Don Budge

Mondays With Bob Greene: You just try to first get the ball back

STARS

Roger Federer beat Novak Djokovic 6-1 7-5 to win the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Elena Dementieva beat Maria Sharapova 6-4 6-3 to win the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Canada

Pat Cash successfully defended his International Tennis Hall of Fame Champions Cup singles title, defeating Jim Courier 6-3 6-4 in Newport, Rhode Island, USA

SAYING

“It’s been a wonderful summer.” – Roger Federer, winning his first tournament title after the birth of his twin daughters.

“The closest I was going to get to the first-place trophy is now.” – Novak Djokovic, while standing five feet (1.5m) from the crystal bowl that Roger Federer collected by winning the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters.

“I returned poorly and served poorly. Against Roger, if you do both of those things, it’s going to be very difficult.” – Andy Murray, after his semifinal loss to Roger Federer in Cincinnati.

“It’s only a number. I hope to be ready in the future to come back to number two or to be in the top position. Number three is a very good number, too.” – Rafael Nadal, who is now ranked number three in the world.

“When you have so many important points and every point is so tough, you have to give 100 percent. It really kills your brain more than physical.” – Alisa Kleybanova, after outlasting Jelena Jankovic 6-7 (6) 7-6 (7) 6-2 in Toronto.

“It’s tough to think about the winner’s circle because you have to take it one match at a time.” – Maria Sharapova, who has returned to the WTA Tour following a nine-month layoff.

“It’s big because it was against Venus.” – Kateryna Bondarenko, after upsetting Venus Williams in an opening round match at Toronto.

“It’s my brain. I know exactly what I have to do, but if I’m not using my brain, I’m not doing the things my coach is telling me.” – Dinara Safina, after losing her second-round match at Toronto.

“It’s difficult to push yourself to play relaxed, even though you know this is the end. But still, you are a player deep inside, so it comes out in important moments, and you want to win no matter what.” – Marat Safin, after winning his first-round match in Cincinnati.

“I’m actually having a competition with myself to see how many errors and double-faults I can make and still win the match in two sets.” – Maria Sharapova, after winning her second-round match in Toronto.

“I’ve already missed a Masters’ event this year when I got married, so I guess that wasn’t an option here unless I wanted to pay everyone off.” – Andy Roddick, on why he played in Cincinnati despite playing the two weeks prior.

“You just try to first get the ball back.” – Roger Federer, when asked the secret of playing winning tennis.

“Depending on the draw, my pick at this point is (Andy) Murray or (Andy) Roddick.” – John McEnroe, forecasting the winner of this year’s US Open men’s singles.

“I think there could be a battle for the number one in the world. That’s what everybody hopes for. This year the tour is very tough and it’s tight at the top. Hopefully that’s what we’ll get to see.” – Andy Murray, on the battle looming at the season-ending ATP World Tour Championships.

“My overhead cost has gone down considerably.” – Brian Wood, a promoter for a tennis exhibition in Asheville, North Carolina, after replacing Andre Agassi and Marat Safin with Rajeev Ram and Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo.

SETTING THE TABLE?

Elena Dementieva put herself in good company by beating Maria Sharapova and winning the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Canada. The fourth-seeded Dementieva captured her third title of the year and during the week won her 50th match of the season, something only Dinara Safina and Caroline Wozniacki had done in 2009. The Russian hopes to follow in the footsteps of the last three Toronto winners – Justine Henin in 2003, Kim Clijsters in 2005 and Henin again in 2007. They went on to win the US Open. The gold-medalist at the Beijing Olympics, Dementieva has never won a Grand Slam tournament.

SET FOR US OPEN

Despite not winning a tournament, Rafael Nadal says he’s ready for the US Open. Nadal had not played since suffering an injury at Roland Garros this spring until the past two weeks, in Montreal and Cincinnati. “These two weeks, winning three matches here and two matches (in Montreal), winning five matches and playing seven matches in total, it’s enough matches I think,” said the Spaniard, who has seen his ranking drop from number one in the world to number three during his absence from the court. “We will see how I am physically to play the five-set matches,” he said. “I know when I am playing well I can play at this level. But you only can win against these top players when you are playing your best tennis.”

SERENA’S IN

Serena Williams is the second player to qualify for the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships, which will be played October 27-November 1 in Doha, Qatar. The reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champion joins Dinara Safina to have clinched spots in the eight-player field. By winning both the singles and doubles titles at the Australian Open, Serena became the first professional female athlete to surpass USD $23 million in career earnings. She moved past Lindsay Davenport as the all-time prize money leader on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. Davenport has earned USD $22,144,735. And because she and her sister Venus Williams have won three doubles titles this year – the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California, USA – the sisters currently rank second in the Race to the Sony Ericsson Championships Doubles Standings.

SCOT SCORES

Andy Murray has qualified for the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, which will be held November 22-29 in London. The Scot joins Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as the first three singles players to qualify for the elite eight-man event. By winning the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Canada, Murray moved up to a career-high number two in the world behind Federer. That snapped the four-year domination of Federer and Nadal at the top of the men’s game. The 22-year-old Murray is the first ATP player to record 50 match wins this year and has won five titles in 2009: Montreal, Doha, Rotterdam, Miami and Queen’s Club in London, where he became the first British champion since Henry “Bunny” Austin in 1938.

SUCCESSFUL DEFENSE

Pat Cash loves grass court tennis. The 1987 Wimbledon champion successfully defended his singles title on the grass courts of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, beating Jim Courier 6-3 6-4 in Newport, Rhode Island, USA. It was Cash’s second career victory in the Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for players age 30 and over. Courier, once ranked number one in the world, is still seeking his first professional title on grass.

SHARING A TEAM

If only the Miami Dolphins were as well-known on the football field as their owners. Sisters Serena and Venus Williams are believed to be acquiring a stake in the National Football League team. Musicians Gloria and Emilio Estefan and Marc Anthony recently bought small shared of the team, while owner Stephen Ross forged a partnership with singer Jimmy Buffett.

SKIPPING CINCINNATI

Juan Martin del Potro is paying the price for his success. The sixth-ranked Argentine pulled out of the Cincinnati Masters because of fatigue. Del Potro reached the final of the Montreal Masters one week after winning the tournament in Washington, DC. He played 24 sets in two weeks. Winning seven matches at the US Open would take between 21 and 35 sets over a two-week period.

SKIPPING FLUSHING

Gilles Muller of Luxembourg and Ivo Minar of the Czech Republic won’t be around when the year’s final Grand Slam tournament gets underway in New York’s Flushing Meadow at the end of this month. Muller withdrew from the US Open because of a knee injury. He is best known for upsetting Andy Roddick in the opening round of the US Open in 2005 when he went on to reach the quarterfinals. Muller’s spot in this year’s tournament will be taken by Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay. An injury also has sidelined Minar. With his withdrawal, Rajeev Ram moves into the main draw.

SQUANDERING MATCH POINTS

Brothers Bob and Mike Bryan led 9-4 in the match tiebreak before Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic rallied to win the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters doubles in Cincinnati. In all, Nestor and Zimonjic saved eight match points before prevailing over the top-seeded and defending champions 3-6 7-6 (2) 15-13. Nestor and Zimonjic won six straight points but failed to convert their first match at 10-9. They were successful on their second match point, improving their record to 44-10 as a team this year and collecting their eighth title of 2009. Both teams have already clinched spots in the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, which will be held in London in November.

