Eight first-round Davis Cup ties unfold around the world this weekend. We discuss the key players and themes that might emerge from each of them.
Canada vs. Spain: Without any of their top three men, Davis Cup Goliath Spain finds itself at a surprising disadvantage when it travels to the western coast of North America. Had either Nadal or Ferrer participated in this tie against Canada, the visitors would remain heavy favorites even against a squad spearheaded by Milos Raonic and aging doubles star Daniel Nestor. Instead, Canada now can rely on two victories from their singles #1 against the overmatched pair of Marcel Granollers and Albert Ramos, forcing Spain to sweep the remaining three matches. Among those is a doubles rubber that pits Nestor against World Tour Finals champions Granollers and Marc Lopez, who lost three of their four Davis Cup doubles rubbers last year. If the tie reaches a live fifth rubber, as seems plausible, Spanish champion Alex Corretja might consider substituting Guillermo Garcia-Lopez for Ramos against the net-rushing Frank Dancevic. Buoyed by their home crowd, though, Canada should find a way to snatch one of the three non-Raonic rubbers and send Spain to the playoff round for the first time in recent memory.
Italy vs. Croatia: This tie should hinge on home-court advantage and the choice of ground that it entails. On a fast hard court, the formidable serves of Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig would stifle the less imposing firepower of the Italians. But Croatia faces Andreas Seppi and Fabio Fognini on the red clay of Turin, a slow surface where the superior consistency of the hosts should lead them to victory. The visitors will face the intriguing choice of whether to substitute their singles stars on Saturday for a doubles pairing almost certainly doomed to defeat. Three straight days of best-of-five matches for Cilic, Dodig, or both would leave them even more vulnerable to the Italian war of attrition, though. At any rate, the contrast of styles between the fearless first strikes of the Croats and the patient baseline rallying of the Italians should provide entertaining viewing.
Belgium vs. Serbia: One might see Djokovic’s name on the schedule and automatically checking off the “Serbia” box, but a few flickers of doubt persist. First, the Australian Open champion may have arrived physically and mentally drained from his recent exploits, and he has struggled against Friday opponent Olivier Rochus throughout his career. Breaking from a long history of Davis Cup participation, Serbian #2 Janko Tipsarevic cannot step into the breach if Djokovic falters. That duty lies in the suspect hands of Viktor Troicki, who endured a miserable 2012, and in the aging hands of Nenad Zimonjic, well past his prime despite his many accomplishments. Serbia thus might find itself in real trouble if they played a team with a notable talent, like Canada. With just the 32-year-old Rochus and the volatile but unreliable David Goffin barring their path, however, they should advance even if their stars underperform.
USA vs. Brazil: Tennis Grandstand will feature more detailed coverage of this tie over the weekend. For the moment, we will note that Team USA stands in promising position with two serving leviathans on an indoor hard court, complemented by the reigning Australian Open doubles champions. While Isner did not win a match in January as he struggled with a knee injury, and Querrey did not impress in Melbourne, both should steamroll the harmless Brazilian #2 Thiago Alves. In the best-case scenario for Brazil, which would feature two victories for their #1 Bellucci, their doubles duo of Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares still should fall short against the Bryans. All of these Americans have played some of their best tennis on home soil and in Davis Cup, including on less friendly surfaces, whereas Brazil has accomplished little of note in this competition recently.
France vs. Israel: Across from one team that often proves less than the sum of its talents in Davis Cup stands a team that typically overperforms expectations at the national level. Whereas France will bring two members of the top 10 to this tie, Israel can claim no top-100 threat in singles. The fast indoor hard court should allow the offensive might of Tsonga to overwhelm Dudi Sela and Amir Weintraub, although the latter has developed into a more credible threat over the last several months. In a tantalizing doubles rubber, a battle of all-stars pits Jonathan Ehrlich and Andy Ram against Julien Benneteau and Michael Llodra. Underdogs in every singles rubber and arguably the doubles too, Israel can hope for an upset only if Gasquet crumbles under the pressure of playing for national pride on home soil as he has so infamously before. Otherwise, the talent gap simply looms too large.
Argentina vs. Germany: Perhaps the most tightly contested tie, this battle on outdoor red clay will unfold in the absence of Del Potro, who would have given the home squad a clear edge. While Argentina will field a squad of clay specialists, leading Germans Philipp Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer have acquitted themselves well on the surafce and should not find themselves at a disadvantage parallel to Croatia in Italy. Much rests on the shoulders of Juan Monaco, tasked with avoiding the daunting 0-2 deficit after Kohlschreiber likely opens the tie by dismissing Carlos Berlocq. The top Argentine here enjoyed his best season to date last year but did not start 2013 especially well. Lurking in the shadows, as he so often does, is long-time Argentine Davis Cup hero David Nalbandian. Argentina will hope that Nalbandian’s contribution in doubles on Saturday will combine with two Monaco victories to give them the points that they need without reaching a live fifth rubber. There, one would favor Mayer to overcome both Berlocq and the Argentine crowd.
Pick: Er, Argentina?
Kazakhstan vs. Austria: In a tie without a singles star of note, the opportunity beckons for someone to seize the spotlight in a way that he could not at a major. The most likely candidate to do so would seem Austrian #1 Jurgen Melzer, the only top-100 singles player on either side. His opponents can produce better tennis than their current rankings suggest, though, and Andrey Golubev already has started the tie in promising fashion with a straight-sets victory over Andreas Haider-Maurer. The doubles edge probably belongs to Austria with the greater expertise of Alexander Peya and Julian Knowle, specialists who will allow the 31-year-old Melzer to rest for Sunday. Excluded from the initial lineup is top-ranked Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin, whose absence will force #211 Evgeny Korolev to win a best-of-five match for the hosts to survive.
Switzerland vs. Czech Republic: While Tomas Berdych is the highest-ranked man in this clash between nearby nations, the most intriguing role goes to opposing #1 Stanislas Wawrinka. After he came far closer than anyone to toppling Djokovic at the Australian Open, the latter may suffer a hangover in a competition where he has struggled lately. Moreover, Switzerland leans on Wawrinka to win both of his singles matches and contribute to a doubles victory on the intervening day, an enormous challenge for the sternest of competitors when the last of those matches involves Berdych. The Czech Republic will not enlist the services of Radek Stepanek, a rare absentee this weekend like Tipsarevic, but singles #2 Lukas Rosol intimidates much more than anyone that Switzerland can throw at him. In the Federer/Wawrinka era, no Swiss team ever has presented the united front that the defending champions have behind Berdych. The medium-slow hard court should not trouble the broad-shouldered world #6 unduly.
Pick: Czech Republic
Another calendar year about to come to a close means that we can officially turn the page on another exciting year of professional tennis. Truly 2009 was not just an ordinary year in the history of the sport, but one that had fans and media alike talking tennis at great lengths over the past twelve months.
Tennis grabbed the headlines for a variety of reasons – some good, some bad – and captivated us from Rafael Nadal’s first hard-court Grand Slam victory in January to Nikolay Davydenko’s unlikely season-ending triumph at the Tour finals in November. In between we had a comeback like no other from Kim Clijsters in the summer and a meltdown from Serena Williams that made John McEnroe look like a saint. What about December you ask? Well hey, we have to give these guys a break sometime don’t we?
With all the high’s and low’s from the past year it is difficult to focus on just a few, but some certainly stood out more than others.
Roger Federer’s Achievements:
Up until the last Slam of the year in 2008, our boy Roger was getting a lot of flack from people about his performance on the court. No major titles to his credit, a thrashing by Rafa at Roland Garros and losing to the Spaniard again at Wimbledon did not bode well for his attempt at continued domination and his desire to topple the Grand Slam record held by Pete Sampras. Eventually he did win the U.S. Open to salvage some much needed respect and confidence – but could he maintain it in 2009?
Roger responded with authority by making all four Slam finals, finally breaking through at the French Open to complete his career-slam and re-taking Wimbledon in a match for the ages (yeah I know, we said that in 2008 too!) He broke Pete’s record with his 15th major title and also celebrated the year in his personal life with a wedding and the arrival of twins.
He is arguably now the greatest player of all-time and whether he adds to his Slam-total or not, it will be a good while before we even think about his record being challenged. Despite not being named the AP athlete of the year, this guy is as classy a champion as we’ll ever see. He is without a doubt, the tennis played of the year for 2009.
Serena Williams’ Ups and Downs:
On the women’s side the distinction of player of the year goes to Serena Williams. I’m not sure if the word ‘classy’ can be thrown in along with that, but her record at the majors was untouched. Slam victories at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, along with the season-ending championship in Qatar,’ all cemented her status as world number one. And let’s not forget her doubles accomplishments with sister Venus, as the duo won three Slams together and finished the year ranked third overall despite only entering six tournaments.
Negating some of the praise for her tennis achievements was the unfortunate meltdown in her semi-final match at the U.S. Open against Kim Clijsters. Her verbal assault towards a line-judge was completely unacceptable and brought all the wrong kind of attention to the sport in a match that should have been purely about two great and talented tennis players. Foot-fault or not, she was deducted a point according to the rules and as it was on match-point it ended up being the end of the contest.
Take away that one incident – if you can – and everyone would have been singing Serena’s praises for such a fantastic year. Personally I think we can shrug off this ugly heat-of-the-moment outburst and look for Serena to let her play speak for itself in 2010.
Big-name, small-name, older and younger, there were several notable comebacks in 2009. The most impressive no-doubt goes to a certain Belgian player named Kim Clijsters. Clijsters chose a difficult time of the year to return to professional tennis – halfway through the season – and knocked off some tough competition in her first two tournaments back. It was in her third tournament, at the U.S. Open however, that she really showed us what she could do. After more than two years away from the game, Clijsters knocked off both Williams sisters en-route to her second career Grand Slam title. Makes you wonder if a little time away from the game might help some other players seeking to win another major, doesn’t it?
Other returning players worth note include Taylor Dent on the men’s side who overcame a potentially career-ending back injury to jump from 804 to 75 in the ATP rankings. It’s nice to see the affable serve and volleyer back on the court after such a prolonged absence from the game.
Kimiko Date-Krumm showed us that age is but a number when she returned to the court at 38 years old and became the second-oldest player behind Billie Jean King to win a tour event.
Maria Sharapova returned from an injury to her shoulder that kept her away from the game for ten months. While her powerful groundstrokes remain a threat, her serve was a disappointment as she attempted to use an adjusted motion. If she can keep the number of double-faults to a minimum there is no reason why Sharapova cannot return to Grand Slam success. January will mark two years since her last major victory.
A final comeback worth noting is that of Justine Henin. While Henin has yet to play a competitive match, she made her announcement in 2009 and one cannot help but think the success of her fellow-Belgian Kim Clijsters was partially responsible. What a great boost to the women’s game that is already thriving with plenty of big-name appeal.
Andre Agassi’s Revelations:
When eight-time Grand Slam champion Andre Agassi left the game in 2006, he exited as a soft-spoken, elder-statesman of the tour and a highly respected ambassador of the sport. It was hard to remember him as the long-haired, Big-mac eating, rock-star Agassi of the 80s or the over-weight, sullen, challenger-level Agassi of 1997. Agassi’s autobiography, Open, reminds us of these times and other dark moments in his tennis career that we never even imagined.
Recreational drug-use, lies to Tour officials about dope tests, and a deep rooted hatred for the game were all shocking admissions that Agassi shares with his readers. How did Agassi’s confession sit with his peers and his fans?
Some, like Martina Navratilova, were quick to condemn him, while others like Andy Roddick stood firm behind him. Most voiced their surprise and disappointment and some applauded his candor. While the manner in which Agassi came clean is somewhat less than perfect, his book sheds much insight into the tortured inner-feelings of one of the sport’s more complex characters.
