Diego Junqueira

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Mondays With Bob Greene: Rafa is playing even more aggressively this year

Rafa is playing even more aggressively this year

STARS

Rafael Nadal beat David Ferrer 6-2 7-5 to win the Barcelona Open Banco Sabadell in Barcelona, Spain

Ivo Minar won the Bulgarian Open in Sofia, Bulgaria, beating Florian Mayer 6-4 6-3

Jim Courier beat Jimmy Arias 6-4 6-2 to win The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Legends Championships in Grand Cayman

FED CUP

World Group Semifinals

Italy beat Russia 4-1 at Castellaneta Marina, Italy

United States beat Czech Republic 3-2 at Brno, Czech Republic

World Group Playoffs

Serbia beat Spain 4-0 (doubles abandoned due to rain); France beat Slovak Republic 3-2; Germany beat China 3-2; Ukraine beat Argentina 5-0

World Group II Playoffs

Belgium beat Canada 3-2; Estonia beat Israel 3-2; Poland beat Japan 3-2; Australia beat Switzerland 3-1 (doubles abandoned due to bad light)

SAYING

“The ITF decision has left us with no other option. We cannot send the team. It is extremely disappointing.” – Geoff Pollard, Tennis Australia president, announcing Australia’s Davis Cup will not go to India for its scheduled Davis Cup match.

“I think it’s irresponsible for the ITF to expect us as players to go there and put ourselves on the line in a very, very difficult predicament with the way their social system’s running.” – Todd Woodbridge, who played in an Australian-record 32 ties before he retired.

“It is just irresponsible. Surely some thought must be given to the players’ safety. “John Fitzgerald, Australia’s Davis Cup captain.

“By virtue of its decision not to send a team to compete against India, Australia has forfeited the tie. India is declared the winner and will advance to the Davis Cup World Group Playoffs, scheduled for 18-20 September.” – The International Tennis Federation (ITF), in a statement.

“I never imagined anything like this. To win again here in Barcelona, in my home club and at such an important tournament is incredible.” – Rafael Nadal, following his fifth straight Barcelona title.

“Rafa is playing even more aggressively this year. He has a great rhythm right from the start and it’s very difficult to beat him.” – David Ferrer, after losing to Nadal in the Barcelona Open final.

“Once you’ve won a big tournament, you are more relaxed in tight situations.” – Sabine Lisicki, who won The Family Circle Cup tournament, explaining her Fed Cup victory over China’s Zheng Jie.

“You’ve got to expect things to be tough. I didn’t go into either of these matches thinking it was going to be easy.” – Samantha Stosur, who won both of her singles matches as Australia beat Switzerland in their Fed Cup World Group II playoff.

“It’s amazing to be back in the final. It’s a dream and I am very happy to be part of the dream.” – Francesca Schiavone, who won both of her singles matches as Italy beat Russia in the Fed Cup semifinals.

“It’s unimaginable. What they’ve done is extraordinary. These girls will go down in the history of Italian tennis.” – Corrado Barazzutti, Italy’s Fed Cup captain.

“It’s special because I won. It’s not fun to be in final number 100 and lose because it’s a special day. Winning a title is always a nice thing.” – Daniel Nestor, a winner in his 100th career doubles final.

“It was a battle. Once I turned it on, got some confidence and started playing aggressively, things went in my favor.” – Jim Courier, after beating Jimmy Arias to win a senior event in Grand Cayman.

“We don’t want to see night time tennis and we hope and believe that that the matches would finish in day time hours. But if they don’t finish, we will close (the roof) and finish them.” – Ian Ritchie, All England Club chief executive, refusing to rule out night-time play at Wimbledon.

“It’s always nice to win after being out for so long, but I’m hardly at a level where I can be happy. Tennis is bad business for me, but being away from it is even worse.” – Gaston Gaudio, a former French Open champion who won his first ATP level match in two years.

STAYING HOME

India was declared the winner of next month’s Davis Cup tie when Tennis Australia refused to play in Chennai, India. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said any decision to sanction Australia will be made in due course. Under Davis Cup rules, Australia could be banned from the competition for 12 months and face a substantial fine. Claiming there was an “unacceptable level of risk” in going to Chennai, Tennis Australia appealed for a change of venue. But the ITF said Chennai was approved by the Davis Cup Committee following a positive report from security consultants. Australia then said it would not send a team, thus forfeiting the match. “The ITF regrets and respectfully disagrees with the decision of Tennis Australia to default its upcoming Davis Cup tie against India,” the ITF said in a statement on the Davis Cup website. In 1987, India forfeited the Davis Cup final when it refused to travel to Sweden because of that country’s policy of allowing South Africans to play tennis in Sweden. Concerns about security on the Indian subcontinent increased after the Sri Lanka cricket team was attacked in Lahore, Pakistan, last month. Last November, terror attacks in Mumbai, India, blamed on Islamic terrorists, killed 166 and injured 304 and forced an international cricket tournament to be moved to South Africa.