SUBBING

Instead of Andre Agassi and Marat Safin, spectators at a tennis exhibition in Asheville, North Carolina, will instead be watching Rajeev Ram and Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo. When only 1,100 tickets had been sold for the 6,000-seat Asheville Civic Center, promoter Brian Wood decided to replace Agassi and Safin. He also dropped the ticket price from a high of USD $200 to a top price of USD $25. The promoter said tickets purchased for the Agassi-Safin match will be refunded. This wasn’t the first change in the program. Originally Safin was to play Novak Djokovic on August 6. When the date was changed to August 28, Djokovic was replaced by Agassi. “We could have canceled altogether or moved forward on a much lower scale, and that’s what we did,” Woods said. “The guys coming are still world class players who play at an extremely high level.”

SPEAKING UP

John McEnroe is covering the airwaves as tightly as he did the court in his playing days. This year Johnny Mac will join the ESPN broadcasting team for its coverage of the US Open. The broadcast will have its own brand of family ties. John will work with his younger brother Patrick, who has been a mainstay at ESPN since 1995. He also will team with ESPN’s Mary Carillo. The two won the French Open mixed doubles in 1977.

STRAIGHT IN

Taylor Dent leads a group of five Americans who have been given wild cards into the main draw of the US Open men’s singles. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) said they have also issued wild cards to Devon Britton, Chase Buchanan, Jesse Levine and Ryan Sweeting, along with Australian Chris Guccione and a player to be named by the French Tennis Association. Dent had climbed as high as 21 in the world before undergoing three back surgeries and missing two years on the tour.

Nine men have been awarded wild card entries into the US Open qualifying tournament, which will be held August 25-28 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Receiving wild card berths into the qualifying are Americans Lester Cook, Alexander Domijan, Ryan Harrison, Scoville Jenkins, Ryan Lipman, Tim Smyczek, Blake Strode and Michael Venus, along with Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.

SHE’S BACK

Australian Alicia Molik is returning to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. Once ranked as high as number eight in the world, Molik hasn’t played since losing in the opening round in both singles and doubles at the Beijing Olympics. Molik has asked for a wild card into the US Open where she plans on playing only doubles with American Meghann Shaughnessy. Her future plans call for her playing singles in a low-level International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournament in Darwin, Australia, in September. Molik won four of her five WTA titles in a six-month period in 2004-05 before a middle-ear condition affected her vision and balance, forcing her off the tour in April 2005. An elbow injury followed, leading to her announcing her retirement earlier this year.

SRICHAPHAN UNDECIDED

Although he hasn’t played on the ATP Tour since March 2007, Thailand’s Paradorn Srichaphan says he has not retired from tennis. “I’m not going to quit,” he said. “I just want to be back when I’m really ready.” Srichaphan underwent operations on his wrist in Los Angeles in 2007 and in Bangkok, Thailand, this year. He originally had planned to return to play last year, and then postponed it until the Thailand Open this September. But now he says he may not play in a tournament until 2010.

SITE TO SEE

Tennis Canada is considering combining both ATP and WTA events into one tournament the same week and playing it in both Toronto and Montreal at the same time. Under that plan, each city would stage one-half of the men’s main draw and one half of the women’s main draw. Montreal and Toronto would each stage a final, meaning one of the men’s and one of the women’s finalists would switch cities, making the one-hour trip by private jet. Currently the tournaments are run on consecutive weeks with the men’s and women’s events alternating annually between Montreal and Toronto. This year the ATP tournament was held in Montreal a week ago and won by Andy Murray. Elena Dementieva captured the women’s title in Toronto on Sunday. But the ATP and WTA are pushing for more combined tournaments, a trend that resulted in the creative suggestion by Tennis Canada.

SHOEMAKER SELECTED

David Shoemaker is the new president of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. The 36-year-old Shoemaker previously was the Tour’s chief operating officer, general counsel and head of the Asia-Pacific region. The native of Ottawa, Canada, succeeds Stacey Allaster, who was recently appointed the tour’s chairman and CEO. In his new job, Shoemaker will be responsible for the day-to-day operations and business affairs of the tour, tournament and player relations, strategic expansion of the sport in key growth markets; international television and digital media rights distribution, and the tour’s year-end Championships.

STEPPING UP

The ATP also has a new executive. Laurent Delanney has been promoted to Chief Executive Officer, Europe, and will be based in the tour’s European headquarters in Monte Carlo, Monaco. A former agent who managed a number of top players, including Yannick Noah, Delanney joined the ATP’s European office in 1994, serving most recently as senior vice president, ATP Properties, the business arm of the ATP. The 49-year-old Delanney began his career with ProServ, a sports management and marketing agency, and at one time was marketing and publication operations manager for Club Med in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

SHOW AND TELL

The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum’s gallery exhibition at this year’s US Open will be titled “The Grand Slam: Tennis’ Ultimate Achievement.” The exhibit chronicles the accomplishment of the calendar-year Grand Slam as 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of Rod Laver’s 1969 singles Grand Slam and the 25th anniversary of Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver’s 1984 doubles Grand Slam. Among the many stars featured in the exhibit are Don Budge, Maureen Connolly, Margaret Smith Court, Steffi Graf, Maria Bueno, Martina Hingis and Stefan Edberg. The exhibition will be on view from August 29 through September 13 in the US Open Gallery.

SUPERB WRITING

The telling of the 2008 epic Wimbledon final between eventual winner Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer earned New York Daily News columnist Filip Bondy a first-place award from the United States Tennis Writers’ Association. The three-judge panel called Bondy’s story “a masterful, compelling account of the greatest match, told with vivid quotes and observations, a deft touch, and a grand sense of tennis history.” Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle, Tim Joyce of RealClearSports.com and Paul Fein, whose work was published by TennisOne.com and Sportstar, each were double winners. The awards will be presented during the USTWA’s annual meeting at the US Open.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Cincinnati: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic beat Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 3-6 7-6 (2) 15-13 (match tiebreak)

Toronto: Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez beat Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs 2-6 7-5 11-9 (match tiebreak)

SITES TO SURF

New Haven: www.pilotpentennis.com/

Bronx: www.nyjtl.org/tournaments/ghiBronx/index.htm

New York: www.usopen.org

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$750,000 Pilot Pen Tennis, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, hard

WTA

$600,000 Pilot Pen Tennis Presented by Schick, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, hard

$100,000 EmblemHealth Bronx Open, Bronx, New York, USA, hard

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP and WTA

US Open (first week), New York, New York, USA, hard

JIM COURIER BLOG: FEDERER SAFELY BEST IN OPEN ERA; COMPARISON TOUGH TO OTHER ERAS

NEW YORK, N.Y., June 8 – Tennis Hall of Famer Jim Courier, writing on his blog on www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com, has labeled 2009 French Open champion Roger Federer as safely the player with the best record in the Open era of tennis (since 1968), but says it is impossible to make comparisons with champions of other eras of tennis.

“I think you can safely say that Roger has the best record of any player in the Open era but it is really impossible to compare it with any of the players prior to 1968,” wrote Courier on the official website of the Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players over the age of 30 that he co-founded in 2005. “By winning the French and equaling Pete’s record of 14 majors and joining Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Andre Agassi in an exclusive club of men to win all four major singles titles in a career, Roger’s record is right up there against any of the all-time greats.

“He still has plenty of runway left to add to his record if he stays healthy. Looking at Open era achievements, you have to look at Laver’s 1969 Grand Slam, Pete’s 14 majors, Pete finishing the year ranked No. 1 for six straight years, Lendl reaching eight straight US Open finals, Roger’s five straight Wimbledons and five straight US Opens (and still counting in Flushing) and Roger’s semifinal or better streak at a major (also still counting).”

Courier won two French Open titles in 1991 and 1992 and also won a pair of Australian Open titles in 1992 and 1993. He is one of 15 men in tennis history to play in all four major singles finals, losing the 1993 Wimbledon final to Pete Sampras and the 1991 US Open final to Stefan Edberg. Courier is now the co-founding partner of InsideOut Sports & Entertainment, the New York-based sports marketing and event company that runs the Outback Champions Series. Courier can also be followed via his Twitter account at www.twitter.com/jimcourier.

