERBIAN SICK

Jelena Jankovic pulled out of her only warm-up event before the Australian Open, citing the flu. Ranked number one in the world, Jankovic lost in straight sets to Venus Williams in her opening singles, then struggled visibly through a doubles match before pulling out of the event in Hong Kong. “I have been trying my best to get on the court, but I feel slow, I have no reactions and it has been a struggle for me,” Jankovic said.

SKIPPING MELBOURNE

An injury will cause Nikolay Davydenko to skip the year’s first Grand Slam tournament. Ranked fifth in the world, Davydenko withdrew from the Chennai Open, where he was the top seed, because of acute pain in his left heel. He said the injury also bothered him last season, but it became acute the week before Chennai. “I need to check my heel, and that’s why I’m going home to see what’s happening and what’s wrong,” Davydenko said. “The problem started last year, but I thought I could still continue playing. It was (painful) even when I played the Shanghai Masters in November.”

SUCCESS, FINALLY

It was the fifth time she had played in a final, but Victoria Azarenka came away with her first WTA Tour title, beating Marion Bartoli 6-3 6-1 at the Brisbane International. The Belarusian completely dominated the third-seeded Bartoli, breaking serve six times and needing only 71 minutes to wrap up the crown. “The way I was thinking on court was very different from before. I wasn’t thinking about the fact that I was playing in a final,” said Azarenka, who was seeded second. “I was thinking it was a regular match, regular points.”

SUCH SUCRE

Because of the global financial crisis, the singles finalists at this year’s Australian Open will find a bonus in their paychecks. Tournament officials said they are increasing total prize money for the event to $23.4 million Australian (USD $15.7), with the bulk of the increase going to the singles finalists. Both men and women champions will receive $2 million Australian, while the runners-up with earn $1 million Australian. Organizers had announced in October that they were increasing the first prize from $1.37 million Australian to $1.62 million, but decided to raise it again to counter the drop in exchange rates.

STAYING PUT

Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer refused to withdraw from the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, because of Israel’s invasion of Gaza. A New Zealand protest group, Peace and Justice Auckland, wrote to Peer asking her to withdraw from the WTA Tour event. But Peer said that while she is proud of her country, she takes no responsibility for her nation’s military action. She said this was the first time she had been the focus of protests and noted that she was the first Israeli to play in the Muslim country of Qatar, where she was warmly received. Yet she noted that the protesters had the right to express their view. “It’s their choice and they are choosing what they want to do,” she said. Peer eventually lost to top-seeded Elena Dementieva 6-3 6-1.

SEEKING THE TOP

Instead of considering retirement, Venus Williams says she wants to regain the top spot in women’s tennis. Currently ranked sixth in the world, Williams has won seven Grand Slam singles titles, including five Wimbledon crowns. “This year I feel I’m in a great position to move forward to number one, but of course I’ve got to do it, and that will be the fun part,” she said. “I will try to get there.” Dismissing thoughts of retirement, Venus said she plans on playing at least until the 2012 London Olympics. And she said she and her sister, Serena, will play doubles this year in all four Grand Slam tournaments. “We love winning those titles and I think if we could play more often we could just keep getting them,” Venus said.

SIGNED

Jelena Dokic has been named to Australia’s Fed Cup team, which has been called one of the strongest squads in recent years. Dokic last played for Australia in April 2000 against Russia in Moscow. Then, after her father Damir moved his family back to Belgrade in 2001, she played for Serbia-Montenegro in 2004 in the Europe-Africa zone. Also selected to represent Australia in the February 4-7 Group II round-robin competition at Perth are Sam Stosur, the country’s highest-ranked woman, Casey Dellacqua and Rennae Stubbs. Besides Australia, other nations participating will be Taiwan, India, Indonesia, Korea, New Zealand, Thailand and Uzbekistan.

SHIKHA GONE

Shikha Uberoi, who has played 21 matches for India’s Fed Cup team, won’t be allowed to compete this year. The reason? She’s a citizen of the United States, and new rules by the Indian government bar non citizens from competing. Uberoi says she’s “eating too many chocolates out of depression from not being allowed to play for India.”

SESIL’S BACK

At the age of 19, Sesil Karatantcheva says she feels like a grandmother. The Bulgarian has returned to the WTA Tour after serving a two-year ban for testing positive for steroids. Then 16, she tried to blame the positive test on being pregnant. Karatantcheva says it was her own stupidity that helped her make it through the suspension. “In my case, I had nothing else to do, so I just kept practicing. It takes to be kind of stupid,” she said. While she reached a career-high ranking of 35 in the world, Karatantcheva has never played many of the women now on the tour. “As much as I feel like a rookie, I feel like a grandmother on tour – you know, seeing all these 14- and 15- year-olds coming. I remember when I was 14, 15. They probably think I’m slow and old. But I still have some time left.”

