After defeating #4 doubles’ seeds Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi with partner Mark Knowles at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, I was able to sit down with world #42 singles’ player Xavier Malisse and discuss his busy summer as well as plans to double up with Knowles for the U.S. Open.
Malisse had a breakthrough run here last year in the singles draw, reaching the semifinals, and followed that up with final appearances in Chennai later in the year and reaching the 4th round of Wimbledon this year. On the doubles’ tour, he’s excelled as well, winning the 2004 French Open with countryman Olivier Rochus, and just last week winning Los Angeles with Mark Knowles.
He informed me that he decided to officially pull out of Montreal, but will still play Cincinnati in two weeks and then the U.S. Open in September. Malisse retired in his singles’ match yesterday due to a sore right arm saying “it hurts a little, [with pain] going up and down,” but was back on court today in doubles. He felt “lucky that we got cancelled last night [due to weather] because I couldn’t have played. I got some treatment, tried to work it out.” He went on to say that “the muscle is just hurting” and cited nothing more severe. “I’ve been playing so much. I’ve played 7 out of 8 weeks and I’ve never done that, so I need a rest.” He commented that he feels as if he’s a “half-a-step slow on all the balls in singles.” However, he stated that “he played well today actually. It was a fun match to play.”
“Fun” is also the word he used when talking about his doubles’ partnership with Alexandr Dolgopolov, with whom he won Indian Wells with back in March. “I had a lot of fun, and we’re still good friends. But Mark [Knowles] has been asking [for me to play with him] and we’ve been trying to hook up for almost a year, I think. So we finally worked it out.”
Fellow Belgian Dick Norman, whose doubles partner recently retired, has expressed the possibility of him and Malisse teaming up as a permanent doubles tandem. Malisse mentioned that “it’s on the verge. We’ve talked about it for [this past] French Open but then we couldn’t get in. And then we had the US Open … [which] I was going to play with Dick, but now I’m playing with Knowles [since Los Angeles], so I’ll have to talk with Dick about it.”
Malisse stated that “I’ll play Cincinnati with Knowles and also the U.S. Open .”
In 2009, Xavier Malisse failed to provide three mandatory “whereabouts” within an 18-month period to the World Anti-Doping Angency, by two “filling failures” and one missed test. He appealed and his one year ban was lifted pending the appeals’ outcome. According to the Belgian news site Clint, Malisse’s court date is set for September 12, 2011. When asked about the details, he nonchalantly commented “Oh, yea” as if it were distant history. He then went on to elaborate: “Well, to be honest, I try to let the lawyers do their work. It’s gotten so complicated … I don’t know too much about it. They do their thing, I focus on tennis. Hopefully, we’ll get a good result out of it.”
When I asked him if he’s thought about how the verdict might affect his career, he responded with “Not yet. I’ll try to see how it works out … I tried filling my whereabouts and that’s all I do for that. And they do their job and I try to do my job on the court.”
Follow me on twitter as I cover the Legg Mason Tennis Classic all week! @TennisRomi
Caroline Wozniacki beat Virginie Razzano 7-6 (5) 7-5 to win the AEGON International women’s singles in Eastbourne, Great Britain
Dmitry Tursunov beat Frank Dancovic 6-3 7-6 (5) to win the AEGON International men’s singles in Eastbourne
Tamarine Tanasugarn beat Yanina Wickmayer 6-3 7-5 to successfully defend her Ordina Open women’s crown in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands
Benjamin Becker beat Raemon Sluiter 7-5 6-3 to win the Ordina Open men’s singles in ‘s-Hertogenbosch
“When I start a tournament like Wimbledon, it is to try to win, and my feeling right now is I’m not ready to play to win.” – Rafael Nadal, withdrawing from Wimbledon and becoming only the fourth man in the Open Era to not defend his Wimbledon singles title.
“I love playing here.” – Tamarine Tanasugarn, after winning her second straight Ordina Open singles title at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands.
“That loss exhausted me mentally. I am still trying to recover.” – Novak Djokovic, on his three-set, four-hour loss to Rafael Nadal in Madrid, Spain, in mid-May.
“No girl likes to be compared to another. Ultimately, what we have in common is that we play tennis. I feel flattered that people like the way I look, but it doesn’t help you win points.” – Ana Ivanovic, who is constantly being compared to Maria Sharapova and Anna Kournikova.
“For me Roger is the greatest player ever who played the tennis game. It’s always good to see him play and win and we are going to see so much more of Federer in the future, he is going to win more grand slam tournaments.” – Bjorn Borg, picking Federer to win Wimbledon this year.
“The body of work is phenomenal and now he has got that French Open and I think he can just go on and sip Margaritas for the rest of his life.” – Martina Navratilova, on Roger Federer winning in Paris.
“I can play on grass. I just need time.” – Jelena Jankovic, after losing a first-round match at Eastbourne.
“It’s my first title on grass so that means a lot to me. I wish I could have closed it off a little bit earlier but it doesn’t matter how I won, so that is the main thing and I am happy.” – Caroline Wozniacki, after winning at Eastbourne.
“I am definitely going to try to come out, unless I am going to be on crutches. Even then I will try to come out.” – Dmitry Tursunov, on whether his ankle injury will prevent him from playing Wimbledon.
“On this surface, everything is opposite. For me, it’s too much to change in three days.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, losing her first match on grass after winning the French Open, a clay court tournament.
“It’s been a very surprising week for us because before this tournament we had only won four matches in our whole career on grass. So we’ve managed to double that this week.” – Marcin Matkowski, after teaming with Mariusz Fyrstenberg to win the men’s doubles at Eastbourne.
“We managed to beat the number one seeds and French Open champions in the first round, and then we played better and better as the week progressed.” – Mariusz Fyrstenberg.