Courier is currently the top-ranked player on the 2009 Outback Champions Series after winning his eighth career title in April in the Cayman Islands. Courier leads the field at the next event of the series – the Hall of Fame Champions Cup held on the grass courts at the International Tennis Hall of Fame August 20-23 in Newport, R.I.

Founded in 2005, the Outback Champions Series features some of the biggest names in tennis over the last 25 years, including Agassi, Sampras, John McEnroe, Courier and others. To be eligible to compete on the Outback Champions Series, players must have reached at least a major singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team. The Outback Champions Series features eight events on its 2009 schedule with each event featuring $150,000 in prize money as well as Champions Series ranking points that will determine the year-end No. 1.

Sampras won the opening event on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, defeating McEnroe in the final of the Champions Cup Boston in February. McEnroe won the second event of the year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, defeating Courier in the final. Sampras won his second title of the year at the Del Mar Development Champions Cup in Los Cabos, Mexico, defeating Patrick Rafter in the final. Courier defeated Jimmy Arias in the final if Grand Cayman in April. Outback Champions Series events will next be played in Newport, R.I. (August 20-23), Charlotte (Sept. 24-27), Surprise, Ariz. (Oct. 8-11) and Dubai, U.A.E. (Nov. 18-21).

InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a New York City-based independent producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Outback Champions Series, a collection of tennis events featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including “Legendary Night” exhibitions, charity events and tennis fantasy camps such as the annual “Ultimate Fantasy Camp”. Through 2008, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment events have raised over $4 million for charity. For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.

Mondays With Bob Greene: It might be the greatest victory of my career

STARS

FRENCH OPEN CHAMPIONS

Men’s singles:

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)

OTHER TOURNAMENTS

Jan Hajek beat Steve Darcis 6-2 1-6 6-4 to win the Unicredit Czech Open in Prostejov, Czech Republic

SAYING

“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.

SUCCESS, FINALLY

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.

SODERLING’S SHOCKER

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.

STRUCK

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.

STAR-STUDDED NIGHT

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.

SIDELINED

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.

SO CLOSE

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.

STUNT, PERHAPS

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.

SCHOOL TIME

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.

SWEARS INNOCENCE

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.

SILENCE

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.

SCHEDULE SET

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.

SPECIAL LADY

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.

SHARED PERFORMANCES

Prostejov: Johan Brunstrom and Jean-Julien Rojer beat Pablo Cuevas and Dominik Hrbaty 6-2 6-3

SITES TO SURF

London: www.aegonchampionships.com

Halle: www.gerryweber-open.de/

Lugano: www.challengerlugano.ch

Marseille: www.opengdfsuez-marseille.com/

Eastbourne: www.lta.org.uk/Watch/

s-Hertogenbosch: www.ordina-open.nl/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$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

WTA

$220,000 AEGON Classic, Birmingham, Great Britain, grass

$100,000 Open GDF Suez de Marseille, Marseille, France, clay

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$600,000 Ordina Open, s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, grass

$600,000 AEGON International, Eastbourne, Great Britain, grass

WTA

$600,000 AEGON International, Eastbourne, Great Britain, grass

$220,000 Ordina Open, s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands, grass

Federer Wins Record-Tying 14th Major Singles Title and Career Grand Slam at 2009 French Open

NEW YORK, June 7 – The career and childhood of Roger Federer is chronicled in the book THE ROGER FEDERER STORY: QUEST FOR PERFECTION, the first U.S. published book about Federer, who Sunday completed a career sweep of all four Grand Slam tournaments and tied Pete Sampras’ men’s record of 14 major singles titles.

Federer finally captured his first title at the French Open Sunday, defeating Sweden’s Robin Soderling 6-1, 7-6, 6-4 in the men’s singles final. The win marked Federer’s 14th career major singles title, equaling the all-time men’s record set by Pete Sampras from 1990 to 2002. The victory also placed Federer in exclusive company as only the sixth man to complete a “Career Grand Slam” – winning all four major tournaments over a career – joining Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and Andre Agassi. Federer’s Grand Slam trophy mantle, that now includes the 2009 French Open, also includes five Wimbledon titles (2003-2007), five U.S. Open titles (2004-2008) and three Australian Open titles (2004, 2006, 2007).

THE ROGER FEDERER STORY: QUEST FOR PERFECTION ($24.95, New Chapter Press, www.rogerfedererbook.com) was written by Rene Stauffer, the esteemed Swiss tennis journalist who has covered Federer since the budding tennis champion was a 15-year-old. The book chronicles Federer’s life as tempermental junior player, through his early struggles on the ATP Tour and his break-through win at Wimbledon in 2003 and beyond. The book also focuses on his values, how he has been marketed, his relationship with the media as well as his numerous charitable pursuits.

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

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

Published by New Chapter Press, the book has met with many positive reviews from the international media. The Toronto Globe and Mail called the book “excellent” while Britain’s Daily Telegraph called it “an intimate and insightful portrait.” Wrote Tennis.com of the book; “It’s accessible and sketches out his career development very logically. At the same time, it throws in enough about his personality and the rest of his life to flesh out the tale without turning it into it a flabby puff-piece.” Other positive reviews have included noted tennis reporter Charlie Bricker of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, who wrote, “It’s a virtual encyclopedia of Federer’s career. There’s material in there I’ve not seen anywhere else. Fantastic.” Wrote leading tennis website Tennisreportersnet, “It could have easily been called the Encyclopedia Federer.”

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

Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.newchapterpressmedia.com) is an independent publisher of books that is part of the Independent Publishers Group (IPG). New Chapter Press has also published THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS, ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY and BOYCOTT: STOLEN DREAMS OF THE 1980 MOSCOW OLYMPIC GAMES.

Epic matches and major upsets at Roland Garros

Epic matches and major upsets highlight the May 31 landscape at Roland Garros through the years. The following excerpt from the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY summarizes the excitement.

1983 – Twenty-five-year French journeyman Christophe Roger-Vasselin, ranked No. 130 in the world, registers one of the biggest upsets in the history of the French Open, upsetting No. 1 seed Jimmy Connors 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros. Roger-Vasselin’s countryman No. 6-seeded Yannick Noah, accounts for the second big upset on the day, defeating No. 3 seed Ivan Lendl by a 7-6, 6-2, 5-7, 6-0 margin.

1994 – Jim Courier defeats Pete Sampras 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the French Open, ending Sampras’ hopes of winning a fourth consecutive major tournament title. Sampras, falls short in his attempt to join Don Budge and Rod Laver – both of whom won Grand Slams – as the only men to win four straight major titles. Sampras, the 1993 Wimbledon and U.S.  Open champion and the 1994 Australian Open champion, sees his major tournament winning streak end at 26 matches. Says Sampras, “”I’m kind of down and disappointed. To win four in a row would have been something that would have been written about for years.” Says Courier after his first win over Sampras in 18 months, “I was in a lot more rallies and I was able to be the dictator rather than being the person dictated to…It has been a long time since I have won a big match in a big tournament like this against a top player.”

1989 – Thirty-six-year-old Jimmy Connors plays one of the longest four-set matches in the history of the sport, falling to fellow American Jay Berger 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 7-5 in 4 hours, 26 minutes in the second round of the French Open. Berger is not surprised that the French crowd is so firmly rooting for the five-time US Open champion. “Hey, if I was in the stands, I would have cheered Jimmy Connors, too,” he says. Says Connors after the match, “For me to go out and grind out a match like that. It’s fun. To play a kid like that, 14 years younger – I could have played a fifth set. My mouthpiece wasn’t knocked out.”