STRAIGHT IN

Eight players have won wild card spots in the main draw of the Australian Open, including Yuan Meng of China, Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan and Adrian Mannarino and Kristina Mladenovic of France. Earlier, Americans John Isner and 16-year-old Christina McHale won wild-card berths into the year’s first Grand Slam tournament. The wild cards were granted under exchange agreements with tennis federations from the United States, France and Asia. Colin Ebelthite and former Wimbledon semifinalist Jelena Dokic won the Australian wild-car tournament. Istomin, who will be playing in his third Australian Open, is hoping for a better draw. He lost to Roger Federer in his debut in 2006, then to Lleyton Hewitt in a second-round match last year. Yuan qualified for last year’s Australian Open before losing to Serena Williams in the second round. Also awarded wild cards were Australian teenagers Brydan Klein and Isabella Holland.

SCHUETTLER HURT

Citing a wrist injury, Rainer Schuettler withdrew from his semifinal match against Somdev Devvarman at the Chennai Open. “During yesterday’s doubles match, I started feeling pain in my left wrist,” the German said. “As I warmed up for the semifinal, I wasn’t able to hit a double-handed backhand. I felt a strong pain. I would only be able to slice and I am also afraid that the injury would get worse.” A semifinalist at Wimbledon last year, Schuettler also withdrew from the Medibank International this week in Sydney, Australia.

SELECTED

Racquet Sports Industry magazine has selected Dave Haggerty as “Person of the Year” in its January issue. Haggerty is chief executive officer of Head USA, president of Penn Racquet Sports and just beginning a two-year term as vice president of the United States Tennis Association (USTA). Haggerty led off the magazine’s eighth annual “Champions of Tennis Awards,” which honors people and organizations dedicated to improving the sport and business of tennis.

SORELY MISSED

The father of former world number one Kim Clijsters is dead. Lei Clijsters was 52 when he died after a year-long battle with lung cancer, according to Derniere Heure newspaper. Clijsters played 40 matches for Belgium’s national soccer team, participating in the 1986 and 1990 World Cups. In 1986, Belgium reached the semifinals. He captained FC Mechelen when it won the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1988. After retiring from soccer in 1993, Clijsters managed his daughter’s tennis career until she retired in 2007. Kim Clijsters won the US Open in 2005.

Sidney Wood, who in 1931 became the only uncontested winner of a Wimbledon final, has died in Palm Beach, Florida. He was 95. Wood won Wimbledon when he opponent, US Davis Cup teammate Frank Shields, was unable to play the final because of an ankle injury. Wood, who made history four years earlier when at age 15 he became the youngest male to ever play Wimbledon, losing in straight sets to French great Rene Lacoste, was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1964. He had been the oldest living Hall of Famer.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Auckland: Nathalie Dechy and Mara Santangelo beat Nuria Llagostera Vives and Arantxa Parra Santonja 4-6 7-6 (3) 12-10 (match tiebreak)

Doha: Marc Lopez and Rafael Nadal beat Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic 4-6 6-4 10-8 (match tiebreak)

Brisbane (women): Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Vania King beat Klaudia Jans and Alicja Rosolska 3-6 7-5 10-5 (match tiebreak)

Brisbane (men): Marc Gicquel and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Fernando Verdasco and Mischa Zverev 6-4 6-3

Chennai: Eric Butorac and Rajeev Ram beat Jean-Claude Sherrer and Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3 6-4

SITES TO SURF

Sydney: www.Medibankinternational.com.au

Hobart: www.hobartinternational.com.au

Auckland: www.heinekenopen.co.nz/1/home

Melbourne: www.australianopen.com/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

ATP

$484,750 Medibank International, Sydney, Australia, hard

$480,750 Heineken Open, Auckland, New Zealand, hard

WTA TOUR

$600,000 Medibank International, Sydney, Australia, hard

$220,000 Moorilla Hobart International, Hobart, Australia, hard

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP and WTA TOUR

Australian Open, Melbourne, Australia, hard

Tennis History Tuesday – “RAFA ROUTED IN CHENNAI!”

