Evonne Goolagong Cawley

Tennis In The Commonwealth: Stosur Wins, Birmingham Restored

By Leigh Sanders

The following is Leigh Sanders’ weekly look at tennis headlines in “The Commonwealth” or the traditional tennis powerhouses that were former members of the British Empire, most notably Australia, South Africa, India, Canada and, of course, Great Britain.

Revered British tennis centre, the Edgbaston Priory Club in Birmingham, has been handed a boost by the confirmation that the WTA Tour’s AEGON Classic will be returning in 2010. It was feared the tournament would be moved as part of the new British Tennis Series.

But the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has agreed a contract for a further year with a view to extending that providing the centre makes substantial improvements to its facilities.

Discussions have now begun between the LTA, the club and Birmingham City Council to see how the site and future events can be improved.

A pre-Wimbledon event has been held here every summer since 1982 and past winners include Maria Sharapova, Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova.

Priory Club Chief Executive Robert Bray said: “We have a long tradition of hosting international tennis and we are delighted to have reached an agreement with the LTA.”

* Samantha Stosur of Australia picked up her maiden singles WTA title at the Japan Open on Sunday. She beat Francesca Schiavone 7-5, 6-1, Schiavone now losing 10 of her last 11 singles finals. Stosur dropped only one set throughout the tournament, in the semifinal to Caroline Wozniacki. She has previously won 22 doubles titles and has stated her intention to break in to the world top 10 singles following her first triumph.

* It was Wozniacki who had been the conqueror of new number two Brit Katie O’Brien in the second round. The Danish world No. 6 needed only 44 minutes to wrack up a 6-0, 6-1 victory over 94th ranked O’Brien.

* Britain’s Andy Murray dropped to 4th in this week’s ATP Rankings (10/19) following Novak Djokovic’s win in Beijing while Lleyton Hewitt of Australia climbed one place to 22nd. Fellow Aussie Peter Luczak dropped 19 places to 83rd and Chris Guccione also dropped 2 places to 109th.

* In the doubles rankings (10/19) Canada’s Daniel Nestor remains No. 1 despite his early exit from Shanghai (see below). Mahesh Bhupathi of India remains sixth after his semifinals berth at the same tournament. Aussie pair Jordan Kerr and Paul Hanley rose to 29th and 30th respectively while Jeff Coetzee of South Africa fell 9 places to 35th.

* In the WTA Rankings (10/19), Samantha Stosur’s win in Japan sees her climb two places to 13th in the singles while India’s Sania Mirza climbs to 58th after her semifinals berth at Osaka. Australia’s Jelena Dokic climbs from 69th to 62nd while Britain’s injured No. 1 Anne Keothavong continues to fall during her recovery, now down in 79th place. Katie O’Brien is now Britain’s number two after jumping above Elena Baltacha after her exploits in Japan.

* In the doubles rankings (10/19) Samantha Stosur dropped to 9th place after her singles exertions this week while India’s Sania Mirza climbed two places to 36th. Marie-eve Pelletier of Canada is up one to 66th and Britain’s Sarah Borwell is also up to 79th. Canada’s Sharon Fichman also climbs one place to 98th in the world.

* Andy Roddick has become the sixth player to secure his place at the ATP World Tour Finals to be held in London, England next month despite his withdrawal from Shanghai.

* Two Aussie women failed to follow the lead of Stosur this weekend by losing their respective ITF finals. Jelena Dokic went down to the Swede Sofia Arvidsson in the Joue-les-Tours event in France while Alicia Molik fell to Sacha Jones of New Zealand in the Port Pirie Tennis International, Port Pirie, Australia.

* French duo Julien Benneteau and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga picked up their first doubles title as a partnership in Shanghai this week having seen off the top seeds and world No. 1 and No. 2, Canada’s Daniel Nestor and partner Nenad Zimonjic in the second round and India’s Mahesh Bhupathi and his partner Mark Knowles, of the Bahamas, in the semifinals.

* Aussie tennis legend Evonne Goolagong Cawley received a strange tribute this week as the town of Barellan, where she spent most of her childhood, unveiled a giant statue of the wooden Dunlop racquet she used to win 7 Grand Slam singles titles. Seven-thousand people attended the launch that also saw the 58-year-old hosting tennis clinics and a crayfish-gathering activity known as ‘yabbying.’

* Philip Brook has been named as the new Vice Chairman of the All England Tennis Club, Wimbledon, England from December 2009. He has been a member at the club since 1989, serving on many sub-committees during that time. The decision follows the announcement by current Vice Chairman Tim Phillips indicating his intention to step down in December 2009 following ten years in the role.

* Mixed fortunes for Great Britain this week as Alex Bogdanovic won the 42.5k Euros Challenger event in Denmark while Jocelyn Rae prevailed in the £10k event in Mytilini, Greece, beating fellow Brit and doubles partner Jade Windley in the final. Not so much luck in the doubles as Jonathan Marray and his partner were beaten in the doubles final in Denmark while Rae and Windley were edged out of the doubles final in Mytilini. Colin Fleming/Ken Skupski and Jamie Murray/Jamie Delgado, have progressed though to the quarterfinals of the ATP Challenger Event in Orleans, France.

* Also at Orleans, Australia’s Carsten Ball fell in the R32 of singles to Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.

* Australian Peter Luczak has lost in the first round of the If Stockholm Open doubles paired with Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. They lost 7-5, 6-3 to Brazilian Bruno Soares and Zimbabwean Kevin Ullyett in 71 minutes. Fellow Aussie Jordan Kerr and American Travis Parrott are through though after victory over Brazilians Marcelo Melo/Andre Sa.