1974 – Reigning Australian Open champions Jimmy Connors and Evonne Goolagong lose in French appeals court in an attempt to gain entry into the French Open. Both stars are denied entry into the tournament due to their involvement with World Team Tennis. French judge Jean Regnault denies the appeal stating that there was no “emergency” and that both players earned substantial incomes from tennis – with or without playing the French Championships. The decision costs Connors a serious opportunity to become only the third man to win the Grand Slam as he decisively wins Wimbledon and the U.S. Open later in the year. Says Connors of Parisien court experience, “I’m in the wrong court. I should be on clay.”

1998 – Alex Corretja completes a 6-1, 5-7, 6-7, 7-5, 9-7 third round victory over Hernan Gumy of Argentina at the French Open in a match that lasts 5 hours, 31 minutes, the longest match in major tournament history at the time. The match was five minutes longer than Stefan Edberg’s semifinal victory against Michael Chang at the 1992 US Open, but it is eclipsed in 2004 when Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clement play a two-day 6 hour, 33 minute match in the first round of the French Open.

1996 – Pete Sampras outlasts fellow American Todd Martin 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 in 3 hours, 21 minutes in the third round of the French Open. Sampras serves 19 aces to Martin’s 29, believed to be the highest number in one match at the French Open.

2000 – Dominique Van Roost of Belgium celebrates her 27th birthday with a 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-3 win over No. 2 seed Lindsay Davenport in the first round of the French Open.

2001 – Pete Sampras is foiled again at the French Open, falling in the second round at the world’s premier clay court championship to Spain’s Galo Blanco 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-2. “If I go through my career not winning the French, sure, it’s disappointing,” Sampras says. “But it’s not going to take away from my place in the game, what I’ve been able to do over the years. I mean, there’s still time. There’s no reason to think this is it. I mean, I’ve got plenty of years left.”  Sampras plays at Roland Garros for only one more year in 2002, losing in the first round to Andrea Gaudenzi. He plays his final match in winning in the 2002 U.S. Open and retires having only reached one French Open semifinal in 1996.

2003 – In a 4 hour, 38-minute epic, defending champion Albert Costa of Spain defeats Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the third round of the French Open for his third five-set victory in a row at Roland Garros. Lapentti leads two-sets-to-love and 4-1 in the third set before Costa begins his comeback charge. ”I’m feeling so proud of myself because I’m not playing my best tennis, but I’m still fighting all the time,” Costa says. No. 1 seed Lleyton Hewitt is dismissed in the third round by Spaniard Tommy Robredo by a 4-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 margin. “”This was the match of my life,” Robredo says after his victory “To be two sets down and 0-3 down in the fifth and to have this crowd chanting my name in Paris against a guy like Hewitt, it’s close to perfection.”

1995 – Pete Sampras is sunk in the first round of the French Open, losing a darkness-suspended match Austria’s Gilbert Schaller 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-4 in 4 hours, 2 minutes. The match resumes with Sampras leading 3-1 in the third set, but his serve is immediate broken in the first game of the resumption, setting the tone for the rest of the afternoon. “I think this loss is probably going to sit with me for quite a while,” says Sampras to reporters after the match. “I could talk about turning points, but we would be here all day.”

1980 – John McEnroe was hit with a $1,250 fine for his ungraceful exit in his third round French Open loss to Peter McNamara of Australia, in which he made an insulting remark to the umpire and an obscene gesture to the crowd.

McEnroe Leads Field at Rio Champions Cup

NEW YORK, March 11, 2009 – John McEnroe, newly-turned 50 years old and fresh off reaching the final of the Champions Cup Boston, leads the field of players set to compete at the $150,000 Rio Champions Cup that starts Thursday at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Joining McEnroe in the field of eight champions are two-time French and Australian Open champion Jim Courier, 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, 1986 French Open finalist Mikael Pernfors, former U.S. Open and Wimbledon finalist Mark Philippoussis, former U.S. Davis Cup standout Jimmy Arias, and Brazilian standouts Fernando Meligeni and Jaime Oncins.

The Rio Champions Cup will be the second of eight events on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over. The event will mark the first Outback Champions Series event held in Brazil.

“We are looking forward to bringing Outback Champions Series tennis to Brazil for the first time and have an excellent field of players that will provide high-level tennis and entertainment in Rio,” said Jon Venison, co-founding partner for the Outback Champions Series.

McEnroe, who turned 50 years old on February 16, reached his sixth career singles final on the Outback Champions Series at the Champions Cup Boston, losing to Pete Sampras in a hard-fought final 7-6 (10), 6-4. Following the match, Sampras said he was “in awe” of McEnroe and his level of play at his age. Thirty years ago in 1979, McEnroe won his major singles title at the U.S. Open – the first of his four titles in Flushing Meadows. McEnroe also won three Wimbledon singles titles and, on the Outback Champions Series, won titles in Boston and Surprise, Ariz., in 2008.

The Rio Champions Cup will feature a round-robin format with McEnroe, Pernfors, Arias and Oncins competing in “Group Maracana” and Courier, Cash, Philippoussis and Meligeni playing in “Group Corcovado.” The schedule of play for the event is as follows:

Thursday – March 12
Starting at 5 pm
Arias vs. Oncins
Courier vs. Cash
McEnroe vs. Pernfors
Meligeni vs. Philippoussis

Friday – March 13
Starting at 5 pm
Pernfors vs. Oncins
Philippoussis vs. Cash
McEnroe vs. Arias
Courier vs. Meligeni

Saturday – March 14
Starting at 3 pm
Arias vs. Pernfors
Meligeni vs. Cash
Courier vs. Philippoussis
McEnroe vs. Oncins

Sunday – March 15
Starting at noon
3rd Place Match
Starting at 2 pm
Championship Match

Following the Rio Champions Cup, Outback Champions Series events will be played in Los Cabos, Mexico (March 18-22), Grand Cayman (April 23-26), Newport, R.I. (August 20-23), Charlotte (Sept. 24-27), Surprise, Ariz. (Oct. 8-11) and Dubai, U.A.E. (Nov. 18-21).

Founded in 2005, the Outback Champions Series features some of the biggest names in tennis over the last 25 years, including Sampras, McEnroe, Courier and others. To be eligible to compete on the Outback Champions Series, players must have reached at least a major singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team. The Outback Champions Series features eight events on its 2009 schedule with each event featuring $150,000 in prize money as well as Champions Series ranking points that will determine the year-end No. 1 and winner of a $100,000 bonus.

InsideOut Sports + Entertainment is a New York City-based independent producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Outback Champions Series, a collection of tennis events featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including “Legendary Night” exhibitions, charity events and tennis fantasy camps such as the annual “Ultimate Fantasy Camp”. Through 2008, InsideOut Sports + Entertainment events have raised over $4 million for charity. For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.

Andre Agassi To Play On The Outback Champions Series

NEW YORK, March 9, 2009 – InsideOut Sports & Entertainment today announced that Andre Agassi will play Outback Champions Series tennis for the first time when he participates in the The Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships at Surprise October 8-11 at the Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex in Surprise, Ariz. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America Championships at Surprise is the seventh of eight events on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over.

Agassi is the first player announced for the 2009 tournament which will feature a field of eight champion players competing in a single knock-out format event over four days competing for $150,000 in prize money and ranking points that determine the year-end No. 1 ranked player on the Outback Champions Series. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America Championships at Surprise is a second-year event on the circuit. John McEnroe won the inaugural event in 2008 in Surprise, defeating Todd Martin in the final. Agassi will be the eighth former world No. 1 to compete on the Outback Champions Series joining Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Pat Rafter, Stefan Edberg, Mats Wilander, Thomas Muster and McEnroe.