Today, January 6, 2009, provides us with another edition of “Tennis History Tuesday” where TennisGrandstand.com gives readers another exclusive excerpt from my book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY. (New Chapter Press, $19.95, www.tennishistorybook.com). With the ATP Tour in Doha and Chennai this week, it is interesting to remember Ivan Ljubicic winning “the golden falcon” and Rafael Nadal losing in not-so-memorable fashion.rafael_nadal

1992 – Twenty-year-old Stefano Pescosolido of Italy is defaulted from his final round qualifying match at the New South Wales Open in Sydney, Australia, when, after being aced by his opponent, Johan Anderson of Australia, he slams his racquet to the ground in disgust and drop kicks the racquet into the stands, striking a 22-year-old woman in the face. The woman is taken to the hospital where she receives stitches over her right eye. Pescosolido is also fined $1,500.

2007 – Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia wins “the golden falcon”  – the championship trophy of the Doha Open in Qatar – when he defeats Andy Murray of Scotland 6-4, 6-4 in the men’s singles final for his seventh career ATP tournament title Says Ljubicic, “This trophy is one of the most beautiful we have in tennis – the golden falcon. I wanted it so bad. Andy was a very good opponent. He fought hard and didn’t miss many balls, but I was patient. I knew I had to be aggressive but not too aggressive. Against someone like Andy you need to find the perfect balance, because if you go to the net too much, he will pass you. And if you stay at the baseline, he’s too solid. So the combination was the key today.”

2008 – World No. 2 Rafael Nadal has nothing left in the tank in a 57-minute, 6-0, 6-1 loss to Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny in the final of the Chennai Open in India. The previous night, Nadal defeats fellow Spaniard Carlos Moya 6-7 (3), 7-6 (8), 7-6 (1) in 3 hours, 54 minutes – saving four match points in the second-set tie-break – in the longest three-set match on the ATP Tour in 15 years.”Rafa was not Rafa,” says Youzhny of Nadal winning only one game against him in the final. “I did not win today, it was Rafa who lost. I did not expect it to be so easy. I was lucky as he just couldn’t move and couldn’t play.”  Says a classy Nadal, “Maybe I was a bit tired after the long semifinal, but I lost the final because Mikhail played very well.”

2007 – Dinara Safina of Russia, the younger sister of U.S. and Australian Open champion Marat Safin, wins her fifth career WTA title, defeating Martina Hingis 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 in the final of the Australian women’s hard court championships on the Gold Coast. Says Hingis of Safina, “Today she was just too good and everyone should watch her because she’s gonna be maybe even better than her brother. Marat is such a genius. He can play unbelievable tennis. She (Safina) definitely doesn’t have as much touch but she has more will and desire.”

2008 – In the final edition of the Australian Hardcourt Championships at the famed Memorial Drive tennis courts in Adelaide, Australia, Michael Llodra of France defeats Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen 6-3, 6-4 to win his second career ATP singles title. Llodra was the last directly accepted player into the 32-player field and only received entry into the event when countryman Richard Gasquet pulls out of the tournament due to a knee injury. Memorial Drive had hosted the highest-level of professional tennis since 1922 when Wimbledon champion Gerald Patterson first won at the site in 1922 at the South Australian Championships. In 2007, Tennis Australia announces it is moving the event to Brisbane.

1992 – John McEnroe is selected to the U.S. Davis Cup team for a record 12th time as he, Rick Leach, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi are named to the U.S. team that will face Argentina in the first round in Hawaii. McEnroe is previously tied for the U.S. lead of team selections with Bill Tilden and Stan Smith.

2007 – Jelena Jankovic of Serbia wins the first WTA Tour singles title of the 2007 season, defeating Russia’s Vera Zvonareva 7-6 (11-9), 5-7, 6-3 in the final of the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.

1936 – Hall of Famer member Darlene Hard, winner of 21 major titles including the French in 1960 and the U.S. Championships in 1960 and 1961, is born in Los Angeles. Hard, also a two-time Wimbledon finalist, was a member of victorious U.S. Fed Cup team in the inaugural year of the competition in 1963, teaming with Billie Jean King and Carole Graebner.