* Canadians on the march this week are Aleksandra Wozniak and Peter Polansky. Wozniak is through to the second round of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow after her first-round opponent, Sara Errani of Italy, retired after just 30 minutes. She’ll play the winner of Maria Kirilenko and Agnieszka Radwanska in the next round. At the Copa Petrobas Challenger in Santiago, Chile, Polansky is through to the second round of both singles and doubles. He beat Diego Alvarez of Argentina 6-1, 6-4 in the singles and with American Alex Bogomolov Jr. overcame Brazilian duo Ricardo Hocevar and Joao Souza in the doubles.

* Brit Dan Smethurst lost in the quarterfinals of the $15k ITF event in Dubrovnik, Croatia to Italy’s Simone Vagnozzi who was ranked 216 places above him in the rankings.

* The Canadian Junior Fed Cup team placed a respectable fifth at the recent Fed Cup finals held in Mexico. After narrowly missing out on the main draw they beat Croatia and China to top the bracket competing for fifth to eighth spot.

* Aussie Marinko Matosevic was beaten in the Round of 32 at the Royal Bank of Scotland Challenger in Tiburon, Calif., by America’s Vincent Spadea 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-0.

Mondays With Bob Greene: I can’t believe this happened

STARS

(US Open)

Men’s singles:

Women’s singles: Kim Clijsters beat Caroline Wozniacki 7-5 6-3

Men’s doubles: Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy beat Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles 3-6 6-3 6-2

Women’s doubles: Serena Williams and Venus Williams beat Cara Black and Liezel Huber 6-2 6-2

Mixed doubles: Carly Gullickson and Travis Parrott beat Cara Black and Leander Paes 6-2 6-4

Boys’ singles: Bernard Tomic beat Chase Buchanan 6-1 6-3

Girls’ singles: Heather Watson beat Yana Buchina 6-4 6-1

Boys’ doubles: Cheng Peng Hsieh and Marton Fucsovics beat Julien Obry and Adrien Puget 7-6 (5) 5-7 10-1 (match tiebreak)

Girls’ doubles: Valeria Solovieva and Maryna Zanevska beat Elena Bogdan and Noppawan Lertcheewakarn 1-6 6-3 10-7 (match tiebreak)

Men’s wheelchair singles: Shingo Kunieda beat Maikel Scheffers 6-0 6-0

Men’s wheelchair doubles: Stephane Houdet and Stefan Olsson beat Maikel Scheffers and Ronald Vink 6-4 4-6 6-4

Women’s wheelchair singles: Esther Vergeer beat Korie Homan 6-0 6-0

Women’s wheelchair doubles: Esther Vergeer and Korie Homan beat Daniela DiToro and Florence Gravellier 6-2 6-2

OTHER:

Alberto Martin beat Carlos Berlocq 6-3 6-3 to win the AON Open Challenger in Genoa, Italy

SAYING

“When I would have a dream, it was to win the US Open, and the other one is to be like Roger. One is done.” – Juan Martin del Potro, after beating Roger Federer and winning the US Open men’s singles.

“Five was great, four was great, too. Six would have been a dream, too. Can’t have them all. I’ve had an amazing summer and a great run. I’m not too disappointed just because I thought I played another wonderful tournament.” – Roger Federer, after losing the US Open men’s singles final to Juan Martin del Potro.

“I can’t believe this happened. Because it still seems so surreal that in my third tournament back I won my second Grand Slam. Because it wasn’t in the plan. I just wanted to come here and get a feel for it all over again, play a Grand Slam so to start the next year I didn’t have to go through all the new experiences over.” – Kim Clijsters, who won her second straight US Open women’s title four years after her first title.

“I think that I’ll learn that it pays to always play your best and always be your best and always act your best no matter what. And I think that I’m young and I feel like in life everyone has to have experience that they take and that they learn from, and I think that’s great that I have an opportunity to still b e physically fit to go several more years and learn from the past.” – Serena Williams, after losing her semifinal to Kim Clijsters after receiving a point penalty on match point.

“I cannot really tell that I was playing bad. She was playing good.” – Kateryna Bondarenko, after losing to Yanina Wickmayer.

“Today, I could’ve been better in pretty much every part of my game, whether it was mental, forehand, backhand, return.” – Andy Murray, after losing his fourth-round match to Marin Cilic.

“I lost it myself because I made so many unforced errors. So many unforced errors, you can’t win against anybody. No chance.” – Svetlana Kuznetsova, after committing 69 unforced errors in her three-set loss to Caroline Wozniacki.

“I was thinking, every point, do the same, try to put the ball in the court. When you fight that way to the final point, you have many chances, and that’s what happened today.” – Juan Martin del Potro, after his quarterfinal win.

“I think the biggest weapon can be mental toughness. It doesn’t have to be a stroke or a shot or anything like that. If you’re mentally tough out there, then you can beat anyone.” – Melanie Oudin, after beating Maria Sharapova to advance to the fourth round.

STARTING NEW ERA

By winning the US Open, Juan Martin del Potro became only the third player to beat both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the same tournament. He also became the first player this year to defeat the world’s top three players, having also beat Andy Murray in Madrid, Spain. Del Potro is the first South American to be in the US Open final since fellow Argentine Guillermo Vilas won in 1977, and the first South African to be in a Grand Slam final since Fernando Gonzalez of Chile lost to Federer in the 2007 Australian Open.