SUNDOWN BATTLE?

Now that Wimbledon’s Centre Court has lights, can night matches be far behind. The new retractable roof will be in operation when the tournament is played this summer, guaranteeing play on the show court regardless of the weather. Although the roof is translucent, allowing sufficient light for play in most conditions, 120 lights have been installed so play can continue when it is dark outside. All England Club chief executive Ian Ritchie says there are no planned night sessions at Wimbledon, like at the US Open and Australian Open, but he refused to rule out all night play. “Wimbledon is a daytime, outdoor event and preference is always to play outdoors, and if we can we will prefer to keep the roof open as much as possible,” Ritchie said. “But we need to provide consistent playing conditions for the players, which is why if a match starts with it shut it will finish with it shut.”

STERLING, NOT SO

Wimbledon has increased the prize money for this year’s tournament, but don’t tell the players that. Each of the men’s and women’s champions will receive 13.3 percent more this year than last. But that’s in British pounds. The pound’s weak exchange rate translates to an actual reduction in prize money if it’s counted in US dollars. All England Club chairman Tim Phillips said the tournament was doing what it could to help offset the weakened exchange rates. “Most of the players here don’t bank in sterling,” Phillips said. “We have to be mindful of the fact that a year ago it was $2 to the pound.” The pound has dropped by more than 25 percent against the dollar since last year’s prize money was announced, and has slumped by about 11 percent against the euro.

SWEET WEEK

When Gaston Gaudio beat Diego Junqueira 6-4 3-6 6-4 in the first round at the Barcelona Open, it was his first time he had won a match in nearly two years. The former French Open champion won the Barcelona Open seven years ago. He had to rally from a break down in the final set against Junqueira for his first victory at the ATP level since the 2007 French Open – 23 months ago.

SOME DEBUT

Alexa Glatch couldn’t have done any better in her dreams. Playing in her first Fed Cup, the 19-year-old Glatch won both of her singles matches as the seemingly overmatched United States surprised the Czech Republic and gained a spot in the final against Italy. “This has been unbelievable,” Glatch said after she beat Petra Kvitova 6-2 6-1 to level the best-of-five-match competition at 2-2. Liezel Huber then teamed with Bethanie Mattek-Sands to down Iveta Benesova and Kveta Peschke 2-6 7-6 (2) 6-1 and send the Americans into the final. Glatch, ranked 114th in the world, said her two Fed Cup wins were “definitely the most important” of her career. “I played well overall,” she said. “I really don’t know how I’m doing it.” The Americans played without the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus.

SURGERY CONTEMPLATED

David Nalbandian may need surgery on his right hip. The Argentine star pulled out of the Barcelona Open, complaining of hip pain and allowing eventual winner Rafael Nadal to advance into the semifinals on a walkover. Nalbandian’s doctor in Europe, Angel Ruiz-Cotorro, told an Argentine newspaper that the tennis star would receive three or four days of treatment, including physical therapy and medication, before a decision on whether he will undergo surgery is made.

SWITCHING PLAYERS

Russia has five of the top 10 players in the world, but only two showed up to play Fed Cup against Italy. And that wasn’t enough. The Italians shocked Russia 4-1 as Francesca Schiavone won both her singles matches. That puts Italy in the Fed Cup final for the third time in four years. The Russians won four of the last five Fed Cup titles. Svetlana Kuznetsova, ranked ninth in the world, gave Russia it’s only point, winning her singles match against Flavia Pennetta. Nadia Petrova, ranked 10th in the world, played only doubles, while missing from the competition were top-ranked Dinara Safina, third-ranked Elena Dementieva and sixth-ranked Vera Zvonareva. The latter missed the tie because of an ankle ligament injury. Instead, 22-ranked Anna Chakvetadze and 28-ranked Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova played for Russia – and lost.

SEEKING NUMBER FIVE

Andy Roddick will be going for his fifth Queen’s Club crown when the Wimbledon warm-up tournament is held in London in June. The American won the grass-court title from 2003-05 and again in 2007. Among others in this year’s field are defending champion Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.