Mondays With Bob Greene: I’m like on cloud nine right now

U.S. Open

Men’s Singles: Roger Federer beat Andy Murray 6-2 7-5 6-2

Women’s Single: Serena Williams beat Jelena Jankovic 6-4 7-5

Men’s Doubles: Bob and Mike Bryan beat Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes 7-6 (5) 7-6 (10)

Women’s Doubles: Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur 6-3 7-6 (6)

Mixed Doubles: Cara Black and Leander Paes beat Liezel Huber and Jaime Murray 7-6 (6) 6-4

Junior Boys’ Singles: Grigor Dimitrov beat Devin Britton 6-4 6-3

Junior Girls’ Singles: Coco Vandeweghe beat Gabriela Paz Franco 7-6 (3) 6-1

Junior Boys’ Doubles: Nikolaus Moser and Cedrik-Marcel Stebe beat Henri Kontinen and Christopher Rungkat 6-7 (5) 6-3 10-8 (match tiebreak)

Junior Girls’ Doubles: Noppawan Lertcheewakarn and Sandra Roma beat Mallory Burdette and Sloane Stephens 6-0 6-2

SAYINGS

“I was that close to winning so many of the big tournaments this season … I was disappointed not winning the Olympics. I was disappointed losing the epic at Wimbledon, but this was as big of a goal maybe this season. I mean, going for five US Opens is probably the last time ever in my career I’ll have that opportunity, so to keep it alive … is something I’m very, very happy about.” – Roger Federer.

“Usually after a Grand Slam I feel like I still have another match to play, but I don’t really feel that way today. I feel liked it’s done and it’s all over and I’m so excited.” – Serena Williams, after winning her third US Open singles championship.

“I had a great two weeks. I really fought hard out there every match, and tonight I really gave everything I had.” – Jelena Jankovic, after losing to Serena Williams in the women’s singles final.

“It’s obviously been a very good couple of weeks. And I’ll try my best to work on my game, work harder, and hopefully come back and do better next time.” – Andy Murray, after losing the men’s singles final.

“I accept the losses with the same calm when I win. So I am disappointing? Yes. But at the same time I am happy because I did good semifinals here.” – Rafael Nadal, after losing to Andy Murray.

“It was in the back of my mind that I hadn’t won this one. I woke up this morning with a purpose. I woke up really fired up.” – Leander Paes, after winning the US Open mixed doubles with Cara Black.

“I would say that we’re probably one of the best doubles teams there has been in a long while, and we feel confident that whoever we lay against that we’ll give them a good run for their money.” – Liezel Huber, after teaming with Cara Black to win the women’s doubles.

“I’m like on cloud nine right now. This is my first junior tournament win in the ITF, and to do it at the US Open is an every greater achievement for me.” – Coco Vandeweghe, after winning the Junior Girls singles.

“I’m happy about the way I lost. I think that when you get into the court, you can win or lose, but at least I gave everything that I could inside the court, so I’m happy about that. I’m not happy about the loss, but that’s the sport, how it is.” – Tommy Robredo, after his five-set loss to Novak Djokovic.

“I’m the first one actually to do everything. I mean, that’s not my goal, to be the best in Luxembourg.” – Gilles Monfils, a qualifier who reached the quarterfinals.

“The people enjoy the match. He’s more happy than me, but I’m not sad.” – Juan Martin Del Potro, after losing a four-set, four-hour quarterfinal to Andy Murray.

“I’ve been playing pretty high-risk, high-reward tennis and I probably wasn’t about to stop. Given the choice again, I’d probably go for them again. That’s what got me back in the match.” – Andy Roddick, after losing to Novak Djokovic.

“Devin gave me a hard time in the first set and especially in the beginning of the second. But I found a way to manage my game, and that was the key.” – Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Devin Britton to win the Junior Boys crown.

“I’m not sure whether I should sing the anthem, do a cartwheel or tell you guys to vote, but I’m the proudest American right now.” – Liezel Huber, a South African-born American, after she and Cara Black won the women’s doubles.

“This is the best team we could assemble at the moment.” – Russian Fed Cup captain Shamil Tarpishchev, whose team does not include Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva, French Open runnerup Dinara Safina, former number one Maria Sharapova and top tenner Anna Chakvetadze.

SINGLES CHAMPION

With his victory over Andy Murray, Roger Federer has won an Open Era record five consecutive US Open singles titles and become the first player in any era to win five straight Grand Slam tournament titles at two different events. Federer also won five consecutive Wimbledons before losing the final to Rafael Nadal on the grass of the All England Club in July. It also is Federer’s 13th Grand Slam tournament crown, one behind men’s record-holder Pete Sampras. In a twist of fate, Sampras won his 14th Grand Slam crown on September 8, 2002. This year’s final was scheduled to be held on Sunday, but was pushed back to Monday, September 8, by Tropical Storm Hanna’s heavy rains two days that cut short Saturday’s play.