SO SWEET, SO WRONG

After he ran onto the court to kiss Rafael Nadal, a New York City man, Noam U. Aorta, was arrested and charged with trespassing. Aorta jumped out of the stands after Nadal beat Gael Monfils in a fourth-round match. “For me it wasn’t a problem. The guy was really nice,” Nadal said. “He said, ‘I love you,’ and he kissed me.” District Attorney Richard Brown called it “particularly disturbing” since Aorta made physical contact with Nadal, noting that Monica Seles was stabbed in 1993 by a spectator who jumped out of the stands in Hamburg, Germany.

SAFINA STILL ON TOP

Serena Williams lost the chance to move back into the number one spot on the women’s tennis tour. The American could have replaced Dinara Safina on the top of the rankings if she had successfully defended her US Open title. Instead, she lost to eventual champion Kim Clijsters in the semifinals and, consequently, will remain in the number two spot.

The US Open was the third tournament back for US Open champion Kim Clijsters since she ended her two-year retirement. And you need to play three tournaments to get a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour ranking. In this week’s rankings, Clijsters is number 19 in the world.

SEASON-ENDING QUALIFIERS

The world’s top doubles team, Cara Black and Liezel Huber, are the first to qualify for the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships, which will be held October 27-November 1 in Doha, Qatar. It will be the third trip the final Championships for Black and Huber, having clinched the title in the last two years. The top four doubles teams will compete for the title. Two players have already qualified for the eight-player singles competition, Dinara Safina and Serena Williams.

STANDING FOR ELECTION

Doubles players will get a chance to shine in the 2010 International Tennis Hall of Fame ITHF) balloting. The ITHF announced the names of the 12 nominees for possible induction into the Newport, Rhode Island, shrine next year, including Beatrizs “Gigi” Fernandez, Natasha Zvereva, Todd Woodbridge, Mark Woodforde and Anders Jarryd. On the ballot in the Master Player category are Owen Davidson, Peter Fleming and Bob Lutz, while the Contributor category has four nominees: wheelchair tennis pioneer Brad Parks, coach Nick Bollettieri, Lawn Tennis Association chairman Derek Hardwick and Japan’s Eichi Kawatei. Voting for the 2010 ballot will take place over the next several months with an announcement of the induction class scheduled for January. The Class of 2010 induction ceremony will be held July 10 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport.

SUGIYAMA RETIRING

Ai Sugiyama is ready to say sayonara. The Japanese veteran says she will probably retire at the end of this year, concluding her 17-year career. She once was ranked as high as number eight in the world. “I am normally the type that can picture what the near future holds, but to be honest at this moment in time, I can’t see myself competing next season,” Sugiyama told Kyodo news. She won six WTA Tour singles titles and doubles championships at the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. She lost in the Australian Open final this year.

SPECIAL MOMS

When Kim Clijsters won the US Open, she became the first mother to win a Grand Slam tournament singles title since Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley captured Wimbledon in 1980. But Clijsters wasn’t the only mother competing at America’s premier tennis event. Sybille Bammer of Austria lost in the first round to Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, while Rossana de los Rios of Paraguay fell to 14th-seeded Marion Bartoli in her first-round match. After the birth of her baby, Bammer climbed as high as number 19 in the world and won at Prague, Czech Republic, earlier this year. De los Rios has won six ITF singles titles since giving birth to her daughter in 1997.

SAD WEEK

Sloane Stephens was looking forward to the US Open junior girls tournament, where she was seeded fourth. But just before junior play got underway, Stephens’ father, former NFL running back John Stephens, died in a car accident. The 16-year-old from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, took a day off to fly to her father’s funeral in Louisiana, then returned to win her second-round match. But she lost her next outing to Jana Cepelova of Slovakia 4-6 6-1 6-0. “I was trying to focus and do things I should have done, but mentally I wasn’t there,” she said. The youngster had reconnected with her father three years ago and she had met him only a handful of times, but the two had developed a relationship over the telephone.

SISTER ACT

Venus and Serena Williams won their 10th Grand Slam tournament women’s doubles title, beating the top-seeded team of Cara Black and Liezel Huber. The sisters have never lost in a Grand Slam tournament once they’ve reached the final. “Hopefully that’s a record that won’t end yet,” Serena said. It is their first US Open doubles crown since 1999, and the sisters are now halfway to the record set by Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver.

SUITE NEWS

As far as fans were concerned, Melanie Oudin didn’t outstay her welcome at the US Open. That’s not true about her New York City hotel room. The 17-year-old from Marietta, Georgia, was one of the biggest surprises of this year’s final Grand Slam event, reaching the quarterfinals before being eliminated. But she outstayed her hotel reservation at the Marriott in Manhattan, according to SportsBusiness Journal. Her management company quickly got her a room at the Intercontinental Hotel. Oudin, who was not seeded, was not expected to play in the second week of the US Open. So the room she shared with her mother was apparently reserved for someone else. “Obviously we will not be sending any of our players back to that hotel (the Marriott),” Oudin’s agent, BEST Tennis president John Tobias, told the Journal.

STILL RELEVANT

He won the first US Open in 1968 and the main stadium at America’s premier tennis tournament is named for him. But it wasn’t until this year that Arthur Ashe was inducted into the US Open Court of Champions, which honors the greatest singles champions in the history of the 128 years of the US Championships/US Open. Ashe joined prior inductees Don Budge, Maureen Connolly, Jimmy Connors, Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Althea Gibson, Steffi Graf, Billie Jean King, Jack Kramer, Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl, Molla Bjurstedt Mallory, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Bill Tilden and Helen Wills. An international panel of journalists selects the inductees annually. Former President Bill Clinton participated in Ashe’s induction ceremonies.