Many lessons can be learned from his writing such as the pressure tennis parents place on their children, the completely ineffective drug-testing policies the tour’s adhere to and the ability to overcome adversity and triumph through hard work and determination.
It was a year of major tennis accomplishments and disappointments for Israeli tennis players in 2009. The ugly side of sports emerged in February in the United Arab Emirates when politics and racism reared their head in a controversial decision that had everyone talking. Israeli top-forty player Shahar Peer was denied entry into the Emirates despite qualifying for direct entry into the tournament in Dubai. Tournament organizers hid their motives behind so-called fears of security concerns for Peer. In truth, this was just another example of a country that attempts to appear progressive displaying its shallow prejudice.
Sony Ericsson WTA Tour officials mistakenly allowed the tournament to continue despite Peer’s exclusion. Fortunately the situation was corrected in time for the ATP event the following week with Andy Ram playing in the doubles draw. Despite Ram’s entry, American Andy Roddick took a noble stand and refused to play due to the treatment of Peer. A nice gesture of solidarity on his part.
Just when that situation had resolved itself, Israel was once again in the middle of a controversy – this time in Malmo, Sweden, for a Davis Cup tie in early March. Player safety was again cited as the reason why the best-of-five tie would be played with no spectators in attendance. The controversial decision clearly did not help the favored Swedes, as Israel advanced with a surprise 3-2 victory.
Davis Cup would prove to be the saving grace for Israeli tennis in 2009, as the country would defeat a powerful Russian team to get to the semi-finals before bowing out against the eventual champions from Spain. With a roster compiled of unheralded journeymen such as Jonathan Erlich, Harel Levy, Andy Ram and Dudi Sela, Israel made it to their very first Davis Cup semi-final and shocked many along the way. After all of the sensational press they had received earlier in the year, it was a deserving, feel-good story for the Israelis.
Other Notable Events:
– Rafael Nadal’s first-ever loss at Roland Garros versus Robin Soderling. The most shocking loss of 2009 without a doubt and one that would greatly help Federer achieve his missing slam.
– Andy Roddick coming so close to winning his elusive second Grand Slam title. Boy did Andy ever take Roger into extra-innings at Wimbledon in June. He earned some much needed respect after that five set marathon.
– Melanie Oudin’s unexpected run at the U.S. Open where she made it to the quarter-finals. A nice shot-in-the-arm for American tennis that bodes well for the future.
– Drug suspensions and subsequent reversals for Richard Gasquet, Yanina Wickmayer and Xavier Malisse. It is time for the ATP and WTA Tour’s to conduct a serious review of how they handle positive drug tests. Gasquet’s excuse that he ingested cocaine from a night-club encounter with someone’s mouth just doesn’t sit right.
– The retirement of former Grand Slam champions Thomas Johansson, Amelie Mauresmo and Marat Safin as well as Fabrice “The Magician” Santoro and Ai Sugiyama
Sony Ericsson Open
Samantha Stosur beat second-seeded Dinara Safina 6-1 6-4
Gisela Dulko beat third-seeded Jelena Jankovic 6-4 7-6 (5)
Li Na beat sixth-seeded Vera Zvonareva 6-4 3-6 6-2
Agnes Szavay beat seventh-seeded Ana Ivanovic 6-4 4-6 6-1
Ekaterina Makarova beat ninth-seeded Nadia Petrova 7-5 6-1
“I still have that craving.” – Kim Clijsters, saying she will return to professional tennis after a two-year retirement, marriage and motherhood.
“As a past U.S. Open champion and former world number one, Kim (Clijsters) has been a great ambassador for our sport. We are excited about Kim’s return to tennis and look forward to welcoming her to New York this summer.” – Jim Curley, US Open tournament director, confirming Clijsters will receive a wild card into this year’s event.
“It’ll be great for the game because she had such a great spirit and she’s such a good player. And, also she was just so nice. It’s good to have people like that around.” – Serena Williams, on Kim Clijsters’ return to the WTA Tour.
“I am amazed how many players I don’t even know. There are even many names I do not know how to pronounce.” – Kim Clijsters, who left the WTA Tour in 2007.
“Now is the right time for me to embrace a new challenge.” – Larry Scott, announcing he is stepping down as chairman and chief executive of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.
“We’re all sad. He had a special vision and the personality and character and talents and abilities to carry it out. It takes someone special like him.” – Venus Williams, about Larry Scott leaving the WTA Tour.
“There is a gap there right now. You can’t deny that. It’s very tough out here.” – Alexa Glatch, acknowledging there are no young American players currently ready to succeed sisters Serena and Venus Williams.
“We don’t have anyone right now. If you look at the rankings, with only Venus at age 28 and Serena at 27, it’s not a good state.” – Lindsay Davenport, agreeing with Glatch on the state of women’s tennis in the United States.
“She’s obviously a great player, and if I can beat her then that means I’m on top of the game, so I hope we can meet in the semifinals.” – Venus Williams, talking about her sister, Serena.
“I’ve been trying to get a win like this for a long time. I was happy I was able to do it and hopefully there will be more to come.” – Samantha Stosur, after upsetting second-seeded Dinara Safina.
“Obviously it’s nice to get to stay in your own bed at the tournament. That doesn’t happen too much throughout the year.” – Andy Murray, noting he has an apartment in South Beach, Florida, not far from the Sony Ericsson Open.
“I’m at the point where I just want to select the tournaments I’m going to enter and not play too much during the year, and really just try to do well in those tournaments.” – Amelie Mauresmo.
“I don’t have a preference. I prefer to go out with a nice and funny girl. Doesn’t matter if she is a player or an artist.” – Rafael Nadal, answering a reporter’s question.
“We have received advice from a variety of sources referring to traveling to India. It is on that basis of security concerns that we have asked for the tie to be moved out of India.” – Steve Wood, chief executive of Tennis Australia, in a statement.
“We’re a wonderful country as hosts. We’ll provide foolproof security and we want the Australian tennis players to come and play in India.” – Anil Khanna, secretary general of the All India Tennis Association and president of the Asian Tennis Federation.
“It is always important for me to be a good sportsman on the court and give the right example for others to follow and hopefully inspire the next generation. It also means the world to me to be the fans’ favorite player for the sixth year in a row. The support I receive from the fans around the world is so motivating.” – Roger Federer, who was named Sportsman of the Year and Fan Favorite on the ATP tour.
“I’m not going to clean off the court, for sure.” – Novak Djokovic, when asked what he will be doing at his own tournament, the Serbia Open.
Ending a two-year retirement that saw her get married and give birth to her daughter Jada, Kim Clijsters will return to the scene of her greatest triumph: the US Open. “I am not coming back to lose in the first rounds,” said Clijsters, who asked for a wild card entry into America’s Grand Slam tournament. “We have been in contact with Kim regarding her comeback and have committed a 2009 US Open wild card to her,” said tournament director Jim Curley. Clijsters also asked for wild-card entries into the hard-court tournaments in Cincinnati and Toronto that lead up to the US Open. The 25-year-old Belgian right-hander won the US Open in 2005 and was runner-up at four other Grand Slam tournaments, the US Open in 2003, the Australian Open in 2004 and Roland Garros in 2001 and 2003. She was ranked number one in the world in both singles and doubles I 2003.
Larry Scott is stepping down later this year as Sony Ericsson WTA Tour chairman and chief executive and will become commissioner of the Pacific-10 Conference, a college athletic conference in the United States. Under his six-year guidance the WTA Tour has attained equal prize money at every Grand Slam tournament, made sweeping reforms to its calendar and introduced innovations, including electronic line calling. Scott said he began thinking about leaving tennis when the ATP rejected his proposal for a merger of the men’s and women’s tours. “For a variety of reasons it wasn’t accepted,” Scott said. “It’s clear that tennis, for whatever reasons, isn’t ready for that vision to be realized. And then I realized, you know, I’ve done most of the major things that I could want to do. And if this coming together of the men’s and women’s tours is impossible right now, maybe it is a time to think about what else I could do that could be gratifying.” He will work with the WTA Tour board on the selection process for his successor.
Anil Khanna, secretary general of the All India Tennis Association, says Australia’s call for a change of venue of their upcoming Davis Cup tie is based on unfounded security concerns. Steve Wood, chief executive of Tennis Australia, said his country sent a request for a venue change to the International Tennis Federation (ITF) after receiving advice from “a variety of sources.” Khanna, who is also president of the Asian Tennis Federation, said he is expecting the ITF to reject Tennis Australia’s claims. The Asia/Oceania Group I series is scheduled to be played May 8-10, with the winner advancing to the playoffs for a spot in Davis Cup’s elite World Group. The Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket tournament was just moved to South Africa after the Home Ministry said it could not guarantee safety because the dates of the competition clashed with the country’s general elections. In a statement, Wood said: “We have received advice from a variety of sources referring to traveling to India. It is on that basis of security concerns that we have asked for the tie to be moved out of India.”
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has rejected Pakistan’s demand to move its Davis Cup tie against the Philippines to a neutral venue. In a letter to Dilawar Abbas, the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) president, the ITF said the second-round tie will be played in Manila. The July 10-12 competition was originally scheduled to be played in Lahore, Pakistan, but was moved to the Philippines after a terrorist attack in Lahore on cricket players from Sri Lanka. Pakistan said it is concerned about its players’ safety in the Philippines, which also has been dogged by violence.
SERIOUS HE IS
John McEnroe lost a reported USD $2 million in what has been called an art investment scam. Art dealer Lawrence Salander was arrested in New York and he and his gallery have been charged with 100 counts, including grand larceny and securities fraud. Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said Salander faces up to 25 years in prison on the most serious charge. McEnroe lost his money by investing a half share in two paintings. Authorities said the share in the paintings was sold at the same time to another collector and McEnroe never recouped the money. The former tennis star was alerted to the scheme when he learned an art collector owned the same painting he had. Twenty-five other victims of Salander’s alleged scheme have been identified.
SERBIA OPEN PROBLEM
In a dispute with the father of Novak Djokovic, Niki Pilic has stepped down as tournament director of the Serbia Open. Pilic said his decision came after Srdjan Djokovic held a news conference “without previously consulting with me and spoke of things he has no place or capacity to talk about.” Pilic said he will remain as advisor to the Serbia Davis Cup team and “this will not influence my cooperation with Novak Djokovic, with whom I still have a great relationship.” Novak Djokovic is part owner of the Serbia Open, which will be held in Belgrade next month.
Roger Federer continues to pile up the trophies off the court. Fellow players voted the Swiss star the winner of the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship award for a record fifth consecutive year, while fans selected Federer for the sixth consecutive year as their favorite. The only other person to win the Stefan Edberg award five times was Edberg himself, and he needed eight years to do it. Rafael Nadal, who became the first player since Bjorn Borg to win both Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year and the first left-hander since John McEnroe in 1984 to finish the year ranked number one in the world, was selected Player of the Year . Other awards went to: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic, Doubles Team of the Year; James Blake, Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year; Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Most Improved; Kei Nishikori, Newcomer of the Year; Rainer Schuettler, Comeback Player of the Year; Bob and Mike Bryan, Fans’ Favorite Doubles Team; and Alan Trengove, Ron Bookman Media Excellence Award.
SERENA’S THE ONE
For the second time in her career, Serena Williams has been voted the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour’s Player of the Year. Besides winning the US Open in 2008, the 26-year-old American took over the top ranking for the second time in her career. She also teamed with sister Venus to win the doubles gold medal at the Beijing Olympics. Cara Black and Liezel Huber earned their second award for Doubles Team of the Year, while Dinara Safina was named Most Improved Player. Other awards passed out during the Sony Ericsson Championships in Miami, Florida, went to Zheng Jie, Comeback Player of the Year; Caroline Wozniacki, Newcomer of the Year; Ana Ivanovic, Humanitarian of the Year; Elena Dementieva, Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award; and Liezel Huber, Player Service Award.