In his historic career, Agassi, 38, became one of only five men in the history of tennis to win all four major singles titles in a career, joining Rod Laver, Don Budge, Roy Emerson and Fred Perry. Agassi won his first major title at Wimbledon in 1992, defeating Goran Ivanisevic in a dramatic five-set final. He won his first U.S. Open title in 1994 and his second five years later in 1999. He won four Australian Open titles between 1995 and 2003, while his victory at the 1999 French Open rounded out his “career” Grand Slam. Agassi ranked No. 1 in the world for 101 weeks during his career. He helped the United States win the Davis Cup in 1990, 1992 and 1995 and won 60 career singles titles from 1987 until he concluded his career at the 2006 U.S. Open. In 1994, Agassi started the Andre Agassi Foundation which is dedicated to transforming public education for underserved youth.

Ticket, travel and tournament information can be found by visiting www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.

About the Outback Champions Series
Founded in 2005, the Outback Champions Series features some of the biggest names in tennis over the last 25 years. To be eligible to compete on the Outback Champions Series, players must have reached at least a major singles final, been ranked in the top five in the world or played singles on a championship Davis Cup team. The year-end No. 1 ranked player on the Series will receive a $100,000 bonus.

About InsideOut Sports & Entertainment
InsideOut Sports & Entertainment is a New York City-based independent producer of proprietary events and promotions founded in 2004 by former world No. 1 and Hall of Fame tennis player Jim Courier and former SFX and Clear Channel executive Jon Venison. In 2005, InsideOut launched its signature property, the Outback Champions Series, a collection of tennis events featuring the greatest names in tennis over the age of 30. In addition, InsideOut produces many other successful events including one-night “Legendary Night” exhibitions as well as charity events and tennis fantasy camps, including the annual Ultimate Fantasy Camp. Through 2008, InsideOut Sports & Entertainment events have raised over $4 million for charity.  For more information, please log on to www.InsideOutSE.com or www.ChampionsSeriesTennis.com.

Nadal is Marvin Hagler. Federer is Sugar Ray Leonard

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer showed again why their rivalry is among the greatest in not just tennis, but in all sports. Nadal denied Federer the chance to win his record tying 14th major men’s singles title, defeating the Swiss Maestro 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-2 to win his first Australian Open title and his sixth major title. The battle was their seventh battle in a major final (Nadal leads 5-2) and for the19th time in all (Nadal leads 13-6). Nadal won winning three French Open finals (2006, 2007, 2008) from Federer and last year’s epic Wimbledon final. Nadal was given the Norman Brookes Trophy by Rod Laver, who 49 years ago to the day, won his first ever major singles final by winning the 1960 Australian title. Rene Stauffer chronicles the beginnings of the Nadal-Federer rivalry in his book THE ROGER FEDERER STORY, QUEST FOR PERFECTION ($24.95, New Chapter Press, www.rogerfedererbook.com). The exclusive excerpt from the chapter called “A Rivalry Is Born” can be read below.
Chapter 33

A Rivalry Is Born

Following his victory in Melbourne in January of 2006, it was clear to Roger Federer that he had to do everything in his power so that he could be in top form for Paris. A victory at Roland Garros would give him the distinction of being the first player to hold all four Grand Slam titles since Rod Laver in 1969. It would be a “Roger Slam”-a phrase borrowed from the “Serena Slam” coined when Serena Williams held all four Grand Slam tournament titles during an impressive run in 2002 and 2003. “That would be as valuable to me as the real Grand Slam,” said Tony Roche, an aficionado of tennis history. “I don’t want to denigrate Rod Laver’s and Don Budge’s accomplishments who were the only men to manage the Grand Slam, but you can’t forget that three of these tournaments were played on grass back then.” Only one player won the four great titles of tennis when played on four different court surfaces-Andre Agassi.

Federer took a break in February and, like the year before, didn’t participate in the Davis Cup first round so he could concentrate solely on condition training and carefully plan his competitions and his rest and recovery peri­ods. The tournament titles continued to pile up. After losing to No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal on a hard court in Dubai, Federer won the Tennis Masters Series events in Indian Wells for a third year in a row and again in Key Biscayne for the second consecutive year. The clay court season also began with promise as he reached the final of the Monte Carlo Open for the first time in his career, only to lose to Nadal in a tight four-set struggle 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-6 (5). A few weeks later, the two met again in the final of Rome, where the No. 1 and No. 2 players played in one of the best matches of the 2006 season. Federer led 4-1 in the fifth set and botched two match points at 6-5 in the fifth set before losing in a five-hour-and-six-minute struggle 6-7(0), 7-6 (5), 6-4,2-6, 7-6 (5). The match not only proved that Federer was catching up to the clay court prowess of Nadal, but also firmly cemented the rivalry between Federer-Nadal as one of the best in global sports.

During the dramatic Rome final, journalists sitting in the media grandstand overheard Federer shout some unusual words to the players’ box. “Everything all right, Tony?” Had his almost 61-year-old coach Tony Roche taken ill dur­ing the match? No. Federer later explained that he was not speaking to Tony Roche but Nadal’s uncle and coach Toni. He said he was angry that “Uncle Toni” was allegedly giving illegal coaching to his nephew-an incident that Federer said he noticed against Nadal in the Dubai and Monte Carlo finals earlier in the year. Federer also shared his displeasure over the alleged illegal coaching with ATP officials. Federer said ATP officials should not just sit there and enjoy the tennis, but they should make sure that rules are followed. “You can otherwise just throw the rule book away,” he said.

Federer’s intervention during the match did not escape Nadal. They shook hands coldly after the match. Their relationship became strained for the first time. Back on Mallorca following the final, Nadal accused Federer of being a sore loser during an interview with Spanish press. “He has to learn to be a gentleman even when he loses,” Nadal stated. Although both athletes skipped the tournament in Hamburg following the marathon match in Rome, their paths crossed once again a few days later. At the Laureus Awards ceremony in Barcelona, Federer was chosen again as the “Sportsman of the Year” and Nadal was honored as “Newcomer of the Year.”

“We sat at the same table with the Princess of Spain between us and we noticed that it wasn’t such a big deal,” Federer said. “Everything had blown over by the time we were in Paris.”

At Roland Garros, Federer effortlessly reached the semifinals-losing only one set in the process to Nicolas Massu of Chile in the third round. David Nalbandian, Federer’s former nemesis, waited in the semifinals and after only 39 minutes of play, the Argentine surprisingly lead 6-4, 3-0. Nalbandian, however, was troubled by a stomach injury and as the match progressed, it became too much to bear. With the score knotted at one set a piece and Federer leading 5-2 in the third set, Nalbandian was forced to retire from the match.

It seemed as though 2006 was Federer’s year. He was one match away from the “Roger Slam” but once again, Nadal waited in the final. The Spaniard entered the final having won his last 59 matches on clay courts-his first-round win over Sweden’s Robin Soderling broke the all-time clay court streak of 53 matches set by Guillermo Vilas in 1977.

Federer, however, was convinced he could beat him. He and Tony Roche analyzed the left-hander’s game and pondered his tactics. In contrast to right-handed players, Nadal had a completely different range distribution. He covered his left half of the court much better than most players and he was able to more consistently work on Federer’s weaker backhand side with his forehand.

The final was one of the most highly-anticipated matches in memory. Black market prices for the final reached four digit figures in euros. The media outdid itself with previews and headlines-“Prince against the Pirate” ran the headlines of the British Independent on Sunday. Former French heavyweight boxing champion Jean-Claude Bouttier said the final reminded him of one of the greatest fights in boxing history. “A stylist is meeting a puncher at this match,” he said. “Nadal is Marvin Hagler. Federer is Sugar Ray Leonard.”