SET FOR DOHA

US Open runner-up Caroline Wozniacki and Elena Dementieva are the latest to qualify for the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships, which will be held October 27-November 1 in Doha, Qatar. The world’s top eight singles players and top four doubles teams will compete for the Sony Ericsson Championships title and a share of the record Championships prize money of USD $4.45 million.

STAYING IN TOUCH

Fans attending the US Open sent a record number of emails and text, picture and video messages from in and around Arthur Ashe Stadium the first week of the tournament. “US Open fans are letting their fingers do the talking this year as increasing numbers of Verizon Wireless customers use Smartphones and PDAs to stay in touch with their homes and offices,” said Michele White, executive director-network for company’s New York Metro Region. “The number of data connections established by Verizon Wireless customers in and around the tennis center during the busiest hours of the event last week was 80 percent higher than last year while voice traffic was down.”

STRONG SPORT

Despite the gloomy global economy, the women’s tennis circuit is doing just fine, thank you. Stacey Allaster, CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, said they have lost just one title sponsor in 2009 and have added two new tournaments in 2010. “The bottom line is we want to be a credible product, consistently delivering to fans and sponsors, and in 2009 our athletes have done that,” Allaster said. Of the tour’s 51 title sponsors, only one has dropped out, and that is “an incredible success story for women’s tennis,” she said. Tournaments have been added in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Kuala Lumpur, Indonesia, while the Los Angeles event has moved to San Diego.

SHAMEFUL ACTIONS

Three teenagers have been convicted in Malmo, Sweden, for rioting outside a Davis Cup tie between Israel and Sweden in March. The three Swedish males, aged 17 to 19, were sentenced to community service for juveniles. Two of them were also ordered to pay USD $19,020 for sabotaging a police vehicle. The three were among 10 people arrested after protesting Israel’s offensive in Gaza. The court had previously sentenced two others to 9 and 15 months in prison. No spectators were allowed to watch the matches after Malmo officials said they could not guarantee security. The International Tennis Association (ITF) fined the Swedish tennis federation USD $5,000 for that decision and banned Malmo from staging Davis Cup matches for five years.

SAY IT AIN’T SO

A media report that he and his wife are living in fear amid crime and poverty in the Bahamas has brought an angry response from Lleyton Hewitt. The 2001 US Open champion told a newspaper that the report in an Australian magazine was “absolute rubbish.” Hewitt said he and his family have had “fantastic experiences” in the nine months they have lived in a gated community on New Providence island. “For us it’s a fantastic place to raise a young family.”

SAYS YOU, SAYS ME

You knew it had to happen. Novak Djokovic and John McEnroe took turns imitating each other during an impromptu US Open moment. Following his victory over Radek Stepanek, Djokovic called McEnroe down from his television booth, then mimicked the mannerisms and serving style of the four-time US Open champion. He tossed his racquet onto the court and screamed at an imaginary umpire. Once McEnroe arrived on court, he unbuttoned his white shirt, rolled up his sleeves and, using a borrowed racquet, bounced the ball repeatedly, imitating Djokovic’s pre-serve habits. Two years ago, Djokovic delighted the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd by impersonating Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova, among others. “What I’ve done in 2007 with those impersonations and tonight playing with Johnny Mac, I think that’s what the crowd wants, especially in these hours,” Djokovic said. “I think these night matches are very special.”

SKIPPING SCHOOL

Her exciting run to US Open quarterfinals kept Melanie Oudin in New York City doing what she wants to do. She doesn’t do the ordinary high school things, like going to the junior prom or homecoming, or even hanging out with friends at the mall. “She doesn’t do any of that kind of stuff, and she’s OK with it,” said Katherine Oudin, Melanie’s mother. “I know she misses the normal life a little, but she does not regret it at all. Zero. She’s totally OK with it because she knows this is what she’s wanted her entire life.”

SOCKING IT AWAY

Each of the singles champions here at the US Open will take home USD $1.6 million, a nice tidy sum in any language. Going into the year’s final Grand Slam tournament, Roger Federer has earned USD $36 million over the past 12 months. His three Grand Slam wins – 2008 US Open, French Open and Wimbledon – and other tournament play netted him USD $8 million. And when he won his first-round match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center this year, he became the first player to surpass USD $50 million in career earnings on the court. The 28-year-old Federer has 10-year endorsement deals with Nike, Rolex, Wilson and Swiss coffee machine maker Jura. His Nike contract extension that he signed in 2008 is worth more than USD $10 million annually. Maria Sharapova is close to Federer in off-court earnings. The Russian earned USD $22.5 million over the past year despite missing most of the season with a shoulder injury.

SUED

The US Tennis Association (USTA) has been sued by a New York City documentary filmmaker who claims the ruling tennis body discriminates against wheelchair players by refusing to sell broadcast licensing rights to their matches. Brooklyn, New York, filmmaker Alan Rich is a lawyer who is representing himself and seven handicapped players. He has been filming a documentary about the players called “Fire in the Belly.” Rich contends that because the major networks covering the tournament – CBS, ESPN and Tennis Channel – do not cover wheelchair events, he should be given the rights. USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said his organization limits filming of matches to the three television companies that have contracts with them. He said that two years ago, Tennis Channel aired the wheelchair finals competition live and produced a half-hour highlights show of the tournament.