SHE’S BACK

It took a long time for Serena Williams to win her third US Open title, something she accomplished by defeating Jelena Jankovic 6-4 7-5. Her other two US Open championships came in 1999 and 2002. Her last Grand Slam title was at the Australian Open in 2007. By winning, she became the number one-ranked player on the WTA Tour for the first time since August 2003, the longest gap at the top for a woman in ranking history. She now has won nine majors, while this was the first year since 2001 that she played in all four Grand Slam tournaments.

SEVENTH TITLE

Bob and Mike Bryan didn’t drop a set at the US Open as they won their seventh Grand Slam tournament men’s doubles title, defeating India’s Leander Paes and Luka Dlouhy of the Czech Republic 7-6 (5) 7-6 (10) in the final. The American brothers previously won at Roland Garros in 2003, the US Open in 2005, Wimbledon in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2006 and 2007. By losing, Paes lost a chance at a US Open doubles double, having already won the mixed doubles crown with Zimbabwe’s Cara Black. Paes won a doubles double in 1999 at both Wimbledon and the French Open. With the victory, the Bryans regained their world number one ranking.

SECOND TITLE

Cara Black had an excellent US Open. She teamed with Liezel Huber to win the women’s doubles, the team’s eighth title this year, by beating Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur. Earlier in the final week, the native of Zimbabwe teamed with Leander Paes of India to win the mixed doubles title. In that final, Black and Paes beat Huber and Jamie Murray.

SAMPRAS A CHAMPION

Pete Sampras, a five-time US Open winner, and Molla B. Mallory are the 2008 inductees into the US Open Court of Champions. The tennis shrine is located just inside the South Entry Gate at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Sampras played in eight US Open finals and compiled a 71-9 record, the second-best winning percentage in the tournament’s history, trailing only Bill Tilden’s 71-7 mark with a minimum of 50 matches played.

SAYONARA

Alicia Molik of Australia is calling it quits. The 27-year-old Mollik has retired from international tennis after a long run of injuries, including a debilitating inner-ear virus. Molik peaked at a world ranking of number eight after she reached the Australian Open quarterfinals in 2005, but was sidelined for most of the rest of that season because she was unable to balance due to the ear virus. She won the bronze medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics and played in the Beijing Olympics last month, losing in the first round. During her career, Molik won five WTA Tour singles titles and two Grand Slam doubles titles, at the Australian and French Opens.

SHAMIL’S SELECTION

Fed Cup captain Shamil Tarpischchev will not have his country’s top players when Russia takes on Spain in the final. Six Russians are ranked in the top ten on the WTA Tour, but only Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva will play Fed Cup. They will be joined by Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina. Olympic champion Elena Dementieva and silver medalist Dinara will miss the final in Madrid in order to chase ranking points at a tournament in Tokyo, Japan. Maria Sharapova has an injured shoulder and Anaa Chakvetadze is not physically fit.

SERENA, SAFINA IN DOHA

Serena Williams and Dinara Safina have clinched spots in the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships, which will be held November 4-9 in Doha. The world’s top eight singles players and top four doubles teams will compete for the title and a share of the record prize money of $4.45 million. Previously qualified were Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic in the singles. Besides her US Open triumph, Williams lost to her sister Venus in the Wimbledon final. Safina has had her best season so far, going 37-4 since the beginning of the European clay season, including finishing runnerup at both Roland Garros and the Olympics.

SOME CHANGES

The WTA Tour will have 54 tournaments across 31 countries and record prize money of more than USD $86 million in 2009. There will be 20 premier events, down from 26, and four tournaments – Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Beijing – will be mandatory. Under the new structure, top-10 players who miss premier events after making a commitment to play will face suspension, and there will be increased withdrawal fines. The rankings system will focus on players’ best 16 results, and the year will conclude at the end of October, giving players nine weeks before the start of the next year. And on-court coaching will be allowed next season.

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SLAMS PROMOTERS

The All India Tennis Association (AITA) is upset with private promoters canceling tournaments over what it calls bogus reasons. Consequently the AITA wants to have direct control over future tour events. An ATP event, the Bangalore Open, was cancelled for what the promoters said was security reasons. And a WTA Tour event in Mumbai, promoted by a company owned by Indian player Mahesh Bhupathi, also has been cancelled. AITA secretary Anil Khanna said both events were cancelled because the organizers could not find sponsors. India has two other events, the Chennai Open for men and a women’s event in Bangalore.

SPANISH STAR

Rafael Nadal has been named winner of the prestigious Prince of Asturias Sports award for 2008. Eighteen members of the 24-man jury, which was presided over by former International Olympic Committee chairman Juan Antonio Samaranch and which met in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo, voted for Nadal, who was selected over US Olympic swimming gold medalist Michael Phelps, Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva and Olympic 100 meters champion Ursain Bolt of Jamaica. The Spanish football (soccer) squad, which won this year’s European Championships, was also among the candidates.

