Daily Telegraph

“SCUD” Engaged To American Actress

Mark Philippoussis, the Australian hunk and the man who Roger Federer first beat in a Grand Slam tournament final at Wimbledon in 2003, is off the market. News reports out of Australia say that “the Scud” is engaged to Law and Order actress Jennifer Esposito. Philippoussis, 32, met Esposito, 36, this summer in the Hamptons, according to Australia’s Daily Telegraph. All the details can be read here: http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/story/0,28383,26196118-5013560,00.html

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Why Chris Evert and Greg Norman Broke Up?

Greg Norman’s former Mother-in-Law has revealed possible motives of Greg Norman’s separation of Chris Evert. The Daily Telegraph out of Australia quotes Laura Andrassy, Norman’s former mother in law, as Norman’s children not taking to Evert and issues over which home the couple would reside as being possible reasons for the separation. Read the entire article here – http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574,26165186-2,00.html

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14 Majors For Federer, Sampras and…Woods

Roger Federer won his 14th career major championship at the 2009 French Open, which not only tied him with one Pete Sampras, but another “rival” in professional sports, Tiger Woods. Ironically, on the same day that Federer won at Roland Garros, Woods won his 67th career PGA Tour event at The Memorial as he heads into the home stretch to try and win his 15th career major golf title at the US Open at Bethpage Black in New York. The following excerpt from the book THE ROGER FEDERER STORY: QUEST FOR PERFECTION by Rene Stauffer (www.RogerFedererBook.com, $24.95, New Chapter Press) details Federer’s relationship with both Sampras and Woods.

When Tiger Woods achieved the “Tiger Slam” in 2000 and 2001-winning all four of golf’s major championships in a row-Roger Federer was not yet 20 years old. The way that Woods dominated golf and reignited interest in the sport certainly caught the attention of the young Federer. However, he never thought that he would ever be compared to someone as dominant as Woods. “His story is completely different from mine,” he said in the spring of 2006. “Even as a kid his goal was to break the record for winning the most majors. I was just dreaming of just once meeting Boris Becker or being able to play at Wimbledon some time.”

Despite their different developments and the differences between their sports, the commonalities between Woods and Federer became unmistakable through the years. Like the four-time Masters champion, Federer is in full pursuit of sports history. While Woods is pursuing Jack Nicklaus and his 18 major championships, Federer is chasing Pete Sampras and his 14 Grand Slam singles titles. Both Woods and Federer are amazing because of their mental resilience, which is evident from the fact that they manage to make the most terrific shots under the greatest of difficulties.

Unlike his parents, Roger Federer is not a passionate golfer, but he follows Woods’ career with great interest. “It would be interesting to meet him and to see what he’s like in person,” Federer said in Key Biscayne in 2006.

Both Federer and Woods are clients of the International Management Group (IMG) and Federer’s agent, Tony Godsick, is friends with Mark Steinberg, the agent of Woods. In the summer of 2006, Federer asked Godsick if he could arrange a meeting with Woods. “The next thing I heard was that Woods would be delighted to come to the US Open final,” Federer recollected. “At that time the tournament hadn’t even started. I would have preferred meeting him in a more relaxed atmosphere than on the day of the US Open final-and I still had to get there first.”

The public had no idea that a spectacular meeting was in the making behind the scenes at the US Open. After Federer defeated the Russian Nikolay Davydenko in the semifinals, he was informed that Woods was going to make good on his promise. He flew to New York from Florida on his private jet with his wife, Elin, to watch the US Open final in person. To everyone’s surprise, Woods took a seat in Federer’s guest box-which was quite noteworthy given the fact that Federer faced an American, Andy Roddick, in the final. “The fact that Tiger was sitting there put me under extra pressure,” Federer later admitted. “It was just like when I was younger when my parents or Marc Rosset watched me play in person. You want to play especially well.”

Woods’ timing was perfect. He watched and cheered as Federer won his third straight US Open title, defeating the resurgent Roddick 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1. For the third year in a row, Federer won both Wimbledon and the US Open-a record that he didn’t have to share with anyone.

While Federer briefly met Woods before the final, the two spent well over an hour together in the locker room following the match, drinking Champagne and gazing at the US Open trophy that Federer just won. Woods even talked on the phone to Federer’s parents who were at home in bed as it was nearly three in the morning in Switzerland.

“I was impressed by how much we had in common,” Federer explained when Woods was on his way back to Florida. “He knew exactly what I was going through and I see what he has to go through. I’ve never spoken with anybody who was so familiar with the feeling of being invincible.”

“It was terrific for me to see him go into my player’s box, shake his fist, and enjoy himself,” he recollected a few weeks later. “He was the loudest one in my box. I was surprised how loose he was about it. He was happy as a kid to be able to watch the final. I think we’ll do things together more often.”