SIMON REPLACED

Jeremy Chardy will play Davis Cup for France against the Netherlands. Chardy replaces Gilles Simon, who has a knee injury. France plays the Netherlands for a spot in next year’s World Group. The French team also includes Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and doubles specialist Michael Llordra. Chardy originally had been selected as an alternative. That role now goes to Julien Benneteau.

SCRIBE AWARDS

Sixteen writers were honored at the US Open by the US Tennis Writers Association in the 10th annual USTWA Writing Contest. William Weinbaum and John Barr of ESPN.com won first place in Hard News/Enterprise for their story about the controversial match between Nikolay Davydenko and Martin Vassallo Arguello. Other first-place winners were: Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle, Column/Commentary; Cindy Shmerler, TENNIS Magazine, Feature Story (Pro); Stephen Tignor, TENNIS Magazine, Feature Story (Non-Pro); Filip Bondy, New York Daily News, Game Story (Pro); and Paul Fein, TennisOne.com, Service Story.

The USTWA announced the election of its board of directors at its annual meeting at the US Open: Cindy Cantrell, Tennis Life; Paul Fein, freelance writer; Ann LoPrinzi, The Times of Trenton (New Jersey); Richard Kent, freelance writer; Jim Martz, Florida Tennis; and Art Spander, The (San Francisco) Examiner. Fein, Kent and Spander are new to the board. The officers will be determined by the board.

SHARED PERFORMANCE

Genoa: Daniele Bracciali and Alessandro Motti beat Amir Hadad and Harel Levy 6-4 6-2

SITES TO SURF

Davis Cup: www.DavisCup.com

Quebec: www.challengebell.com

Guangzhou: http://sports.21cn.com

Bucharest: www.bcropenromania.ro/

Metz: www.openmoselle.com

Hansol: www.hansolopen.com

Tashkent: www.tashkentopen.uz

Saint Malo: www.opengdfsuez-bretagne.com

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$150,000 Pekao Open, Szczecin, Poland, clay

WTA

$220,000 Bell Challenge, Quebec City, Canada, hard

$220,000 Guangzhou International Women’s Open, Guangzhou, China, hard

DAVIS CUP

World Group Semifinals

Croatia vs. Czech Republic at Porec, Croatia

Spain vs. Israel at Murcia, Spain

World Group Playoffs

Chile vs. Austria at Rancagua, Chile; Belgium vs. Ukraine at Charleroi, Belgium; Brazil vs. Ecuador at Porto Alegre, Brazil; Netherlands vs. France at Maastricht, Netherlands; South Africa vs. India at Johannesburg, South Africa; Serbia vs. Uzbekistan at Belgrade, Serbia; Sweden vs. Romania at Helsingborg, Sweden; Italy vs. Switzerland at Genova, Italy

Americas Zone

Group I Playoff: Peru vs. Uruguay at Lima, Peru

Group II Final: Dominican Republic vs. Venezuela at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Asia-Oceania Zone

Group I Playoff: China vs. Thailand at Jiaxing, China

Group II 3rd Round: Philippines vs. New Zealand at Manila, Philippines

Europe/Africa Zone

Group I Playoffs: Slovak Republic vs. FYR Macedonia at Bratislava, Slovak Republic; Great Britain vs. Poland at Liverpool, Great Britain

Group II 3rd Round: Latvia vs. Slovenia at Jurmala, Latvia; Finland vs. Cyprus at Salo, Finland

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$650,000 BCR Open Romania, Bucharest, Romana, clay

$650,000 Open de Moselle, Metz, France, hard

WTA

$220,000 Hansol Korea Open, Seoul, Korea, hard

$220,000 Tashkent Open, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, hard

$100,000 Open GDF Suez de Bretagne, Saint Malo, France, clay

SENIORS

Trophee Jean-Luc Lagardere, Paris, France, clay

Mondays With Bob Greene: I’m completely excited

STARS

BNP Paribas Open

(First Week)

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat second-seeded Jelena Jankovic 6-4 6-4

Petra Cetkovska beat third-seeded Elena Dementieva 7-6 (2) 2-6 6-1

Urszula Radwanska beat sixth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2 4-6 6-3

John Isner beat ninth-seeded Gael Monfils 6-7 (5) 6-1 6-4

Shahar Peer beat tenth-seeded Marion Bartoli 1-6 6-4 7-5

Other Tournaments

John McEnroe beat Jim Courier 6-2 6-3 to win the Rio Champions Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

SAYING

“Today one person came up to me asking me if I’m the sister for Marat. I’m like, ‘yeah.’ (And they said) ‘are you playing tennis?’ And I look at them like, well, ‘OK, yes, I’m also a tennis player.’ I’m still, I think, known more as his sister.” – Dinara Safina, who is ranked number two in the world.

“Everything is wrong. I need a lot of work. I wish I had a magic wand and could just fix my game and just play awesome tennis again. I would like it to be that way, but sometimes it’s not.” – Jelena Jankovic, after losing to Anastasia Pavyluchenkova.

“I’m excited. As long as you win you’re happy. But I tried not to be very overexcited because I still have to continue in this tournament.” – Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, after beating Jelena Jankovic.

“I’m completely excited. I’ve been thinking about something like this happening for the last two or three years. So for me, this is not a massive shock. But when it does happen (that) your girlfriend (or) wife is pregnant, it definitely changes your mindset.” – Roger Federer, revealing his girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec is pregnant with their first child.