Dudi Sela, Israel’s top player, lost his qualifying match, yet still reached the main draw of the Sony Ericsson Open when Mario Ancic had to withdraw with an injury. Sela then became a “lucky loser.” Some luck. Sela, who is ranked 57th in the world, was drawn to face former world number one Lleyton Hewitt of Australia in the featured match of the tournament’s opening evening. Hewitt, who received a wild card into the tournament, lost the first set before handing Sela another defeat, this time 3-6 6-4 6-3.
Dick Enberg, ESPN’s lead commentator on Wimbledon, the French Open and the Australian Open, will receive the second Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting. The award will be presented by WFUV Radio at its second annual Spring Gala in New York City on May 6. Also receiving awards that evening will be newscaster Jim Lehrer and musician Paul Simon. The honorees were nominated by their colleagues in their respective field. The award is named for Scully, the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers who is an alumnus of WFUV and is now in his 60th season of broadcasting Dodgers’ baseball games.
Hall of Famer Butch Buchholz was honored at the International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHF) and First Serve festivities in Miami, Florida. The special evening also celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Sony Ericsson Open. Buchholz, who played key roles in the evolution of both professional and amateur tennis, was inducted into the ITHF in 2005. He was commissioner of World Team Tennis (1977-78), ATP executive director (1981-82) and a member of the International Men’s Pro Council (1981-83). He created the Sony Ericsson Open in 1985 and was also instrumental in setting up an ATP World Tour event in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Buchholz also teamed with Arthur Ashe in 1992 to form the “Good Life Mentoring Program” benefiting hundreds of elementary and middle school children in the greater Miami area. As a player, Buchholz was ranked number five in the world in 1960 and was a member of the United States Davis Cup team in 1959-60.
SAME OLD SPOT
For the third straight home tie, the Czech Davis Cup team will be playing at the CEZ Arena in Ostrava. The Czech Tennis Association announced the site for the Davis Cup quarterfinal competition against Argentina on July 10-12. Playing on the same court, the Czechs defeated Belgium in last year’s first round and France in this year’s opener. The
Czech Republic is looking to reach its first Davis Cup semifinal since 1996 against last year’s runner-up Argentina, which defeated Netherlands in this year’s first round.
A man suspected of being part of a betting scam was ejected from a tournament in Les Ormes, Jersey, Channel Islands, Great Britain. Carl Baldwin, the International Tennis Federation supervisor, confirmed that officials were alerted when a player spotted the man acting suspiciously and relaying scores from matches via his mobile phone. The man was asked to leave the Caversham International Tennis Tournament, and he complied without resistance. Britain’s Katie O’Brien won the tournament when Claire Feuerstein of France retired while trailing 7-5 1-0.
Jamshid Ehsani of Greenwich, Connecticut, has been named to the board of directors of USTA Serves, the philanthropic and charitable entity of the United States Tennis Association. Ehsani has served in senior leadership positions with a number of multinational corporations, including the World Bank, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, and UBS and Swiss Re Financial Services.
SITES TO SURF
Ponte Vedra Beach: http://mpsgroupchamps.net
Marbella, Spain: www.andaluciatennis.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$4,500,000 Sony Ericsson Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard (second week)
$116,000 Napoli Cup, Napoli, Italy, clay
$4,500,000 Sony Ericsson Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard (second week)
Asia/Oceania Group IV at Dhaka, Bangladesh: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Iraq, Jordan, Myanmar, Qatar, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Yemen
Europe/Africa Group IV at Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire: Armenia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Cameroon
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$550,000 Grand Prix Hassan II, Casablanca, Morocco, clay
$500,000 US Men’s Clay Court Championships, Houston, Texas, USA, clay
$220,000 MPS Group Championships, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, USA,. Clay
$220,000 Andalucia Tennis Experience, Marbella, Spain, clay
$100,000 Koddaert Ladies Open, Torhout, Belgium, hard
In the battle between two former Australian Open champions, Roger Federer (won in 2004, 06-07) knocked out Marat Safin (2005). Safin had his little chance only in the third set. Federer was leading 4:1 in a tie-break with two mini-breaks but lost awhile his concentration after Safin’s foot fault on second serve. The Russian argued with a linesman and moment later was 5:4 up. Federer served very well twice and converted first match point with amazing backhand passing-shot.
“I lost today probably to the better player, one of the greatest ones in the history of tennis,” said Safin. “I really hope for him to be so I can tell the story to my kids that I played with him. I think it’s a nice story.”
Serb Novak Djokovic lost first set in the tournament against the Bosnian-born Amer Delic. There was very close to play a five-set match because at 5:4 (40-15) in the fourth set, Delic had double setpoint on Djokovic’s serve. The defending champion fought off the danger with an ace and lucky netcord that forced Delic to make an error.
“I need some matches like this to feel really what is Grand Slam all about,” said Djokovic.
The 36-year-old Santoro was playing in his 66th Grand Slam championship – the Open Era record amongst male players. In his final match in Melbourne lost to Andy Roddick 3-6 4-6 2-6. Santoro had break point (triple break point in all) only in one game – when Roddick was serving to win the second set. “Respect is an understatement,” Roddick said about the Frenchman. “The longevity he has had is an accomplishment in itself.” “This has always been one of my favorite places” said Santoro who reached in Melbourne his only Grand Slam quarterfinal in singles, three years ago, and won here twice the title in doubles (2003-04).
Fernando Verdasco has been in great form since last year’s tournament in St. Petersburg. The Spaniard confirmed his aspiration to be a Top 10 player with a convincing win (6-4 6-0 6-0) over Radek Stepanek. Verdasco was break down at 3:4 and won 15 games in a row since then, and took a revenge for a defeat to Stepanek in the final at the Brisbane Internation two weeks ago.
Verdasco sets up 4th round clash with Andy Murray who won his match in similiar circumstances. The Scott won 11 consecutive games in a 7-5 6-0 6-3 win over Jurgen Melzer.
James Blake extends the lead in matches against his easiest opponent Igor Andreev to 6-0. The American has also the same H2H against Arnaud Clement and Nikolay Davydenko but against Andreev won the most sets, defeated him inter alia in three different Grand Slam tournaments (they have never met only at the French Open).
Fernando Gonzalez prevailed an epic match at the Margaret Court Arena against Richard Gasquet. Gasquet won easily first two sets and had match point in a tie-break of the third set – risked a backhand return then, and the ball landed on the tape. Gonzalez won third set on 7th setpoint. Gasquet began to struggle with the pain in the right leg and right arm, and lost quickly fourth set but didn’t give up. At the beginning of the fifth set, the Frenchman changed own tactics, attacked more often to the net and builded up the speed of the first serve to play shorter rallies. Despite the pain Gasquet was winning service games comfortably and had his chances to take a decisive break: 4:4 (40-15), 7:7 (40-30), 10:10 (40-30) but experienced in tight matches Gonazalez saved all break points and waited first match point in the 22nd game of the final set. Gasquet saved it with beautiful forehand cross but lost next two points and the match, firstly Gonzalez played a gentle backhand lob, then finished the match with backhand down the line from the baseline. The match lasted 4 hours 9 minutes and both players won 191 points (Gasquet more in the final set (71-67).
“He was playing like a super hero,” Gonzalez said of Gasquet. “I couldn’t do anything. You have to keep fighting and wait for your chances. When we went to the fifth set I feel really good – I feel the favourite for the match.”
Marcos Baghdatis after overcoming Mardy Fish in straight sets became the only unseeded player who advanced to the last “sixteen” but it’s tough to call it a surprise because Baghdatis is a former Australian Open finalist. Baghdatis last year along with Lleyton Hewitt made a record – their match was finished at 4:33 a.m. This time beating Fish, Baghdatis setted up the record of the 2009 tournament – the match was finished at 1 a.m.
(1)Rafael Nadal (ESP) d. Tommy Haas (GER) 6-4 6-2 6-2
(13)Fernando Gonzalez (CHI) d. (24)Richard Gasquet (FRA) 3-6 3-6 7-6(10) 6-2 12-10 – 1 MP
(12)Gael Monfils (FRA) d. (17)Nicolas Almagro (ESP) 6-4 6-3 7-5
(6)Gilles Simon (FRA) d. Mario Ancic (CRO) 7-6(2) 6-4 6-2
(4)Andy Murray (GBR) d. (31)Jurgen Melzer (AUT) 7-5 6-0 6-3
(14)Fernando Verdasco (ESP) d. (22)Radek Stepanek (CZE) 6-4 6-0 6-0
(9)James Blake (USA) d. (18)Igor Andreev (RUS) 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-1
(5)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) d. (q)Dudi Sela (ISR) 6-4 6-2 1-6 6-1
(7)Andy Roddick (USA) d. Fabrice Santoro (FRA) 6-3 6-4 6-2
(21)Tommy Robredo (ESP) d. Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) 6-1 6-3 6-2
Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) d. (23)Mardy Fish (USA) 6-2 6-4 6-4
(3)Novak Djokovic (SRB) d. (LL)Amer Delic (USA) 6-2 4-6 6-3 7-6(4)
(8)Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) d. Gilles Muller (LUX) 6-7(5) 7-5 6-3 7-5
(19)Marin Cilic (CRO) d. (11)David Ferrer (ESP) 7-6(5) 6-3 6-4
(20)Tomas Berdych (CZE) d. (15)Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) 4-6 6-1 6-3 6-4
(2)Roger Federer (SUI) d. (26)Marat Safin (RUS) 6-3 6-2 7-6(5)
The oldest participant of the tournament, 36 year-old Fabrice Santoro amazed the spectators once again overcoming 5-7 7-5 3-6 7-5 6-3 Philipp Kohlschreiber, 11 years in his junior. Santoro wasted triple setpoint in the first set but didn’t collapse and came back from a break down in the second and fourth set. In the fifth set Kohlschreiber at 3:5 saved triple match point with risky shots. After another rally the Frenchman had cramps, got a warning for an extension break between the points, risked a return, went to the net and finished the match with an overhead after 4 hours 5 minutes!
“Today I lost because it was best-of-five, which makes me very mad. Santoro will not win anything more here” stated the embittered German. “I can’t say I have no chance at all for the next round. It’s going to be tough for sure. I will see Friday morning when I wake up how good is my body, how bad is my body” replied Santoro who had played first match in Melbourne before the youngest player in the draw, Bernard Tomic was born.
Less luck in a five-setter had Santoro’s compatriot, Paul-Henri Mathieu who has lost 6th match in career after winning first two sets. This time Mathieu lost to “lucky loser” Amer Delic despite a 4:1 led in the fourth set.
The biggest surprise of the day was made by 25 year-old Yen-Hsun Lu of Taiwan who didn’t pass earlier second round in a Grand Slam event in 12 attempts. Lu defeated one of the best specialist of those events – David Nalbandian, also in five thrilling sets 6-4 5-7 4-6 6-4 6-2. In the final game of the match Lu fought off six break points before finished his second match point.
“Everybody knows Nalbandian is one of the best backhand players,” Lu said. “So I thought he’s ready for a forehand return. So I just changed my mind and went to his backhand all the time. I served six times to his backhand on break point and I won all the points.”
Former finalist Marcos Baghdatis was losing 3-6 0:4 to the Swede Robin Soderling but managed to win in four sets, Soderling had problems with blisters since the second set.
Australian big hope, 16 year-old Tomic began his first match at Rod Laver Arena saving 6 break points against Gilles Muller. The teenager won surprisingly the first set 6-3 but hadn’t any arguments to defy the powerful opponent in the next three sets. Muller finished the match serving two out of 27 aces.
“He’s played unbelievable. I was lucky to get that first set. He didn’t start serving well” said Tomic.
Player from former Yugoslavia, Maric Cilic and Janko Tipsarevic are the first pair who have played twice this year against each other, similarly, like in Chennai, Cilic lost one set but won the other ones without too much trouble.