The match began fantastically for Federer. Carried by a wave of sympathy from the spectators accorded the No. 1-seeded “underdog,” he won the first set 6-1 on the hot afternoon with temperatures hovering near 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The turning point in the match, however, came quickly and bru­tally. At 0-1 in the second set and after leading 40-0 on his serve, Federer missed an easy volley at the net to lose his serve and go down an early break in the second set. His tremendous momentum was lost. Months later, Federer said that this moment “broke his neck.” While Federer fell apart, Nadal got his second wind and rallied for the 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory. It was Federer’s first loss in a Grand Slam final.

Even months later, Federer could not say exactly what happened during the three-hour final. “I wasn’t nervous,” he said. “To the contrary, I was even astonished at how cool I was. The fact that I wasn’t able to pull it off had to do with Nadal. He was impressive coming back after the first set.” Was there something he would do differently if he could play this final again? “Yes. I would have changed my game after the first set even though I was winning,” he said. “I should have stood farther up, played more aggressively and I needed to try to put more pressure on him.”

Although he reached the final of every tournament he played to date in 2006, there was now an unmistakable blemish on this record. His four losses in 2006 were all to Nadal and all in finals. His first loss was on the hard courts of Dubai, with the next three coming on clay in the finals of Monte Carlo, Rome and Paris. In the meantime, his career record against Nadal was 1-6, with his lone victory being achieved after coming back from a two-sets-to-love deficit in the Key Biscayne final in 2005. Nadal, however, was cautious to not lay claim to the No. 1 ranking. “I can’t say that I’m better than Roger because that wouldn’t be true,” he said in Paris.

The comforts of the grass courts of Wimbledon-still considered Federer’s realm-followed the disappointment of Paris. Federer thought of something special for this year at the All England Club and showed up for his opening round match against Richard Gasquet on Centre Court with a bit of flair. He sported a classy custom tailored white jacket with an emblem embroidered on the left breast pocket displaying a stylized “F” for Federer, three racquets symbolizing his three Wimbledon titles, a Swiss Cross representing his coun­try of origin, a lion for his zodiac sign, a bushel of grass for the grass season, and his name.

Federer’s 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory over the talented Frenchman was surpris­ing in its ease and lack of drama, but not in the final result. The victory was Federer’s 42nd consecutive win on grass and breaking the all-time grass court record held by Björn Borg, who won 41 straight matches from 1976 to 1981. In humble fashion, Federer gave more credit to Borg’s streak since all of his matches were won at Wimbledon. “The five Wimbledons and the sixth final is something beyond all possibilities for any player,” said Federer, who nearly had his grass court streak end two weeks earlier in Halle, fighting off four match points against Olivier Rochus of Belgium.

Federer had no trouble reaching his fourth straight Wimbledon final and his fifth straight Grand Slam tournament final. For the first time in his career, he reached a Grand Slam final without losing a set. And for the first time in 54 years, the Wimbledon men’s final was a rematch of the French Open final of the same year as Nadal also bullied his way into the final. The Spaniard only managed to win three matches in his three previous Wimbledon appear­ances, but played with more vigor, fight and confidence than previous years. In the second round, he rallied from a two-sets-to-love deficit to beat American qualifier Robert Kendrick 6-7 (4), 3-6, 7-6 (2), 7-5, 6-4 and then ended the Wimbledon career of Andre Agassi in the third round. A straight-sets win in the semifinals over the upstart Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis gave Nadal the distinction of being the second Spanish man to reach the Wimbledon final-joining 1966 Wimbledon Champion Manolo Santana.

But any and all statistics were of secondary importance on July 9, 2006. Although Federer couldn’t be overtaken in the world rankings, another defeat at the hands of Nadal would deprive him of feeling that he could still claim to be No. 1 in the world. He just fought for the “Roger Slam” in Paris and now he was just one defeat away from losing his mystique as the world’s best player.

The fifth meeting between Federer and Nadal for the 2006 season began just like the one in Paris. Federer dominated the first set-blanking Nadal with a 6-0 set, but he then lost his first service game of the second set. Wimbledon, however, was not Paris and the Swiss fought his way back in the set, breaking back for 5-5 before the two settled into a second-set tie-break. After trailing 1-3 in the tie-break, Federer took a comfortable two-sets-to-love lead winning the second-set tie-break 7-5. Nadal did not go away and persisted and won the third-set tie-break. He could smell his opportunity.

After a rain delay, Federer returned to Centre Court and gave a stunning performance, streaking to a 5-1 lead in the fourth set before holding on to close out the fourth set-and the match-6-3. Clinching his fourth straight Wimbledon title, Federer did not sink to the ground and seemed more com­posed than the previous three years. His satisfaction and relief, however, were immense. “This was overall my best Grand Slam tournament,” he said. His third-set loss to Nadal in the final was the only set he lost during the fortnight. He lost only four service games in his seven matches. Nobody since Björn Borg, who won Wimbledon in 1976 without losing a set, prevailed so supremely at The Championships.

Federer once again proved his mental toughness in addition to his com­petitive mettle. “I was aware of the importance of the match,” he stated. “If Nadal won, he would have been the first player since Borg to have won both Paris and Wimbledon in the same year. I was very relaxed during the match because I was playing so well. I said to myself: ‘He’s beaten me a few times already but that was on his surface; that shouldn’t affect our matches on grass or hard-courts. One shouldn’t be discouraged by defeats.'”

Federer accepted the Wimbledon trophy with his white jacket and proudly displayed it, along with his favorite gold cup, during his victory lap around Centre Court. The jacket served its purpose and was then retired to the Wimbledon Museum. The man from Basel was just the third player since World War I to win Wimbledon for a fourth consecutive time-joining Borg and Pete Sampras.

Rod Laver Anniversary Is Next Tuesday, January 27

40th Anniversary of “The Rocket” Winning First Leg of 1969 Grand Slam

Significant anniversaries in the history of the Australian Open – including Tuesday’s 40th anniversary of Rod Laver’s Australian Open victory that was the first leg of his historic 1969 “Grand Slam” – are documented in the new book “On This Day In Tennis History.”

“On This Day In Tennis History” ($19.95, New Chapter Press, 528-pages, www.tennishistorybook.com) is the new tennis book written by Randy Walker, that is a calendar-like compilation of historical and unique anniversaries, events and happenings from the world of tennis through the years.

The 40th anniversary of Rod Laver’s win at the 1969 Australian Open comes on Tuesday, January 27. It was on that day that Laver defeated Spain’s Andres Gimeno, a newly announced inductee in the International Tennis Hall of Fame, by a 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 margin in the Australian Open final, played that year at the Milton Courts in Brisbane. Laver goes on to win an historic second Grand Slam by defeating winning the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open to sweep all four major titles in the same year.

“On This Day In Tennis History” is a fun and fact-filled, this compilation offers anniversaries, summaries, and anecdotes of events from the world of tennis for every day in the calendar year. Presented in a day-by-day format, the entries into this mini-encyclopedia include major tournament victory dates, summaries of the greatest matches ever played, trivia, and statistics as well as little-known and quirky happenings. Easy-to-use and packed with fascinating details, the book is the perfect companion for tennis and general sports fans alike and is an excellent gift idea. “On This Day In Tennis History” is available for purchase via on-line book retailers and in bookstores in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

Said Hall of Famer, two-time Australian Open champion and Outback Champions Series co-founder Jim Courier of the book, “On This Day In Tennis History is a fun read that chronicles some of the most important – and unusual – moments in the annals of tennis. Randy Walker is an excellent narrator of tennis history and has done an incredible job of researching and compiling this entertaining volume.” Said tennis historian Joel Drucker, author of Jimmy Connors Saved My Life, “An addictive feast that you can enjoy every possible way – dipping in for various morsels, devouring it day-by-day, or selectively finding essential ingredients. As a tennis writer, I will always keep this book at the head of my table.” Said Bill Mountford, former Director of Tennis of the USTA National Tennis Center, “On This Day In Tennis History is an easy and unique way to absorb the greatest – and most quirky – moments in tennis history. It’s best read a page a day!”

Other Australian Open interesting anniversaries over the course of the rest of the tournament are as follows:

January 25, 2003 – Serena Williams clinches “The Serena Slam” beating older sister Venus Williams 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-4 to win the Australian Open and complete her sweep of four consecutive major championships. Venus, ironically, is the final-round victim of Serena’s in all four of the major tournaments. Serena joins Maureen Connolly, Margaret Court, Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf as the only women to hold all four major tournament titles at the same time. “I never get choked up, but I’m really emotional right now,” says Serena in the post-match ceremony. “I’m really, really, really happy. I’d like to thank my mom and my dad for helping me.” The win for Serena places her ahead in her head-to-head series with Venus by a 5-4 margin. Says Venus of her younger sister, “I wish I could have been the winner, but of course you have a great champion in Serena and she has won all four Grand Slams, which is something I’d love to do one day.”

January 26, 1992 – Twenty-one-year-old Jim Courier defeats Stefan Edberg 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 to win his first Australian Open singles title, putting him in position to become the first American man to rank No. 1 since John McEnroe in 1985. Courier becomes the first American man to win the Australian Open in 10 years and celebrates his win by running out of the stadium and jumping into the nearby Yarra River, one of the most polluted rivers in the world. Says Courier of the river’s condition, “It was really dirty.” Courier assumes the No. 1 ranking on Feb. 10.

January 27, 1970 – Playing in a drizzle and swirling wind on the grass courts of White City in Sydney, Arthur Ashe wins the Australian Open men’s singles title, defeating Australian Dick Crealy 6-4, 9-7, 6-2. The singles title is Ashe’s second at a major tournament – to go with his 1968 triumph at the U.S. Open. Margaret Court needs only 40 minutes to win the Australian Open women’s title for a ninth time, defeating Kerry Melville 6-3, 6-1 in the women’s singles final.

January, 27, 2008 – Novak Djokovic outlasts unseeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (2) to win the men’s singles title at the Australian Open – his first major singles title. Seeded No. 3, the 20-year-old Djokovic becomes the first man from Serbia to a major singles title. Djokovic snaps a streak of 11 straight major championships won by either world No. 1 Roger Federer or No. 2 Rafael Nadal. Tsonga, ranked No. 38, was attempting to become the first Frenchman in 80 years (Jean Borotra in 1928) to win the Australian men’s singles championship.

January 28, 1946 – John Bromwich wins the men’s singles title at the Australian Championships – the first major championships held in the post World War II era, defeating 19-year-old fellow Australian Dinny Pails 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 in the final.

January 28, 1989 – Steffi Graf wins her second Australian Open singles title, defeating Helena Sukova 6-4, 6-4 in the women’s singles final. “It wasn’t easy today,” says Graf, who doesn’t lose a set in the tournament. “I found it really hard to get into my rhythm. Helena was hitting some good shots and when somebody serves like that, it’s hard to win.” The 19-year-old Graf shrugs off talk of a second-consecutive Grand Slam after claiming her fifth straight major singles title, saying “I had an incredible year last year and I’ve started awfully well this year, but I’m not going to get myself in trouble and say it’s going to happen again.”

January 28, 2007 – Roger Federer wins his 10th major singles title, defeating Fernando Gonzalez of Chile 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Australian Open. Federer becomes only the fourth man in the Open era to win a major title without the loss of a set – the last being Bjorn Borg at Roland Garros in 1980. The championship match is umpired by Frenchwoman Sandra De Jenken – the first time in tennis history a woman umpired a men’s Grand Slam singles final.

January 29, 1938 – Don Budge defeats Australian John Bromwich 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 to win the Australian Championships at Memorial Drive in Adelaide, Australia. The title marks the first leg of Budge’s eventual “Grand Slam” sweep of all four major championships.

January 29, 1955 – Ken Rosewall hands Tony Trabert what turns out to be his only singles loss in a major championship for the 1955 calendar year, defeating the American 8-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the semifinals of the Australian Championships in Adelaide, Australia. Trabert goes on to win the French Championships, Wimbledon and the U.S. Championships to complete one of the most successful seasons in the history of tennis. Rosewall wins the title two days later on January 31, defeating fellow Australian Lew Hoad 9-7, 6-4, 6-4

January 29, 1968 – Billie Jean King of the United States and Bill Bowrey of Australian win the final “amateur” major championships at the Australian Championships – King beating Margaret Smith Court of Australia 6-1, 6-2 and Bowrey beating Juan Gisbert of Spain 5-7, 2-6, 9-7, 6-4 in the singles finals. The 1968 Australian Championships are the last major tournament to be played before the legislatures of tennis “open” the game to professionals in addition to the amateurs. King, who breaks Court’s service six times on the day in the windy conditions at the Kooyong Tennis Club in Melbourne, says after the match that she is planning to retire from the sport in the next 18 months to two years. “I do not want to go on playing much longer. I want to settle down,” says King, who never “settled down” playing up through 1983 and remaining active in tennis and women’s sports for decades.

January 29, 1989 – Ivan Lendl wins his first Australian Open singles title and his seventh career major singles title defeating fellow Czech Miloslav Mecir 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 in the men’s singles final. The win guarantees that Lendl will take back the world No. 1 ranking from Mats Wilander, the man who took it from him by winning the U.S. Open the previous September. In women’s doubles, the top-seeded team of Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver win their seventh Australian Open women’s doubles title with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Patty Fendick and Jill Hetherington. Shriver and Navratilova’s victory is their 20th major doubles title as a team.

January 29, 2006 – Roger Federer gets emotional, cries and hugs all-time great Rod Laver during the post-match ceremony following his 5-7, 7-5, 6-0, 6-2 win over upstart Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis in the final of the Australian Open. Federer has difficulty putting to words the emotions he feels during the post-match ceremony and sobs after receiving the trophy from Laver. “I hope you know how much this means to me,” he says as he wipes away tears. Federer becomes the first player to win three consecutive major tournaments since Pete Sampras wins at the 1994 Australian Open. The title is his seventh career major title, tying him with John McEnroe, John Newcombe and Mats Wilander.

January 30, 1967 – Roy Emerson wins the Australian men’s singles title for a fifth straight year, beating Arthur Ashe 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 in the title match played in Adelaide, Australia. Emerson needs only 75 minutes to beat Ashe in front of a crowd of 6,000 for his 11th major singles title. The turning point of the match comes with the score knotted at 4-4 in the first set and Ashe serves three straight double faults to lose his serve, allowing Emerson to serve out the set and roll to the straight-sets win. Unknowingly at the time, as statisticians and media representatives were yet to keep track of stats and records, but Emerson’s title makes him the all-time men’s singles major championship winner, moving him past Bill Tilden, who won 10 major singles titles from 1920 to 1930. In the women’s singles final, Nancy Richey beats Lesley Turner 6-1, 6-4 to win her first major title,

January 30, 1994 – Pete Sampras wins his third consecutive major singles title, slamming 13 aces with speeds as fast as 126 mph in defeating first-time major finalist Todd Martin 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-4 at the Australian Open. The top-seeded Sampras becomes the first man in nearly 30 years to win Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Australian Open consecutively, joining Roy Emerson in 1964-65 and Don Budge in 1937-38. “He’s just too good and he really deserves what he’s succeeding at, because he’s really working his butt off,” Martin says of Sampras.

January 31, 1927 – Gerald Patterson of Australia hits 29 aces – against 29 double faults – in beating Jack Hawkes 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 18-16, 6-3 to win the men’s singles title at the Australian Championships in Melbourne.

January 31, 1993 – For the second consecutive year, Jim Courier defeats Stefan Edberg in the men’s singles final at the Australian Open. Courier wins his fourth – and ultimately becomes his last – major singles title, with a 6-2, 6-1, 2-6, 7-5 victory. Says Courier, “It’s always very special to win Grand Slams, and to come back and defend makes it twice as special.” The final is played in blistering heat, with on-court temperatures measuring 150 degrees. Says Edberg of the blistering conditions, “At one stage, you feel like death.”

February 1, 1960 – Rod Laver and Margaret Smith win their first career major singles titles at the Australian Championships in Brisbane. Laver stages an incredible two-sets-to-love comeback to defeat reigning U.S. champion Neale Fraser 5-7, 3-6, 6-3, 8-6, 8-6 in 3 hours, 15 minutes. Laver, who goes on to win 11 major singles titles – including two Grand Slam sweeps in 1962 and 1969 – saves a match point at 4-5 in the fourth set. Following the match, Fraser collapses in the dressing room in cramps and fatigue. Margaret Smith – later Margaret Court – wins the first of her eventual 11 Australian singles titles at the age of 17, defeating fellow Australian teenager – 18-year-old Jan Lehane – by a 7-5, 6-2 margin. Court goes on to win a record 24 major singles titles.

February 1, 2004 – Roger Federer wins his first Australian Open crown, his second career major singles title and puts an exclamation point on taking over the world’s No. 1 ranking with a 7-6 (3), 6-4, 6-2 win over Marat Safin in the men’s singles final at the Australian Open. “What a great start to the year for me, to win the Australian Open and become No. 1 in the world,” Federer says. “To fulfill my dreams, it really means very much to me.”

Walker is a writer, tennis historian and freelance publicist and sports marketer. A 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s Marketing and Communications Division, he served as the press officer for the U.S. Davis Cup team from 1997 to 2005 and for the U.S. Olympic tennis teams in 1996, 2000 and 2004. He also served as the long-time editor of the U.S. Open Record Book during his tenure at the USTA from 1993 to 2005.

More information on the book can be found at www.tennistomes.com as well as on facebook.com at www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1627089030&ref=name and on myspace.com.

New Chapter Press is also the publisher of The Bud Collins History of Tennis by Bud Collins, The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection by Rene Stauffer and Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli and the soon to be released title The Lennon Prophecy by Joe Niezgoda. Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is an independent publisher of books and part of the Independent Publishers Group. More information can be found at www.newchapterpressmedia.com

Tennis History Tuesday

Bud Collins is perhaps the world’s best authority on the history of tennis. In his new book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS, Bud summarizes the Australian Open, which on January 19 in Melbourne. THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS book ($35.95, New Chapter Press) features a comprehensive look at the Australian Open including championship scrolls and scores of all events, results from the singles quarterfinals onward and tournament records (that are even more comprehensive than the tournament’s record book and media guide!) For more information on the book, go to www.tennistomes.com.

Tennis had been played Down Under for 25 years before a national championship was organized in 1905 in Melbourne at the Warehousemen’s Ground-this four years after six British Colonies had come together as the Commonwealth of Australia. It was men only at first, as was the case with the U.S. and Wimbledon championships. The tournament was called the Australasian Championships, a cooperative venture with neighboring New Zealand, a country that also shared a Davis Cup team with the Aussies,

notably in the person of Kiwi Tony Wilding. Wilding and Aussie Norman Brookes won four Cups for Australasia: 1907-08-09, 14. New Zealand dropped from the alliance in 1922, and in 1927 this event became the Australian Championships.

Strikingly, the first champ in 1905, and 64 years later the first champ of the “Open” era were Rodneys: Rodney Heath, the initial victor over Arthur Curtis, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in a field of 17; Rodney Laver, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5, over Spaniard Andres Gimeno in a field of

48 at Brisbane in 1969. In 1906, Wilding was the first foreigner to win, 6-0, 6-4, 6-4, over Francis Fisher in the champ’s hometown, Christchurch.

Not until 1922 did women enter the picture when 27-yearold Mall Molesworth beat 20-year-old Esna Boyd, 6-3, 10-8, in the final in Sydney. They played alongside the men, except for three separate tournaments, 1980-82. Dorothy Round, in 1935 at Melbourne, was the first female outsider as champion, beating Nancy Lyle in an all-English final, 1-6, 6-1, 6-3. Dorothy Bundy (now a Hall of Famer as Mrs. Cheney), was the first American woman to win, defeating Dorothy Stevenson, 6-3, 6-2, in 1938 at Adelaide. That year, another Yank, Don Budge, launched the original Grand Slam with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-1, victory over John Bromwich. The courts for the tournament were grass until 1988. Then a rubberized hard court surface called Rebound Ace complemented the new national tennis complex called Flinders Park (the name changed to Melbourne Park in 1998). Because that pavement became sticky on very hot summer days, it was replaced in 2008 by hard courts called plexicushion, colored blue rather than the customary green.

Though Melbourne has been the site of the tournament since 1972, it moved about often in earlier days among five Australian cities: Brisbane (1907, 15, 23, 56, 60, 64, 69); Sydney (1908, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, 34, 37, 40, 47, 51, 54, 58, 62, 66, 70-71); Perth (1909, 13, 21); Adelaide (1910, 20, 26, 29, 32, 36, 38, 46, 49, 52, 55, 59, 63, 67); Melbourne (1911, 14, 24, 27, 30, 33, 35, 39, 48, 50, 53, 57, 61, 65, 68); and two in New Zealand: Christchurch (1906); Hastings (1912). Melbourne was the most successful host after the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club erected a 12,000 seat concrete horseshoe in 1927. Stadia at White City, Sydney (1922), Memorial Drive, Adelaide (1920), and Milton Courts, Brisbane, were other prominent locations.

Australia, lagging behind the other three majors in prestige, interest, prize money and player fields, needed a lift and got a tremendous one in 1988 with christening of the attractive new playpen, Flinders/Melbourne Park. Modernity took over. Suddenly the Australian was the style-setter with a retractable roof for the principal stadium (named Rod Laver Arena in 1992), seating 14,820. In 2000, another such arena was added, the Vodafone Arena seating 11,000 and also with a retractable roof. The Aussies were ahead of the game with no bothersome rain-outs, nor TV networks stalled with nothing live to show. Strangely (obtusely?), Wimbledon and the U.S. weren’t respective copycats when the new Court 1 and Ashe Stadium were opened, respectively, in 1997.

Abandoned, as a big-time stop on the tour as Forest Hills had been in 1978, famed Kooyong (using temporary stands to pack in 17,500 for the 1953 Davis Cup final) settled into a comfortable private club existence. An attendance (140,000) was set for Kooyong’s farewell to the Open, 1987. That was quickly surpassed at Melbourne Park. In 2008, the event drew a record 605,735 fans.

Two championships were held in 1977 when the tournament moved from January to December dates, and no event was held in 1986 to readjust to the traditional January date. The tie-breaker was adopted in 1971, not in force for ultimate sets, the fifth for men, third for women.

Showing some reluctance in joining the “Open” era, the Australian was the last of the three majors to take the plunge, remaining amateur in 1968, then integrating with $25,000 in prize money the following year. That figure accelerated to $18,813,400 in 2008, prize money equally paid the women since 2001. Laver got $5,000 as the 1969 champ, Margaret Smith Court $1,500, a pittance compared with $1,217,930 in 2008 with singles winners Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova winning just shy of $1.2 million. The event’s championship cups honor the memory of two bygone champs, both Australian, Daphne Akhurst for the women and Norman Brookes for the men. Alas for the citizenry, no homebody has clung to that silver since Chris O’Neil in 1978 and Mark Edmondson in 1976.