“They talk about the age, but nowadays in the US 50 is the new 40. … I saw the other guys who are younger and how they were with their backs, calves, knees hurt, and here I am, happy that I am standing. I know that if I were doing what I was doing today when I was playing the pro tour, being serious about my physical conditioning, I could have won many more titles in my career.” – John McEnroe, after winning a senior tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“We asked them to be moved here to the Philippines because of the safety of our players and because of recent events in Pakistan, especially the cricket team of Sri Lanka getting attacked.” – Randy Villanueva, Philippine Law Tennis Association vice president, saying its Davis Cup tie against Pakistan should be moved.

“My chances are really small. What Rod Laver did was amazing. But at the same time it was a little bit easier in that moment than right now because in that moment I think they only had two different surfaces (grass and clay). Now we have three, and Australia and the US Open are not exactly the same.” – Rafael Nadal, playing down his chances of winning all four Grand Slam tournaments this year.

“I’m just going to focus on myself at this tournament, but that (number two) is the reward for the success that I’ve had this year. I’ve played in three tournaments and been in two finals. There is only one person in front of me and this is something big.” – Dinara Safina, who can become number one in the world by reaching the final of the BNP Paribas in Indian Wells, California.

“I probably didn’t find the answer to this question. I found the answer to the other question, which was do I want to stop, which was no. It was already quite a challenge when it happened in the summer of 2007, where I really asked myself whether I want to keep going or not. I didn’t find the answer quickly. It took me a few months to really feel that for some reason, I don’t have enough.” – Amelie Mauresmo, when asked why she keeps pushing herself at this stage of her career.

“I’m just playing tennis for myself and I always have put my health as a priority to everything. Tennis is probably my life at this moment, but it’s not the only thing in my life.” – Novak Djokovic, denying that he is a quitter because he withdrew from his Australian Open match because of heat exhaustion.

“As you get older, you start to understand that you’re not going to feel perfect every week and you try and find a way to get through the first couple of matches.” – Andy Murray.

“I learned a lot about my game and I learned it’s not all about rising. It’s also about learning how to fall and learning how to lose without being truly defeated, and that’s something that I want to take as a positive from last year and try to build up.” – Ana Ivanovic.

“Yes, it’s a dream job, and in tennis we have a very small window both as players and as coaches to make a mark. You make a lot of selfish decisions. But every time I pack the bags and walk out the door, it gets harder and harder.” – Darren Cahill, noting the need to travel almost constantly has kept him from coaching Roger Federer.

“On the court I’m a fighter. I will do anything to win. Outside, I’m actually very, very nice.” – Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, who is ranked number 11 in the world.

“I just wanted to test (the shoulder) out. I started training a couple of months ago. I just wanted to … test it out in a match situation and get a little different scenery than the practice court and play in front of the crowd, so that was exciting. The main goal for here was just to get out there and be in that atmosphere again.” – Maria Sharapova, after playing and losing her doubles match.

SAFINA TO THE TOP

If Dinara Safina reaches the final of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, she will supplant Serena Williams in the number one spot in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour rankings. The 22-year-old Safina lost to Williams in the Australian Open final in January. Neither Serena nor her sister Venus Williams are competing at Indian Wells, continuing their boycott of the tournament. They last played Indian Wells in 2001, where they were booed after Venus pulled out of her semifinal match against Serena at the last moment, saying she was injured. Serena Williams has won the last two Grand Slam tournament titles, the US and Australian Opens.

SWITCH IN ACTION

The Philippines might not have to go to Pakistan for its next Davis Cup competition. An International Tennis Federation (ITF) spokesman said the tie could me moved from Lahore, Pakistan, because of security concerns. Gunmen recently attacked the Sri Lanka cricket team bus in Lahore, killing seven Pakistanis and wounding six players. Three of the Filipino players, including Cecil Mamitt, are dual US-Philippine citizens who may be targeted because of their American passports, according to Randy Villanueva, vice president of the Philippine Lawn Tennis Association. Pakistan’s first-round Asia/Oceania Group Two tie against Oman was moved from Lahore to Muscat, Oman, because of security concerns. Pakistan won the tie 4-1, advancing to July’s tie against the Philippines.

SHARAPOVA BACK – SOMEWHAT

Maria Sharapova returned to competitive tennis for the first time in seven months, but her stay was very brief. The Russian was forced off the WTA Tour last August with a torn rotator cuff. She underwent surgery on her right shoulder two months later. She teamed with Elena Vesnina to play doubles at the BNP Paribas Open, but the pair lost their first-round match to Ekaterina Makarova and Tatiana Poutchek 6-2 4-6 10-7 (match tiebreak). Sharapova said she entered the doubles because she wanted to test her shoulder in a match situation and in front of a crowd.

SIDELINED

A hip-bone injury has sidelined Carlos Moya. The 32-year-old won the French Open in 1998 and was ranked number one in the world the next year. But he is suffering from a lesion to a tendon and ischium on his hip-bone. “It’s still too early to know when I’ll be able to return to competition,” Moya said. “It’s certain that I want to return, but only when I’m firing at 100 percent physically and mentally.”

SOLD OUT

The return of four stars – Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Kim Clijsters and Tim Henman – will be a sellout. All the tickets for their exhibition matches on Wimbledon’s new Centre Court in May were sold out in just five minutes. There will be men’s and women’s singles matches and a mixed doubles match as officials test the new roof and ventilation system in front of a capacity crowd.

ST. LOUIS BOUND

Wimbledon won’t be the only stop for Kim Clijsters. The Belgian will play two matches for the St. Louis Aces in the World Team Tennis League. She will make her WTT debut July 21 in St. Louis and will play in Philadelphia on July 22. Once ranked number one in the world, Clijsters retired from the WTA Tour in May 2007 and gave birth to a daughter last year. Others who will compete in the WTT this July include Andre Agassi, sisters Venus and Serena Williams, John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova.