High-quality match at Hisense Arena played Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Ivan Ljubicic (6-7 7-6 7-6 6-2). The Croat won first set in a tie-break and had his chances in the next two sets which also finished after tie-breaks. Last year’s runner-up Tsonga was forced to save one setpoint in the second tie-break and triple setpoint in the third tie-break, two of those setpoints saved on return playing dropshots what is unusual in those circumstances. Tsonga sets up the meeting with the only qualifier who advanced to the third round, Dudi Sela of Israel.
“Tonight my back was very stiff. But I won, and I’m happy of that. I think I’m playing better than last year. I’m a little bit more confident maybe in my game.” said Tsonga, one of the four seeded Frenchmen in the top half of the draw who won their matches on Thursday. One of them, Gilles Simon was close to lose 0-2 in sets but from 6-7 4:4 (0-40) completely dominated his opponent, big-serving Chris Guccione and even outaced him (14-12).
In the inner Croatian battle between Ljubicic’s compatriots, Mario Ancic ousted in five-sets Ivo Karlovic. Karlovic after this loss becomes a player with the worst five-set record (0-10) in the history of tennis. Karlovic has overcome the retired Austrian Markus Hipfl (0-9 in years 1996-2002).
Talented Ernstest Gulbis has been eliminated in the 2nd round in the 7th consecutive tournament! The young Latvian lost this time to Igor Andreev despite 4:2 up in the 5th set. In the 10th game Gulbis led 40:0 on serve only to lose quickly 5 points ina row without commitment. The Russian similarly like Amer Delic has won both matches in Melbourne this year after five-setters.
Easy wins notched Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, James Blake and Fernando Verdasco – all advanced to the third round winning both rounds without a serious danger in a set.
(1)Rafael Nadal (ESP) d. Roko Karanusic (CRO) 6-2 6-3 6-2
Tommy Haas (GER) d. (q)Flavio Cipolla (ITA) 6-1 6-2 6-1
(24)Richard Gasquet (FRA) d. (WC)Denis Istomin (UZB) 6-3 6-4 6-4
(13)Fernando Gonzalez (CHI) d. Guillermo Canas (ARG) 7-5 6-3 6-4
(12)Gael Monfils (FRA) d. Stefan Koubek (AUT) 6-4 6-4 3-6 6-2
(17)Nicolas Almagro (ESP) d. Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-2 7-5 6-0
Mario Ancic (CRO) d. (25)Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 5-7 7-5 4-6 6-4 6-3
(6)Gilles Simon (FRA) d. Chris Guccione (AUS) 6-7(5) 6-4 6-1 6-2
(4)Andy Murray (GBR) d. Marcel Granollers (ESP) 6-4 6-2 6-2
(31)Jurgen Melzer (AUT) d. (q)Andreas Beck (GER) 5-7 7-6(7) 6-4 6-3
(22)Radek Stepanek (CZE) d. (q)Michael Berrer (GER) 6-3 6-2 6-7(3) 7-5
(14)Fernando Verdasco (ESP) d. Arnaud Clement (FRA) 6-1 6-1 6-2
(9)James Blake (USA) d. (q)Sebastien de Chaunac (FRA) 6-3 6-2 6-3
(18)Igor Andreev (RUS) d. Ernests Gulbis (LAT) 6-4 6-4 5-7 3-6 6-4
(q)Dudi Sela (ISR) d. Victor Hanescu (ROU) 6-3 6-3 6-2
(5)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) d. Ivan Ljubicic (CRO) 6-7(4) 7-6(8) 7-6(7) 6-2
(7)Andy Roddick (USA) d. (q)Xavier Malisse (BEL) 3-6 6-2 7-6(1) 6-2
Fabrice Santoro (FRA) d. (32)Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 5-7 7-5 3-6 7-5 6-3
(21)Tommy Robredo (ESP) d. Viktor Troicki (SRB) 6-1 6-3 6-0
Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) d. (10)David Nalbandian (ARG) 6-4 5-7 4-6 6-4 6-2
Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) d. (16)Robin Soderling (SWE) 3-6 7-5 6-3 6-3
(23)Mardy Fish (USA) d. Simone Bolelli (ITA) 6-4 6-1 7-5
(LL)Amer Delic (USA) d. (28)Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) 1-6 3-6 6-3 7-6(3) 9-7
(3)Novak Djokovic (SRB) d. Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 7-5 6-1 6-3
(8)Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) d. (q)Florian Mayer (GER) 6-1 7-5 6-2
Gilles Muller (LUX) d. (WC)Bernard Tomic (AUS) 3-6 6-1 6-4 6-2
(19)Marin Cilic (CRO) d. Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) 6-2 6-3 4-6 6-3
(11)David Ferrer (ESP) d. (q)Dominik Hrbaty (SVK) 6-2 6-2 6-1
(15)Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) d. (WC)Brydan Klein (AUS) 6-3 6-4 6-4
(20)Tomas Berdych (CZE) d. Brian Dabul (ARG) 6-1 6-1 6-3
(26)Marat Safin (RUS) d. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) 7-5 6-2 6-2
(2)Roger Federer (SUI) d. (q)Evgueni Korolev (RUS) 6-2 6-3 6-1
16 year-old Bernard Tomic (No. 768) made the biggest surprise of the first day, eliminating Potito Starace 7-6 1-6 7-6 7-6. Tomic who has been playing just second tournament on the main level (debuted two weeks ago in Adelaide) becomes the youngest player who won a match at the Australian Open (16 years and 103 days), and the second youngest who appearanced in the main draw of this tournament. Tomic’s compatriot Lleyton Hewitt, was 15 years and 337 days old when he lost in the 1997 first round to Sergi Bruguera. Tomic astonished favourable Australian crowd on the Margaret Court Arena holding nerves in tight situations what is characteristic for experienced, much more older players. The Australian prodigy was losing 2:4 in the third set and 1:4 (0-30) in the fourth, saved also two set points at 4:6 in the last tie-break! It’s just fourth case in Australian Open history that a player won a four-setter winning three sets in tie-breaks (previously did it Todd Martin, Max Mirnyi and Marat Safin). “It’s a dream come true to win a first round in my first Grand Slam,” said Tomic. “I’m just thrilled that I could pull off a win today. With the crowd behind me, it was an unbelievable experience”.
In the second round Tomic will face Gilles Muller who survived an epic match with Feliciano Lopez. Muller won 6-3 7-6 4-6 4-6 16-14 after 4 hours 22 minutes. In the final set Muller didn’t face a break point, had break points in three service games of the Spaniard, first match point at 12:11. In the 30th game of the final set, Lopez was broken to love. It’s third longest match in the Australian Open history (Open Era) in terms of games – 72 (the record – 83 games – belongs to Andy Roddick and Younes El Aynaoui since 2003).
Also Lopez’ compatriot and Davis Cup teammate, David Ferrer played very long match but with better end. Ferrer needed almost 4 hours to overcome Dennis Gremelmayr 6-1 6-7 6-1 6-7 6-4. Ferrer wasted set point in both losing sets but converted first match point in the fifth set, and improves his great record in five-set matches to 10-2.
In the next round Ferrer will play the two-time Aussie Open quarterfinalist, Dominik Hrbaty who withstood 39 aces from John Isner (19 aces in the first set!). Hrbaty is playing 300th tournament on the main level. The other veteran, Fabrice Santoro knocked out former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero in four sets, having 100% efficiency at break points (8/8).
The two big favorits in the bottom half of the draw, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic won their matches in straight sets but both were close to drop one set: Federer saved setpoint against Andres Seppi, Djokovic was losing 0:4 and 3:5 in third set against Andrea Stoppini. “I was a break down in two sets. Managed to come back, which is important. As defending champion there is a pressure. But it didn’t affect me today, no. I’m still trying to find the rhythm” said Djokovic.
First match in a Grand Slam evnet for three years has played Taylor Dent. The American came back recently after the 2 1/2 years break, caused by a fractured vertebrae. Dent lost in five sets to “lucky loser” Amer Delic.
The main favorite for the title, Andy Murray needed only 45 minutes to advance to the second round. His opponent, Andre Pavel playing first ATP match since February 2008, was forced to withdraw due to a back injury. Pavel announced that he will finish career in Bucharest later this year.
In one of the most anticipated first round clashes, between past Australian Open finalists, Fernando Gonzalez overcame Lleyton Hewitt 5-7 6-2 6-2 3-6 6-3. “I knew it was going to be tough against Lleyton,” said Gonzalez. “He’s a great player, a great competitor. This was the first official match of the year. So I’m happy the way that I did it, and a little bit tired. But it’s fine now.”
Very good form showed the best player in the world Rafael Nadal and last year’s runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Both players won one set 6-0 and hadn’t any problems in the other two stes. “I think I am OK,” said Nadal. “But I was for two months outside of competition, so maybe I need a little bit more matches to get the rhythm.” In the similar style won his match Fernando Verdasco a contender for a Top 10 player.
Victor Hanescu made one of the most impressive comebacks in the Grand Slam history. The Romanian lost first two sets easily (3-6 3-6) to Jan Hernych but managed to win another three (7-6 7-6 8-6) being in each of them on the edge of defeat: Hernych was serving for the match in the third and fifth set, had also one match point on serve in the tie-break of the third set, and another match point at 5:4 in the fourth set on Hanescu’s serve. The match lasted 4 hours 32 minutes, the longest match of this year’s tournament so far.
Also dramatic five-set matches (with the help of good service performance) won former Top 10 players, Ivan Ljubicic (25 aces against Kunitsyn) and Guillermo Canas (22 aces against Kindlmann). First five-set win in sixth trial notched Nicolas Alamgro (28 aces against Massu) who didn’t win a match in Melbourne in four previous attempts. Bad 5-set record (2-7) has improved Igor Andreev too, coming back from a 0-2 deficit against unexperienced young Canadian, Peter Polansky.
(1)Rafael Nadal (ESP) d. Christophe Rochus (BEL) 6-0 6-2 6-2
Roko Karanusic (CRO) d. Florent Serra (FRA) 6-3 1-6 6-3 3-6 6-3
Tommy Haas (GER) vs Eduardo Schwank (ARG) 6-3 6-3 6-4
(q)Flavio Cipolla (ITA) d. (29)Dmitry Tursunov (RUS) 4-6 6-2 7-6(7) 7-5
(4)Richard Gasquet (FRA) d. Diego Junqueira (ARG) 6-7(5) 7-6(3) 6-3 6-4
Denis Istomin (UZB) d. Vince Spadea (USA) 6-2 7-5 6-4
Guillermo Canas (ARG) d. (q)Dieter Kindlmann (GER) 3-6 7-5 5-7 6-0 7-5
(13)Fernando Gonzalez (CHI) d. Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) 5-7 6-2 6-2 3-6 6-3
(12)Gael Monfils (FRA) d. Martin Vassallo-Arguello (ARG) 6-1 6-3 7-5
Stefan Koubek (AUT) d. Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) 6-3 6-2 6-2
Fabio Fognini (ITA) d. Andrei Goloubev (KAZ) 3-6 7-6(7) 6-4 6-2
(17)Nicolas Almagro (ESP) d. Nicolas Massu (CHI) 6-4 6-4 3-6 5-7 6-3
(25)Ivo Karlovic (CRO) d. Daniel Gimeno (ESP) 6-3 6-4 6-4
Mario Ancic (CRO) d. (q)Wayne Odesnik (USA) 7-5 6-4 4-6 6-2
Chris Guccione (AUS) d. Nicolas Devilder (FRA) 6-4 6-2 6-4
(6)Gilles Simon (FRA) d. Pablo Andujar (ESP) 6-4 6-1 6-1
(4)Andy Murray (GBR) d. Andrei Pavel (ROU) 6-2 3-1 ret.