SAD NEWS

Irving Glick, the US Open tournament doctor for more than 25 years, is dead at the age of 92. Glick ran the medical department at the US Open until 1991 and served as the International Tennis Federation’s medical representative to the Olympic Games in South Korea in 1988 and Spain in 1992. Glick chaired the US Tennis Association Sports Medicine Advisory Committee in 1989 and helped develop the tennis anti-doping program years before establishing the current World Anti-Doping Agency, which oversees doping control in all Olympic sports. He also was a founding member of the ITF Wheelchair Tennis Medical Committee, which established medical and eligibility guidelines for international wheelchair tennis.

STEPPING UP

Davis Cup teams from Pacific Oceania and Sri Lanka will compete in Asia/Oceania Zone Group II play next year following round-robin matches in Aleppo, Syria, last week. Relegated from Group III to Group IV for next year were Singapore and Tajikistan. In Group IV play, which was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Bangladesh won promotion to Group III for next year.

SPONSOR

IBM has extended its sponsorship of Wimbledon for another five years. The All England Club announced the extension and said it also has signed a new broadcast deal with Star Sports Asia. “In this climate it’s a vote of confidence in Wimbledon,” All England Club chief executive Ian Ritchie said. IBM advises on and helps implement new technologies at the lone grass-court Grand Slam tournament.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Barcelona: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 6-3 7-6 (9)

Sofia: Dominik Hrbaty and David Skoch beat James Auckland and Peter Luczak 6-2 6-4

SITES TO SURF

Rome: www.internazionalibnlditalia.it/1/default.asp

Stuttgart: www.porsche-tennis.de/prod/pag/tennis.nsf/web/english-home

Tunis: www.tct.org.tn

Fez: www.frmt.ma

Rhodes: www.atcrhodes.com

Estoril: www.estorilopen.net

Tennis Australia: www.tennis.com.au/

International Tennis Federation: www.itf.com

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$3,500,000 Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome, Italy, clay

$125,000 Tunis Open, Tunis, Tunisia, clay

$110,000 Aegean Tennis Cup, Rhodes, Greece, hard

WTA

$700,000 Porsche Tennis Grand Pix, Stuttgart, Germany, clay

$220,000 Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem, Fez, Morocco, clay

$100,000 Open GDF Suez, Cagnes-sur-Mer, France, clay

$100,000 Soweto Women’s Open, Johannesburg, South Africa, hard

DAVIS CUP

(April 28-May 3)

Europe/Asia Group III-A, at Istanbul, Turkey: Estonia, Greece, Botswana, Iceland, Luxembourg, Rwanda, Turkey

Europe/Asia Group IV, at Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire: Armenia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Cameroon

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$580,000 BMW Open, Munich, Germany, clay

$580,000 Estoril Open, Estoril, Portugal, clay

$580,000 Serbia Open, Belgrade, Serbia, clay

$100,000 Israel Open, Ramat Hasharon, Israel, hard

WTA

$2,000,000 Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome, Italy, clay

$220,000 Estoril Open, Estoril, Portugal, clay

$100,000 GDF Suez Open Romania, Bucharest, Romania, clay

Mondays With Bob Greene: The Second Week of Wimbledon

STARS

Wimbledon

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

Other Tournaments

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

SAYINGS

“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.

SPANISH KING

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.

SUMMERTIME READING

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.”

SANDRA’S BACK

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.

STRONG PARTNERS

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.

SETS RECORDS

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.

SISTERLY SUCCESS

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.

SINGLES WINNER

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.

STAYING HOME

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.

SAY WHAT?

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.

SPONSORSHIP

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.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

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

Newport: www.tennisfame.com

Gstaad: www.swissopengstaad.com

Palermo: www.countrytimeclub.it

Budapest: www.gazdefrancegrandprix.com

Stuttgart: www.mercedescup.de

Bastad: www.tennisfame.com

Istanbul: www.tedclub.org.tr

Stanford: www.bankofthewestclassic.com

Bad Gastein: www.generali-ladies.at

Scheveningen: www.siemens-open.nl

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$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

WTA TOUR

$175,000 Gaz de France Grand Prix, Budapest, Hungary, clay

$145,000 Internazionali Femminili di Tennis di Palermo, Palermo, Italy, clay

SENIORS

Hall of Fame Champions Cup, Newport, Rhode Island, grass

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$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

WTA

$600,000 Bank of the West Classic, Stanford, California, hard

$175,000 Gastein Ladies, Bad Gastein, Austria, clay

SENIORS

Turkcell Legends Cup, Istanbul, Turkey, hard

DAVIS CUP

(July 18-20)

Americas Zone

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

Europe/Africa Zone

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

Jelena Dokic Shows Her Intent to Make it Back

Last week on the challenger circuit, winning streaks continued on both the men’s and women’s sides. Several players have won consecutive challenger titles, making it clear that they’re serious about going into the draw at the French Open, which starts next week.