STOPPED BY INJURY

A left heel injury caused Nikolay Davydenko to withdraw from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California. Seeded fifth, the Russian had a first-round bye. His spot was taken by lucky loser Olivier Patience of France, who promptly lost to Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-7 (5) 6-3 6-3

STUDYING

When she’s not on the tennis court, Vera Zvonareva is focusing on something else. The Russian has been studying at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and hopes someday to be working with the United Nations. She enrolled in the school in 2007 when a wrist injury forced her off the tour for half the season. Zvonareva already has a university degree in physical education and is studying international economic relations and international affairs. “I got to know and meet a few ambassadors around the world and a few influential people and a few people who work for the UN,” Zvonareva said. “It’s great to be involved in something like this and also to give me a lot of different knowledge outside the court. I’m really enjoying it.”

SECURITY

The European Court of Justice sided with a tennis player who was kicked off his flight when airport security said he posed a terrorist threat because he was carrying his racquets. The judges ruled that the unpublished European Union register of hand luggage restrictions could not be enforced because passengers had no way of knowing exactly what was prohibited. The EU list shows that racquets are not specifically banned from the cabin, but the list contains a catch-all prohibition on “any blunt instrument capable of causing injury.” Gottfried Heinrich of Austria was on his way to a tournament when he was thrown off a flight at the Vienna airport in 2005 after having already cleared general security screening. One legal adviser called it the “fundamental absurdity” of European anti-terror regulations that outlawed a range of possible weapons from the aircraft cabin, but refused to make the list public for security reasons.

SENIOR CITIZEN

When the Outback Champions Series shows up in Surprise, Arizona, in October for the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Championships, Andre Agassi will be in the field of eight. Agassi is the first player announced for the 2009 tournament for players age 30 and over. John McEnroe won the inaugural event in 2008 in Surprise, defeating Todd Martin in the final.

SWISS PAPA

Roger Federer and his girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec are expecting their first child. The baby is due in the summer. “This is a dream come true for us,” Federer wrote on his Web site. “We love children and we are looking forward to being parents for the first time. Mirka is feeling great and everything is going well.”

SPOTLIGHT ON WHEELCHAIRS

The International Tennis Hall of Fame will begin inducting wheelchair athletes and administrators into the Newport, Rhode Island, shrine this year. Founded in 1976, wheelchair tennis is one of the fastest growing wheelchair sports in the world, helped by the fact it can be played on any regular tennis court with no modifications to racquets and balls. The rules are also the same, with one exception: wheelchair tennis players are allowed two bounces of the ball. The wheelchair category is in addition to the traditional Hall of Fame induction categories of Recent Players, Master Players and Contributors.

SEEKING HELP

Retired player Wayne Black has urged the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to help develop young talent in his home country of Zimbabwe. Black, who had been coaching in London since retiring from the doubles circuit in 2005, said he now intends to help develop players in Zimbabwe. Since the retirement from Davis Cup by Black, his older brother Byron Black and tour doubles partner Kevin Ullyett, the Zimbabwe team has fallen from the World Group to the Euro/Africa Zone groups. His sister, Cara Black, is ranked number one in the world in doubles on the WTA Tour.

SAYONARA

Tennis Week is ceasing publication as a magazine after 35 years. Begun by International Tennis Hall of Famer Eugene Scott, the magazine was acquired by IMG in 2006 after Scott’s death. While it no longer will publish the magazine, it will continue providing news online at www.tennisweek.com. Calling it a “strategic restructuring,” Tennis Week said the move will not include any layoff of its staff.

SPONSOR WOES

The reason the ATP will be rebating USD $3 million to tournaments as “financial relief” is because the men’s tour failed to line up a tour-wide sponsor to replace Mercedes-Benz. The sponsor money goes directly into the pockets of the tournaments. However, if the tour gets a new global sponsor, those tournaments that take the rebate money will not get any of the new sponsor dollars.

SURPRISE

When Pauline Callaghan celebrated her 90th birthday in Sydney, Australia, a surprise guest showed up. Mrs. Callaghan’s five children arranged for a surprise phone call for their mother. While talking to Evonne Goolagong Cawley on her mobile phone, Mrs. Callaghan looked up to see the former world number one player and her husband Roger Cawley walking towards her. Goolagong has known the Callaghan family since she was in primary school. She began calling Mrs. Callaghan “mum” when a spectator asked if Goolagong was her daughter. Callaghan’s oldest son, Tony, 62, played Wimbledon five times and has coached a number of players, including Brad Drewett, Wally Masur, Jelena Dokic, Sandon Stolle and Samantha Stosur.

SITES TO SURF

Indian Wells: www.bnpparibasopen.org

Bogota: www.bancolombiaopen.com.co/

Sunrise: www.sunrisetennis.com

Marrakech: www.arryadia.com/mtt/2009/marrakech2009/

Rio de Janeiro: http://championsseriestennis.com/rio2009/

Los Cabos: www.championsseriestennis.com/cabo2009/

Miami: www.sonyericssonopen.com/

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

(All money in USD)

ATP

$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard (second week)

$125,000 Bancolombia Open, Bogota, Colombia, clay

$125,000 BMW Tennis Championships, Sunrise, Florida, USA, hard

$125,000 Marrakech Challenger, Marrakech, Morocco, clay

WTA TOUR

$4,500,000 BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, California, USA, hard (second week)

SENIORS

The Del Mar Development Champions Cup, Los Cabos, Mexico

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

ATP

$4,500,000 Sony Ericsson Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard

WTA TOUR

$4,500,000 Sony Ericsson Open, Miami, Florida, USA, hard

Tennis Legend Evonne Goolagong Cawley Officially Recognised

Evonne Goolagong

Written by the WTA Tour

ST. PETERSBURG, FL, USA – Australian tennis legend Evonne Goolagong Cawley has been officially recognised as one of only 16 women to have attained the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour’s World No.1 singles ranking since computer rankings were introduced in 1975.