SWIPE

The world’s top-ranked player believes outgoing ATP chief executive Etienne de Villiers should have communicated better with the players. De Villiers, who is stepping down when his contract expires in December, has been criticized by Nadal and other players. Asked at the U.S. Open what he’d like De Villiers’ successor to do, Nadal said: “For me, most important thing is, first of all, a little bit more communication than the past. For sure, the second thing is one person who knows a little bit about the tennis, no? And one person who wants to talk about with the persons who knows the tennis well.”

SLAMMIN’ CAREER

Leader Paes now has a career Grand Slam in mixed doubles. The Indian star teamed with Cara Black of Zimbabwe to beat Britain’s Jamie Murray and American Liezel Huber for the US Open title. Paes teamed with American Lisa Raymond to win the French Open and Wimbledon in 1999, and with Martina Navratilova for titles at the 2003 Wimbledon and Australian Opens.

STARK TO NEWPORT
The International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, has a new museum director. Douglas A. Stark, a native of Holyoke, Massachusetts, will oversee and manage the museum’s collection, permanent and traveling exhibitions, educational programming, and the activities of the Information Research Center. Stark was formerly with the United States Golf Association Museum, serving most recently as curator of Education and Outreach.

SLIDING ROOF?
The US Open will have a retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium sometime in the future. “It’s a matter of when, not if,” said Arlen Kantarian, the US Tennis Association’s CEO for professional tennis. “It’s the right next thing to do.” Heavy rain from Tropical Storm Hanna caused the final Saturday’s schedule to be curtailed, with the women’s final played on Sunday night and the men’s final pushed back to Monday.

SHARING TALENT

Fresh off winning her third US Open, Serena Williams announced she will participate in the PNC Tennis Classic on November 21 in Baltimore. The Classic is a charity event begun by Pam Shriver. Net proceeds from the Tennis Classic are distributed to children’s charities under the guidance of the Baltimore Community Foundation. Since 1986, over USD $4 million has been raised and distributed to many needy non-profits.

SUPER SCRIBE

Bud Collins was named winner of the ATP Ron Bookman Media Excellence Award during the US Open. Rafael Nadal, the world’s top-ranked player, presented the award to the writer, historian, broadcaster and Tennis Hall of Fame member. His latest book, recently released, is The Bud Collins History of Tennis. The annual ATP award goes to a media member in honor of Ron Bookman, who died in April 1988.

SITES TO SURF

Bucharest: www.bcropenromania.ro/

Bali: www.commbanktennis.com

Athens: www.vogueathensopen.com/

Orleans: www.opendorleans.com/v2/

Szczecin: www.pekaoopen.pl

Fed Cup: www.fedcup.com

Tokyo: www.toray-ppo.co.jp

Guangzhou: www.qztennis.com

Davis Cup: www.daviscup.com

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$416,000 BCR Open Romania, Bucharest, Romania, clay

$125,000 Open d’Orleans, Orleans, France, hard

WTA TOUR

$225,000 Commonwealth Bank Tennis Classic, Bali, Indonesia, hard

$100,000 Vogue Athens Open 2008, Athens, Greece, clay

FED CUP

(September 13-14)

Spain vs. Russia at Madrid, Spain, final, clay

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$125,000 Pekao Open, Szczecin, Poland

WTA TOUR

$1,340,000 Toray Pan Pacific Open, Tokyo, Japan, hard

$175,000 TOE Life Ceramics Guangzhou International Women’s Open, Guangzhou, China, hard

DAVIS CUP

(September 19-21)

World Group Semifinals

Argentina vs. Russia at Buenos Aires, Argentina, clay

Spain vs. United States at Madrid, Spain, clay

World Group Playoffs

Chile vs. Australia at Antofagasta, Chile, clay

Great Britain vs. Austria at Wimbledon, England, grass

Switzerland vs. Belgium at Lausanne, Switzerland, hard

Croatia vs. Brazil at Zadar, Crotia, hard

Isral vs. Peru at Ramat Hasharon, Israel, hard

Netherlands vs. South Korea at Apeldoorn, Netherlands, clay

Romania vs. India at Bucharest, Romania, clay

Slovak Republic vs. Serbia at Bratislava, Slovak Republic, hard

Europe/Africa Zone Group I

Italy vs. Latvia at Montecatini, Italy, clay

Belarus vs. Georgia at Minsk, Belarus, hard

Europe/Africa Zone Group II

Monaco vs. South Africa at Monaco, clay

Ukraine vs. Portugal at Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, hard

Mondays With Bob Greene

7 April 2008

STARS

Nikolay Davydenko became the first Russian to win the Sony Ericsson Open men’s singles crown at Miami, Florida, by crushing second-seeded Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-2.