Marcel Granollers (ESP) d. Teimuraz Gabashvili (RUS) 6-4 7-6(3) 4-6 6-0
(q)Andreas Beck (GER) d. Colin Ebelthite (AUS) 7-5 6-1 6-0
(31)Jurgen Melzer (AUT) d. Kei Nishikori (JPN) 7-5 6-2 6-1
(22)Radek Stepanek (CZE) d. Nicolas Lapentti (ECU) 3-6 6-3 6-4 6-4
(q)Michael Berrer (GER) d. Carsten Ball (AUS) 6-2 6-4 6-3
Arnaud Clement (FRA) d. Sergey Stakhovsky (UKR) 6-3 2-6 4-6 6-2 6-1
(14)Fernando Verdasco (ESP) d. Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-0 6-2 6-2
(9)James Blake (USA) d. (LL)Frank Dancevic (CAN) 6-4 6-3 7-5
(q)Sebastien de Chaunac (FRA) d. Steve Darcis (BEL) 2-6 6-3 0-6 6-2 6-2
Ernests Gulbis (LAT) d. Albert Montanes (ESP) 6-3 6-2 6-3
(18)Igor Andreev (RUS) d. (q)Peter Polansky (CAN) 5-7 3-6 6-4 6-3 6-4
(q)Dudi Sela (ISR) d. (30)Rainer Schuettler (GER) 1-6 6-2 6-4 6-4
Victor Hanescu (ROU) d. Jan Hernych (CZE) 3-6 3-6 7-6(7) 7-6(2) 8-6 – 2 MP
Ivan Ljubicic (CRO) d. Igor Kunitsyn (RUS) 4-6 7-6(3) 7-6(7) 5-7 6-3
(5)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) d. Juan Monaco (ARG) 6-4 6-4 6-0
(7)Andy Roddick (USA) d. (q)Bjorn Rehnquist (SWE) 6-0 6-2 6-2
(q)Xavier Malisse (BEL) d. Michael Llodra (FRA) 7-6(8) 6-1 6-1
Fabrice Santoro (FRA) d. Juan Carlos Ferrero (ESP) 6-3 6-2 6-7(5) 6-2
(32)Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) d. Samuel Querrey (USA)
(21)Tommy Robredo (ESP) d. Bobby Reynolds (USA) 6-2 7-5 6-1
Viktor Troicki (SRB) d. Alberto Martin (ESP) 6-3 3-6 6-2 6-4
Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) d. Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) 6-3 7-5 6-4
(10)David Nalbandian (ARG) d. Marc Gicquel (FRA) 6-1 4-6 6-2 6-3
(16)Robin Soderling (SWE) d. Robert Kendrick (USA) 5-7 6-4 6-4 7-5
Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) d. Julien Benneteau (FRA) 6-3 7-6(5) 6-2
Simone Bolelli (ITA) d. Kristof Vliegen (BEL) 7-6(5) 7-6(3) 7-5
(23)Mardy Fish (USA) d. Samuel Groth (AUS) 6-7(3) 6-4 7-5 6-0
(28)Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) d. Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) 6-2 4-1 ret.
(LL)Amer Delic (USA) d. Taylor Dent (USA) 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-3 6-4
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) d. Marcos Daniel (BRA) 6-4 6-4 6-1
(3)Novak Djokovic (SRB) d. (q)Andrea Stoppini (ITA) 6-2 6-3 7-5
(8)Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) d. Michael Zverev (GER) 6-3 6-4 6-2
(q)Florian Mayer (GER) d. (q)Lamine Ouahab (ALG) 6-2 6-1 6-2
(WC)Bernard Tomic (AUS) d. Potito Starace (ITA) 7-6(5) 1-6 7-6(5) 7-6(6)
Gilles Muller (LUX) d. (27)Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-3 7-6(5) 4-6 4-6 16-14
(19)Marin Cilic (CRO) d. Kevin Anderson (RSA) 6-3 6-2 6-7(4) 6-3
Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) d. Oscar Hernandez (ESP) 4-6 6-1 6-3 4-6 6-0
(q)Dominik Hrbaty (SVK) d. John Isner (USA) 7-6(4) 2-6 6-2 7-5
(11)David Ferrer (ESP) d. Denis Gremelmayr (GER) 6-1 6-7(6) 6-1 6-7(4) 6-4
(15)Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) d. Ivo Minar (CZE) 6-1 2-6 7-5 7-6(9)
Brydan Klein (AUS) d. (q)Bjorn Phau (GER) 6-4 6-3 4-6 6-3
Brian Dabul (ARG) d. Philipp Petzschner (GER) 6-1 6-2 6-4
(20)Tomas Berdych (CZE) d. Robby Ginepri (USA) 6-4 6-4 6-3
(26)Marat Safin (RUS) d. Ivan Navarro-Pastor (ESP) 6-3 6-3 6-4
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) d. Agustin Calleri (ARG) 3-6 7-6(5) 6-2 6-0
(q)Evgueni Korolev (RUS) d. Carlos Moya (ESP) 6-3 6-1 7-6(7)
(2)Roger Federer (SUI) d. Andreas Seppi (ITA) 6-1 7-6(4) 7-5
David Nalbandian beat Jarkko Nieminen 6-3 6-7 (9) 6-2 to win the Medibank International men’s singles in Sydney, Australia
Juan Martin del Potro beat Sam Querrey 6-4 6-4, winning the Heineken Open in Auckland, New Zealand
Elena Dementieva won the Medibank International women’s singles, beating Dinara Safina 6-3 2-6 6-1 in Sydney, Australia
Petra Kvitova beat Iveta Benesova 7-5 6-1 to win the Moorilla Hobart International in Hobart, Australia
Roger Federer won the AAMI exhibition event in Melbourne, Australia, beating Stanislas Wawrinka 6-1 6-3
“New season, big opportunities for me. I’m chasing a lot of records.” – Roger Federer, who needs only one more Grand Slam tournament singles title to tie Pete Sampras with a men’s record 14.
“I was hoping for a good start but I couldn’t imagine I was going to win two titles.” – Elena Dementieva, who won the Medibank International in Sydney, Australia, to go with the title she won the week before in Auckland, New Zealand.
“I don’t know if I can call her a friend anymore. We are sharing a room, but I think I will kick her out tonight.” – Iveta Benesova, joking after losing to her roommate Petra Kvitova in the final of the Hobart International.
“It’s very good. I mean, winning a tournament before (the Australian Open) is almost perfect to arrive.” – David Nalbandian, who beat Jarkko Nieminen to win the Medibank International men’s title.
“The livestock industry in Melbourne is well developed and it impresses me that there are so many flies here. But since it is so hot, the flies get tired here and do not feel like flying much!” – Sun Tiantian, writing in her blog on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour website.
“In Serbia we don’t have the best facilities in the world, especially in wintertime it’s very hard for to us train. But we are really hungry and motivated to do well. The three of us that have achieved and came to the top of the tennis game, we all did it in different ways, going to different places and really wanted to become the best that we can be.” – Jelena Jankovic, on the fact that she, Ana Ivanovic and Novak Djokovic give Serbia three of the world’s top players.
“The ATP Board believes it has secured a new leader with the necessary strategic vision, operational strength and international perspective.” – ATP tournament board representative Graham Pearce in announcing Adam Helfant as the new head of the men’s professional tennis tour.
SELES TO HALL
Monica Seles is the newest member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The nine-time Grand Slam singles champion will be inducted into the shrine at ceremonies on July 11 in Newport, Rhode Island. Also being inducted will be Andres Gimeno of Spain, a star in the 1960s; pioneer marketer Donald Dell and the late Robert Johnson, who was instrumental in the development of Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe. Seles won the 1991 and 1992 US Opens, the 1990-1992 French Opens and 1991-1993 and 1996 Australian Opens. In 1990 she became the youngest French Open champion in history at 16½ years.
Elena Dementieva is off to a tremendous start in 2009. She beat fellow Russian Dinara Safina 6-3 2-6 6-1 to win the Medibank International in Sydney, Australia, her second title in two weeks. She had won in Auckland, New Zealand, the week before. With the 13th title of her career, Dementieva increased her match record to 10-0 this year. She is currently ranked a career-high number four in the world and at Sydney beat two top three players at the same tournament for the second time in her career. Besides Safina, who is ranked number three in the world, Dementieva also bested second-ranked Serena Williams. Safina has now lost her last three matches to Dementieva, including last year’s Olympic singles final in Beijing.
Nicolas Kiefer is out of the Australian Open before it begins. The German withdrew from the year’s first Grand Slam tournament after suffering an injury to his left ankle while playing in the Hopman Cup. A semifinalist at the Australian Open in 2006, Kiefer had been scheduled to play Argentina’s Guillermo Canas in the opening round. He was replaced in the draw by another German, qualifier Dieter Kindlmann.
Italy’s Filippo Volandri has been banned for three months by the International Tennis Federation for abusing an asthma drug. In making the announcement, the Italian Tennis Federation said Volandri’s use of salbutamol was deemed beyond therapeutic needs. The ban began last week and will end April 14. Ranked 109th in the world, Valandri was to face Mario Ancic of Croatia in the opening round of the Australian Open. His spot has been taken by American qualifier Wayne Odesnik. Volandri failed a drug test last March at a tournament in Indian Wells, California. The ITF also announced that all of Volandri’s results from March 13 on will be voided and he also will forfeit USD $166,000 in prize money he won and ATP points earned.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, has upheld the two-year doping ban given to Spanish tennis player Laura Pous Tio. She tested positive for banned drugs during the 2007 Wimbledon qualifying tournament. Her ban started in October 2007, but she appealed to the CAS. The CAS also upheld the disqualification of Pous Tio’s results from the Wimbledon qualifying tournament and subsequent events. The 24-year-old, who had a career-high ranking of 75th in the world in 2005, will be eligible to play again in October 2009.
The top men believe that moving the Australian Open to February would make more sense. Lleyton Hewitt doesn’t agree. Roger Federer said moving the year’s first Grand Slam tournament to a few weeks later would let the players work into the new year more gradually. He was joined by Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray. However, Australian Open organizers don’t want to move the tournament back because the existing slot coincides with Australia’s national summer holidays. “I think as an Australian it’s probably the ideal time,” Hewitt said. “This is the time that I’ve always known it as the Australian Open, the dates that I’ve always come to since I was coming here as a young kid to watch.”
Tennis fans can watch matches live on the Internet this year – for a price. The ATP and WTA Tours announced the creation of TennisTV.com, which will offer streaming video from 41 events, including the season-ending championships. However, no Grand Slam tournament matches will be included, and not everyone in the world will be able to see the matches, even if they are willing to pay for it. Among others, the WTA Tour is blacking out Europe, while the ATP is not offering live service in Brazil. And the two singles finals of this year’s Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, will not be available in the United States.
Israeli Dudi Sela saved six match points before winning his qualifying match and gaining a spot in the Australian Open main draw. The 23-year-old Sela trailed 5-3, 40-0 in the third set before fighting back for a 6-0 2-6 8-6 victory over Grega Zemlja of Slovenia. Sela saved three match points in the ninth game of the third set, then staved off the others in the 10th and 11th games. He was to play Rainer Schuettler of Germany in the opening round of the year’s first Grand Slam tournament.
Adam Helfant is the new head of the men’s professional tennis tour. The former National Hockey League lawyer replaces Etienne de Villiers, who stepped down last year after heading the ATP since 2005. Most recently Helfant was Nike’s corporate vice president for global sports marketing.
Zina Garrison’s departure as captain of the United States Fed Cup team apparently wasn’t as smooth as the United States Tennis Association (USTA) led everyone to believe. In December 2007, the USTA announced that 2008 would be Garrison’s final season and that she would be replaced by Mary Joe Fernandez. No reason was given for Garrison being dumped, although her record as captain was only 5-5 over five seasons, losing in the semifinals four times and the quarterfinals once. In 1990, Garrison was the Wimbledon runner-up, becoming the first black woman since Althea Gibson in 1958 to reach a Grand Slam tournament singles final. When she replaced Billie Jean King for the 2004 season, she became the first black captain of the US Fed Cup squad.
The Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California, has a new name. It now will be called the BNP Paribas Open as the France-based bank took over sponsorship of the event. Organizers of the tournament also announced equal prize money of USD $4.5 million each for the men and women. The tournament began in 1976 and is said to rank only behind the four Grand Slam tournaments in attendance.
Sydney (men): Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan beat Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic 6-1 7-6 (3)
Sydney (women): Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai beat Natalie Dechy and Casey Dellacqua 6-0 6-1
Auckland: Martin Damm and Robert Lindstedt beat Scott Lipsky and Leander Paes 7-5 6-4
Hobart: Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta beat Alona Bondarenko and Kateryna Bondarenko 6-2 7-6 (4)
SITES TO SURF
Australian Open: www.australianopen.com/
WTA Tour: www.sonyericssonwtatour.com
ATP Tour: www.atpworldtour.com
International Tennis Federation: www.itftennis.com
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
ATP and WTA TOUR
Australian Open, Melbourne, Australia (first week)
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
Australian Open, Melbourne, Australia (second week)
$112,000 Heilbronn Open, Heilbronn, Germany
Australian Open, Melbourne, Australia (second week)
Jelena Jankovic beat Nadia Petrova 6-4 6-3 to win the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany
Tomas Berdych won the AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships men’s singles, defeating Juan Martin del Potro 6-1 6-4 in Tokyo, Japan
Caroline Wozniacki beat Kala Kanepi 6-2 3-6 6-1 to win the women’s singles at the AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo, Japan
Sorana Cirstea defeated Sabine Lisicki 2-6 6-4 7-6 (4) to capture the Tashkent Open in Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Dmitry Tursunov beat Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-6 (6) 1-6 6-4 to win the Open de Moselle in Metz, France
Teimuraz Gabashvili won the Ethias Trophy by beating Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-4 6-4 in Mons, Belgium
Richard Krajicek beat Goran Ivanisevic 7-6 7-5 to win the AFAS Tennis Classics in Eindhoven, Netherlands
“There are some days you wake up and you know it’s not going to be your day.” – Nadia Petrova, after losing to Jelena Jankovic in the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix final.
“Doubles is like marriage. It has to be good from the first day.” – Mischa Zverev, who teamed with Mikhail Youzhny to win the doubles at the AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo.
“She is having a great year and I knew it would be hard to beat her. But the game went according to plan.” – Venus Williams, after beating Dinara Safina 6-4 6-2.
“It feels great to be back at number one, but my goal is to finish the year as number one. I’m playing better and better, I am improving. I don’t feel any extra pressure.” – Jelena Jankovic, on her return to the top spot in the WTA Tour rankings.
“I feel fortunate to be healthy again, but I want to remain at the top of the game for many more years to come and go after the number one ranking again.” – Roger Federer, after pulling out of the Stockholm Open.
“I need to take a break now to get it back to 100 percent, which is why I have to regretfully take this decision and withdraw. I have played a lot this year and my body needs to recover.” – Serena Williams, after withdrawing from the Kremlin Cup with an ankle injury.
“After I lost the first set I checked the clock and saw it was only 20 minutes, so I told myself I had to make it at least an hour. Of course I’m very happy about my win today, and for both of my wins over the Williams sisters this year.” – Li Na, after beating Serena William 0-6 6-1 6-4 and knocking the US Open champion out of the number one ranking.
“I think I have to come to Germany more often.” – Victoria Azarenka, who has reached the semifinals in both tournaments she has played in Germany this year.
“People want to see me because I was once the number one in the world and won Grand Slam titles. People want to see the guys who they idolized. Now, as we get older, we’re really thankful that people want to see us. It’s really wonderful, and we’re going to try to give our best back.” – Yevgeny Kafelnikov, playing his first competitive tennis match in five years, the BlackRock Tour of Champions event in Eindhoven, Netherlands.
“I have played one match with her here and I have won. Not bad.” – Goran Ivanisevic, saying his 5-year-old daughter Amber, who was watching her father play for the first time, is his lucky charm.
“I still cannot fully realize that I’ve won. In the middle of the match I thought my chances of winning were about 40 percent.” – Ksenia Palkina, a teenager from Kyrgystan ranked 203rd in the world, after she upset second-seeded Olga Govortsova in the first round of the Tashkent Open.
“Our success in these junior team events against the world’s best competition is a good indication of where our players stand amongst their peers at this state. Of course there is a lot of work to be done for these kids to become world-class professionals. But, if these results are any indication, the future is very promising.” – Patrick McEnroe, on the United States sweep of the Junior Fed Cup and Junior Davis Cup competitions.
In the game of musical chairs that is called the WTA Tour rankings, Jelena Jankovic is once again in the top spot. The Serb moved up to number one when Serena Williams was upset by China’s Li Na. Jankovic held the top ranking for one week in August. Since Justine Henin retired in May, four players have been number one: Williams, Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic and Maria Sharapova. Williams held the top spot for four weeks after defeating Jankovic in the US Open final. Overall, Jankovic has won more matches than any other player on tour this year.
Adrian Mannarino had a ball in Metz, France. Ranked 181st in the world, the French qualifier didn’t lose a set in his run to the semifinals at the Open de Moselle. Then he ran into Paul-Henri Matheu, who barely escaped Mannarino 7-6 (8) 7-6 (1). The 20-year-old Mannarino had not won an ATP-level match before he upset sixth-seeded Andreas Seppi in the opening round at Metz.
China’s top two players are making a lot of noise on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour this year. At Wimbledon, Zheng Jie became the first Chinese player to beat a reigning world number one when she shocked Ana Ivanovic on her way to the semifinals. At the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany, last week, Li Na matched that feat, knocking Serena Williams out of the tournament and the number one ranking, 0-6 6-1 6-4. It was Li’s 11th career win over a top 10 player but first over a number one.
An El Al plane carrying Israeli tennis star Dudi Sela had to make an emergency landing in Beijing when a bird flew into one of its engines. Sela was returning to Israel after losing in a tournament in Tokyo. While the plane was heading back to Beijing, Sela called his brother Ofer in Israel to let him know what was happening. El Al sent a replacement jet to fly the 150 passengers to Israel.
An ankle injury has forced Serena Williams to withdraw from the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. The American withdrew two days after being upset by China’s Li Na in Stuttgart, Germany. The winner of four tournaments this year, Williams said her left ankle has been bothering her since the US Open last month, which she won.
Yevgeny Kafelnikov admits he is delighted to be back playing competitively after a five-year layoff. “It was quite exciting,” the Russian said after losing to Michael Chang in a BlackRock Tour of Champions match at Eindhoven, Netherlands. “I haven’t had this feeling in a long time.” Once he decided to play again, Kafelnikov worked hard to lose the weight he had gained after retiring. Then he asked to play in the AFAS Classics tournament in Eindhoven. He came away winless in his return, losing also to Paul Haarhuis and Goran Ivanisevic.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga became only the eighth player in the last 20 yeas to win his first ATP title by defeating a top-five opponent in the final, knocking off third-ranked Novak Djokovic to capture the Thailand Open in Bangkok. Greg Sharko, senior editor of ATPTennis.com, says Tsonga is the first to accomplish the feat since fellow Frenchman Michael Llorda did it four years ago when he beat Guillermo Coria, who was number three in the world at the time. In 1988, Mikael Pernfors won his first title in Los Angeles, beating fourth-ranked Andre Agassi. Jim Courier’s first title, in 1989 in Basel, Switzerland, came when he beat third-ranked Stefan Edberg. Others who beat top five players to capture their first tournament titles were Omar Camporese in 1991, Alberta Costa and Filip Dewulf in 1995, and Hyung-Taik Lee in 2003.
SET FOR KOOYONG
Two Swiss players – US Open champion Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka – will warm up for the 2009 Australian Open by playing at the invitational Kooyong Classic. Weakened by mononucleosis, Federer missed the tournament in 2008. Also scheduled to play in the event are Marat Safin, Fernando Gonzalez, Marcos Baghdatis, James Blake and Ernests Gulbis. The eighth spot for the tournament, which guarantees each player three matches on the same surface as that used at the Australian Open, will be named later.
Saying he needs a break, Roger Federer will not play in the upcoming Stockholm Open. Federer has not played since winning his fifth consecutive US Open last month. “(This) has been a tough year for me as I was always playing catch-up after being diagnosed with mononucleosis at the beginning of the year,” said Federer, who lost his number one ranking to Rafael Nadal in August after holding it for a record 237 consecutive weeks.
Paradorn Srichaphan is thinking about switching sports, perhaps becoming a race car driver. Beset by injury for almost two years, Thailand’s best player has been busy promoting motorsports in his country. “I’ve been really bored and it would be huge challenge to move from one sport to the next,” Srichaphan said. “I’m involved in a racing team and my sponsors are interested in having me racing for them, but only when I retire from tennis. I still plan to return to the tour.”
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has penalized Croatia for playing Davis Cup matches against Brazil on a court that was considered too fast. As part of the Davis Cup Committee’s ruling, Croatia will lose 2,000 points and pay an undisclosed fine. Marina Mihelic, head of the Croatian Tennis Federation, said she was “surprised and annoyed” by the decision. The ITF said Croatia violated the federation’s “court pace rating rule,” which assesses the speed of surfaces other than grass and clay. It’s the first such case involving the rule, which was implemented this year. The ITF rejected Brazil’s appeal to have Croatia disqualified, the victory awarded to Brazil and financial compensation paid to Brazil.
The United States Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup teams captured the 2008 World Finals without dropping a single match. The international team competition for players age 16 and under held in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, continued the American domination of junior events. The American boys’ and girls’ squads won the World Junior Tennis Championships for 14-and-under in August in Prostejoy, Czech Republic. It is the first time the same country has won all four titles in the same year. The American Junior Fed Cup team beat Colombia, Chinese Taipei, Serbia, Hungary and Great Britain. The American Junior Davis Cup squad beat Latvia, Chinese Taipei, Sweden, India and Argentina.
Mark L. Stenning has been awarded the prestigious Chairman’s Award by the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island. The Chairman’s Award recognizes outstanding service by a Hall of Fame board member. Stenning joined the ITHOF in 1980 and currently holds the position of chief executive officer. He also currently serves on the Davis Cup and Fed Cup Committees of the United States Tennis Association.
TENNIS.com is the new title sponsor of the Zurich Open, a stop on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. The Tennis Company, headquartered in Santa Monica, California, calls itself the world’s leading website for tennis fans. Aside from TENNIS.com, the company publishes Tennis Magazine and Smash Magazine. The Tennis Company is also a managing partner in the Indian Springs, California, tournament. Among others, The Tennis Company’s partners include Chris Evert, Billie Jean King and Pete Sampras.