The appearance of Woods at the 2006 US Open final sparked more comparisons-and debates-between the two “athletes of the century” as to who was greater and more dominant. With all due respect to Woods, James Blake came out in favor of Federer. “In tennis, it’s a tournament where you have one bad day and you’re out,” said Blake. “That’s what we do every single week. Roger is winning every Grand Slam except for the French, winning every Masters Series tournament. That means he can’t have one bad day-that’s incredible. Not to mention he has to be out here for four hours running as opposed to walking while carrying one club-again not taking anything away from golf. Tiger’s proven himself every Sunday every time he has a lead. But look at Roger’s record in Grand Slam finals, too. In Grand Slam finals, he’s 8-1. That’s unheard of.”

The Woods camp and golf fans pointed out that the American, in contrast to Federer, already won all four major tournaments in his sport and instead of only having to defeat seven opponents at the biggest tournaments, Woods had to fight off around 150 contenders. Tennis aficionados emphasized that Grand Slam tournaments lasted two weeks and not just four days and that in tennis, having an off day is enough to get knocked out whereas in golf, players could always save the day in such a situation.

Still others highlighted the commonalities between the two. “Despite their total dominance, Tiger Woods and Roger Federer show a modest self-discipline that would have impressed the most chivalrous medieval knight,” The Daily Telegraph of Britain wrote. The Calgary Sun stated unequivocally which of the two super athletes it favored-“(Federer) is infinitely more human than Tiger Woods, more precise, more likable, more honest, less robotic, seemingly enjoying his place as a tennis player for the ages.” The Daily News of Los Angeles, by contrast, questioned all of these comparisons. “You say the Swiss dude is definitely the greatest tennis player of all time? Good, then we can switch back to the Bengals-Chiefs. Equating Roger Federer to Tiger Woods isn’t a backhanded compliment, it’s a forehanded insult. An athlete of Federer’s all-around refinement deserves better than to be defined in terms of another athlete.”

After his US Open victory, Federer returned home to Switzerland when he received a surprise phone call. Pete Sampras, whose legacy and records were now one of Federer’s biggest rivals, called to offer congratulations. “He had already text messaged me three days ago and now he was calling me to congratulate me personally,” said Federer shortly after the US Open. “He asked if I had gotten the message. I said I was just about to reply. It was almost embarrassing. Perhaps I should have replied quicker.” Sampras told Federer how much he liked to watch him play and emphasized that he now was more clearly dominant than he was during his prime. “To hear something like this from him was incredible,” Federer said. “It’s never happened to me before that my earlier idol called me to compliment me.”

Sampras and Federer continued their text message relationship, with Sampras offering more good wishes over the following few months. Before the tournament in Indian Wells in March of 2007, Federer then took the initiative and called Sampras, who meanwhile announced he was returning to competitive tennis on the Champions circuit run by his contemporary Jim Courier. Federer asked Sampras if he would like to hit some balls and train together. “I wanted to see how well he could still play because, after all, he was one of my favorite players growing up,” Federer explained. With a wink in his eye and devilish grin, he then said, “beating him in his backyard in Wimbledon was so special to me, so I wanted to try and beat him in his house.”

Federer and Sampras only played once during their careers-the memorable round of 16 match at Wimbledon in 2001. Late in Pete’s career, the two had one brief practice session together in Hamburg. “It started to rain,” Federer recollected. “I was so disappointed, but he was happy to get off.”

After their training session together in Los Angeles in the spring of 2007, Federer expressed his surprise at how well Sampras could still keep up during their practice session. “We played some great sets and tie-breaks. I’m glad to see that he’s actually still enjoying tennis.” The scores of these practice matches? “They’re secret,” Federer said. “Surprisingly, he was very good, but not good enough to beat me!”

Federer found that he and Sampras shared many commonalities and could talk in great detail of their respective lives and pressures on the tour, as well as common experiences, experiences at particular tournaments and even about players who they both played against. With Woods, this was not the case. “Pete and I played the same tournaments and even played against the same opponents,” Federer said. “I have much more in common with Pete than I have with Tiger off court.”

“When I was new on the tour, I hardly ever spoke to Pete,” he continued. “First of all, he was never around at the courts, and when he would come into the locker room, everything was quiet because he was respected so much by all the other players.” Several years later, Federer finally got a chance to find out what made Sampras so unique and what brought him so close to perfection.

Roger Federer Book Author Rene Stauffer Comments on Federer’s US Open Victory

NEW YORK, N.Y., September 10, 2008 – The following is a question and answer session with Rene Stauffer, the author of the book The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection ($24.95, New Chapter Press, www.rogerfedererbook.com), on Roger Federer’s victory at the 2008 US Open. Playing on the 39th anniversary of Rod Laver winning his second Grand Slam and on the sixth anniversary of Pete Sampras’ fifth US Open title and his 14th and final major title, Federer continued his assault on tennis history by winning the US Open for a fifth straight year, defeating Andy Murray of Britain 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 in Monday’s men’s singles final. While winning his 13th major singles title, Federer becomes the first man to win five straight U.S. men’s singles titles since American Bill Tilden won six straight titles from 1920 to 1925. Federer is now just one major singles title shy of tying Pete Sampras for the most major men’s singles titles with 14.

QUESTION: With this victory, can you say that “Roger is back?”

RENE STAUFFER: Absolutely, although he was never really gone. A lot of fans and media people tend to over react and read too much into single tournaments or results. He had spoiled everybody by winning so many major tournaments over the last four years – and that’s why the reactions (to his losses at major tournaments) this year were so strong. But Roger’s career is defined by Grand Slam tournaments more than ever, and he continued his run this year. He stands at 18 Grand Slam tournament semifinals in a row and was part of 13 of the last 14 major finals – even though he had a case of mono in early 2008, which shattered his whole preparation and made what was already a tough year with the Olympics even more difficult.

QUESTION: Does Roger feed off of a lot of the talk of people writing him off, saying that he is no longer the top man in tennis?

RENE STAUFFER: Maybe a little more than he is ready to acknowledge. It was a bitter learning experience for him this year to realize how fast people tend to switch opinions, how changeable sport fans can be, how little respect he got from some media and certain people. But he is too proud to let this bother him, and he tried with success to stay positive and in the best possible frame of mind to give himself more chances. He really showed his mental strength in the last few months.

QUESTION: Just how rattled was Roger after losing at Wimbledon and losing his No. 1 ranking and how satisfying is this win at the US Open?

RENE STAUFFER: Since he realized that the Wimbledon final made tennis history and lifted tennis to a new popularity, he digested the defeat much better than expected. Right after the final, he had said in interviews with the Swiss press that he was devastated and that it could not get any worse than that. However, he realized that Rafael Nadal deserved the No. 1 ranking much more, but Roger gave the right answers, since in his first tournament as No. 2, he won his fifth U.S. Open.

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QUESTION: How important was winning the Olympic doubles gold medal for his confidence coming into the US Open?

RENE STAUFFER: That was the key to this title. The gold medal gave him back the inspiration and motivation, the confidence and the joy of playing tennis. He said after beating Murray that winning the doubles in Beijing put him on a cloud and that he refused to come down in New York.

QUESTION: Roger now has 13 major men’s singles titles and is alone in second place all-time – one shy of Pete Sampras’s record of 14. Do you think Roger will break Sampras’ record and if so, where will he do it?

RENE STAUFFER: I am convinced that he will break it. I would not be surprised if it happened 2009, but would not be worried for him if not. As Sampras said, every year with a Grand Slam tournament title is a good year. And Roger has four chances every year, so the odds are looking good, since he only turned 27. When Pete won his 13th major title, he was almost 29.

Stauffer is an esteemed Swiss tennis journalist who has covered Federer since the budding tennis champion was a 15-year-old. The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection chronicles Federer’s life as tempermental junior player, through his early struggles on the ATP Tour and his break-through win at Wimbledon in 2003 and through all of his major tournament titles. The book also focuses on his values, how he has been marketed, his relationship with the media as well as his numerous charitable pursuits.

Published by New Chapter Press, the book has met with many positive reviews from the international media. The Toronto Globe and Mail called the book “excellent” while Britain’s Daily Telegraph called it “an intimate and insightful portrait.” Wrote Tennis.com of the book; “It’s accessible and sketches out his career development very logically. At the same time, it throws in enough about his personality and the rest of his life to flesh out the tale without turning it into it a flabby puff-piece.”

The Roger Federer Story is not an authorized book by the Federer family, but has been well-received by his inner circle. The five-time Wimbledon champ’s mother, Lynette Federer, uses the book as an encyclopedia on her son’s career. “It’s useful for me, because I often am asked about things and I don’t know for sure without checking,” she told Zurich’s Tages-Anzeiger. “Now, I will always know where I can look them up.”

Stauffer is one of the world’s leading tennis journalists and the highly-respected tennis correspondent for Zurich’s Tages-Anzeiger and Sonntags-Zeitung. A sports writer since 1981, Stauffer worked for the Swiss newspapers Blick and Sport, before joining Tages-Anzeiger in 1993. After first writing about Federer in 1996, Stauffer has traveled the world covering Federer and his many triumphs.

“When I first saw Roger Federer play tennis when he was a 15-year-old, I didn’t think that I would even write his name in my newspaper, let alone a book about him,” said Stauffer, who opens the book with his “Encounter with a 15-year-old” chapter when on Sept. 11, 1996, he first came upon Federer at the World Youth Cup tennis event in Zurich. “I am very happy I wrote this book, since a lot of readers told me that they find it very entertaining and educational about Roger and his career.”

New Chapter Press (www.newchapterpressmedia.com) is also the publisher of The Bud Collins History of Tennis by Bud Collins and Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli. New Chapter Press is an independent publisher of books founded in 1987.