It was recently discovered that Goolagong ascended to the top spot for one ranking period (rankings were issued bi-monthly during 1975-1990) shortly after her gripping 63 57 63 win over Chris Evert at prestigious 1976 Virginia Slims Championships held at the Forum in Los Angeles.

The belated accolade comes about following a recent search in the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Rankings archive in St. Petersburg, Florida, which revealed that a handful of paper records were in fact missing between April and July 1976, most notably was the ranking period April 26 to May 9.

On looking at the point differential between No.1 Evert and No.2 Goolagong on the April 12 printout, there was little separating the two. When the Jenkins method was applied to compute the rankings following the results of the Virginia Slims Championships on April 17, and with the 1975 Family Circle Cup points (which Evert won) from the 52 weeks previously coming off on April 26, Goolagong moves into the No.1 spot by 8/10ths of a Rating Point.

Two weeks later on May 10, when Evert’s victory at the 1976 Family Circle Cup and Goolagong’s non-entry are factored in, the American moves back into the No.1 spot for and would continue to hold it for 112 consecutive weeks until Martina Navratilova’s victory at Wimbledon in 1978.

To celebrate the achievement, the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour sent Goolagong Cawley a Waterford Crystal trophy, something new No.1s in recent years have received. She is pictured in this story with the trophy.

“I’m simply delighted,” said Goolagong Cawley from her home in Noosa, Queensland. “In Australia at the end of 1975 and during the ’76 Virginia Slims Tour (which finished just before Easter – Chris and I then played World TeamTennis with no more official tournaments until the WTT break for Wimbledon) I played at the highest level, the most consistent tennis of my career. The tournaments were on grass and on mostly quick carpet which helped the serve and volley part of my game and for five or six months I felt virtually unbeatable.

“Prior to this time, I had lost to Chris a number of times in a row mostly on clay – her best surface – but strangely during that time it was my ground strokes that improved and subsequently gave me such an edge on everyone, including her. Today I am happy and gratified that what I felt at the time has now been recognised officially. It’s personally very satisfying and this has been the best Christmas present.”

“Evonne was always one of the most beloved and gracious of champions,” said Sony Ericsson WTA Tour CEO & Chairman Larry Scott. “We felt once it came to light that she did in fact assume the No.1 ranking for a period in 1976, it was important to recognise the achievement, just like we had with all the other 15 women who have achieved that pinnacle in women’s tennis.

“Unfortunately our record keeping wasn’t perfect in those early days of women’s tennis and our ranking system was viewed as a means of just accepting tournament entries. It wasn’t until the early 1980s that the media and players started to pay attention to the changes in the rankings during the year as opposed to only the end of season rankings. Media coverage has evolved to the point now when a player cracks the Top 10 for the first time or attains the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour No.1 Ranking that it attracts world-wide attention and deservedly so.”

Veteran observers of the tennis writing community had this to say:

“Back in the Seventies, most of us as tennis writers didn’t pay much attention to the weekly rankings; we were more concerned with where the players stood at the end of the year, and that was when we paid serious attention. The computer rankings in the seventies were only just evolving and most of us were still writing on typewriters; of course there was no internet.

“Hence, when the WTA, through an innocent mistake, did not give Evonne Goolagong the honor she deserved as an authentic No.1 in 1976, that error went right by us in the press. We knew that Evonne was having a great year and was involved in an exciting battle for the top spot with Chris Evert, but the oversight regarding her rise to No.1 during that season was simply not noticed. Blame that on the times, the circumstances, and the fact that the week in, week out rankings were not a top concern of many writers, and that is why Goolagong never got her due.

“She was one of the great players of the Open Era and it is a very good thing for all of us historians that she is finally getting recognition for having achieved the No.1 ranking in the world. It adds to her legacy of seven Grand Slam singles championships and a wonderful overall record through the years.

“I do not blame the Tour in the least for what happened; in fact, it is setting the record straight now, and 31 years later Goolagong is at last being officially given an honor she deserved long ago. It is good for her and good for the game. When historical errors are made, they should be corrected, and that is the case right now. Good for the Tour and good for Goolagong, because now everyone will know that she was indeed the No.1 player in the world during her prime.”
Steve Flink

“Evonne was certainly one of the most graceful and charming of champions – a delight off the court and on. She was very shy as a young player and I think she surprised many of us by maturing into a powerful advocate for the Aboriginal people. I would imagine a strong family life when she got married helped her develop the confidence off the court and on it. 1976 was most certainly her most consistent year.

“The rankings were, indeed, less noted on the women’s tour than the men’s in those early days and records were badly kept so week by week would have been difficult to check at the time. It’s terrific that she gets her just reward now. But Evonne’s game transcended statistics. As Bill Tilden might have said, she played her own sweet game.”
Richard Evans

“Hurrahs to the diggers who discovered that Evonne Goolagong should have been ranked No.1 during 1976, not No.2. It took a while, but never too late for justice. This fact will be noted in the next edition of my Tennis Encyclopedia in 2008.”
Bud Collins