“It’s Ralph Lauren, it has a bit of a tuxedo feel but it’s flattering. I’m having a good time with it.” – Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, about the outfit she wore to a pre-Wimbledon player party.
Because of his aching knees, Rafael Nadal became just the fourth player in the Open Era to not defend his Wimbledon singles title. Nadal announced his withdrawal after playing two exhibition matches on grass. He lost both, the first to Lleyton Hewitt, the second to Stanislas Wawrinka. “I didn’t feel terrible, but not close to my best,” the Spaniard said. “I’m just not 100 percent. I’m better than I was a couple of weeks ago, but I just don’t feel ready.” Nadal joins John Newcombe (1972), Stan Smith (1973) and Goran Ivanisevic (2002) as the only players who did not defend their Wimbledon titles in the Open Era; in 1973, Smith joined a player’s boycott against the tennis establishment. Nadal has complained about his knees since a fourth-round loss to Robin Soderling at the French Open on May 31 ended his streak of four consecutive championships at Roland Garros. “It’s not chronic,” Nadal said of his knee problems. “I can recover, for sure.”
Frenchman Gael Monfils pulled out of Wimbledon because of a wrist injury. A week earlier, he had pulled out of his scheduled match against Steve Darcis at Queen’s Club.
Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus has withdrawn from Wimbledon due to a knee injury. An Australian Open finalist in 2006, Baghdatis was carried off the court on a stretcher for the second time in nine months after injuring his knee during a match at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. He also was carried off the court on a stretcher last fall at the Open de Moselle in Metz, France, when he hurt his back.
SPOT ON TOP OPEN?
Roger Federer could reclaim the number one ranking by winning his sixth Wimbledon title. The Swiss star held the top spot in the rankings for a record 237 consecutive weeks until Rafael Nadal pushed him down to number two last August. Nadal has withdrawn from Wimbledon because of his injured knees. But anything short of a sixth Wimbledon title won’t be enough for Federer, who could actually be passed in the rankings by Andy Murray. If he became the first Brit to win the men’s singles since Fred Perry in 1936, Murray would move up to number two in the rankings behind Nadal, but no higher.
Ivan Ljubicic fell heavily in his match at the Eastbourne International, injuring his ankle. Racing to the net to reach a delicate shot by his opponent, Fabrice Santoro, Ljubicic skidded on the grass, fell and cried out while clutching his left ankle. Santoro dropped his racquet and ran to the court-side freezer to get bags of ice, which he then applied to Ljubicic’s ankle while officials summoned the trainer. Ljubicic had won the first set 6-3 but was 2-4 down when he fell.
Marion Bartoli is still in the Wimbledon women’s singles despite suffering a leg injury in the semifinals at the AEGON International tournament in Eastbourne. Bartoli had lost the first set to Virginie Razzano when she asked for a trainer. Her thigh was treated and strapped, but, after losing the first game of the second set to love, she retired from the match.
Although he lost the title match, Raemon Sluiter made history by becoming the lowest-ranked player to reach an ATP World Tour final. Ranked number 866 in the world, Sluiter gained entry into the grass-court tournament in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, via a wild card. It was the fourth final for the Dutchman in his career, all coming on his home soil. And when he fell to Germany’s Benjamin Becker 7-5 6-3, Sluiter still was left seeking his first ATP World Tour title. Becker was only the second qualifier to reach a final this season and the first qualifier to win the Ordina Open.
There’s something about Tamarine Tanasugarn when she plays the Ordina Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. Just ask top-ranked Dinara Safina. Tanasugarn upset Safina for the second straight year at the grass-court warm-up to Wimbledon. A year ago the veteran Thai player beat Safina in the final. This year, the 32-year-old Tanasugarn stopped Safina in the semis 7-5 7-5 before beating 19-year-old Yanina Wickmayer 6-3 7-5 to retain her championship.
Aces, a one-hour radio show dedicated to tennis, has begun broadcasting in Toronto, Canada, and on the Internet just in time for Wimbledon. Listeners in t4he Toronto area can tune into FAN 590 AM on the radio, while tennis fans around the world can listen online at www.fan590.com. Rogie Lajoie and Olympic tennis broadcaster Michael Cvitkovic will host Aces, which began by interviewing 10-time Grand Slam tournament singles champion Serena Williams, Sony Ericsson WTA Tour president Stacey Allaster and Toronto Globe and Mail tennis columnist Tom Tebbutt. Aces is currently scheduled for broadcast August 6 and 13.
STARS SHINE IN LONDON
The Ralph Lauren presents the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Pre-Wimbledon Player Party brought out the stars, and not just the tennis variety. Among the players in attendance at the Kensington Roof Gardens were Venus and Serena Williams, Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Vera Zvonareva, Ana Ivanovic, Anne Keothavong, Jelena Jankovic, Victoria Azarenka, Dominika Cibulkova, Alize Cornet, Anna Chakvetadze, Alisa Kleybanova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Sabine Lisicki and Gisela Dulko. Besides the host, Sir Richard Branson, other celebrities in attendance included Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child fame, as well as Branson’s son, Sam Branson. There was even a royal presence, with Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, attending with her two daughters, the Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.
Three former champions, including two-time defending king Fabrice Santoro, will compete in this year’s Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island, USA. Also in the field will be Robby Ginepri, the 2003 winner, and 2002 champion Taylor Dent. The ATP World Tour event is the only professional grass-court tournament played in the United States and begins the day after the Wimbledon men’s final.
Stefan Edberg, Jim Courier and Michael Chang, three former champions of the LA Tennis Open, will play in featured legends matches at the 83rd annual Los Angeles tournament that begins July 27. Edberg won a gold medal during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics on the same UCLA courts that now stage the LA Tennis Open. He also won the tournament in 1990. Chang captured titles in 1996 and 2000, while Courier won in 1997.
Brydan Klein of Australia has been fined USD $13,920 and suspended by Tennis Australia for using a racial slur against his South African opponent, Raven Klaasan, during their qualifying match at the AEGON International in Eastbourne, Great Britain. The ATP tour said in a statement that the 19-year-old Klein has been given the maximum penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and added that it is carrying out a fuller investigation which could result in an additional penalty for aggravated behavior. Tennis Australia said it has suspended Klein from the Australian Institute of Sport Pro Tour Program and could impose further sanctions after an investigation. Klein, the 2007 Australian Open junior champion, called Klaasan a “kaffir” and spat in the direction of Klaasan’s coach and another South African player. Use of the term “kaffir” is illegal in South Africa and is regarded as a gross racial insult, especially to black South Africans. Klassen is one of South Africa’s few black players and has represented his country in Davis Cup. Klein beat Klassen 6-7 (2) 7-6 (3) 7-6 (4) before losing in the second round of the main draw to Janko Tipsarevic.
Bjorn Borg won five consecutive Wimbledons. Now he’s trying to pick the men’s singles champion at Wimbledon for the second straight year. A year ago, Borg picked Rafael Nadal to win the grass-court major, which the Spaniard did. This year, Borg is picking Roger Federer. And he did it before Nadal withdrew from the tournament. “Coming into Wimbledon I think he is relieved in a way that he won Paris, because that was one of his main ambitions, goals to try and win Paris,” said Borg. “So coming into Wimbledon he feels very confident, he has equaled (Pete) Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slams.”
SEEKING HEAVIER PENALTY
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is considering an appeal from India, which is seeking a heavier penalty against Australia for forfeiting last month’s Davis Cup competition. The ITF said the appeal from the All India Tennis Association (AITA) will be discussed at a board meeting on July 15. Australia was fined USD $10,000 after refusing to travel to Chennai, India, for the zonal tie for safety reasons, but the ITF’s Davis Cup Committee decided not to ban Australia from the 2010 competition. India also wants the ITF to rule that the next two ties between the two nations should be played in India. Security for sports teams in the sub-continent had been questioned after the Sri Lanka cricket team’s bus was ambushed in Lahore, Pakistan, in March. That followed militant attacks in Mumbai, India, last November that killed 166 people.
The global credit crunch hasn’t affected Wimbledon. The 2,500 Centre Court debentures that were offered last month were snapped up at USD $43,830 each. Each debenture holder will receive one Centre Court ticket for every day of the two-week long Championships from 2011 through 2015. “We were heavily over-subscribed,” said All England Club chief executive Ian Ritchie. “We were very pleasantly delighted with the response. With a new roof over Centre Court, play is guaranteed there regardless of the weather.
It is a tournament Amelie Mauresmo would just as soon forget. The former Wimbledon champion squandered five set points in each tiebreak as she lost a quarterfinal match to Ekaterina Makarova 7-6 (8) 7-6 (13) at the Eastbourne International. “It was a very cruel match,” said Mauresmo, who received a warning from the umpire when she vented her frustration by hitting a ball high over a line of trees and into the street. “This one wasn’t for me, I guess.”
SET FOR WIMBLEDON
Could it be that Andy Murray is hoping his clothes will help him duplicate Fred Perry’s success at Wimbledon? Murray will play in a retro outfit at this year’s grass court Grand Slam tournament. The new clothes were designed specifically for Wimbledon by clothing maker Fred Perry. The company said the clothes were inspired by the shirts that Perry designed for clients and friends such as John F. Kennedy and Billie Jean King. Perry, who died in 1995, was the last Briton to win at Wimbledon, capturing three consecutive titles in 1934-36 and completing a career Grand Slam by winning the French Open in 1935. A week ago, Murray became the first Briton to win the grass-court tournament at Queen’s Club since Bunny Austin in 1938.
It is no surprise that Italy has decided to play November’s Fed Cup final against the United States on clay courts in Reggio Calabria, a city on the southern tip of Italy’s boot-shaped outline. The outdoor event will be held at the Rocco Polimeni club on November 7-8. Even on clay, the Americans are favorites since both Venus and Serena Williams said they hope to play in the final after missing the previous rounds.
SKIPPING DAVIS CUP
When Russia takes on Israel in a Davis Cup quarterfinal next month, Russia’s top player, Nikolay Davydenko, will be missing. Russian team captain Shamil Tarpishchev said he had allowed Davydenko to skip Russia’s first two ties in this year’s competition. The top-ranked Russians will still have Marat Safin, Igor Andreev, Dmitry Tursunov and Mikhail Youzhny for the July 10-12 encounter in Tel Aviv, Israel.
A 20-year-old UCLA tennis player was in a coma after being punched following a country music concert in Dallas, Texas, USA. Jeffrey Fleming was attending a Rascal Flatts concert with friends when a man hit him. Fleming’s family says he was sucker-punched as he was about to catch a taxi after the concert. The blow knocked Fleming to the ground where his head hit the concrete pavement. The attacker and others ran away.
The new men’s tennis coach at the University of Oklahoma is Andy Roddick’s brother. John Roddick was hired to take over the Sooners team that had been coached for the past 22 years by John Lockwood. Athletic director Joe Castiglione says Roddick has the ability to recruit top players and a reputation for being able to develop them. For the past seven years he has been operating a performance boarding academy for tennis players in Austin, Texas. John also helped coach his brother Andy, who is still ranked in the top 10 in the world.
The 83rd annual LA Tennis Open in Los Angeles, California, USA, has a new sponsor. The Farmers Insurance Group of Companies has reached an agreement with the Southern California Tennis Association to become the presenting sponsor of the ATP World Tour 250 and Olympus US Open Series men’s event. French Open semifinalist Fernando Gonzalez leads a group of early entrants to the 28-player field. Also entering the tournament are Tommy Hass, Radek Stapanek, Marat Safin, Marcos Baghdatis, Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey. In addition, a special exhibition match will pit Pete Sampras against Safin in a rematch of the 2000 US Open won by the Russian.
Eastbourne (women): Akgul Amanmuradova and Ai Sugiyama beat Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs 6-4 6-3
Eastbourne (men): Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski beat Travis Parrott and Filip Polasek 6-4 6-4
s-Hertogenbosch (men): Wesley Moodie and Dick Norman beat Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer 7-6 (3) 6-7 (8) 10-5 (match tiebreak)
s-Hertogenbosch (women): Sara Errani and Flavia Pennetta beat Michaella Krajicek and Yanina Wickmayer 6-4 5-7 13-11 (match tiebreak)
SITES TO SURF
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
ATP and WTA
The Championships (first week), Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
ATP and WTA
The Championships (second week), Wimbledon, Great Britain, grass
$100,000 Cuneo ITF Tournament, Cuneo, Italy, clay
FRENCH OPEN CHAMPIONS
Roger Federer beat Robin Soderling 6-1 7-6 (1) 6-4
Women’s singles: Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Dinara Safina 6-4 6-2
Men’s doubles: Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy beat Dick Norman and Wesley Moodie 3-6 6-3 6-2
Women’s doubles: Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual beat Victoria Azarenka and Elena Vesnina 6-1 6-1
Mixed doubles: Liezel Huber and Bob Bryan beat Vania King and Marcelo Melo 5-7 7-6 (5) 10-7 (match tiebreak)
Boy’s singles: Daniel Berta beat Gianni Mina 6-1 3-6 6-3
Girl’s singles: Kristina Mladenovic beat Daria Gavrilova 6-3 6-2
Boy’s doubles: Marin Draganja and Dino Marcan beat Guilherme Clezar and Liang-Chi Huang 6-3 6-2
Girl’s doubles: Elena Bogdan and Noppawan Lertcheewakarn beat Timea Babos and Heather Watson 3-6 6-3 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Jan Hajek beat Steve Darcis 6-2 1-6 6-4 to win the Unicredit Czech Open in Prostejov, Czech Republic
“It might be the greatest victory of my career. It takes away so much pressure. Now I can play in peace for the rest of my career. Nobody will never tell me again that I have not won Roland Garros.” – Roger Federer.
“Yesterday, with my coach (Magnus Norman) we were joking, like nobody can beat me 10 times in a row. We were wrong.” – Robin Soderling, after losing for the 10th straight time to Roger Federer, this time in the French Open final.
“I can’t compare because it’s like parents having a second baby. One baby you are happy and second baby you are even more happier. It’s just unbelievable.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, who won the French Open women’s title to go with her 2004 US Open crown.
“She was too tight. She had so much pressure on her. I just played the match. It was just one more match. … Definitely it was a lot of emotions inside of me, but I control it.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, after beating Dinara Safina to win the women’s singles.
“Hopefully, one day I can win here.” – Dinara Safina, after losing in the Roland Garros final for the second consecutive year.
“I’ve played against him 20 times, so it’s always nice to play against somebody else.” – Roger Federer, speaking about Rafael Nadal after the three-time defending champion was upset.
“I already think she’s definitely authenticated as the world number one.” – Serena Williams, about top-ranked Dinara Safina before Safina lost the Roland Garros final.
“There is one thing I’ve always been convinced about, is that I win my matches with my serve and with my forehand. I can play well, but I win with those two shots.” – Fernando Gonzalez.
“I hope one day I would be the idol of the crowd the way Roger was today.” – Juan Martin del Potro, after falling to Roger Federer in the semifinals.
“I realized, like, ‘What is happening? 6-0, 5-0.’ It’s too much, I think, against Maria. That’s why maybe I missed the first match point.” – Dominika Cibulkova, after beating Maria Sharapova 6-0 6-2.
“I don’t really care about numbers. It’s either a ‘W’ or an ‘L,’ and I prefer ‘W.”‘ – Maria Sharapova., who trailed 6-0 5-0 before winning two games in a 6-0 6-2 loss to Dominika Cibulkova.
“This was a way for me to feel good, you know, to leave here with a win, leave here with a trophy, big title and a Grand Slam.” – Bob Bryan, who teamed with Liezel Huber to win the mixed doubles championship.
“Andy, I mean, he’s a great player. But he doesn’t have enough experience maybe playing five sets on clay courts.” – Fernando Gonzalez, after beating Andy Murray.
“I played against him before, and he hits the ball hard, but today he was hitting it huge.” – Andy Murray, after losing to Fernando Gonzalez.
“I’ll be disappointed, but I’ll wake up tomorrow and know that I had a great two weeks here and definitely will be looking forward to the next time I come back. So there’s far more positives than negatives right now.” – Samantha Stosur, who reached her first Grand Slam tournament semifinal.
“It doesn’t matter what they say about her (Anna Kournikova) not winning a tournament. For me she was a top-10 player, played the semis of Wimbledon and she was tough.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, lauding Anna Kournikova’s role in the evolution of Russian women’s tennis.
“I have never taken any cocaine in my life, I can swear it.” – Richard Gasquet, who has been provisionally suspended by the International Tennis Federation after he tested positive for cocaine at the Sony Ericsson Open in March.
When Roger Federer tearfully sank to his knees on the red clay of Roland Garros, he had finally captured the one Grand Slam tournament title that had eluded him. Federer’s 6-1 7-6 (1) 6-4 victory over Robin Soderling was his 14th major singles title, tying him for the men’s record with Pete Sampras. He also became the second man after Andre Agassi to win all four Grand Slam titles on three different surfaces – clay, grass and hard court – and the sixth man to win all four majors in their careers. Only two men – Don Budge and Rod Laver – won all four in the same calendar year, but the four tournaments then were played on just two surfaces, clay in Paris and grass at the other three: Wimbledon, Australia and the United States championships. Federer has played in a record 20 consecutive Grand Slam tournament semifinals and has been in 15 of the last 16 major finals, including the last five. Federer also is the first Swiss player – male or female – to win a singles title at Roland Garros.
Maybe only Robin Soderling was expecting a victory when he took on four-time defending champion Rafael Nadal in the fourth round at Roland Garros. Nadal, after all, had never lost at the French Open and was riding a 31-match winning streak on the famed red clay. But the 23-year-old Swede wasn’t shocked when he continued his remarkable run all the way to the final, where he finally lost to Roger Federer 6-1 7-6 (1) 6-4. It was the first time Soderling had been even to the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament. But he wasn’t surprised. “I always knew that I could play really, really good tennis,” Soderling said.
Leander Paes just couldn’t get out of the way of a Dick Norman forehand volley. Standing near the net in the third game of the men’s doubles final, Paes was struck between the eyes by the volley and fell to his knees. “At that moment I was in a lot of pain and I basically sat down,” Paes said. “I just had a throbbing headache the whole match.” When Paes dropped to the ground, his partner Lukas Dlouhy, the chair umpire and opposing players gather around him while a bag of ice was provided from one of the courtside coolers. A trainer check Paes’ eyes before the veteran from India resumed playing. The hit didn’t affect his play as Paes and Dlouhy beat Norman and Wesley Moodie 3-6 6-3 62 to win the French Open title.
Tennis legend Martina Navratilova was presented the Philippe Chatrier Award by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) at the annual ITF World Champions Dinner, held in Paris during Roland Garros every year. Also honored were 2008 ITF singles champions Rafael Nadal and Jelena Jankovic; doubles champions Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic, along with Cara Black and Liezel Huber; junior champions Tsung-Hua Yang and Noppawan Lertcheewakarn; and wheelchair champions Shingo Kunieda and Esther Vergeer. Navratilova won 167 singles, 177 doubles and 11 mixed doubles titles in her career, an Open Era record for both singles and doubles. Among her successes were 59 Grand Slam tournament titles, including 18 singles, 31 doubles and 10 mixed doubles. Her last major title was the US Open mixed doubles with Bob Bryan where she became the oldest Grand Slam tournament winner at age 49.
Knee problems will keep Rafael Nadal from using the grass-court tournament at Queen’s Club as a warmup for Wimbledon. Tournament organizers in London said Nadal has been advised by his doctors to rest. The Spaniard is the defending champion at both Queen’s Club and Wimbledon. “I hope I can be ready to compete by then,” Nadal said of Wimbledon. Japan’s Kei Nishikori also has withdrawn from the Queen’s Club tournament and was replaced in the draw by Marco Baghdatis.
Jelena Janovic came oh-so-close to reaching the French Open quarterfinals. Instead, the fifth-seeded Jankovic lost her fourth-round match to Sorana Cirstea 3-6 6-0 9-7. “I should have won that,” said Jankovic, who served for the match at 5-4 in the third set. “I had 30-love, and what more can I ask for myself? All of a sudden, point by point, and the game went in her favor and everything got complicated.” Cirstea lost in the quarterfinals to Samantha Stosur. “The way you play, this is the result you’re going to have at the end of the day,” Jankovic said. “That’s all I can say.”
SMALL AND DANGEROUS
Maria Sharapova towered over her opponent by almost a foot. That statistic, however, doesn’t show up on the scoreboard. At only 5-foot-3 (1.61m), Dominika Cibulkova won the first 11 games to crush the 6-foot-2 (1.88m) Sharapova 6-0 6-2 and reach the semifinals at Roland Garros. Sharapova, who was playing in just her second tournament after a layoff of nearly 10 months because of a shoulder injury, faced match point before she could win a game. She won two games before Cibulkova, a 20-year-old from the Slovak Republic, closed out the match. The winner said she was surprised that the crowd was so solidly behind Sharapova, who was ranked number one in the world a year ago. “I was a little bit surprised because this never happened to me that so many people were maybe not against me, but they wanted Maria to go, to play, to beat me or to watch longer our tennis,” Cibulkova said.
One spectator got up close and personal to Roger Federer during the men’s final. With Federer leading 6-1 2-1, a man got through a row of photographers and leapt onto the court, where he tried to place a red hat on Federer’s head. Federer pushed the intruder away before the man began dancing in front of him while waving a Barcelona soccer team flag. When security guards ran onto the court, the man jumped over the net where he was tackled by a security guard from Robin Soderling’s side of the court. Police said the man, who claimed to be a Federer fan, was jailed for questioning and could be charged with illegally entering a sports stadium.
Rafael Nadal’s foundation is setting up a tennis school in India. The Nadal Tennis School (NTS) is expected to be functional by June 2010 in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The Hindu newspaper reported NTS is a joint venture before the Rafael Nadal Foundation and Fundacion Vincente Ferrer, the Spanish arm of India-based non-governmental organization Rural Development Trust (RDT). The school will be restricted to children over eight years old. So far 135 children have registered for admission to the academy.
Richard Gasquet swears he never knowingly used cocaine. The French player was provisionally suspended by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) after he tested positive for the drug at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, Florida, in March. Gasquet had pulled out of the tournament without playing a match, citing a shoulder injury. If he fails to clear his name, Gasquet could face a two-year suspension from the sport. The player said he attended a party in Miami before the tournament and was told that there was cocaine available. “I have never taken any cocaine in my life, I can swear it,” Gasquet told French radio Europe 1.
A minute of silence was observed at the French Open in memory of the 288 passengers and crew aboard the Air France plane that disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean. Among those on Philippe Chatrier Court who stood with their heads bowed were top-ranked Dinara Safina and Victoria Azarenka before they battled in the quarterfinals.
Featuring two of the top players in the world, Serbia will make its Fed Cup World Group debut next year against a dominant Russian team. With Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic playing, the Serbs will play host to Russia, which has won three of the last four Fed Cup titles. In other first-round matches, the United States will play at France, Italy will visit Ukraine and Germany travels to the Czech Republic. In the World Group II pairings, drawn during the French Open, it will be Spain at Australia, Belgium at Poland, Argentina at Estonia and China at the Slovak Republic.
Peachy Kellmeyer is the recipient of the Golden Achievement Award given jointly by the International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHF) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The award is presented to individuals who have made important contributions internationally to tennis in the fields of administration, promotion or education, and have devoted long and outstanding serve to the sport. A former player and coach, Kellmeyer has been a senior executive with the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour since 1973 and most recently served as Senior Vice President of Tour Operations overseeing player commitments, the Tour calendar, overall Tour operations and a USD $3.5 million bonus pool. Although she officially retired at the end of 2008, Kellmeyer has continued to work with the WTA as Tour Operations Executive Consultant. As physical education director of Marymount College in Boca Raton, Florida, Kellmeyer spearheaded a lawsuit that ultimately led to the creation of Title IX, ending gender discrimination in intercollegiate athletics in the United States.
Prostejov: Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer beat Pablo Cuevas and Dominik Hrbaty 6-2 6-3
SITES TO SURF
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$1,000,000 AEGON Championships, London, Great Britain, grass
$1,000,000 Gerry Weber Open, Halle, Germany, grass
$119,000 BSI Lugano Challenger, Lugano, Switzerland, clay
$220,000 AEGON Classic, Birmingham, Great Britain, grass
$100,000 Open GDF Suez de Marseille, Marseille, France, clay
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$600,000 Ordina Open, s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, grass
$600,000 AEGON International, Eastbourne, Great Britain, grass
$600,000 AEGON International, Eastbourne, Great Britain, grass
$220,000 Ordina Open, s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, grass
Men’s Singles: Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-7 (8) 9-7
Women’s Singles: Venus Williams beat Serena Williams 7-5 6-4
Men’s Doubles: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Jonas Bjorkman and Kevin Ullyett 7-6 (12) 6-7 (3) 6-3 6-3
Women’s Doubles: Venus and Serena Williams beat Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur 6-2 6-2
Mixed Doubles: Bob Bryan and Samantha Stosur beat Mike Bryan and Katarina Srebotnik 7-5 6-4
Boys Singles: Grigor Dimitrov beat Henri Kontinen 7-5 6-3
Girls Singles: Laura Robson beat Noppawan Lertcheewakarn 6-3 3-6 6-1
Boys Doubles: Hsieh Cheng-Peng and Yang Tsung-Hua beat Matt Reid and Bernard Tomic 6-4 2-6 12-10
Girls Doubles: Polona Hercoq and Jessica Moore beat Isabella Holland and Sally Peers 6-3 1-6 6-2
Ladies Invitational Doubles: Jana Novotna and Kathy Rinaldi beat Martina Navratilova and Helena Sukova 7-5 3-6 10-5 (match tiebreak)
Gentlemen’s Invitational Doubles: Donald Johnson and Jared Palmer beat Jacco Eltingh and Paul Haarhuis, walkover
Senior Gentlemen’s Doubles: Ken Flach and Robert Seguso beat Jeremy Bates and Anders Jarryd 7-6 (1) 6-7 (5) 10-7 (match tiebreak)
Wheelchair Masters: Robin Ammerlaan and Ronald Vink beat Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer 6-7 (6) 6-1 6-3
Ivan Navarro defeated Dick Norman 6-7 (4) 6-3 7-6 (10) to capture the 2008 Open Diputacion in Pozoblanco, Spain
Luis Horna won the BSI Challenger Lugano, defeating Nicolas Devilder 7-6 (1) 6-1 in Lugano, Switzerland
Fabio Fognini beat Diego Junqueira 6-3 6-1 to win the Sporting Challenger 08 in Turin, Italy
Tathiana Garbin won the Cuneo 2008 ITF event in Cuneo, Italy, beating Sorana-Mihaela Cristea 6-3 6-1
“I am very, very happy. For me it is a dream to play on this court. I had a lot of chances to win, but he always fight unbelievable.” – Rafael Nadal, after beating five-time champion Roger Federer to win the men’s singles.
“It’s tough, it’s tough, it hurts. Rafa really served well at the end. I missed so many opportunities. I paid the price in the end.” – Roger Federer.
“My first job is big sister. I take that job very seriously.” – Venus Williams, talking about family ties after beating sister Serena in the Wimbledon final.
“I’m so happy that at least one of us was able to win.” – Serena Williams, noting she and her sister Venus have won seven of the last nine Wimbledon women’s singles titles.
“I’m definitely more in tune with my sister’s feelings because one of us has to win and one has to lose. Of course the celebration isn’t as exciting because my sister has just lost.” – Venus Williams.
“They’re serving bombs.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, referring to the big-serving games of both Williams sisters.
“His forehand was ridiculous. He hits the ball so close to the line, so hard, that it was difficult to get any rhythm. I felt rushed on every point.” – Andy Murray, after losing to Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals.
“To beat Federer you need to be Nadal and run around like a rabbit and hit winners from all over the place.” – Marat Safin.
“His forehand is incredible. The speed and spin is incredible, and the pop in his serve, there’s a life to it.” – John McEnroe, admitting he was stunned by the power of Rafael Nadal after he practiced with the Spaniard.
“It’s not over ’til the blonde lady screams.” – Mary Carillo on Elena Dementieva’s shrieking during her semifinal loss to Venus Williams.
“I was almost playing in the parking lot. I almost need a helicopter to go to my court.” – Jelena Jankovic, complaining about having to play on Court 18, where she lost.