Serena Williams outlasted Jelena Jankovic 6-1 5-7 6-3 to capture her fifth Sony Ericsson Open women’s singles title.

Bob and Mike Bryan finally won their first doubles championship of 2008, beating Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 6-2 6-2 at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.

Katarina Srebotnik and Ai Sugiyama won their second doubles title as a team, edging Cara Black and Liezel Huber 7-5 4-6 10-3 at the Sony Ericsson Open.

SAYINGS

“I have only one (racquet). Surprising I didn’t break a string. Warm up and play match, warm up and play match, every match, and I finish with the racquet. I’m going to keep forever this racquet.” – Nikolay Davydenko, who said he used the same racquet in all six matches to win the Sony Ericsson Open.

“People write more about Roger (Federer), about me, about Andy (Roddick). People outside tennis can think different about Nikolay, but we know he’s a very, very good player.” – Rafael Nadal, after losing the Sony Ericsson Open final to Davydenko 6-4 6-2.

“She looked so nervous out there. I could never believe that a girl who has won so many Grand Slams, so many tournaments, could be that nervous closing out a match.” – Jelena Jankovic, after losing the Sony Ericsson Open women’s final to Serena Williams 6-1 5-7 6-3.

“I smashed a racquet? Are you sure it was me? I guess maybe my hand must have been oily.” – Serena Williams, who drew a code violation when she smashed her racquet after blowing a 5-2 40-0 lead in the second set of her three-set victory over Jelena Jankovic.

“This tie is important for the team, as a win would give us the opportunity to compete in a playoff to make it back in the World Group, where I believe Australia belongs.” – Lleyton Hewitt, saying he plans on playing Davis Cup against Thailand.

“Losing in the finals four times just makes you hungrier and hungrier. When we went out there … we didn’t take anything for granted.” – Bob Bryan after he teamed with his brother Mike to win the Sony Ericsson Open men’s doubles.

“Winning in September and staying in the World Group is obviously a key focus for us, but just as vital is working with hose younger players who may be capable of thriving in a Davis Cup environment in the near future.” – Paul Annacone, who has been named coach of Great Britain’s Davis Cup team, succeeding Peter Lundgren.

SPLAT

After he hit a backhand into the net during his third-round match at the Sony Ericsson Open, Mikhail Youzhny showed his displeasure by angrily whacking himself in the head three times with his racket strings. That sent a stream of blood running from above his hairline down his nose and nearly to his mouth. The Russian became a celebrity when a video of his tantrum was put on YouTube and drew more than a half-million hits.

SUFFERING SUCCOTASH

Here it is April and the world’s top two men players are still looking for a 2008 tournament title. Top-ranked Roger Federer’s best results this year have been semifinal appearances at both the Australian Open and the Pacific Life Open. Federer has been limited to just three tournaments because of mononucleosis. World number two Rafael Nadal has been in two finals – the Chennai Open and the Sony Ericsson Open – losing both. He also was a semifinalist at both the Australia Open and the Pacific Life Open. And, the top-ranked men’s doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan won their first title of 2008 at the just-concluded Sony Ericsson Open.

SUCCESS FINALLY

Playing in their fifth final of 2008, twins Bob and Mike Bryan finally came away with the title when they defeated Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 6-2 6-2 at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami. Beginning with the 2007 Australian Open, the Bryans have reached 20 finals in 27 tournaments. And this championship was their 45th career title together.

SELECTED FOR BEIJING

Players from El Salvador, Togo and Liechtenstein will compete in Olympic tennis for the first time at the Beijing Games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and International Tennis Federation (ITF) selected four players to compete in the Summer Games: Rafael Arevalo of El Salvador, Komlavi Loglo of Togo, Cara Black of Zimbabwe and Stephanie Vogt of Liechtenstein. Only 21 years old, Arevalo has already played 22 Davis Cup ties for El Salvador. Loglo, 23, is the first African Junior Champion from Togo. Vogt, 17, has played eight Fed Cup ties for Liechtenstein. Black, currently co-ranked No. 1 in the world in doubles, played singles at the 2000 Sydney Games.