After limiting herself to just nine events in the last two years, it looks like Jelena Dokic of Australia is serious about making a comeback in 2008. The 25-year-old won her second challenger title in a row at the $25,000 event in Caserta, Italy, rolling over Patricia Mayr of Austria in the final with a 6-3, 6-1 victory. Dokic moves back into the top 300 with this result and was granted a main draw wildcard into the WTA event held this week in Strasbourg, France.

Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic is rolling into Roland Garros with as much confidence as a player could hope for. The 23-year-old won her second challenger title in a row at the $50,000 tournament in Saint Gaudens, France, with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Maria-Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain. Cetkovska has enjoyed a fine year on the clay, reaching the quarterfinals at a WTA event in Fes, Morocco, in addition to two main draw wins during the South American swing on the WTA Tour. With the right draw, Cetkovska is definitely a candidate to win a couple of rounds at the French Open next week.

American tennis has a new promising hope to look out for after teenager Chelsey Gullickson won the first challenger title of her career at the $25,000 event in Raleigh, North Carolina. She won the title with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 win over fellow American Lauren Albanese. The 17-year-old is still listed as an amateur player, but may soon be rethinking her decision about whether or not to turn pro. Despite the loss in the finals, Albanese has all but eradicated her nightmare start to 2008, having lost her first ten matches of the year.

In other results on the women’s side, Barbara Zahalova Strycova of the Czech Republic won her third challenger title of the year at the $25,000 event in Szczecin, Poland, while teenager Kai-Chen Chang of Taipei won the first challenger title of her career at the $50,000 event in Kurume, Japan.

On the men’s side, Eduardo Schwank of Argentina is a name which has often come up in this column, which may mean that his time on the challenger circuit will soon be coming to an end. He won his third challenger title in a row at the $100,000 event in Bordeaux, France, overwhelming Igor Kunitsyn of Russia with a 6-2, 6-2 routing in the final. Schwank now moves into Roland Garros as a long-shot candidate to reach the second week.

Gael Monfils of France lived up to his billing as top seed at the $100,000 challenger in Marrakesh, Morocco, winning the title with a 7-6, 7-6 victory over Jeremy Chardy of France. Despite the loss, Chardy has been a consistent performer on the challenger circuit this year and has been granted a main draw wild card into the French Open as a result.

After losing in the finals of his last two challenger events, Yen-Hsun Lu of Taipei finally broke the streak at the $50,000 event in New Delhi, India, prevailing over Brendan Evans of the United States with a 5-7, 7-6, 6-3 victory. Lu’s strong performances on the challenger circuit this have helped move him back inside the top 100 this year and into a new career high ranking.

In other results on the men’s side, Jesse Levine of the United States won the $50,000 event in Bradenton, Florida, while Daniel Gimeno of Spain prevailed at the $50,000 tournament in Aarhus, Denmark. Diego Junqueira of Argentina took home the winners trophy at the $30,000 event in San Remo, Italy, while Christophe Rochus of Belgium won the $50,000 tournament in Zagreb, Croatia.

The challenger circuit will remain fairly quiet this week with qualifying for the French Open starting on Tuesday. Yen-Hsun Lu takes top billing at the second $50,000 challenger in New Delhi, India, while Danai Udomchoke is the top seed at the $35,000 event in Fergana, Uzbekistan. On the women’s side, Maria Kondratieva of Russia is top seed at the $25,000 event in Moscow, Russia, while Chin-Wei Chan of Taipei is the top seed at the $25,000 tournament in Nagano, Japan.