“My husband warms up with me every time. He’s a good hitting partner, but maybe he needs to practice the serve more and serve like Serena. Then next time I will return much better.” – Zheng Jie, after Serena Williams fired 14 aces in her semifinal victory over the Chinese player.
“We have always aimed for singles gold, but Zheng Jie’s results have further bolstered our confidence in the Chinese tennis team.” – Xie Miqing, spokeswoman for the Chinese Tennis Federation, after Zheng reached the Wimbledon semifinals.
“I thought I was going to be sick when I walked onto court because there were so many people watching. In the second set I went a bit mad but got it back together and managed to win.” – Laura Robson, who became the first British player since 1984 to win the Wimbledon junior girls’ singles.
“It was my goal to make the Olympics this year, which is my last as a professional player. It will be my third participation after Atlanta and Athens and it’s my dream to end my career with an Olympic medal for Sweden.” – Jonas Bjorkman, after receiving an ITF Place in the Beijing Olympics tennis event.
“He is a wonderful role model for our young Canadiens, and I am so proud of his remarkable accomplishment today. His victory is an exclamation point on a Hall of a Fame career.” – Michael S. Downey, president and chief executive of Tennis Canada, talking about Daniel Nestor.
When Rafael Nadal unleashed a final ferocious forehand to end an epic battle, he became the first person since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to sweep both Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year. His 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-7 (8) 9-7 victory also stopped Roger Federer’s bid for a record sixth straight Wimbledon men’s singles title. The defeat snapped Federer’s 40 straight match streak at the All England Club and a record 65-match streak on grass. Nadal became the first Spaniard to win Wimbledon since Manolo Santana in 1966, two years before the Open Era began. And at 4 hours, 48 minutes, it was the longest men’s final in Wimbledon’s history.
SONG FOR ZHENG
The biggest surprise at this year’s Wimbledon was China’s Zheng Jie. She became the first female wild-card entrant to reach the semifinals at the All England Club and joined Monica Seles as the second at any Grand Slam tournament. Zheng beat three ranked players, including top-seeded Ana Ivanovic, the reigning French Open champion. Nicole Vaidisova in the quarterfinals was the only player to take a set off Zheng, and the Chinese righthander retaliated by winning the third set 6-1. Zheng wasn’t a complete surprise as she was ranked number 27 in the world in singles before she injured her ankle in 2007 and underwent surgery, ending her season. She won the gold at the Asian Games in 2006, beating Sania Mirza, and teamed with Yan Zi to win the doubles at the Austalian Open and Wimbledon the same year, her doubles ranking being as high as number three in the world.
SUN RISING IN EAST
Could the tennis power axis be shifting to the East – the Far East, that is? China’s Zheng Jie shocked the tennis world by knocking off top-seeded Ana Ivanovic, No. 15 Agnes Szavay and No. 18 Nicole Vaidisova on her way to the semifinals. Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand eliminated the number two seed, Jelena Jankovic. Another Thai, Noppawan Lertcheewakarn, reached the Girls’ singles final, while Taiwan’s Hsieh Cheng-Peng and Yang Tsung-Hua captured the boys’ doubles title, winning the decisive third set 12-10. Japan’s Ai Sugiyama was a quarterfinalist in the mixed doubles. Earlier this year 18-year-old Kei Nishikori became the first Japanese man to win an ATP event in almost 16 years when he upset James Black in the final of Delray Beach, Florida. And the center of the tennis world next month will be the Beijing Olympics.
SET FOR BEIJING
Nicolas Massu of Chile will be able to defend his gold medals in singles and doubles now that he has been added to the field of the Beijing Olympics tennis event. The ITF awarded places in the field to 12 players – six men and six women – who did not meet the direct acceptance requirements. Massu won both the singles and doubles at the Athens Games four years ago. Other ITF Places in the men’s singles went to Kevin Anderson, South Africa; Jonas Bjorkman, Sweden; Kei Nishikori, Japan; Max Mirnyi, Belarus; and Sun Peng, China. Given ITF Places in the women’s singles were Maria Koryttseva, Ukraine; Chan Yung-Jan, Taiwan; Ayumi Morita, Japan; Nuria Llagostera-Vives, Spain; Alicia Molik, Australia; and Selima Sfar, Tunisia.
SEE YOU IN BEIJING
Eighteen of the top 20 men and seven of the top ten women are scheduled to play in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. For both men and women, this is the strongest field to compete in the Olympics since tennis returned as a full medal sport in Seoul, South Korea, in 1988. Out of the top players, the only ones deciding to stay home are Andy Roddick, Richard Gasquet and Anna Chakvetadze. Fernando Verdasco and Marion Bartoli are both ineligible to compete. The Olympic tennis event will be played from Sunday, August 10, through Sunday, August 17, at the new Olympic Tennis Center in Beijing.
More than 40 of the top tennis players took part in the ITF’s official tennis Olympic book, “Journey to Beijing – Tennis.” The 140-page publication features a series of photographs of the game’s top names dressed as athletes from other summer or winter Olympic sports. The pictures are accompanied by interviews with the players. The pictures were taken in Barcelona, Beijing, Dubai, Indian Wells, Los Angeles, Miami, Melbourne, Moscow, the Netherlands, Palm Beach, Santiago, Shanghai and Tel Aviv. Check out Serena Williams as an ice skater.
SURE ABOUT RETIRING?
Justine Henin hasn’t completely ruled out returning to tennis. The 26-year-old Belgian announced her retirement 10 days before the start of the French Open in May. At the time, she was ranked number one in the world. Henin, who is establishing a tennis academy in Belgium, said, “I can never say for sure that I’ll never be back because I hate to say never. But for me, and the people who know me, they know that when I do something, I do it 200 percent, and when I decide it’s over, it’s over and I go to the next step.”