Stuttgart: Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Patty Schnyder beat Kveta Peschke and Rennae Stubbs 6-2 6-4
Tokyo (men): Mikhail Youzhny and Mischa Zverev beat Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes 6-3 6-4
Tokyo (women): Jill Craybus and Marina Erakovic beat Ayumi Morita and Aiko Nakamura 4-6 7-5 10-6 (match tiebreak)
Tashkent: Ioana Raluca Olaru and Olga Savchuk beat Nina Bratchikova and Kathrin Woerle 5-7 7-5 10-7 (match tiebreak)
Metz: Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra beat Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski 5-7 6-3 10-8 (match tiebreak)
Mons: Michal Mertinak and Lovro Zovko beat Yves Allegro and Horia Tecau 7-5 6-3
SITES TO SURF
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$1,000,000 ATP Kremlin Cup, Moscow, Russia, carpet
$800,000 IF Stockholm Open, Stockholm, Sweden, hard
$755,000 Bank Austria TennisTrophy, Vienna, Austria, hard
$1,340,000 Kremlin Cup, Moscow, Russia, carpet
BlackRock Tour of Champions, Budapest, Hungary, carpet
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$2,450,000 Mutua Madrilena Masters Madrid, Madrid, Spain, hard
$125,000 Tashkent, Uzbekistan
$600,000 Zurich Open, Zurich, Switzerland
$100,000 Internazionali Tennis Val Gardena, Ortisei, Italy, carpet
Andy Roddick won the China Open by beating Dudi Sela 6-4 6-7 (6) 6-3 in Beijing, China
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Novak Djokovic 7-6 (4) 6-4 to win the Thailand Open in Bangkok, Thailand
Jelena Jankovic beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3 6-2 to win the China open women’s singles in Beijing
Maria Kirilenko defeated Samantha Stosur to win the Hansol Korea Open in Seoul, South Korea, 2-6 6-1 6-4
Alberto Martin beat Julian Reister 6-2 6-0 to win the ATP Challenger Trophy 2008 in Trnava, Slovakia
John McEnroe won the Vivium Victory Challenge in Luxembourg, beating Henri Leconte 6-1 6-4
Jim Courier beat Todd Martin 6-2 3-6 10-5 (match tiebreak) to win the Citadel Group Championships at The Palisades in Charlotte, North Carolina
“I’ve been dreaming about this, so I’m very happy. I played unbelievable tennis against Novak. It’s one of the great moments of my life.” – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, after beating Novak Djokovic to win the Thailand Open, his first ATP singles title.
“I lost to a great player. Bravo to Jo and his team for his first ATP title. I’m sure we’ll be seeing him again often in the future.” – Novak Djokovic.
“This feels really good. It’s been a lot of years since I’ve won one of these events, so many that I can’t even remember the last one I won.” – John McEnroe, after beating Henri Leconte to win the Vivium Victory Challenge.
“At first I couldn’t believe it. I thought that maybe they were joking or something. Me, playing with all these great players like Borg, McEnroe, Guillermo Vilas and Henri Leconte, is incredible. When I started to play tennis, Borg was my idol, so this is the most fantastic thing for me.” – Johny Goudenbour, who was given a wild card to play in a BlackRock Tour of Champions event in Luxembourg.
“If I was more consistent I think I would be ranked higher, maybe Top 10 or Top 15. But I have time to improve. I’m only 21 and I’ll get more experience in the time to come.” – Maria Kirilenko, after winning her third singles title of the year.
“Svetlana beat me two times this year. I was really motivated to get a win against her, and winning in two sets is very satisfying.” – Jelena Jankovic, after beating Svetlana Kuznetsova to win the China Open.
“I’m disappointed. I wasn’t moving the ball or doing the right things on the court. I love playing here, so it was disappointing to not play well in the final.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova.
“This was a good win for me. It was in China and in front of my home crowd. There were lots of fans supporting me, which gave me even more motivation.” – Zheng Jie, after upsetting Ana Ivanovic in the China Open.
“I was defending a lot. It was like running a marathon out there. She was really aggressive and was dominating a lot. I didn’t even realize how much I was running out there.” – Ana Ivanovic, after losing to Zheng Jie.
“I had a lot of pressure on me during those years and I was too young for it. … This time, win or lose, I’m just trying to enjoy it. I’m going to have more fun. And I think this will be good for Japanese tennis too.” – Kimiko Date-Krumm, on her returning to tennis after a 12-year hiatus following her retirement.
“I didn’t feel comfortable on court. Unfortunately, I didn’t win. The other guy was better than me.” – Marat Safin, after suffering a 6-4 7-6 first-round loss to Philipp Petzschner at the Thailand Open.
“Roger (Federer) has said he wants to put the Davis Cup into his calendar, but he wants to see all the details first. He will do anything possible to be there.” – Swiss Tennis spokeswoman Sandra Perez on whether Federer will play in a first-round Davis Cup tie against the United States.
“I will have to digest this one and make sure I go back on the right track for the next few tournaments.” – Amelie Mauresmo, a former world number one who has lost her last two first-round matches.
“People tend to think athletes have a glamorous life, traveling all the time to international destinations and staying at five-star hotels. But in reality it is not all that great. We do go through some difficult moments in our careers, with struggles, intrigues and fights, like in any other job.” – Fernando Meligeni, who has written a book about his 14-year career as a professional tennis player.
“As an American player it meant a lot to me to break the record. It’s nice to have the opportunity to play so many great pro circuit events in this country. I’ve played most of the pro circuit events held in the US and have met a lot of wonderful people, and have a lot of good memories from the different tournaments.” – Julie Ditty, after becoming the new record-holder of the most career USTA Pro Circuit titles.
SERVING WITH THE STARS
Johny Goudenbour’s day job is with the local tourist board in Luxembourg. But he lived a dream this past week at the Vivium Victory Challenge, a stop on the BlackRock Tour of Champions. Goudenbour was Luxembourg’s highest ranked tennis player for six consecutive years in the 1980s, and he reached a career high world ranking of 304. Now 45 years old, Goudenbour still plays inter-club level tennis in neighboring Germany, but his main job these days is putting together cultural films promoting his home town. He was surprised when he received a telephone call offering him a wild card into the seniors tournament being played in Luxembourg. Goudenbour upset both Carl-Uwe Steeb and Cedric Pioline before losing to Henri Leconte 6-2 7-5.
With tennis tournaments scheduled for the country in November, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has expressed its concern to Pakistan about security. A Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) offical said the ITF did not call for cancellation of the events, but asked for details on security arrangements in view of travel advisories issued by the United States, European and other countries. A record number of players from Great Britain, Australia, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Tanzania, Romania, Kazakistan, Iran, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Taiwan and India have entered the first tournament, which will be held in Islamabad.
His lawyer says Nikolay Davydenko is considering suing the ATP to get the men’s tennis organization to pay the Russian’s legal costs following a 13-month gambling inquiry that found no evidence that he did anything wrong. Attorney Frank Immenga said Davydenko wants the ATP to issue a more positive press statement and “maybe apologize,” according to the Bloomberg news agency. Davydenko also is considering taking action against Betfair Ltd., the British gambling site, for making public details of its probe into a Davydenko match.
Andy Roddick says the game of tennis in the United States is in good health despite no American man winning a Grand Slam title in five years. Roddick was the last American man to win a major, the US Open in 2003. But the former world number one notes that the United States has three players in the top 25 and two in the top ten. Plus, he points out that the US won the Davis Cup in 2007 and the fact that the brothers Bob and Mike Bryan are the world’s top-ranked doubles team. “If you compare us with other countries, we’re very, very strong,” Roddick said.
Zheng Jie is proving her Wimbledon showing was no surprise. The right-hander upset second-seeded Ana Ivanovic 7-6 (4) 2-6 6-4 at the China Open in a quarterfinal baseline slugfest that lasted six minutes short of three hours. It was Zheng’s second straight win over her Serbian opponent in as many 2008 meetings. She beat Ivanovic at Wimbledon to become the first Chinese player to topple a reigning world number one. It also was her first Top 10 win. In the Beijing tournament, she also beat Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, giving Zheng her second and third career wins over players ranked in the Top 10.
SPORTS HALL INDUCTEE
Billie Jean King is in yet another hall of fame. The tennis great is one of four athletes elected to the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame (BASHOF). Others included in the 2009 class are baseball pitcher Gaylord Perry, football tight end Dave Casper and quarterback Craig Morton. The four will be inducted at a banquet March 9 in San Francisco.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Rod Laver has been elected a Life Trustee of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, Rhode Island. Nine new members have been elected to the Hall’s board of directors: Douglas Fonte, Lucy Garvin, Elizabeth Jeffett, Ted Leonsis , Andrew McElwee Jr., David Westin, Allen Brill, David Tyree and Nancy von Auersperg. Returning to the board are Robert Downey, Steve Lessing and Sue Ann Weinberg.
Simone Bolelli has been banned by the Italian Tennis Federation from national team events for skipping the country’s Davis Cup matches with Latvia. Bolelli, ranked 45th in the world, chose instead to play tour events in Bangkok, Thailand, and in Tokyo, Japan. Bolelli said he told Italian Davis Cup captain Corrado Barrazzutti well in advance of the international team competition that he preferred to work on his fast-court game in Asia.
For the second time in nine years, the United States could face a Roger Federer-led Switzerland team when the two countries meet in a first-round Davis Cup match next year. The last time they faced each other, Federer won three points to lead Switzerland to victory in 2001. Spain and Argentina, this year’s finalists, will begin next year’s play at home, Argentina facing the Netherlands and Spain playing host to Serbia. In other World Group first-round matches, France will be at the Czech Republic, Chile at Croatia, Israel travels to Sweden and Austria goes to Germany.
SHRIVER CHARITY CLASSIC
US Open champion Serena Williams and Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva will face each other at the 23rd annual Pam Shriver Charity Tennis Classic in November. Williams is ranked number one in the world, while Dementieva is ranked number four. They will meet in a “Battle of Olympic Gold Medal Champions.” Williams teamed with her sister Venus to win the doubles gold medal at the Beijing Olympics. Net proceeds from the Tennis Classic are distributed to children’s charities under the guidance of the Baltimore Community Foundation.
SAYING IT ALL
Former ATP star Fernando Meligeni has turned author. His book – “Aqui Tem! Vitórias e Memórias de Fernando Meligeni com Andre Kfouri” – was released last week in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The book was written by Meligeni and Andre Kfouri, a well-known sports journalist in Brazil who currently is working for ESPN. Ranked as high as 25th in the world, Meligeni was a French Open semifinalist in 1999. He said he wrote the book to unveil some funny and stressful behind-the-scenes moments of his 14-year career on the tour.
Julie Ditty is the new record-holder for most career USTA Pro Circuit championships. The 29-year-old swept the singles and doubles titles at a recent ITF Women’s Circuit event in Albuquerque, New Mexico, earning her 31st and 32nd career USTA Pro Circuit titles, the most of any player, man or woman. On the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, the 29-year-old Ditty’s best result came last November when she reached the semifinals of an event and broke into the Top 100 for the first time. The previous record of 30 titles was held jointly by Paul Goldstein and Nana Smith.
SIXTH SENSE ACADEMY
Justine Henin and Carlos Rodrigez have opened a tennis academy in Florida. The superstar player, who was ranked number one in the world when she retired from the sport earlier this year, and her coach opened their second 6th Sense Tennis Academy, this one in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida, located 30 miles northwest of Orlando. Their first academy was opened in Belgium almost a year ago.
When Stephen Huss and Ross Hutchins won the doubles at China Open, it was their first title as a team. The 32-year-old Huss had won two other doubles crowns, including Wimbledon in 2005 with Wesley Moodie. Hutchins, nine years younger than his partner, won his first title in just his second ATP final. But Hutchins has done well in Beijing, having reached the semifinals last year when he was teamed with Eric Butorac. Huss and Hutchins became partners in Valencia, Spain, in April where they lost in the first round. Prior to winning in Beijing, their best result had been reaching the third round at Roland Garros.
SHARAPOVA OUT FOR YEAR
Because of her lingering shoulder injury, Maria Sharapova has decided to stop playing tournaments until next year. She is currently in Arizona where she is rehabilitating her shoulder. The injury has kept her from practicing the past several weeks, but she hopes to return to practice soon. She has decided to skip tournaments in Asia, Europe and the season-ending Championships. Sharapova won the Australian Open in January along with two other singles titles and has been ranked number one in the world this year.