SQUEAKER

By nipping Cara Black and Liezel Huber in a Match Tiebreak (7-5 4-6 10-3) to win the women’s doubles at the Sony Ericsson Open, Katarina Srebotnik and Ai Sugiyama were just repeating themselves. The Miami, Florida, tournament title was their second doubles crown as a team. Their first came last year in Toronto when they also beat Black and Huber in a Match Tiebreak in the final.

STEERING TENNIS EUROPE

Jacques Dupre is the new president of Tennis Europe, succeeding John James of Great Britain. Others elected to the board at the meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, were Peter Bretherton of Great Britain, Michele Brunetti of Italy, Philios Christodoulou of Cyprus, Gunther Lang of Germany, Aleksei Selivanenko of Russai, Jose Antonio Senz de Broto of Spain, Stefan Tzvetkov of Bulgaria and Ayda Uluc of Turket. There were delegates from a record 43 member nations at the 34th annual general meeting.

SOUTH AFRICA ON TOP

South Africa successfully defended its African Junior Championships in Gaborone, Botswana. Tunisia finished in second place, followed by Egypt in third and Morocco in fourth. Points are earned in singles and doubles in three age groups. South Africa captured two of the six singles titles and reached three other finals. The winners dominated the 16-and -under age group with Jarryd Botha defeating fellow South African Japie de Klerk 6-2 6-2 in the boys singles final.

SENIORS DOING IT

A record 376 teams have entered the 2008 ITF Seniors & Super-Seniors World Team Championships in Antalya, Turkey, in October. More than 220 teams from 38 countries have registered for the Seniors age categories – women and men 35 to 55 – while 150 teams will compete in the Super-Seniors: women 60 to 70 and men 60 to 80. The team event will be followed by the ITF Seniors & Super-Seniors World Individual Championships.

SORE BUT READY

Despite possibly having tendinitis and a hip tendon tear – or a combination of both – Lleyton Hewitt says he will play for Australia in its Davis Cup tie against Thailand. Doctors had advised Hewitt to rest his sore left hip and continue treatment. He has suffered hip pain since losing to Mardy Fish in Indian Wells, California, in March.

SUPERHERO

India’s Davis Cup captain Leander Paes will be a superhero in a cartoon television series in his home country. According to the Indian Express newspaper, Paes will play a miracle man who helps school kids in each of the 26 half-hour episodes being planned. The cartoons, called “The Magic Racquet,” are aimed at promoting an active lifestyle in children. According to the newspaper, a date has not been set for the start of the series.

SWINGING AGAIN

Two retired Wimbledon champions will play each other on grass once again. Martina Hingis and Jana Novotna will play an exhibition match in Liverpool, England, in June. Hingis beat Novotna in the 1997 Wimbledon final to become the youngest champion in the Open Era. Novotna, who also lost in the final at Wimbledon to Steffi Graf in 1993, finally won the Championships in 1998.

SITES TO SURF

Amelia Island: www.blchamps.com

Davis Cup: www.daviscup.com/

Olympic Tennis: www.itftennis.com/olympics.

Family Circle Cup: www.familycirclecup.com

Estoril: www.estorilopen.net

Valencia: www.open-comunidad-valencia.com/

Houston: www.riveroaksinternational.com

ITF Seniors: www.itftennis.com/seniors

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

WTA Tour

$600,000 Bausch & Lomb Championships, Amelia Island, Florida, clay

DAVIS CUP

World Group Quarterfinals

(April 11-13)

Czech Republic at Moscow, Russia

Sweden at Buenos Aires, Argentina

Spain at Bremen, Germany

France vs. United States at Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Europe/Africa Zone Group 1 Second Round

Italy at Zagreb, Croatia; Netherlands at Skopje, Macedonia; Switzerland at Minsk, Belarus; Georgia at Bratislava, Slovak Republic

America’s Zone Group 1 Second Round

Canada at Santiago, Chile; Colombia at Soracaba, Brazil

Asia/Oceania Zone Group 1 Second Round

Thailand at Townsville, Australia; Japan at New Delhi, India

Asia/Oceania Zone Group 1 First-Round Playoffs

Chinese Taipei at Almaty, Kazakhstan; Uzbekistan at Manila, Philippines

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP TOUR

$370,000 Estoril Open, Estoril, Portugal, clay

$370,000 Open de Tenis Comunidad Valencia, Valencia, Spain, clay

$436,000 U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships, Houston, Texas, clay

WTA TOUR

$1,340,000 Family Circle Cup, Charleston, South Carolina

Photos of Miami: