David Edges

Mondays With Bob Greene: Federer Starts Quest For Sixth Straight Wimbledon

STARS

David Ferrer beat Marc Gicquel 6-4 6-2 to win the Ordina Open men’s crown in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands

Ivo Karlovic beat Fernando Verdasco 6-2 7-6 (5) to win The Slazenger Open in Nottingham, England

Agnieszka Radwanska won the International Women’s Open in Eastbourne, England, beating Nadia Petrova 6-4 6-7 (11) 6-4

Tamarine Tanasugarn upset Dinara Safina 7-5 6-3 to win the Ordina Open women’s title in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands

Nicolas Devilder won the Nord LB Open in Braunschweig, Germany, beating Sergio Roitman 6-4 6-4

Pete Sampras beat Marcelo Rios 6-2 7-6 (5) to win the Nossa Caixa Grand Champions Brazil title in Sao Paulo, Brazil

SAYINGS

“Maybe it was more difficult for Dinara, as she was seeded and playing really well lately and I was coming out of the qualies.” – Qualifier Tamarine Tanasugarn, who upset third-seeded Dinara Safina to win the Ordina Open.

“I want to forget this match as soon as I can.” – Dinara Safina.

“I never would have imagined winning a title on grass, but I played really good this week.” – Spain’s David Ferrer who is better known for his clay court game.

“There’s no easy points against him. He’s always there and he fights so much.” – Marc Gicquel about David Ferrer.

“I think this year there are about four or five players who you could pick to win it. Of course you can never discount the Williams sisters.” – Martina Hingis, on who will win Wimbledon.

“The way the grass plays these days, I put Rafa as the slight favorite for Wimbledon this year. Rafa got so close last year to beating Federer in the final, and I reckon his reaction was to lift his own standards.” – Six-time Wimbledon doubles champion Mark Woodforde.

“I pick (Rafael) Nadal to win this year, as long as he can get through the first couple of rounds.” – Five-time Wimbledon champion Bjorn Borg.

“I will go to Wimbledon with a lot of hope.” – Roger Federer, who is seeking his sixth consecutive Wimbledon title.

“There is a burning desire in Roger to break my record, and when he does it I would like to be there.” – Pete Sampras, who holds the men’s record with 14 career Grand Slam titles.

“I hate myself. I just can’t stand myself.” – Andy Roddick, after throwing his racket at a garbage can while practicing at Wimbledon.

“She just rips that forehand withouth thinking now. Sometimes I think she has no idea where it’s going to go, but compared to other players it’s by far the best forehand out there.” – Nadia Petrova, about fellow player Ana Ivanovic.

“Women’s tennis has become much stronger and much taller, but I don’t necessarily think the players have become better athletes. There is a lot of hard hitting, but they lack the variety and the talent. It’s not that they don’t have the talent, but they play the same kind of tennis.” – Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna on today’s women players.

“Wow! It has been a quick 12 months since I was here last year. Let’s see, I graduated from fashion design school, launched my own clothing line, bought a new dog, went to India for the first time and so much more.” – Defending women’s champion Venus Williams.

“We’re changing the face, changing the picture of everything in general. We decided together that this is the best thing for sport – to join the Player Council and to try to be united in the future to make good decisions for us, for everybody.” – Novak Djokovic, on he, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal all being elected to the ATP Player Council.

“I think when people retire, they just know it’s time. For me, I wasn’t really enjoying the tour as a whole.” – Alun Jones, who reitred following a first-round loss in the Wimbldeon qualifying.

“Pete is playing v ery good tennis and it was hard to beat him as his serve is so big. On this surface it is obvious that he has a big advantage.” – Marcelo Rios, who lost the final to Pete Sampras on a hard court in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“Straight after Wimbledon I’ll take a few weeks off because this special time with the family is time you’ll never get back.” – Mark Knowles, whose wife just gave birth to their second child.

“‘I do continue to worry about the health and well-being of the players. A person like Justine Henin retires at 25 and almost every one of our players suffers with an injury of some kind. It’s something not in your direct control, but it’s one of the reasons I’ve been so laser-focused on the need to change the calendar and reduce the commitment of players.” – Larry Scott, CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.

SIXTH STRAIGHT

Roger Federer is seeking his sixth consecutive Wimbledon title, a feat that hasn’t been done since William Renshaw did it in 1886. Renshaw, of course, had an advantage. In those days the defending champion didn’t play until the final. Federer, on the other hand, must win seven matches to hold the trophy again. And he has never beaten his first-round opponent, Dominik Hrbaty, in their previous two meetings.

SLAZENGER NO-NO

Dmitry Tursunov was disqualified at the Slazenger Open when he walked off the court during a doubles match. Tursunov and his partner, Chris Haggard, were trailing 6-4 3-1 in their first-round match against Simone Bolelli and Andreas Seppi when Tursunov argued over a line call, then left the court. The ATP supervisor then disqualified Tursunov from the singles, giving Thomas Johansson a second-round walkover.

SERVING TALL

Ivo Karlovic pounded out 29 aces in his 7-5 6-7 (4) 7-6 (8) victory over Fernando Verdasco as he successfully defended his title at the Slazenger Open. Karlovic, at 6-foot-10 (2.08m), is the tallest player on the tour. He finished the tournament with 101 aces in five matches and raised his tour-leading total to 548. Due to wet weather, both the singles and doubles finals were played indoors at the City of Nottingham Tennis Centre, making Karlovic the second player to win the title indoors. Greg Rusedski did the same in 1997.

SECOND FOR BOTH

Thailand’s Tamarine Tanasugarn won her second and biggest Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title of her career, coming through qualifying to capture the Ordina Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, by upsetting third-seeded Dinara Safina in the final. Tanasugarn also won in Hyderabad, India, in 2003. For Safina, it was her second straight loss in a grass-court final, having fallen to Michaella Krajicek in the Ordina Open title match two years ago.

SEEKING MORE SAY

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic – the world’s top three-ranked players – have been elected to two-year terms on the ATP Player Council. The three are among the players who have opening complained about decisions made by ATP chairman Etienne de Villiers, whose contract expires this year. One of the biggest bones of contention has been the restructuring of the spring clay-court schedule, which has led to the downgrading of the Hamburg, Germany, tournament and a subsequent antitrust lawsuit filed against the ATP.

SHARING CONTROL

Three new players’ representatives have been elected the ATP Board of Directors. Justin Gimelstob will represent the Americas, Ivan Ljubicic will serve the vacant position as the European representative until the U.S. Open, and David Edges, vice president of the Tennis Channel, will serve in the International position. Gimblestob, a former player, is currently a commentator on Tennis Channel and replaces Andre Agassi’s agent, Perry Rogers, who was voted out of his job by the Players’ Council in March.

SAYONARA

Australian Alun Jones has called it quits. The 28-year-old played eight years on the tour but is probably best known for a small role as fictional tennis player Tom Cavendish in the film “Wimbledon.” His last match was a first-round loss in qualifying for Wimbledon. Born in South Africa, Jones reached a career-high ranking of 123 earlier this year when he won his first Grand Slam match, a first-rounder at the Australian Open. He made his Davis Cup debut in February. Jones plans to marry in Belgium later this month before returning to Canberra, Australia, where he will begin a coaching career.

SENIOR PETE

Pete Sampras won his first BlackRock Tour of Champions title by riding his big serve to a 6-2 7-6 (5) victory over Marcelo Rios in the Nossa Caixa Grand Champions Brazil. The American broke Rios in the fifth and seventh games of the opening set, then closed out the hard court senior tour tournament by winning the tiebreaker.

SECOND SON

Mark Knowles is a daddy again. Dawn Knowles gave birth to the couple’s second son, Brody Mark Knowles, in Dallas, Texas, on June 20. Brody made his debut three weeks early and Dawn gave her blessing for Mark to head to Wimbledon where he will partner Mahesh Bhupathi in the men’s doubles. Knowles has not played since the French Open, where he and Bhupathi were upset in the opening round. He reached the second round of the mixed doubles before withdrawing so that he could attend the birth of his second son. Their first son, Graham, will turn three in September.

STREAKING

After 36 years without a title on the surface, Spanish players have now won grass-court tournaments for two straight weeks. This time it was David Ferrer who captured his first grass-court title, the Ordina Open, with a 6-4 6-2 win over Frenchman Marc Gicquel. A week earlier, Ferrer’s fellow Spanish countryman Rafael Nadal won on grass at Queens’ Club in London. Before that you would have to go back to Andres Gimeno winning in Eastbourne, England, in 1972. It was Ferrer’s second ATP title of the season and seventh of his career.

SITE SELECTED

Spain will be at home in Madrid when they take on the defending champion Russia for the 2008 Fed Cup title. The competition will be held at Club de Campo de Madrid, where the United States won the title in 1979. It will be Spain’s 11th final and first since 2002. They have won the Cup five times. Three-time champion Russia has reached the final seven times.

SWITCHING PARTNERS

Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes reached the final in the first tournament since pairing up again. Seeded second, Bhupathi and Paes were surprised in the Ordina Open title match by unseeded Mario Ancic and Jurgen Melzer 7-6 (5) 6-3. Bhupathi and Paes were attempting to win their 24th title together, but first since capturing Toronto in 2004. The two are preparing to represent India in the Beijing Olympics. At Wimbledon, both will return to their regular partners, Bhupathi with Mark Knowles and Paes with Lukas Dlouhy.

SOUTH AFRICA

South African Airways (SAA) has extended its role as official airline of the ATP through 2012 in a deal worth USD 20 million dollars. SAA also will continue its sponsorship of several international tournaments. In making the announcement, the ATP also revealed that South Africa will regain a spot on the men’s tour next year. Several South African cities are in the running to stage the World Tour-level tournament. The country held tournaments previously, including the doubles world championships in Johannesburg from 1991 through 1993. In recent years a Challenger event has been staged in South Africa.

STUNNING

No one dazzled more at the annual Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Pre-Wimbledon Party than Serena Williams, who wore diamonds in her hair that were valued at USD two million dollars. The look was masterminded by hairdresser Stuart Phillips and jeweler Neil Duttson, who is known as the Rock Doctor. Among others at the party, hosted by Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson, were Ana Ivanovic, Venus Williams, Jelena Jankovic and Maria Sharapova.

STARRING TRIO

Three WTA stars are ranked in the Forbes Celebrity 100, with Maria Sharapova being the highest-placed female athlete on the list. Sharapova is ranked number 61, with Serena Williams ranked number 69 and Justine Henin ranked number 81. The Forbes list ranks 100 of the world’s best-known and powerful celebrities in the period from June 2007 to June 2008. Sharapova, Williams and Henin also have something else in common: they all have been ranked number one in the world at one time in their career.

SPONSORING FINALS

Barclays will be the title sponsor of the year-ending men’s tennis tournament, beginning in 2009. As part of the restructuring of men’s tennis the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals will replace the Tennis Masters Cup, which will be held in Shanghai, China, this November. Barclays signed a five-year deal worth around USD 7 million dollars.

SISTERS SHARING

Sisters Venus and Serena Williams will play doubles at Wimbledon this year. The two have combined for doubles in only three tournaments since Wimbledon in 2003. The last title they won as a team was the Australian Open in 2003, the sixth Grand Slam title for the partnership. The sisters hope to play doubles at the Beijing Olympics and repeat their gold-medal form of the Sydney Games in 2000.

SONY AD CAMPAIGN

The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour has unveiled a USD 15 million dollar ad campaign that will be seen in more than 75 countries over the next 18 months and feature 30 players. The players took part in the film and photographic shoot for the campaign at various locations in Rome, Italy, last month. This is the single largest commitment to promote the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour players in the history of women’s tennis. The advertisements ask the question “Looking for a Hero?” and bills the tour’s players as superheroes both on and off the court.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

s’-Hertogenbosch: Mario Ancic and Jurgen Melzer beat Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes 7-6 (5) 6-3

Nottingham: Bruno Soares and Kevin Ullyett beat Jeff Coetzee and Jamie Murray 6-2 7-6 (5)

Eastbourne: Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Kveta Peschke and Rennae Stubbs 2-6 6-0 10-8 (match tiebreak)

s’-Hertogenbosch: Marina Erakovic and Michaella Krajicek beat Liga Dekmeijere and Angelique Kerber 6-3 6-2

Braunschweig: Marco Crugnola and Oscar Hernandez beat Werner Eschauer and Philipp Oswald 7-6 (4) 6-2

SITES TO SURF

Wimbledon: www.Wimbledon.com

Roger Federer: www. rogerfederer.com

Ana Ivanovic: www.anaivanovic.com/

The Lawn Tennis Association: www.lta.org.uk/

Italian Tennis Federation: www.federtennis.it

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP and WTA TOUR

The Championships, Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

The Championships, Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass

$125,000 Cordoba Challenger, Pozoblanco, Spain, hard

$100,000 Turin Challenger, Turin, Italy, clay

WTA TOUR

The Championships, Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass

$100,000 ITF Cuneo, Cuneo, Italy, clay