Beijing: Anabel Medina Garrigues and Caroline Wozniacki beat Han Xinyun and Xu Yi-Fan 6-1 6-3
Bangkok: Chuang Chia-Jung and Hsieh Su-Wei beat Vera Dushevina and Maria Kirilenko 6-3 6-0
Beijing: Stephen Huss and Ross Hutchins beat Ashley Fisher and Bobby Reynolds 7-5 6-4
Bangkok: Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes beat Scott Lipsky and David Martin 6-4 7-6 (4)
Trnava: David Zkoch and Igor Zelenay beat Daniel Koellerer and Michael Mertinak 6-3 6-1
SITES TO SURF
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$832,000 AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships, Tokyo, Japan, hard
$416,000 Open de Moselle, Metz, France, hard
$125,000 Ethias Trophy, Mons, Belgium, hard
$650,000 Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Stuttgart, Germany, hard
$175,000 AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships, Tokyo, Japan, hard
$145,000 Tashkent Open, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, hard
AFAS Tennis Classics, BlackRock Tournament of Champions, Eindhoven, Netherlands, carpet
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
$1,000,000 ATP Kremlin Cup, Moscow, Russia, carpet
$800,000 IF Stockholm Open, Stockholm, Sweden, hard
$755,000 Bank Austria TennisTrophy, Vienna, Austria, hard
$1,340,000 Kremlin Cup, Moscow, Russia, carpet
BlackRock Tour of Champions, Budapest, Hungary, carpet
Andy Murray edged Novak Djokovic 7-6 (4) 7-6 (5) to win the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters at Cincinnati, Ohio
Dinara Safina won the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Canada, beating Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 6-1
Caroline Wozniacki beat Vera Dushevina 6-0 6-2 to win the Nordic Light Open in Stockholm, Sweden
Filippo Volandri beat Oscar Hernandez 6-3 7-5 to win the Zucchetti Kos Tennis Cup in Cordenons, Italy
Dudi Sela defeated Kevin Kim 6-3 6-0 in Vancouver, Canada, to win the Odlum Brown Vancouver Open men’s singles
Urszula Radwanska won the women’s singles at the Odlum Brown Vancouver Open by beating Julie Coin 2-6 6-3 7-5
Patrick Rafter beat Michael Stich 6-3 7-6 (4) to win the s-Tennis Masters in Graz, Austria
“Since I was a young girl it has been my dream to become number one in the world. When you get older, at least one day you can say you were number one and no one can take that away from you. You are in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour history books, and it’s a great achievement.” – Jelena Jankovic, who will take over the number one spot on August 11.
“Right now I know I’m going to be number one and I’m very, very happy to be number one. It’s a present for a lot of work in the past.” – Rafael Nadal, who will replace Roger Federer as number one on August 18.
“I secured the world number one ranking spot. I’ve never been number one in the world before, so finally I made that.” – Michael Stich, who replaced Goran Ivanisevic atop the BlackRock Tour of Champions rankings.
“It’s huge to win your first sort of major tournament, and to do it in a match like today makes it more special … I put in a lot of work off the court to be able to win these sort of tournaments, and it makes it all worthwhile.” – Andy Murray, after beating Novak Djokovic to capture the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati.
“He was playing a lot of slice and changing pace to my forehand. I just lost the rhythm. Overall I wasn’t really happy with the way I played today. I could have played better.” – Novak Djokovic, after losing to Andy Murray.
“It’s the first time in my life I’ve won back-to-back tournaments. I used to win a tournament then lose first round the next week. But now I’m always just taking it one match at a time. It’s a new experience for me and really just amazing.” – Dinara Safina, after winning the Rogers Cup in Montreal.
“This was a great experience. Every round I beat a better player than me. I played really well in this tournament. Hopefully in my next final I will be more relaxed and not be scared about it.” – Dominika Cibulkova, after losing to Dinara Safina in Montreal.
“It’s been a fantastic week. But it wasn’t as easy as it looked. I was a little bit nervous in the second set when she came back.” – Caroline Wozniacki, after winning her first WTA Tour title, the Nordic Light Open, in Stockholm, Sweden.
“We’re going into the Olympics playing, I think, the best we have all year. To beat a great team like Andy (Ram) and Jonathan (Erlich), who have had a tremendous year, it bodes well.” – Mike Bryan, after he and his brother Bob won the doubles title in Cincinnati.
“It hurts me so much to miss the Olympics and the U.S. Open, you have no idea.” – Maria Sharapova, a three-time Grand Slam tournament winner who has been sidelined by a shoulder injury.
“Rainer Schuettler claims that he should be allowed to compete in the Games, considering that he has been entered by the German NOC [National Olympic Committee] and that he is eligible as a result of his position in the ITF computer ranking, due to the withdrawal of some players who were qualified for the Olympic tournament.” – Court of Arbitration for Sport, in a statement.
SET FOR NUMBER ONE – 1
Even though his match win streak was ended, Rafael Nadal will replace Roger Federer on top of the ATP rankings. He just has to wait a little bit for his crown. Nadal, who spent a record 158 weeks as the world’s number two player, assured himself of the top ranking when he beat Nicolas Lapentti in the quarterfinals of the Cincinnati Masters. But because he lost to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals, Nadal won’t move ahead of Federer until August 18, the day after the Beijing Olympic tennis ends. Federer has been ranked number one in the world for a record 235 consecutive weeks. Nadal’s loss to Djokovic snapped his 32-match winning streak, but he will become the 24th player in the history of the ATP rankings to hold the number one spot. He also will be the third Spaniard to be number one, joining Carlos Moya (1999) and Juan Carlos Ferrero (2003).
SET FOR NUMBER ONE – 2
Jelena Jankovic will take over the number one ranking in women’s tennis, replacing countrywoman Ana Ivanovic. The switch will occur on August 11 when Jankovic will have 3,620 points – eight more than Ivanovic, the French Open champion. Ivanovic was the first player from Serbia to be ranked number one. Now Serbia will have back-to-back number one players. While Jankovic will become the 18th player to be ranked number one in women’s tennis, she will be the first to reach the top without ever having played in a Grand Slam tournament final. Besides Jankovic and Ivanovic, others to be ranked number one are Chris Evert, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Jennifer Capriati, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Monica Seles, Amelie Mauresmo, Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport and Maria Sharapova.
Caroline Wozniacki needed two victories on the final day to capture her first WTA Tour title. Because rain washed out the semifinals on Saturday, the fourth-seeded Dane began Sunday in Stockholm, Sweden, by upsetting top-seeded and defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4 6-1. Wozniacki then completed the best week of her career by crushing Vera Dushevina 6-0 6-2 to win the Nordic Light Open. Wozniacki didn’t lose a set in her five matches as she became the first Danish player to win a WTA Tour singles title. Tine Scheuer-Larsen of Denmark won seven doubles titles in the 1980s and 1990s.
Maria Sharapova will miss both the Beijing Olympics and the U.S. Open because of two small tears in her right shoulder muscle. An MRI revealed the tears after she withdrew from the Rogers Cup in Montreal. Doctors said time would heal the injury. The Russian righthander won the U.S. Open two years ago and was ranked number one in the world going into the French Open in May. She has since dropped to number three in the rankings. Sharapova has played in each of the past 23 major championships, winning
Wimbledon in 2004 and the Australian Open in January as well as the U.S. Open.
Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina and Stephanie Vogt of Liechtenstein are the latest withdrawals from the Olympic tennis tournament because of injuries. Chela was replaced by countryman Agustin Calleri, while Vogt was replaced in the women’s singles by Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand.
SPOT FOR SCHUETTLER?
Rainer Schuettler wants to participate in the tennis competition at the Beijing Olympics. Ranked number 33 in the world, the German has asked the Court of Arbitration for Sport to order the International Tennis Federation to enter him in the men’s singles competition at the Beijing Games. The ITF used the ATP and WTA rankings as a guide to determine who gets the 56 direct spots in the men’s and women’s singles competitions. Six of the remaining eight spots in each tournament were given out by the ITF’s Olympic Committee. Each country, however, is limited to a maximum of six players in each tournament, with up to four competing in singles and up to two teams in doubles.
SMASHING FOR CHARITY
Andre Agassi, Lindsay Davenport and James Blake will be among those playing at a charity event hosted by America’s top doubles team. The Bryan Brothers’ All-Star Tennis Smash will be held in Los Angeles on September 27 and will benefit local and national charities. “We were thrilled when Andre committed to play at our event,” Bob Bryan said. “On the court, he’s of course long been a hero of ours. Off the court, he’s been a mentor to us as we’ve watched him build the Andre Agassi Foundation.”
Roger Federer and Bjorn Borg will team up for a special doubles event on November 20 in Macau. The two five-time Wimbledon winners will face John McEnroe and either Rafael Nadal or James Blake at The Venetian Macau Tennis Showdown in a Tour of Champions event. McEnroe’s partner will come from the country that loses the Davis Cup semifinal between the United States and Spain in September. The Showdown will also feature two singles matches – a one-set match between Borg and McEnroe, followed by a best-of-three sets between Federer and either Nadal or Blake.
Dinara Safina just keeps winning. The Russian right-hander won her third tournament title in her last six events by crushing Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 6-1 at the Rogers Cup in Montreal. Safina, the sister of two-time Grand Slam tournament champion Marat Safin, improved her record to 27-3 since the start of May. Nine of those victories have come against top ten players, including handing Justine Henin her career-ending loss.
With the key part of the hard court season beginning, Andy Roddick has been felled by a shoulder injury. Roddick was forced out of the Cincinnati Masters because of the injury, which he said he got from sleeping in the wrong position. The American decided to skip the Beijing Olympics so he could prepare for the year’s final Grand Slam tournament, the U.S. Open. But Roddick has suffered a series of disappointing results this summer, including a second-round loss at Wimbledon.
His match interrupted at times by torrential rain and lightning storms, Pat Rafter nevertheless captured his first BlackRock Tour of Champions title in Graz, Austria. The Australian produced some impressive serve-and-volley tennis to beat Michael Stich 6-4 7-6 (4). Despite the loss, Stich, by reaching the final, moved to the top of the South African Airways rankings, replacing Goran Ivanisevic as number one.
Kimiko Date-Krumm ran her winning streak to three straight tournaments when she captured a $25,000 International Tennis Federation tournament in Obihiro, Japan, beating Suchanun Viratprasert of Thailand 6-3 7-6 (5) in the final. The 37-year-old Date-Krumm also won two other titles in Japan in recent weeks, in Myazaki and Tokyo.
Cincinnati: Bob and Mike Bryan beat Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram 4-6 7-6 (2) 10-7 (match tiebreak)
Montreal: Cara Black and Liezel Huber beat Maria Kirilenko and Flavia Pennetta 6-1 6-1
Stockholm: Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova beat Petra Cetkovska and Lucie Safarova 7-5 6-4
Cordenons: Marco Crugnola and Alessic Di Mauro beat David Skoch and Igor Zelenay 1-6 6-4 10-6 (match tiebreak)
Vancouver: Eric Butorac and Travis Parrott beat Rik De Voest and Ashley Fisher 6-4 7-6 (3)
Vancouver: Carley Gullickson and Nicole Kriz beat Christina Fusano and Junri Namigata 6-7 (4) 6-1 10-5 (match tiebreak)
SITES TO SURF
Los Angeles: www.countrywideclassic.com
Vale do Lobo: www.grandchampions.org
Olympics: www. Itftennis.com/Olympics/
Bryan brothers: www.bryanbrosfoundation.org/invite/
TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK
(All money in USD)
$525,000 Countrywide Classic, Los Angeles, California, hard
$125,000 Open Castilla y Leon, Segovia, Spain, hard
$100,000 ITF event, Monterrey, Mexico, hard
Vale do Lobo Grand Champions CGD, Vale do Lobo, Portugal, hard
TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK
Olympics, Beijing, China, hard
$483,000 Legg Mason Tennis Classic, Washington, DC, hard
$100,000 ATP Challenger, Istanbul, Turkey, hard
Olympics, Beijing, China, hard
$175,000 Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open, Cincinnati, Ohio, hard