Verkerk Takes First Step On The Road To Comeback

Martin Verkerk

Martin VerkerkIt’s rare that we start out with the futures recap, but one particular result deserves some attention. Martin Verkerk of the Netherlands is a name tennis fans would definitely file in the “Where Are They Now?” pile. The lanky Dutchman came out of nowhere to reach the French Open finals in 2003 and then disappeared just as quickly as he succumbed to a variety of injuries. However, rather than hang up his racquets, Verkerk has admirably swallowed his pride and dropped back down to the futures circuit. This week, he took a small step back towards reaching Court Philippe Chatrier once again as he won the $15,000 event in Montreal. In other Futures news, Rui Machado of Portugal extended his winning streak on the Futures circuit to 23 matches as he won his fourth title of the year at the $15,000 event in Albuiera. On the women’s side, teenager Lenka Jurikova of Slovakia won the $10,000 event in Ramat Hasharon.

Ekaterina Dzehalevich has already proven herself as a standout doubles player in winning the doubles title at the WTA event in Tashkent and reaching the semifinals n Bangalore last week. Today, she took her singles game one step closer to reaching the WTA level that her doubles game is already at. The Belarusian player won her first ever challenger title at the $50,000 event in New Delhi by beating Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium 2-6 6-3 6-2 in the final. Having gone 0-4 in her previous challenger finals, Dzehalevich remained unnerved after losing the first set and used her aggressive baseline game to take the last two sets convincingly. Despite the loss, it’s apparent that Asia has been good to Wickmayer; she went 22-2 during the Asian swing last fall and racked up three challenger titles.

Las Palmas De Gran Canaria was the home to the first of two $25,000 events in Spain this month. Cheyenne Ewijk, a wild card entry from the Netherlands, came out of nowhere to win the first challenger title of her career; she beat Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium in a nail-biting 4-6 7-6 7-6 final. Ewijk, who has spent time training at Brenda Schultz McCarthy’s academy in the Netherlands, moves up over 200 spots with this win to land just outside of the top 400. For Flipkens, her performance this week marks another important step in her comeback from an injury which kept her out of action for over six months in 2007. Both Ewijk and Flipkens will compete in the main draw of the $25,000 event held next week in Tenerife.

At the $25,000 event in Kalgoorie, Yi-Miao Zhou of China swept through the draw before defeating Ellen Barry of New Zealand 7-5 6-2 in the final. The Chinese teenager has only played a limited schedule since she first started competing professionally in 2005 and this was her first tournament outside of China. Zhou will crack the top 400 for the first time in her career after this tournament. Despite the loss, Barry has been on a hot streak as of late; she won her first pro event at the $10,000 tournament in Hamilton last week last week and has now reached her first challenger final. Both girls will compete at the next Australian $25,000 event in Sorrento.

It’s been a long time coming for Ivan Miranda of Peru. Six years after winning his last challenger title (fittingly, at this same event in 2002), the 28 year old finally did it again at the $35,000 event in Salinas when he overwhelmed Diego Junqueira of Argentina 6-2 6-2 in the final. Miranda, whose ranking has slipped to #295 as a result of injuries and poor form, will look to use this tournament as a springboard to get back to the level of play which saw him just outside of the top 100 in 2003. Despite the loss, this was Junqueira’s first challenger final in two years and one of the best weeks of his career.

2008 has gotten off a great start for Marcel Granollers-Pujol of Spain. He qualified for his first ever Australian Open at the beginning of the year and then reached his first ever ATP quarterfinal recently in Acapulco. Granollers-Pujol has now won his first challenger title of the year by beating fellow Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain 6-4 6-4 in the final. Granollers-Pujol moves into the top 200 with this win and looks to be a sure bet to continue progressing in the rankings with his fine form so far this year. The same can also be said of Gimeno-Traver, who won the first ATP match of his career last month in Vina del Mar.

The spotlight turns to the men this week with the $100,000 event in Sunrise. With a cutoff ranking of #71, this tournament could easily pass for an ATP event. Ivo Karlovic of Croatia, ranked #21 in the world, is the top seed in this event. The draws are also still being made for the $50,000 event in San Luis Potosi, as well as $35,000 events in Meknes and Sarajevo. On the women’s side, several $25,000 events are taking place this week. Iona-Raluca Olaru of Romania, fresh off pushing Ana Ivanovic to three sets in Indian Wells this week, is the top seed at the $25,000 event in Redding. Tzipi Obziler of Israel is the top seed at the $25,000 event in Tenerife, Yanina Wickmayer leads the pack at the $25,000 event in Noida, Anna Lapushchenkova of Russia will hope to make the local fans happy at the $25,000 event in St. Petersburg, and Monique Adamczak of Australia takes top billing at the $25,000 tournament in Sorrento.

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