Austrian doubles player Sandra Klemenschits will return to the WTA Tour this month following her battle with abdominal cancer, the same illness that caused the death in April of her twin sister Daniela. Organizers of the Gastein Ladies awarded Klemenschits a wild card for their July 14-20 tournament in Bad Gastein, Austria. She will team up with Germany’s Marlene Weingaertner, who is making her comeback after a two-year retirement from competitive tennis. Sandra and Daniela Klemenschits played doubles on Austria’s Fed Cup team and won 23 titles on the ITF women’s circuit before both were diagnosed with a rare form of abdominal cancer.
Jonas Bjorkman was on the losing side in his final Wimbledon’s men’s doubles championship match. He and Kevin Ullyett lost to Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic in the Swede’s last appearance at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club before he retires at the end f the season. Bjorkman’s partners in his winning 51 doubles titles – including eight at Grand Slam events – include Todd Woodbridge, John McEnroe, Pat Rafter and Roger Federer.
When Daniel Nestor teamed up with Nenad Zimonjic to win the Wimbledon men’s doubles championship, he became the first Canadian to win a title at the All England Club. Nestor also completed a career doubles Grand Slam, adding to championships he won with Mark Knowles at the Australian Open in 2002, the U.S. Open in 2004 and the French Open in 2007. And he became just the fourth men’s player in the Open Era to win all four Grand Slams and an Olympic gold medal, joining Andre Agassi, Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde.
After facing each other in the women’s singles final, sisters Venus and Serena Williams teamed up to win their third Wimbledon women’s doubles championship and seventh Grand Slam doubles title, beating Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur 6-2 6-2. The sisters last won the doubles at Wimbledon in 2002, the first of two straight years in which Serena beat Venus in the singles final. This year, Venus beat Serena for her fifth Wimbledon singles crown.
When Laura Robson beat third-seeded Noppawan Lertcheewakarn 6-3 3-6 6-1, she became the first British player to win the Wimbledon girls singles since Annabel Croft in 1984. Because of the interest in the 14-year-old’s match, the girls’ singles final was played in the 11,000-seat No. 1 court. She is the youngest girls’ champion at Wimbledon since Martina Hingis won in 1994 at the age of 13. When she was handed the trophy by Ann Jones, one of the British women to have won the Wimbledon ladies’ singles, Robson said she hopes she will be granted a wild card into the main draw of next year’s Championships.
Marcos Baghdatis has decided not play Davis Cup for Cyprus against Portugal later this month. Baghdatis, the 2006 Australian Open finalist, said he is pulling out of the upcoming Davis Cup tie because of other commitments, but said he was not be quitting the team indefinitely.
The top-seeded brother team of Bob and Mike Bryan never lost serve during this year’s Wimbledon, yet they didn’t win the title. The American twins lost in the men’s doubles semifinals to the team of Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden and Kevin Ullyett of Zimbabwe 7-6 (3) 5-7 7-6 (5) 7-6 (9). Bob Bryan did win a Wimbledon title, teaming with Samantha Stosur to capture the mixed doubles. Mike Bryan was on the losing side of the net with Katarina Srebotnik.
SEEING IT ON TV
The battle between sisters Venus and Serena Williams drew the highest preliminary United States television ratings in three years for a Wimbledon women’s final. NBC said viewership was up 21 percent from last years’ meeting between Venus and Marion Bartoli and the best rating since 2005 when Venus beat Lindsay Davenport.
Ricoh, a global leader in digital office solutions, has extended its role as the Official Office Solutions Provider of the ATP for three additional years. The company will also sponsor the official ATP MatchFacts, distributed after every ATP Tour match and sponsorship of Hawkeye graphics at a number of ATP Masters Series events in Europe.
Cordoba: Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer beat James Cerretani and Dick Norman 6-4 6-3
Lugano: Ramirez Junaid and Philipp Marx beat Mariano Hood and Eduardo Schwank 7-6 (7) 4-6 10-7 (match tiebreak)
Turin: Carlos Berlocq and Frederico Gil beat Tomas Cibulec and Jaroslav Levinsky 6-4 6-3
Cuneo: Maret Ani and Renata Voracova beat Olga Savchuk and Marina Shamayko 6-1 6-2
SITES TO SURF
Bad Gastein: www.generali-ladies.at
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$860,000 Mercedes Cup, Stuttgart, Germany, clay
$580,000 Allianz Suisse Open, Gstaad, Switzerland, clay
$566,000 Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, Newport, Rhode Island, grass
$480,000 Catella Swedish Open, Bastad, Sweden, clay
$125,000 Bogota Challenger, Bogota, Colombia, clay
$100,000 Siemens Open, Scheveningen, Netherlands, clay
$175,000 Gaz de France Grand Prix, Budapest, Hungary, clay
$145,000 Internazionali Femminili di Tennis di Palermo, Palermo, Italy, clay
Hall of Fame Champions Cup, Newport, Rhode Island, grass
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$890,000 Austrian Open, Kitzbuhel, Austria, clay
$525,000 Indianapolis Tennis Championships, Indianapolis, Indiana, hard
$525,000 Dutch Open Tennis, Amersfoort, The Netherlands, clay
$525,000 ATP Studena Croatia Open, Umag, Croatia, clay
$600,000 Bank of the West Classic, Stanford, California, hard
$175,000 Gastein Ladies, Bad Gastein, Austria, clay
Turkcell Legends Cup, Istanbul, Turkey, hard
Group III: Aruba, Barbados, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Puerto Rico at Tegucigalpa, Honduras, hard
Group IV: Bermuda, Costa Rica, Haiti, US Virgin Island at Honduras
Group II Playoffs: Luxembourg vs. Finland at Hanko, Finland, clay; Hungary vs. Greece at Thessaloniki, Greece, clay
Group II Second Round: Denmark vs. South Africa at Johannesburg, South Africa, hard; Algeria vs. Monaco at Monte Carlo, Monaco, clay